The Jewel Of The Molonglo

A guide to Canberra for the Jewel citizen.

All Australian politicians are worried. And it’s not just the fear of being ousted from office, or found nude in a seedy bar, or with their hand jammed crosswise in a charity tin. They are worried about being related to…wait for it…wait for it…relatives.

Not that this is a new thing – the politicians prior to 1972 were desperately keen to hide their ancestry in case it contained a criminal who had been deported to a penal colony. After the election of the Whitlam government and the blossoming of national identity known as the Bogan Spring, the fear shifted to the possibility of not having a criminal ancestry. Many of the ministers who were horrified to discover a pristine family history hurried to soil it as fast as they could – and many succeeded.

Now it has turned out that our national constitution contains hidden pockets of legislation that disqualify politicians from office based upon the national rulings of other countries. Some of the pollies are finding that even if their ancestors were pillars of the community in their old countries as well as Australia, it still comes back to bite them. A number have found that the various turns of not only Australian but British, Commonwealth, and foreign law have dished them.

As different people find out that the T’s were not dotted and the I’s not crossed on  various citizenship forms back in the last century, and as a consequence they are now citizens of the Dutch East Indies, Formosa, French Indo China, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and British Umboopooland, they are desperately taking legal advice from lawyers –  who in their turn have no idea what to do except issue receipts and order another case of scotch. Every social media fan-boy and fan-girl who thinks that their side is winning is doing high fives…until one of their favourite senators or members of parliament turn up on the news ” taking advice “.

I predict there will be a fast re-writing of the section of the constitution that has caused this, a ka-ching to the lawyers who got onto it quick, and a season of cat-calling between the leaders of the major parties. Who nonetheless welcome the sideshow as a diversion from the things that they cannot say, do, or solve.

I’m just hoping they will fight it out in burkas…Pink burkas with glitter…bitch slapping on the floor of the House.

None of this could have happened to a nicer set of people…

 

The Statue In The Park

I have said before that my flabber is rarely ghasted, but this last week has more than made up for it. Leaving aside the North Korean foolishness, and the predictable nature of the unpredictable, we came to the hot summer rioting in the CSA and the subsequent reactions by various authorities.

This sort of clash is nothing new for the place – I can remember it back in the 1960’s, when the temperature rose and some clash set off a riot. I even seem to recall Baltimore losing a couple of whole city blocks to fire in the middle of one of them….though that may have been Philadelphia or Newark. In any case, late summer, before the kids get back to school, is the traditional time for rioting and looting. If you haven’t got a television by August it is your chance to bring one home before the football starts…

The thought of incipient riots has also proved useful for the Baltimore city administration – allowing them an excuse to edit out any of the civic statues that they don’t like on a prophylactic basis. Fair enough, though given what modern sculpture looks like these days, one could wish that they would widen the scope of their concern and pay for the cranes to take away some of the grottier pieces of new scrap iron art.

As it is, I think they could have saved a lot of work and expense by just hiring a signwriter to re-name the existing statues. Unbolt the bronze plaque that says ” General Lee ” and attach a plate that reads ” Malcom X “. Just scrub out ” Stonewall ” on the Jackson statue and write ” Samuel L. ” in its’ stead. Any one else who might be less recognisable could be tagged as Patrice Lumumba or O.J. Simpson, and everyone would be happy.

Not the rioters, mind. You don’t get a free Motorola by renaming statues…

Here in Australia we have seen a most amazing piece of theatre by Senator Pauline Hanson. For overseas readers, she is a politician from Queensland ( and that is fruitful ground for many, many posts…) who rose to fame by hating Asians* professionally. Now that she has achieved a seat in the Senate, she hates Muslims professionally. To express her dislike for them she paraded into our federal Senate chamber wearing a full-coverage burka garment – then tried to argue that she wants it to be banned.

No, I’m not making this up. It really happened. I don’t have that much imagination.

I do not know whether she has any shares in a restaurant, or owns a pick handle, or plans to change her name to Lester. I don’t really want to think about it. I have an old flabber and if it is ghasted beyond its’ rated pressure anything could blow.

I also don’t want to think about who her next professional hate is going to be. I’m not sure if she has done with the Asians, though she’s gone somewhat quiet about them. The Muslim seam will eventually play out, and she may still be digging.

Perhaps we could get her busy removing statues…

*Mostly to the Chinese, though she was prepared to be unpleasant to Japanese and Thais as well.

Always Keep A Dead Idol Handy

All your life you have worshipped little idols. Even if the administrators of your main faith – the rabbis, priests, ministers, and mullahs – have cautioned you against it, you have still carried on. Clothing, entertainments, relationships, possessions, arts and crafts have all served as objects of worship at some stage of the game. And they have all fallen by the wayside eventually.

This is called getting older. Some people call it growing up, but that is more of a taunt than a tag-line. Maturity is the best way of looking at it, and if you can do so in a childish fashion you are winning.

The sport you loved, the car you desired, the culture you worshipped…they all pall in time. And this is as it should be. No-one can enjoy a smorgasbord if they just stand at the shellfish counter all the time – they need to move to the breads and the pickled herring and the princess cake, though not all at once…variety is needed, and you would do well to make sure that you get the same variety all the time.

When something falls away from your desire – when it becomes de trop instead of de thing – by all means usher it out of your life. You need not wear fluoro bell-bottom hipsters a moment longer than it takes to get you into bed with someone. Bell your bottom, if you will, but spare us the sight. Get over it – I assure you that the rest of us will. We are all too busy burying our own dead idols to worry about yours.

But keep a memento of the time. If it is only a badly taken Polaroid of you in the 70’s, it is at least a reminder of the hippie days and a talisman against them returning. You need not look at it more than once a decade, but don’t lose sight of where you came from and remember why you left.

Even dead idols have a place on the altar.

A Foot In Many Camps*

The dual citizenship game is heating up.

New Zealand apparently regards anyone who has ancestors or close relatives who were or are New Zealand citizens as ” citizens by descent “. They have put up an advertisement promising them a passport if they register. Many of my friends who have some sort of Kiwi connection are delighted with this. I am going to take leave to be horrified…in a kindly and genteel way.

It’s not New Zealand – that is a wonderful place full of wonderful people – it’s the concept of someone declaring you to be something…in this case a citizen… without you having a say in it. It comes very close to someone declaring you to be something else , good or bad, that you have no say in. Both actions can damage your life, if improperly applied.

In the case of Australians who wish to fully participate in their own nation’s political life, they have the problem of a flaw in the wording of the Australian Constitution that sets a wide prohibition to the ability to stand for election; no dual citizenship, and no hint of it by dint of entitlement or allegiances. Sounds good, but it means that if some other nation says you are eligible for dual citizenship –  EVEN IF YOU DO NOT TAKE THEM UP ON IT – that automatically cancels one of the most basic civil rights here.

That’s a flaw in our constitution. It needs mending…and soon.

Otherwise, the door is open to a number of abuses. A local political party could exploit some nebulous promise of foreign citizenship to deny Australians with New Zealand or Israeli or Greek connections a right to stand. A foreign government could target potential Australian political candidates who they do not want to see in power here by attaching a spurious dual citizenship to them. Even if it proved to be false, it might keep someone out of the hustings during an election. Talk about interfering with the polls…

Nope. Hands off our parliament and hands off our citizens. You’ve got enough on your plates in your own countries. It’ll be up to us to amend our constitution to show this up for the nonsense it is, and to grow up as our own legislature.

Note: This is not a push for any political party. It is a call for political independence. And for common sense.

*  But not in many mouths.

 

 

How To Be Correct Without Being Political

As a person who has done his fair share of offending people in his time, I think I am in a good position to advise others on how to avoid doing the same thing. I would hesitate to address friends about this but strangers may benefit from these handy hints:

A. Do not lie to people or about people. Do not lie on people. Do not lie to yourself.

B. Do not tell other people the truth about themselves. This may seem to be in direct conflict with rule A. above, but there is a delicate difference between telling the truth about where the nearest post box is located as compared to how flabby someone’s arguments are becoming. One’ll get you thanked and one’ll get you punched.

C. Do not present ‘ sights unbecoming ‘ to others on social media. These sights may include pictures of you, friends, or family doing things of a marginal nature. The images may amuse you but won’t have the same effect on others. Keep your peccadilloes hidden. Peccadillo sheaths are sold in all good ironmongers.

D. Do not repeatedly press political, religious, financial, sexual, theatrical, mechanical, or moral opinions on others. By all means state your support for triple-expansion steam valves, the Social-Endymionist Collective, or bi-metallism in a clear and honest manner, if you feel that the times have called upon you to do so. Once. Do it once, and all who know you, will know your thoughts. If you have any entrée to their minds, you will accomplish as much with one quiet message, as you could with the loudest and most repetitive tub thumping. And you will not risk driving them away.

E. Do not tell Irish jokes unless your name is Kelly and you come from County Mayo. Likewise any other joke that involves ethnicity or religion unless you are clearly speaking of yourself. Even then, be careful. Your fellow ethicists, co-religionists, or compatriots may be unwilling to laugh with you about your shared heritage – at least where others can hear. Some groups have no sense of humour about themselves.

F. Do not ape another culture. Even if you admire it and think it is cool and good-looking and wise and sexy. People who you might regard as exotically interesting may regard themselves as just home folks. In particular, do not use accents that are not your own. No-one from Scotland ever wants to hear you speaking in a Scottish accent and no-one from Mississippi ever wants to hear you speak in a fake Southern drawl.

If you would like to test this out without getting punched, try the experiment of going to someone in your own ethnic or national group and speaking to them in a parody of your own shared native accent. Their reaction will be real, and that’s what other people will really think of you ” doing ” their accent.

This is entirely separate from trying to learn a foreign language, and attempting to speak to someone in their own tongue, and getting it horribly wrong. No-one is offended with this…with the possible exception of the French…and even they will patiently try to correct your pronunciation. If you are trying to meet others half-way they all recognise it.

G. Do not ‘ share ‘ internet memes that say the nasty things that you really want to say but cannot bring yourself to utter. It is recognisable cowardice as well as offensive. And it leagues you with some of the vilest minds in society.

Well, that should help a little. It is not the complete Emily Post, but in trying times it may smooth out your social picture and hide a few of the creases. Remember that nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, so if you plan you run for office either here or in your other country, be sure that your Facebook and Twitter will find you out. Mind you, you might get away with it for years and at a Senate or White House salary, that makes a pretty good nest-egg.

Citizenship…Getcha Red Hot Dual Citizenship Right Here…!

Australia has laws against duelling. You’re not allowed to face opponents at dawn with a pistol or sabre. Many of us think this is a case of the courts being awfully small-minded and trying to reserve all the business of solving disputes to itself.

The federal government as well, is being mean about people who are also citizens of other nations. They are debarred from holding public office and recently we have seen the start of a widespread campaign to investigate state and federal members of parliament and to call them out about it. Two have picked their hats out of the ring and slunk off.

It has even got to the point where people are worried that the nationality of their parents or grandparents will be invoked to make them dual citizens unbeknownst and thus foul up their political careers. ” Citizenship by ancestry ” may sound charming if you fancy a holiday somewhere and don’t want to stand in the foreigner’s queue at the airport, but it can also be turned rather quickly into a tar brush rather than a rubber stamp if it suits someone’s purpose.

When you start to divide up ancestries and parcel them out you can do all sorts of things.  “Half-Greek ” might still make you liable for the army. ” Half-American ” might make you liable for the IRS. ” Half-French ” might make you liable to be insulted by waiters.

Let’s not even get into ” Half-Muslim ” or ” Half-Jew “, or half of any other religion. No-one who uses this sort of terminology will be doing it for any good purpose.

” Half-Breed ” is just foul.

If we must split people’s lives and families and re-combine them to suit our own purposes, let us divide them along the lines of personality. I have always considered that I had a wide view of life but was unable to fully realise my plans. So I might be said – instead of being vast – to be half-vast.

I am content with this. At least half-way…

Note: This writer is a nationalised Australian as of 1970, has definitely given up any other citizenship, and has stamped papers from two governments to prove it. None of the countries that played host to his parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have ever been asked to grant him a dual, treble, or quadruple citizenship. Indeed, when I visit their embassies they turn off the lights and hide behind the sofa until I stop ringing the doorbell.

 

The Little World – Applying For A Fun Licence

” This is a free country, isn’t it? ”

Fine words, and perfectly appropriate at the polling booth or in the public bar, but hesitate before uttering them in your local hobby shop. Because the answer may turn out to be ” No “.

I’m driven to this conclusion by looking at the goods on offer in the shop. Fine models, glorious kits, magnificent engines, and more trouble than you can pack into a Gladstone bag. In many cases you may be free to purchase the fun, but you will be forbidden to have it…or at least you will need to go a’begging to someone for permission to play somewhere.

If that sounds over the top, consider that here in Perth – the most isolated capital city in the world with hundreds or thousands of kilometres between us and other cities – we need to go to one special secluded spot on the outskirts of town to fly a toy airplane. We need to go 20 kilometres to sail a toy boat, and we can go to Bunbury or buggery if we want to run a toy car.

Noise, pollution, disturbance, wildlife, public nuisance,etc. etc. Councils jealously guard their parks and schools jealously guard their ovals, and woe betide the trespasser. The drone flyers have it even worse as they are the bete noir of everybody. Doesn’t stop the hobby shops from trying to sell lots of different drones, but when it comes to clubs flying them…?

So far the toy train people can escape most of the contumely and control as their layouts are inside, and on their own property. If they take them outside they can be harassed for creating an attractive nuisance or for spoiling the council’s view of what the garden should look like.

The toy soldier, car, and doll collectors also escape most of this problem…but this is probably only because the police and council haven’t figured out an angle that can either fee or fine the collector. Have no fear…they are probably working on it. They already have a stranglehold on the militaria collectors who just want to trade old muskets.

I am not going to worry too much. I’m sure I contravene a number of regulations by collecting toy cars and taking pictures of them and a zealous enemy could put in so many council complaints as to make the hobby miserable, but collecting enemies could also be a lot of fun.

Particularly if you pin them to a board or press them between the pages of a thick book.