Category Archives: General Interest

Flat Earth Politics!

This article has been in the “thought” phase for quite some time now. I originally intended it to be an indictment of the Trump Presidency – and for the insularists who think American politics only affect America, and have nothing to do with us…do some reading, study some history and grow up – but in the face of the current political climate globally, its scope expanded so much that I was  losing track of its reach! On reviewing the current thinking vomited out by so called right-wing conservative extremists, the first thing that flashed through my mind when wanting to write about them was that they had a Flat Earth Mentality…a narrow, self-serving view of the world; a blinkered view in which the wants and needs of those who, thinking they were initiating change, put them in control. I had naively thought the stupidity I was witnessing would diverge into common sense – but that hasn’t been the case! It has only been since the recent French elections, and the rejection of the right wing extremism there that I am starting to hope that change is starting to happen as people begin to realise the dangers inherent in current conservative politics. This article is not about a solution, nor is it a definitive  observation of all that is concerning at this time – one would need a novel to cover that! It is purely a personal observation of the dangers of Flat Earth thinking!

Flat earth theory is still around. On the internet and in small meeting rooms in Britain and the US, flat earth believers get together to challenge the “conspiracy” that the Earth is round.
“People are definitely prejudiced against flat-earthers,” says John Davis, a flat earth theorist based in Tennessee, reacting to the new Microsoft commercial.

“Many use the term ‘flat-earther’ as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism.”

Mr Davis, a 25-year-old computer scientist originally from Canada, first became interested in flat earth theory after “coming across some literature from the Flat Earth Society a few years ago”.

“I came to realise how much we take at face value,” he says. “We humans seem to be pleased with just accepting what we are told, no matter how much it goes against our senses.”

Flat Earth Societies go back to the Victorian era, and though basically of Christian origin, the fact that there is a recent (tongue-in-cheek?) resurgence amongst those of an Atheist inclination   shows that narrow-minded and non-investigative thinking survives the passage of time.

We have known for centuries that the earth is not flat, that by sailing in a straight line the horizon will never disappear, so you won’t suddenly sail over the edge into oblivion! But the really fascinating aspect of Flat Earth Societies isn’t  that they exist, but that they can – against all reasoned thinking and knowledge – convince others that the earth is flat, and can even produce writings, drawings and arguments to back the theory up! In other words, they can prevail against common sense and observation, and make people believe that lies and deceit are real. However, the ignorant thinking that created the Flat Earth Societies in the first place is now a sad reality in our political lives. The notion of government “of the people, by the people, for the people” has morphed into government “of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy” is our new reality!

Flat Earth map drawn by Orlando Ferguson in 1893. The map contains several references to biblical passages as well as various jabs at the

In supposed enlightened countries such as Australia, America & the United Kingdom, the swing towards conservative, riggt-wing (rxtremist) politics, and the dross that this leaning brings with it is particularly concerning, and the foolhardiness of allowing this thinking to permeate our political systems is rapidly showing a divisive and reckless disregard for social fairness, truth, justice and common sense. The propagators of this system of thinking are rapidly back-peddling us towards oblivion with their flat earth mentality!

In Australia, we are all yoo familiar with Flat Earth politics -we have now had decades of it, and it’s wearing us out! From the Howard years, with its total disregard for the dignity and worthiness of our immigrant populations – including so-named “boat people”; it’s total ignoring of the needs of elderly & disabled populations (I clearly remember budget after budget with not even a mention of pension increases, despite the cost of living rises leaving us far behind); the usual right wing panderings to the wealthy – both individual & corporate; and their eventual demise thanks to flogging their dead horse…WorkChoices, which in reality gave no worker a choice at all – to the disillusionment of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years! 

Instead of giving the hard-pressed, ignored people of this country a hoped for government that would be fair and equitable, we ended up with a rabble! Despite great promise in some areas – such as a huge (badly needed) pension rise, and steering us strongly through the Global Financial Crisis by encouraging spending, and putting money into public works to keep employment rates high and money circulating – they soon decended into a politicking, rudderless (no pun intended!) mess, with a PM who was bever home to do his job, who micro-managed his cabinet, over-loaded himself with portfolios, and was too busy trying to be popularist to get things right! With the country being governed by the deputy PM, and with some good policies that were (unfortunately) badly thought out, and rushed – it was inevitable that in-fighting would rock the boat. But even with Julia Gillard – who was never given a fair-go – at the helm, what should have been easy legislation to enact – marriage equality for LGBTQ people…ESPECIALLY in a Labor government…became their Flat Earth stumbling block! Our first ever female PM; not married to her partner; an Atheist; a disappointment! Follow this with a second travesty of a spill, returning a now ineffective Rudd to power – no wonder the ultra conservative LNP was returned to power…despite having an inept clown – Tony Abbott – as its leader!

Abbott was the ultimate Flat Earther! Disbanding revenue-raising taxes legislated by Labor; a climate change denier; a misogynist; a practising Catholic who dragged religious ideology into his political life, thus his decision making processes; a nentality that belonged in the 50s – his resurrection of the antiquated  British peerage system was a low point of a patheticly short stint as PM; again, the inability…on supposed moral grounds…of marriage equality legislation though he tried to set in motion a plebiscite on the issue; disgusing treatment of immagrints fleeing wars & persecution, and setting ip what were basically inhumane detention centres to hold them; allowing the corrupt, immoral rantings of the Murdoch press to comment on his every word; his inability to accept blame for a rapidly rising deficit, producing one of the worst – and most controversial – budgets in Australia’s history…while all the time blaming Labor for their inability to rein it in; and finally bowing out as the worst polling PM in our history, leading the worst polling government in our history! Enter Malcolm Turnbull! Despite a reputation for being a left-leaning Liberal, he was – and is – a bitter disappointment to both sides of parliament! Having already ruined the National Broadvand Network…a technology that would have made us world leaders in this area…he then proceeded to disallusion  everyone by towing the party line on issues such as immigration; the handling of detention centres; same-sex marriage; privatisation; total neglect and disregard for those on welfare – including unemployment; the attempted dismantling of section 18C of the anti-discrimination act…which they still fail to see the immorality in, despite the attempt failing; continued pandering to wealthy & elitist individuals and companies…not ONCE has any of the LNP even suggested clawing back taxation not paid by many of the same businesses and corporations that the government loves to protect!! At the last election, they were returned by one seat – ONE! Next election, they’ll be out!

Unfortunately for our poor, battered (politically) country, our Flat Earthers are not limited to Howard, Abbott & Turnbull – we seem to be inundated with them at this point in time; Pauline Hanson, Bob Katter, Barnaby Joyce, George Brandis, Christopher Pyne, Nick Xenophon, George Chritiansen, Ian McFarlane, Warren Truss – to name a few – really point to a very low point in the Australian political landscape. These bastions of non-ethical, immoral, injust & prejudiced bias to a set of values entrenched in a distant past can now pride themselves of making us one of the few first world countriens to NOT have marriage equality! Good on you, guys!

Note that I am not even wasting breath on our latest promoter of “Christian” values, and biblical  ethics – Margaret Court! She could form a Flat Earth Society all on her own! From record holding national tennis icon to moronic foot-in-mouther…in one single step! If nothing else, she has proved the Flat Earthedness of religion at it’s most backward and inane.

This, in turn, leads to America! If Abbott was our ultimate Flat Earther…Trump is theirs! America, by their own admission, has had some dud Presidents – Nixon & the Bush’s for starters! But this is the first time they have had one who is truly dangerous! An Oligarch, an elitist, a brutish, rascist, misogynistic, self-serving businessman! And unfortunately for America, it’s outdated, and downright idiotic voting system is the only reason he is there! American (and indeed nany Australians) think that putting Trump into power really has no affect on us over here! Wrong! We are tied to America through treaties,  military involvement, and trade to a greater degree! 

I have never seen a President parodied, and memed as much as Trump! To the point of embarrassment, as he does little to help the possible softening of social media blows!One is just staggered at the stupidity of an electoral system that can place a corrupt, mentally ill, uneducated, egotistical man in as POTUS! He has the attention span of a gnat, no plan for anything he’s doing, abusing his executive powers, evidently removing financial regulations (wonder who could profit from that!), has put his family into his administration (nepotism!), has put people in to head things like the EPO who are only in favour of making money and don’t give a fuck about the environment; has refused to separate his business dealings from his Presidency (causing conflict of interest); has…to date…refused to disclose his taxation records; creates policy on the run – then when the courts say it’s not legal…throws a tanty because he didn’t get his way…and the CIA are refusing to implement the policy as well; has made an enemy of the media – a big mistake, as nothing he does will go unreported; thinks a country can be run like a business! It can’t! Very few – if any – of his electoral promises will be fulfilled, including Making America Great Again! The only people benefiting from the Donald J Trump Presidency…are the Trumps!  His isolationist approach will, if it continues, see America cut off from most of the world powers! That will not stregthen America…only weaken it! He is already denounced by most of the European powers, his recent visit there nothing but a total fiasco for America, as he tried to bully and threaten his way through meetings and conferences! The only thing he managed was the alienation of world leaders of countries such as Germany & France! On the world stage, he is a total failure! His ignorance of the workings of international politics; his inability to be a public speaker; his constant obsession for inane tweets on Twitter; his inability to check himself; using the treasury like his own bank account…who pays for all those golfing weekends to Florida, and all the security surrounding Trump Tower vecause his family don’t want to reside in the White House; his firing of staff because they don’t fall into line with his demands…the list goes on…and on…and on…make him a true Flat Earther! The back-slapping that went on with the ultra right wing consrrvative British PM – Theresa May – was vomitous! Another Flat Earth politician, whose reign may be about to come to an end! The resurgence of white supremacist groups, the trend towards irrational thinking, the clutching to empty promises, and the belief in resurrecting what can’t be resurrected in America is worrying – particularly for the welfare of America.  

Theresa May, like Malcolm Turnbull, is a victim of thinking that the public – in general – are also Flat Earth thinkers! Very wrong! Like Turnbull, she assumed that by calling an early election, the ounlic would hand her a mandate to govern – at will – on a silver platter! Well, as here, that didn’t go as planned, did it! The voters, finally fed up with empty promises, warped thinking, and over-inflated ego’s almost lost her everything…as also happened here! A hung parliament is just one small step away from a total drubbing at the next election! And typical of the desperation to cling to power at any cost…she now tries to do deals with the devil! To attempt a coalition government with the DUP (created by the Rev Ian Paisley…the Flat Earthers Flat Earther) will pretty well spell the demise of the Tories, as a party to be even considered serious government. What a disterous mess for Britain! Welcome to the world of Clayton’s government! The government you have, when you don’t have a government!

However, it is not all doom & gloom! Emmanuel Macron winning the recent French election against the ultra conservative right brightened up an otherwise overcast international…and local…political climate! Other rays of hope and enlightenment – come from Justin Trudeau in Canada, and the potential new world leader – whose strength and forthrightness is to be  commended –  Angela Merkel in Germany. None of these world leaders suffer idiots well. Meanwhile, here in Australia, we continue to suck arse to Trump…all the while looking more and more foolish!

I do predict an end to extremist ultra conservative right wing politics! World wide, those suppressed and disadvantaged…the disenfranchised…are fighting back via the ballot box! Weary of supporting those who take advantage of us; weary of money dictating policy; weary of watching the “haves” get away with it yet again, and feeding none of their ill-gained wealth back into society; weary of shouldering the whole tax burden, while watching welfare stripped away, health care & education underfunded or disbanded; weary of religion creating factions, terrorism, social inequality, and dividing peoples & nations; weary of the environment being raped, ecosystems destroyed, whole species decimated or extinct; weary of no one caring about what is now very obvious climate change; weary of media who no longer see the validity of honest, open, accurate reportage from journalists that care about their job to report things as-is, but belittle it with trivia disguised as news (see Pipoa Middletons wedding, or Scharpelle Corby’s return to Australia); weary of media saturation of terrorist activities, and natural disasters, so desensitising us that we no longer care…do, in fact, change channels; and weary of social media stripping us of our individuality…making us double check ourselves everytime we post, repost, or comment! 

We can only spend so much time and energy being weary! It is only a matter of time before the scales tilt the other way…to us wanting to be awake, aware and happy again!

That day is coming! The reign of the Flat Earthers is coming to an end!

Tim Alderman (C 2017)


(N)One Nation: The Politics of Stupid!

After its troucing in the WA election – where the projected 13% of the vote in pre-election polling dropped to 4.7% on the actual day – One Nation is once AGAIN in damage control! Despite this being a constant with them, one has to wonder just how one-eyed the people who vote for them really are! Of course, the question is – did Pauline’s rather startling preference deal with the Libs; her thoughtless comments on vaccination programs; Sandy Baraiolo being disendorsed for refusing to hand over access to her Facebook account after criticism of One Nation’s preference deal with the Liberals; Margaret Dodd quitting on the eve of the election, labelling the party a dictatorship; Dane Sorensen being dumped as another critic of the preference deal;  Stephen Piper being disendorsed over a disciplinary issue; or Ray Gould quitting,  complaining the party had been dishonest about its intention to do a deal with the Liberals – have anything to do with the slaughter…or are the voters starting to realise that far right conservatism is just that, and considering the current blatherings forthcoming from Canberra, they are never going to be given a fair deal unless they are wealthy, a big business or a corporation. I digress!

Considering the current state of gut-reaction politics that seems to be overtaking the world – Trump in The USA (a disaster of unparalleled proportions), and the Trumpesque Theresa May in Britain – one has to scratch ones head as to why One Nation are seen as a legitimate alternative in Australia! Their extensive litany of disasters, foot-in-mouth comments, corruption, and loose canon candidates shows a party in constant disarray, with no strong leadership, no clear policies, conflicting directions, and ongoing sell-outs by supporting the LNP on matters that one would have thought were contrary to their mission! 

Listing “the stupid” of this party shows a staggering array of disasters that, in any other reality than that which we are currently faced with, would see them not just disendorsed…but so on the nose that not even the most unread voter would support them! But like the proverbial Lazarus, they keep rising from the dead! 

The chronicle: March 11 1995 – Fish and chip shop owner Pauline Hanson begins her political career as an independent Ipswich City Councillor. She decided to run when Labor mayor David Underwood was thrown out of office by Labor councillors, with Ms Hanson saying: “How can a handful of people throw out a man elected by the people?” She was voted out the following year and subsequently joined the Liberal Party. January 6 1996 – Ms Hanson writes the following letter, published in the Queensland Times, about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: “How can we expect this race to help themselves when governments shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the Indigenous [sic] blood is that flows through their veins and that is what is causing racism.”How can we expect this race to help themselves when governments shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the Indigenous [sic] blood is that flows through their veins and that is what is causing racism.” January 27, 1996 –  Then prime minister Paul Keating calls the election and Ms Hanson starts campaigning to become the Liberal MP for Oxley. She has a tough margin to overcome — the sitting Labor member Les Scott was sitting on a margin of 12.58 per cent after his third term in the Lower House.   – February 14 1996 –  Just over two weeks from election, Ms Hanson’s letter leads to her disendorsement by the Liberal Party, led by soon-to-be prime minister John Howard. The Queensland branch president tells her she could keep her election posters if references to the party were covered up. She leaves the meeting in tears. Ballot papers had already been printed and voters would see her listed as the Liberal candidate when they went to the polls. March 2, 1996 –  Ms Hanson is elected to Federal Parliament and John Howard leads the Coalition to victory. September 6 1996 – Ms Hanson makes her maiden speech in parliament and famously says, “I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians”. October 13, 1996 –  60 Minutes journalist Tracey Curro asks Ms Hanson if she is xenophobic, she famously responds “please explain”.  – February 23 1997 –  Almost one year into her term, Ms Hanson forms the One Nation party with the help of co-founders David Oldfield and David Ettridge. Mr Oldfield was still working as a political advisor for backbench MP Tony Abbott when he started helping Ms Hanson in 1996. He left the Liberal Party in 1997 to become Ms Hanson’s senior political advisor before the party officially launched on April 11. June 13 1998 – One Nation wins 22.68 per cent of the primary vote at the Queensland state election — more than the Liberal Party — to pick up 11 seats at the election. It was the biggest win One Nation had in its entire history. July 2, 1998 –  Mr Abbott declares he will fight to have One Nation deregistered as a political party. He argues it is not a political party but a business. One Nation’s opponents argue it did not have the 500 members needed to claim party status and therefore has to pay back $500,000 to the electoral commission. October 3, 1998 –  Ms Hanson runs in the Queensland seat of Blair, instead of Oxley, but loses. She manages to pick up the largest swag of primary votes (35.97 per cent) but loses through preferences to her Liberal opponent. The Labor, Liberal and National parties preference each other ahead of One Nation. Her party only picks up one seat, with Len Harris being elected to the Senate. February 4 1999 – Fractures at the state level see three of the 11 Queensland MPs elected 8 months earlier quit the party. They think party administration has too much control. Three more would quit later in the year and form the City Country Alliance. One Nation loses its party status at the state level and the Queensland Electoral Commission chased them for the $500,000 given after the 1998 election. 27 March, 1999 –  Mr Abbott’s former adviser and One Nation co-founder Mr Oldfield is elected in the NSW Upper House. Ms Hanson expels him from the party one-and-a-half years later after a disagreement. He publicly accuses Ms Hanson of being irrational. “Bear in mind that since, you know, Pauline said a few things in Ipswich in the middle of 1996, everything including her maiden speech and every word of any consequence that she’s said since, has actually been written for her,” he said. He split the NSW branch from the rest of One Nation. 17 February, 2001 –  A week after picking up three seats in the West Australian state election, One Nation is reduced to three seats in the Queensland state election. 31 July 2001 – Ms Hanson appears before the Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with electoral fraud.  She pleads not guilty, saying: “I do believe that this is a political witch-hunt.” Mr Abbott takes the opportunity to knock back any suggestion of a preference deal with One Nation, saying: “My view is that we shouldn’t play footsies with One Nation.” March 22, 2003 –  Ms Hanson tries to gain a seat in the NSW Upper House as an independent. She fails, getting 1.9 per cent of the votes. July 15 2003 – Ms Hanson stands trial for electoral fraud in Brisbane with One Nation co-founder Mr Ettridge.She pleads not guilty to fraudulently registering One Nation and obtaining more than $500,000 from the AEC. There were 30 witnesses over 23 days, the jury takes a day to find them both guilty. Crown lawyers accuse them of falsely claiming more than 500 people were party members, when they were just supporters of Ms Hanson. They argue members have to have voting rights and that $5 is too little for membership fees. Ms Hanson is sentenced to three years’ jail and yells: “Rubbish, I’m not guilty… it’s a joke.” August 20 2003 – Ms Hanson cries as she hugs her co-accused and two sons. Three days later, federal Liberal backbencher Bronwyn Bishop says the case is something you would expect to see under Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe regime. “It’s gone beyond just political argy-bargy of political opponents … I’ve been very critical of her and her party, but this is something that is above and beyond that political argument — this is someone who has been sent to jail because she spoke her views and that is not acceptable in this country,” she said. “Very simply, for the first time in Australia, we now have a political prisoner and I find that totally unacceptable … in a country where freedom of speech and freedom to act as a political individual is sacrosanct.” 26 August 2003 – Mr Abbott admits to setting up a $100,000 fund to help build a case against Ms Hanson. The Australians for Honest Politics fund was set up in 1998 and its purpose was to help fund civil cases against One Nation. Mr Abbott met with multiple One Nation dissidents when it was set up to try to bring down the anti-immigration party. One of the cases was from Terry Sharples — he fought to have the party deregistered through a civil case and it made him bankrupt. Mr Abbott says he acted alone and offered Mr Sharples $10,000. The former One Nation member has a different story: he says the then prime minister John Howard knew of the fund and that he was offered around $20,000. November 6 2003 – Ms Hanson successfully appeals the conviction and she is released from prison. A week-and-a-half later, she threatens to run against Mr Abbott in his Sydney electorate. “I hope Tony Abbott never becomes prime minister. I detest the man,” she said. May 24 2007 – Ms Hanson launches Pauline’s United Australia Party and fails in her run for the Senate in the 2007 federal election. 7 March, 2013 –  Ms Hanson announces she will run for a Senate seat for NSW at the upcoming federal election. She rejoins the One Nation party after flagging interest in rejoining the Liberal Party. She fails in her bid, getting 1.14 per cent of primary votes. August 8 2013 – One Nation candidate for the Brisbane seat of Rankin has a disastrous interview on Channel 7. Stephanie Banister mistakenly calls the Koran “Haram” and confuses the three Abrehemic religions saying, “Jews aren’t under haram, they have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ”. July 2 2016 – After another failed bid to gain a seat in the Queensland Parliament during the 2015 election, One Nation runs 27 candidates in the 2016 federal election. During the campaign, she calls for a ban on Muslim immigration to Australia, a royal commission into Islam and a ban on new mosques. While votes are sill being counted, Ms Hanson looks assured to win a spot in the Senate after securing more than 9 per cent of the vote in Queensland. 18 December 2016 –  Rod Culleton (WA) left the party after months of legal troubles and party infighting to sit as an independent bringing the number of party senators to 3. Party leader Pauline Hanson responded that Culleton was a “pain in the backside” and that she was “glad to see the back of him” 3 February 2017 – The High Court of Australia ruled that Culleton’s election was invalid due to a conviction for which he was subject to being sentenced at the time of the election, notwithstanding that the conviction was subsequently annulled. The resulting vacancy was filled by a recount of the votes at the election, which resulted in Peter Georgiou taking the seat and returning the One Nation representation in the Senate to four. 13 February 2017 – Several WA One Nation candidates say they will refuse to preference the Liberal Party, contrary to a statewide deal announced on the weekend. The WA Liberals will preference One Nation above the Nationals in the Upper House in regional areas, with One Nation preferencing the Liberals in all Lower House seats in return. High-profile One Nation candidate Margaret Dodd, who is contesting the Liberal-held seat of Scarborough for One Nation and is the mother of murdered teenager Hayley Dodd, today condemned the decision and accused the party of bullying its candidates.Speaking outside a Perth court where her daughter’s alleged murderer, Francis Wark, appeared today, Ms Dodd said she had “not been informed of any [preference] deal whatsoever, and I’m sure all the candidates haven’t”. “I will make my own choices on who I will give my preferences to, and it certainly will not be the Liberal party,” she said. 26 February 2017 – One Nation has removed two of its West Australian election candidates just weeks out from state polling day. Pauline Hanson’s party scrapped North West Central candidate Dane Sorensen and Thornlie candidate Sandy Baraiolo for critiquing the party’s preference swap deal with the Liberal Party, AAP reports. One Nation’s WA leader Colin Tincknell said the pair had not met party standards. March 8 2017 – Ms Hanson makes crazy comments about childhood vaccination “Parents are saying vaccinations have an effect on some children. Go and have your tests first. You can have a test on your child first,” Senator Hanson told Insiders. The comments were condemned by the medical community and Senator Hanson today conceded she was “wrong” about a test for vaccinations. She was forced to apologise for the comments. March 13 2017 – Despite not getting anywhere near the 13% of the votes predicted for ON in the WA election, Pauline Hanson defended One Nation’s performance this morning, saying the party had a “fantastic” result despite winning less seats than foreca Senator Hanson blamed a Labor “scare campaign” over the One Nation preference deal with the WA Liberals for the party not claiming more votes. The One Nation leader also rejected suggestions Malcolm Turnbull had nothing to do with the Liberal’s landslide election loss in WA in an interview with Channel Seven’s Sunrise program this morning. She placed the blame squarely on Premier Colin Barnett. 

And so on…and so on. Add to this a string of racist remarks from candidates, and Pauline’s constant denials that she is a racist – despite actually being one! There is no denying that she appeals to the right-wing conservatives in the community, along with those who think racism, prejudice & discrimination are “okay”, those who listen to her rhetoric, and think we are being “swamped” by Asians and people from Muslim backgrounds, and those who think immigration should be severely cut back, or curtailed altogether.  It is perhaps unfortunate that these same people also think that all blunders and bad overall performance is nothing to worry about, that the party will eventually prevail and the country will end up hunky-dory! Most worrying about this attitude is the absence of research, intelligent discussion and downright common sense!

Nobody is happy at the moment. Right-wing conservative politics are proving to be a dismal failure! As always, this path leads to policies aimed squarely at both well-to-do individuals, and corporations. Every time the question is asked by government “where is the money going to come from to pay our deficit?” The answer is never to tax the wealthy, or to chase up businesses and corporations who shirk paying a fair share of taxation – if any at all! In an increasingly secular society, taxing churches and religious organisations is still ignored. However, money is constantly geing pulled from health, education, family benefits and services, and the needy on welfare. 

In a time past, we could rely on the Labor party to support and devote policies to these very areas that the LNP robs to pay for their extravagances! But Labor is letting its supporters down by bad preference deals, disunity, the stink of corruption – especially in the Union sector – and a general lack of strength and leadership. With these scenario’s constantly being thrown at us by the media, is it any wonder people are looking for alternatives!

However, the answer doesn’t lie in the other extreme. One Nation, at its very heart, IS extreme right-wing conservative politics! Given its history of voting with the LNP on conservative agendas, one would think that would be a call to its supporters to rethink just where their vote is going! It is not the wealthy, nor big business, nor corporations that are voting for them…it’s the lower class workers, the battlers, the disenfranchised who are voting for One Nation – and they are – just as in Trump’s America – the ones who will get nothing! 

The politics of stupid lives on! 

Tim Alderman (2017)

But I’m not racist!

    Cubbie Station & Water Allocation Abuse!

    Cubbie Station in Queensland, the overallocation of precious water from our river systems, and the government neglect…both State & Federal…of this issue, would appear to have been flying under the radar for the last couple of years!

    This post appeared in my Facebook feed recently:

    I have a huge amount of family history in Broken Hill, and the Bourke region on the Darling River. For many years now, Cubbie Station has been controversially taking advantage of a massive water allocation, which has severe effects on the waterways, and creating water shortages in river systems as far down as the Murray River!
    What is really annoying is that under the original owners, Cubbie Station Group, the property used to be a cattle station, then in 1983 and then under the Japanese ownership, it was turned over to cotton…one of the most water use intensive crops there is…and really not suitable as a crop in this country!

    Cubbie Station on the map

    So, what is Cubbie Station…and well you may ask! According to Wikioedia, it’s located on the Darling Riverine Plains bioregion, near Dirranbandi in Queensland. Itbus the LARGEST irrigation property in the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE! The property covers 96,000 hectares (240,000acres) and is managed by the Lempriere Group, on behalf of CS Agriculture, a joint venture betweenn Lempriere & Shandong RuYi Group, a textile manufacturer owned by investors from China & Japan.

    Cubbie Station in South Queensland, Australia’s major interstate water diversion issue.

    The station has significant water rights to flows along the Culgoa River, within the Murray-Darling basin.  The topography of the area is defined by channels & floodplains of the upper reaches of the Darling & Barwon Rivers. Cotton was originally grown in the area from the late 1970s. In 1983, Cubbie Station was converted from grazing practices to cotton growing. The property consists of both agricultural & non-agricultural uses, with approx 22,000 hectares (54,000 acres) presently developed, with a further 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) under development.

    The station was created by amalgamating twelve floodplain properties to give Cubbie a total of fifty-one licences. The station’s water storage dams stretch for more than 28 kilometres (17 mi) along the Culgoa River, within the Murray-Darling basin. In an average year the station uses 200,000 megalitres (7,100×106 cu ft) of water, in a good year as much as 500,000 megalitres (18,000×106 cu ft).

    The water is used to supply 130 square kilometres (50 sq mi) of irrigated cotton and other crops including wheat, which generates a net profit in the range of A$50 million to A$80 million a year.
    The station is licensed to take 460,000 megalitres (16,000×106 cu ft),[3] the equivalent of all irrigation entitlements downstream in north-western NSW. The property has the capacity to grow 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi) of cotton. In 2006, the dams on the property were filled to 1% capacity allowing for only 200 hectares (490 acres) of cotton planting. The station is often derided for its large water usage requirements in a time of extreme drought in Australia and damage to the Murray Darling river system.

    Scott Bridle: Picking Cotton at Cubbie Station.
    During his term as Minister for the Environment, Malcolm Turnbull did not rule out its possible acquisition by the Australian government, however he is now Prime Minister, and the acquisition of Cubbie Station has never occured. 
    On 29 October 2009, Cubbie Group Limited, the former owner of Cubbie Station, announced it would voluntarily enter administration on the following day. The company had incurred debts of over A$300 million, as a result of poor rainfall in the region in the preceding five years. Corporate recovery specialists, McGrathNicol, were appointed as Administrators of the Cubbie Group on 30 October 2009. On 31 August 2012 the Australian Government, on advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board, approved the sale of Cubbie Group, to a consortium comprising Shandong RuYi Scientific & Technological Group Co Ltd, a clothing and textile company owned by Chinese and Japanese investors, and Lempriere Group, an Australian family-owned company involved in wool trading and agricultural property management.[11] The approval provided RuYi with an 80% initial ownership interest on condition that this interest be reduced to 51% within three years. The interest is to be sold to an independent third party.[12] The consortium are bound by existing water licence conditions[12] and the property is operated and managed by the Australian company using the existing workforce. At the time, the Liberal Party were in opposition, and supported the purchase. However, there was dissension amongst some members of the Nationals, who had concerns with foreign-ownership of agricultural land and water rights, claiming that the sale is not in Australia’s national interest. The purchase of Cubbie Group by the joint venture CS Agriculture was completed on 25 January 2013, for an estimated purchase price of A$240 million.

    So, we now have an Austealian agricultural enterprise, with huge water allocation rights, owned by foreign companies…and let’s be realistic – are they really concerned about destroying viable and much needed river biosystems…compared to making profits! 

    In his “Crikey” article “How Cubbie (and Labor) Consumed the Murray Darling (August 21, 2008), Bernard Keane rather pointedly noted that the story of Cubbie Station is “an incestuous saga of arrogance & influence”! He further notes “The extent of the Queensland Government’s parochial and profligate attitude to water management continues to attract criticism. Put simply, the Queenslanders couldn’t care less about the health of rivers either on their side of the border or beyond. Penny Wong can only wring her hands and sympathise with farmers downstream.

    The Queenslanders continue to trot out the line that they take only 5% of water from the Murray-Darling. It’s literally correct — that’s what they take out. It’s what they prevent from entering from run-off that is the key — and that is much more. The CSIRO’s recent report on Water Availability in the Condamine-Balonne reveals a vast and unsustainably over-allocated system that sees over 50% of water extracted from the Balonne-Culgoa before it reaches NSW.” One doesn’t need to go into the Darling or down into the Murray to see the environmental havoc wreaked by this water “mismanagement”! Thousands of hectares of dead trees on the Culgoa floodplain and a system approaching tipping point! For years, Cubbie Group — the vast cancer on the Balonne-Culgoa which exemplifies all that is wrong with the states’ management of water — has maintained that it only extracts 0.2% of Murray-Darling water. Fair Water Use Australia has pointed out that this ignores the bulk of Cubbie’s water — from overland flows prevented from entering the Balonne and Culgoa Rivers — and that the 0.2% is based on average flows anyway, rather than conditions following heavy rains.
    On August 19 2009, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article – in the Federal Politics section – titled  “Cubbie Station sums up Murray-Darling tragedy”. It calls Cubbie Station a case study in (water) overallocation. The station has long been cast as the villain in the slow death of the Murray-Darling river system. At this time, the 93,000 hectare property was up for sale, and there was debate about the Commonwealth purchasing its water reserves, and is a reminder that the Murray-Darling story is an environmental and economic tragedy involving many villains. As the Federal Government is cautioning, buying these water entitlements is not a simple matter. This, in turn, reflects the failure of governments, irrigators and water authorities to establish nationally consistent rules for the Murray-Darling system. 

    The first sticking point is that Queensland law on water entitlements is different from that of other states because the water cannot be sold separately from the land entitlements. Queensland is moving to enable separate sales, but faces a legal challenge from irrigators along the Condamine-Balonne river system, from which Cubbie draws its water. Clearly, though, uniform rules are essential if the Murray-Darling is to be managed properly. Despite Queensland’s government being responsible for the overallocation, Anna Bligh (the Premier at that time)  was right in saying that the Cubbie sale offered an opportunity for the Queensland, NSW and federal governments to reconsider water allocations. 

    As things stand, the main beneficiaries of a water release from Cubbie station would be farms across the border in NSW, whose licences permit them to pump more out of the river as levels rise. The Commonwealth might have to buy back Cubbie station’s entitlements and matching amounts from NSW irrigators to achieve an extra, and expensive, environmental flow.

    The lesson of Cubbie station is that there isn’t nearly as much water available as once expected, particularly if climate change has taken hold. Federal and state governments need to go back and review all licences and rewrite the rules of the current highly compromised national water plan to arrive at a system capable of sustaining the environment and agricultural ventures for years to come.

    In “The Land” (15 March 2013), Matthew Cranston wrote an article “Cubbie’s new owners look at water sale”. He noted “THE new Chinese and Japanese ­owners of Cubbie Station are looking at selling water back to the federal government less then two months after paying $232 million for the debt-laden cotton farm.The 96,000 hectare property in south-western Queensland has been the centre of controversy because of its huge water entitlements within the Murray Darling Basin system. It officially changed hands on January 15 after being bought by CS Agriculture, a company backed by Chinese group Shandong Ruyi, Japanese trading giant Itochu, and fifth generation Australian wool trader Lempriere Group…”We have committed to consider the option of selling any excess ­entitlements into water buyback schemes,” Mr McKenna said at the Rural Press Club in Brisbane.”.

    To date, nothing appears to have happened, and if water buy-backs are being considered, there certainly doesn’t seem to be any rush to complete them…much to the detriment of the river system!

    My Great Grand Uncle, Captain George Rickinson Swan Pickhills, captained steamers up and down the Darling River from the second half of the 1800s up until the early 1900s. He was an unintentional environmentalist, and protector of the waterways, long gefore it was fashionable to be so! He was an outspoken man, and wroye many letters, and written observations, to both state government river authorities and newspapers regarding many issues of water management, and infrastructure building, particularly aling the Darling. The seasonal ebbs and flows if the river are well noted in his ibservations, including oeriods where, for NATURAL reasons, the river was not navigable due to the drop in water levels. He would be horrified to learn if the actual ssle of this precious commodity, in huge golumes, to properties that not only witheld the excess water from the tiver system, but were openly growing croos that consumed enormoys quantities of same water! It is perhaps due to his agitation and outspokeness that it vould be of enormous benefit to have him around today! Do not rake on rough, tough Yorkshire men!

    That aside, this issue of overallication of water rights, and the inability to vontain them has been going on for a long, long time now. In a country where droughts are as prevalent as floods, one has to wonder just what the hell is going on! It raises a lot of issues, and one has to question just how much influence does money have! 

    • Considering the well documented historical records of the ebbs and flows of the Murray-Darling river system, one has to question the validity of EVER selling water rights from them in the first place!
    • Considering that the property was bought in recent years by FOREIGN investors, who had to be granted permission by the government of the day for the purchase, why was not a huge cut-back on the size of the water allocation part of the deal!
    • Of great concern has to be the question of, with the investors living in other countries, whether the environmental concerns regarding these important river systems is of any concern to them whatsoever!
    • Considering that Cubbie Station KNOWS that it takes far, far more water than it needs in allocations, in times of duress (as far as water flow goes on the rivers), could they not voluntarily instigate negotiations with the government to either (a) sell back excess water or…and far less likely (b) voluntarily just return water to the system purely for the sake of the environment, and saving the river system! If nothing else, considering that Cubbie Station is seen, in the public eye, as a giant, grasping, greedy, self indulgent property, that has a total disregard for the environment…it would be a great PR exercise!

    The government really does need to step in, and not only massively cut back their water allocation, but look at the detrimental effects on the environment & waterways caused by Cubbie Station! But the problem is also about more than water allocations! It is about unsustainable farming practises in general, growing crops along the river ststems that require massive amounts of water to irrigate them. The government needs to promote and reeducate our farmers about adopting sustainable crops and farming methods…and not just there, but along all of our water systems as well! The effects if vlimate change arebecoming  more noticable as time goes on, and the next period of severe drought – if not happening already – is probably not far away! In a country of climatic extremes, we need more foresight, and a more insightful look at how we manages our very precious resources. Greed and ignorance are not yhe answers to these very complex questions!

    Cubbie Station flyover


    Tim Alderman (2017)

      Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: The Disgrace of the Tasmanian Salmon Farming Big Guns- Tassal!

      4 Corners Monday 31st October 2016 – Big Fish 

      On last nights 4 Corners, we were presented with an investigation into the big wigs of salmon farming in Tasmania, and what was revealed is everything that is wrong with big corporations, not just here but worldwide. The lack of accountability, and the culture of denial for these companies is no longer something that can be hidden in plain sight.
      To quote from my Facebook post just an hour after watching this  gobsmacking investigation where a serious  issue is treated like a game by Tassal –  “Lies, no transparency, lies, huge profits, lies, environmental vandalism to the once pristine waters around Tassie, lies, setting up “plants” for the 4 Corners interview, lies, ruining other businesses through their practices, lies, over-populating salmon farms, lies, denial of everything, and lies. Did I mention lies? And as to the WWF – just like the Heart Tick, it’s all up for sale under the guise of “donations” – provided the WWF can see fit to bestow its logo upon you…or as long as you can afford it. Corporate corruption is just par for the course these days, with government and its agencies seemingly turning a blind eye! Thank heaven for concerned citizens, whistleblowers, and those who are so fed up with it all that they just give the big FUCK YOU to them!

      Oh..and in case you didn’t know, your lovely pink farmed salmon is coloured chemically through the fish food…they even get to choose the shade of pink! 

      I am so glad I hate salmon, so not helping towards the profits of these unethical, immoral corporations. What an eye-opener…and unfortunately, none of it a shock! Let’s hope the pot has had a good stirring!”

      Tassal are currently in the process of gaining permision to expand their salmon farming in bays along the Tasmanian shoreline. The environmental impact of what will become over-farming is dividing the community, but as always local government, state govrrnment and related agencies appear to be ignoring impact reports, and personal attempted interventions from those both experienced in the industry, and in several cases those impacted on a oersonal level by the current aggressive actions by Tassal.

      The amount of fish excrement, and residue from feeding pellets, has to have a detrimental effect on what is currently a pristine environment, sitting on a knife edge. It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to see that things could – and have been – be tipped over the edge. That 4 Corners came to town obvioysly wasn’t a welcome intrusion “Four Corners doesn’t come down unless the community is concerned, I get that… I would be happier if we just slid under your radar and you hadn’t been here, but you’re here.” Company CEO. Obviously some Tassal employees are in the job just fot the pay – and not company loyalty – as several leaked documents from Tassal showed an attempt at subterfuge as far as the investigative team were concerned. Not only was a 50-page how-to-handle-Four-Corners manual produced by them, but most tellingly was a list of local big wigs who were “encouraged” to offer their support of Tassal in a contrived meeting that was rigged in their favour. One has to wonder just what inducements were offered by Tassal to gain their endorsement!

      Even worse was a mussel farming small business that had been put out of business by Tassal’s intensive farming methods. A deadly sludge produced by cleaning methods on the salmon farms had coated and killed the mussels. Not only did the farm go broke, but a marriage was destroyed. Tassal, obviously not afraid to take advantage of a situation, offered to buy out the mussel farm leases – but with caveats attached. Most notable was the requirement to silence on the matter, that it was never to be spoken about, nor were they to denigrate Tassal. The poor ex-owner of the mussel farm was sick of carrying the burden around, and broke the caveat by speaking out against them. We need more people like this in the world! 

      But perhaps the most disappointing – though not really coming as a shock – was the attitude and lack of ethics of WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Australia. We have known for some time now that organisations like this – and the Heart Tick is another – get funding from selling their logo to put on products distributed by corporations like Tassal – with no impunity! This organisation is supposedly about protecting the environment, and the wildlife within the environs. However, it would appear that money is more important than ethics, despite knowing that their logo on a product is, from the publics point of view, a reason to select that product for purchase. What a savage deception! The organisations we turn to to provide protection in the environment against the violations of big business (who only care about shareholders and profits) is disillusioning! They are really no better than those offering “donations” to procure an endorsement that is, as it turns out, just a joke. WWF Australia did a total fail with their attempts to validate why Tassal were allowed to use their logo!

      The sad thing is that once again, big business is bulldozing its way through the process, offering the community much needed jobs and money…but at what cost! Often, as we know, the end does not justify the means. Tassal are, like so many corporations now, using language and trends to portray their businesses in a positive light. They tout their transparency (at the opaque end of the scale) and their environmental “sustainability” and “best practice” like badges of honour, meanwhile hiding behind the semantics, and self-reporting (all in-house) to subvert the outcome to something that is less than desirable, or accountable  Producing salmon is big business and the industry is reaping big profits with plans to turn it into a billion dollar industry within 15 years. “”I would say that salmon farming is clean and green though it’s not a term that I’d like to use. I would say that it’s a responsibly farmed product and I think we do it in an environmentally responsible way.” Company spokesperson”.

      Thankfully, I do not like salmon, so feel I can assume the high moral ground…don’t take that seriously, please! However, finding out what went into the feeding pellets…some ingredients even unknown by the employee intervieed – would positively turn your stomach. I encountered a similar situation with dogs kibble several years ago, and I now read ingredients listings, and pay more for quality kibble. That there is a chemical colouring agent included in the feed should be of concern to everyone. “If a consumer were to see a salmon fillet that was a pale grey or a white, chances are they wouldn’t buy it.” Lawyer!

      There are those who care – members of the local community, environmentalists, ecologists, whistleblowers, and those whose livlihoods have been destroyed by the bullying tactics of big business like Tassal. While empty-mouthing platitudes about “the industry pulling  together”, are really just interested in their own profits, and giving shareholders a dividend. It is a sad state of affairs.

      Tim Alderman (C) 2016


      “Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like “steampunks”, perhaps…”

      -K.W. Jeter[1]

      Have you ever liked a particular style of jewellery, fashion, or design only to find, further down the line that not only does it have a name, but that it is a trend or movement? That happened for me with Steampunk.

      Just prior to leaving Brisbane in early 2014, I was rummaging through the jewellery in a new gift store that had opened over the road from me, and picked up the following piece,  mainly because it was one of the few masculine pieces there, but also because I love things made out of cogs and gears. Unwittingly, I had entered the world of Steampunk! My final conversion was “Liking” a Facebook page called Steampunk Tendencies – the ephemera shown in their FB promotion was too much for me to ignore – I mean – fountain pens with intricate gold skeleton work wrapped around them! How could I NOT be addicted!

      So, you are probably asking the same question I did – what the fuck is Steampunk? According to an article in the Huffington Post Style blog “What the hell is Steampunk?” [2] “So what the hell is steampunk? The term itself comes from science fiction novels. It was allegedly coined by author Kevin Jeter as a way of distinguishing him and fellow tetro-tech sci-fi writers from future-loving “cyberpunks” like William Gibson. But it’s grown into a whole visual style, and even a philosophy. It’s all about mixing old and new: fusing the usability of modern technology with the design aesthetic and philosophy of the Victorian age. Or as US young fiction author Caitlin Kittredge put it: “It’s sort of Victorian-industrial, but with more whimsy and fewer orphans…”

      In its glibbest sense, it can be seen as a way of giving your personal technology a goth make-over. Imagine a top of the range computer pimped out to look like an old typewriter, or an iPhone dock that lets you answer your phone using an old brass and wood receiver. But at its deepest, it’s a whole way of looking and living: and a colourful protest against the inexorable advance of technology itself. And it’s a trend that’s sneaking its way into loads of different sectors: from fashion to film, interior design to video games…”

      According to an article on Wikipedia “Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk may, therefore, be described as neo-Victorian.

      Steampunk perhaps most recognisably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt and China Miéville. Other examples of steampunk contain alternative history-style presentations of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analogue computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
      Steampunk may also incorporate additional elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction, making it often a hybrid genre. The first known appearance of the term steampunk was in 1987, though it now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created even as far back as the 1950s or 1960s.
      Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures, that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.”

      The Steampunk movement flourishes through inventive repurposing: old elements find new uses. ‘Nemo’s Steampunk Clock/Electrostatic Voltmeter’ is the time-telling creation of Roger Wood; see more of his designs at Image courtesy Klockwerks
      It is an odd – yet…not so odd – mixing of the technology of the now, the technology of the past, particularly Victorian, and the Victorian era itself. It expresses itself through history, gadgets, gizmo’s, literature, fashion, music, magazines, conventions, lifestyle. It is the true expression of a “movement”, a trend-in-the-making. In a recent documentary I watched titled “Vintage Tomorrows” [3], one interviwee mused that if Steampunk was to invent a WMD, it would be the size of a room, and be covered in levers, buttons, bells and flashing lights…most of which would do absolutely nothing. In a way, that describes Steampunk!

      Sam Van Olffen has an abundance of examples of Steampunk design featuring the stereotypical gears and brassy look.
      There is a very obvious bias towards romanticising the Victorian era, which is one of its more controversial aspects. Re-enacting and harking to this era is, to many – including Steampunk adherents themselves – is to base yourself in an era where the Industrial Era came to full fruition, along with its coal dust, choking air, its noise, its chimney stacks. It was a period of immense poverty, of workers being paid a pittance for long hours of work, child labour, women being denied the vote, slavery, and unconscionable wars and cultural destruction in places such as Egypt, India and Africa. Yes, it was an era of great inventions, ingenuity and forward thinking, but despite this it is not an era that should hold notions of romance, frivolity and purity. One woman in “Vintage Tomorrows”, discussing the wearing of Victorian clothing, noted that she had stopped wearing her pith helmet, as it brought to mind the savagery the British had inflicted upon both India & Africa as Colonial “masters”!

      steampunk iPhone dock
      It is for similar reasons that I see myself more an admirer and wearer of the Steampunk aesthetic,  more so than a lifestyle adherent. If one can single out the pure ingenuity and inventiveness of the era, as distinct from reliving the era through clothing and settings, then one can approach it with a clear conscience.

      The Movement also harkens back to the authors of the era – Jules Verne & H.G.Wells, who created fantastical machines, and undertook fantasy journeys.  Books such as “Joyrney to the Centre of the Earth”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, “The Time Machine”, “Sleepy Hollow”, “Sherlock Holmes” and “Around the World in 80 Days” are steeped in the Steampunk aesthete. For more modern examples we only have to look to “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, modern remakes of the Victorian classics, “Faucalt’s Pendulum” by Umberto Ecco, “Blade Runner”, China Meiville etc to see where the Steampunk Movement draws its inspiration from.

      Original illustration of Jules Verne’s Nautilus engine room
      I am not even going to attempt to cover the whole field of Steampunk in this brief piece, but I will include a list of some of the links that you can use for further research into this old-but-new Movement. It is, in my opinion, and despite controversy, one of the singularly most intriguing Movements to come along for a long, long time. It caters to history freaks, those into fantasy & science fiction, those into costuming, jewellery, the lovers of gizmo’s, reality escapists, and those like me who just idolise it for its eccentricity, and inventiveness. In a word – Steampunk Rocks!

      For the fascinated, Steampunk has sub-genres [5] for those into specific areas:

      • Boilerpunk: The blue-collar answer to aristocratic Steampunk, incorporating the experiences and hardships of actually shoveling coal to gring steam to the upper classes. Vive la Revolution! “Ainsley threw the hot coals at his supervisors protective steam powered mask;the man didn’t even flinch, heing accustomed to it from the proletariat.”
      • Clockpunk: Clockwork technologies replace replace or supercede traditional steam power. “Ainsley got his finger caught in the gear and screamed even as he realised his miscue would throw all,of London off schedule.
      • Dieselpunk: A heresy wherein diesel fuel and nuclear power replace steam power in alternate histories that often have a political component “Ainsley pushed the baroque OFFLINE button, but the diesel fuel continued to feed the reactor, with devastating consequences.”
      •  Gaslight Romance: A mainly British term for the alternative histories that romantisise the Victorian era. Some Brits would argue that all American Steampunk is actually gaslight romance “Ainsley put on his monacle and, bypassing the door leading down into the boiler room and the brutes who worked there, went to the quarterdeck of the airship, there to enjoy a nice cucumber-and-prawn sandwich edged with gold leaf as the servants wiped the floor clean of the blood from the recent encounter with the enemies of the Empire.”
      • Mannerspunk: Fiction that may, or may not, be deemed Steampunk in which elaborate social heirarchies provide the friction, conflict and action of the narrative, usually in the context of endless formal dances. At parties. In Mansions. “Ainsley took the hand of Lady Borregard andswept her across the dance floor, away from that cad Bennington and his steam-powered shoes that never missed a step; ‘Darling’ he said, ‘what rumors do you hear of the Countess Automaton and her piratical sub-siblings in the boiler room; isn’t it scandalous?'”
      • Raygun Gothic: Though not strictly a subgenre, this type of retro-futurism based in part on Art deco and streamlined modern styles has been used for a number of science fiction settings, usually in movies. Coined by William Gibson, the term has become more useful in the context of Steampunk as the fiction has come to feature more and more tinkers and artists. “Ainsley soldered the door to the boiler room shut in an attempt to stall the Revolution a couple of hours more using his ultrachic GSG (Gothic Solder Gun), which he had baroqued-up on the orders of the Queen herself.”
      • Stitchpunk: Fiction influenced by the DIY and crafts element of Steampunk, with a prime example being the animated movie 9, in which cute Frankenstein doll-creatures stitched together by bits of burlap sack try to save the world. In a wider context, Stitchpunk emphasises the role of weavers, tinkers, and darners in Steampunk. “Ainsley was soon accosted by the homeless tinker-weavers living in the shadow if the boiler room. ‘Only through the loom may you ge free, comrade,’ they would say.”

      Very shortly, I will have the following two items in my hands. And I don’t think they will be my last!

      Steampunk Salvaged Apocalypse Watch
      Anatomical Rib Cage Pocket Watch from Steampunk Fans
      Tim Alderman (C2016)

      The fountain pens that first drew my attention to Steampunk
      Steampunk Movement Toad Sunglasses
      iRobot Pendant – Jewelled Watch Movement
      Steampunk Necklace – Bumble bee pendant with silver watch movement
      Steampunk Cufflinks – Steam Designs
      Steampunk Gold Filigree Ring Victorian Watch Movement with Clockwork Gears Topaz Blue Swarovski Crystal with Adjustable Band
      Steampunk Ying & Yang Pendant

      ESS Watch Steampunk Skeleton Watch

      Further Reading

      1: Sheidlower, Jesse (March 9, 2005) Science Fiction Citations

      2: Huffington Post 17 December 2011

      3: July 12 2015 (USA). According to IMdB “Documentary · VINTAGE TOMORROWS examines Steampunk’s origins, explosive growth, and cultural significance. Is the Steampunk movement a homogenized, privileged subculture or a reclamation of technology …”

      4: Wikipedia

      5: The Steampunk Bible

      Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: This Bloody Marriage Equality Plebiscite!




      noun: plebiscite; plural noun: plebiscites

      the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution.

      “the administration will hold a plebiscite for the approval of constitutional reforms”

      synonyms: vote, referendum, ballot, poll

      “a plebiscite for the approval of constitutional reforms”


      a law enacted by the plebeians’ assembly.

      Australia is moving backwards at the speed of light! I have always been proud to be a member of society in a country that used to be progressive, fair-minded, and – to a large extent – liberal (not in the political party sense of the word) in its attitudes! But the current path we are heading down has me throwing my hands in the air.

      GLBT members of this society have had to sit on their hands over the last few years as country after country – some leaning towards the conservative sude of things – has passed marriage equality legislation. Even our “other state” over the ditch (New Zealand for our overseas readers), who can be more British than the Brits, have marriage equality. 

      There was a time when we would have been at the forefront with this move towards equality for all…but apparently no more. The move to have a plebiscite to change the definition of marriage – how marriage ever became a government defined societal act in the first place is something I’m not going into – was mooted originally by our ultra-conservative, Catholic now-ex-PM Tony Abbott, as a way of avouding the issue from a parliamentary perspective, and seeming to allow the “Australian people” to have a say in things – despite polls over the years showing a steadily increasing percentage of the population being in favour of marriage equality. Go figure!

      A vote for marriage equality could be done thus week by a vote in parliament. Yes, they do have that power! Instead, PM Malcolm aTurnbull – who is personally in favour of msrriage equality – has decided to not stick by his guns, nor show the guts needed to tell his party to show some gumption by voting on the issue, but going forward with this plebuscite that is going to cost the aAustralian taxpayers around $160+ million. And this from a government facing the largest budget deficit ever seen in this countries history! To make it even worse, they are oroviding funding to both the Yes and No sides of the argument!

      So, what will the plebiscite give us that a vote in parliament won’t? In a word – nothing! It will happen, the conservatives will be left wringing their hands while the najority of us celebrate. It is the process of a plebiscite that is the problem! The government throwing some funding their way must have groups like the Australian Christian Lobby rubbing their hands with glee as they plot and plan their campaign of lies,misinformation, diversions and fear! Society will implode, the hand of god will strike us all down, and life as we know it will never be the same again! What a crock of shit! The proponents of hate-speech – invluding some of our conservative politicians and independents – are going to have a field day! Yeah, sure, the government has said that anti-discrimination legislation will still apply as a condition of the funding…but that does not stop what will be preached from pulpits (under the guide of biblical sermons), or is said in private, or behind the closed doors of meetings (redacted minutes?)! Nor will it stop the crackpots who just don’t care who they hurt pr traumatise! It is a prescription for hate! 

      I’m an old hand when it comes to bullying and nane-calling as a nember of the LGBT community. It is like water off a ducks back! But not all are as tough! There are those poised on the sidelines, waiting for that magic moment amongst all their sexual confusion when the light comes on, they have that instant courage, and come out. They will be watching this shit-fight going on around them! They will see the hate, the lies, the true characters of those who think that they have rights that others shouldn’t have! And they will stop, and wonder…is this what I want to find if I come out! I fear – and bleed – for them!

      What is it with this country that we always choose – or rather our politicians choose – the wrong way to approach things that can gring about great change in our society! We had it with the Republican referendum in 1999, when nany of us wanted a Republic, but were forced to vote against it due to the question containing the condition that the President would be voted in by parliament, rather than by the people! Needless to say, it failed. Now we have a similar issue with the plebiscite. It has become such a contentious issue that the opposition will more than likely vote against it, and as much as I hate to say this about anything that can bring about change – I hope the plebiscite doesn’t go ahead. It is time for our government to take some responsibility, and be arbiters of change, rather than “throwing blame” back onto the voting punlic, and allowing the advocates of hate, prejudice, intolerance and stigma to have their moment in the spotlight. Their insistence – against all reason – to tow the party line is not only putting them out of touch, but displays a crack within their own party that reeks of intolerance and hate!

      I do not want marriage equality for myself. I am more than happy to live in sin. But I do want it for those who want it. Like everything else in society, they have a right to choice, a right to love their partner as they see fit. And no one has the right to deprive them of that. Society will not implode, the planet will not stop turning, lightening will not flow from heaven haling in the apocalypse! NOTHING will change! In 2004, PM John Howard used parliamentary vote to add the common law  definition of marriage (that it is between a man and a woman) to the marriage act. If a vote of this nature can be used to change the definition of the act once, it can be used to change it again!

      The plebiscite, I think, will fail! The wait goes on! Change WILL come! Hate will never win out against tolerance and love! EVER!

      Tim Alderman (C 2016)

      I Do!

      Men: The “Cloning” Phenomenon! (Does My Cock Look Big In This?)

      Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are based on observation, not personal likes, dislikes or desire.



      A person who imitates or copies another.

      Source: [1970’s]

      The standardized gay male appearance. In the 70’s the look included a mustache, short hair, muscle shirt/flannel shirt and Levi’s, good muscle definition. The late 80’s -90’s included short hair, long sideburns, white t-shirt, shorts/jeans and Doc boots with gray socks.

      Source: [1970’s]”

      I hate to diss on my own sex – I reckon they get enough unwarranted stick as it is – but what the fuck is going on with men at the moment! Being male myself, I know what battles have been fought over the last three or four decades to break away from the ingrained social and familial stereotyping that constricted and confined us in regards to behaviour, self-expression, language, grooming, dress,  and emotion. We have, up until more liberating times, been automatons, never being ourselves, nor allowing ourselves to be perceived as weak, or dandified. Now, all that has changed – but have we taken it all too far, and created a deadly trap that will be difficult for many of us to get out of?
      In the very early 80s, a trend appeared on the gay scene. Gay men were dressing in uber masculine styles – Levi 501s with white, black or navy Bonds tees; flannelette shirts; leather vests; construction gear; cowboy hats; Bonds navy or white singlets; moustaches and buzz-cut hair. The look became known as the “Clone” look, as all the youngish guys were dressing this way. There was a backlash – largely ignored – from the older gays, who had lived much of their gay life at underground parties, dinner parties, saunas and beats. They were not “out” regarding their sexuality, and found it intimidating that others could be so overt. What they failed to see was that the Clone  movement was driven by LGBT people fighting against the oppression and sublimation of gay culture and lifestyle. They were outrightly saying we are not the portrayed limp-wristed fairies, we are not effete, we don’t all speak with lisps, nor are we all window and hair dressers. We are men; we are sexual beings, and we want to rejoice in it, yet at the same time, we are very much like everyone else. This style of radicalism, this uber masculinity, is happening again at the moment, though sexuality isn’t at the forefront.

      Bring on the Clones!

      The trend – and it is big – is noticeable on several fronts: overly toned, physique obsessed bodies; the proliferation of tattoos and piercings; fashion, and grooming. It is virtually impossible to look at a movie, a television advertisement, a magazine, go to the beach, or to your local gym to see the body obsession. It is now at a very unhealthy level! It is all about weights, and more weights. Slim the waist, pump up the pecs and biceps, work on that 6 or 8 pack stomach, get to the lowest possible body fat percentage – and spend a lot of time checking out other guys…and checking yourself out in every mirror or store eindow that you encounter. Guys are no longer content to just be fit! It is not all that long ago that we decided to tackle the obesity problem that has become a national disgrace. The trend turned towards fitness – losing excess weight, developing a healthy body through exercise and diet, and maintaining an active lifestyle. The message seems to have gotten mangled somewhere along the way. Now, the problem I personally have with slim, heavily muscled guys covered in tatts is that…I like it – at least to look at. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see the bad side of the trend, and acknowledge that there is going to be – if not already – a negative side to it. The obsessive nature of reaching this goal is already having repercussions. In a recent chat with a mate who, by his own admission, had been obsessed with building the “perfect” body – and boy, he did look really hot when he achieved it – showed the dark side of this obsession. He was attending the gym 2-3 times per DAY -which on its own is very dangerous, as the body has no time to rest up, and repair damage. There was the over-use of supplements, including pre-workout, with no regard as to what they may obtain. His personal and family life were affected, with his partner feeling she was powerless to intervene. It was, in his own words, a deadly obsession.

      The dream!

      The other real problems associated with the body obsession is that if guys feel that photos don’t show them in the light they want to be seen in – hey…photoshop it! Photoshopped images are very obvious due to their “plastic” look – well, to everyone except those doing the tweaking, anyway! The really concerning aspect though, is the young ages of many men following this trend. You now see 15-18yo guys with bodies that just don’t look right – and at that age, you don’t need heavy workouts, as most are already lean, and just need a small amount of muscle work, as building muscle is easy at that age. Body dysmorphia is becoming an ever increasing problem, along with low self-esteem, setting unrealistic goals, dietary problems due to the cutting out of essential food groups, and setting themselves up for a fall. Sustaining these types of bodies is, for most, improbable in the long term. No one is thinking – what’s going to happen if I get ill, or get into a relationship that doesn’t allow time for heavy workouts, or what if I have kids, or change jobs, or move to areas where regular access to a gym is not possible! Workout from home? Yeah sure – judt look at how much home gym equipment is sitting under beds, is on Ebay, or goes out with the next clean-up! What happens is…all that muscle becomes fat. And what about the guys who go above and beyond with supplements, into the world of testosterone injections, HGH, or steroids! The future health implications are very serious, with heart and renal problems that can – at the very worst – kill you. The price is way too high for just looking like a super-human!
      All this has further led onto other strange, uniquely 21st century phenomena. Guys have started removing all body hair (I so want to lick their smooth bodies all over!) by laser, cream depilation (Veet has a depilatory cream out just for men) or body shaving. This often includes either severely cropped genital pubic hair – or its total removal. Personally, I hate body hair, and both shave and depilate regularly. My pet loathing is thick course body hair, especially on the back, shoulders and bum. Many love it…but to each their own. Which leads onto – tattooing.

      Tattoos used to be looked down on, but now it seems that they have earned a degree of respectability. But not the simple, single tattoo that I have on my arm – these are full-blown torso, and full sleeve, tattoos! Many of which are quite elaborate, and works of art in the true sense of the word. How guys can afford them is beyond me, let alone find the time to have it done. Guys are even getting their cocks tattooed! It is now very much a case of monkey see, monkey do, as the phenomena is widely spread. Add the proliferation of body piercings, and you have a case of individuality going out the window! I lovetattoos, and find them very erotic, but even I question why so many men are going all-out to cover themselves in body art. Straight men have become the new gay Clones!

      The problem is, guys, that if we line you all up…you all look the same!

      And what is it with things like top-knots (man-buns) and tiny pony tails! Thankfully, the fashion didn’t last long, but while it did they seemed to be everywhere, including on a lot of men they didn’t suit. Then we had everyone growing beards! It is all just strange!

      Double up – beard & man-bun!

      Fashion at the  moment is pretty cool, I have to say. Amazing tee-shirts and shirts, great shoe designs, and I love the lean look of slim cut chinos, jeans and shorts. Men have finally got daring with colour and pattern, and are not afraid to show some bare ankle under a roll-cuffed chino. V-neck tees show off defined bodies, and jackets and hoodies have once again become proper fashion accessories. Handbags (I HATE the term “man-bag”) and satchels have given us an excuse to no longer have bulging pockets. And just as you ladies have under garments that “lift this; squeeze that; push that down”, so to has mens underwear moved into narcissism territory! In some cases, as below, it has truly gone overboard! It’s bad enough that there are “fitness” products promoted as taking the work out of exercise, and exercise from the “comfort of your own home” – welcome to the lazy world of those who want to look good, but without the hard yards – but this padding to look like muscles takes it to an even lower level! Add this to the line up of compression tops to pull the fat in, underwear with padded bums, and a host of underwear designed to make your cock look bigger…and you have to wonder if we are living in a world of delusion, one where your true self is made unavailable to other people! Individuality would appear to be well and truly out of fashion. 

      I run a Tumblr feed (with 1,200 followers) – yes, like all other men I do look at porn – and the most notable thing about it – apart from all the sucking and fucking photos from blogs I follow – is the obsession with HUGE cocks. I’m sure there is a lot of Photoshopping going on, as some of them are so huge it is actually funny. If their cocks are really that big, I feel sorry for them, as there is nothing you could do with it that could be deemed pleasurable, and it must be very difficult to not only hide, but do anything…including sitting…comfortably! In this boys world, anything over 71/2″-8″ is just wasted. I don’t get the fascination, and frankly I’m bored with it. My blog is very popular, and surprisingly because most of the guys have clothing on – in one form or another. Okay, it is a fetish  blog  for guys into Speedos, aussieBums, jockstraps, tattoos, footy shorts and military, but there is an absence of full on nudity, and little sex. Seems there are a lot of guys bored with basic porn, who like hot guys with clothes on, male couples showing affection, the erotic appeal of swimwear, jockstraps and uniforms. Sometimes, there is a lot to be said for subtlety!  

      You would need to be a little bit scared of picking anyone up with this lot on!

      So guys, it’s time to reclaim your individuality. Start thinking of working out to get toned and fit, not as a competition against every other guy in the gym. The body you build today will need to be maintained for many, many years to come, so don’t make it a chore. And while you are at it, balance your diet. By all means, get body art, but like your bodybuilding…think to the future. You are not going to have taught skin forever, and will it affect your chances of getting the job of your dreams? And try to follow a theme. Avoid names – divirce happens, you know! As for head & facial hair, don’t look at yourself through rose-coloured glasses. Every fashion that comes along doesn’t necessarily suit everyone! As for bodily enhancements via clothing – just don’t! Be proud of your butt, and your cock. I love ordinary sized cocks, and agree with the adage that it’s not how much length you’ve got, but how you use it! Sex is about pleasure, not a challenge 
      False advertising!

      What happens when you avoid leg day!

      Tim Alderman (C 2016)

      Dean Koontz’s “Book Of Counted Sorrows”

      For all those Dean Koontz fans, who always wonder about the snippets of poetry at the beginning of many of his books.

      The Book of Counted Sorrows was originally a nonexistent book “quoted” in many of Dean Koontz’s books. Koontz subsequently wrote a book of poetry by the same title.[1]

      The Book of Counted Sorrows was originally a nonexistent book “quoted” in many of Dean Koontz’s books. Koontz subsequently wrote a book of poetry by the same title.[1]

      Non-existent book 
      For many years Koontz fans everywhere searched for this elusive book.[citation needed] Many librarians were frustrated in their attempts to locate it,[1] because it did not exist. This was confirmed by a librarian from Cedar Rapids Public Library who corresponded with Koontz regarding this mysterious book. Koontz himself stated that he received up to 3,000 letters per year inquiring about it.[1]
      In a letter dated August 10, 1992,m Koontz stated:
      Actually, there is no such book. I made it up. The way you made up footnote sources for fabricated facts in high-school English reports. Oh, come on, yes, you did. Sometimes, when I need a bit of verse to convey some of the underlying themes of a section of a novel, I can’t find anything applicable, so I write my own and attribute it to this imaginary tome. I figured readers would eventually realize THE BOOK OF COUNTED SORROWS was my own invention, and I never expected that one day librarians and booksellers would be writing from all over the country, asking for help in tracking down this rare and mysterious volume![2]
      Koontz went on to say that he would publish such a book in a few years, when he had enough verses to fill a volume. He included a history of the poems in the beginning of the book, followed by the poems, some having never been in any of his books.[1] According to Shannon Presley of Harvest Books, “Koontz himself wrote the poems, attributed to a Stephen Crane…you can find the collected poems at”

      Second non-existent book 

      In the beginning of a very few books (such as Odd Thomas), Koontz quotes from The Book of Counted Joys.

      Actual Book

      In 2001, The Book of Counted Sorrows was published in an e-book format offered exclusively through Barnes & Noble;[3] It was the first book published in Barnes & Noble’s launch of its first-ever list of books from its newly formed electronic-publishing division, Barnes & Noble Digital, and “quickly became’s best-selling e-books of the year.”[4] Barnes & Noble Digital’s premier 2001 edition is no longer available.

      Later that year, Charnel House published two limited editions of the book: a 1250-copy numbered edition and a 26-copy lettered edition.[5] Both editions quickly sold out from the publisher.[citation needed] In the summer of 2009, Dogged Press issued a 3000-copy hardcover edition.


      Greenberg, Martin H.; Gorman, Ed; Munster, Bill, eds. (1994). The Dean Koontz Companion. New York: Berkeley Books.


      1. a b c d Dean Koontz. Podcast Episode 25: Book of Counted Sorrows 1 (Podcast). Retrieved July 9, 2011.
      2.  Bauch, Chelsea (December 10, 2010). “When Real Books Inspire Fake Books”. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
      3. “The Book of Counted Sorrows 1”. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
      4. DSN Retailing Today 40 (21). November 5, 2001. p. 6!xrn_1_0_A79867442?sw_aep=frlopacplus. Missing or empty |title= (help)
      5.  Stefko, Joe (2001). The Book of Counted Sorrows. Retrieved July 2, 2011. Illustrated by Theresa De Perez
      6. Charnel House Press Ki

      From Wikipedia –

                     In the fields of life, a harvest 

                        sometimes comes far out of season,

                        when we thought the earth was old

                         and could see no earthly reason

                         to rise for work at break of dawn,

                         and put our muscles to the test.

                       With winter here and autumn gone,

                         it just seems best to rest, to rest. 

                          But under winter fields so cold,

                        wait the dormant seeds of seasons

                        unborn, and so the heart does hold

                         hope that heals all bitter lesions.

                          In the fields of life, a harvest.

                     Life is a gift that must be given back

                     and joy should arise from its possession.

                      It’s too damned short, and that’s a fact.

                      Hard to accept, this earthly procession

                        to final darkness is a journey done,

                       circle completed, work of art sublime,

                       a sweet melodic rhyme, a battle won.

                        Death is no fearsome mystery.

                         He is well known to thee and me.

                          He had no secrets he can keep

                         to trouble any good man’s sleep.

                       Turn not thy face from Death away.

                        Care not he takes our breath away.

                        Fear him not, he’s not thy master,

                           rushing at thee faster, faster.

                          Not thy master but servant to

                         the Maker of thee, what or Who

                           created Death, created thee

                             and is the only mystery                   


                                 In the real world

                                  as in dreams,

                                 nothing is quite

                                 what it seems.


                               Life without meaning

                                cannot be borne.

                                We find a mission

                              to which we’re sworn

                               – or answer the call

                              of Death’s dark horn.

                               Without a gleaning

                                of purpose in life,

                               we have no vision,

                                 we live in strife,

                                 or let blood fall

                                on a suicide knife.

                            Nowhere can a secret keep

                          always secret, dark and deep,

                            half so well as in the past,

                            buried deep to last, to last.

                          Keep it in your own dark heart,

                           otherwise the rumors start.

                          After many years have buried

                          secrets over which you worried,

                           no confidant can then detray

                           all the words you didn’t say.

                            Only you can then exhume

                           secrets safe within the tomb

                             of memory, of memory,

                           within the tomb of memory

                                In the real world 

                                  as in dreams,

                                 nothing is quite

                                 what it seems.

                               Vibrations in a wire.

                                   Ice crystals

                               in a beating heart.

                                    Cold fire.

                                A mind’s frigidity:

                                  frozen steel,

                              dark rage, morbidity.

                                    Cold fire.

                                Defense against 

                                   a cruel life

                                death and strife:

                                    Cold fire.

                            Living in the modern age,

                           death for virtue is the wage.

                           So it seems in darker hours.

                           Evil wins, kindness cowers.

                            Ruled by violence and vice

                           We all stand upon thin ice.

                           Are we brave or are we mice,

                          here upon such thin, thin ice?

                          Dare we linger, dare we skate?

                           Dare we laugh or celebrate,

                         knowing we may strain the ice?

                           Preserve the ice at any price?

                               Faraway in China,

                            the people sometimes say,

                              life is often bitter and

                               all too seldom gay.

                              Bitter as dragon tears,

                          great cascades of sorrows flood

                               down all the years,

                            drowning our tomorrows.

                               Faraway in China,

                               the people also say,

                             life is sometimes joyous

                               if all too often gray,

                            Although life is seasoned

                             with bitter dragon tears,

                             seasoning is just a spice

                            within our brew Of years.

                             Bad times are only rice,

                            tears are one more flavour,

                            that gives us sustenance,

                             something we can savor.

                     Those who would banish the sin of greed

                      embrace the sin of envy as their creed.

                      Those who seek to banish envy as well,

                      only draw elaborate new maps of hell.

                     Those with passion to change the world,

                      look of themselves as saints, as pearls,

                     and by the launching of noble endeavor,

                        flee dreaded introspection forever.

                           Evil is no faceless stranger,

                         living in a distant neighborhood.

                      Evil has a wholesome, hometown face,

                        with merry eyes and an open smile.

                       Evil walks among us, wearing a mask

                          which looks like all our faces.

                         Beaches, surfers, California girls.

                       Wind scented with fabulous dreams.

                         Bougainvillea, groves of oranges.

                        Stars are born, everything gleams.

                         A weather change. Shadows fall.

                        New scent upon the wind – decay.

                        Cocaine, Uzis, drive-by shootings.

                        Death is a banker. Everyone pays.

                       Under the winter moon’s pale light,

                         across the cold and starry night,

                       from snowy mountains soaring high

                          to ocean shores echoes the cry.

                       From barren sands to verdant fields,

                         from city streets to lonely wealds,

                         cries the tortured human heart,

                         seeking solace, wisdom, a chart

                         by which to understand its plight

                        under the winter moon’s pale light.

                         Dawn is unable to fade the night.

                          Must we live ‘ever in the blight

                        under the winter moon’s cold light,

                        lost in loneliness, hate, and fright,

                        last night, tonight, tomorrow night

                       under the winter moon’s bleak light?

                      Winter that year was strange and gray.

                      The damp wind smelled of Apocalypse,

                      and morning skies had a peculiar way

                        of slipping cat-quick into the night.

                     At the point where hope and reason part,

                     lies the spot where madness gets a start.

                       Hope to make world kinder and free –

                        but flowers af hope root in reality.

                     No peaceful bed exists for lamb and lion,

                     unless on some world out beyond Orion.

                    Do not instruct the owls to spare the mice.

                       Owls acting as owls must is not vice

                     Storms do not respond to heartfelt pleas.

                     All the words of men can’t calm the seas.

                      Nature – always beneficent and cruel –

                        won’t change for wise man or fool.

                    Mankind shares all Nature’s imperfections,

                       clearly visible to casual inspections.

                     Resisting betterment is the human trait.

                       The ideal of utopia is our tragic fate.

                     Those who would banish the sin of greed

                      embrace the sin of envy as their creed.

                      Those who seek to banish envy as well,

                      only draw elaborate new maps of hell.

                     Those with passion to change the world,

                      look on themselves as saints, as pearls,

                     and by the launching of noble endeavor,

                        flee dreaded introspection forever

                            All of us are travelers lost,

                           our tickets arranged at a cost

                         unknown but beyond our means.

                           This odd itinerary of scenes

                          – enigmatic, strange, unreal –

                           leaves us unsure how to feel.

                          No postmortem journey is rife

                           with more mystery than life

                           Tremulous skeins of destiny

                               flutter so ethereally

                           around me – but then I feel

                            its embrace is that of steel.

                            On the road that I taken,

                           one day, walking, I awaken,

                        amazed to see where I have come,

                         where I’m going, where I’m from.

                          This is not the path I thought.

                          This is not the place I sought.

                          This is not the dream I bought,

                          just a fever of fate I’ve caught.

                         I’ll change highways in a while,

                         at the crossroads, one more mile.

                          My path is lit by my own fire.

                          I’m going only where I desire.

                          On the road that I have taken,

                           one day, walking, I awaken.

                           One day, walking, I awaken,

                          on the road that I have taken.

                       Hope is the destination that we seek.

                        Love is the road that leads to hope.

                       Courage is the motor that drives us.

                       We travel out of darkness into faith.

                         Holy men tell us life is a mystery.

                       They embrace that concept happily.

                         But some mysteries bite and bark

                         and come to get you in the dark.

                       Darkness devours every shining day.

                   Darkness demands and always have its way.

                         Darkness listens, watches, waits.

                     Darkness claims the day and celebrates.

                      Sometimes in silence darkness comes.

                    Sometimes with a gleeful banging of drums.

                       We can embrace love, it’s not to late.

                       Why do we sleep, instead, with hate?

                          Belief requires no suspension

                         to see that Hell is our invention.

                       We make Hell real; we stoke its fires.

                        And in its flames our hope expires.

                        Heaven, too, is merely our creation.

                    We can grant ourselves our own salvation.

                        All that’s requires is imagination.

                        Is there some meaning to this life?

                       What purpose lies behind the strife?

                    Whence do we come, where are we bound?

                      These cold questions echo and resound

                       Through each day, each lonely night.

                        We long to find the splendid light

                         That will cast a revelatory beam

                     Upon the meaning of the human dream.

                            Courage, love, friendship,

                            Compassion, and empathy

                          Lift us above the simple beasts

                              And define humanity.

                     To know the darkness is to love the light,

                 to welcome dawn and fear the coming and night.

                       Night has patterns that can be read

                        less by the living than by the dead.

                            Where eerie figures caper

                             to some midnight music

                             that only they can hear.

                       Every eye sees its own special vision;

                       every ear hears a most different song.

                    In each man’s troubled heart, and incision

                      would reveal a unique, shameful wrong.

                     Stranger fiends hide here in human guise

                         than reside in the valleys of Hell.

                      But goodness, kindness and love arise

                       in the heart of the poor beast, as well.

                           Pestilence, disease, and war

                              haunt this sorry place.

                            And nothing lasts forever;

                          that’s a truth we have to face.

                          We spend vast energy and time

                          plotting death for one another.

                          No one, nowhere, is ever safe.

                           Not father, child, or mother.

                        Is the end of the world a-coming?

                       Is that the devil they hear humming?

                       Are those doomsday bells a-ringing?

                        Is that the Devil they hear singing?

                       Or are their dark fears exaggerated?

                        Are these doom-criers addlepated?

                      Those who fear the coming of all Hells

                    are those who should be feared themselves.

                                There’s no escape

                             From death’s embrace,

                              though you lead it on

                                 a merry chase

                                The dogs of death

                                 enjoy the chase.

                                Just see the smile

                              on each hound’s face.

                               The chase can’t last;

                               the dogs must feed.

                               It will come to pass

                              with terrifying speed.

                             The hounds, the hounds

                            come baying at his heels.

                            The hounds! The hounds!

                           The breath of death he feels.

                            Numberless paths of night

                            wind away from twilight.

                        Something moves within the night

                         that is not good and is not right.

                             The whisper of the dusk

                            is night shedding its husk.

                         Holy men tell us life is a mytery.

                       They embrace that concept happily.

                         But some mysteries bite and bark

                         and come to get you in the dark.

                       A rain of shadows, a storm, a squall!

                       Daylight retreats; night swallows all.

                         If good is bright, if evil is gloom,

                        high evil walls the world entombs.

                      Now comes the end, the drear, Darkfall.

                       Darkness devours every shining day.

                    Darkness demands and always has its way.

                         Darkness listens, watches, waits.

                     Darkness claims the day and celebrates.

                      Sometimes in silence darkness comes.

                    Sometimes with a gleeful banging of drums.

                      We can embrace love; it’s not too late.

                       Why do we sleep, instead, with hate?

                          Belief requires no suspension

                         to see that Hell is our invention.

                       We make Hell real; we stoke its fires.

                        And in its flames our hope expires.

                        Heaven, too, is merely our creation.

                    We can grant ourselves out own salvation.

                        All that’s required is imagination.

                         To see what we have never seen,

                          to be what we have never been.

                          To shed the chrysalis and fly,

                          depart the earth, kiss the sky,

                          to be reborn, be someone new:

                           is this a dream or is it true.

                         Can our future be cleanly shorn

                         from a life to which we’re born?

                          Is each of us a creature free – 

                          or trapped at birth by destiny?

                         Pity those who believe the latter.

                        Without freedom, nothing matters.

                                In the real world

                                  as in dreams

                                 nothing is quite

                                 what it seems.


      About Losing…Um…You Know…IT!

      This article was prompted by a documentary on SBS by a woman who investigated the rather ridiculous over-emphasis we place on virginity. It set me thinking about my own unique journey, which was, in many ways, influenced by concepts of social “norms”.

      “I didn’t lose my virginity – I know exactly who has it!”

      If I have a singular regret about my life, it would be not having sex before 25! The sex act is not there to make life for shy, gawky guys like me an easy thing to approach. It can, in fact, be quite frightening.

      Sex was NEVER discussed in our household, and going to school through the late 50s and 60s meant that no help was forthcoming from that educational institution. The only sex education I got at school was the smutty gossip and imaginings of other pre-pubescent boys! At one sports afternoon, whilst dodging said sport (thus making it an art form for me) I got into a discussion with another 10 or 11 year old, who informed me, in a whispered conversation – and fuck only knows how the subject even came up – that women got pregnant by hoys sticking their pee pees into womans woo woos! I was horrified at the prospect – after all, pee pees were for wee wees, and nothing else – told him, after a flustered “liar liar pants on fire” that it was a big fat fib, clutched my head with my hands, and ran screaming home. I wasn’t silly! I watched enough movies to know that kissing was the culprit (the man and woman in the movie would kiss, then things would fade out, then she’d be telling him she was preggers), though nature only allowed strangers you kissed to get pregnant – you were safe if you kissed family. I thought that boy was disgusting, and an idiot! 

      I was an early bloomer, and by the age of 9 I had not only started to get pubic hair – diligently pulled out by me, as I thought that seeing as no one else had it, I must have been a bit of a freak – but nightly emissions had started, both natural and induced. The mechanics of wanking off with my hand hadn’t occured to me at this stage, but the friction method on the newly starched sheets worked a treat. My poor mother must have been in quite a quandry as to what to do, as she must have known, being the one doing the laundry. After my nocturnal shenanigans had been going on for some time, I awoke one morning to find that Jesus had visited during the night, and had left me some nice Christian literature on sex and procreation! I read it, but all the biblical language of vaginas, vulvas, uteruses, urethras, penis & testicles – without a practical re-enacting of it – left me confounded, and I ended up none the wiser. So much for my sexual education. Is it any wonder I chose virginity for the next 14 years! 

      It was around this time that my brothe Kevin and I discovered that girls had different bits. Even at this tender age, I already knew that mens bits were much more interesting to me than girls bits, but I decided that the differences warranted further investigation, if nothing else. Diane Cliffe lived two doors up, and wasn’t adverse to a game of Doctors and Nurses, though we could have done without her telling her mother about it. It didn’t go down well, and Diane was banned from visiting (just as we were planning an appendectomy!), though, to give them their due, my parents just viewed it as kids indulging in kids natural curiosity. The subject was never raised, and I knew nothing of the outrage until many years later.

      I do remember my first orgasm -which progressed to the nocturnal emissions stage (see above) – as it happened so unexpectedly during a 5th class lesson period. I don’t actually know what I was doing to bring it on, but I was gazing out the window when this wonderful feeling overcame me, and despite not knowing what it was, I knew it felt really good, if not a little messy. I was on my way! From 1967-1969 I was at a Catholic boarding school, and a life of guilt-ridden wanking continued (confession was an easy way to alleviate the gult – “I touched myself, Father”; “How many times, my son”; “A lot, Father!”; “For your penance 10 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Mary’s”, and we were ready for our next run of sinful pleasure). All the boys in the dorm must have been as frantically pulling-the-pud as I was, but I can’t recollect catching out one single person in my three years there. I did get groped in the pool on one occasion, and never let on about it – I sort of think I enjoyed it – as probably did the boy who grabbed it! Unfortunately, there were no circle jerks or sly assignations! My education was at a stand-still! However,mit did encourage my fetish for Speedos – the swimwear of chouce in that period.

      Things really didn’t improve a lot after I left school at the end of ’69, and started work.The only thing I knew for sure was that I was gay (a poof, to use the vernacular of the times), but this wasn’t a good period for coming out, which was an unlikely thing for me to do anyway considering my upbringing and naive innocence. I’m pretty sure many suspected, but no one tackled me about it. In hindsight, having a couple of the Grace Brothers rather non-discreet, effeminate window dressers in our social group, who were totally accepted,  should have hinted to me that nobody would probably have raised an eyebrow if I had outed myself. So, I put up a front, and dated girls. I never was good at the dating game, which probably explains why they never went past the first date. I felt awkward on dates, was never sure of what was expected of me, so it was a pretty well hands-off situation, and if the girls expected to get to first or second base with me…it never happened. I didn’t have a car, so all dating was done via public transport and cabs, which  probably didn’t help. But it wasn’t a one way street – I was a fairly good looking boy, and a fashionable dresser, so I had my fair share of girls pursuing me, but I managed to avoid most advances, and they usually gave up eventually. I did have girls as friends, and despite two awkward situations – Lynne Broome professed undying love for me, and Jo Conway…who was to out herself as a lesbian a couple of years later…tried to seduce me in my apartment after I left home, and was the first to see through my facade – I enjoyed their company, and I think that in many respects, they enjoyed a male interaction that was – pethaps oddly – non-sexual. 

      Jo and I often went out together – my father thought we were dating – and she introduced me…passively…to the sin and temptation of Oxford Street, Darlinghurst. I had at that time (the mid-70s) little idea of just what a huge part of my life was to be played out on this strip in years to come. She was someone I felt safe with, and I have often regretted how our lives grew apart. 

      By this time, I was living on my own in Allowah. Now, if you think that my apartment was a hot bed of sin and debauchery, with neverending sex parties and orgies, let me assure you – it wasn’t! The only person having sex there was me – with me! I hung out with a large group of straight people- at least, to my knowledge they were – and it had to have been obviius to them that I wasn’t quite on the same wave length as they were. I never turned up at any parties or restaurant meals with a girl/girlfriend in tow, nor did I join in any of the slap and tickle conversations amongst the boys. It was a life of quiet desperation! 

      There was one notable event around 1972…I would have been 18. It could have been a turning point, but if anything, it slammed the closet door tightly closed. It was a very daring act for me, and I gyess what should have been an eye-opener for me in being accepted for who I am, and that my work colleagues at E.L.Downes at aRoselands didn’t judge, but encouraged the action, so it wasn’t as though it was unacceptable. A much older man – though quite handsome – called Leigh worked downstairs in the Clarke Rubber store. We always smiled and waved to each other whenever I walked past the store, we’d chat, and usually caught the same bus to Kogarah after work. He was obviiusly gay. During one of our chats, he invited me out for dinner, and I accepred. I thought later that it may have been a rash decision on my part, a spur-of-the-moment thing that I may live to regret, but I went ahead with it anyway. On the night of the date, we got a cab into Kings Cross, and he took me to a very exclusive restaurant called Mrs Beeton’s Tent. My expectation was that I may have to put out, but part of the expectation was that he’d take me home for whatever dalliances were expected as payment. On the cab ride back to Kogarah he held my hand – the first time I had ever had an intimate touch with another man. But arriving back at Kogarah, we got out at a local park, where he informed me that he lived with his mother. The expectation on his part was – sex in the public toilet in the park. I was horrified! I mumbled something about my father expecting me home, and fled! For some reason, he never spoke to me again. Ah, lost opportunities! I may have become  a beat queen…

      And so it went on until 1978. By this time, it was starting to cross my mind that perhaps – just perhaps – I was destined to never have sex with anyone…of any sex! My habitual reticence and almost obsessive shyness were personality traits that were proving my own worst enemy. By the time 1978 rolled around, I was living in a share house in Granville with friends. I knew Bede from the group I hung out with, and through him I met Sue. She in turn introduced me to Ronnie (Veronica) who was to have a more profiund influence on my life than she could have ever believed possible. She was an attractive woman, well dressed, and a single mother. Her daughter Ann was just gorgeous, so it is perhaps not surprising that we hit it off. This was a bad period for me, as I was pretty sure I was gay, but had no idea what to do about it. It was doing my head in! And I was battling it on my own, with no one I could discuss it with, or get advice in regards to my options. So, I dated Ronnie, though only for two dates. I took her out for dinner one night, and getting back home some heavy petting ensued. She was the first person to give me a head job, but sex had to wait, as she wasn’t on the pill. As she was leaving, she asked me if I was a virgin! Fuck…is it stamped across my forehead! I admitted as much – like DUR – and pretty well screamed at her CAN I JUST GET RID OF IT!

      I’d worked my way through “The Joy of Sex”, so knew all the mechanics of sex, all the ins and outs, all the do’s and don’t do’s. So, a week later, I went in with eyes open. I can’t recollect being all that nervous, and to my benefit I think I put on a pretty confident and impressive show. It was no Karma Sutra performance, but there was foreplay, I went down on her – which I don’t think she was expecting – and it was a substantial fuck session before I blew. But there was one very big problem, and that problem was to direct the way my life was to play out from that point! To achieve an orgasm with Ronnie…I had to fantasise that I was having sex with a man! If I had been unsure before, by the time she left that night I knew that I was definitely gay. I am still a bit ashamed of myself how I avoided her after the popping-the-cherry night, but there was no way I could have explained to her what was going on without her feeling used and demeaned, so I took the easy way out via avoidance! 

      In 1978, my father committed suicide, which on its own was a providential event. I was sent to Melbourne by my company in late 1979 to troubleshoot their retail businesses there. No further instances of sexual dalliances had occured over that time, but I went to Melbourne knowing that my path was set. It was just a matter of time, and circumstances. I am not going into my coming out here, as there is an article about it here on my blog, but suffice it to say that with my father dead, in a strange city, away from the prying eyes of family and friends, I was presented with the perfect opportunity to come out, and my desire to do something about it was set in stone. Within 6-months of hitting that city, I finally made my move. Now to lose my gay virginity! 

      But even that intention proved to be a very bumpy road! Naturally – well, to me, antway – my follow-on reading from “The Joy of Sex” was “The Joy of Gay Sex”, so once again I went into the arena fully prepared…and totally clueless! As noted in my coming out story, I joined Acceptance Melbourne, a group for gay Catholics, as a catalyst to smooth my way into the gay community, That I was no longer a practising Catholic didn’t come into the equation. Any port in a storm, you might say! So, I met Frank at a social, at the University Club (a gay venue on Friday & Saturday nights, in Swanson Street) after a First Friday Mass. He made the move on me, which was perhaps not surprising, being new to the group. He was older than me, and not my choice as far as looks went, buy hey…I was a virgin on several fronts, not the least being that ability to say thanks-but-no-thanks to people you don’t fancy trying to pick you up! It was a lesson I learnt quickly. 

      So, the end of the night found me in Frank’s car – much to the consternation of a couple of younger members of the group who thought they may have had a crack at me – being driven to some far-flung…literally…suburb of Melbourne. Frank had my cock out of my fly before we even got out of the car park, and proceeded to give me head at every set of lights – many – along the way! Being my first sexual encounter with a man, I think I would have been excited under any circumstances. And I should point out – no one knew I wasn’t a sexually experienced gay man! This was sort of stupid, as it came with the expectation that I knew what I was doing. Nothing was further from the truth! So the blow jobs on the way to Franks were to be pretyy well the highlight of the night. It was all down hill from there! Being a newcomer to the scene I wasn’t familiar with the concepts of a “top” (the active partner, or fucker), and “bottom” (the passive partner, or fuckee), and Frank evidently ex pected me to be the top. For my part, I expected him to guide the proceedings, but it didn’t pan out that way. The night finished with a mutual wank session, before he shuffled me onto the train back to Melbourne city. My first encounter with gay sex left me very disillusioned! Was this all it was about! 

      My subsequent next encounter with Fred wasn’t a hell of a lot more successful, but it taught me the necessity of taking opposing sexualities into account when interacting with other men on a sexual level. Fred was into light S & M…fuck, I was battling to lose my virginity, let alone take on a fetish…and was heavily into the beat scene. Our relationship was destined not to last. I starred hanging out at “Mandate” nightclub in St Kilda, and that started opening doors for me. I had my first encounter with public sex when I was given a blow job on the edge of the dance floor – yes, the guy was attractive – and I did start picking guys up. I adopted the clone look, and being relatively good looking I had no trouble getting regular sex. My sexual expertise improved, but I was always the one going top! However, all that changed at a First Friday Mass at my flat in West Brunswick. Kevin, a close friend of mine, bought a friend with him…a very attractive friend! I was smitten! He stayed to help clean up…then right royally fucked me! I was so turned on by having such a hot guy topping me for the first time that I put on a performance that any porn actor would have been proud of. And it converted me from top…to bottom. My cherry was well and truly popped! I took to it like a duck to water.  From that point, I never looked back.

      Despite coming out late in life, I’ve had a very interesting and diverse sex life. Despite jokingly calling myself a slut, I have slept with nowhere near the number of men most others I know have. Not being into beats, backrooms (I’ve done that 2-3 times), or saunas (I’ve done that once) my pick-up life has always relied on the pubs and nightclubs, which keeps it a bit under control. You learn to pick that fine line whereby a potential root has had enough to drink to get him interested, but not so much that they pass out. I’ve made a fool of myself a few times, had a lot of laughs, and a lot of great – and memorable – sex. Some of this time has been tinged with sadness, and there have been several “fireworks” encounters. I was flattered to find out that I was considered a good root. I’ve had five serious relationships – one of which lasted for 16 years. I’ve had 3 really beautiful fuck buddies; Paul – who I’ve always been in love with, but careers got in our way – for 10 years; Graham, who I met through a threesome (and who was in an abusive relationship) for 5 years; and Gregg – a married guy with two kids from Forbes, for 3 years. I’m comfortable with my fetishes – jockstraps and Speedo’s – and have met nothing but nutters through the sex apps. If this is the future of sex, it’s very sad! 

      In a way, I’m back to square one. I’ve even gone back to being a top.Except for the good old-fashioned hand jobs, I haven’t had sex with another guy for about 2 years. Being 63 and single, I’m really not expecting them to line up at the door. And if I have to be honest, I don’t really care. I like it that I do things just for myself now. If I slip into a jockstrap, it’s for my own pleasure; when I go to the gym, it’s done to impress me; I no longer have to ply myself with alcohol in a bar to get the Dutch courage to pick someone up; and I can sit in a cafe on my own and not feel lonely. It may have taken me a long time to finally lose my virginity, and there may have been some odd diversions along the way, but it’s been a great, fun journey. And though I may wish that I had started the fucking journey a lot earlier, it may not have been as interesting if I had. I look back on the abstinence years with humour now. 

      “We live in a world where losing your phone is more dramatic than losing your virginity!”

      And that is as it should be!

      Tim Alderman (C 2016)

      Comment: Don Dale Disgrace

      Don Dale Disgrace
      The actions of correctional officers at Don Dale Correctional Facility in Darwin, as reported on the Four Corners program, Tuesday 25/7/2016 has – rightfully – shocked the nation. A greater travesty in the history of juvenile justice in this country (apart from sexual abuse) would be hard to find!
      Watching the footage of what went on there was – for anyone with a conscience – ethereal, brutal, and traumatising! It raises many questions about institutional juvenile abuse, its length, breadth and depth. The PM has made the decent call for a Royal Commission into the Don Dale abuses, as this is the only way the true horror of this abuse of power can be exposed! I’m willing to bet that it has been ongoing for a very long time, and is endemic. 

      These juveniles – many in their early teens, and primarily Indigenous – were locked in claustrophobic isolation cells – referred to as the Behavioral Management Unit or BMU – for 23 hours a day for up to 2 weeks. They were deprived of natural light, fresh air, accessto fresh   water, and left in totally squalid conditions. Malhandling, bashings, and unusual and unnecessary force were used to “control” these juveniles, and the litany of abuses is long…and disgusting. If this is how we “correct” our youth in these facilities, then we need to seriously rethink how we go about this. That the majority of the abuses – which includes tear gassing – was committed on Indigenous youth (already dissdvantaged as it is) makes it even worse. How are these kids ever to be given a chance! This sort of treatment just breeds – apart from the psychological damage – hatred, a lack of any respect for authority, a pure disdain of the “justice” system, a belittling, and cynicism of their worth as individuals, not to mention the total deprivation of basic human rights. Not even Alcatraz could have been this bad!

      I would like to know how the powers-that-be at Don Dale allowed these abuses to occur! How easy is it to turn a blind eye to the actions instigated by your officers, under your watch? And at what point did this no longer matter! It would have been bad enough if this had happened to adult inmates – that the abuses were to teenage children defies belief! If these abuses had occured under any other circumstances, these juveniles would have been placed in protective custody. The images of that young boy venting his frustration after getting out of his (supposedly left “accidently” unlocked) cell; the tear-gassing; and that kid being hurled across a room, and that young boy shackled to a chair and hooded, are now  forever etched in my brain!

      That these juveniles were guilty of crimes – many petty – no one is denying, but any semblance of “correction” or rehabilitation goes out the window after the onslaught of the footage from Don Dale. These kids just aren’t getting a break at all, are they! As an Australian I am appalled, disgusted and ashamed that children in custody could ever be treated this way. Nothing short of a complete expose of the practices at Don Dale, and severe disciplinary action against both perpetrators and authorities is acceptable! Perhaps locking the responsible officers in the solitary cells at the old Don Dale facility  would be a good and fitting start. Give them a taste of their own medicine!

      Tim Alderman (C 2016)

      “Correcting” juveniles at Don Dale Correctional Facility