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Category Archives: Raspberry Howlers

TWO WEEKS OF ‘WTF’ MOMENTS

 

MARCHinMARCH:

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Melbourne’s MarchInMarch.
c/- The Age.

 

The fortnight began with the #MARCHinMARCH.  Over 100,000 people took to the streets because they’ve already had enough of Abbott’s policies, which seem to be so driven by ideology. The IPA, a tea-party styled think-tank, and their itemized conservative wish list is being ticked off a few items at a time.

The mainstream media didn’t cover the #MarchInMarch events despite its turn out although various St Patrick’s Day marches received prominence on page 3 of most main publications. Social media was, as usual, bitingly sarcastic about the lack of coverage. This prompted various replies but the most interesting was Jacqueline Maley’s from the SMH.

It was a grudging apology at best, but quickly descended to justification about a digital coverage of the most offensive placards she could find.  To be honest there weren’t that many. There is always going to be placards that offend present at any demonstration. I was surprised at how few there were. Of course this seemed to be that the angle that was taken by most in the mainstream media. Sky News air-headed reporter Laura Jayes had tweeted a request for people to send her their photographs of offensive placards. Well, we all knew at that point what angle Sky News was going to take in their coverage of this event. Silly woman.

Jacqueline Maley’s other main complaint was that the March in March was unfocused. I want to apologise at the outset that there isn’t a war in Southeast Asia on which we can all focus. She missed the most interesting and newsworthy aspects of this story.

This demonstration was organic in origin. It wasn’t organised by a political party, a trade union or any other institution, think-tank, association and the like. It grew organically from and through social media. It went on to resonate throughout the country. It wasn’t confined to the big cities. Marches occurred throughout all rural and regional centres. The MarchInMarch movement is a new phenomenon worthy of research and analysis by the media.

Not being driven by a single issue was one of the more newsworthy aspects of these demonstrations. Virtually all policy initiatives that have been presented by this government within the last six months were the subject of outrage by those participating.

That was the real story of #MarchinMarch.

As a result an eclectic coalition of concerned citizens has sprung to life.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT ARFUR:                                                      Image

To understand the significance of what a problem the Sinodinos issue is for the federal government you need to know a little bit about his background.

Arthur was one of the back-room mainstays of Howard’s term as prime minister. He left his job as Howard’s Chief of Staff with plenty of plaudits being perceived as super smart, highly competent, shrewd, intelligent and tactically astute. He went on to become the Treasurer of the Federal Liberal Party until his election to the Senate in 2011.

Sinodinos was, until a few weeks ago, the assistant treasurer as he was deamed numerate, unlike his colleague Joe Hockey who, in another highlight of the week, was challenged in understanding the difference between deficit versus debt, much to the hilarity of the other side of the House.

Sinodinos’s involvement in the highly questionable dealings of Australian Water Holdings, and his relationships with the Obeid family are currently being examined by ICAC.  This is from a man who was regarded as one of the smartest on the Front Bench. In any normal government with consideration for their appearance as being clean and above board, his return to any position of influence or authority would not be considered for a second.

But then, this is Tony Abbott’s government.

 

Suspension of FUTURE of FINANCIAL ADVICE Reforms:

 

One of the items on the IPA’s agenda has been a reform of the Labor Government’s Future of Financial Advice legislation which outlawed the previous practice of financial advisers taking commissions from companies whose investment packages financial advisors then on-sold to their clients.

Many small investors and self-funded retirees always thought this outrageous as it easily exposed them to being ripped off. Financial advisers and consultants did not have to inform their clients about any commissions they were receiving from the sale of investment packages.

The absence of regulation in this area resulted in numerous cases of abuse where ordinary people lost considerable amounts of money due to questionable advice driven by greed.

Sinodinos was one of the main proponents for this legislative change. It’s a sweet irony that his involvement with AWH has resulted in an undignified appearance before ICAC; an appearance, which will, more than likely, result in the end of any parliamentary ambitions Sinodinos may have had. It certainly raises the question as to just how professionally and financially astute he really is. His reputation for being one of the smartest men in the room is no longer viable as a Government commodity that can easily be sold to the electorate.

This issue will not disappear quickly as Mr Sinodinos’s role as AWH’s chairman and director must surely be further scrutinised by other appropriate authorities.

 

Attorney-General BRANDIS and the RIGHT TO BEING A BIGOT                                    

Unknown-3                                                                                                                                                                           

The attorney general, George Brandis, introduced his amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act, in particular section 18, which are are now known as the Bolt amendments so named after that well-known shock jock, Andrew Bolt. Mr Bolt’s continual whinge has been against those aspects of the law which prevent him from pursuing what he perceives is his right to be a racist, bigot, misogynist and all round not very nice person.

In introducing the Bolt amendments to the act Brandis managed to shoot himself in the foot by stating, “It’s everyone’s right to be a bigot.” The fact is there are many bigots, racists, homophobes, misogynists etc, out there, but they don’t want to be reminded that they are bigoted, racist, misogynistic, homophobic et al. Brandis, in one little line, did just that, and a storm of outrage from a broad-based community was the result. 

Any changes to this piece of legislation were always going to be fraught with danger. Brandis’s mismanagement of the introduction and promotion of the Bolt amendments is further indicative of a government that is increasingly being described as Australia’s most inept yet.

The changes to the Racial Discrimination Act are now being put on the backburner as the Government scuttles about looking for more acceptable amendments that they might be able to sell. The New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, sealed the Bolt amendments delayed fate by stating publicly that these amendments were unacceptable.

Bolt must be furious.

 

BACK TO TIMES OF YORE; WHERE TALES ABOUND of KNIGHTS ERRANT and DAMES APLENTY      Image

 

The twitter reaction to Abbott’s resurrection of titular monikers was hilarious. Within minutes of his announcement twitter handles throughout Australia were being changed to reflect his anachronistic move back to the future.

It would have been far more appropriate to announce this on April 1st, but that would’ve prevented Abbott’s using Quentin Bryce as a political pawn in his idiosyncratic move. No discussion was had in Cabinet, much less the coalition party room. It was Abbott’s decision and his alone. It’s worth remembering that the choice of Governor-General is the Prime Minister’s sole preserve. Apparently the same must be for imperial titles, whatever we want to call them this week.

The overriding derision of a large percentage of the population pooping their pants laughing did not go down well with Abbott, but that was nothing to how he must have felt when his hero, John Howard, stated that it was now too anachronistic for titles to be reinstated.

The sound of laughter does not go down well with the Conservative side of the House of Representatives it seems. A sense of the ridiculous will soon be outlawed in this country, because it is now the cause for a MP to be thrown out of the House of Representatives for being unparliamentary, which brings me to Bronwyn Bishop.

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BRONWYN BISHOP: AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE SHE AINT HELPING YOU TONY.

 

From the moment she became Speaker of the House under Abbott’s Government, Bronwyn Bishop signaled her intent as to how she would manage the affairs of the HoR.  It is, therefore, no surprise to anyone when confronted with her blatantly obvious bias to one side of the House.

Previous Speakers have had the good grace and intelligence to attempt to mask their bias when managing and dispensing penalties under Standing Orders. Not so Bronwyn. She is Brunhilde or Boadicea when occupying the Speaker’s chair.

Actually she reminds me of a very scary Scottish teacher of French I had at school. No one who attended her classes ever got constipation.

The thing is Bishop is giving every appearance of not knowing her Standing Orders stuff, which seems to explain her over-the-top treatment of those members who try to bring her to book, which of course in the current political climate is the Opposition.

Bishop carried around the Standing Orders tome for years. I’m now convinced it was as a prop. Whether she is now too old and is therefore losing it, or whether she never had it in the first place; after all she has never been really tested, but in either case I don’t care. It is not in the interest of the Government that she brings the House into serious disrepute through disdain and derision at the performance of her job.

By way of example yesterday’s parliamentary question time was a hoot.  Tony Burke had a list of transgressions and inappropriate behavior on Bishop’s part as Speaker. It must have been very difficult for her to sit there and listen to it, especially when so much of it was met with loud guffaws.

The outcome of Burke’s motion of no confidence in her was always known. It was always going to be decided along party lines, and so it was.  

Bishop’s lack of ability not to bully from the Chair was evident to all when she threw one member out for laughing and warned one and all that if they continued to laugh they would be thrown out as well. Dreyfus suffered a more serious fate. For his interjection of “Madam Speaker” he was named the penalty for which is a 24 hours suspension from the House.

It was also totally and utterly inappropriate that Bishop remained in the Chair as the debate in a no confidence motion in her occurred.  However, my favourite Bishop faux pas was when she wouldn’t even hear a point of order from Burke because she knew what it was going to be about, so she said, and therefore denied it before he could even put it. Bishop really is a disgrace, and she’s giving those of us who hold Senior’s Cards a bad rap.                                              

In the meantime the half-an-hour of hilarity was solace of sorts. As the Readers’ Digest once told me: ‘Laughter is the best medicine.’ 

 

AND WHILE I’M ABOUT IT.                                                                                          Image

 

PELL:

Don’t even start me on George Pell. His apology to Ellis was embarrassing and rude. His behavior throughout has done nothing to dispel the appearance that the Roman Catholic hierarchy is nothing more than an old boys’ club.

NEWMAN:

And, as for Campbell Newman giving himself a sizeable increase to his salary all the while still in the midst of a slash and burn of the public service that has resulted in thousands now unemployed; nor forgetting the scrapping of essential health, transport, educational and medical services especially in the rural and regional areas – well it just beggars belief.  

 

How many have to die before it is unacceptable? Sweatshops. Bangladesh.

There are always moves afoot to weaken if not undermine the most basic rights of workers one of which is in the area of occupational health and safety, a right won on the bodies of workers who died through the lack of basic safety measures. Companies give reasons to support this strategy, using such buzz words as: international competitiveness, increased productivity and other pearls.

Rana Plaza garment factory collapses killing 1127 workers.

Rana Plaza garment factory collapses killing 1127 workers.


Three weeks ago in the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh there was yet another ‘industrial accident’ causing the death of more than 1100 workers.

Since then two international labour organisations with the assistance of Oxfam have organized an international agreement to improve fire safety and working conditions in Bangladesh. Designer labels, wholesalers and retailers who sell garments manufactured in Bangladesh are being asked to sign. Many have agreed but some large companies are refusing. Walmart is one.

As of today those Australian companies who appear to be reluctant to participate are Woolworths (Big W), Kmart , Cotton On and Target.

I wish I could say that this is the first major industrial fire or accident in the Bangladesh garment industry but it isn’t. It’s just the worst. I wish I could be confident in predicting it will be the last. I’m not in the least.

New York's Asch building fire where the Triangle waistshirt factory was located.  1911

New York’s Asch building fire where the Triangle waistshirt factory was located. 1911


I’ve previously written about the garment industry especially as a catalyst for change in the area of occupational health and safety. Two years ago New York commemorated the centenary of the Triangle Waist-Shirt factory fire in the Asch Building in New York.
Victims of the Triangle waist shirt factory fire are lined up for inspection. 1911.

Victims of the Triangle waist shirt factory fire are lined up for inspection. 1911.


That fire occurred in 1911 and over 100 people, mainly teenage migrant girls, were killed. The Triangle fire is remembered every year since, with a ceremony that includes the victims’ names being read out as a bell is rung.

Close to the end of their shift one Saturday afternoon working girls were still at their machines in a Triangle factory that had wooden floors, covered with scraps of fabric discards, mixed with oil from sewing machines. A spark caused this ‘fuel’ to ignite. When the girls tried to escape they found that the exit doors were locked. In 1911 fire engines didn’t have ladders that extended to the 8th floor and above. The girls who worked on the 8th, 9th and 10th floors jumped to their deaths in scenes reminiscent of 9/11. There was a huge public outcry. 100,000 people marched in the funeral procession, and 400,000 people lined the streets to watch the coffins go by.

Part of the protests of the Triangle factory fire. 1911.

Part of the protests of the Triangle factory fire. 1911.

The first serious occupational health and safety regulations in the USA were introduced as a result.

The Centenary of the Triangle waistshirt factory fire. New York 2011.

The Centenary of the Triangle waistshirt factory fire. New York 2011.


In 2000 a fire broke out in the Chowdhury Knitwear factory in Bangladesh. Forty-six girls were killed. Many were aged between 12 and 14 years. Over 51 people died. When the investigators went through the charred remains of the factory they discovered that the fire escape doors were locked. This factory’s output was for American designers in the American market. From the Triangle Fire in New York to the Chowdhury factory fire in Bangladesh 90 years later, the circumstances of the fire are almost identical. Fire exits locked, workers were predominantly very young women working long hours for a pittance in a deathtrap creating garments for the American market.

They protested in Bangladesh as a result and I wish I could say that something came from this 13 year-old tragedy. Sadly since then, there have been many more fires. Adding to the depressing statistics is yet a second fire at the Chowdhury Knitwear factory in 2004 killing 23 garment workers.

“Major RMG Fires Since ’90

62 killed at KTS Garments, Chittagong 2006
32 killed at Saraka Garments, Dhaka 1990
24 killed at Shanghai Apparels, Dhaka 1997
23 killed at Macro Sweater, Dhaka 2000
23 killed at Chowdhury Knitwear, Narsingdi 2004
23 killed at Shan Knitting, Narayanganj 2005
22 killed at Lusaka Garments, Dhaka 1996
20 killed at Jahanara Fashion, Narayanganj 1997
12 killed at Globe Knitting, Dhaka 2000”

Sources- National Garments Worker’s Federation and newspapers
(Daily Star: Feb 27 2010)

The figures below are even more stark. These are the deaths in fire accidents in Dhaka located garment factories, from 1990-2010. They don’t include the last three years, which have seen more fires and more deaths.

. “1990 32
. 1991 05
. 1993 12
. 1994 05
. 1995 09
. 1996 10
. 1997 13
. 2000 60
. 2004 23
. 2005 23
. 2006 62
. 2010 52”
Source: Research Reference Cell, Dainik Janakantha, The Daily Star, 27 February 2010, The Daily Star 15 December 2010, New Age 15 December 2010, and bdnews24.com 15 December 2010.

These figures don’t include the deaths from the last three years including the disastrous Tazreen Fashion Factory Fire in November of last year where 111 garment workers were killed. It too was located in the suburb of Savar, Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Fighting the TAZREEN Fashion factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2 November 2012

Fighting the TAZREEN Fashion factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2 November 2012


It’s been 112 years since the Triangle Waist shirt factory fire in New York. This story appears to be a never-ending one, certainly not one with a happy ending. It is the story of sweatshops, underage workers, no health and safety regulations, maximized profit, company greed on the backs of collateral damage namely charred and broken bodies.

THE GOOD AND THE BAD OF TWITTER

With the death of the amazing @no_left_feet and the demise of #artwiculate I’ve spent the last 24 hours alternating between crying my eyes out and being so angry I could spit chips

Twitter has been an illuminating experience for me. I would never have thought it possible that within the 140 character construct, you could develop friendships that are every bit as strong and meaningful as non-cyber, life-long, real friends.

Because twitter is an open, uncensored slather, just like life itself, you have to deal with the best and the worst in society. The goodies shine through with an aura which makes them so special.

The bad are those who are bullies and racists, who are driven by negativity and a real desire to spoil, who can and will make life difficult for those of us who just want to have fun, be better informed, be entertained, be stimulated, and be open to all possibilities

This has been the case with #artwiculate, a daily word game that cluttered time lines throughout the world with wit, hilarity and extraordinary cleverness. It was my early ventures into this game that unexpectedly resulted in good friends being made; some I’ve met in the real world, some I intend to meet and others if I can possibly organize it. These friends on twitter have become part of my daily life.

As a result of the constant barrage from trolls who are cyber’s equivalent to vandals and bullies, the artwiculate site has been closed. It is a helluva shame. I don’t blame the artwiculate site creators who, at their own personal cost, have run the site for three years, have had to put up with their site being hacked in the last few months, as well as also being the recipient of the abuse generated by one or two.

See previous blog post

This does give me a chance to thank those artwiculate players with whom I’ve connected over the past 10 months or so.  I’m grateful for their patience as they taught me how to index (thanks Viv, Liv, Elisaki and George), changed my avi when I couldn’t, and put up with my random musings often with expletives undeleted that should have offended and never seemed to.

It was through artwiculate I came across @no_left_feet, also known as @one_right_foot. I only knew her as Hops. I didn’t know her name until yesterday when I read about her death at the age of 36.

Fuck, she was funny.

At no stage did her illness seem to taint the approach she brought to twitter. She was always on for a game. When she released the news a couple of months ago that her cancer had returned she remained positive and upbeat. If anyone was going to beat this it was going to be Hops through the power of laughter.

I always sat back when I saw @designarhyme and Hops on my TL as I knew I was in for a laugh a minute ride watching two master wordsmiths at work. It was like watching two duelling fencers. Rhyming couplets at ten paces. It didn’t matter what was the subject matter, the rhyming duel was on. It was flirtatious, clever, apt, often very naughty and always very funny. I got caught up with them a couple of times when I’d be rhymed out after 3 or 4 attempts and I’d sit back, follow their conversation, and roar with laughter until I’d snort, which is especially embarrassing if one is drinking coffee at the time.

How you set about explaining to a group of tweatherns (thank you Silia), people who don’t tweet, that you are crying for a woman you’d never met, whose real name you never knew and who lived on the other side of the planet, is not easy.

The attempted explanations are a real indication of what is good about twitter, and what was good about #artwiculate. There is a  sense of community devoid of the boundaries that usually divide. Boundaries of nationality, ethnicity, religion, class or life experiences become irrelevant, and instead are replaced by the shared joy of life in general, and word games in particular.

This joy of life Hops had in buckets and is why we all recognise just how much she will be missed.

If you want to see evidence of the good in this social networking world we call twitter then connect via the link below, to a collection of tweets starting off with an ode to @no_left_feet written by @designarhyme, as well as other contributions from across the planet courtesy of the compilation work by @milesorru

#RIPAmanda #FuckCancer

Artwiculate: Revenge of the Nerds over the Turds.

I tweeted my first artwiculate entry in August/September 2011. I think I found out I could vote around Xmas time. I learnt to index in March. As you can see I’m not an artwiculate techno nerd. I often don’t vote, and when I do, I vote blind.  During this comparatively short time I have made friends all over the world. Some I have met. Others I hope to. Artwiculate has given me the greatest pleasure, and it is with a deep sadness that I view from afar the ructions which threaten the very existence of the game itself.

Let me say at the outset, artwiculate is not perfect. Perhaps that is one reason why it has recently been so easily manipulated and hacked by people who have no moral or ethical compass. The voting system does need to be revisited. I have also long believed the faulty definitions are deliberate, giving us all some extra fuel to add to our entries. These bloopers have afforded me real amusement. Long may they reign.

I have no axe to grind but I think a little dispassionate observation can be made and hopefully some perspective can be gained. I do not like to rush to judgement.

Twitter is an amazing world, but it is a world where many have adopted anonymous personas and not just one but multiple personas. I regularly engage in conversations with cartoon characters, Marilyn Munroe, Mr Magoo, a chicken, a dog, cats, and a marsupial. Their real names are often not included on their twitter front page but I feel I have come to “know” them quite well.

The 140 character construct is fascinating. People’s lives, irrespective of the relative anonymity of the fictional persona many adopt, become a pot pourri of scattered fragments of information about a life that can gradually be put together as you would a jigsaw puzzle. The first and most obvious thing that emerges is the personality of the tweeter. That cannot be hidden.

If you are a bully in real life that personality trait becomes readily apparent in the twitter world, especially as there is this false sense of anonymity, of not being seen or recognized. I’m sure it is the same sort of thing when you see a driver in a car picking his nose. He is in his car therefore he cannot be seen.

Last night two leading lights of artwiculate were revealed to have accounts in alternate names. I would have been shocked if they had not had other personas. I have long believed I must be one of the few tweeters who has only one account and with my real name there for all to see. The inference is, of course, that they used this to further their position within the game. I remain unconvinced that this was so. I understand the sense of confusion, even betrayal, felt by some who did not know or had not guessed.

Well I had a look and when one persona was being used, the other didn’t RT the entry. To be honest I can’t see that there was/is anything materially to be gained with an additional persona. What I can see is that the alternative persona in one player’s instance allows that player to be naughtier and more provocative, something they may be uncomfortable doing in their own name. This I understand.

The bottom line for me is, and will always be, how have I been treated in my interactions with any of the personas concerned. More importantly it is how I have seen them interact with other people. At all times there has been a great generosity of spirit, encouragement, fun and comraderie which I have enjoyed immensely.

I wish I could say the same of mijeroh.

Since December/January with the introduction to the game of account holder mijeroh, there has been a systematic destabilization of the game, a strategy of divide and conquer, setting players against other players, upsetting longstanding friendships through voting manipulation, innuendos via artwiculate entries and generally snide, sometimes bullying and abusive tweets. A number of new accounts have arrived on the scene to further fuel what has become a campaign against the older, original artwiculate players as well as some of the more brilliant wordsmiths who regularly play the game. Stair71 no longer plays being drummed out by these nasty personas. I miss him. Alastair is a genius.

They have described a number of artwiculati as cheats, tweets that are clearly defamatory. The manipulation of voting that occurred in Jan/Feb by mijeroh, on his own admission, placed players such as permabloom and vivchook in dreadfully invidious positions, and was unforgivable. At no time has he apologized to the arwiculate community. Far from it. Totally unrepentent, his intention seems to have been to start a war. The motives to me remain unclear, but it would seem from his actions that his short-term aim is to rid the game of older, more experienced players as well as the genuinely brilliant wordsmiths, a category, I hasten to add, in which I do not include myself.

What is absolutely unacceptable to me, and should be to most of the delightful artwiculate community, is the level of abuse that has been directed at primarily two of the artwiculati as well as any others who have had the temerity to object. No one should have had to put up with the abuse that has come these past 4 months from mijeroh, artwic, aitfin siliasaki, fakeharp. Bullying and intimidation are not be tolerated in any environment whether it is in the work place, the schoolyard, the sporting field or the cyber community.

Let it be made quite clear, I did not let myself be bullied or victimized when I was a teenager, and it isn’t going to happen now I’m a señior citizen.

I will not be bullied. I will not be intimidated. I will not be victimized. I will not stand back and watch others be bullied. I will report any socially unacceptable behaviour to the appropriate authorities. I will continue to play the game. Some days I’ll vote, some days I won’t, just as I do now. I will not be chased away.

I hope permabloom, vivchook, SJHatzi and harrarp, and those I now call friends who may be thinking of leaving the game, will continue to play in whatever guise they like because they are clever and they move me; sometimes to laughter, sometimes to tears, sometimes to argh!

And that, after all, is what it is all about.

On Twitter – a lesson in good manners.

Peter Phelps, MLC versus tweeps.

Twitter is the cyber equivalent of Speakers’ Corner. In the old Speakers’ Corner you could get out your soap box and say whatever you like, especially venting on those issues of the day that had given you the shits. The really great speakers could always attract a crowd. Their subject of special interest was laced with lashings of good humour, a lot of it self-deprecating, and witty repartee with those members of the general public who decided to stop, listen and engage. Even the most heated debates rarely descended into personally abusing an opponent when the rigours of the debate became too much.  There always seemed to be an unspoken understanding as well as a certain degree of tolerance and good humour that permeated the scene.

In today’s world such niceties of behaviour have long gone. Today’s plethora of shock jocks whose appalling lack of manners are tolerated because of the ratings and money that such behaviour generates, and reality television that belittles and regularly abuses those who appear, are the backdrop to a form of populist culture that certainly dominates in terms of quantity.

It is, therefore, interesting and quite unexpected to discover that when you enter the twitter world things can be a little different. In the five months I’ve been tweeting I have come to regularly converse with a very nice, intelligent and engaging group of people, a reflection of my eclectic range of interests. In that time there have only been three instances of what I would describe as unacceptable antisocial behaviour.  All three cases involved men of some authority and status who, when confronted with either reasonable questions to which one expected reasonable answers, or exceptions to what they had said, or, heaven forbid, alternative points of view, resorted to a form of personal abuse that was both unnecessary and highly offensive. In all instances these personal attacks were against women.

In two of these cases both men should have known better, but that didn’t stop them from behaving like bully boys as well as being just out and out rude.  My! How proud their mothers must be. One is a recently arrived journalist for a prestigious overseas media outlet. The other is a politician who yesterday came unstuck when his imprudent language and behaviour, which I suspect to be commonplace, was deemed to be beyond the pale by a number of twitterers.

The details of what Mr Phelps said that prompted the outrage was a tweet about a fellow committee member, Rhonda V, and female witnesses to parliamentary committee hearings and their need to ‘HTFU’ (harden the fuck up). This tweet resulted in a number of tweets. One of which came from @Nyx2701 suggesting that perhaps Mr Phelps needed a “good punch in the head.” To which Phelps wrote the now infamous tweet of telling Ms 2701 to “go fuck yourself, commie! And you can’t complain because I put in a smiley;-)”. Well I don’t know whether Ms 2701 wanted to complain or not, but there were a hell of a lot of us who sure did.  My contributions were small potatoes compared to others, however I did suggest that if Mr Phelps couldn’t behave himself with more decorum then perhaps he shouldn’t tweet; that he was in a position in which his behaviour is expected to be of a certain standard; and descending into personal abuse indicated a lack of intellectual application on his part. These contributions were met with a few offensive, demeaning and just rude replies, but was nothing more or less than anyone-else received from Mr Phelps yesterday, except of course @Nyx2701 who received the brunt of Mr Phelp’s toxicity.

www.smh.com.au/ 2.webloc

Ultimately the he said, she said, we all said does nothing more than indicate that Mr Phelps feels he can get away with this kind of behaviour on twitter because he seems to be able to get away with it in the non twitter world. I suspect he was quite taken aback when a number of tweeps took umbrage at what he had said, and were forthcoming in their disapproval.

Twitter gives one a false sense of security. Often you are conversing with total strangers, sometimes in a country not your own. It is therefore easy, if your personality tends towards the bullying, to think that it isn’t going to matter a jot if you engage in similar kinds of behaviour on twitter as you exhibit in all other areas of your life. One would expect it to be even easier because of the anonymity that appears to be Twitter. I now believe the reverse to be true.

At anyone time there is a whole group of people on Twitter who will happily stand up and attempt to nip cyber bullying in the bud, deeming it to be totally unacceptable.  The anonymity of the cyber environment can instead liberate the intended victim to a position of not giving two hoots as to who you are, what position you may hold, or what profession you may have. The subject of the abuse can’t be physically intimidated, and, if someone has to resort to bullying or personal abuse, their intellectual vigour has been found wanting.

Twitter is empowering, informative, can be intellectually stimulating as well as creative and just out and out fun. No one should have to put up with the nonsensical, offensive and mean spirited abuse that came from Peter Phelps yesterday.  He is a publicly paid for politician who is supposed to be a part of a group of individuals, including church and corporate leaders, that together are supposed to help set the moral tone and standards we, as ordinary Joes, are then supposed to emulate.

Codes of conduct and ethics don’t grow from the ground up, they filter down from the role models at the top of the societal tree. If the current younger generation is not living up to the standards we would like, then we should start looking at the examples set by our leaders.

Barry O’Farrell was disappointing yesterday.  It was very nice of him to apologise, well he didn’t really apologise actually. Rather, it should not have been O’Farrell’s role to be put in the position of having to “apologise” on behalf of Mr Phelps. Mr Phelps should have apologised to those he sprayed, and not stood behind his leader as a small child stands behind its mother when in trouble. From Phelps there is still nothing but a deafening silence. The absence of an apology from Mr Phelps says volumes about the manner of the man.

To those who were sufficiently outraged to speak out yesterday I salute you. @Nyx2701 who was the subject of the most offensive rant, @greenat15, @kateausburn,  @mrtiedt, @kimworldwide  and @Jo_Tovey  @SMH

To poor Rhonda V who has to sit on a committee with Mr Phelps you have my most heartfelt sympathy.

OBAMA, THOSE PHOTOGRAPHS and the NATIONAL ENQUIRER

OBAMA, THOSE PHOTOGRAPHS and THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER

Back in the days when Noah thought that a boat was a two-man skiff, Australian journalists had very few alternatives available for working overseas.

One was the BBC. If you were one of the favoured few within the ABC you were encouraged to spend some time at the Beeb where, among other skills, you would learn to speak with rounded vowels, and deliver a sentence with newly acquired rhythm, cadence and emPHARsis.

Unless a journo was posted overseas by their paper, options for print journalists were limited. Newspapers in the UK were heavily unionised, and the unions didn’t like Australian journalists taking ‘British’ jobs. A major alternative in the quest to gain overseas experience was finding a news job in the USA.  Getting a position with a respected newspaper in America was more difficult than any of us could have imagined. The green card was essential if you were to work for one of the biggies. There was also the attitude that if you were from Australia you wouldn’t know anything about anything so how could you possibly report on anything with any credibility.

Of course there was a strand of newspapers, and I use the term loosely, who didn’t give a shit that there wasn’t a green card, and had realized very early on that Australian and New Zealand journalists were well-trained, usually multi-skilled and a most knowledgeable group of reporters.  It was in these dens of iniquity that you could find well paid jobs.

The National Enquirer became the newspaper of choice for young Australian journalists. The enquirer employed a disproportionately large percentage of Australasian journos, some of whom thought they might be able to bring a touch of class to this tabloid which was, of course, idealistic pie in the sky!

I remember a feature article on working for the National Enquirer written by a very talented young Australian whose name I’ve forgotten in the mists of time. This journo accepted a job at the Enquirer believing herself immune to the insidious effect the paper seemed to have on journalists who had worked there only a matter of months. It was either that or starve.

She told the story of being assigned, after only a month or so at the paper, to go and get some quotable quotes from the then aging Frank Sinatra; a celebrity well known for his hatred of the media, the Enquirer by name, and especially Australian journalists, in particular the female of the species.

He became her prey. They finally had their foot-in-the-door stand up stoush, where she was told in language most colourful that he would never have anything to do with the Enquirer. While being treated somewhat roughly by his minders she was reported to have screamed to the back of a departing Sinatra,  “Don’t worry Frankie, we’ll get you when you’re dead…”

She had succumbed to the dark side of the force in less than two months.

The National Enquirer was renowned for paying morgue and funeral home attendants to take quick happy snaps of the recently departed celebs for publication in subsequent editions.

In a country that for decades has thrived on the vicarious pleasure resulting from the questionable intrusion into the macabre of the rich and famous, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that there is a growing demand from all and sundry for the release of gruesome photographs of a dead terrorist.

One expects this sort of request from the conspiracy theorists and conservative red necks.

One does not expect such outrageousness from mainstream media who should know better. I never expected to include the NYT, Wash Post or even CNN in the same category as the National Enquirer, but this week saw them tarred with the same brush. Despite the understandable sense of satisfaction felt with the death of this man, the mainstream media are supposed to have a set of standards that should see them take the high moral ground over the Fox News and the National Enquirer level of gutter journalism.  The mainstream media is not supposed to pursue the quest for ratings and sales at the expense of ethics and good taste.

What is surprising is that the moral tone has been best exemplified in the restraint that has come from the White House. I can’t remember a time during the past four decades when, given the opportunity for gloating and jingoist patriotic fervor in response to perceived ‘victories’, such an opportunity was passed over by US political leaders in favour of deliberate, well considered, diplomatic and appropriate responses.

President Obama brings a new style of intelligence, discipline and class to political leadership in the United States. Long may he reign!