March 30, 2014

Horse 1644 - Ten Suburbs. No.15 Beverley Hills 2209

The suburb was originally named Dumbleton after a farm which had been established in the 1830s but as you'd expect, residents scarcely like the name very much at all. The name was changed to Beverley Hills in the 1940s during the so-called "golden age of Hollywood" but suburb in Sydney really had very little to do with a world of movie stars. I will admit though that 70 years later, Sydney's Beverley Hills is a far nicer place than Los Angeles' which can look pretty trashy in some areas.

Beverley Hills would have remained a relatively dull had it not been for the Department of Main Road's decision to connect Canary's Road and Dumbleton Road in 1962 and rename the new route King Georges Road as part of Ring Road 3. Thus a quiet suburb would have a six lane arterial road slice in in twain in 1964. A lot of the shop fronts on King Georges Road have a sort of late art deco look which were built during that time.

Also and as a result of the post-war immigration boom, Beverley Hills became home to a lot of Italan and Eastern European migrants arrive; which changed the area from mainly Protestant to mainly Catholic. One of the results of this was the very fine Regina Coeli church which stands on the highest point in the suburb and may been seen for many miles.
Regina Coeli Roman Catholic Church is the only "war memorial church" in Australia. Regina Coeli was opened on Coral Sea Sunday, May 5, 1963, 21 years after the aircraft carrier battle of World War Two. It was partly funded by an Australian-US veterans' alliance and commemoration masses are held every year on that weekend.

Ironically, if you look for something that Beverley Hills is noted for, it is its local cinema. Even though it looks like any other local suburban cinema, look inside and... it still looks like any other local suburban cinema. The local cinema actually appears to be a thing of note in this suburb; that is noteworthy. Beverley Hills is a blob of normality among a sea of mediocrity.
Although Beverley Hills was named after a land of swimming pools and movie stars, it is a land of red brick houses and medium density housing as far as the eye can see, where there is the odd swimming pool but no movie stars. Beverley Hills is a land of the national average. A land where Toyota Corollas live in the streets, where people make almost exactly bang on the national average and where it really is difficult to find anything interesting about it at all.
Beverley Hills is almost a living snapshot of what all of Australia currently is, in miniature. It is the perfect representative sample, all by itself.

March 29, 2014

Horse 1643 - Ten Suburbs. No.14 Golden Grove 2008/2042

In my 1932 Gregory's Street Directory, the idea of definite boundaries for where suburbs lie, isn't marked. I imagine that in 1932 that street which could have been run from Parramatta to Harris Park, might very well accept mail labelled either.
In my 1967 Gregory's Street Directory, Golden Grove is a definite suburb and marked with the postcode of 2006 which it shared with Sydney University but in my 2009 Gregory's Street Directory, Golden Grove as a suburb just doesn't exist at all; with all of its former environs being claimed by either Newtown or Darlington.

Does Golden Grove even belong in Ten Suburbs? Absolutely. Golden Grove brings into question, what our notion of place actually is and the fact that I remember that it once was, means that it probably still might exist in the minds of other people too.

Golden Grove was named after one of the eleven ships which trudged its way across the ocean in the First Fleet, to dump convicts on a bit of land which the British had declared terra nullius or "empty land"; despite there being very obvious evidence to the contrary. Australia was yet another example of the British Empire stealing land by the cunning use of flags by sailing round the world and sticking a flag in something. 

I suspect that being an inner city sort of suburb, Golden Grove probably acquired something of a bad reputation at some point. The area which was once Golden Grove is built a bit like inner parts of London which terrace houses and lanes running behind the houses. This being Australia, they quickly acquired the distinctly Aussie nickname of "dunny lanes" after the night carts which would remove people's poo before the installation of proper sewerage. Maybe Golden Grove which was noted being something of a slum which is why people would rather suggest that they came from either Newtown or Darlington - I really don't know.
It could also have something to do with Sydney University gradually acquiring property in the area and extending outside its own 2006 postcode. Without houses to call its own, Golden Grove just might not have been viable as a specific locality.

Today, all that is left of Golden Grove are a few reminders of it ever having even existed including a retreat centre owned by St Andrew's Cathedral, a Bed and Breakfast hotel and the eponymous street which humiliatingly is split in twain and depending on which side of the street you're on, you're either in Newtown or Darlington.

March 28, 2014

Horse 1642 - Why Repeal 18C?

I love asking the question of 'why'? 'Why' is a good question because it is often used to discover the motives for doing something. I'm not going to argue the relative benefits or disadvantages of the act, but it is worth while to see why the call has been made to repeal 18C.

Firstly the act itself:
Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin
(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an act is taken not to be done in private if it:
(a) causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or
(b) is done in a public place; or
(c) is done in the sight or hearing of people who are in a public place.

(3) In this section: “public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, whether express or implied and whether or not a charge is made for admission to the place.
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Section 18C

The only real reason that I've been able to ascertain as to why an act which remained relatively dormant should ever come to light was because of a case heard in the Federal Court between an Aboriginal person Ms Pat Eatock and Herald-Sun journalist Andrew Bolt, who had published a series of articles which had questioned fair-skinned Aboriginal people's right to claim their Aboriginality.
On 28th September 2011, Justice Bromberg handed down a decision which prohibited the republication of the newspaper articles but there were damages awarded and no apology demanded.
The full text of the decision can be found here:

So then, what is going on here and why was there a call to repeal 18C? To look at that reason, merely requires peeling back the layers of this onion.

If we look at the most vociferous voice calling for the repeal of 18C, what do we find?
Freedom of speech in Australia is under attack.
Andrew Bolt was hauled before the courts because articles he wrote “offended” a group of people. Julia Gillard said that a critical media company she doesn’t like has “questions to answer” and set up a media inquiry to try to force them to give those answers. And Bob Brown wants governments to “licence” journalists.
It is this section of the legislation which silenced Andrew Bolt. And it could silence you.
But freedom of speech sometimes means people will be offended. The right not to be offended should never trump the right to express your views.
Federal parliament must repeal these laws before more Australians have their free speech trampled on.
And we need your voice to make it happen.

This is a curious thing. It's our old friends the IPA and immediately the layers of the onion begin to emerge.
The IPA was founded in 1943 by a group of businessmen which included Sir Keith Murdoch. Probably not coincidentally, the IPA and Sir Keith were part of the first conference in Canberra in 1944 which founded the Liberal Party of Australia.
The IPA is unashamedly a partisan lobby group who works very closely with the Liberal Party; so is it little wonder that when The Herald and Weekly Times Pty Ltd had one of its journalists hauled before the courts, it made noises until the IPA made noises, which in turn made the Liberal Party make noises. Mysteriously, at once the Liberal Party won government, at the first opportunity it had, it introduced legislation to repeal 18C.
The repeal of 18C is then, basically the outworkings of a political Matryoshka doll.

Is it really about "free speech" or is it politically motivated because Andrew Bolt and the Herald-Sun got stung for breaking the law?
Those of us looking from the outside look from Bolt; to Herald-Sun; to IPA; to Liberal Party and already it is impossible to say which is which.

March 24, 2014

Horse 1641 - Ten Suburbs. No.13 North Epping 2121

Being a commuter, my working knowledge of Sydney is biased towards those suburbs which either lie on a railway line, or a bus route; it also helps if there are major roads running through them. North Epping has neither a railway station; nor even a through road and the only bus route which run through the suburb is the 295 which runs back to Epping.
Surrounded by three sides by creeks and the Lane Cove National Park and on the fourth by the M2 motorway, North Epping is a giant cul-de-sac. The whole suburb is connected to Sydney (including that bus route) via a single artery, Norfolk Road.
Perhaps as a direct result of its isolation, North Epping has decided to have no fast food chains, no major chain petrol stations and no major supermarkets within its borders.

- Stolen from Google Maps

It would be easy to pass off North Epping as a little twee (and maybe it does begin to parody itself) but there's a certain charm about the place. There tends to be more children playing in North Epping's parks than other suburbs and there are more people out walking in the cool of an evening and motorists need to be a little bit more careful and mindful of cyclists.
Of course being physically surrounded by a National Park probably does encourage people to to get out and walk and explore more; which is in stark contrast to a suburb like Blacktown where the biggest participation sport of a Saturday appears to be walking around a shopping mall, buying $9 trinkets and excessive amounts of burgers and chips.

Maybe as a result of this perceived isolation, North Epping families have on average 2.9 children which is more than the national average. This in turn means that you're more likely to see 6 and 7 seven seat cars on the road like the Honda Odyssey, Mistubishi Grandis and Toyota Kluger on the roads. Also, because household income is higher on average, you'll probably find screens in the back of seats more often. I find it a little ironic that kiddiewinks might be watching Dora The Explorer but these sorts of vehicles never do any exploring.
North Epping normally has some of the lowest rates of crime in the entire of Sydney (except for one particularly famous incident) and I would wager that if a measure of Gross National Happiness were adopted in Sydney, as it is in Bhutan, then North Epping would be among the richest in this city of four and a half million.

North Epping through a geographical quirk is a virtually unknown pearl and as obvious on a map as North Adelaide 5006.

March 23, 2014

Horse 1640 - Ten Suburbs. No.12 Chatswood 2067

I imagine that once upon a time, Chatswood would have been similar to Roseville in character but those days are long gone. Chatswood is a far more vibrant and lively place than Roseville could even hope to be.
Legend has it that the name Chatswood derives from the then Mayor of Willoughby, Richard Harnett, who named the suburb after his wife Charlotte. Charlotte was known as "Chattie" and thus the area was named Chattie's Wood, which was later shortened to Chatswood.

At some point probably during the 1970s because of a plan to decentralise government services, Chatswood was picked upon as the new location of several departments including the then Department of Construction and Housing and the Australian Taxation Office.
As the area grew in importance, several shopping centres would begin to occupy the area including the Wallaceway, Chatswood Chase and the Mandarin Centre but looming to one side of Victoria Avenue and opening in 1986 was Westfield. This massive behemoth temple to the great god Dollar, has so far managed to eat one city block, jump another, infect two more with its tentacle car parks and if it is allowed to go unopposed, will continue to devour everything in its path.
Not content with just Westfield, the Interchange Arcade which once connected Chatswood Railway Stattion to Victoria Avenue, has been equally voracious. The new Chatswood Transport Interchange which was opened in 2008 following the construction of the Epping-Chatswood rail link, devoured Orchard Road and was only halted by the pedestrian mall of Victoria Avenue.

- Stolen from Google Maps

Chatswood though, unlike Roseville is far more multicultural. Chatswood which is far more business oriented than sleepy little Roseville, became a place where lots of cultures blend together in the name of selling things. Almost two-thirds of people living in Chatswood were born overseas and a little over a quarter of the population speaks either Mandarin or Cantonese as their first language. The Chinese Cultural Centre is now 15 years old and is an active member of the life of the suburb.

Chatswood still does manage to retain some of its older character though. Chatswood Oval and Beauchamp Oval are examples of quaint little fields which wouldn't be out of place in an English village. Architecturally, there are a wide number of styles when it comes to public buildings and churches and the interior of Our Lady Of Dolours church is simply stunning.

Unlike a suburb like Parramatta though, Chatswood goes to sleep at about 6pm. After about that time, when Westfield closes and the shops on Victoria Avenue shut their doors, it can be a bit of a ghost town and is a wee bit scary. Maybe if Chatswood Oval hosted an A-League team of something, there'd be a reason for Chatswood to stay awake but I suppose that even though it has a cinema complex, it just has never reached that sort of critical mass yet.

March 22, 2014

Horse 1639 - Ten Suburbs. No.11 Roseville 2069

If for a second, we enter the realm of fantasy and quietly delude ourselves that politicians are bought with the ballot box and not the cheque book, then a small section of Roseville in the east are among the richest in Australia, for their local members of state and federal parliament are The Premier of NSW, Barry O'Farrell and the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. I think that this might be the first time in Australian political history that such a thing has happened (more research is required).
If we snap out of our fantasy and delusion, we find that the average income is $133,000 per year, which would suggest that Roseville is also more likely to be able to buy opinion with their cheque books too,

The median house price in Roseville is about $1.6 million, though it isn't uncommon for detached residences to change hands for $2-$3 million.
As little as 30 years ago, there was a class of residents in Roseville who were referred to as the "poor-rich". These people either bought property or inherited to live in in the mid-1940s and 1950s and although the value of their land shot up amazingly during the 1970s and 1980s, they were in effect asset rich but relatively income poor. For this reason, Roseville tends to have a lot of untouched older style housing, which gives it a sort of old-fashioned look.

- Stolen from Google Maps

The high street of Roseville appears to be stuck in 1963. Although people walk about with the latest gadgetry such as iDevices and eWhatevers (thus proving that evolution is a lie because if anything we must be all descended from moths - ooh look at the pretty lights), it still has a butcher a greengrocer, a florist, a milk bar and newsagent. I bet that apart from the cars on the street, Roseville probably looks pretty well much the same as when Khrushchev was threatening the free world by sending bleeping tin balls into space. Maybe in a few years time, the newspapers here, might carry the headline that Neil Armstrong has kicked the surface of the moon.

That brings me to another odd thing. Looking through the census, Roseville appears to be among the whitest in the country. I fully expect Mrs Marsh to jump out from behind a BMW X5 (because although everyone is an individual, they all think and buy exactly the same) and explain the evils of letting coloured things get into white chalk. Her "ring of confidence" in Roseville is that no-one with a funny surname is getting anywhere near there at all.
Thankfully the local MPs have enacted discompassionate policies of stopping the boats by turning them all back and stopping the bogans by allowing the spread of toll roads everywhere. No bogans, oafs, oiks or foreign types are getting into Roseville. Hurrah؟

For the first ten suburbs, see Horse 1328 - Horse 1337

March 17, 2014

Horse 1638 - NorthConnex: 68 Years Late and Corporate Welfare to BOOT.

- via Twitter, Jamie Briggs, Federal Member for Mayo and Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development.

At the weekend, the member for Mayo, Jamie Briggs; the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and the Premier of New South Wales, Barry O'Farrel, all congratulated themselves for concluding a deal to complete the M1 extension to the M2, and have it opened by the year 2019.

The NSW Government's website was also showing itself off like a peacock, to display how incredibly pleased the Government was with itself:
The NSW Government has reached an agreement with Transurban and the Westlink M7 shareholders to deliver the NorthConnex motorway – twin nine kilometre tunnels to link the M1 and M2 under busy Pennant Hills Road.
In March 2012, the NSW Government received an unsolicited proposal from Transurban and the Westlink M7 shareholders to design, build, operate, maintain and finance NorthConnex.

On 30 May 2013 the NSW Government announced the proposal had progressed to Stage 3 of the unsolicited proposals process, which would include a competitive tender to select a design and construction contractor.
The $3 billion project, consisting of a construction budget of $2.65 billion in addition to land and project delivery costs, will be funded through toll charges with a contribution from the NSW and Australian Governments of up to $405 million each. Car and truck tolls for NorthConnex will be aligned with the M2, which currently are $6.11 for cars and $18.32 for trucks.
- NSW Government website, published 16th Mar 2014.

How lovely.
Assuming that this piece of infrastructure is completed at the 2019 delivery date, it will have been only 68 years after the original County of Cumberland plan was first announced in 1951. To put that in perspective, that plan was announced during the Premiership of Joseph Cahill who was also responsible for destroying the then biggest tram network in the world and naming a very poxy little "expressway" after himself.
It was also before any of the men in that photograph were even born.

Don't believe me? Have look at this:
The Federal Government re-fused to contribute towards the cost of putting the plan into operation, but the State Government decided to share the cost with local government.
Primary intention of the plan is to improve the living and working conditions of the 1,850,000
people in the 1,630 square miles of the County of Cumberland, which is bounded almost entirely
by the ocean and the Hawkesbury-Nepean Rivers.

In the 11,000 factories within this area are employed more than 250,000 men and women-a third
of Australia's industrial labour force.
The council's planners estimate that in 25 years immigration and natural increase will have brought
the county's population to 2,250,000, of whom 950,000 will be workers.
They say that radical changes are essential to remedy the county's worst faults, congested employment and living areas, inadequate housing and recreational space, slums, and snarled traffic.
The plan provides for: 
More express highways which will case traffic congestion.
- Page 2, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Jul 1951

One of those expressways mentioned in the 1951 County of Cumberland plan was the Lane Cove Valley freeway and remarkably, some of it was even completed. This photo of a proposed plan from the Ozroads website, gives an idea of where the expressway might have run:

Fig Tree Bridge is the next bridge north on Australia's second ever expressway. The Cahill Expressway was opened in 1958 but the section around the Gladesville Bridge which was opened in 1965, makes up just under 3km of the Lane Cove Valley freeway; with the rest never being completed.

So then, you might think that I'd be happy that an expressway coming in at 68 years behind schedule is finally being completed (although I will admit that it just happens to run through the middle of the Premier's own electorate of Ku-ring-gai) but I'm not really.
There are two statements which are included on the NSW Government's website which make me livid.

Firstly that:
Car and truck tolls for NorthConnex will be aligned with the M2, which currently are $6.11 for cars and $18.32 for trucks.

But more importantly that:

The $3 billion project, consisting of a construction budget of $2.65 billion in addition to land and project delivery costs, will be funded through toll charges with a contribution from the NSW and Australian Governments.
but curiously:
In March 2012, the NSW Government received an unsolicited proposal from Transurban and the Westlink M7 shareholders to design, build, operate, maintain and finance NorthConnex.

Let me make this abundantly clear. The road will be funded by taxpayers but the road itself will send profits to Transurban and Westlink M7.
Privatising profits but yet making debt public. In the olden days we might have called that Lemon socialism, Crony capitalism or perhaps Corporate welfare.

But there's a problem. The Treasurer Joe Hockey who presumably is the chap in charge of the public purse of Australia, went on the attack of what he called "the age of entitlement"
So, ultimately the fiscal impact of popular programs must be brought to account no matter what the political values of the government are or how popular a spending program may be. 
Let me put it to you this way: The Age of Entitlement is over. 
We should not take this as cause for despair. It is our market based economies which have forced this change on unwilling participants.
- Joe Hockey, Address To The Institute Of Economic Affairs, 17 April 2012

Only this year he said that it was clear that taxpayer handouts are under "tough restrictions".
Treasurer Joe Hockey has warned that the age of entitlement is over and it was time for all Australians to do their fair share of heavy lifting.
Making clear taxpayer hand-outs are now under tough restrictions, Mr Hockey told ABC Radio that the age of personal responsibility has begun.
-The Daily Telegraph, 3rd Feb 2014

Yet when I tweeted the Premier, asking what the actual purpose of paying road taxes are, for a road which because I don't have an e-toll account, I'm for all intents and purposes barred from I get told:
Choice? Choice? What choice is this? I get no choice as to how my road taxes are allotted. I get no choice as to how my income taxes are allotted. What choice do I have? Buckleys? None?

If the "age of entitlement" is over, then why are my road taxes and income taxes being used to fund private profits? The Federal Government has already made it abundantly clear with Holden, SPC and Qantas that it isn't going to. Why then does the principle not apply to a toll road?

If this really is a piece of infrastructure, then why isn't it free and open to all who pay taxes? Why was it good enough to build a road like the Hume Highway and make that free and open but not this? Why in principle should any road have a toll on it, if it isn't for the feathering of Mr O'Farrells nest once he leaves politics? Remember, former Premier Bob Carr landed himself a cushy job at Macquarie Bank after committing the NSW to so-called "public private partnerships".
It's a little bit hypocritical that the same MP who called for a judicial inquiry into the privatisation of NSW's state's electricity assets in 2010 would then approve the same of same just two years later. I suppose that he's just getting the jump early with this by privatising the profits on the M1 extension before the process starts.

North Connex is a project which is running 68 years behind schedule and has a side order of Corporate welfare to go with it.
Don't frame it as a "choice".

March 16, 2014

Horse 1637 - Man United v Liverpool (More Than Just 3 Points)

Before we put this upcoming fixture in context, we need to review a result from last night:

Aston Villa 1 - Chelsea 0.
This was for the most part a dour and drab affair, with Villa's back four largely cancelling out Fernando Torres and Willian.

Willian though was given a yellow card in the 25th minute and then a second one for a relatively minor infringement on Villa's Fabian Delph. That second yellow made "The Special One" Jose Mourinho see red and he proceeded to abuse the officials on the sidelines.
In the 82nd minute, Delph further infuriated Mourinho by slotting a goal past keeper Petr Cech with a clever back heel. Mourinho was livid and after the final whistle, marched onto the field to argue with the referee Chris Foy and the two of them were still seen deep in argument as they went down the players' tunnel.
What this does mean is that Chelsea have dropped three points and have showed to the rest of the league that they can be found wanting in defence, for It was not a defender who was given their marching orders but a striker. This means that Chelsea in theory are pregnable (if that's a word).

Man United v Liverpool - what this means.
Arguably the Manchester United v Liverpool fixture is the most intense of any league season; perhaps even more so that Arsenal v Spurs or Everton v Liverpool. This time though, Liverpool will be looking to close the gap on Chelsea because what Chelsea's loss means is that the title race has been swung upon.
Chelsea currently sit on 66 points. Manchester City are on 60 but have three games in hand and potentially could be on 69. Liverpool are on 59 but have two games in hand and potentially could be on 65. This means that the position at the top of the league could swing on just a handful of fixtures and given that Manchester United v Liverpool is one of those, we have a Liverpool side who will be playing out of their skin.

Liverpool have already shown that they are capable of knocking over class sides, having ripped Arsenal to pieces 5-1, Everton 4-0 and Spurs 5-0. The problem is that they've not won at Old Trafford in five years and earlier this season, the result was only decided by a fourth minute goal by Daniel Sturridge. Maybe though, this Liverpool side which is vastly different to the one of five years ago has enough of a whiff of Pal to bite and bite hard.
As a completely biased and one-eyed Liverpool fan, I hope that the score sheet reads the same way as one particular match against Crystal Palace the last time that Liverpool won the title, 9-0. I'm hoping for hat-tricks for both Martin Skrtel and  Raheem Sterling (maybe a goal for Simon Mignolet too). By aiming for complete annihilation and humiliation of Manchester United, it would ensure league points and points mean prizes – what do points mean? The junctions on railway lines.

Three points to close the gap on the league leaders are always vitally important; this time round, those three points can come from a long standing rivalry.
Former Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once said that "My greatest challenge is not what's happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their ******* perch." The best way to exact revenge is by playing stronger and better. I hope that this season, that the Liver Bird gets right back on the perch and starts squawking a song which has not been heard for almost a quarter of a century.

I tell this by way of aside. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was finally completed in 1830. It might have been Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington the Prime Minister who officially opened the railway on the 15th of September but it was the MP for Liverpool, William Huskisson*, who really stole the show...


March 14, 2014

From the 1945 Labour Party (British) Election Manifesto

The people made tremendous efforts to win the last war also. But when they had won it they lacked a lively interest in the social and economic problems of peace, and accepted the election promises of the leaders of the anti-Labour parties at their face value. So the "hard-faced men who had done well out of the war" were able to get the kind of peace that suited themselves. The people lost that peace. And when we say "peace" we mean not only the Treaty, but the social and economic policy which followed the fighting.

In the years that followed, the "hard-faced men" and their political friends kept control of the Government. They controlled the banks, the mines, the big industries, largely the press and the cinema. They controlled the means by which the people got their living. They controlled the ways by which most of the people learned about the world outside. This happened in all the big industrialised countries.

Great economic blizzards swept the world in those years. The great inter-war slumps were not acts of God or of blind forces. They were the sure and certain result of the concentration of too much economic power in the hands of too few men. These men had only learned how to act in the interest of their own bureaucratically-run private monopolies which may be likened to totalitarian oligarchies within our democratic State. They had and they felt no responsibility to the nation.

Similar forces are at work today. The interests have not been able to make the same profits out of this war as they did out of the last. The determined propaganda of the Labour Party, helped by other progressive forces, had its effect in "taking the profit out of war". The 100% Excess Profits Tax, the controls over industry and transport, the fair rationing of food and control of prices - without which the Labour Party would not have remained in the Government - these all helped to win the war. With these measures the country has come nearer to making "fair shares" the national rule than ever before in its history.

But the war in the East is not yet over. There are grand pickings still to be had. A short boom period after the war, when savings, gratuities and post-war credits are there to be spent, can make a profiteer's paradise. But Big Business knows that this will happen only if the people vote into power the party which promises to get rid of the controls and so let the profiteers and racketeers have that freedom for which they are pleading eloquently on every Tory platform and in every Tory newspaper.

They accuse the Labour Party of wishing to impose controls for the sake of control. That is not true, and they know it. What is true is that the anti-controllers and anti-planners desire to sweep away public controls, simply in order to give the profiteering interests and the privileged rich an entirely free hand to plunder the rest of the nation as shamelessly as they did in the nineteen-twenties.

Does freedom for the profiteer mean freedom for the ordinary man and woman, whether they be wage-earners or small business or professional men or housewives? Just think back over the depressions of the 20 years between the wars, when there were precious few public controls of any kind and the Big Interests had things all their own way. Never was so much injury done to so many by so few. Freedom is not an abstract thing. To be real it must be won, it must be worked for.

The Labour Party stands for order as against the chaos which would follow the end of all public control. We stand for order, for positive constructive progress as against the chaos of economic do-as-they-please anarchy.

Horse 1636 - Why Is There No Love For The Two Dollar Note... in America?

This is a question which as someone who doesn't live in America I don't understand; yet if we ask people on internet fora who do live in America, their answers are just as equally vague. 

- Just look at Mr Jefferson's sad sad puppy-dog eyes. He knows you don't love him

Australia (after it got rid of 1c and 2c coins) has:
- 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 in coin 
- $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 in notes

The UK (if you disregard 1p and 2p coins) has 
- 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 in coin 
- £5, £10, £20, £50 in notes

But the United States (after they finally eliminate the penny) will have:
- 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c and $1 (which no one likes)
- $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 in notes (though notes bigger than $100 have done).

Apart from the fact that as a traveller in the United States, I found small change somewhat jarring because it makes more logical sense to me that an amount like 30c should be 20c + 10c and not 25c + 5c, or that 45c should be 20c + 20c + 5c and not 25c + 10c+ 10c et cetera, I never understood why shopkeepers look at you blankly when you hand over a $2 note. 

Even if you look at the Two Dollar Note, it screams how American it is. I very much like the fact that American currency yells its mythos so loudly. If we look at the Australian Twenty Dollar Note for instance, it has John Flynn who was the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (sort of). Now I have to admit, that I needed to look that up. However, I can tell you that Washington is on the $1, Jefferson the $2, Lincoln the $5, Hamilton the $10, Jackson the $20, Grant the $50 and Benjamin the $100.
Given the very existence of the $20, there's not really a good reason why the $2 is so unloved.

- How 'Murican is this? They can't hear you over the sound of their 'Freedom'

I wondered if anyone had written on this sort of subject before and in passing I found this short piece by Yutaka Nishiyama* at the Osaka University of Economics, entitled "Why ¥2000 Notes Are Unpopular"; from 2013 (link:

Nishiyama suggests that in Japan, there is a cultural tendency to suggest that odd numbers are "complete"; citing the 5-7-5 syllable structure of Haiku and 5-7-5-7-7 of Tanka poetry. This is different to European culture where odd numbered things are seen as odd. The word "impair" which means to damage in English, has a direct homonym in French which simply means "not even".

Japan has: 
- ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100 and ¥500 in coin 
- ¥1000, ¥2000, ¥5000, ¥10,000 in notes

This leads us to a very interesting point here. The ¥2000 note was only introduced in the year 2000, to commemorate both the G8 Summit and the millennium. This would tend to suggest that it might be 'newness' which makes it unpopular. Does this apply to the American $2 note though? Not really.
The American $2 note was first issued in 1862 and apart from a ten year gap from 1966-1976 when they weren't issued, they've been used for more than 150 years; that hardly supports that theory.

The only reason that I can think of then (and it is a very big reason indeed) as to why the American $2 note is unloved and unpopular is that... the American $2 note is unloved and unpopular. That might be something of a tautology but it's worth examining a much broader question of just what money itself is in the first place.

Money after its all said and done is nothing really more than a measure the value of goods and services. When a supermarket states that Carrots are $2/kg it not only tells us that kilo of carrots is worth $2 but also that $2 is worth a kilo of carrots. Physical currency is little more than a token of the worth of stuff or services performed.
Even in the old days when money was backed by gold, that fact was still the same. Although gold is shiny, malleable and can be made into pretty jewellery and be put to electronics-type of uses, it is still intrinsically pointless. There's no good reason for instance why bronze or steel could have been used, or even platinum or palladium or conch shells or anything.
Ultimately every currency is backed by "good faith"; in fact the word "fiduciary" which is often used to describe floating currencies not backed by gold derives from the Latin word "fīduciarius" which means held in trust.

I think that the only real reason as to why is there no love for the Two Dollar Note in America, is down to suspicion and mistrust of it. The obvious answer to counter that would be to release more of them into circulation, so that people see more of them.
Then again as I've already said in Horse 1400, the argument for not getting rid of the One Dollar note is probably also only down to suspicion and mistrust, despite there being a decent economic argument for changing to a $1 coin; actually, that argument probably also works for changing to a $2 coin too.

Or better yet... issue a $3 coin. It's happened before...

*Mr Nishiyama's work is fun to read:

March 13, 2014

Horse 1635 - Should Britain Get Rid Of The Penny?

Australia got rid of 1c and 2c coins in 1992.
New Zealand rid of 1c and 2c coins in 1989 and 5c coins in 2006.
Canada got rid of 1c coins in 2013.
Japan still uses ¥1 coins.
The United States still uses 1c coins.
When it comes to Eurocents, some countries do and some countries do not use them

The question then about Britain geting rid of the Penny is mainly a matter of utility.

Following a series of Tweets, I sent an email to the Royal Mint in Llantrisant with regards how much it costs to make a 1p coin. They didn't tell me but sent this link:
The cost of producing United Kingdom coins varies according to the specification of each denomination. The value of metal in each coin accounts for a large part of the total cost, but it is also necessary to take into consideration the broader costs of the manufacturing process. These vary according to the complexity of the coin.
The Royal Mint does not reveal exactly how much it costs to make specific coins as such information could be used to its competitors' advantage.

I also found elsewhere on the site, this:
All new five pence and ten pence coins have been made from nickel-plated steel since January 2012 and to date 330 million nickel-plated steel coins have been issued into circulation.
This programme will recover the metal alloy contained in the old specification coins. The value of the metal in both the cupronickel and nickel-plated steel coins is still less than their face value.

The Penny in the UK has been made from copper plated steel since September 1992. The Royal Mint it seems is quite forward thinking when it comes to producing coin of the realm. I would tend to suggest that it probably costs less than 1p to make a 1p coin or else the Royal Mint would have to answer to the Treasury.

I also note that in the past coins such as the Farthing ended in 1961 and the Half Penny in 1984 and this is also useful.
If you assume that general inflation runs at 4% (which is a good estimate since the end of the Roman Republic) and assign an index of 100 to the year 1961 when the Farthing was dropped, then the logical point at which coins should be demonetised is the point at which they too fall below that same point.
If a Farthing is indexed at 100, then a Half Penny would be 200, a Penny 400 and the Two Pence 800.

the decimal Farthing could have been logically dropped in 1982.
- the decimal Half Penny should have been logically dropped in 1999. (instead of 1984)
- the decimal Penny should be logically dropped in 2016.
- the decimal Two Pence should be logically dropped in 2033.

You can check my workings here:

Assuming that there's a bit of lag in legislation to remove the Penny, then it is going to be removed within five years. There's even been calls to drop the penny have been made by many members of the press:

Unlike the United States which for some hitherto unknown reason, still wants to keep their one cent coin, Britain which is far more dispassionate on the subject, would probably quietly kill the penny without much of a fight; the same way as it did with the Half Penny.

Should Britain Get Rid Of The Penny? Not quite yet but it wouldn't hurt anyone and no-one would mind either way and that's the most British answer of all.

March 12, 2014

Horse 1634 - Is One Word "Thanks" An Adequate Email Response?

Let me introduce two players:
Brady Haran¹ has worked for the BBC, made documentary pieces for the University of Nottingham and has as far as I can tell, 14 YouTube channels. That's all really quite prolific.
CGP Grey² is a hidden character on the internet. Although we can work out that he lives somewhere in London, that's about it. I'm also assuming that he has some background in teaching; I suspect high school economics though I could be wrong.

Imagine then, my joy when Brady and Grey announced a series of ten podcasts about a series of indeterminate subjects called "Hello Internet". There are now 6 of them and I find them all interesting to listen to.
And now... the point of this post:

In Hello Internet #6: Delete, Flag, Delete, Reply from about 59mins onwardsGrey poses the question if an email doesn't warrant a reply: "Oh you've told me this thing, do I need to just say 'thanks'?" He then goes onto justify quite nicely on the basis of a time-cost-benefit basis, that someone with a lot of emails, probably shouldn't reply with a single word thanks. He poses the idea that a single word 'thanks' is sometimes worse that receiving no reply at all because somehow it is "totally empty and devoid of meaning".
Brady asks the very pointed question: "Should we be thinking about what the recipient will get from us taking 5 seconds to reply?"

This could very well be asked of all sorts of written communication. In the olden days, sometimes stationery lines were specifically devoted to saying thanks. In the twenty-first century when email seems to outrank physical letters though, do we even need to reply with thanks? Do the rules apply to Facebook? Is a Like the same thing? Does this apply to something like Twitter?

In a weird turn of events, I was listening to this podcast; whilst at the same time looking for the answer to another question posed earlier as to where the engines were in the Tesla Model S; found the answer and replied with what I thought to be an appropriate response; the the appropriate place and duly received a note of thanks.

How did I feel? Elated. This brings me to the curious question of "why?".

"Thanks" in principle acts as both validation of the individual and improves the total virtuousness of the exchange. Moreover on a broader social scale, you somehow feel honored, even if its only a very small amount.
Please, Thanks, Sorry - are like little drops of oil in the mechanics of society. People sometimes say that alcohol acts as a social lubricant but I can assure you, that Pleases, Thank Yous and Sorrys do more to maintain the proper functioning of society than any amount of alcohol is likely to.

Before we stray into the dangerous world of etiquette and manners though, it might be worth a reminder of the words of George Bernard Shaw:
I can assure you that if you will only take the trouble always to do the perfectly correct thing, and to say the perfectly correct thing, you can do just what you like.
- Lady Utterwood, Heartbreak House: A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes, George Bernard Shaw (1919)

Lady Utterwood does remark that good manners can be used as a cover for committing the most horrible of things, as long as it is all done with an air of civility. I don't really want to open up that can of worms because invariably it would require finding a larger can to put all the worms back into and I've already stretched this metaphor too far.

Admittedly, I do not have a heap of email. At most I'd get through maybe about ten a day which require actual action. Even when I have a few hundred of things which require deletion, all useful emails should be replied to.
"Thanks" does have the potential to become like a wave of "Sorry" that can burst out from time to time. "Sorry" in principle is an admission that there has been an offence caused and whilst "Thanks" isn't about someone making the same level of restitution to square away an account as a debtor, there is still a small amount of gratitude to be paid.
It's the same sort of idea as when you hold a door open for someone. If you don't get a "thanks" back, are you really going to spend the mental effort into feeling slighted? On the other hand, if someone does say "thanks" to you, what real benefit is there in feeling virtuous for a simple act like holding a door open in the first place?
Saying "thanks" though, does tend to square the account away. Manners aren't about making the other person feel good as the old proverb says but rather, to keep every one from embarrassing themselves.

Saying "thanks" in an email or on Twitter though is a little like giving someone a shiny New Penny (deliberately capitalised). It is ultimately of little intrinsic value but like the portcullis depicted, it renders a very small account closed.

¹Some of Brady Haran's... many things.

March 08, 2014

Horse 1633 - Cup Holders On Shopping Trolleys... No, This Is Not The Latest Irish Invention

- Does the world really need this?

In the same week that:
- the ABC on 7.30 ran a report saying that for the most part children's vitamin supplements are completely pointless¹
- that Pizza Hut launched its Cheeseburger Crust Pizza Crust²: described by The Guardian as "cheese-slicked gastronomic hell"³; by Gizmodo as "Ungodly" and by Lifehacker as both an "Abomination" and "horrifying"
- I find the above shopping trolley at Woolworths with both grip handles, which are sensible and as the picture shows, a cup holder. WHY?! Has it really come to this?

I'll tell you why. Late last year, Woolworths opened a coffee shop within several of their stores including Moonee Ponds (Vic) and the Rundle Mall (SA); with plans to extend the trial across Australia. I suppose that not being content with driving every single independent petrol station into the ground, Woolworths have now decided to do likewise to independent coffee shops.
Woolworths I'm sure will cite this as an innovation and that "time poor" shoppers will now be able to get a nice cup of coffee as they do their shopping. I suspect that "coffee shops" within supermarkets probably won be run by actual baristas and that they'll still charge between $3-$4 for their product; to be scanned along with everything else at the end, surely.
The other reason which I think is equally disturbing is that they think that people would be just as equally likely to purchase an energy drink or some such as they walk around the supermarket. Do we really need this?

If someone does want a coffee, then how hard is it to go to a coffee shop. I would have thought that the whole point of such places was they they sell a decent product. Moreover, don't regular coffee shops provide a quite sort of place to shut the world out for a couple of minutes? A chance to pause and maybe read the newspaper or the like?

I don't know if caffeine of itself make people spend more money but I would suspect that considering that caffeine does have an effect on impulse control due to the way that it affects serotonin uptake, then I would suspect so even though I can't find any reliable study which suggests this (maybe it's because one has not been done yet).
If that theory is true then on both counts, the cup holder's very existence acts as a visual encouragement to spend more money as well as caffeine acting as an encouragement to spend more money, all the while whist spending more money on the cup of coffee or energy drink in the first place.

That after it's all said and done is the very point of Woolworths and indeed any business, to get you to spend more money. I guess that I just find this a little overtly dastardly.
Now if there was only some way to put vitamin supplements on a cheeseburger crust pizza...


March 07, 2014

Horse 1632 - Toll Roads, Toll Roads and Toll Roads

Jeremy is on a bridge, James is in a helicopter and I am on a bus.

- Jeremy Clarkson is on a bridge (used without permission)

I live in a country at the top of the world, or the bottom according to your point of view; in a city that's built around a harbour. So instead of getting around on trains, buses or ferries, some of the people that live there have to travel in cars; cars which require roads.
You'd think that roads would be something that a government would plan as it was considering the infrastructure of a city but in New South Wales and especially Sydney, governments are incredibly short-sighted in this respect and leave road planning to private companies from whom politicians are expecting kick-backs once they retire from parliament. Isn't it funny how Bob Carr landed in a golden pillow at  Macquarie Group after being premier, or how Nick Greiner went on to land directorships at more than a few private equity companies and is now Chairman of Infrastructure NSW thanks to current Premier Barry O'Farrell? Nothing like feathering the nest is there.

The nine¹ toll roads in Sydney (M2, M5, M7,Harbour Bridge, Harbour Tunnel, Falcon St, Gore Hill Tunnel, Cross City Tunnel and Eastern Distributor) are the largest number of toll roads in a single city and possibly province in the world. Sydney has more toll roads than quite a number of nations. There are more toll roads in Sydney for instance that the entire of Germany.
People used to joke about carrying a bag of coins if you wanted to travel down the Autostradas in Italy. Thankfully in the twenty first century we have dispensed with the need from coins and now toll road operators can collect revenues directly from your credit card via electronic tags.
It is technically possible to do a loop of Sydney using only the toll roads. If you were foolish enough to attempt such a flight of fatuousness, you would soon be parted from $31.20.

On top of this, most people who actually have to use the toll roads live further away from anything and are already paying more for petrol and taxation than people who live closer to the city usually earn less money in the first place, so they are in effect a penalty for being less well off.

I'm fortunate in that I live near well connected public transport but for the poor schmucks who live in West Grumblegalah and North Woop Woop² it all seems unfair to me. Isn't that what we pay road tax for? The provision of roads?! Apparently not.


¹Nine. NINE?! Not two or five or seven, but NINE, which are wielded on all wretched motorists, motorists just like you.
²I only found out today that there actually is a place called Woop Woop. It is located in the Donnybrook Balingup Region of WA - postcode 6239.

March 05, 2014

Horse 1631a - Dismembered Ukraine - More of the Fragments

This is now a siege:
11:37: The head of Russia's top natural gas producer, Gazprom, says Ukraine has informed the company it cannot pay for February gas deliveries in full, Reuters reports. Alexei Miller says Ukraine's total debt to Gazprom for gas deliveries is nearing $2bn.

11:46: Russia halts nuclear fuel supplies to Ukrainian power plants due to "instability". Their stocks will last until end of April, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Rogozin says - BBC Monitoring (via Interfax).
- via the BBC, 5th Mar 2014.

That's playing fair isn't it. Don't like a country? Just unilaterally cut off energy supplies and let them all freeze to death.

11:47: The US is keen to label Russia's action an "invasion" but as yet no one has been shot by the troops, and it is still time for a war of words - on friend as well as foe, as it happens.

I'll say it for you. If it looks like an invasion and it has the hardware of an invasion... it's an invasion.

Horse 1631 - Dismembered Ukraine - Some of the Fragments

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. Those who do learn from the past are condemned to utterly confused by it.
- The New York Times, 17th Feb 1918

The problem with looking into the history of Crimea is that it has changed hands more times than Schwarzer Pieter in a card game. 

During the Russian Civil War between 1917 and 1922, was a stronghold of the anti-Bolshevik White Army. In 1920, about 50,000 White Army POWs and civilians were butchered and following the Civil War, the Crimea became an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic but still within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. After WW2, the Crimean ASSR was abolished and transferred to the Russian SFSR as a province called the Crimean Oblast.
In 1954, not long after Nikita Khrushchev became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he as a Ukranian, then transferred the Crimean Oblast to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Following a referendum in 1991, Crimea was then upgraded back to an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the borders of the Ukrainian SSR. 
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea then became the Autonomous Republic of Crimea but within the borders of the newly independent Ukraine. It continued to house the Russian Black Sea Fleet though. 
Do you understand all of that? I don't.

Basically as a result of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and the subsequent setting up of a new government, clashes erupted in the Crimea between pro-Ukraine and pro-Russian supporters. Russia though has unilaterally sent troops into Crimea and by default annexed the peninsula. 
On March 1, the Russian Parliament gave the President Vladimir Putin the authority to use force in the Crimea and Russian forces demanded the surrender of Ukraine forces in Crimea by March 4. I don't as yet know of even a single shot being fired at anyone and if that's the case, this so far is the most peaceful war ever fought.

Russia's policy has been pretty well much the same for the past 200 years or so. Although the Crimean War of the 1850s might have been about the "Eastern Question" as to what happened to the land once the Ottoman Empire fell to pieces, really it was about the Russians securing a permanently unfrozen port.
Likewise the The Battle of Port Arthur (1904) in the Russo-Japanese War, which is now the Lüshunkou District of China was precisely for the same reasons. Arguably the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s was also about the same thing as was the state-sponsored effort in the overthrow of the Shah in Iran, though that might not have been successful.

Russia will argue that it has assets to protect and that whilst the Ukraine itself is in what amounts to being a state of chaos, then its actions are about providing stability to a region. Of course that does bring into question of who exactly does hold the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force. Ludwig von Rochau in his 1853 work "Grundsätze der Realpolitik angewendet auf die staatlichen Zustände Deutschlands" or "Principles of Realpolitik Applied to the Political Conditions in Germany" discusses the idea of how power is actually in itself and end to politics and how it should be used. Arguably both Otto Von Bismarck and Adolf Hitler used power as an end to get what they wanted and maybe that is what Russia is doing here. 
As far as the world is concerned, it might have been acceptable in the 1890s but 120 years later, who knows?

As far as the people who actually live in the Crimea, they've probably seen all this sort of thing several times over. I heard one chap on the BBC World Service say that "As long as I have bread tomorrow and the roof stays on my building, I don't care which idiots are in charge". Really that's all that any of us can hope for in the long run isn't it?
I really don't understand what's going on in the Crimea; not even history tells an adequate story but I sincerely hope that whatever does happen, not even a single shot will be fired at anyone.

March 02, 2014

Horse 1630 - Manus Island - Questions and Answers
"I'm equally shocked by the fact of the treatment that people receive in Malaysia on the basis of reports that we receive.
If we are going to be consistent about these matters then I think the conditions these people will be held and treated in Malaysia is a relevant question this parliament should be asking the prime minister.''
- Scott Morrison, as quoted in the Herald-Sun, 2nd Jun 2011.

I totally agree with the 2011 version of Scott Morrison. The conditions under which asylum seekers is a question which should be put to both the Prime Minister and the relevant Minister for Immigration.
It is a question so important that Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott whilst in Opposition, vociferously argued in parliament and it finally got asked in the High Court of Australia.

The Court held that, under s 198A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), the Minister cannot validly 
declare a country (as a country to which asylum seekers can be taken for processing) unless that 
country is legally bound to meet three criteria. The country must be legally bound by international 
law or its own domestic law to: provide access for asylum seekers to effective procedures for 
assessing their need for protection; provide protection for asylum seekers pending determination of 
their refugee status; and provide protection for persons given refugee status pending their voluntary 
return to their country of origin or their resettlement in another country. In addition to these 
criteria, the Migration Act requires that the country meet certain human rights standards in 
providing that protection.
- High Court of Australia, 31 Aug 2011.

Two weeks after this, the  Leader Of The Opposition, Tony Abbott, had this to say:
''What decent government would send boat people to a country where they could be exposed to caning? Malaysia is a friend of Australia, but their standards are not our standards - and it is very wrong of Australia to send people who have come into our care, however briefly, to a country whose standards are so different from ours''.
- Tony Abbott, as quoted in The Age, 14 Sep 2011.

Now admittedly the Leader Of The Opposition has the duty to hold the government of the day to account but I would have though that then being given the chance to act upon what was said in opposition would prove the force of that call to account.
It is a worthwhile question to ask "What decent government?" indeed. In fact, this question has been asked again and again since the Tampa affair back in 2001. Strangely though, I think that we've still yet to see a "decent government" on this issue.

The words of former PM Malcolm Fraser seem to ring through the years now:
Former PM Malcolm Fraser has written to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen appealing for Labor to embrace onshore processing. ''The High Court decision gives the government an opportunity to seize the high ground,'' he wrote. ''I have never believed in the policy of deterrence. I do not believe even the harshest of measures devised by the Labor Party or by the Liberal Party can match the terror, the harshness, the poverty of events in countries from which people flee.''
- The Age, 14 Sep 2011.

Why if in Opposition, the then Leader and relevant Shadow Minister, thought it worthwhile to complain about government policy on the basis of human rights, would they then not complain in government about conditions which violates those same human rights?
Presumably, since in Opposition the then Leader and relevant Shadow Minister both argued in favour of the High Court's decision, that they must have agreed with it.

You'd think that after they'd won government in September in 2013 that they'd have a chance to do something about it. Maybe you'd think that a note from the UNHCR might have made them do something:
Overall, UNHCR was deeply troubled to observe that the current policies, 
operational approaches and harsh physical conditions at the RPC do not comply 
with international standards and in particular: 
 a) constitute arbitrary and mandatory detention under international law; 
 b) do not provide a fair, efficient and expeditious system for assessing refugee 
 c) do not provide safe and humane conditions of treatment in detention; and 
 d) do not provide for adequate and timely solutions for refugees. 
Further, the ‘return-orientated environment’ observed by UNHCR at the RPC is at 
variance with the primary purpose of the transfer arrangements, which is to identify 
and protect refugees and other persons in need of international protection. 
- UNHCR Regional Representation, 26 Nov 2013.

Well maybe not.

One asylum seeker is dead, another is in a critical condition and 13 are being treated for serious injuries after a second night of violence at the Manus Island detention centre.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said it was his "great regret" to report the extent of the injuries sustained by asylum seekers in the riot.
He has promised a full inquiry into the incident from which 77 asylum seekers were treated, 40 had been discharged and 22 suffered minor injuries.
- ABC News, 18th Feb 2014.


The only reason that anyone really found out about this was because of a leaked PNG Police report. It disagreed with the initial statements made by Scott Morrison.
The Royal PNG Constabulary which in its report, found that Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati, died of head wounds received whilst inside the detention centre on Manus Island on 17th February. Already the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has distanced himself from the report; saying that it is an initial finding and will not comment until the final report has been released.

I heard on ABC Local Radio, PM Tony Abbott say that "Any death is tragic and deeply regrettable, but the important thing has been to stop the boats and end the deaths at sea." I suppose that "deaths at sea" have stopped but in the world of twisted logic that is Australian politics, deaths in detention must obviously be better than deaths at sea.

If we are going to be consistent about these matters then I think the conditions these people will be held and treated is a relevant question this parliament should be asking the prime minister.
It is very wrong of Australia to send people who have come into our care, however briefly, to a country whose standards are so different from ours

Personally, I think that serious questions should be asked. Those questions should be asked by the 2011 versions of Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott, to the 2014 versions of Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott.
A man has been killed while in the care of the Australian government. Another lies with a fractured skull, countless others have been injured. The men on Manus Island are in danger, and the Minister for Immigration claims his policies are successful and in no need of change.
The government cannot guarantee the safety of people in its care on Manus Island. The responsible course of action is for the centre to be closed. The riots also raise questions about safety on Nauru and Christmas Island.
- Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Feb 2014.

The answers should be given by Malcolm Fraser. 

March 01, 2014

Horse 1629 - Tychicus The Postal Worker?

He (Paul) was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.
- Acts 20:4

Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing.
- Ephesians 6:21

Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
- Colossians 4:7

As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there.
- Titus 3:12

I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
- 2 Timothy 4:12

I hope you noticed all of that. Tychicus is mentioned five times in the New Testament and on every occasion, he is either accompanying someone or being sent somewhere.
I'm now going to make a suggestion which I've never read in any commentary about who Tychicus is. There is a great chance that I'm probably very likely wrong but here goes anyway...

Tychicus is a postal worker?

The Roman Empire which at its largest point stretched from Mauritania in the west and as far east as Kuwait. It was a vast place, with roads all over the place and to keep some sort of relative order, it required messengers to deliver orders and reports.
However, the Roman Empire which was run largely by provincial governments who then paid tribute and taxation back to Rome in return for military support and command, didn't formally have a unified postal system.
The so called "Cursus Publicus" or "public way" was not a state run organisation. It did however require the guarantee by various provincial officers that stations and horses would be kept so that messages could be transported to the next stage of the delivery run. The full extent of the Roman Postal Service was massive as the map which I've linked to at the end shows*.
Letters and reports themselves still required an official courier to make sure that they reached their final destination; it is this kind of person who I suspect that Tychicus is.

It's not really mentioned but I suspect that one of the reasons for the success of the Christian message is because it was planned to occur at a very particular place in time and history. Quite apart from the fact that crucifixion happens in only a very small window in the history of the Roman Empire, it is the success of the postal system in the first century AD which I think is rather an unsung hero.
Twenty centuries later, we can send a message to pretty much anyone in the world in less than a second. Email, forums, Twitter and Facebook means that messages can circle the globe virtually instantly but in the first century AD, that was impossible.

Someone had to physically take a letter from one place to another and if the letter needed to be circulated or sent to multiple places, then the courier would need to visit each of them in turn. You can imagine that by the end of a letter's tour, the letter carrier would have been well rehearsed in the contents of that letter. As far as their ability to then convey that message, then a postal worker would be well poised to spread the contents of that letter by physically being on the ground.
Also, if multiple copies of a letter needed to be made, then they would have to be painstakingly copied, letter by letter, iota by iota, keraia by keraia, tittle by tittle and very carefully. The person charged with such a task would equally be well poised to then spread the contents of that letter because they would have taken it in as they were copying it.

Presumably Tychicus would have been literate in order to carry the message, for the person who sent the letter probably couldn't guarantee that the person who would receive the message was literate. Remember "Tychicus will tell you all the news about me" and "Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything." I wonder exactly how Tychicus could tell people the messages that Paul was sending unless he had them written down.

After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
- Colossians 4:16

Who better else to read the letter than the one who would have been sent with it? Mind you, this particular instruction does beg the question of what actually happened to Paul's Letter to the Laodiceans but that's an entirely different question.

Many people have heard of the metaphorical piece of advice not to "shoot the messenger" if they happen to be the bearer of bad news. I suppose that by extension that people also don't praise the messenger if they happen to bear good news. I though think that in this case, we should perhaps think about giving a bit of credit to Tychicus. He lived at a time which increasingly grew nasty; which Christians would find themselves slaughtered in various arenas in the name of entertainment. Tychicus if he was a postal worker, carried a message which might very well have seen him killed.
Presumably Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Laodiceans were all written under house arrest in or about AD60. If Tychicus was killed in possession of the Letter to the Laodiceans, then that might explain why that letter is lost.
Of course I am speculating and that tends to be incredibly messy but if Tychicus is a postal worker, then that explains an awful lot. Maybe we should praise the messenger - the bible does.

How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”
- Isaiah 52:7

* (warning: this map is 8MB)