Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pneumonia & the Care Bear

My throat had been sore for over a week. On Friday my right chest started to hurt. On Saturday everything hurt. We had a wedding to go to so I pushed on. Picked Bear up from her new dance class then took both kids to the park until my Dr's appointment (Beloved had other, wedding-related appointments). I was a bit shaky. The appointment was close to an hour over time, about half of which I spent with both kids in the crowded surgery. It wasn't pretty, but we managed.

He didn't actually call it pneumonia, or anything other than a bacterial infection that was attacking pretty much everything. My chest was sore by now, and water on chest from bacteria lines up with pneumonia, but then again there was pain all over. Even in my right knee! I felt like I'd been on the armagnac the previous night- sadly untrue. Driving the kids home felt a little irresponsible, although generally still switched on I could feel my concentration starting to waver. I resolved not to drive again until I was better.

Beloved eventually got home, and I curled up in bed for a while. But time ticked on and I had to get up again soon to get ready. I could see Beloved really didn't want to cancel the wedding and I didn't want to let her down. We don't get many nights out to ourselves, either.

We caught the tram. I started shaking. Beloved told me the air was moderately warm. Waiting for the ceremony I felt like I was lying naked in snow. I shook, but I worked every muscle in my body not to shake more. People still looked at me like a crack addict.

My latest painkillers sank in after the ceremony and the shaking went down. It felt more like a chilly Autumn breeze blowing under my shirt. I made skeriks of conversation. Talk commenced of going home. I became aware of people telling Beloved to put me in a cab. She was weighing it up a bit, out of guilt towards the hosts. It all made me a bit angry.

Marriage is about going home with your spouse when they are violently ill, I felt like saying to them.

You know I wouldn't have thought twice about it
I whinged ruefully to Beloved when she did take me home, soon after, and she agreed. I'm not good for many things, but I come through with that stuff.

At the gate, I fumbled, my hands were now shaking violently. I gulped down tablets then walked straight into bed, a bit after 9pm.

I woke many times, shaking yet also an inferno. Beloved put a cool cloth on my head and contemplated running me to hospital. Me, I've felt worse. Actually a few hours earlier was worse, almost on a par with when I caught Typhoid in Indonesia. But at 2, 3, 4 in the morning I got a perverse satisfaction from the idea that the intense heat would kill the little fcukers!

By morning I was back a bit. I got up slowly, moved about slowly. Both kids watched me. Bear knows what sick is, but Mitts is also a sensitive little boy and he stared at me, waiting for me to suddenly explode back into play. Sorry little man, I didn't have it in me. Beloved took him for much of the day, so he could charge around and burn off his unending wells of energy.

Bear sat with me. She brought books, read them to me (she tells the stories in her own way!) or vice versa, or simply lay her head on my arm, sucking her thumb, as we threw the rules in the bin and veged in front of the TV. Progressively, with rest, veging, and the empathy of a loving daughter, I got better.

The End.

Tax Cuts- Is Rudd taking the piss?

After breaking a core promise on childcare Rudd is hinting at tax cuts?


If nothing can be done to assist the atmosphere, or ease the viciousness towards asylum seekers, could he not at least find some -surely electorally saleable- socially progressive ground by giving a bit more to health or education?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Civil Fraud? Ellis & the deliberate misuse of childcare stats

The assertion seemed incredibly smelly to anyone remotely connected to the real world of kids and child care (i.e., not Kate Ellis, nor absent parent Kevin Rudd). A surplus of places? Is my suburb, group of friends, favourite parenting discussion board populated by people living in unusual or exceptional pockets of the country?

Or is the Minister telling something a bit slippery & porky?

Well, no doubt on some level she's technically correct, but Susie O'Brien at the Hun has torn any sense of substantive truth out of her assertions, and I felt it useful to share highlights on the remote chance someone who passes here doesn't otherwise come across it.

So anyway...

Rudd Government informed us last week it had dumped a core election promise of building 260 new childcare centres.

...what I still remain to be convinced about...

shameless, dishonest misrepresentation of statistics it employs to justify its decision the idea that...

The figure averages out all long daycare centre vacancies (as opposed to occasional daycare vacancies) and doesn't present any breakdown according to the age of the child and the specific location of the centre. In effect, therefore, it's a total con

...we can never expect...

It's like saying the average Australian household income is $66,000, so there mustn't be any poor people in Australia

...politicians, because of some vague notion that it's needed for politics to work...

What good are places for three-year-olds in Frankston if you are a pregnant first-time mum in Richmond staring down a two-year waiting list

...the kind of vague notion that propped up 'caveat emptor' for so long...

most centres tend to have a larger number of vacancies for older kids, because many children go to kinder instead. But in many Melbourne suburbs you can't get a place for a one-year-old absurd notion, finally on the way out in commerce...

the Government is being deliberately misleading when it says new centres are no longer needed

...anyway that we can never, ever expect them...

Back then, Labor knew the con was on. Labor's Jenny Macklin insisted at least 260 new centres were needed because: "There's no point having a childcare place available for a four-year-old if you have a two-year-old."

...or more particularly hold them viscerally to account (except by the usual love us or leave us, choice of 2, ballot box option)...

In just under three years, Rudd and his ministers have, in effect, become everything they criticised about the Howard government.

...Precisely! Thanks Susie! Sorry, I was saying... to hold them to account for lying or deliberately misleading the people they are trying to sell their political product to.

I do not accept that we have to accept, for evermore, that it is acceptable for a politician to flagrantly set out to mislead us, and that our only recourse comes once every few years at the ballot box.

I don't know the simple way forward, how to calibrate the test, how to adjudicate and enforce, but if we at least seriously questioned the premise, the accepted state of affairs, then maybe one day we can do better than this rot.

And before I have any further digs at Kate Ellis, I must say I have the same inside reservation about this that I have about the insulation fiasco- that it is not the Minister copping the flack who has really made the key decisions....

In just under three years, Rudd and his ministers have, in effect, become everything they criticised about the Howard government.

Ay, it's not just a bacteria that's putting my insides into turmoil at this eleventh hour.

Friday, April 23, 2010

We need to talk about Kevin... Kate Ellis... Labor...

An explosion of ethical and bad policy misfires may not of itself damage voting prospects, but it is giving me palpitations in membership renewal month.

Kate Ellis has proved (who would ever have thought?) that being young and the 'sexiest politician' or somecrap doesn't actually make you good at the helm of national policy. The astonishing broken child care promise is yet more evidence of why not everything should be run from Canberra. Oh, you have stats that show vacancies do you, somewhere out in the nation? How about coming down into the suburbs and finding them so that people like Priscilla Davies can go to work:

The Clifton Hill woman is on the waiting list for five centres, but has been told to expect an 18-month wait, which has forced her to abandon her plans to return to work in June.

, Kate Ellis must be saying. Except, funnily enough, that's the same wait time in most of the surrounding suburbs as well. Including ours.

Good Labor outcome, Kate.

What else is news? Well down in Victoria we don't need a Royal Commission. In case the fact that a gangland boss can be killed while in almost-complete isolation under video surveillance in maximum security when he was a known hit target etcetera, etcetera, got you a bit concerned. Now you know, it is ALL RIGHT.

He denied he wanted to hide anything, and suggested ''greedy leftie lawyers'' were pushing the issue.

Greedy leftie lawyers.

Well, one can understand Brumby's point. After all if you were a very powerful person you might not want your supporters, funders or associates exposed to a greedy leftie lawyer. Just think what Saturday dinner gatherings they might have omitted to mention.

Covered the asylum backflip/kowtow already. Here's hoping this appeal manages to tap some of the judicial clawback embodied in the recent High Court decision of Kirk. Better yet, how about a declaration from that Court to the effect that there can be no ouster of jurisdiction on any land (sea or air) over which Australia claims sovereignty? A little bit of rule of law can only scare people who like breaking it.

Speaking of which, elsewhere human rights have been dumped. Someone, somewhere, felt threatened. And teachers need to shut up now they've been given laptops. And Kev is still proud that he's officially the worst employer in the nation.

No irony, that's the thing I'm getting from all this. Never mind the ethics, or the lustful adoption of policy-based evidence making, there's no sense of irony. No shame.

Damn. So disappointing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rudd's Reffo Bashing Redux

This isn't a post about policy. Not directly, not in the sense of asking the same questions about why this tiny number of desperate people are such favoured scapegoats for poor government, insecurity, and the self-evident failings of our education system. That's just too frustrating, coming as it does at the end of a minor-thesis-writing process that involved, in part, exploring the irrationality of so many Australians, the left as well as the right, towards the region, people in boats, the usual themes that have been used to de-secure life on an apparently vast and remote continent for well over 100 years. Prodeo's onto it, anyway.

No, this is a post about the meaning of 'never again', a mantra so many in the ALP, such as myself, hoped would prove true following the humiliating nonsense of Tampa. Some left back then, joining the Greens or retiring from political involvement altogether, while others such as myself sucked up the bad realpolitik and thought 'well, this has been a particularly nasty period in Australian history, but perhaps once the poor-bugger-me set have had their little vent, and the aftermath of 11/9 has settled, we can reach saner ground on this issue.' Quietly we waited, watching things improve a little, trusting in people's decency and empathy to slowly eat away at the policies. And for a while it appeared things had changed. Not remarkably, but perhaps enough to remove reffo-baiting (nonsensically known as 'border security', as if there were any threat whatsoever to the integrity of the border, as such) from the prime issue tray.

We were wrong. Abbott, the great prodigy of St Ignatius Riverview, my alma mater, with its Ignatian slogan Men For Others...

...The term has come to mean that if one person graduates from a Jesuit school lacking a sense of social justice, the school has not achieved its primary mission...

...has ramped up the hatred for the Samaritans, and in response Kevin Rudd- not desperately trying to get elected like Beasley, in fact from a position of notable political strength, has screamed 'ME TOO!'

Pathetic. And palpably dishonest. Any idiot who follows international affairs knows neither Afghanistan nor Sri Lanka has demonstrated any improvement in respect of the treatment of its vilified minorities. In Sri Lanka's case it's a bit like claiming that the Tutsis were safe once the Hutus had successfully taken power (or indeed, as the worm turned back, the other way around). But in any event that is a moot point, because if people cannot show the requisite risk of persecution then the process, stacked against them to begin with, should weed that out. The fact that Rudd has suspended the process demonstrates complete lack of confidence in the very argument he is asserting.

So where does this leave the 'never again' contingent? Did I in fact vow to leave the party if it ever stooped that low again? Perhaps assuming it couldn't possibly do so twice, that last time was the result of a particularly bad confluence of events and the sheer surprise factor of Tampa...?

Bizarrely, I'm to the right of many in Labor, at least theoretically. But I found myself arguing with a comrade at the last branch meeting I went to, she was from the left, and she was running the old 'better off than the other side' line I've run so often, and I found myself really struggling with it. Labor has been better, pound-for-pound, than the Howard Liberals, but is that the test we should be applying? There is another test, the opportunity-cost test, one I've often held the Greens up to. It goes a little like:

If there wasn't an ALP, in its present form, dominated by unions and factions, controlling the space it does, obtaining consent from the likes of us, what else could there be?

Or- is the only choice we have a choice between two social conservatives, with a hard left party sniping away from one side and some illiterate nutballs hurling bibles from the other?

If everyone who doesn't like the status quo just rolls with it, and accepts the apologia articulated by my comrade, will it ever improve?

Do I roll out my credit card again before May, keep up the membership, hope for something better if we win again? Wasn't that the hope the first time around?

Would I do more good dumping this policy shebang and going back to law, finding a way to a spot where I'm fighting tooth and nail to at least achieve some small wins for people who are getting screwed over?

Will we ever, ever, get over the fact that we're Girt by Sea?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Coming up smelling of rose-tinted glasses

Mitts staggers, almost runs. He is into tackling Bear at the moment, giggling the whole time. She's softened up on him I think, and is content enough provided she gets some 'her time' reading the Dinosaur book (COMP-sog-NAY-thus!), drawing or playing the Ladybug game.

The other day she drew a face, put the eyes where they should go, then the mouth, then the hair. I was rapt- parenting is all small miracles and found corners of happiness.

Mitts asks for cuddles (Mama!), his daddy (MAMA!), the cats (MA-MA!) and his mum (...ay!), but on other topics is quite happy to warble out all sorts of semi-intelligible noises. He chases balls, ALL THE TIME, something he hasn't got from his parents, both of whom are utterly incompetent with all things sporting. Still, I'm only going to encourage him, despite my preference for Brasilian Ju Jitsu if he is going to do some sort of contact sport.

The cats are exploring their new gardens, jumping fences and putting themselves in harm's way, so we're in the middle of feline AIDS injections.

I'm doing my usual career hand-wringing, Beloved is taking it all in her stride, and we are otherwise good.

Leaving me back here once more...