Poetry Sunday 27 December 2015

Another offering from Lionel Fogarty


Fabulous whistles came in conversation

Defeating boring journalist was the one’s who won awards.

Fetish document were one’s who tug voids of false promise.

They came surveillance the way we wrote.

As blacks fell as anonymity gave subliminal execution violent.

Now their reader’s truism was air crafted for corporate poets high-rises.

But refugee haunts the castes in concrete compel jungles.

But retreating hidden ties must come out to bloodstream in compete narrative.

No entering a stronghold attacks.

But the dollars can buy desertion Oh displacement in forgiving

Gifts written for futures engorged.

Will the incoherent polyvalent our kind in fabulous life’s?

Flying to Melbourne From N.S.W. Lionel Fogarty 26 May 2013 time pm 4.00

Poetry Sunday 27 December 2015

It is with no little apology that we advise we have no poem today.  This is in fact due to gluttony.  We do, however have an apt quote from Frederic Raphael:

Great restaurants are, of course, nothing but mouth-brothels.  There is no point going into them if one intends to keep one’s belt buckled.

Happy eating.

MDFF 26 December 2015

Hiya Folks, Namaskarum,

So the 2015 Parliamentary closed with one of my favourite politicians in hot water. It couldn’t happen to a nicer fellow. Once again we that live at the Front of the multipronged ethnocentric assimilationist attack that Remote Aboriginal Australia continues to be subjected to, derive one of the few joys we get to enjoy… Schadenfreude.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbJcQYVtZMo …. Ode an die Freude…(the Flash Mob)

Back when Mal Brough was one of the main architects of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, he shamelessly lied through his teeth to justify the Howard Government’s last throw of the dice in an attempt to avoid electoral defeat. The collateral damage done to the social fabric of these unique remote communities was of no concern to those political opportunists nor to those that followed.

Yet now almost a decade later we suddenly hear in the Parliament that Mal Brough is being accused of telling porkies, and his new boss (need I remind you that ‘mal’ means bad in Latin?- apologies to all the good people called Mal) springs to his defence “these are only allegations”. C’mon Mal, why not call a spade a spade? He’s a fucking liar and always has been and always will be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n03a7cLf0M (Lies- The Knickerbokkers)

Jack Waterford, the Editor-at-Large of The Canberra Times, is a journalist who in my humble opinion most persistently hits the nail on the head in relation to Indigenous Affairs in Australia.

The definition of ‘At Large’ in an on-line dictionary is “… especially of a criminal or dangerous animal) at liberty; escaped or not yet captured”. I for one hope they never capture him.

Jack’s latest contribution so encapsulates what I have tried to reveal in countless musical dispatches, that I’m offering it in its entirety as a Christmas Present.

Aborigines have again been caught out letting their comparative disadvantage increase, compared with non-Aboriginal Australians and concentration camp inmates at Manus Island. Scores of our best statisticians are now hard at work looking down the wrong wombat holes in search of an explanation.

How could this happen under our first prime minister for Indigenous affairs? Or indeed, under the maternalistic reign of Jenny Kabbarli Macklin, the wise and all-knowing oracle able to reinterpret any evidence that did not suit her preconceptions? How could 10 years of photo opportunities of miscellaneous ministers, policemen and army generals (the latter supplied with their public relations officers) walking with Aboriginal children towards remote area primary schools actually produce worse educational outcomes, whether in school attendance rates, or in reading, writing and arithmetic?

How could it be that after so many expensive prime ministerial weeks in Aboriginal communities, showing Aborigines, in front of thousands of specially imported white public servants, how to hammer in nails, that we now know most of the objectives of the “closing the gap” will not be achieved, and that in many cases, the gap of Aboriginal disadvantage, compared with other Australians has widened?

Would it have been worse without such stunts? Or without the hand-chosen advice from hand-chosen Aboriginal leaders without constituencies but ample access to the media? Or the efforts of professional bureaucrats inside the single most important department of state, under the guidance of the leader of the public service?

Or is it, as usual, the blackfellas’ fault again. These dreadful people who rebuff all efforts to help them. Are these surly ingrates about to squander the opportunities to be provided by our determination to “give” them a constitutional affirmation of their existence, whether they want it or not?

Those who suspect the latter might note that, so cunning have been these recalcitrant folk, that even when, or if, their health, educational, economic or mortality statistics improved (compared with how they had been some years before) they did not improve by as much as the equivalent improvement for the whole population. That is, they fell further backward even when going forward. (Just like, except worse, than most of the bottom half of the population under the last 20 economic boom years.)

One of the latest encyclicals describing, if not doing anything very much to change the situation is a report by the Productivity Commission, filling in for the now-abolished COAG Reform Council in preparing the necessary annual report on COAG’s work, under the National Indigenous Reform Agreement, on progress in meeting COAG’s Close the Gap targets.

This report points out that there is now a massive whitefella industry in preparing annual national reports describing, in entirely impersonal but voluminous detail, on Indigenous outcomes and disadvantage. Most of those involved in this industry, some at $400,000-plus a year, have their salaries paid from money described as going to Aboriginal affairs, but can manage for years without actually having to encounter a disadvantaged Aborigine.That’s in line with the fact that only about one dollar in every 10 notionally being spent on Aboriginal Australians is ever touched by an Aboriginal hand.

The authors of this (200-page plus umpteen-page set of statistical addenda) report note:

“The commission estimates that the total page count for the other national reports is close to 2000 pages, with the equivalent of almost 7000 pages of data available as electronic attachments.

“There is considerable overlap and duplication across the various reports. And some of the data used for the assessments are not updated each year, which means for annual Closing the Gap reports there is little option between data updates than to reiterate past findings.”

This is most unmannerly on the part of the Productivity Commission. The normal practice is to deplore waste and duplication among programs benefiting Aborigines, rather than the Aboriginal industry, on which the national prosperity may rely, particularly if Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation thing takes off. Indeed the usual practice is to call for more reports, better statistics, more conferences and working parties, even if they are to be focused on ways of cutting the overlap.

To be fair on the PC, however, it gives the statistics a pretty good look-over and comes up with some cogent criticisms of them, which might, with the right bureaucratic opportunism, require a good deal of further joint study, preferably away from the office. Perhaps, in the circumstances at Yulara, if at a cooler time of year.

The other reports to which the PC refers are never, of course, issued simultaneously. That has the effect, inter alia that one can choose any one of them to prove almost anything, other than that life for Aborigines is improving, or improving much. There’s the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report; the Report on Government Services: Indigenous Compendium; the Prime Minister’s own Closing the Gap report; and the Institute of Health and Welfare report on the Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s Overview. And there’s  the ATSI Health Performance Framework Report produced by the Health Minister’s Advisory Council; and, of course the Indigenous Expenditure report.

This booming industry has, alas recently had a few economic setbacks, at least for those given to weighing, counting, parsing, measuring and calculating Aborigines, if not, necessarily, for the benighted subjects of all of these attentions.

We are, for example, now deprived of regular very glossy reports from a Commonwealth coordinator-general for remote Indigenous services, who was, by the end of a generally unlamented reign under the last government, given partly to co-ordinating the work of other coordinators-general as well as making up his own not particularly reliable statistics of whatever took his fancy. It is not clear that anything much, other than empires, collapsed after the function was dispensed with.

Then there was another body – almost the only actually useful one, as far as Aboriginal communities were concerned – called the Closing the Gap Clearing House. It gathered information on what programs actually seemed to work, and what did not. It also collected program evaluations, as well as material reviewing (as opposed to auditing) the efficacy of particular policies and programs. This had the clearly undesirable effect of allowing good and bad experiences in one region to inform decisions in other regions. This is a function best carried out by ministers, from their own deep reservoirs of experience and ideology, and by those officials who have learnt that promotion depends on the paper flow with colleagues, not achievement in different communities.

Naturally, the clearing house was the first to go, as an efficiency, even as efforts were redoubled to increase the complicatedness, uselessness and detachment of any number of other activities designed to get better transparency, accountability and, no doubt these days, agility and innovation in Aboriginal affairs.

It should not be assumed that I have even begun to describe the limits of such enterprise in closing the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage. The surprising thing is that the statistical reports are concerned with matters such as bums on seats in preschools rather than spreadsheets in Canberra.

Or in each of the other capitals, including on City Hill, which itself has no triumph of which to speak. Virtually every single one of the states and territories has a bureaucratic operation duplicating each and everything that the Commonwealth and COAG does in trying to close the gap, if only to feed in doubtful statistics, or political marketing advice, to the powers that be within their domains.

And these are but mere government bodies, staffed by officials. There is now an additional group of academic and non-government agencies, and lobbies in the health, education and welfare industry, churning out data, or copying selected pieces of other people’s data, all for the higher and greater good of Aborigines, whether they want it or not. Not much of it is greatly informed by any effort to get an Aboriginal viewpoint on the results of these labours, other than with the facilitation of a further industry of urgers and observers ready to say, for a price, that the victims have been told and seem to understand what has been decided for them.

Of course the Closing the Gap industry is itself but the mere tip of an iceberg of investigation, reports, inquiries, tests, tracts, commissions and consultations generated among whitefellas in Aboriginal affairs, and used to decide what’s best .

More than 40 years ago, writing about Aboriginal ill health in a book, I commented that the academic medical literature already contained at least one paper describing it for every Indigenous family, and predicted that a day would come soon when there was at least one for every Indigenous individual. I expect that this time has arrived. Not much of this scholarship did much to improve health.

Aboriginal ill health is but a subset of an academic and official literature pontificating on Aboriginal disadvantage in education, in incarceration, in social and economic status, and morale. Most is very sympathetic to the problem, whatever it is. Some have been quite angry and strident about the persistence of disadvantage, or the failure of everyone to fix it.

No national shame, here or elsewhere has been better documented, recorded, discussed or made the subject of so many conferences, inquiries and consideration. One can wake, like Rip Van Winkle, from a sleep of decades and take up a conversation on appropriate policy as if nothing had changed. Other than that a few more generations have been stolen and a few more tens of billions spent .

No problem has seemed so intractable, in spite of sincere, earnest and well-funded efforts to do something about it. Scores of politicians, from prime ministers down, have sworn they will personally make a difference. If there has been an inclination to scoff, there has been some acknowledgment that it has been said before, but that this time he, or she, means business.

I have known and observed every single minister for Indigenous affairs, however described , since the function acquired ministerial status in 1968. Yet I cannot think of a single one since, perhaps, Peter Baume in 1980, whose contribution made a positive difference to outcomes in Aboriginal affairs. And I wouldn’t really write home about Baume.

Even when the bad decisions or well-meaning but stupid interventions of hopeless ministers had negative outcomes, the ministers had a good less long-term impact than one might imagine. No one expected much better, and their appropriate fate is, simply to be forgotten. Can anyone, for example, remember anything, good or bad, that Amanda Vanstone or Phillip Ruddock did in Indigenous affairs? Yet Vanstone apparently has expertise to offer the constitutional recognition argument, and is, accordingly, back on the public payroll .

One could write a history of Aboriginal communities, families or individuals without thinking of a single thing that any federal minister (or prime minister) did or said that made much of a difference to their lives, or which even had much long-term impact on policy and practice, or social or economic outcomes.

That is not very remarkable. Aborigines may attract bureaucrats, academic and politics like dogs attract fleas. As is often noticed and deplored, some get into all sorts of unhealthy interdependence relationships, sometimes extending over generations, trapping people in long, and often highly dysfunctional cycles of helplessness, hopelessness and depression.

Such people – the givers as much as the takers, the people making lives and careers from it as much as people from whose misery they profit – need help, not least in weaning and being weaned .

For all that, only Aboriginal people can liberate themselves from their conditions. The most that their friends, people who think they are their friends, and people who think they know best for the objects of their pity, can do is to help create the environment in which that liberation can occur. More reports, more studies, more seminars, and more bureaucrats are unlikely to help much. They are, in fact, the biggest problem.

I say amen to all that, but Jack “ only Aboriginal people can liberate themselves from their conditions” is much much easier said than done. “The environment in which that liberation can occur” is all but non-existent. But, never let that flickering little flame of hope be extinguished.

…Deep in my heart, I know that I do believe..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkNsEH1GD7Q  (We shall overcome- Joan Baez)

…. A change is gonna come, and there is Beauty in the World… Not least in these remote Aboriginal communities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qX7ZsxD3Ik (Macy Gray – Beauty In The World)

Have a Happy Christmas,

Pinne Kanam.



In the Spirit of Giving, a Christmas message

A cargo cult is a Melanesian millenarian movement encompassing a diverse range of practices and occurring in the wake of contact with the commercial networks of colonizing societies. The name derives from the belief that various ritualistic acts will lead to a bestowing of material wealth (“cargo”). Cargo cults often develop during a combination of crises. Under conditions of social stress, such a movement may form under the leadership of a charismatic figure. This leader may have a “vision” (or “myth-dream”) of the future, often linked to an ancestral efficacy (“mana”) thought to be recoverable by a return to traditional morality. This leader may characterize the present state regimes as a dismantling of the old social order, meaning that social hierarchy and ego boundaries have been broken down’


Prototype Charitable helicopter as constructed by remote natives in search of the true meaning behind Christmas

Dear reader we begin this little piece with the above excerpt lifted 100% from Wikipedia.


The Judea Mega Mart. Bigger than Pharos!! And not full of silly old books like the local library at Alexandra

Todays sermon relates to the practice of giving and the true meaning of Christmas. Because that’s what Christmas is all about. A celebration of the day when the prophet Jesus Christ opened the first ever retail super store in Judea. The store known in biblical texts as ‘Mammon Middle-East-field’ , (or colloquially as the Judea Mega-Mart) was a game changer from the Midas corporation in upgrading the retail experience into what is described by Mathew, (chapter 22, verse 12) “ More luminous than Pharos, behold the hyper mart’. So in tribute to this special event we delve into the history of giving and the reciprocal “ taking”. All in god fun we assure you in preparation for the West Indies domination in the Boxing Day test.

santa 2

Child receives the Bounty of Civilisation. (and Christmas)

santa 3

Doing Good. A Big Charity at work. The husband and wife team preparing to load the gifts into their charitable tax-free helicopter.

It was compelling viewing on the ABC, (Monday 21 Dec) to watch (our soon to be commercialised) national broadcaster proclaim the sterling work being undertaken by the good folk of the Salvation Army in delivering presents to the wretched, disadvantaged, remote, and most likely abused children of outback Australia. The children from “remote communities” were being graced with gifts from the sky, and assembled in remote locations right across Northern New South Wales and Queensland in anticipation of the arrival from the Salvation Santa, a husband and wife team who heard the calling to give these children “hope” for christmas. In heart wrenching earnestness they told us that these ‘kids often didn’t know the meaning of receiving gifts, and it was their sacred duty to inspire them with the spirit of christmas and a bounty of presents’. The presents gathered across Australia from “giving trees’ were despatched, by sacred helicopter with a capacity for up to two hundred gifts per community.

santa 6

Lucky children waiting for the helicopter to unload. Each thinking, “hope i don’t get the Rolf Harris Song-book again this year”.

We wondered if these were standard sized gifts, and discussed in some detail the logistics of such an enterprise to which our younger experts informed us that it would be of a medium size but due to the remoteness of location would exclude X Box, Wii , Playstation and the desirable games “Call of Duty and Battlefield‘ Still as the journalist revealed, the children were nonetheless delighted with their plastic toys, and stood for the cameras beaming in the absence of adult males and made to feel especially grateful. This is a special event, and so glad that these wretched, accursed, property-less, and mortgage-less denizens beyond the urban fringe can be acquainted with the sprit of Christmas and the Worlds first ever hyper mart in Judea. There is talk of a treaty being delivered next christmas, but such a propsition has been dismissed by the chair of the Judea Mega Mart as being beyond the scope of the Corporations Act.  And besides we’ve been told that politics and religion don’t mix. Quite right too.

One more ghasp from the Annals of Australian Manufacturing

The Raffles Rickshaw or the Percival rota-shaw

Dear reader, with Christmas fast approaching, spare a thought for those who celebrated Christmas some seventy four years ago in the steamy tropical heat of Singapore. And who, stimulated by the need for decisive action and prodigious feats of efficiency contrived a remarkable engineering tour de force from the rudiments of bicycle and staionary engines. Indeed such stirring tales go to the very heart in our quest to become truly, the world leaders in innovation.

raffles rickshaw 2

The esteemed war historian and tactician Sir Basil Liddell Hart devoted many tomes to notion of ‘The other side of the hill”, in as much as he described the fortunes of battle and command therein to be able to envisage what what happening on the other side of the hill. The point being to imagine what your adversary would be thinking and in so doing calculate an approach that would both engage, surprise, and carry the day with thoughtful use of resources.

Such was the dilemma that faced the allied command prior to the Japanese Invasion of Singapore. Allied intelligence was grossly deficient, believing that troops of the Imperial Japanese Army would be height challenged, myopic, and possess imperfect bicuspids. They also believed that the infantryman had acquired through carrying baskets on poles a tendency to stoop. Key to the japanese advance came the reported use of bicycles. Without sufficient bicycles the Allied High Command immersed itself in ways to counter Yamashita’s thrust southwards. With this in mind the Commander in Chief, the benighted General Percival, hit upon an idea whilst returning from Raffles to command headquarters in a rickshaw.

raffles 2

Flt. Lt. Richard, (Dick) Shaw being awarded his DCM in the grounds of Raffles Hotel December 24 1941. Shaw is seen here wearing his portable repair and puncture kit, and specialist silk, (non friction) flying bicycle wing trousers.

crick 2

A huge crowd turned up to see the first flight of the Raffles Rickshaw.

Staggered by the stamina demonstrated by the rickshaw driver he imagined, (to prove that the higher command was not bereft of imagination) what a rickshaw could do in the right hands if it were assisted by auxiliary power and adapted as a short hop liaison aircraft. Seized by the potentialities and confident in the prowess of Empire arms to thwart the enemy he summoned his senior officers and called a general meeting and subsequent inspection of the Sha-tin-Shu Bicycle and Rickshaw works. What he discovered upon the inspection astounded him. Unbeknown to the high command the inventive proprietor, was already experimenting with a powered rickshaw, and improvising a collapsable parasol wing and a primitive landing gear that offered comfortable telescopic forks and twin powered “drivers”. Wasting no time Percival ordered a demonstration for General Wavell, and so impressed were the officers when flying over the Singapore Cricket Club, the incredibly named pilot, Lieut, R, (‘Rick’) Shaw threw a cricket ball from the rickshaw and demolished a street vendors tea urn. The basic rickshaw was refined with a forward and rear control rotor. Cleverly, a VTOL capability had been introduced by adding a geared rotor to the forward control mechanism, (a bicycle handlebar) and a hand mixer to provide additional lift. Specially adapted tubing and helium balloons were fitted if extra lift was required over long journeys, and the specifications of feeding drivers’ cabbage before such sorties mandatory.

Sensing that history was theres to be made, Percival ordered the immediate construction of twenty and augmented the power system with a J.A Prestwick 3.5 hp stationary engine for the rotor and adapted a Villiers 1.34 h.p for the rear rotor. The wings were reinforced with rice paper and a rudimentary armament, a .303 Lee Enfield installed to fire through the canopy. With precious days left to save Singapore, the No’s 1 and 2 RAF Rickshaw Squadron were launched against Yamashita’s fury. Initially the results proved encouraging, seasoned zero pilots when faced with the massed rickshaws couldn’t out manouevre nor gain sufficient deflection to engage. More often than not their bullets passed harmlessly through.


The fury of Yamashita! General Yamashita flanked by officers demands from Percival the plans for the Raffles Rickshaw.

Of little more than nuisance value they did score several early victories when a squadron of Nakajimas from the hard living 69 squadron seeing them, believed themselves to be under the weather from the night before, became disorientated and crashed. But within days the wily Japanese had developed a new tactic. By filling the bomb bays of no. 345 Betty squadron with sweet sticky rice they let go their glutinous cargo over the Rickshaw Squadron standing patrol above the Singapore Cricket Club. The coolies were rice blinded and the sprockets clogged and rendered inoperable. Pedaling furiously the operators established critical friction and the glutinous mass clinging to the working parts overheated, and burst into flames. Moments later they “plopped” flaming from the sky. This operation, code named ‘Sticky Rice’, removed the rickshaws overnight. For Percival this was the bitterest blow, as his reputation, both as a tactician and thinker were ruined. Singapore fell soon after.

Fatefully; as the Japanese proverb goes; ‘If rickshaw fry, you have problem’.

Raffles Rickshaw Specifications General Characteristics

Crew: 3.(two drivers). One flight Officer in sedan.

Range: 85 miles Vehicle: 1 x Shat in Shu Rickshaw

Powerplant: 1x JA Prestwick 3.5 hp. 1x 1.35 Villiers Stationery Single cylinder 1 kg cooked and sweetened rice per hr

Performance Maximum speed: 20 mph, 38 kmh. Range: 85 miles Service ceiling; 4,500 ft Rate of climb; 120 ft/min Armament 1 x .303 Lee Enfield firing through canopy. 2 x Mills hand grenade. 1 x Webley revolver Operators: RAAF, RAF

Something bout Strayla part 2

The head of the American delegation vowed that these athletes would pay the price their entire lives for that gesture, a gesture he thought had nothing to do with the sport. Smith and Carlos were immediately suspended from the American Olympic team and expelled from the Olympic Village, while the rower Hoffman was accused of conspiracy.
Once home the two fastest men in the world faced heavy repercussions and death threats.

But time, in the end, proved that they had been right, and they became champions in the fight for human rights. With their image restored they collaborated with the American team of Athletics, and a statue of them was erected at the San Jose State University. Peter Norman is absent from this statue. His absence from the podium step seems an epitaph of a hero that no one ever noticed. A forgotten athlete, deleted from history, even in Australia, his own country.


Someone’s missing?

Four years later at the 1972 Summer Olympics that took place in Munich, Germany, Norman wasn’t part of the Australian sprinters team, despite having run qualifying times for the 200 meters thirteen times and the 100 meters five times.

Norman left competitive athletics behind after this disappointment, continuing to run at the amateur level.

Back in the change-resisting, whitewashed Australia he was treated like an outsider, his family outcast, and work impossible to find. For a time he worked as a gym teacher, continuing to struggle against inequalities as a trade unionist and occasionally working in a butcher shop. An injury caused Norman to contract gangrene which led to issues with depression and alcoholism.
As John Carlos said, “If we were getting beat up, Peter was facing an entire country and suffering alone.” For years Norman had only one chance to save himself: he was invited to condemn his co-athletes, John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s gesture in exchange for a pardon from the system that ostracized him.

A pardon that would have allowed him to find a stable job through the Australian Olympic Committee and be part of the organization of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Norman never gave in and never condemned the choice of the two Americans.
He was the greatest Australian sprinter in history and the holder of the 200 meter record, yet he wasn’t even invited to the Olympics in Sydney. It was the American Olympic Committee that, once they learned of this news, asked him to join their group and invited him to Olympic champion Michael Johnson’s birthday party, for whom Peter Norman was a role model and a hero.

Norman died suddenly from a heart attack in 2006, without his country ever having apologized for their treatment of him. At his funeral Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Norman’s friends since that moment in 1968, were his pallbearers, sending him off as a hero.

peters end

Poor Peter. Not even a posthumous order of Strayla”!!

“Peter was a lone soldier. He consciously chose to be a sacrificial lamb in the name of human rights. There’s no one more than him that Australia should honor, recognize and appreciate,” John Carlos said.

“He paid the price with his choice,” explained Tommie Smith, “It wasn’t just a simple gesture to help us, it was HIS fight. He was a white man, a white Australian man among two men of color, standing up in the moment of victory, all in the name of the same thing.”
Only in 2012 did the Australian Parliament approve a motion to formally apologize to Peter Norman and rewrite him into history with this statement:

This House “recognises the extraordinary athletic achievements of the late Peter Norman, who won the silver medal in the 200 meters sprint running event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, in a time of 20.06 seconds, which still stands as the Australian record.”

“Acknowledges the bravery of Peter Norman in donning an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the podium, in solidarity with African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the ‘black power’ salute.”
“Apologises to Peter Norman for the wrong done by Australia in failing to send him to the 1972 Munich Olympics, despite repeatedly qualifying; and belatedly recognises the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality.”

peter 3

It’ll never happen again in the Olympics. Mis-matching tracksuit tops and absence of corporate sponsor logos.

However, perhaps, the words that remind us best of Peter Norman are simply his own words when describing the reasons for his gesture, in the documentary film “Salute,” written, directed and produced by his nephew Matt.
“I couldn’t see why a black man couldn’t drink the same water from a water fountain, take the same bus or go to the same school as a white man.

There was a social injustice that I couldn’t do anything about from where I was, but I certainly hated it.

It has been said that sharing my silver medal with that incident on the victory dais detracted from my performance.

On the contrary.

john howarch 2

‘Jump for Joy! Jump for Team Stratal’!!Message from the 2000 Olympics. Not only athletes wear a tracksuit and still come out winners.

I have to confess, “I was rather proud to be part of it.”

Something bout Strayla

Dear reader, we found this recent piece from the San Francisco Globe absolutely remarkable.

It tells us so much about ourselves and serves as a very apt follow-on to the recent initiative by Messers Pyne, Bishop and Wilson bent on telling the Palestinians how they should behave. The fact is, that in Australia, we understand the finer points of etiquette and am not afraid on standing tall on the world stage for our “principles”. Read then of a principled stand by “one of us”, who paid the ultimate price for not being quite in tune to the precepts of “Team Australia”

peter 2

White man in the photo is the ‘third hero’ that night in 1968

By JING CHEN December 9, 2015

This last October marks the ninth anniversary of Peter Norman’s passing. Most people don’t know Norman. Pictured below, Norman is perhaps “the third hero of that night in 1968,” writes Italian writer Riccardo Gazzaniga.
Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, and it certainly deceived me for a long time.
I always saw the photo as a powerful image of two barefoot black men, with their heads bowed, their black-gloved fists in the air while the US National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” played. It was a strong symbolic gesture – taking a stand for African American civil rights in a year of tragedies that included the death of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.
It’s a historic photo of two men of color. For this reason I never really paid attention to the other man, white, like me, motionless on the second step of the medal podium. I considered him a random presence, an extra in Carlos and Smith’s moment, or a kind of intruder. Actually, I even thought that that guy – who seemed to be just a simpering Englishman – represented, in his icy immobility, the will to resist the change that Smith and Carlos were invoking in their silent protest. But I was wrong.

kevan gosper 2000 2

‘It’s a long way to the top’, or “play up, play up, and play the game’. Our own hero of the Australian Olympic movement.


Riccardo Gazzaniga

‘Thanks to an old article by Gianni Mura, today I discovered the truth: that white man in the photo is, perhaps, the third hero of that night in 1968. His name was Peter Norman, he was an Australian who arrived in the 200 meters finals after having ran an amazing 20.22 in the semi finals. Only the two Americans, Tommie “The Jet” Smith and John Carlos had done better: 20.14 and 20.12, respectively.

It seemed as if the victory would be decided between the two Americans. Norman was an unknown sprinter, who seemed to just be having a good couple of heats. John Carlos, years later, said that he was asked what happened to the small white guy – standing at 5’6”tall, and running as fast as him and Smith, both taller than 6’2”.

The time for the finals arrives, and the outsider Peter Norman runs the race of a lifetime, improving on his time yet again. He finishes the race at 20.06, his best performance ever, an Australian record that still stands today, 47 years later.

But that record wasn’t enough, because Tommie Smith was really “The Jet,” and he responded to Norman’s Australian record with a world record. In short, it was a great race.
Yet that race will never be as memorable as what followed at the awards ceremony.

It didn’t take long after the race to realize that something big, unprecedented, was about to take place on the medal podium. Smith and Carlos decided they wanted to show the entire world what their fight for human rights looked like, and word spread among the athletes.

hero' that night in 1968 3

A principled stand

Norman was a white man from Australia, a country that had strict apartheid laws, almost as strict as South Africa. There was tension and protests in the streets of Australia following heavy restrictions on non-white immigration and discriminatory laws against aboriginal people, some of which consisted of forced adoptions of native children to white families.

The two Americans had asked Norman if he believed in human rights. Norman said he did. They asked him if he believed in God, and he, who had been in the Salvation Army, said he believed strongly in God. “We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat, and he said “I’ll stand with you” – remembers John Carlos – “I expected to see fear in Norman’s eyes, but instead we saw love.”

Smith and Carlos had decided to get up on the stadium wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge, a movement of athletes in support of the battle for equality.
They would receive their medals barefoot, representing the poverty facing people of color. They would wear the famous black gloves, a symbol of the Black Panthers’ cause. But before going up on the podium they realized they only had one pair of black gloves. “Take one each,” Norman suggested. Smith and Carlos took his advice.

But then Norman did something else. “I believe in what you believe. Do you have another one of those for me?” he asked, pointing to the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the others’ chests. “That way I can show my support for your cause.” Smith admitted to being astonished, ruminating, “Who is this white Australian guy? He won his silver medal, can’t he just take it and that be enough!”
Smith responded that he didn’t, also because he would not be denied his badge. There happened to be a white American rower with them, Paul Hoffman, an activist with the Olympic Project for Human Rights. After hearing everything he thought, “if a white Australian is going to ask me for an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge, then by God he would have one!” Hoffman didn’t hesitate: “I gave him the only one I had: mine.”

olympic project 2

The three went out on the field and got up on the podium: the rest is history, preserved in the power of the photo. “I couldn’t see what was happening,” Norman recounts, “[but] I had known they had gone through with their plans when a voice in the crowd sang the American anthem but then faded to nothing. The stadium went quiet.”

Part two follows tomorrow in which we see how Peter’s principle stand was rewarded by the Australian Sporting fraternity, government and anyone else who quite rightfully has no time for ” trouble-makers”.

Poetry Sunday 20 December 2015

I’m a tolerant sort of bloke  Anon.

I don’t mind blokes who digs or stokes
Who fettle or work on derricks;
I can even stand a German band,
But I draw the line at clerics.

Why, strike me pink, I’d sooner drink
With a cover sent up for arson,
Than a rain-beseeching, preaching, teaching,
Blanky, cranky parson.

I snort and jibe at the whole of the tribe,
Whatever their sect of class is –
From lawn-sleeved ranters to kerbstone canters,
From bishops to army lasses.

Give me the blaspheming, scheming, screaming,
Barracking football garcons-
In preference to the reverent gents,
The blithering, blathering parsons!

John Lahey reprinted this verse from an old copy of the Kalgoorlie (WA) Sun in his Great Australian Folk Songs (1965).

Oh, and Mum would have been 97 today, if she hadn’t succumbed to the ravages of emphysema, and giving birth to and raising numerous (extremely grateful) children two decades ago.  Of course a couple of her more sycophantic children choose this date on which to marry.  Congratulations to them too.
Cecil Poole

MDFF 19 December 2015

This post is a response to the post “Pride-less Prejudice” reprinted here last week.  (African American writer Ta-Nahisi Coates agues that race is in fact the child of racism.)

Here is the response:  Very funny Frank. On reflection this is based on prejudice and if most Germans were brown or black it would be called racism. Over the years I may have unwittingly hurt many a German’s feelings. Of this I’m not proud. Prejudice without pride.


Tim Minchin is very good 🙂

There is prejudice on the basis of race (racism), and then there is prejudice on the basis of culture (culturism). They are often confused because race is often a convenient stereotype to identify culture, but they are actually different things.

Racism is fairly obviously stupid…aside from the stupidity of prejudice on the basis of any sort of difference, there is less biological difference between races than there is between random individuals of the same race. My favorite quote from the wikipedia page on race and genetics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_genetics) is this;

“From a scientific point of view, the concept of race has failed to obtain any consensus; none is likely […] the major stereotypes, all based on skin color, hair color and form, and facial traits, reflect superficial differences that are not confirmed by deeper analysis with more reliable genetic traits…”

However, culturism is a far more subtle and difficult thing to argue against. It typically manifests as; “I’m not racist. I believe that everyone, regardless of race, should be free to live just like me.” It is not racist, but it is denying people the freedom to live differently. It’s hard to argue against because although most people can understand race is a minor and arbitrary difference, they struggle to understand and accept that people would genuinely want to live a different way. To them it just looks like the “wrong way” that needs to be corrected.

It is very hard to get people to understand and accept cultural differences. It’s actually easier for people to accept cultural differences if they don’t understand them… it’s easier to accept something if you don’t realize just how different it is. This is why people in Melbourne are more accepting of Aboriginal rights than people in Alice-Springs. Once you begin to realize how big the differences are, it’s a whole new level of understanding before you can accept them.

I think it’s too hard to educate people to the “acceptance point”. It’s much easier to argue for tolerance… that people should have the freedom to live how they like, even if it is the “wrong way”. You can also argue for the benefits of diversity… it makes the world more interesting and adaptable if we are not all clones of each other.

Three Amigos, or three wise persons in Ramallah

Pyne and Bronwyn 1

Lucky the Palestinians. Three wise individuals come to Ramallah. By helicopter we wonder?

Lending a helping hand

Delegation to West Bank led by Christopher Pyne 'not well educated', local minister says - ABC News

Delegation led by Minister Pyne not well received. ‘But the cakes were very good indeed, though not as good as those served in Platinum Class’, ( Bronwyn Bishop)

Dear reader it is with almost epileptic enthusiasm we inform you of the sensation of the decade. A delegation from none other than the leadership of the Palestinian Liberation organisation is coming to Australia to lend us some advice and a “helping hand” in finding a way through the vexed issue of the “white man problem” in dealing with their friends the traditional owners of this land. A spokesman for their leader Mahmoud Abbas indicated that an intense desire existed within the PLO to put things right, he reiterated his leaders conviction that, “without a treaty there is little wriggle room, and yet the struggle of their people, (the white invader) is not dissimilar to ours. For two hundred years they have tried to negotiate with the traditional custodians, and if only they would be more grateful we’d furnish them with the respect they deserve, but at this stage it
is just a one way street, and they don’t seem to be listening’.

Pyne and Bronwyn 2

After the tete a tete, Palestinians thinking; ” is there intelligent life way way down south”? (head scarf worn by woman other than Bronwyn, lent by the Rt. Hon. Christopher Pyne M.P from his personal collection).

His résponse was entirely due to the unsuccessful initiative undertaken by members of the  Australian Federal Government to open up constructive talks with the Palestinian people. This important top level delegation headed by none other than the Minister for Innovation and Technology the Rt Hon Christopher Pyne, and the former Speaker, the Rt.Hon. Bronwyn Bishop and the Freedom Commissioner Mr Tim Wilson.

Unsuccessful you may ask?

How could such a high level delegation fail to succeed?

Indeed we invited a spokesman to Mr Abbas for some comments and he was less than flattering. ‘I believe there’s been a misunderstanding. We thought the Australian delegation had come to help us, but instead we were hectored and bullied into listening to the same old lies. It’s bad enough with what happened after Versailles being crammed down your throat, worse still when they stick you in ’48, and then it’s all down hill, but the last thing we want is people who are completely ignorant belittling us on stuff they clearly know nothing about’.

suez crisis 1

An ungrateful former Arab leader

Spokesman for the Palestinians, the Education Minister Dr Sabri Saidam described the meeting as “very explosive and very challenging” and said the group had asked “rude and blunt” questions
“Obviously the delegation was under impressions, wrong impressions accumulated after the visit to Israel.”
When asked about Dr Saidam’s comments, Mr Pyne said he believed he was very diplomatic but admitted that some members of the delegation were potentially “too robust”.
“I very diplomatically asked the Prime Minister and the Higher Education Minister questions which I thought would be useful for understanding the Palestinian attitudes to the peace process,” Mr Pyne told the ABC.
“Other members of the dialogue were slightly more robust and could be accused of quizzing them.
“I didn’t quiz anyone.”
Dr Saidam said, despite the atmosphere, he welcomed the visit because he thought it was important to “clarify facts”.
“There has been a lot of complaints on the Palestinian side that the government of Australia was not that sympathetic with the Palestinians,” he said.

versailles treaty -2

At Versailles. where the future of civilisation itself was ordained by the allies for the Arabs own good. Another example of Arab ingratitude.

“I thought the Minister of Innovation would come with innovative ideas, but instead he came with a list of complaints.”
As a consequence we need to help these Australian politicians to “listen”, and accepting the invitation from the original owners, we ‘d like to help them set up a dialogue.

A spokesman from the the Minister of Innovation and Industry’s department deflecting the talks as nonsense suggested that the Palestinians just didn’t understand how hard we’d been prepared to go since Versailles, at Suez, and thereafter to “help them”.  In fact, their behaviour is ungrateful.
Indeed, the central issue is simple “why can’t they be more like us”, and why don’t they want to be more like us”? It’s all been said before; It’s paradox within an enigma’. But Mr Saidam enthused, ‘if they just listened it could be solved’. Fingers crossed.