I am indebted to Pat’s Mum (*Waves! Hi*) for finding this delightful photo on her travels.

kunt

OK, so is that Chinese? Japanese? Korean? We apologise for not knowing, and anyway, whatever it is, what the hell? Is English so poorly known in this neck of the woods that no one thought to, um, call it something else? And with an exclamation mark, no less!

Which set us off searching for the word, of course. We did discover that it’s an Acronymn for the Kuwait Union for New Teachers, described as a Professional and Social organisation for expat teachers.

Also has the Saudi Arabian Department (SAD KUNTs) and The Dubai Association for Teaching (DAFT KUNTs)

As the Urban Dictionary reports, “I’m a kard karrying Kunt in Dubai so I’m a Daft Kunt”.

We could not possibly comment. For other F*** Ups just put “F*** Up” in the search box top left of this page, and enjoy.

abbott angry

There is a scenario that could see embattled Aussie Prime Minister Tony Abbott overturned as quickly as next week.

This weekend, the election in Queensland will be a disaster for the governing Liberals, or as they are in Queensland, the merged Liberal National Party. Such an outcome is hard to imagine, given their massive majority in Brisbane, but disaster it will be nevertheless, in this most reliably conservative of conservative Australian states.

Not happy, Tony. Not happy.

Not happy, Tony. Not happy.

We think it unlikely that the LNP will lose Government, although it is just possible. Labor needs to achieve a 12 per cent swing to gain 36 seats if it is to win a majority government and recent polls have put the party within striking distance. But we think the swing is likely to be nearer 8-10%, especially as we expect Newman to do marginally better than Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk in the leader’s debate in Brisbane at 1pm today.

In that case what will happen is their majority will be slashed and loads of their seats lost. And we expect their leader, Campbell Newman, to lose his seat, too. Already desperate right-wing constitutional nerds are taking to the airwaves to argue he can stay as leader even if he’s outside the Parliament, ignoring the obvious fact that his personal standing will have been effectively rubbished by such an outcome.

Given the scale of the debacle, the blame will inevitably be sheeted home to Abbott on analysis TV and all the major talk shows on radio, worsening the standing of a man who is now so noxiously unpopular that he was effectively banned from campaigning in Queensland during the election.

What will make the sting deep and enduring is that Palaszczuk’s campaign has focussed repeatedly on health and education – the very areas Abbott has been foolish enough to attack repeatedly at a Federal level. The contrast can hardly be more stark or more telling if the Queensland election plays out as we expect.

But amongst all this gloom, what is even worse is that Abbott is slated to talk to the influential National Press Club lunch on Monday immediately after all that sickening analysis.

abbott

“Eli eli, lama sabachthani?”

Never at his best when challenged publicly, there is no doubt that he will be embarrassedly umming and erring his way through a barrage of amused questions first of all keeping the “Why knight Prince Phillip?” hare running, (which he will seek, but fail, to deflect), but then, more importantly, questions seeking to pin the blame for the Victorian election, the Queensland election, and the Government’s low standing on him personally.

Speculation on his leadership will not be put to his ministers, as in the last few painful days, it will be put to him personally.

In response, he will seek to combattively state that, “Er, um, I will be taking our great party to the next election, I am focused on selling the Government’s successes”, and end up sounding, in other words, exactly like every other party leader has sounded just before they’re rolled. And reminding everyone that selling his Government’s “successes” is exactly – precisely – what he has failed to do.

There will be nowhere for him to hide from this grilling, (we could almost feel sorry for him if he had not brought this all down on his own head), and he will wilt under its blistering heat, looking ever more uncertain and strained as it wears on.

Journos in the audience will have been assisted by plentiful leaks and background briefings from anti-Abbott forces in his party room, manoeuvring to get their preferred replacement into a position where the crisis has become so awful as to prompt their immediate elevation to the top job.

If, by some miracle, Abbott performs strongly at the Press Club, the inevitable chippy-chippy-chop may be delayed a little, but we repeat our oft-stated opinion that his metaphorical decapitation is now inevitable. Indeed, as we stated before he won the last election, it always was going to be.

He just has the wrong skills to be PM – always did have – and he has not managed to curb those elements of his personality that make him so self-evidently unfitted for the role. The Liberal Party is infinitely more ruthless than its Labor opponents, even though that is not generally understood. They know any replacement – and it would take a miracle for them not to choose the country’s most popular politician in Malcolm Turnbull – will need time to settle the ship before the next election. They will not risk losing what should have been an unloseable election against the largely inoffensive but also un-inspirational policy-lite Bill Shorten.

Time marches on, but Abbott’s Prime Ministership will not. Like some awful, inevitable Shakesperian tragedy, he will pay the ultimate price for the hubris that saw him persuaded to stand against the infinitely smarter and more electorally appealing Turnbull in the first place.

And if Turnbull does take over, we don’t expect to see Hockey moved from the role of Treasurer, in which he has been an unmitigated disaster. One thing will save him. If he were moved, we think Julie Bishop will put her hand up for that role – a step too far for the mad-eyed Western Australian in our view – and she would fail in it just as Abbott has failed as PM. It’s one thing to blather on aggressively about how rotten Vlad Putin is for shooting Australians out of the sky. It’s quite another to steer the ship of state’s financial well-being. Nothing in her period of Opposition or in Government shows her up to such a task.

Turnbull will not risk her messing things up for him, so will be inclined to leave Hockey in place.

In which place, he will be told to smoke no cigars in public, to stop shooting from the lip about the poor driving less than the rest of us, and essentially to shut up and leave it all to Malcolm. You’ll hear a whole lot less about “structural deficit” under Turnbull and much vaguery about “good management”. The great irony of the Abbott experiment for him and his backers like Nick Minchin is that his failure will kill hard right economic solutions for a decade.

Australia will return quietly comfortably to “tax and spend”, and not even notice the difference. and all of Abbott and Hockey’s painful Thatcherite striving will be forgotten. Shakespearian indeed.

The one thing against Abbott being moved against next week, of course, is that Parliament is not sitting again till 9th February. Liberal MPs would have to be called back to gather specially for a party room spill. Such an outcome is rare, but not unknown. It could, though, just save his bacon. But not for long.

Gabby Finlayson wearing the Audrey Hepburn-style dress

Yes, according to Lone Peak High School in Utah.

Gabi Finlayson was excited to attend a dance at Lone Peak High School. The 15-year-old girl and her mom were recently in Paris and they picked out “the perfect dress”, one that was reminiscent of iconic fashion idol Audrey Hepburn.Her happiness soon turned to shame and embarrassment. Shortly after arriving at the school dance, she was approached by school officials who said her dress was too risqué. Why? Her shoulders were showing.

Finlayson says she was angry after she was forced to wear her winter coat over her dress the entire dance, she says she felt as though the school was shaming her for what some of the boys might think.

“Somehow my shoulders are sexualised,” Finlayson said. “Like it’s my responsibility to make sure the boys’ thoughts are not unclean.”

Her mom was just as incensed:

“How have we gotten to the point that we look at shoulders as if they’re somehow pornographic? As if they are this shameful thing,” Kimball said.

Right on, Mum! Seriously, are shoulders pornographic? This dress style was popularized by Audrey Hepburn in the late 1950s and early 1960s and somehow in 2015 it is considered too risqué? Yes, some people should be embarrassed by this debacle. But, be it sure isn’t Gabby Finlayson or her mom.

(Daily Kos and others)

Another triumph for the American Taliban? Or reasonable dress restriction? What do you think, Dear Reader?

childs-white-oblong-casket

We despair at the gullibility, the laziness, and the downright stupidity of “internet generation parents” who continue to think their children are more at risk from being vaccinated than they are from catching horrible – and 100% avoidable – childhood diseases.

As a result, anti-vaccine parents throughout the world, but recently noteworthily in America and Australia, are taking decisions that are killing their children – not to mention infecting other persons via their un-protected children.

Los Angeles resident Derek Bartholomaus, who runs an excellent fact-based website called “The anti-vaccine body count” is keeping count of preventable illnesses (144,886), preventable deaths (6,312), and number of autism diagnoses scientifically linked to vaccinations (0) since June 3, 2007. He admits it is hard to convince the anti-vaccination crowd, despite research that vaccination leads to autism being totally and comprehensively debunked.

“It’s really hard because it gets into the conspiracy theorist mentality,” he said. “If it were just a rational and logical discussion, there’s no debate. Vaccines are safe and effective.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Jasjit Singh, associate director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, says she has seen her share of children die from a preventable infectious diseases.

“There is nothing more heartbreaking,” she said.

Key facts

  • Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
  • In 2013, there were 145,700 measles deaths globally – about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour. By no means all of these were in developing countries.
  • Measles vaccination resulted in a 75% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2013 worldwide.
  • In 2013, about 84% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000.
  • During 2000-2013, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.

Parents need to know this.

Chickenpox can leave your child scarred for life.

Measles can kill them.

Whooping cough can kill them.

Most children are infected with whooping cough by their own unvaccinated parents.

Stories that kids can be hurt by vaccines are LIES. A proportion of all children will develop autism whether they are vaccinated or not. It’s sad, but there it is. We just want everyone to consider these statistics from the World Health Organisation.

Immunization averts an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. Global vaccination coverage—the proportion of the world’s children who receive recommended vaccines—has remained steady for the past few years.

During 2013, about 84% (112 million) of infants worldwide received 3 doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine, protecting them against infectious diseases that can cause serious illness and disability or be fatal. By 2013, 129 countries had reached at least 90% coverage of DTP3 vaccine.

IF THESE VACCINES WERE HARMFUL AND CAUSING AUTISM, WHY IS THE WORLD NOT DROWNING IN AUTISTIC CHILDREN?

Yet as anyone with Google and three minutes to spare can read here, autism is NOT increasing.

If you know anyone NOT vaccinating their children (especially against Measles and Whooping Cough) we urge you to ask them to do so. Be prepared to back up your opinion with facts. Because it’s this simple: children’s lives are at stake.

At the Wellthisiswhatithink desk, we are old enough to have lost relatives to preventable disease within our lifetime. Forgive us, therefore, being so blunt. We’re over it. Yes, it is conceivable that there is a tiny – TINY – risk in vaccination simply because anything that is done to the human body can cause a reaction. But simply being alive is dangerous. Breathing is dangerous. The point is that we KNOW the risk from preventable diseases and it exceeds the risk from vaccination by such a large factor that we should ignore any miniscule risk and protect our children.

Did I hold my breath for an hour or two when my daughter was given her various vaccinations? Yes I did. Would I make the same decision again? Yes, 100 times out of 100.

The Abbott government - looking very tired, very quickly.

The Abbott government – looking very tired, very quickly.

We are deeply disappointed that Head Boy Tony Abbott chose to make Sir Prince Phil the Greek an “Australian Knight” for his “contribution to charity in Australia”, made during the 60 years or so since he was plucked from minor European faux-royalty obscurity to enjoy a lifetime of shooting defenceless fauna and insulting people by marrying Her Maj.

Not, we hasten to add, because such an obviously ludicrous decision reduces still further Mr Abbott’s likelihood of holding onto the top job, which is already vanishingly unlikely in our view.

Rather, because if we’re going to hand out Imperial knighthoods – in itself a daft idea for a modern country on the other side of the planet, and supposedly no longer aping England in the 1950s – then there are so many other deserving candidates. We have limited ourselves to the obvious English candidates. Sort of.

Admiral Sir John-Luc Picard of Wagga Wagga? Make it so.

Admiral Sir John-Luc Picard of Wagga Wagga? Make it so. Engage!

Sir Captain John-Luc Picard

It is far too easily forgotten that if the Captain of the Enterprise had not leapt back in time at great risk to himself, Will Riker’s stay-pressed hairdo and Deanna Troi’s lop-sided top-heavy jumpsuit, then we would not be celebrating Australia Day at all. We would, in fact, not even be Australia. Rather we would be Colony 6 Adjunct 5 of Unimatrix 7 with Borg nannites for red blood cells and one of those weird eyes that shines out beams of green light for no apparent reason. Saving Earth from the Borg? That’s a hell of lot more impressive than teaching wayward teenagers to climb trees, or whatever it is that the Dook of Edinberg’s scheme actually does. PS Yes, we know John-Luc is French, but he’s a sort of Yorkshirefied version of French, and that’s OK.

Sir Phillip “Butterfingers” Tufnell

Phil-TufnellIn the not too distant past, England’s cricket team employed a decent slow bowler (and not half bad batsman, except when playing against Shane Warne) called Phil Tufnell, who has gone on to make himself popular as a TV and radio personality in the UK. His most dramatic career moments were when as a fielder for England in Australia he dropped more catches, racked up more misfields and generally made a doofus of himself so often that he endeared himself to Aussies countrywide. Retreating to the boundary after a bowling spell, Tufnell’s mood was scarcely lightened by an inspired sledge from somewhere among the braggarts, brawlers and boozers in the MCG crowd, although he can laugh about it now. “Oi, Tufnell! Lend us your brain, we’re building an idiot,” bellowed his latest admirer. We witnessed with our own eyes at the MCG a banner being unfurled that read “Hey Phil, chuck it to us, we’ll throw it back for you”, a commentary on his less than stellar long throws back to the wicket-keeper. And when he announced his retirement from Test cricket the Australian Tuffnell Academy of Fielding announced a national day of mourning. It seems only reasonable, if we’re handing out knighthoods for Poms, that this Phil rather than Phil Windsor belatedly gets his for keeping us more entertained than most of the rest of the cricketing world put together.

divaSir Makybe Diva

Makybe Diva is a British-bred, Australian-trained thoroughbred that became the first racehorse to win the famed Melbourne Cup on three occasions: 2003, 2004, and 2005. In 2005, she also won the Cox Plate. Makybe Diva is the highest stakes-earner in Australasian horse racing history, with winnings of more than A$14 million when she retired on 1 November 2005, and is one of only five horses to have won the Cup more than once in the long history of the event, which was first run in 1861, and the only mare among the list of multiple winners, and is one of only 14 female horses (11 mares and three fillies) to have won the Cup. Yes, of course, we know that this should really mean she should be Dame Makybe Diva, not Sir Makybe Diva, but we are stretching a point. We can’t think of anything more Australian than to make a horse a Knight, especially one that made plenty of punters a sizeable packet over the years, so there it is.

Sir Edward John “Eddie” Izzard of the Death Star

Eddie Izzard is an stand-up comedian, actor and writer. His comedy style takes the form of rambling, whimsical monologue and self-referential pantomime. He is also, in our opinion, responsible for the single funniest three minutes of stand up ever written,Eddie-Izzard to wit, “There must have been a canteen on the Death Star”, a bizarre envisioning of Darth Vader heading to the Death Star canteen for lunch between blowing up planets here and there on behalf of the Evil Empire.

It was brought brilliantly to life using Lego characters as seen in the following video, which has caused more joyous weeping around computer screens than just about anything else we can think of, and thus deserves a knighthood in and of itself. Interestingly, Izzard was actually born in Aden, so although he’s of English descent (and has also resided in Northern Ireland and Wales) he’s also sort of vaguely connected to the Middle East, making him spozzingly current and topical and wow. He also likes dressing up in women’s clothing, which would just be so annoying for our current cretinous Prime Minister that it makes him a perfect choice.

And last but not least:

skippySir Skippy

For a generation, Australians have been understood by the rest of the world as a fun-loving bunch of larrikins who can talk to kangaroos.

“What’s that, Skippy? Uncle Tony has fallen down a well? We need to go get Constable Bob to rescue him? What’s that, Skip? If we don’t get there soon he might die?

I’ve got bad news for you, Skip. Mum needs us home for tea. Here, have a knighthood instead.”

So what about you, Dear Reader?

Which English-ish person or animal should have received a knighthood before Prince Phillip?

Don’t hold back.

The commonest illness on earth that turns lives into misery. Yet in many cases, we can make a huge contribution to our own recovery.

The commonest illness on earth that turns lives into misery. Yet in many cases, we can make a huge contribution to our own recovery.

At various stages in the last 56 years, I, like most people, have been prone to anxiety.

In my case, facing a dreadful crisis at one point in my life, it tipped over into full-blown Obsessional Compulsive Disorder and Depression. (Search for either of those terms on this blog for more information.)

Nowadays, perhaps with the benefit of middle aged perspective, (the clear realisation that one will survive most things and come out stronger, given time, and therefore it can be excellent practice to just to try and “roll with the punches” – indeed, the greatest gift of middle age is patience) I am less likely to fall prone to the misery of anxiety.

Perhaps, also, my brain chemistry is more stable, (it is notoriously less so for teenagers and young adults), or I have just learned to recognise anxiety faster, and deal with it more effectively.

In any event, now that I have taken the decision to be open about my own brushes with “mental illness” (which should, of course, be called “physical illness affecting the brain” – I am no more “nuts” than the next person) I am constantly meeting other people who struggle with anxiety disorders of one sort or another, and who often ask my advice when I pipe up about them.

Sadly, I am not an expert.

Or rather, I am expert in what the bloody illness feels like, but not really an expert in how to solve it.

What worked for me, or someone else, might not work for you. So I went looking for some help online, and found this excellent article from the Australian National University, which is well worth a read.

I have made the occasional comment myself in italics. The rest is from ANU. It’s chock full of good commonsense.

I hope you, or someone you know, finds it helpful.

The 10 best ever anxiety management techniques

These techniques fall into three typical clusters:

  • the physical arousal that constitutes the terror of panic
  • the ‘wired’ feelings of tension that correlate with being ‘stressed out’
  • the mental anguish of rumination – a brain that won’t stop thinking distressing thoughts

Cluster One: Physical Arousal

Distressing Physical Arousal – sympathetic arousal causes the heart thumping, pulse-racing, dizzy, tingly, shortness of breath physical symptoms, that can come out of the blue and are intolerable when not understood.

Even low levels of anxiety can cause physical tension in the jaw, neck and back as well as an emotional somatic feeling of doom or dread in the pit of the stomach, which will set off a mental search for what might be causing it.

Method 1: Manage your body.

  • Eat right
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, sugar and caffeine
    Certainly in excess. The temptation to self-medicate with alcohol particularly is a curse for those who suffer from anxiety, because it is an utterly transitory solution. As soon as the buzz wears off, one is just as (or often more) depressed, and now dealing with a hangover as well.The most intelligent comment I have ever heard about booze was “I used to drink to drown my sorrows. Then one day I woke up and discovered they’d learned how to swim.” However, in my experience, one or two drinks, especially in the late afternoon or early evening, can be helpful in “switching off” the day and settling down for an evening’s relaxation and a night’s rest. I am also advised that a good session on a treadmill in the spare room or at the gym has a similar relaxing effect.
  • Exercise
  • On going self care
    This needs to be active and deliberate. Looking after yourself is often the lowest priority for people with anxiety or depression. It should be the first.
  • Sleep
    I always rely on the rule “an hour before midnight is worth two after”. I have no idea if that has any scientific basis, but it’s true for me. Similarly, sleeping at the wrong time of the day (eg during daylight hours) can leave one with a sense of worthlessness, or having “wasted time”. That said, I think I am convinced that a short “Nanna Nap” (eg 30-60 mins) in the mid-late afternoon can be health-enhancing and lead to more productive evenings.
  • Consider hormonal changes

Method 2: Breathe

Breathing deeply and being aware of the process will slow down or stop the stress response.

I don’t know why this simple fact is so hard for stressed people to get hold of. Close your eyes. Decide to ignore, momentarily at least, whatever is troubling you. Breathe in, hold the breath momentarily, breathe out through your mouth. Empty your lungs. Repeat. Do it for 60 seconds and you can feel control of your emotions returning. It’s infallible.

Do the conscious, deep breathing for about 1 minute at a time, and do it when you are not stressed, at least 10-15 times per day – just do it every time you are waiting for something eg., the phone to ring, an appointment, the kettle to boil, waiting in a line etc.

Method 3: Mindful Awareness

Close your eyes and breathe; notice the body, how the intake of air feels, how the heart beats, what you can feel in the gut.

Breathe. Just breathe.

Breathe. Just breathe.

  • With eyes still closed, purposefully shift your awareness away from your body to everything you can hear or smell or feel through your skin
  • Shift awareness back and forth from your body to what’s going on around you

You will learn in a physical way that you can control what aspects of the world – internal or external – you’ll notice, giving you an internal locus of control and learning that when you can ignore physical sensations, you can overcome them.

Above all, resist the temptation to make catastrophic interpretations of events that bring on panic or worry. Keeping things “in perspective” allows you to feel more in control and mindful of the present.

Very few things are catastrophic in life, and even catastrophic things can be overcome.

Just decide to stop “blowing things out of proportion”.

Stop luxuriating in fear.

It isn’t good for you, and it never solves the problem.


Cluster Two: Tension, Stress and Dread

Many people with anxiety search frantically for the reasons behind their symptoms in the hope that they can ‘solve’ whatever problem it is,

But since much of their heightened tension isn’t about a real problem, they are actually wasting their time running around an inner maze of perpetual worry.

Even if the tension stems from psychological or other causes, there are ways to eliminate the symptoms of worry.

These methods are most helpful for diminishing chronic tension.

Method 4: Don’t listen when worry calls your name

This feeling of dread and tension comprises a state of low grade fear, which can also cause other physical symptoms, like headache, joint pain and ulcers. The feeling of dread is just the emotional manifestation of physical tension.

You must first learn that worry is a habit with a neurobiological underpinning. Then apply relaxation to counteract the tension that is building up.

Nothing real is causing it, so get rid of the symptoms, and enjoy life without them.

This ‘Don’t Listen’ method decreases the tension by combining a decision to simply ignore the voice of worry with a cue for the relaxation state.

To stop listening to the command to worry, you can say to yourself: “This is just my anxious brain firing wrong”. This is the cue to begin relaxation breathing (as described earlier) which will stop the physical sensations of dread that trigger the radar.

Method 5: Knowing, Not Showing, Anger

When you fear anger because of past experience, (which may be very real, and justified) the very feeling of anger, even though it remains unconscious, can produce anxiety, which does no good to you at all. To know you’re angry doesn’t require you to show you’re angry.

A simple technique: Next time you feel stricken with anxiety, you should sit down and write as many answers as possible to this question, “If I were angry, what might I be angry about?” Restrict answers to single words or brief phrases.

This may open the door to get some insight into the connection between your anger and your anxiety.

Method 6: Have a Little Fun

Laughing is a great way to increase good feelings and discharge tension. Getting in touch with fun and play isn’t easy for the serious, tense worrier.

A therapy goal could be simply to re-learn what you had fun doing in the past and prescribe yourself some fun.

In my experience, this can involve choosing to be around people who are fun, and spending less time with people who “bring you down”. When you are more on an even keel, you can deal with less cheerful people more easily. In the meantime, there’s good reason to avoid them. Seek out positive, gentle, funny people.


Cluster Three: The Mental Anguish of Rumination

These methods deal with the difficult problem of a brain that won’t stop thinking about distressing thoughts or where worry suffocates your mental and emotional life. These worries hum along in the background, generating tension or sick feelings, destroying concentration and diminishing the capacity to pay attention to the good things in life.

Therapy does not need to focus on any specific worry, but rather on the act of worrying itself – the following methods are the most effective in eliminating rumination.

Method 7: Turning it Off

If a ruminating brain is like an engine stuck in gear and over-heating, then slowing or stopping it gives it a chance to cool off. The goal of ‘turning it off’ is to give the ruminative mind a chance to rest and calm down.

Sit quietly with eyes closed and focus on an image of an open container ready to receive every issue on your mind. See and name each issue or worry and imagine putting it into the container.

When no more issues come to mind, ‘put a lid’ on the container and place it on a shelf or in some other out of the way place until you need to go back to get something from it.

Once you have the container on the shelf, you invite into the space that is left in your mind whatever is the most important current thought or feeling.

At night, right before sleep, invite in a peaceful or happy thought to focus on while drifting off.

Method 8: Persistent Interruption of Rumination

Ruminative worry has a life of its own, consistently interfering with every other thought in your mind.

The key to changing this pattern is to be persistent with your attempts to use thought stopping and thought replacement. Its important to attempt to interrupt the pattern every time you catch yourself ruminating – be aware that you’ve spent a long time establishing this pattern and it will take persistence to wear it down.

Work on having a good five minutes without worry … then another .. then a day … and so on. Be patient. Change takes time.

Thought stopping – use the command “Stop” and/or a visual image to remind yourself that you are going into an old thinking habit that just leaves you feeling uptight.

Thought replacement – substitute a reassuring, assertive or self-accepting statement after you have managed to stop the thought. You may need to develop a set of these statements that you can look at or recall from memory.

Method 9: Worry Well, but Only Once

Some worries just have to be faced head-on, and worrying about them the right way can help eliminate secondary, unnecessary worrying. When you feel that your worries are out of control try this next method:

  1. Worry through all the issues within a time limit of 10-20 mins and cover all the bases
  2. Do anything that must be done at the present time. Set a time when it’ll be necessary to think about the worry again.
  3. Write that time on a calendar.
  4. Whenever the thought pops up again say, “Stop! I already worried!” and divert your thoughts as quickly as possible to another activity – you may need to make a list of these possible diversions beforehand. Until it’s time to tackle the issue again, forget it.
    You may find, in the meantime, it quietly resolves itself.

Method 10: Learn to Plan Instead of Worry

A big difference between planning and worrying is that a good plan doesn’t need constant review.

An anxious brain, however, will reconsider a plan over and over to be sure it’s the right plan.

This is all just ruminating worry disguising itself as making a plan and then seeking constant reassurance.

It is important to learn the fundamentals of planning as it can make a big difference in calming a ruminative mind. These include:

  1. Concretely identifying the problem
  2. Listing the problem solving options
  3. Picking one of the options
  4. Writing out a plan of action
Fail to plan, and you plan to fail. Never was a truer word spoken, and especially for people who are inclined to be anxious.

Fail to plan, and you plan to fail. Never was a truer word spoken, and especially for people who are inclined to be anxious.

To be successful in this approach, you must also have learned to apply the thought-stopping/thought-replacing tools or you can turn planning into endless cycles of re-planning.

Once a plan has been made you can use the fact that you have the plan as a concrete reassurance to prevent the round-robin of ruminative re-planning.

The plan becomes part of the thought-stopping statement:

“Stop! I have a plan!”

It also helps the endless reassurance-seeking, because it provides written solutions even to problems the ruminator considers hopelessly complex.


Conclusion

These skills do require patience and determination. However, once learnt, people gain a lasting sense of their own power and competence in working actively with their own symptoms to conquer anxiety through their own efforts.

Getting control of yourself. It’s a wonderfully liberating feeling. Good luck!

argie

 

Regular readers will have seen our article the other day exposing the extraordinarily unlikely death by “suicide” of the prosector set to expose key members of the Argentine government as having been involved in covering up or collaborating with a terrorist bombing of a Jewish centre in 1994.

Today, reports emerge that Argentine President Kirchner – herself in the target range of the now dead prosecutor Nisman – has concurred with the widespread opinion that the brave prosecutor was murdered to prevent him bringing his case.

Other ongoing investigations show multiple ways his apartment could have been entered, and that no gunshot residue was found on his hands.

Read the full story here:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-30931458

Meanwhile demonstrations continue calling for justice, with demonstrators chanting “Yo Soy Nisman” – I am Nisman – and echo of the recent “Je Suis Charlie” campaign.

abbottBefore he was even elected, we opined, publicly, that Tony Abbott would never make it to the next election. Or that if he did, he would never win it.

We tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to popularise the hashtag #onetermtony to encapsulate our point of view. Clearly we haven’t cracked working Twitter yet.

Our reasons were very straightforward. In our consideration, Abbott exhibited (and continues to display) the wrong skill set to be Prime Minister.

His “crash through or crash” style and belligerent University-debating-society arrogance is all wrong for leading a party, let alone a country. He was pitchforked into the job by Nick Minchin and others (by just one vote, remember) because of their visceral distaste for the much more electorally acceptable small-L liberalism of Malcom Turnbull. We said at the time, and we say it again: this was a gigantic strategic failure born of naked personal ambition, hubris and sheer political bastadry. And now it has entirely predictably come back to bite the Liberal Party in the butt, big time.

Be under no misapprehension, Dear Reader. As things stand, the Australian Labor Party is undeservedly coasting back into national power with a leader whose main role in the run up to the next election is to appear inoffensive. Policy development? None. Vision for the country? None. Hugs and smiles? Yup, plenty. The target is not just small, it’s miniscule.

Let us just revise the history of the last 18 months – Abbott won against the terminally wounded Gillard and the terminally incompetent Kevin Rudd. Through their own infighting and their catastrophic mishandling of various key policy imperatives, the ALP had made themselves virtually unelectable. Theoretically for a generation.

That they have now defeated a competent if un-inspirational Coalition Government in Victoria, look like they are at the very least competitive against a first-term LNP Government with a massive majority in Queensland, and currently seem a shoe-in for the next Federal election, is testament to the scale of the muddled, tone deaf yet vociferous incompetence of Abbott and many in his cabinet.

The chickens are coming home to roost so fast we shall all be eating them for breakfast for months to come. On Fairfax radio this morning a “through and through” Liberal voter on callback radio accused Abbott of being the “world’s worst salesman: in danger of handing the keys to the Lodge back to Labor”. Rarely can a Prime Minister have endured such a shellacking from one of his own in public.

Yet the caller, of course, had put his finger on exactly what’s wrong with Abbott. When you are Opposition Leader, you are an attack dog. You’re not selling anything, in reality, except the incompetence of the incumbent administration. When you are in power, you need to demonstrate you are LISTENING, not just spouting off. Abbott is inherently disinclined to listen.

HowardHe sees himself in the mould of his political mentor, John Howard, who paraded his “tough little Johnnie” status to considerable effect and turned himself into one of the most successful politicians in Australian history.

But Abbott lacks something Howard had in spades: the ability to not get in front of popular opinion, and to listen to the undercurrents in the electorate as well as what is actually said. For example, despite being both a social and fiscal conservative (or saying that he was), Howard (and his Treasurer Costello) actually maintained very high rates of taxation and social welfare, the latter aimed directly at the very Middle Class which Abbott is now seeking to soak to pay for un-necessary tax cuts for business and the uber-rich. Dumb.

But there are many other mis-steps that are down to Abbott personally. His office – led by the incredibly unpopular Peta Credlin – was highly effective in keeping the Coalition caucus on message (and largely, in fact, silent) while Abbott got himself elected. But the same unbridled disciplinarian approach in Government (which appeals to another side of Abbott’s nature, ever the proto-Roman-Catholic-seminarian) has antagonised Ministers and backbenchers alike. The most obvious mis-step being to enrage one of his rivals, Julie Bishop, by insisting on sending Andrew Robb as a right-wing minder to accompany her to the climate conference in Peru in case she should actually – gasp! – agree to do something to combat climate change. That’s not the sort of “direct action” on the problem that Australians expected.

Abbott’s record in Government on Medicare has been simply woeful, too.

The initial $7 co-payment idea was effectively (and accurately) seen as dreadfully

There are no votes in upsetting little old ladies. Or those who love them. Dumber.

There are no votes in upsetting little old ladies. Or those who love them. Stupid.

unfair to those who rely on bulk-billing medical practices to help them survive poverty and/or old age, and the illnesses associated with it. Frail little old ladies unable to pay to visit their Doctor was not a good look for a party which counts the majority of retirees amongst their supporters. Astoundingly stupid.

A more recent attempt to slap on a $20 fee on short consultations which was always doomed to fail in the Senate has simply added fuel to a still spluttering fire.

Why make such a mis-step for a second time, let alone the first time? Simple: crash through or crash, in action.

As the pro-Government Murdoch-owned Daily Telegraph reported, Abbott defied Treasurer Joe Hockey and the former Health Minister Peter Dutton to impose the $20 cut to GP rebates before later backflipping on the policy he had demanded. In a highly damaging leak from the powerful expenditure review committee, senior ministers have confirmed they were told Mr Hockey and Mr Dutton opposed the move during a “heated’’ exchange with the Prime Minister. The warnings included concerns that rolling out new changes to GP consults in the lead up to the Queensland and NSW state election was “crazy’’. Doctors also immediately warned the changes would be passed on to patients, raising fears of even higher charges than the original co-payment.

But the Prime Minister instead insisted on changes including the $20 cut the Medicare rebate for short GP consults. These changes were developed by the Prime Minister’s Office and then costed by the Department of Finance and Health. Tony knows best. Although as the later reversal showed dramatically, it is clear he didn’t, fuelling both front and backbench dis-satisfaction.

Stung by a grassroots backlash to the policy by his own Liberal MPs, Mr Abbott formed the view that it must be dumped while “taking soundings’’ as he drank beers at the cricket on Thursday. These “soundings’ included a threat by senior MPs that they would go public in their opposition to the $20 rebate cut. Mr Abbott then discussed the problem with the new Health Minister Sussan Ley who was forced to disembark from a cruise ship to announce changes after they were rubber stamped by the leadership group on Thursday morning.

Tony Abbott defied Joe Hockey and Peter Dutton to impose “crazy” GP fee.

Abbott looked what he is: rather poor at running an effective collegiate Government.

It is also clear now that the Government is very likely going to fail to introduce “fee deregulation” (read: sell more degrees to overseas students at vastly inflated cost) for Universities, against trenchant opposition from both Universities and students.

The resulting budget chaos from this “tone deaf” policy failure is likely to run into the billions. But that’s not really the core of the problem for the Government. In households with teenage kids and young adults up and down the country, worried children asked their parents, “How will I ever be able to afford to get a degree?” Most of those parents, like members of the Government remembering with embarrassed affection their own free University education, shifted uncomfortably in their seats, and the Government inexorably dropped down yet another peg or two in their estimation.

It should be pretty simple. No one ever wins elections in Australia promising to hurt health and education. Government MPs are now pondering why Abbott appears to want to do both, spending what little political capital the Government began with (as most of the reason for voting for it was really not to vote Labor, after all) with reckless abandon.

Is there really a deficit problem? If there is, the Government has failed to make its case.

There’s a deficit, but is there really a deficit problem? If there is, then the Government has failed to make its case.

The other major issue for the Government is that it simply cannot persuade the people of either the need to tackle a “structural deficit”, nor the means to tackle it if they could even persuade people it exists.

Basically a structural deficit simply means that the country’s economic situation will continue to become more and more indebted as the years pass, because the Government is committed to paying out more money than it is collecting in taxes. You wouldn’t think that was too hard a case to argue, if it’s real. Perhaps stopping using the term “structural deficit” and using something simpler like “living on our national credit card” might be easier for people to grasp, but hey, we’re in the advertising business, what do we know, right?

cut-spendingThe Government’s solution to the situation has been to seek to savagely cut expenditure, mesmerised as they are by Costello’s previous performance in returning the budget to surplus. But unlike Costello’s performance, their cuts are being perceived as falling on the innocent and those least able to cope with them, which offends Aussie sensibilities, especially as people aren’t sure why they’re happening at all (see below).

Critically, their formula ignores the fact that Costello achieved his “economic miracle” based on a growing economy and consistently high overall taxation levels (whilst cutting personal tax, to ensure the Government’s popularity). The introduction of a Goods and Services tax at 10% made all the difference. Pumping up that tax is probably the long-term solution, but the move will be unpopular, and talking about increasing taxes is tough when you were elected on a rock solid promise not to do so. A little less hubris in the run up to the election would have gone a long way … but you can’t tell that to an attack dog.

But anyhow, and this is the crucial point, it is very easy to demonstrate (and Labor will increasingly do so in the run up to the next election) that Australia’s indebtedness is still very low by world standards, and like any household deciding its level of mortgage debt, we’re not really broke at all.

In fact, our mortgage, by world standards, is very small. We are – and feel – prosperous. If we want to splurge a bit, well, hell, why not?

Stop talking, just build it already ...

Stop talking, just build it already …

As the need to invest in national infrastructure is agreed by all sides of politics – we still have no train line to Doncaster in Melbourne, let alone to the bloody airport – the siren call to “keep spending and hang the deficit” seems to be more appealing than any desperation-stakes call to tighten our belts.

Put even more simply, it doesn’t feel like we have an economic crisis, so why are we acting like we do? Especially when the Government can apparently find umpteen billions for a more than fifty new fighter bombers which no-one can actually understand where or how we could even use them.

In other words, the most important job – by far, the, er, most important job – of a Prime Minister is to, er, well, sell the plans of the, er, Government, and, er, Tony Abbott has been, um, staggeringly unsuccessful and, er, unconvincing in doing so.

(Yes, he also has the most appalling public speaking manner, which only makes him appear yet more woeful. And he looks down when answering questions he doesn’t like, which makes him look shifty. One wonders why no-one has the guts to tell him.)

PUP Senator Glenn Lazarus, speaking of the latest debacle over University funding, remarked that you can only polish a turd for so long before the exercise becomes pointless.

It is clear that a significant part of the Liberal Party now hold the same view of their Leader. How long they will keep polishing is, of course, the question.

They could have just listened to us in the first place, of course. And before anyone gets swept up in the Julie Bishop love-in, rest assured that the party will return to Turnbull when they dump Abbott, because he has proven competence, his inoffensiveness will play well against Shorten, and remember, half the Parliamentary party wanted to keep him anyway.

Although he is very unpopular with the hard right, those MPs already eyeing losing their seats on current poll standings understand clearly that he has much broader appeal than any other potential Prime Minister with the general electorate.

If this isn't the next Prime Minister of Australia, then god didn't make the little green apples, and it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime ...

If this isn’t the next Prime Minister of Australia, then God didn’t make the little green apples, and it don’t rain in Indianapolis in the summertime …

Little wonder, then, that a quiet smile plays on his face most of the time.

Besides his huge personal wealth offering him an out anytime he tires of the Canberra game, it also recommends him to many on his side of politics as a “performer”.

His restraint in not agitating against the usurper Abbott in recent months has been remarkable to observe. This also demonstrates he possesses a strong strategic nous, and admirable patience.

He will need to take the top job on again with plenty of time to re-establish himself, but he has a little while yet before he has to move.

When he does, we suspect he will allow himself to be dragged kicking and screaming into the role, rather than being seen to assassinate his leader as he himself was assassinated. Unless, of course, assassinating him would prove electorally popular as well as a necessary lancing of the Abbott boil to save the deckchairs on the sinking ship. In which case, he will act decisively and with steel, which he possesses deep in his soul. For now, though, he will likely keep his powder dry. Not needing the job is a big part of his charm.

And after all, in the meantime, there’s the sheer fun of watching his replacement swing in the breeze, and revenge, as they say, is always a dish best eaten cold.

An activist group which secretly documents life inside the Islamic State-controlled Syrian city of Raqqa has reported that militants publicly executed 13 teenage boys for watching the Asian Cup football match between Iraq and Jordan.

Syria Being Slaughtered Silently, quoting Jordanian news agency Petra and other unspecified Iraqi media, reported that the teenagers were rounded up and shot by firing squad in the IS-stronghold of Mosul, in northern Iraq.

According to the report, the boys were caught watching the match and were being accused of breaking Islamic principles.

In a response to IBTimes UK, the group has confirmed the executions have taken place after corroborating the information with local Iraqi activists.

“The bodies remained lying in the open and their parents were unable to withdraw them for fear of murder by terrorist organisation,” the group also wrote on their website.

Before the victims were executed, their ‘crimes’ were announced on the streets of Mosul on a loud-speaker, the activists said.

The report has not been confirmed by international news agencies or Iraqi authorities and IBTimes UK cannot independently verify it.

The activist group secretly documents the executions carried out by the Sunni Islamist group in various places controlled by them.

The latest chilling execution emerges alongside the threat made by an IS militant, suspected to be “Jihadi John”, to behead two Japanese hostages if their ransom demands are not met.

The masked man – who is believed to be the same militant who appeared in earlier videos executing western hostages James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines and Alan Henning – has asked for $200m (£132m) within the next 72 hours to free the Japanese captives.

Alberto Nisman

Alberto Nisman

An Argentine prosecutor was found dead just hours before giving what was expected to be damning testimony against President Cristina Kirchner, in what appears to have been a suicide, officials said.

The body of Alberto Nisman, 51, who had received threats, was found overnight in his 13th-floor apartment in the upscale Puerto Madero waterfront neighborhood of the capital Buenos Aires.

“All signs point to suicide,” said Public Safety Secretary Sergio Berni, an assertion backed up by initial forensic findings.

Federal prosecutor Viviana Fein said Nisman died of “a gunshot wound to the temple” and “there was no role of additional parties (in the death).”

However, there was no suicide note or witnesses, prosecutor Fein added, calling for “caution,” while the leader of one opposition party called it “an assassination.”

Investigators should look at whether Nisman was under pressure from anybody, and to whom the gun belonged, local media reports quoted Fein as saying. The weapon was not Nisman’s, the reports said.

Jewish centre bombing

Nisman, who had accused Kirchner of obstructing an investigation into a 1994 Jewish center bombing, was due to testify at a congressional hearing on Monday to provide evidence of his claims.

Firefighters and rescue workers search through the rubble of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community centre on July 18, 1994, photo after a car bomb rocked the building.

Firefighters and rescue workers search through the rubble of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community centre on July 18, 1994, photo after a car bomb rocked the building.

Since 2004 he had been investigating the van bombing of the Argentine Jewish Charities Federation, or AMIA, which left 85 people dead and 300 others wounded in the worst attack of its kind in the South American country.

The Jewish center bombing came two years after an attack against the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 29 people.

Kirchner, who has denied the accusation, released a statement ordering the declassification of intelligence information Nisman had sought a week ago.

‘Killed for investigating’

Meanwhile, several thousand protesters mobilized downtown in front of the presidential palace and Buenos Aires Cathedral, demanding an explanation for Nisman’s death.

Clapping and shouting “killer” the demonstrators held banners reading “justice” and “killed for investigating,” as well as “Yo soy Nisman,” meaning “I am Nisman”, a take on the “Je Suis Charlie” slogan that appeared after Paris attacks that included the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.

“I am here to seek justice for Nisman, so that we get to the truth about what happened to this man,” said Carolina Arias, 31.

And in Uruguay, some 500 Argentines demonstrated in the beach resort city of Punta del Este, singing the Argentine national anthem and cutting off part of the town’s main promenade.

Praise from Israel

Israel meanwhile expressed sorrow over Nisman’s death, praising him as a courageous jurist who “worked with great determination to expose the attack’s perpetrators and dispatchers.”

Officials said a .22-caliber handgun was found beside Nisman’s body, which was discovered by his mother in the bathroom of his apartment after his security detail was unable to contact him.

Nisman had also been expected to lodge accusations against Kirchner’s foreign minister Hector Timerman.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner speaks during a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York on the disputed Falkland Islands on the 30th anniversary of the end of war between the Britain and Argentina, on June 14, 2012.

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner speaks during a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York on the disputed Falkland Islands on the 30th anniversary of the end of war between the Britain and Argentina, on June 14, 2012.

The prosecutor had accused Iran of being behind the attack and said President Kirchner hampered the inquiry to curry favour with the Islamic republic and gain access to its oil.

Nisman had also accused former president Carlos Menem (1989-99) of helping obstruct the investigation into the bombing, which has never been solved.

Since 2006, Argentine courts have demanded the extradition of eight Iranians, including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, over the bombing. Argentina charges that Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite movement, carried out the attack under orders from Iran, although Tehran denies this.

In 2013, Argentina’s Congress approved, at the request of the executive branch, an agreement with Tehran to form a truth commission to investigate the bombing, consisting of five members from neither Argentina nor Iran.

Phone recordings

Nisman had said that he had phone recordings that allegedly show the Kirchner government and Argentine authorities had bowed to Iranian demands after Tehran dangled lucrative commercial contracts.

Nisman was supposed to be about to present proof of his allegations that Kirchner and Timerman had a “plan of impunity” to “protect the Iranian fugitives.”

In a further move which did not make him popular with the Government, he had also ordered the freezing of assets worth some $23 million of Kirchner, Timerman and other officials.

‘An assassination’

Opposition lawmaker Patricia Bullrich said she was shocked by Nisman’s death, calling it “a grave affront to the country’s institutions.”

Bullrich said she had spoken to Nisman on the phone just on Saturday on three occasions and he said that he had received several threats.

Elisa Carrio, leader of the Civic Coalition, an opposition party, bluntly called Nisman’s death “an assassination,” saying she did not accept that it was a suicide.

Argentina’s Jewish community of about 300,000 people is the largest in Latin America.

(AFP and others)

In our career in the advertising business, we have spent a lot of time drooling over – prior to writing about – cars.

Car head. Car nut. Car freak. They all apply.

This work included the re-launch in Australia of the Porsche 911, which included some of the most beautiful cars imaginable.

1993 3.3 litre Porsche 911 Turbo S

1993 3.3 litre Porsche 911 Turbo S

I well remember being given one for the weekend to drive around so I could “get my head” into the brand, in preparation for the writing. In traffic approaching the freeway junction I could not help but notice the admiring glances of all around me. But by thirty seconds onto the freeway itself I knew all I needed to know, and, in fact, turned back and returned the car to the dealership. By the first flyover I was doing well over 160 kmh and hadn’t even noticed the car accelerating. Had I kept the car all weekend, I am in little doubt I would have killed myself and others.

Another personal favourite of mine of ours was when we were doing all the writing for Holden Special Vehicles (exported as Vauxhauls to the UK and Chevrolet’s to other parts of the worldf In particular, I admired the two-door HSV Coupe which revolutionised the market with its good looks as well as its performance.

2009 Holden Special Vehicles Coupe

2009 Holden Special Vehicles Coupe

During this time we coined the new slogan for HSV – “I just want one” – which we are pleased and proud to say is now one of the longest-running car slogans anywhere in the world. And it still perfectly captures the quirk nature of HSV buyers.

Anyhow, we have compiled a collection of some of the most beautiful cars that have ever been produced. We would love you to contribute your favourite, with a photo. Please click on the comments section and add in a photo, why you love the car, or a url link to a picture of it. Have fun!

Here’s our faves:

1939 BMW 328 Roadster

1939 BMW 328 Roadster, surely the most beautiful BMW ever.

1948 Jaguar XK120

The 1948 Jaguar XK120 – the owner of Jaguar said “We have created a car which is alive.”

1954 Mercedes Benz 300 SL

1954 Mercedes Benz 300 SL …

... with it's gull-win doors.

… with it’s gull-wing doors.

1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala Convertible - created just one year after we were born, but sadly cars didn't look like this when we were able to drive.

1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala Convertible – created just one year after we were born, but sadly cars didn’t look like this when we were able to drive.

Ferrari have made many beautiful cars - this 1961 250 GT California is one of our favourites, and as an interesting tit-bit, the first Ferarri ever to not have wire wheels.

Ferrari have made many beautiful cars – this 1961 250 GT California is one of our favourites.

The 2008 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. Frankly, it's a sexual thing.

The 2008 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. Frankly, it’s a sexual thing.

The Bugatti Type 57 - only three were ever made.

The Bugatti Type 57 – only three were ever made.

Quintessential Britain - the 1954 MG TF. Want.

Quintessential Britain – the 1954 MG TF. Want.

The 1930 Pierce-Arrow Model B Dual Windshield Phaeton - - just one of dozens of such cars from the period that we could have chosen.

The 1930 Pierce-Arrow Model B Dual Windshield Phaeton: just one of dozens of such cars from the period that we could have chosen.

So those are our favourites? What’s yours? Modern, antique, and everything in between.

Oh Lord. Mustn’t forget Mum’s trusty 1963 Triumph Herald that took us everywhere till it actually literally fell apart from rust. She’d never forgive us.

The smallest turning circle of any production car ever. There. you didn't know that, did you?

The smallest turning circle of any production car ever. There. you didn’t know that, did you?

firing squad

 

On Sunday, Indonesia will execute five “drug mules”, including a woman. Executions in Indonesia are customarily carried out by firing squad.

The executions reflect the “tough on drugs” stance of the new Indonesian President. Of particular interest to Australians is that two citizens (members of the so-called “Bali 9″) who intended to import heroin to Australia are scheduled to be executed together soon, despite having very obviously become rehabilitated while in prison in Bali, to the extent that the Governor of their prison has argued they should not be executed.

In our opinion, using the death penalty to fight drug usage is unhelpful.

The “purely” legal arguments

Firstly, the act goes against a number of international law standards (to which Indonesia is a party) which argue that drug trafficking does not meet the standard of exceptionally severe crimes that warrant the imposition of the death penalty. Despite widespread support for the death penalty for drug crime in Indonesia, this point has been made in an opinion piece in the Jakarta Times last month. (An impressive example of how far this once authoritarian society has come in recent years.) Typically, such crimes include the death of another person – murder. Whilst many would argue that drug trafficking can contribute to the deaths of the eventual drug users, a straight line cannot be drawn between the act of drug trafficking and any individual death.

Secondly, for a dug criminal to be captured it follows that their drugs were interdicted. As the drugs never reached their target market, no one was harmed. One cannot execute someone for the possibility of having caused harm had the drugs got through.

The social arguments

Drug mules are often individuals who suffer from addiction themselves, and are vulnerable individuals who are desperate for money to feed their own habits. Whilst this is regrettable, it has a lower level of criminal culpability than those, for example, who manufacture the drugs or mastermind their distribution. What’s more, their own drug addiction should be viewed as a health issue: a matter for treatment, not punishment.

The real drug kingpins almost never appear in court. Too many cut outs exist between them and their mules. That they are allowed to go free (often protected by substantial political and judicial influence achieved through bribery with the very money generated by their own mules) is detestable. We cannot have one law for the rich and one for the poor.

Similarly, if they are ever ensnared in the judicial system, they can use their power to avoid severe punishment, an opportunity not available to their workers. For law to contribute to a more just society, it must be levied justly and equally or society itself becomes corrupted.

Last but by no means least, there is no evidence that the death penalty provides a deterrent against drug trafficking. Convictions for trafficking have increased in Indonesia despite recent cases of the death penalty being imposed. More than 50 persons currently sit on death row in Indonesia because of drug offences.

So what should we do?

The solution to the drug problem is two-pronged.

First, we should attack the source of the drugs – go after the owners and managers of the drug cartels rather than their soldiers. this need not only be via head on assault – identifying and confiscating their wealth would make the business notably less attractive. Significantly greater resources should be devoted to this effort.

Second, we should dramatically increase the health-based treatment of “hard” drug users in Western society, offering them treatment options which reduce demand for heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. While demand exists, the free market will find ways to meet it. One entirely sensible move would be to decriminalise (note, not legalise) these drugs and dispense them via the pharmacy profession, which would break the nexus between traffickers and also reduce death due to overdose and allow health education to and intervention with addicts.

Sadly, such moves are far less dramatic or newsworthy than tying people to a pole and shooting them. As always, politics is likely to win out over commonsense.

And in the meantime, those on death row and their families and friends go through the torments of hell wondering whether their sentences will, in fact, be carried out, and when. Such psychological torture is unconscionable in an advanced society.

There are no human beings in this world other than the taut and trim. Yeah. right.

There are no human beings in this world other than the taut and trim. Yeah. right.

 

The international phenomenon which is No Pants Day continues to grow exponentially in popularity.

Knobbly knees, pale-as-sunrise calves, cheeky buttocks and bizarre underwear. There was no shame for the thousands of commuters around the world who travelled sans trousers for the 14th No Pants Subway Ride and all its variants on Sunday.

What began as a small stunt by seven New York subway riders in 2002 has turned into a global event. The original pranksters, who formed the group Improv Everywhere, said pants were dropped and legs bared in 60 cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, London, Hong Kong and Johannesburg. On the Gold Coast, the privately-owned tram operator G:link shut it down just seconds before it was about to begin, but then that’s Queensland, where as all Aussies know the clocks are stopped at eight minutes to eight in the evening, or as we like to call it, 1952.

“It’s a celebration of silliness,” said Larry Piche, the organiser of Calgary’s No Pants Skytrain Ride. “There’s no real reason, just come out and play.”

And fair enough too. The world needs more silliness.

The premise is simple: don’t wear pants, ride the set route, and keep a straight face. But there are rules, such as being “tasteful and hygienic”, wearing “everyday” clothes from the waist up, and carrying a valid ticket.

“If questioned, you do not know any of the other pants-less riders. Tell folks that you ‘forgot to wear pants’,” organisers said on Facebook ahead of the Sydney event.

We have just one major concern.

Have all those discarding their skirts and trousers actually looked at a subway seat recently?

You know, the vomit-and-urine-soaked, chewing-gum-infested, coffee-and-coca-cola-stained subway seats we are all so used to?

As you can see from this charming video from TimeOut via YouTube, clean they ain’t.

If you can bear to watch it, the video shows clouds of dust billowing up from seats on London Underground lines as they are bashed with a rubber hammer. Testers looked at the Piccadilly, Victoria, Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee, Central, District, Circle, Hammersmith and City, and Metropolitan lines.

Even brand new ‘S’ stock trains on the District line, rolled out over the last year, contained significant quantities of the brown dust, which is thought to be a charming concoction of dead human skin and dirt from people’s shoes. Presumably even more skin particles, now.

 

 

We really don’t think you have to have a hygiene phobia to want that extra comfort of another layer of clothing between one’s fundament and the seat. Do you?

 

Gotta love those.

Gotta love those. Classy.

 

Can anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

Can anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

Anyhow, honestly, we have other concerns.

To look at the press coverage, one would think that everyone who cheerfully dropped their daks were buffed and shaped into swoon-worthy well-muscled buttness and thighness that was crying out to be freed for world view.

Whereas we are reasonably sure that a goodly proportion of the delightfully silly people that took part are boasting hidden bits that should, at the very least, stay hidden in public.

We assure you, Dear Reader, we will not be going bare-legged (or bare anythinged)  on the train anytime soon.

Mind you. What other opportunities are there for bare-leggedness that might offer an opportunity for a good laugh without the concomitant possibilities for rampant yeast infections?

#nopantshopping. We’d like to see that.

Populists, extreme right wing commentators and neo-conservatives continually seek to paint terrorism as a largely or exclusively Islamic phenomenon.

Their message of Islamophobia has been repeated many times since the George W. Bush era: their point is often simply that Islam is inherently violent, Christianity is inherently peaceful, and there is no such thing as a Christian terrorist or a white male terrorist.

But the facts simply don’t bear that out.

Far-right white male and extreme “Christians” are every bit as capable of acts of terrorism as radical Islamists, and to pretend that such terrorists don’t exist does the public a huge disservice, not to mention the hundreds of millions of Muslims who would never consider committing a terrorist act, all over the world.

When white males of the far right carry out violent attacks, media hacks, neocons and Republicans typically describe them as lone-wolf extremists rather than people who are part of terrorist networks or well-organised terrorist movements.

Lone wolf terrorists, radicalised by contact with extreme points of view, often on the internet, and attendance at training camps in remote locations – or in other words, just like the “Islamist” terrorists in France last week, in other words. Many of the terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by people who had long histories of networking with other terrorists. In fact, most of the terrorist activity occurring in the United States in recent years has not come from Muslims, but from a combination of radical Christianists, white supremacists and far-right militia groups.

Here are ten examples from America’s recent past:

1. Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, Aug. 5, 2012.

Virulent Islamophobia that has plagued post-9/11 America has not only posed a threat to Muslims, it has had deadly consequences for people of other faiths, including Sikhs.

Sikhs are not Muslims; the traditional Sikh attire, including their turbans, is different from traditional Sunni, Shiite or Sufi attire.

Sentenced to death on October 9, 2003. Re-sentenced to life in prison in 2006

Sentenced to death on October 9, 2003. Re-sentenced to life in prison in 2006

But to a moronic racist, a bearded Sikh looks like a Muslim. Only four days after 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh immigrant from India who owned a gas station in Mesa, Arizona, was murdered by Frank Silva Roque, a racist who obviously mistook him for a Muslim.

But Sodhi’s murder was not the last example of anti-Sikh violence in post-9/11 America.

On Aug. 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page used a semi-automatic weapon to murder six people during an attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Wade Michael Page

Wade Michael Page – Page took his life by shooting himself in the head after he was shot in the stomach by a responding police officer.

Page’s connection to the white supremacist movement was well-documented: he had been a member of the neo-Nazi rock bands End Empathy and Definite Hate.

Attorney General Eric Holder – America’s “top cop” – described the attack as “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred.”

Again, it is likely Page was simply too stupid to know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, not that such a distinction matters.

2. The murder of Dr. George Tiller, May 31, 2009.

Imagine that a physician had been the victim of an attempted assassination by an Islamic jihadist in 1993, and received numerous death threats from al-Qaeda after that, before being murdered by an al-Qaeda member. Neocons, Fox News and the Christian Right would have had a field day, blaming everyone in sight from the President downwards.

A physician was the victim of a terrorist killing that day, but neither the terrorist nor the people who inflamed the terrorist were Muslims.

Scott Roeder - jailed for life.

Scott Roeder – jailed for life with a minimum of 50 years.

Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and killed by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder on May 31, 2009, was a victim of Christian Right terrorism, not al-Qaeda.

Tiller had a long history of being targeted for violence by Christian Right terrorists.

In 1986, his clinic was firebombed. Then, in 1993, Tiller was shot five times by female Christian Right terrorist Shelly Shannon (now serving time in a federal prison) but survived that attack.

Given that Tiller had been the victim of an attempted murder and received countless death threats after that, Fox News would have done well to avoid fanning the flames of unrest. Instead, Bill O’Reilly repeatedly referred to him as “Tiller the baby killer.” When Roeder murdered Tiller, O’Reilly condemned the attack but did so in a way that was considered lukewarm at best.

Keith Olbermann called O’Reilly out and denounced him as a “facilitator for domestic terrorism” and a “blindly irresponsible man.” And Crazy for God author Frank Schaffer, who was formerly a figure on the Christian Right but has since become critical of that movement, asserted that the Christian Right’s extreme anti-abortion rhetoric “helped create the climate that made this murder likely to happen.”

Neocon Ann Coulter, meanwhile, viewed Tiller’s murder as a source of comic relief, telling O’Reilly, “I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester.”

Wiley Drake, vice-presidential candidate for the America’s Independent Party ticket in 2008 and the second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006–2007, asked on his radio show, “Would you have rejoiced when Adolf Hitler died during the war? … I would have said, ‘Amen! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! I’m glad he’s dead.’ This man, George Tiller, was far greater in his atrocities than Adolf Hitler, so I am happy; I am glad that he is dead.”

The right wing double standard when it comes to terrorism is obvious. At Fox News and AM neo-con talk radio, Islamic terrorism is a source of nonstop fear-mongering, while Christian Right terrorism gets excuses made for it.

3. Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 27, 2008.

Jim David Adkisson - sentenced to life in jail without parole.

Jim David Adkisson – sentenced to life in jail without parole.

On July 27, 2008, Christian Right sympathizer Jim David Adkisson walked into the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee during a children’s play and began shooting people at random.

Two were killed, while seven others were injured but survived. Some 200 people were watching the performance by 25 children when Adkisson  entered the church and opened fire on the audience pulling a sawn off 12-gauge shotgun out of a guitar case and began firing. At first, people thought that the loud bangs of the gunshots were part of the play. One person was killed at the scene: Greg McKendry (60), a longtime church member and usher who deliberately stood in front of the gunman to protect others. Later that night, a 61-year-old woman, Linda Kraeger, died from wounds suffered during the attack. Others injured by the shotgun blasts include TVUUC member Tammy Sommers, and visitors John Worth, Joe Barnhart, Jack Barnhart, and Linda Chavez. Allison Lee was injured while escaping with her young children.

Adkisson said he was motivated by a hatred of liberals, Democrats and gays, and he considered neocon Bernard Goldberg’s book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, his political manifesto. As he couldn’t reach his nation’s leaders he decided to murder those he saw as putting them in power.

Adkisson (who pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and is now serving life in prison without parole) was vehemently anti-abortion, but apparently committing an act of terrorism during a children’s play was good ol’ family values. While Adkisson’s act of terrorism was reported on Fox News, it didn’t get the round-the-clock coverage an act of Islamic terrorism would have garnered.

4. The murder of Dr. John Britton, July 29, 1994.

Paul Jennings Hill, Christianist terrorist

Paul Jennings Hill, Christianist terrorist

To hear some on the Christianist extreme Right tell it, there is no such thing as Christian terrorism. Tell that to the victims of the Army of God, a loose network of radical Christianists with a long history of terrorist attacks on abortion providers.

One Christian Right terrorist with ties to the Army of God was Paul Jennings Hill, who was executed by lethal injection on Sept. 3, 2003 for the murders of abortion doctor John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett. Hill shot both of them in cold blood and expressed no remorse whatsoever; he insisted he was doing’s God’s work and has been exalted as a martyr by the Army of God.

5. The Centennial Olympic Park bombing, July 27, 1996.

Paul Jennings Hill is hardly the only Christian terrorist who has been praised by the Army of God; they have also praised Eric Rudolph, who is serving life without parole for a long list of terrorist attacks committed in the name of Christianity.

Eric Rudolph after his capture

Eric Rudolph after his capture

Rudolph is best known for carrying out the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics—a blast that killed innocent spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others.

But Hawthorne wasn’t the only person Rudolph murdered: his bombing of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama in 1998 caused the death of Robert Sanderson (a Birmingham police officer and part-time security guard) and caused nurse Emily Lyons to lose an eye.

Rudolph’s other acts of Christianist terrorism include bombing the Otherwise Lounge (a lesbian bar in Atlanta) in 1997, and an abortion clinic in an Atlanta suburb in 1997.

Rudolph was no “lone wolf”: he was part of a terrorist movement that encouraged his violence. The extreme religious right in America continues to exalt Rudolph as a brave Christian who is doing God’s work.

6. The murder of Barnett Slepian by James Charles Kopp, Oct. 23, 1998.

Kopp - 25 years to life.

Kopp – 25 years to life.

Like Paul Jennings Hill, Eric Rudolph and Scott Roeder, Roman Catholic James Charles Kopp is a radical Christian terrorist who has been exalted as a hero by some.

On Oct. 23, 1998 Kopp fired a single shot into the Amherst, NY home of Barnett Slepian (a doctor who performed abortions), mortally wounding him. Slepian died an hour later.

Kopp later claimed he only meant to wound Slepian, not kill him. But Judge Michael D’Amico of Erin County, NY said that the killing was clearly premeditated and sentenced Kopp to 25 years to life.

Kopp is a suspect in other anti-abortion terrorist attacks, including the non-fatal shootings of three doctors in Canada, though it appears unlikely that Kopp will be extradited to Canada to face any charges.

7. Planned Parenthood bombing, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1994.

Salvi

John C Salvi – killed himself in prison.

Seldom has the term “Christian terrorist” been used in connection with John C. Salvi on AM talk radio or at Fox News, but it’s a term that easily applies to him.

In 1994, the radical anti-abortionist and Army of God member attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, Massachusetts, shooting and killing receptionists Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols and wounding several others.

Salvi was found dead in his prison cell two years later in 1996, and his death was ruled a suicide. Salvi has been exalted by some as a Christian martyr and described Lowney and Nichols not as victims of domestic terrorism, but as infidels who got what they deserved.

8. Suicide attack on IRS building in Austin, Texas, Feb. 18, 2010.

The Echelon complex after the attack

The Echelon complex after the attack

When Joseph Stack flew a plane into the Echelon office complex (where an IRS office was located), Fox News’ coverage of the incident was calm and matter-of-fact.

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa even seemed to find the attack amusing and joked that it could have been avoided if the federal government had followed his advice and abolished the IRS.

Joseph Stack, virulent anti-Government protestor and murderer

Joseph Stack, virulent anti-Government protestor and murderer

Nonetheless, there were two fatalities: Stack and IRS employee Vernon Hunter.

Stack left behind a rambling suicide note outlining his reasons for the attack, which included a disdain for the IRS as well as total disgust with health insurance companies and bank bailouts.

Some of the most insightful coverage of the incident came from philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky, who said that while Stack had some legitimate grievances — millions of Americans shared his outrage over bank bailouts and the practices of health insurance companies — the way he expressed them was absolutely wrong.

9. The murder of Alan Berg, June 18, 1984.

Alan Berg, murdered for speaking his mind in public. Exactly like the journalists of Charlie Hebdo.

Alan Berg, murdered for speaking his mind in public. Exactly like the journalists of Charlie Hebdo.

Liberal Denver-based talk show host Alan Berg was a critic of white supremacists who was killed with an automatic weapon on June 18, 1984.

The killing was linked to members of the Order, a white supremacist group that had marked Berg for death. Order members David Lane (a former Ku Klux Klan member who had also been active in the neo-nazi Aryan Nations) and Bruce Pierce were both convicted in federal court on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and violating Berg’s civil rights and given what amounted to life sentences. Bruce Pierce, who was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex in Union County, Pennsylvania, died of natural causes at age 56 on August 16, 2010. Lane, incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, died of an epileptic seizure aged 68 on May 28, 2007.

Robert Matthews, who founded the Order, got that name from a fictional group in white supremacist William Luther Pierce’s anti-Semitic 1978 novel, The Turner Diaries — a book Timothy McVeigh enjoyed. Believed, although never proven to be, a lookout in the Alan Berg shooting, Matthews was burned to death during a standoff with federal authorities on December 8, 1984, at his home in Coupeville, Washington.

The novel’s fictional account of the destruction of a government building has been described as the inspiration for the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. (See below.)

10. Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, 1995.

Extreme right wingers and their fellow travellers grow angry and uncomfortable whenever Timothy McVeigh is cited as an example of a non-Islamic terrorist. Pointing out that a non-Muslim white male carried out an attack as vicious and deadly as the Oklahoma City bombing doesn’t fit into their narrative that only Muslims and people of colour are capable of carrying out terrorist attacks.

The face of terror. White. Christian.

The face of terror. In this case, white. And Christian.

The often claim that bringing up McVeigh’s name during a discussion of terrorism is a “red herring” that distracts us from fighting radical Islamists, but that, of course, downplays the cruel, destructive nature of the attack.

Prior to the al-Qaeda attacks of 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing McVeigh orchestrated was the most deadly terrorist attack in U.S. history: 168 people were killed and more than 600 were injured, including nineteen children killed in the day care centre on the second floor.

When McVeigh drove a truck filled with explosives into the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, his goal was quite simply to kill as many people as possible.

Clearly, McVeigh was not motivated by radical Islam; rather, he was motivated by an extreme hatred for the U.S. government and saw the attack as revenge for the Ruby Ridge incident of 1992 and the Waco Siege in 1993. He had white supremacist leanings as well (when he was in the U.S. Army, McVeigh was reprimanded for wearing a “white power” T-shirt he had bought at a KKK demonstration). He was also bang in line with the “low taxes, small government” movement:  indeed, McVeigh wrote letters to local newspapers complaining about taxes:

Taxes are a joke. Regardless of what a political candidate “promises,” they will increase. More taxes are always the answer to government mismanagement. They mess up. We suffer. Taxes are reaching cataclysmic levels, with no slowdown in sight. […] Is a Civil War Imminent? Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesn’t come to that. But it might.

McVeigh’s biographers, Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, quote McVeigh, with whom they spoke for 75 hours, on his attitude to the victims. His lack of remorse was chilling and sociopathic:

To these people in Oklahoma who have lost a loved one, I’m sorry but it happens every day. You’re not the first mother to lose a kid, or the first grandparent to lose a grandson or a granddaughter. It happens every day, somewhere in the world. I’m not going to go into that courtroom, curl into a fetal ball and cry just because the victims want me to do that.

McVeigh exhibited exactly the same warped desire for martyrdom that is seen in suicide bombers the world over. Of his impending execution he said:

I knew I wanted this before it happened. I knew my objective was state-assisted suicide and when it happens, it’s in your face.

Having failed to set off a popular revolution, McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001. We believe he should have served life without parole instead, as a living reminder of the type of viciousness of which the white, organised “Christian” extreme right is capable. Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier were also convicted as conspirators in the plot. Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

It should be noted that McVeigh was of above average intelligence with an IQ of 126, and psychiatrist John Smith concluded that McVeigh was “a decent person who had allowed rage to build up inside him to the point that he had lashed out in one terrible, violent act.”

Many other examples are available, even of extremists linked to “Christian” organisations who attack people who they think are Jewish and end up murdering other Christians. They are not limited to America, they occur everywhere.

This is the point. No self-respecting Christian would tolerate being tarred with the same brush as these lunatics, and nor should they. 

Similarly no self-respecting Muslim should be expected to apologise over and over again for the madness of so-called Islamic terrorism, which also, we should remember, is far more likely to be targeted at other Muslims than it is at Christians or the West. Whatever the loathsome ageing owner of Fox News thinks.

Marginalised, ignorant, warped and sociopathic individuals of all religions and none are capable of horrific violence.

As we write this article new emerges of TWO THOUSAND villages slaughtered by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. An ethnic, anti-Western group hijacked by the proponents of extremist Islam, in fact the group is little more than a warlord-lead regional force dressed in religious clothing.

As we write news has emerged of TWO THOUSAND villages slaughtered by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. An ethnic, anti-Western group hijacked by the proponents of extremist Islam, in fact the group is little more than a warlord-led regional force dressed in fundamentalist religious clothing. It’s resort to extreme violence has snowballed and continues unabated.

The war against terror is not against Christianity, or Islam, or any other religion for that matter.

It is against those who teach that violence is the solution to political and economic problems, whether that violence is turned inward on a community, or externally, against other communities.

VIOLENCE is the enemy.

Get that clear, and say it again and again.

Just like three million people in Paris did today.

#jesuischarlie #wearenotafraid

(With thanks to Raw Story and others)

Originally posted on The Daily Think:

I didn’t get to switch the radio off in time this morning. She heard, and understood (it seems). This was her response. charlie Hebdo

View original

The wit of the common man

Posted: January 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

So you know how the iPhone offers you various Wi-Fi networks from people’s houses as you drive past?

That little screen that comes up? And how you – if you are a reprehensible cad – can experiment and see if you can nibble some free internet access off them?

We just drove past a house in Adelaide where the name of their little domestic network was “Fuck Off”.

#stilllaughing

2015/01/img_1719.jpg

je suis

 

No further blogs will be posted today as an act of respect for those murdered in Paris.

turkey

 

The Ocellated Turkey exists only in a 50,000 square mile area comprised of the Yucatan Peninsula range which includes the states of Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatan — as well as the northern parts of Belize and Guatemala.

The Ocellated Turkey is easily distinguished from its North American cousin in appearance. The body feathers of both male and female birds have a bronze-green iridescent color mixture, although females sometimes appear duller in color with more green than bronze pigments.

Unlike North American turkeys, breast feathers of male and female ocellated turkeys do not differ and cannot be used to determine sex. Neither male nor female birds have a beard.

We reckon Mr Ocellated Turkey would have the lady turkeys in quite a tizz. Simply beautiful. Although the chappie here seems to be working awfully hard and putting on a great show only to be ignored by ladies that appear more interested in eating their dinner. We feel his pain.

climate change effects

Last year was Australia’s third-hottest on record, the country’s well-respected Bureau of Meteorology says.

The BOM’s annual climate statement, released on Tuesday, said 2014 was the third-warmest year since reliable climate records began in Australia in 1910, with mean temperatures (taking into account both maximum and minimum temperatures) 0.91C above the long-term average.

A rise of two degrees will not be catastrophic, but polar bears will become extinct.

A rise of two degrees will not be catastrophic, but polar bears will become extinct. We’re halfway there now.

This is already halfway to the two-degree limit in global warming that Governments are supposedly seeking to achieve this century. Whilst change up to two degrees is expected to cause some problems, especially as regards species extinction, agriculturalists, public health, and fire danger, any warming above that level is expected to bring catastrophic climate change. And we’re already damn near 50% there.

BOM Climate Information Services assistant director Neil Plummer said 2014 was a year that included six significant warm spells or heat-waves with a notable reduction in colder weather.

The warmest year on record occurred the previous year, 2013, when the mean temperature was 1.2C above the long-term average.

“Particularly warm conditions occurred in spring 2014, which was Australia’s warmest spring on record,” Mr Plummer said. “El Nino-like effects were felt in drier and warmer conditions in much of eastern Australia during 2014.”

The World Meteorological Organisation is collating data but believes the world experienced its hottest or among its hottest years in 2014, Mr Plummer said.

The Climate Council’s Professor Will Steffen says climate change is a major factor in the near-record warmth recorded in 2014. He said 2013 and 2005 were the hottest and second-hottest years on record, and most notably 29 of the past 35 years were warmer than average.

“It is worrying that these sort of records are now being broken so regularly,” he said. “The impact of climate change on these trends is very clear. Climate change is making Australia hotter and more prone to bushfires.” (See our story on South Australia, yesterday.)

Meanwhile, Australia’s Government has scrapped the carbon trading scheme which was put in place to provide a market mechanism for reducing carbon dioxide emissions – a curious decision for a party committed to free market economics.

An astonishing and exhaustive list of anti-environment moves made by the Abbott Government appeared on precariousclimate.com back in September last year. If you were ever in any doubt that our Federal Government are a bunch climate troglodytes, check it out. It is a carefully compiled and damning document.

Whether it is cutting the money allocated to solar energy conversions to homes, (from one billion dollars to $2 million), repealing the “carbon tax”, abolishing climate change bodies, appointing climate change deniers to key Government positions both here and overseas, denying the link between climate change and bushfires, refusing to commit any climate finance for poor countries, (after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines and the Filipino delegation to a climate change conference called for urgent action), cutting research funding, slashing jobs in the Environment department, or hugely increasing assistance to fossil fuel industries, it is a sad, sad story.

 

Looks like the bulk of people in Africa will need to move to Canada. Hope they're ready.

Looks like the bulk of people in Africa will need to move to Canada. Hope they’re ready.

 

Of course, as this chart (representing a ‘best case’ scenario) on possible changes to agricultural productivity shows, the effects of climate change will fall hardest on the world’s poorest countries, where drought and starvation are already endemic. That will also be of little or not interest to the Abbott Government, which has just cut, in real terms, overseas aid, to address what is largely a mythical crisis in Government spending – the same Government, remember, that has ordered nearly 60 new fighter bombers with a maximum range of 200 miles. Massive projected changes to the main agricultural areas of Australia are very worrying. With the sole exception of south-eastern Australia, (where production will likely remain unchanged, although some cropping changes may be called for), the collapse in agricultural production is up to 25%. Given that the Liberal-National Party Coalition depends on rural seats for it’s existence, this will inevitably come back to bite them. When farmers realise that “green” policies are good for their business, look out.

Let us hope it really is #onetermtony before the country gets much hotter and our world changes beyond recognition.

“If all the girls who attended Yale were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be in the least surprised.” Famous wit, author and socialite Dorothy Parker demonstrates her grasp of paraprosdokians ….

As you will know, Dear Reader, from my previous ramblings on the subject, at http://wp.me/p1LY0z-jU, a Paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way – often a pun – that causes the reader or listener to re-frame or re-interpret the first part.

It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists. “Where there’s a will, I want to be in it,” is a famous and much-attributed paraprosdokian.

I love ‘em, and so apparently do you – so I am grateful to my good mate Scashy for this new list. Enjoy!

1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

2. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

3. I’d love to agree with you. But then again, then we’d both be wrong.

4. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

5. Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

6. The evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

7. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

8. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a poor memory.

9. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.

10. You’re never too old to learn. Often something really stupid and intended for the young.

11. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target. (This one is especially useful in business, I have found.)

12. Change is inevitable. Except from your office vending machine.

13. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

14. My neighbour banged on my door at 2:30am this morning. Can you believe that: 2:30am? Luckily for him I was still up playing my Bagpipes.

15. The Grim Reaper came for me last night, and I beat him off with a vacuum cleaner. Talk about Dyson with death.

16. I woke up last night to find the ghost of Gloria Gaynor standing at the foot of my bed. At first I was afraid. Then I was petrified.

17. The wife has been missing a week now. Police said to prepare for the worst. So I have been to the charity shop to get all her clothes back just in case.

18. A mate of mine recently admitted to being addicted to drinking brake fluid.   When I quizzed him on it he reckoned he could stop any time.

19. I went to the cemetery yesterday to lay some flowers on a grave.  As I was standing there I noticed four funeral guys in big black hats walking about with a coffin, Three hours later and they’re still walking about with it.  I thought to myself, , “Well, they’ve lost the plot!”

20. My daughter asked me for a pet spider for her birthday, so I went to our local pet shop and they were $70.  Blow that, I thought, I can get one cheaper off the web.

21. Statistically, six out of seven dwarves are not happy.

22. I was at an ATM yesterday when a little old lady asked if I could check her balance. So I pushed her over.

23. I start a new job in Seoul next week.  I thought it was a good Korea move.

24. I was driving this morning when I saw a roadside assistance van parked. The driver was sobbing uncontrollably and looked very miserable.  I thought to myself, ‘That guy’s heading for a breakdown.’

25. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

26. Some people are like Slinkies. Not really good for anything, but you can’t help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.

27. Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.

28. A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.

29. Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.

30. Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

31. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Brigade usually uses water.

And perhaps my personal favourite …

32. I seem to always miss my husband. But my aim is improving.