Category Archives: Opinion Piece

Today’s Whinge: Monday 4th February 2019

So, the banking industry has finally been called to task, after the Banking Royal Commission report was released. I’d like to say I was shocked at the findings…but I wasn’t!

For a long time now we have watched them ride rough shod over their customers. Massive profits, massive salaries to CEO’s, along with obscene bonuses. And zilch customer service!

Greedy, arrogant, grasping, appalling, voracious, money grubbing, obscene, heartless, corrupt, lying, deceitful…and these are just MY words to describe them! Jail every single one of the bastard that has been involved in this obscenity!

And this is the Royal Commission that Scott Morrison and his government…forever toadies to the higher end of town…. didn’t want! They voted against it 26 times…yes…26! Karma has now put it in to their hands to start fixing. In the meantime, both they and the Labor party have continued to take donations from them! I demand, right here, that they return any money donated by these institutions! After all, a lot of it wasn’t legally or ethically earned in the first place!

When the financial institutions were deregulated in the 80s, they were allowed to self-regulate as a way of, in part, having a more competitive edge. Many of us, at the time, didn’t think that deregulation was a good idea, as it basically allowed them to do whatever they wanted. The government insisted that that wouldn’t happen! Well…it has!

We have, over the last few decades, walked ourselves into a toxic mire through deregulation, and the sale of public assets, including privatisation! It is beyond me how even the simplest thinking individual in the community could see what was going to happen…yet our consecutive governments, both State and Federal, have continued to deny it. So, they deregulate and privatise…and we pay! Dearly!

Enough is enough! There is an election looming.! It’s time to throw some panic in to not just the government, but the opposition as well! The two-party-preferred model is no longer working! It’s time for independents and minor parties to stop giving preferences to the two major parties, and tell them to start fighting their own battles! As voters, we always end up being handed the shit end of the stick! It is supposed to be government of the people, by the people, for the people! Aren’t you sick of the rich end of town always getting what they want on gold platters!

It’s time they got fucked!

Tim Alderman ©️2019.

Today’s Whinge: Sunday 3rd February 2019

A question for you guys out there – are you finding men’s underwear really uncomfortable these days?

There seems to have become, amongst designers and manufacturers, this obsession with “emphasising” underwear. Now, I don’t know about you, but in my day-to-day life, just running around doing the mundane everyday things, I don’t really stop to think “is anybody looking at how big my clock looks in these undies?”. Add to this some really strange fabrics to make them from, and you have the perfect recipe for uncomfortable undies. There is simply no worst scenario than walking along a crowded street and realising that you either have to pull your briefs out of your bum crack, or you need to rearrange the jiggly bits…including having to hoy your balls back in after a fallout! Next time you see a guy furtively ducking into a dark lane way, or hiding in a doorway…ask yourself…does he have to rearrange?

It seems that just about every pair of briefs you buy these day has to have instructions on how to put them on. There is a whole world of special pouches, holes, double linings, and specially sewn front panels to navigate when you put them on! Push down, pull up, manipulate, mould, insert here, put this bit here and that bit there – it’s a world of intricacy! Bad waistbands that are either too wide (and act like corsets), too narrow, too loose or too tight. Fabric mixtures that are too smooth and slinky, or just seem to…embarrassingly…just…smelly! And all for what!

If you already married or partnered, then your other half already knows how big – or small – you are, so you are going through a lot of discomfort for nothing. If you are looking for a partner, or a pick up…is it a good idea to falsely advertise! Let’s face it…sooner or later the briefs are off, and the truth is just sitting there (or otherwise). And how do you go about hiding your excitement at the thought of some potential rummy-pumpy? In the old days, you’d just jiggle it down your trouser leg, but with these new-fangled undies, well…there it is! Hello world…I have a hard-on!

They are just not working for me. I’m sick of looking like a dirty old man, constantly fiddling with myself when I realise the head is caught in an uncomfortable position!

About 12 months ago, I went back to cotton classic y-fronts. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am seeing many photos of guys in the same, in my Insta feed. And a lot of them are young guys…the ones I would expect to see in Andrew Christian. I know that classic y-fronts have an image problem! There are associations with fathers and uncles, high school locker rooms, and conservative ads. There is an image of oldish men with their undies midway up their chest, looking remarkably unsexy. But that image is slowly being turned around as it becomes more obvious that they are not going to be pushed out of our wardrobe by those cock emphasising youngsters.

I don’t want undies midway up my chest, in “dad” style. I’m getting on…but not that much. To counteract that really bad look, I’ve gone down a size when buying them. And it works. Sits them very nicely just above the hips. They are roomy enough to do this, and in the case of American “Jockey” (as distinct from Australian “Jockey” – yes, there is a difference!), you get some shrinkage with the first wash.

And I have to say – America wins hands down in the y-front stakes. “Hanes”, “Jockey”, “Fruit of the Loom”, ‘Polo Ralph Lauren”, “BVD” (have to be bought from Asia now), “Roundtree and Yorke”, “Stafford”, “Calvin Klein”, “Tommy Hilfiger”, “Lee”, “Gildan”, “2Xist’, and “Dockers”…along with many others, gives a great choice to those considering an undie rethink. Even contemporary labels like “Box” and “Aussiebum” are putting them out. All these brands fit well,in a smaller size. Australia does its own “Jockey” (the branding on the waistband is in grey…black in America…and our fabric is a softer, smoother cotton than the weave of the American), and we also do a very cool “Teamm8”, not forgetting our traditional “Bonds” with the horizontal fly, labelled as a S’port brief).

My biggest disappointments have been the British y-fronts. I’ve tried 3 brands so far, and they have ALL had the same problem – the bias binding on the leg bands. Within an hour of wearing them, the leg bands have stretched…and I’m falling out of them!

Do they have sex appeal? Am I ashamed to drop my duds when wearing them? Yes, they are sexy, and the number of guys who find y-fronts a fetish is quite staggering. No, I am not ashamed to be caught in them. They cling where they should cling, and definitely show off ones merchandise with no uncomfortable contraptions. They sit comfortably on the hips…and you are totally unaware of their presence when going about your everyday affairs.

In a word…they are just damn comfortable!

Sometimes it pays to look back instead of forward. For those who feel a need to twist and manipulate their bits into junk-emphasising undies…you are welcome to them! But this guy is proudly striding out in his y-fronts!

Tim Alderman ©️2019

Today’s Whinge: Saturday 2nd February 2019

“Gender neutrality (adjective form: gender-neutral), also known as gender-neutralism or the gender neutrality movement, describes the idea that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to people’s sex or gender, in order to avoid discrimination arising from the impression that there are social roles for which one gender is more suited than another” – Wikipedia

Gender neutral language! Once again the PC brigade – a continuing blight on our society with their intolerance and narrow-minded attitudes – and a minority… a very small minority…try to foster their own language on to the community at large. Now, I come from a small minority, but we have always fought for rights without attempting to change language. Any language change that did happen came about through a historic process, not a demanding of!

I refer to myself as Gay, as do the majority of those in my circle. But I do not expect everyone around me to use that term when referring to me. Indeed, many in the general community don’t, but choose instead to use the term homosexual…a medical term for our sexuality. We’ll keep the more derogatory terms out of this conversation. I admit to having issues with the word Queer, and do not associate my self with Queer culture. That is not to say that I do not recognise that a Queer culture exists! It does, but is not my cultural language. Likewise, I recognise that gender neutral people exist, and are entitled to their own culture, but as with Queer, as far as I’m concerned it does not include me.

If you want to use a gender neutral language, then you go for it, but don’t expect the whole of society to just fall into line! As it is, it’s not going t\o happen anyway. The whole concept is so Orwellian it is frightening. Gender neutral toilets are one thing – I have no issue there – but to take people’s identity away from them is just wrong!

Let’s get it straight right here…I am a male, a man, a he, a him! I am a man, and have always been proud to be a man. Nobody…but nobody…is going to rob me of that identity. I am NOT an it, a they, a them or any other form of non-identity these people want to foster on me.

There is a lot in contemporary society I don’t like, but accept because there is a natural attrition that happens as the generations change. But I will not see our language distorted and obliterated by a few that don’t want to be recognised in traditional ways. Sure, demand that people use this language when referring to you…but don’t expect everyone else to want the same thing.

That is all I have to say on the non-issue! My prediction – another “trend” that will be just a flash in the pan! A movement (thankful for that) that defies sanity!

Tim Alderman 2019.

Seriously! No!

Today’s Whinge: Friday 1st February 2019

It would seem, according to those I follow on Instagram, that pretty well everyone in the world is either (a) a model (B) a blogger (c) a gym and fitness fanatic, or PT (d) a photographer (e) a traveller, (f) a Lifestyler or (g) an influencer! The latter absolutely intrigue me, as it appears to be someone who gets a whole lot of goodie bags of “stuff”, and through whatever means influences others to buy it, or tells them what they should be wearing, or where they should travel to! In my day, this was called marketing…but then – I’m old! I sort of feel sorry for people who lack the individuality to decide these things for themselves. A bit like the young royal wives stepping out in a rather plain outfit…and suddenly it’s copied, then snapped up by all those with no imagination to dress themselves!

Now don’t get me wrong – as a gay guy (or some would say an old queen…yet others that I’m a dirty old man) I’m only human, and get a big thrill out of looking at all these buff, toned, six-packed, shaved smooth men in their sweaty gym gear, Speedo’s, or Calvin Kleins (even the odd occasional tight, naked rear). Let’s face it…I’m not going to get there…not at my age!

But this does raise some questions. Reading some posts, I’ve detected some calls for help…depression…and have to wonder if this platform is a healthy place to be if you suffer from depression, or problems of self-esteem. There is a certain eroticism, hedonism, exhibitionism, egoism, even megalomania on Instagram. Photoshopping is rife! You just know that a lot of the guys…and girls…on here, given the opportunity, would get off on being naked. Amongst men, the image of the undies/swimmers clad body beautiful, and the buffed guys who live in the gym and happily snap themselves posing their bulging muscles, or at the cable machines present an image of health and happiness that few of us can ever hope to gain. Again, I have nothing against a healthy lifestyle, nor guys staying fit – I am a vegetarian, and do fitness Bodyweight training at home 2-3 times a week – but when we are saturated with it, when this is presented as the norm on social media platforms, in fashion and health magazines, in television shows, it has an unhealthy knock-on effect! Those who don’t have the body type, or the access to gyms, or the monetary resources, or just the addictive inclination needed to be constantly working out in gyms, start thinking there is something wrong with their bodies, that they are not up to scratch, are unable to fit into this mould, so start out on a cycle of self-destruction, self-harming, eating disorders, self destructive thinking, and low self-esteem. This in turn can lead to depression, and even suicide.

It is time to have more balance in how we depict both men and women, and like the death of the man-bun, and the hoped death of every man wearing a beard…even one’s who don’t suit them…it is time to move away from the over buffed body that requires an unrealistic amount of time to maintain. It would be interesting to know if these guys who pretty live in the gym, and can talk about nothing else, have looked forward 20 or 30 years and thought…is this lifestyle sustainable in the long run! It is time to push a model of attainable fitness, and a healthy diet that has more than chicken and lettuce in it. There is also a dietary model of veganism being “fashionable” at the moment (caused by Influencers, perhaps…), and though there is nothing wrong with the vegan diet, it is an extreme (though the advocates will never admit it). It’s like healthy people eating gluten-free…you are not doing yourself, or your body, any favours.

But I guess the question that all these models/photographers/bloggers/travellers/influencers raises is…who the fuck is doing all the hard work! Whose policing us? Putting out fires? Sweeping the streets? Being builders, electricians and plumbers? Car repairers? Are they all on another social platform? Are they all on Facebook, with their overalls around their hips, flexing with their greasy spanners? Looking uber butch in their King Gee shorts and footy socks and boots? I guess in 20 years, when everything just falls to pieces, we’ll find out!

I love Instagram. My way of counteracting all this blatant sexualism, is to post selfies. I want guys to realise that there is also a sexuality in getting older, that it is not something to be ashamed off, or hidden away, or denied. I am proud of being my age…I’ve done a lot to get here! Okay, you are not going to see me naked, or flaunting myself in my Hanes, but you are going to see my wrinkles, my graying hair, my white goatee and moustache, my chooky neck. I am what is a life well lived! The most disturbing part of this is the number of young guys who “like” my posts! I guess if one can be easily flattered…then, believe me…I am! I also want to show that extraordinary lives are lived in ordinary places, that disabilities are not disabling, and that self care doesn’t have to be an extreme!

Live the life you want to live, not the one you think everyone else wants you to live! Be proud of your individuality, your creativity, and striding outside the square. You can be an Influencer of a different kind, one who, just by being themselves, demonstrates the true beauty of a human being!

Tim Alderman 2019

Today’s Whinge: Thursday 31st January 2019

Clive Palmer! What can one say! Like we didn’t have enough of you the first time around! You , sir, are a charlatan! And a dishonest one, to boot! Not only stealing Twisted Sisters song “We’re Not Gonna Take it” and adding your own imbecilic lyrics, but stealing Trumps catch-cry to Make Australia Great Again! What a circus. Not only are you a dishonest businessman, but the same can be said for your party…and you! The United Australia Party was something you came up with in a bored moment, was a way to get paid for mouthing platitudes, and really showing off just how ignorant and rude you actually are. And claiming you were voted a Living Icon! Since when, mate! Not in my lifetime! Living moron would be more like it!

The only people who would vote for you are the same people who vote for Pauline Hanson – the ignorant, prejudiced and uneducated minority.

Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider Goes After Clive Palmer On Today Show

Written by Jackson Langford on January 31, 2019

The weirdest music feud of 2019 only gets weirder, as Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider was invited to Today to talk about his ongoing issues with Aussie politician Clive Palmer.

ICYMI, Palmer was accused of ripping off Twisted Sister seminal track ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ for a political campaign and Snider, well, isn’t gonna take it.

Snider, who is currently in the country on a solo tour (including spoken shows), said to Today co-host Richard Wilkins that it is, indeed, a blatant rip-off.

Wilkins pointed out that politicians using songs from popular artists is nothing new, but Snider notes that Palmer is using it in a commercial.

“He’s using it, he’s breaking law, he’s a common criminal…he’s stealing my music,” he said.

“He’s refusing to pay royalties that he’s supposed to pay to use it in a commercial campaign.”

“It’s a theft of services basically and it’s going on in the courts, but it also makes me look bad,” he said later.

“As I’ve looked into Clive’s thing, he does not represent what I represent.”

Snider also said that his publishing company is in the process of suing the politician, after Palmer approached them but never actually paid them anything.

Snider took to Twitter yesterday to call Palmer “nothing but a low life, piece of kangaroo dung, criminal without an ounce of dignity.”

And this is what we can expect from this sponge on the Australian taxpayers:

“Clive Palmer has succeeded in his bid to have a second supreme court judge step down from a three-month trial next year, when liquidators for his failed Queensland Nickel company will seek to recover millions of dollars owed to creditors.

However, as Justice David Jackson recused himself on Monday, he described Palmer’s claims that he may been negatively influenced against the former MP, or discussed the case with other judges, as “scandalising conduct”. 

Palmer had asked the Queensland supreme court judge at an earlier hearing to recuse himself from the legal fight, alleging the judge might have made offensive comments about him to another court official.

Palmer said he was not sure if it was true but asked Jackson to step aside anyway.

Jackson ruled on Monday that he would step down. But he would continue to oversee proceedings until the case goes to trial in April, when another judge will step in.

Last week he suggested the businessman could be trying to get around limits on what lawyers can say in court, by representing himself. 

Palmer has rejected that suggestion. 

“These are mostly matters of a scandalising tendency that should not have been raised, if there was no reasonable basis for them,” Jackson said in his judgment. “He is a wealthy man who has available to him any legal assistance he desires or could need.”

The ruling follows the recusal of Justice John Bond, who stepped down in September after a decision to freeze more than $200m of Palmer’s assets.

Liquidators for Palmer’s Queensland Nickel business will try to claw back hundreds of millions of dollars owed to creditors when the matter goes to trial in April.

Queensland Nickel’s Townsville refinery closed in 2016, leaving 800 workers out of their jobs.”

And this man expects people to vote for him through inundating us with his rubbish ad!!

I think not, Clive!

Tim Alderman 2019

References

Today’s Whinge: Wednesday January 30th 2019.

Seems to be my week for bashing Premier Gladys Berejiklian! Tends to happen when you bury your head in the sand, ignore evidence-based advice, and refuse to listen to the voices of reason.

Our Gladdie doesn’t want pill testing at big event dance parties. Like with the dead fish in the Darling River (see last nights whinge), it’s the people she cares about, and doesn’t want to see any more young people die from drug overdoses, and toxic drugs at said parties! It seems that the thinking is that if pill testing is introduced, it will appear that they are advocating the use of illegal party drugs at these events.

Now, I’m not ashamed to say that I did party drugs back in the 80s & 90s. I would never have been classed as a big time druggie, but whenever Mardi Gras, Sleaze Ball, and any otherbodd occasional dance parties rolled around, I would do an ekkie or some acid. Mind you, I never bought at the parties, and had a regular middle man I got them through who was reliable, and only ever had “clean” drugs. I always had a great time at the parties, didn’t drink alcohol, and drank a lot of overpriced water. It seems we all sailed in the same boat back then, as to my knowledge, there was never any deaths from overdoses at the parties. But the fact is, if for whatever reason they had pill testing back then, and whatever I had tested showed a dangerous result, I would not have taken it. I wanted to have a good time at the parties…not end up a statistic.

I guess we have to be realistic, and acknowledge that there will always be a percentage of people who, despite the best of advice, will decide to try to hedge the bets on their side, and will take drugs irrespective of the danger. But we also have to at least hope that the voice of reason will discourage the majority of people whose pills test negatively will vote in favour of an ongoing life, and dispose of said drugs.

The issue in both these scenarios is choice. If your pills test negatively, and you choose to take them, then you shoulder the risk, though knowing that you are putting yourself in danger of either ending up in A&E, or in the morgue. Pill testing at least gives people choice, when without it, everyone will just take the drugs and cross their fingers.

One of the main concerns about pill testing is that it may provide people with a “false sense of security”, and therefore lead to an increase in drug-related harm.

“What would be horrific would be if you had such a regime, something was deemed safe, and you have multiple deaths as a result,” Ms Berejiklian said in September.

But Dr Caldicott said this is a fundamental misunderstanding of how pill testing works.

“You will not be told at any stage that your drug is safe,” he said.

Prior to the testing process, each person is advised (and required to sign a legal waiver confirming they understand) the test does not provide evidence of drug purity, safety, dosage, or information about how they will individually respond to the substance being tested.

“We advise people that it’s not a medical consult … we don’t know enough about them to tell them whether it is safe for them or not,” Dr Caldicott said.

It has also been suggested that introducing pill testing at music festivals would lead to “an increase in drugs and a greater rates of death and greater harm to our society”.

But Alison Ritter, a drug policy expert from the University of New South Wales who co-authored a global review of drug checking services in 2017, said there is no evidence to support this claim.

“We know that it doesn’t produce an increase in drug use … and there’s no evidence of harm associated with pill testing,” said Professor Ritter.

Both Professor Ritter, director of the Drug Policy Modelling Program at UNSW, and Dr Caldicott said pill testing was about targeting people who already have the intention of consuming illicit substances — and helping to mitigate their risks.

It’s a view backed by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation: “Drug checking does not promote illicit drug taking, and people who choose to get their substances tested have already purchased their drug with the intention to use them.”

Research shows pill testing can reduce harm

Despite concern about pill testing increasing the appeal of illicit substances, research shows it can lead to less drug taking, and help people consume drugs in a safer way.

“What’s clear from the results of the services operating [in Europe] is that people make different choices based on the results of the testing — some choose to put their drugs into an amnesty bin, others choose to take half as much as perhaps they thought they would,” Professor Ritter said.

In the US-Australian study published today in the Drug and Alcohol Review journal, 54 per cent of ecstasy users surveyed said they were less likely to use ecstasy again if they learned their ecstasy contained ‘bath salts’ (synthetic cathinones) or methamphetamine.

Similarly, an evaluation of the UK’s first pill testing trial found one in five substances tested at the festival was not what people expected, and among people mis-sold substances, two thirds chose to hand over further substances to be destroyed.

Lead researcher Fiona Measham, a professor of criminology at Durham University, said by identifying toxic and potentially lethal contaminants, the pill testing service was able to reduce drug use and “therefore reduce drug-related harm”.

“There was a 95 per cent reduction in hospital admissions that year when we were testing on site,” Professor Measham told ABC Radio Sydney.

She added that pill testing provided an opportunity for healthcare workers to engage in a dialogue about health and harm with a group of young people who don’t usually access drug and alcohol services.

In April, at Australia’s first pill testing trial, 42 per cent of people who brought drugs for testing reported that their drug consumption behaviour would change as a result of the testing.

Dr Caldicott said in addition to reducing harm at an individual level, pill testing services are able to obtain valuable information about what drugs are circulating on the black market, which can be used to tailor public health alerts and assist law enforcement.

“One of the biggest problems in Australia right now is the diversity of the drug market,” he said.

He said new drugs were emerging at such a rate that it was possible the test would not recognise some substances, in which case, they would be given a ‘red’ classification.

One of the biggest problems is those who keep insisting that their should be NO pill testing, but we should adopt a zero tolerance, and education, approach. We already know these approaches don’t work. Young people are always going to be young people. If they are told not to do something…they will go and do it. And how are they going to police a zero tolerance policy. People will either find alternative ways to smuggle drugs in..and they will, don’t doubt that, or do stupid, impulsive things like taking all their drugs upon seeing police and dogs waiting for them at the entry to events. I truly feel for Anna Wood’s father, after his daughter died of an ecstasy overdose at a dance event in 1995, but he needs to stop his blinkered zero tolerance stance, and look at the evidence for other ways of stopping young partygoers from overdosing, or taking toxic drugs.

Our Premier seems to be on a crusade against pill testing despite many MPs, including those from other states and federal politics, moving in favour of it. There is also a strong public voice calling for pill testing at major events. If we have to be truly honest about it, we know that the parents of many of those attending big dance events, and a long list of journalists, tradies, lawyers, public servants, doctors, police, and yes, politicians (most well into their forties) have done the same in their younger years. Let’s try to avoid hypocrisy.

One of the bigger questions is how to stop the dealers who peddle toxic and adulterated drugs at these events. Once upon a time, you purchased your drugs well before attending events such as Mardi Gras, so they were often “tested” at events leading up to the main party, and you knew what they were like. It is a fact that in the 80s and 90s, drugs were a lot cleaner than they seem to be now, and unpleasant incidences were minimalised.

Personally, I think we need a broad, open-minded approach to drug use amongst partygoers. Education, yes! But not lecturing! Not shaking fingers! Perhaps we need some shock tactics, like those used to stop smoking. Some peer education would be advantageous…if kids think it’s their parents talking, they won’t listen! And pill testing, but not just at the events. There should be safe places made available for anonymous testing before events take place, and if reliable, personal pill testing kits.

It serves no purpose turning a blind eye to drug-g use at major dance events. No matter how you feel about it, the hard truth is that partygoers are not going to stop taking drugs. We have to be careful that we do not create situations whereby parties are pushed underground in remote warehouses and sporting venues, without the benefits of medical personnel to handle emergencies, and a long way from hospitals.

We need to care about our youngsters. They should be able to go to big events, as we did in our day, and be able to party safely, be it with or without drugs. Pill testing will at least stack the odds in their favour.

Tim Alderman 2019

References

https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2018-12-21/guide-to-pill-testing-at-australian-music-festivals/10638732

Today’s Whinge: Tuesday 29th January 2019.

MASS FISH DEATHS IN THE DARLING RIVER SPARK BLAME GAME

Close to a million fish have died in the Darling river near Menindee. This is due to the increased amount of algae in the river which rob the water of oxygen, forcing the fish to suffocate. Some of the fish had been found to be over 100 years old. The increased levels of algae can be linked to a number of factors including the rising temperature, drought, or even a man-made influence.

The Daily was joined by Maryanne Slattery the senior researcher at the Institute to shed some light on the issue.

Gladys Bigjigglybits, aka NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, claims – regarding all the dead and dying fish in the Darling River – that she cares more about people than the fish! Gee Gladdie, do you even care that many of the people you claim to care about use that water for bathing, drinking, washing etc! I sort of think that the blue green algae bloom, which, along with poor water flow (caused in large part by the abuse of water allocations, which your government…along with others…has done NOTHING about) has caused the fish deaths…not to mention the rotting fish…may negate your “care”! Are you even aware of this problem, or are you too busy sorting out your light rail fiasco!

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/28/menindee-fish-kill-another-mass-death-on-darling-river-worse-than-last-time

The Honorable Gladys Berejiklian, MP.

UPDATE 31/01/2019

The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission has found Commonwealth officials committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions in drawing up the multi-billion-dollar deal to save Australia’s largest river system.

Key points:

• The royal commission started after an ABC investigation into NSW irrigators

• Royal Commissioner Bret Walker said the MDBA was “unwilling or incapable of acting lawfully”

• He accused the original architects of the plan of being driven by “politics rather than science”

Commissioner Bret Walker SC recommended a complete overhaul of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, including reallocating more water from irrigation to the environment.

The 746-page report, which made 111 findings and 44 recommendations, found the original plan ignored potentially “catastrophic” risks of climate change.

The investigation into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, prompted by allegations of water theft by NSW cotton farmers which first aired on Four Corners in 2017, recommended major reform including resetting water saving limits, repealing the outcome of the Northern Basin Review and new measurements for water on flood plains.

The plan, signed into law in 2012 by basin states and the federal government, aimed to remove 2,750 gigalitres (GL) of water through irrigated agriculture and return it to the river system to help the environment.

References:

Stifled Words: How Social Media is Creating Self-Censorship!

“People don’t often say what they think but rather what they think is permissible.”

― Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes: Social Justice and Its Postmodern Parentage

“In general, opinions contrary to those commonly received can only obtain a hearing by studied moderation of language, and the most cautious avoidance of unnecessary offence, from which they hardly ever deviate even in a slight degree without losing ground: while unmeasured vituperation employed on the side of the prevailing opinion, really does deter people from professing contrary opinions, and from listening to those who profess them.”

― John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

There was a time, not that far a distance past, where we thought social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Smartchat et el were the way of the future, a form of media that would give us all a voice, allow us an opinion on myriad subjects, give us new, fertile ground for debate. Somewhere along the line, that freedom became twisted into silence!

It started simply enough, with memes seeming to do endless loops…for years! Then we had the video clips, often displaying graphic acts of deplorable violence, which also did the rounds regularly, though, oh course, often to a new audience who displayed their abject horror, and commented so, until being told “oh…that old chestnut again! Been doing the rounds for yonks!”. Then, of course, there was all the shit that was just made up, to elicit a response. It was about this time that many of us started to evaluate just how valid and pertinent this new media was. Many users canned the apps at that stage, though a good many more, like me, dithered to leave, due to the amount of contact we had with friends on social media. With the tyranny of distance, it was often the sole point of contact we had.

As a writer, I love the medium for the opportunity it gives me to have an individual voice, to share an opinion, to be, if I choose, controversial, to go against the grain, or step outside the square. My opinions lean left, and no apology is made for that. I believe in social justice, a fair judging for all (provided no harm is perpetrated on others), equality, the separation of church and state (I’m a professed Atheist, but with a tendency towards Buddhism), a fair deal for all through good government, unbiased charities, and the inherent good nature of the majority of people. However, social media is slowly silencing many of my beliefs, forcing me to hold back when I encounter unfairness, prejudice, and hate-speech. It’s turning me into someone I don’t like!

The rot started to set in a few years back! In the first instance, I reposted a meme. The meme held a very pertinent message – lost on me, this far down the line – and had something to do with American Indians, and had the face of one on it. Within minutes, a vehement, aggressive comment was received back from someone on my friends list, stating that it had nothing to do with Indians, that I was being racist, and demanded that I remove it immediately! I remember exactly how I felt when I read the tirade – shocked at the aggression, embarrassed (to the point where I blushed, despite being on my own), belittled, yet furious that someone would dare accuse me of being a racist! But, I was so taken aback by surprise that I made the wrong decision! Instead of replying “No, I won’t”, and sticking to my guns…I deleted it! I remember only too well how angry I felt with myself for days after that, that I’d allowed myself to be bullied by someone I knew. If by standing up for myself they unfriended me, would ai miss them? The trueful answer was…no! And let’s face it – ANY face that wasn’t white would have exhibited that response from THAT person, because they like to be seen as non-judgemental as far as other races go. The hypocrisy is lost on them! As for me? Well, let’s just say…don’t test me!

In the second instance, I liked a Facebook page called Barebackers. My personal opinion on barebacking is that, as two mature, consenting adults, we have every right to make any decisions pertaining to having sex together, ourselves. This particular page never sent out offensive posts, nor did they promote the use of barebacking in posts, though they did send out some quite amusing gay memes. I quite regularly reposted their memes, without any judgement at all…until one point in time! There always has to be one! This particular “friend”…who I didn’t know personally, but was only friended because we had both gone to “Mandate” in Melbourne in the 80s, and had similar memories…took personal offence to the fact that I received posts from a Barebacking page. Not only did he take offence, he reported the page to Facebook, then had the hide to inform me of that fact, along with a tirade about his displeasure. I knew this person had issues from other posts he made, but this was going to far! Not only had he reported a page purely because of its name, despite the inoffensive posts, but was, in effect, dictating to me what I could – or could not – look at, or practise! I wasn’t silent this time! Not only a long, angry comment on him minding his own business, and not inflicting his personal beliefs on others…but I immediately unfriendly him! Goodbye, and good riddance! Facebook did – rightly – absolutely nothing about the page! He has sent me friends requests in the intervening years, but to no avail. Such a betrayal of friendship is unforgivable.

In the third instance, I was walking my dogs one morning in Glebe, and noticed some cottages in one of the local streets that had a frontage no wider than 6-8 feet, with these tiny old houses from another era on them. When I got home, I made an innocuous post about my observation, that the frontages and houses were so narrow that they had to be claustrophobic to live in. That was it! An observation! An abusive comment came back…this time from someone I knew…regarding how first world my opinion was, that there were people in the world who would be more than happy to live in such places etc etc. Again, a reply went back that I had not been making a social statement about the houses, but purely an opinion about them based on what I saw. He unfriendly me this time. Truthfully, I laughed this one off – as did others – as he had a reputation for being self-opinionated, and commenting just to provoke argument! But a point was made…we were not supposed to comment negatively on anything, or comment contrary to commonly held opinions, or be, in any way, an individual with an opinion. The realisation that social media was not a fair-minded or democratic place to be came into being. It changed how I dealt with things, with what I commented on, with how I interacted with people, even those I knew!

Many people take social media way too seriously, and many…too many…post more than they should! It shouldn’t be a medium to discuss personal arguments, obscure comments with no referencing point, and anything about yourself that is a little too personal. Another person on my friends list,- who was there for no other reason that he was friends with others I knew – made a rather heart-wrenching post about himself, perhaps exposing more vulnerability than is healthy! There are times where you should just seek medical help, not rely on social media to diagnose mental or physical problems! Anyway, I was quite touched by his vulnerability, “Liked” the post to acknowledge that I’d read it, then commented sympathetically, and non-judgementally. *Ding* goes Facebook Messenger minutes later. A message from said person! “Gee, thanks for liking my current situation, you fucking arsehole. I hope you have a life of fucking misery. You deserve it. You shallow arsehole”. I was incredulous. I tried a calming response “That’s a bit unfair. A like is a recognition of having read something. I actually empathise with you, and have commented likewise. I’m sorry that you took an actual acknowledgement as an insult!”. I waited…and waited. No response! I was getting a bit cranky by now that he had been so rude, so fired off another response “It seems it was a bit much to expect an apology for an abusive message…to someone you don’t even know! I’ll save you the trouble of doing the obvious”. He then came back with “I’m not apologising. You took pleasure in my suffering”. By now, all empathy and niceness had gone out the window “You’re obviously a self indulgent brat! Goodbye”, and I hit *Block* before he could respond. You just can’t win with some people. Perhaps not surprisingly, I don’t respond to these sorts of posts anymore, no matter how I feel.

So I started – and still do – self-censoring. My posts are pretty bland, and uncontroversial. I often find myself about to comment on a post, then deciding…no! It will only cause an argument! Or worse still…*name* will see the comment, and take it personally! Or *name* will see the comment, and take it the wrong way! So I delete what I was starting to type. It seems as though if I can’t be 100% positive and light-hearted…I just don’t comment! It has also made me realise that I am often way too liberal in maintaining friendships on social media. Some terrible things float through my Facebook feed these days, by people I’ve known for a long time., and who have the ability to shock me with their posts. Prejudice, misogyny, intolerance! There are times when I’m stunned by just how blatant people are on social media…and feel no shame! I don’t “get” how people from a community that is prejudiced against by so many, for so long, can, in turn, be prejudiced against others! It makes no sense.

Like many, it’s not about making a comment, or instigating debate! It’s that fair debate doesn’t happen anymore. We all maintain individual friends lists, and quite often there is no cross-over with friends. So you will comment on a friends post…perhaps not agreeing with their opinion…and the next thing you know, someone who you don’t even know is aggressively throwing in their two cents worth. If you then reply to them, it just gets more aggressive, and you end up just letting it lie because it’s getting out-of-hand!. The other annoying thing is people who take comments off in totally different directions to what the post is about! FFS…stick to the point!

So is social media stifling our individual opinions, causing us to self-censor, to reel in our own opinions even if they are contradictory? Yes, it is! We are even careful about how we use humour now, as it is often taken out of context! Social media has brought out our blandness, forcing us into an unreal world of niceness, and never ending positivity. It has made children out of adults. It is, like the daily news, dumbing us down!

As an intelligent, reasoning adult, I keep telling myself to just quit it. I stopped using Twitter because it is just a nasty bitchfest. I’m moving myself more to Instagram these days, as with a world-wide audience of followers, it tends to not be so judgemental and negative. As stated earlier, I’m loathe to quit Facebook due to my friends there, but having said that, those who actually like or comment on my posts is minimal in number, so maybe I need to reassess my priorities. Maybe I just need to be brutal. Maybe the qualifying question that needs to be asked is…

Are you suffocating my voice!

Tim Alderman ©️2018.

All By Ourselves: The Death of HIV Services! 

Originally published in the September 1999 issue of “Talkabout” under the title “Dream Chasing”. The intro below is a 2017 addendum!

This is an ongoing problem even now, but this particular rant is from around 1999! I had received an email from Pene Manolas to say that, due to funding cuts, the Colao Project was to be wound up! Our only treatment management service was closing! I was furious! In the early days of HIV, ACON provided helpful and necessary services, giving peer support to those fighting the hard battle with HIV, helping people transition onto pensions and housing subsidies, legal services, some counseling, and supporting services such as MAG (Mature Age Gays). But as time went on, they became greedier and more controlling. They hated not having control of the whole sector (along with Community Health…they were both tarred with the same brush!), so if a service wasn’t being offered under their own roof, the service would suddenly find itself without funding, so matter how well used and useful it was! Colao provided guys who survived AIDS, and found themselves on the new antiretroviral treatments, strategies for coping with their situation, how to remain compliant with the huge pill intake they had (in the day), and ways to get their lives back on track! At this time, ACON was not providing this service, and there were only vague rumours of them starting up a similar progeam! So, in the interim – providing another service was to start up – the guys who would have benefited from a service like Colao…had nothing! Once again, as so often happened in those days, they were left to fall through the cracks! The HIV sector here were always well behind in service provision, and took excessively long periods of time to grt things up and running – if they happened at all! There seemed to be plenty of money to pay excessive numbers of staff, impressive CEO salaries, and advertising campaigns that were often off the mark, irrelevant or flogging tired and long dead practices…but for the clients, the guys on the street fighting the real battles, there was little to nothing! When I was spewed out of Prince Henry hospital mid-1996 after a life-altering near death experience…nothing had been established to help me deal with a return to the world of the living! No 24-hour counseling services, no treatment management services, no one to advise me on options regarding work or education choices, housing needs etc. Considering that there were always knowledge of what was to come, our service sectors were never prepared for it, and again…by the time some of the needed services were established, many had – again -fallen  through the cracks, left floundering to sort shit out for themselves. Even when services were eventually established, they often just repeated the services already covered by then defunct groups (probably also defunded!). Return to work services were a good example, with the several incarnations of these not really helping people to make choices regarding future life supports, but rehashing the old resume writing/interview techniques/how to dress for an interview scenarios! The only way I got yhe sdvise I wanted to help establish a business was to put my foot down, and demand it…there was no one set up to help me through the process! No, ACON saw themselves as the one-stop-shop for HIV services, and went to great lengths to draw needed, working organisations such as BGF & CSN under their umbrella…only to see those organisations strictly controlled, and no longer providing the much needed services they originally provided. My dislike of ACON is no secret, and yes…I put the boot in at every opportunity! They have never really provided what we heed…only what they want! Here is my rant regarding the closure of Colao:

I just love the current ACON campaign, to stop people taking drug holidays. No, I’m not kidding! It really is a smart campaign. Shame we don’t have a treatment management course to go hand in hand with it, which is really making it a waste of advertising money…again!

The closure of the Colao Project, done with little fanfare via the local press, is in actual fact a major disaster for the HIV/AIDS community in Sydney. Though sponsored by drug company money (the drug company keeping their noses out of its running), it provided the only treatment management workshops in Sydney. I was in the very first group run by Colao, in fact the group that was partially responsible for the project becoming the success it was. We were the group from which all the ‘bugs’ were ironed out. 

Yet it was from this group that I learnt how to manage long term treatment taking, stress management, and self-motivation. My whole life from that point up until now has been influenced by what I learnt from Colao, and what they motivated me to do, especially in regards to my writing career. Apart from this, both personally, and through peer support, I have pointed many people in the direction of Colao.

We have to question, in the light of its closure, why in the face of a responsible, working model of treatment management did no-one else take up the banner. ACON, being an AIDS council, and doing a major campaign on how to manage treatments, should perhaps have thought doing treatment management themselves. 

It’s not that I don’t personally approve of drug companies supporting, and putting money into these ventures. After all, they make the drugs that we have to take, for better or worse, to try to improve our lot in life. What concerns me is that, having put their own money into it, if they can’t see anything of value to them coming out of it, at the end of the day they will withdraw the money! Some of our lobbying groups should also have taken up the banner, and lobbied for a community take-up of treatment management. One has to ask “why was the whole lot dropped only in Colao’s lap?”.

Now let’s not confuse issues here! We are talking treatment management, not treatment support. For the latter, we have many takers-peer support groups, counsellors, and places such as the Luncheon Club, the Positive Living Centre, and NorthAIDS. I’m sure all these do a perfectly good job at support, but they can’t teach you to manage the problems. Long term management of treatment (read drug) taking is of vital importance to PLWHAs. We are not doing a weeks course in antibiotics here. We are taking hundreds of tablets every week, and are expected to do it, at least at this stage, indefinitely. This involves being able to motivate yourself to get up every day and take these tablets. 

The end result of such compliance is stress, and a loss of motivation, a feeling that you have lost control, and the drugs are running your life. For those who are hale and hearty as a result of this compliance, returning to the workforce can be a major issue, with concerns centred around compliance, and side affect issues, in the workplace. To this end, Colao was invaluable, and will be sorely missed by many. 

Tim Alderman ©1999 (Revised 2017)