Bunker bunkum day 166

Me at Borobodur, Java 1989

Bloddy ‘ell, first days of Spring and it’s only 16C and blowing and raining. Fair go. Go out and come in again, Mr Weather.

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I found the receipt for my first ever PC:

My first PC, 1989.

It was a second hand 80286 with 1MB of RAM and a 20MB hard drive, if I recall correctly. 1MB of RAM! You couldn’t even buy RAM that small these days. A 20MB hard drive! Even the smallest USB thumb drive is 8GB, that’s 40million times bigger, for about 1/20th of the cost.

Here’s the receipt for two 120MB hard drives, at $350 each!

The cost of hard drives in 1992. Note: Megabytes, not Gigabytes.

I’ve just had delivery of two Solid State drives of 512GB, costing $66 each.

Computer gear cost a fortune 28 years ago. I remember paying nearly $1,000 for a ‘486 motherboard. Yet, as an electronics tech, I had to buy my own gear so I could learn it. I spent $thousands, probably tens of $thousands of my own money! I did manage to negotiate a “computer allowance” of $4,000 a year in about 1994, but I was the only one they would do it for. I tried to persuade them to include other techs, but they wouldn’t do it.

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Further to yesterday’s post about AMP from Crikey.com:

AMP’s boardroom and executive culture has been profoundly flawed for decades. It has destroyed billions of dollars in shareholder wealth, wrecked the lives of many of its clients and rorted tens of thousands of them. But the business community prefers to focus on the alleged sins of trade unions, lack of workplace flexibility, iniquitous regulation, and corporate tax rates as the real problems of the economy.

Exactly. That lunatic former PM Tony Abbott, he of the crazy Australian knighthoods, started a Royal Commission into Trade Unions (with the word corruption in the full title), trying to dig dirt on unions. This was a massively expensive exercise, tens of millions of dollars being paid to the judge and lawyers, and the result was virtually zero. They found one small example of bad behaviour by a union, but nothing serious. All that time and money was wasted on that right wing government’s obsession with unions.

The judge running the commission was actually found to have very strong links to the Liberal Party and conservative politics. What a surprise.

Here we have it, yet another example of Australian big business destroying shareholder wealth, wrecking the lives of many of its clients (by denying insurance claims) and defrauding its clients (only 10 – 20 years ago, not in the distant past) by lying to them in order to sign them up for insurance policies.

Yet as the article says, it’s one of the cabal of big businesses which are constantly saying we need to curb union power, increase workplace flexibility (which actually means to reduce award protections and slow wage growth), cut regulations and reduce company tax. Many, many companies don’t pay any tax anyway, due to clever and in many cases dishonest lawyers finding ways to claim phantom deductions.

More from Crikey.com: Indeed, AMP seems determined to keep exposing its own inadequacies. In what looks to be another half-smart attempt at media management, the company last week released, without the approval of [Ms Julia] Szlakowski or her lawyers, the final section of the investigation into Pahari’s harassment of Ms Szlakowski. That investigation found that all of her claims were credible, though it did not find all of them to constitute “harassment”.

The problem is, AMP CEO Francesco De Ferrari is reported to have told AMP staff by internal emails that “many of [Szlakowski’s] claims were not substantiated by the external investigation”. This statement was repeated publicly by an AMP spokesperson.

How can AMP maintain that Szlakowski’s claims were “not substantiated” when their own report found all of her claims were accurate? And why, if reports are accurate, did De Ferrari make such an extraordinary claim about Szlakowski, who by the company’s own admission was the victim of misconduct by one of its senior executives? How can De Ferrari credibly remain CEO?

This is Australian business, badly managed, an old boys’ club attitude, poor ethics and morals and a whatever-it-takes mentality. Just look at what happened with Rio Tinto’s destruction of the Juukan Caves a few weeks ago. They were told that the caves contained 46,000 year old cave paintings and ancient artifacts, but they went ahead and blew them up anyway, dynamited them. Now they’re saying sorry, but the damage is done and can’t be repaired. Who would trust Rio Tinto or AMP or any of a dozen other big companies now? Yet they campaign against trade unions!

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Australia Post’s board called a snap board meeting to announce executives will not receive bonuses this year after it was revealed office employees were asked to work without being paid overtime, and to use their own cars to run parcel deliveries, in order to clear Victoria’s massive backlog.

Bonuses for Australia Post executives were ruled out early in the pandemic, but the CEO Christine Holgate earlier this week softened her stance, telling the ABC that it would be left to the board to determine.

“It’s pretty black and white … the [executive team] has led our business through one of the most challenging periods … and yet they’ve still delivered a fantastic result,” she said. “I’m very proud of them. Whether they get paid a bonus or not, the board can decide.”

Why the hell should executives and board members get bonuses? So they work harder? – so do ordinary wage earners, as stated above, and the senior people ask the lower ranks to work extra for nothing!

The gall of these people! The greed! The vanity!

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I enjoyed the ABC TV program Further Back in Time for Dinner last night. It covered what life was like in 1900 – 1910, but I can remember many of those things. The dunny with the can and the torn newspaper sheets. The big wood stove. Making toast with a wire toasting fork (it seemed to smell better toasted that way). Chopping firewood. Funny, I can’t remember much about our washing/bathing. The winters would have been colder then and we might have been reluctant to fill a bath. Showering was not common in the 1950s, it was usually baths.

I remember milking a cow and Dad making cheese and butter. And the very plain meals we ate, chops (sheep meat), mutton, occasional beef as roasts but not steak very often. Boiled and mashed potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, cabbage. Very plain food, but good for us. Custard, rice pudding, tapioca (frogs’ eyes). Very occasional ice cream as a treat.

Chicken, almost never! It’s almost the most common meat these days, but in the 1950s it was only ever a Christmas dinner treat. Why? Someone suggested that chickens were valued for their eggs and we didn’t want to kill them. I don’t know.

In other words, we lived fairly similar lives on WA farms to what we saw last night. Progress was very slow then, things changed very slowly compared to now.

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I had three or four things to write about but they’ve gone from my head. More tomorrow.

By the way, I seem to be picking up followers all over the world. Thank you very much for taking an interest in what I write – I’m very flattered.