Are they joking?

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Home of titles – The Royal College of Arms, London
© P J Croft 2008, 2014

Yesterday I tried to make a donation to the Australian Conservation Foundation, but in filling out the on-line form, I nearly fell over laughing.  Under Title, the drop down list showed these choices:

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Swami? Frau? Count?  They’ve missed a few: what about Imam, Mullah, Sensei, Tan Sri, Brigadier … ?  I love the reversal of Mr & Mrs as opposed to Ms & Mr.  Why show Ald and Alderman?  And what does Clr mean? Edit: (Oh, yes, Councillor.)

I gave up trying to make my donation because I became so frustrated at all the information they want from me.  I’ll go back and do it again because it’s something I want to support, but the person who designed this web page needs to think about it.

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Another film review

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Tower Bridge, London © P J Croft 2008, 2014

As a change of pace, I must mention a film I watched a couple of nights ago.  Babel *

You probably know that I hate most American movies.  Too much US centrism, too little realism, too overblown, too much reliance on special effects, about as subtle as a road roller.  But this one is an exception, probably because it was made by a Mexican director and Mexican writer.  It stars Brad Pitt which is probably why I thought it was US made, but Cate Blanchett is his co-star, so that makes up for it.

Anyway, rarely have I seen a film which interweaves three story lines so skilfully.  It kept me intrigued as the links between them were slowly revealed.  A lot of it is foreign language (Arabic, Spanish, Japanese) with subtitles but you hardly need the dialogue to know what’s going on.  The dialogue is minimal a lot of the time, relying on the action.

Apart from Pitt and Blanchett (who doesn’t have a lot to do or say, but is superb anyway), all the actors are locals or unknowns, and it’s all the better for it.  Set in Morocco, Tokyo and Tijuana, it feels authentic and doesn’t rely on any effects or stupidities.

I read the reviews afterwards and it was made in 2005 and figured in a couple of awards, winning an Oscar for best original music score.  That surprises me, because I can’t remember any music in the film apart from the location sound.  I’ll have to look at it again.

That’s the point. Very rarely do I want to watch a film again, especially a US one, but this one I will, probably sooner rather than later.  I give it high marks.  Babel.

( * Tower Bridge, Tower of Babel, geddit?)

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About six months ago I made a mistake and accidentally messed up the time line of my Japan slideshow.  I made the show in about 2004 and spent at least six months on it, then another two months in 2012 redoing the captions and other parts and changing the music.  (This was for a woman who’d lost her disc but wanted another copy for a friend who was going to Japan in about three months. After I’d done all the work and said I had the new version for her, she said her friend went a month before and she didn’t want it any more. No apology, not the slightest sign that she understood she’d got the dates wrong or understood how much effort I’d made. She just brushed me off.  Thanks a lot. I learnt a lesson from that.)

Recently I wanted to do some more on it, but in a thoughtless moment, saved a new bare show over the top of the original.  Aaaarrrgh.  I thought I’d lost it.

But yesterday I discovered I did have a good copy in my backup files.  Oh joy!  I had to move some files around to get it to load up again, but now I’ve got it all back again.  This time I’ll ensure I have a good backup stored externally.

Now for some more freshening up with better captions and another change of music to royalty free music, so that I can distribute it without fear of copyright infringement.

Dammit, this is a good show!  Each time I look at it I think how much work went into it and how good it looks.  The photos are from 1992, but you wouldn’t know.  Being Japan, it’s all timeless and of lasting beauty and interest.

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I started fast acting insulin yesterday.  This is on top of the slow acting 24 hr insulin I’ve been on since February.  That was making a big improvement, but my BGLs were still spiking up too high after meals and not coming down fast enough.

This is a rapid acting version that you inject at mealtimes, just 4 units.  The other slow one has been reduced from 60 units to 50.  It’s easy to inject – no more than a mosquito bite, and I don’t feel anything else.  I’m graphing (spreadsheeting) all the readings and the graphs have been on a persistent downward slope, but with lots of upward spikes within a day.  Let’s hope those spikes smooth out.

I can’t help thinking how good is the process these days.  A small electronic meter with LCD readout, using disposable test strips to do blood glucose readings at any time.  Disposable pens with precisely calibrated markers for dosages. Disposable, single use needles only 6mm long, so fine you hardly feel a thing.  Long acting 24hr insulin, and faster acting stuff as well in pens.

Grandma Arnold was an insulin dependent diabetic in the 1950s and I always remember the smell of methylated spirits in her bedroom. She had to swab the injection site before using a steel and glass needle to inject herself.  She would never have known what her glucose readings were. There was no way of measuring except in a lab in a hospital, so it would have been hit and miss.  Technology has made it all so easy and precise now.  Thanks to electronics, mainly.

Not in my name

 

Fishing boat

The bloke next to me said, “We never had any trouble until that damn woman [Julia Gillard] let ’em in.” I felt revulsion. © P J Croft 2014

On Tuesday I wrote about my opinion of people who support this cruel Liberal government.  Yesterday morning I removed most of it because I worried about sounding too harsh.

Now I think I wasn’t harsh enough.

I’ve read about a survey showing a majority of people in this country want harsher treatment of refugees, but I hadn’t seen it.  I found it hard to believe.  Now, thanks to this article in The Sydney Morning Herald:

Australians want boat arrivals treated more harshly: poll

Date  January 8, 2014

Philip Dorling

Most Australians think asylum seekers who arrive by boat are not genuine refugees and there is strong support for the Abbott government to treat boat arrivals more harshly.

A nationwide opinion poll by UMR Research shows that 59 per cent of people think most boat arrivals are not genuine refugees.

The poll, based on a nationally representative sample of 1000 online interviews, shows only 30 per cent of Australians believe that most asylum seekers are genuine refugees while 12 per cent are unsure.

A strong majority of Australians, 60 per cent, also want the Abbott government to “increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers.”

Groups most strongly favouring harsher policies are older Australians (aged over 70 years – 68 per cent), and self-employed people (71 per cent). People in Queensland and Western Australia are slightly more supportive of a more severe approach (65 per cent and 64 per cent respectively) than in Victoria and NSW (both 62 per cent).

Only 30 per cent of Australians think asylum seekers should not be treated more severely, while 9 per cent are unsure.

A majority of Australians – 59 per cent – oppose refugees receiving government welfare assistance. Only 27 per cent believe that refugees should receive government support.

I can hardly believe it.  I certainly can’t accept it.  How do these people know that refugees are not genuine?  Have they spoken to them?  Of course they haven’t.  It’s just lazy, dull, unthinking, unintelligent, xenophobic, racist talk.

I can hardly believe Australians can be so cruel, so racist, so nasty.  But I shouldn’t be surprised.  I’ve heard attitudes like this with my own ears from some of my (former) friends.

It’s fear.  People see immigrants as a threat.  The irrational shouting meetings in Northam over the refugee camp at the old army camp amazed me.  Comments like, “If they come over the wire, are we allowed to shoot ’em?”  What??!!  People in Northam think refugees are terrorists who will come into their homes and harm them.  How do they know this?  Have they actually met any refugees?  Of course they haven’t.  One of my oldest friends, now a former friend, was full of this harsh attitude.  He believed refugees were being kept in unwarranted luxury in this camp.  How did he know this?  He didn’t, he’d just heard rumours.  This was a clear case of irrational fear from my “friend”.  My dumb, stupid, increasingly demented friend.

I wasn’t harsh enough in my comments yesterday.  I REJECT THIS STUPID XENOPHOBIA.  And I hate the idea that this is Australia.  Not me!

And this:

“During the Rudd government approximately 90-95 per cent of refugee assessments completed on Christmas Island resulted in protection visas being granted. 99.7 per cent of people from Afghanistan (the majority of whom arrived by boat) were assessed as genuine refugees. Grant rates for protection visas for people from Iraq, Iran and Burma, many of whom also have arrived by boat, were also high, ranging from 96-98 per cent.”

The vast majority, up to 99.7% were assessed to be genuine refugees, that is people who have a genuine fear for their life if returned to their own country.  But all these dumb, nasty ignorant Australians who haven’t bothered to make any enquiries just assume they are not genuine.

And this: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/09/for-australia-to-deport-refugees-to-cambodia-would-be-absurd

This awful goverment wants to send refugees to Cambodia, land of the Pol Pot genocide and one of the worst, most corrupt, most crime ridden countries in SE Asia.  NOT IN MY NAME!

I wasn’t harsh enough.  If you vote Liberal, you support this racism.  I’m disgusted and I want no part of this Australia.

P3090011

© P J Croft 2014

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 I went to the Landgate office in Midland yesterday and encountered the Public Service attitude full on.

I arrived, told the receptionist what I wanted and was issued a numbered ticket.  I sat while the sole customer at the counter, one of three counters, was dealt with.

After about 15 mins it was my turn. When I said what I wanted, I was told, “Oh no, you have to go to that counter over there”, and she pointed to counter number one, signposted Maps.  So I sighed and moved over.  I explained my need and after about 10 minutes of to-ing and fro-ing, I got the number I wanted.  I said, “OK, can I now proceed with this form?”, a form I’d filled out but just needed a missing number.

“No, you need to go back to counter number 1.”  There was only one other customer, at counter number 2, and no-one in attendance at counter number 1.  So I went over, and waited, and waited.  There were two people behind the other counters, but neither paid me any attention, even the one who had just sent me to the unattended counter. She could see I was unattended, but she was only interested in talking to the other woman behind counter number 2.  The middle counter bloke left, so I was standing there for 5 mins or more and neither of these women paid me any attention.

Finally I said, “Excuse me, what do I have to do to get attention?” to the nearest woman.

“Oh, isn’t someone looking after you?”  “No”, I said.  So she went and got another woman from behind a partition, but only after I waited another couple of minutes.

We completed the form and I needed to pay a fee.  To do that, I had to move counters again, to the middle one.

So I got what I wanted, but what a slow, uncaring attitude.  Those women didn’t pay me any attention unless I was assertive.

Anyway, we pay state taxes, but we still have to pay hefty fees for these documents.  Grrrr.

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On the long drive home the bottlenecks caused by two lane roads narrowing to one lane caused long tail backs.  Reid Highway?  Reid bush track more like it.  That single lane bottleneck road between Erindale Road and the stupid three lane bridge leading to the Freeway entrance!  Dammit, when is it going to be fixed?  It took more than ten minutes to go that 1Km.

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When I set my TomTom GPS for the trip, I noticed that it seemed to take a long time to work out the route, analysing over 1.3 million roads.  And the planned route seemed so indirect.  I ignored it and took Reid Highway most of the way.  But from then on it directed me down to Benara Rd, then another lesser north/south road.  At one stage, it wanted me to turn left when there was only bush on the left.

Eventually, when setting my homeward path, I realised it was still set to find walking routes!  This was from Singapore a few weeks ago.  I guess there might have been a walking path through that bush.  Ha.

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Hmmm,  I’ve just discovered that this is my 500th post.  Wow.  I’ve also downloaded all my blog into a PDF document and it comes to more than 800 pages.  Double wow.  The PDF also contains index pages of all the page titles and their dates, and they are hyperlinked, so I can jump to any title or date.

Loading that PDF into FlipPDF gives me a very nice looking on-screen “book” with flipping pages,  which can be output to a tablet as an “app” if you want it.  I don’t.

Fools

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Don’t blame me, I voted Labor © P J Croft 2014

Well, it’s true.  You can fool some of the people all of the time.

 

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Yesterday afternoon my digital radio reception was fading badly and then stopped, on two different radios, my robot vacuum started up suddenly when I woke my laptop from its sleep mode and this afternoon I found my garage door open.  Now my TV reception is badly broken up.

These are all Radio Frequency (RF) effects.  I’m not sure if it’s my laptop doing it (it’s usually off, I’ve been using it more recently, next to the DAB+ radio).  Or if it may be sunspot/solar flare activity.  Don’t laugh, it can definitely happen.  There was a big solar flare last week and we may still be affected by it.  Hard to know.  My garage door was probably open all night and all today.  No problem found, nothing missing.

Management? Don’t make me laugh.

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Den of thieves. © P J Croft 1977, 2014

I’ve been listening to Radio National and a talk about the level of competence of management in Australia.  The conclusion is that it’s not very high.  My thoughts exactly.

The interviewee, a professor of management studies at Melbourne University, said that more ordinary wage employees have tertiary qualifications than managers. In other words, managers are not well educated in this country.  That’s my experience.

At the place I used to work:

1.  All engineering people had to get a Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Electronic Engineering at TAFE as a condition of employment.  If you couldn’t or wouldn’t do it, your position was at risk.  One tech was fired for lack of progress and enthusiasm while I was there.  It was a female tech, one of only two we ever had in my 33 years. (The other was good, but she left.)

2.  All engineering employees also had to pass the ABCB, later Dept of Communications, later TAFE run, Broadcast Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency (BOCP) and the Television Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency (TVOCP).  I did.  This was in addition to their Diploma studies.  Don’t be fooled by the term “Operator’s”.  This was a full electronics/maths/electrical/practical written and oral exam course.

The BOCP and the TVOCP used to be mandated by the Control Board. Any time the station was on air, there had to be a TVOCP qualified person on the premises.  The same for radio stations with the BOCP.  In TV, we all had both certificates.

At the time I did them it was self study, but later it required classroom exams.  Hardly anyone passed at their first attempt.  It usually required two or three tries, especially the oral, where the examiners really probed your knowledge.  (I passed both on first go, although I admit I chickened out of the first try at the oral exam and had to wait 6 months before another try.)

The Diploma was/is a three year full time or 6 year part time course. We had to do it in our own time, on top of our 40 hour work week.  We continued working a 40 hour week right up until 2000, the year after I retired. All the office and other staff had been on a 37½ hour or 35 hour week since the general shift in the 1980s.  Management tried to make a 37½ hour week for us part of an enterprise bargaining agreement!

As “deregulation” became the catchphrase of the 1980s, and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was disbanded and absorbed into the Dept of Communication, management was left free to regulate itself.  One of the conseqences of that was that they couldn’t care less about TVOCP rules any more.  Not required. Shrug of the shoulders, uncomfortable look, walk away.

3.  I was doing another Diploma course in Instructional Multimedia in the mid 1990s.  At one stage, I suggested to the Station Manager that most production staff (cameramen, directors, audio operators, lighting people) had no qualifications or formal training, and maybe they should.

The station manager’s response?  “What would you teach a director?”, in a dismissive tone, and he walked away.

4.  All the time I worked in Engineering, 33 years, when we needed to order anything, we had to make a requisition.  That involved writing it out on a piece of paper.  The Engineering secretary then typed it out onto a Requisition form which she took into the Chief Engineer’s office for him to approve and sign.  It was then walked to the store for them to act on. All totally manual, in other words.

In the 1990s, we adopted PCs and most engineering people became pretty competent at using them.  They were networked to a small extent at that early stage.

But they were really used just as word processors.  I developed a copy of the requisition form as a template in my word processor program, so when I made a requisition, I handed the secretary a form already filled out.  But she wouldn’t accept it as finished.  She had to copy my requisition onto a “real” requisition form, then walk it into the chief engineer’s office for his ink signature, then down to the store.  NB:  when the chief engineer was away or on leave, all this paperwork had to go upstairs to the Director of Engineering’s office.  He was also the Station Manager I mentioned – dual role, above the Chief Engineer.

One day I said to him, “Why are we still using this paper process for requisitions? Why can’t we keep it all in electronic form over the network?”

His response?  “You can’t do signatures electronically”, and that was the end of the conversation.  Yes you could!, even back in the early 1990s.

5.  Everything we needed required a requisition.  No matter how cheap or trivial, there had to be a requisition, even if we’d picked it up on the way to work, as we often did.  A bottle of methylated spirits? – reqquie;  a special connector or transistor from Altronics in Roe St as I was in the area? – reqquie, if I wanted to be reimbursed.  Crazy!

Towards the end of my time, my company branch in Perth had a $1,000 limit imposed by Sydney on anything we needed.  Anything above that had to go through the Capital Expenditure process.  That involved more complex form filling, about three pages, I think, on why we needed it, how the cost would be recouped or amortised and so on, then passed through three levels of management including the Managing Director and Company Secretary for approval.  Unbelievable!  The waste of time!!

6.  When the Chief Engineer retired in 1995, he wasn’t replaced!  Sydney decided we didn’t need a chief engineer in Perth.  We had a Director of Engineering who combined his job with Station Manager and lived upstairs in the glass walled offices, but he played no hands-on role.  I saw this a s a complete lack of respect from upper management.

7.  One of my worst arguments happened over a 15″ monitor.  I was developing a software program over nearly a year, and doing a hell of a lot of it at home in my own time.  I had a 15″ NEC Multisync monitor at home.  At work, I was told to order a computer and monitor for this job.

I ordered a 15″ Viewsonic colour monitor, a much cheaper model than mine, about $700, I think.

When the Chief Engineer saw my requisition he objected.  Why did I need a 15″ monitor?  “The company standard is 14 inch.”  He was really angry with me for deviating from what he had and what he felt was extravagance.  I asked why it mattered so much?  Because Sydney would go over his accounts and ask why this extravagance was needed, he said.

I didn’t get the chance to say it, but my feeling was, “Why can’t you defend your own staff and say, this guy needs it for a special job.”  But he was really upset and we both got pretty angry about all this.  I kept the monitor, but this manager was really upset about the difference between a 14″ and a 15″ monitor.  This was at the same time as we were paying $4,000 each for Sony 8″ rack mount high res Trinitron monitors and about $7,000 each for 19″ studio monitors.

My point is that:

  • very, very few management people had tertiary qualifications.  Many of them were simply moved up from operational roles on the basis of showing a bit of leadership ability;
  • they were not interested in getting qualifications for themselves;
  • they had almost no respect for our qualifications;
  • they resisted change;
  • they kept us working a 40 hour week long after the rest of the workforce were working reduced work weeks;
  • they saw no contradiction in going outside for smoke breaks several times a day (MD, MD’s PA and Company Sec were all smokers), or going out to lunches, or going on junket trips to Melbourne with clients for footy games at the MCG.

I could go on!  Workers are more qualified than managers in this country. The standard of management is appallingly low.  Management rails about unions and union corruption, but as the inquiry in the ICAC in Sydney is showing at the moment, many upper level managers just take what they want.  Massive pay “packages”, enormous pay increases no matter how the company is performing (e.g. QANTAS), huge bonuses, big “incentive” payments, dodgy share schemes,  long lunches, company freebies …  it’s endless.  $200,000 for less than 50 hours a year work?  This from a man who was supposed to be one of the elite managers and directors of companies.

As you can tell, I spit in disgust.

 

Happy first birthday

ImageI just remembered that today is exactly one year since I moved into this house.  Happy birthday, house.

It took me a long time to get used to it.  I pined for my old neighbourhood, even though my old house was a shambles.  But it was home.  It took me 25 years to get it into that condition 🙂

This place initially seemed so far away that I found it hard to get used to.  But I have.  It no longer seems so remote.  A half hour drive to anywhere seems normal now, and it’s good for the car.  The house now seems like home.  Ya get used to anything, given time.

Having two bathrooms and toilets is useful at times, but it’s twice the cleaning, too.  Double the cleaning liquids and brushes/brooms/mops.  White tiles on the floor – aaaarrrgh!  So hard to keep clean.  Very slippery too.

As I said, all the yuccas had to go, so that cost a bit, and more cost is about to happen to get the back weed patch removed and replaced with lawn. (Artificial lawn?  No, being plastic it gets really hot in the sun, it looks obviously false and I believe it will eventually deteriorate.  You won’t be able to revive it, as you could a lawn. And it’s just as expensive as roll-on lawn.  No thanks.)

The side quartz-chip path is being taken out and replaced by paving, as there’s no point in having a lawn path in this shaded narrow area.  The guys also pointed out the leak in my water feature, so I might finally be able to keep it plugged, filled and running.  Since the yuccas went, I can also put half drums under the kitchen windows for a small vege garden.  There’s reticulation all around the house on a great Rainbird timer, so no watering worries.  All good stuff.

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I mentioned my Neato robot vacuum cleaner a few weeks ago.  I’ve been using it a lot recently and have a few opinions on it now.

1.  It works, but not very well.  The main complaint is that it won’t go closer to the skirting boards than about 50mm, so all those little dead insects don’t get cleaned up (tiny midgies, I mean).

2.  The dust compartment is very small, a lot smaller than a normal bag, about 1/8 the volume. That means a lot of emptying, and it’s messy.  But the amount of dust and fluff in there is amazing, so it’s obviously cleaning well.

3.  It constantly gets itself stuck in corners, or tangles with cords, and can’t get out.  It stops and beeps, asking “Please clear my path.”  The beeps are discreet, but it’s annoying.

4.  It is utterly unpredictable where it will go.  It doesn’t do a long straight line in unobstructed areas, it only ever goes about a metre before turning on some arbitrary angle and shooting off elsewhere.  I can set it cleaning one room and have to hunt for it later, only to find it way off in another part of the house, stuck and beeping.  That means it sometimes doesn’t find its own way back to the charger station.

5.  On the good side, I can set it going and completely forget it.  For a bachelor, that’s good, knowing that cleaning is being done, even if I don’t know where.  I don’t want to waste my time vacuuming.

I got an email from Amazon a couple of weeks ago asking me to give feedback, to review it.  I haven’t done so yet, but I will.  By coincidence, CHOICE ran a test of them last week and out of about a dozen tested, mine came third last.  They gave it a score of 30%, which I’d agree with.

However, the winner costs $1,199.  The price of mine is A$699 (yes, it’s sold here).  I paid ~A$350 plus about A$100 freight.  It’s yet another example of the Australia tax at work.  Why should it cost nearly double the US price in this country?

It’s too late

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© P J Croft 2014

This is a summary from the second report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released recently:

“Ice in the Arctic is collapsing, the oceans are rising, coral reefs are dying, fresh water supplies are diminishing, and the oceans are becoming more acidic, which is killing certain creatures and stunting the growth of others. Heat waves and heavy rains are escalating, food crops are being damaged, disease is spreading, human beings will be displaced due to flooding, animals are migrating toward the poles or going extinct, and the worst is yet to come.

“The evidence the world is warming is indubitable.”

Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/#ixzz2xy3jI0Jo

Yet our prime minister Tony Abbott BA Boxing (Oxon.) still says “Climate change is crap.”  He said that some time ago but he hasn’t made any attempt to retract it.  He, and the government he leads, are actively undermining and preventing efforts in Australia to combat climate change.  He ascribes the recent drought and floods in the eastern side of the country to normal weather cycles, without any evidence to support his unqualified assertions.

One of their ways is to repeal the so called Carbon Tax.  They deliberately play on the ignorance of the public in calling it that – it is actually a levy on the worst emitters of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, one of the major causes of global warming.  They bray like donkeys about how little revenue it has raised.  That’s because the worst emitters have taken steps to reduce their emissions to escape the levy!  This is exactly what the “tax” is designed to do!

This Liberal government lies to the Australian public.  If you vote Liberal, you are complicit in their lies.

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I make no secret that I will be voting Labor today in the WA Senate election re-run. Did you expect anything else?  But I won’t be voting above the line – I’ll make my own choices for my preferences.

One thing I’ll be doing is voting 1 for Louise Pratt and 2 for the number three candidate on the Labor card, putting Mr Joe Bulloch well out of my list.  I don’t vote for idiots.

My second preferences will be to the Greens.  At least they have a well thought out and reasoned approach to politics.

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I’ll also be voting against this cold, callous, cruel government which sees nothing wrong with imprisoning people who have committed no crime, without trial, for an indefinite sentence.  They constantly lie to you, the public, by calling refugees “illegals”.  This is a LIE.  It is NOT illegal to seek asylum in another country.  It is a deliberate lie, designed to appeal to the blue singlet brigade, the man in the pub, the sheep who believe the constantly repeated lies being told by Abbott and Scott Morrison, the Minister for Immigration. He is a cold, cruel, vicious man.  But the unintelligent dolts in this country believe what he says and approve of what he’s doing.  Not in my name. I don’t approve and I didn’t vote for this.

Apparently 61% of the public approve of what the government is doing in “stopping the boats”.  They also don’t seem to care about the concentration camps being run in this country, or the imprisonment of children and pregnant women.

I’m disgusted.  NOT IN MY NAME!