It has to be said that the colonies which were first set up on the Australian continent were not remotely based on the principles of the enlightenment. Granted that the voyages of discovery under Captain James Cook in the late 1760s and 1770s were started as a scientific mission, but the voyage of the eleven ships of the First Fleet in 1787/8 was definitely not. Australia was seen as a viable dumping ground for the criminal convicts of Britain, after the avenue to dumping them in the American colonies had well and truly been closed.
The colony of New South Wales was started as an autocratic military entity; with no hint of representative government until 1843, with responsible government not being conferred upon it until 1855, and with the franchise only being extended to landholders of more than £200 or rent payers who paid more than £20 per year. The trigger for responsible government was also not due to the enlightenment but the more vulgar reason of money; with payable gold being discovered in 1851.
GH32 - Where Are All The Boring Ghosts?
How come every ghost is really interesting? Not even once have I heard a tale about there being the ghost of an old lady who just wanted to do the crossword puzzle in the newspaper, or a ghost of a man doing the lawn mowing. Why are there no ghosts of kangaroos, or pigeons, or cows? Shouldn't there be billions upon billions of ghost insects and bacteria? Where are all of those ghosts?
I'm not even going to clothe this in the finery of civility. If you think that society is nothing more than a series of transactions which make up the economy; instead of a whole host of nested and complex interactions and social obligations, which should be underpinned by human decency and value, then you are a trash monster.
I will readily admit that I have a pretty dim view of humanity (partly based upon the experience of being one) and I do not subscribe to the theory that people are basically good with patches of frustration that leak out. I think that people are mostly rationally selfish and that everyone is trying to get along in the world.
I also think that society is built and should be built out of the distinctly unnatural desire to build a collective project which is bigger than the rationally selfish individuals which make it up.
The big ideas of public education, the public health service, justice systems, public works and infrastructure, have a greater reach and are more efficient when they are held by and owned by the public at large, because even if you take the assumption that government is always inefficient (which itself is a lie), then those inefficiencies still add up to less than the inefficiencies caused by selfish individuals creating feedback loops while trying to steal from each other.
What do we want?
A single government owned and operated health care system, which is non exclusionary, which takes advantage of economies of scale and better negotiating power, which answers the basic insurance question of spreading risk while most accurately reflecting the systemic risk of the general population of insurable items (ie. people's lives and their health outcomes), all while eliminating the profit motive.
When do we want it?
Before the end of 1954.
I don't have a problem with the voice at the self checkout being happy, at all. Although the machine is otherwise an impersonal interaction, it hasn't done anything to warrant being angry at it. There are good reasons for being mad at the firm for employing the machine instead of a meatbag human but that isn't the fault of the machine which only costs cents per hour to run instead of many dollars.
My problem is with the words that someone wanted to put into the mouth of the voiceover lady who became the voice of the machine. The phrase "please take your items" might very well be grammatically correct but the plural of "items" sounds as weird as all get out. The uncountable plural of "shopping", as in "please take your shopping" is less grammatically correct but also less weird. It also covers the very real possibility that the shopper only has one thing. I am loathe use the word 'item' unless it appears on a list and while I will concede that people have both shopping lists and that the receipt contains a list of all the items which have been bought, those things do not remain 'items' but become the uncountable 'shopping', the second that you have paid for it.
You never bring in your items once you get home. No. You bring the shopping in from the car. While you might leave one or two items in the car, the whole thing is a brand new collective.
I think that there's something almost sad about RUOK Day. If you are sufficiently connected that someone is going to ask you the question, then it almost feels rhetorical in that the question answers itself. Of course you are part way okay if someone cares enough about you to ask the question of you. But what if that's not the case?
Suppose for whatever reason that you are in a place of chronic loneliness. Almost by very definition you are not okay and nobody will ask you the question of whether or not you are in fact okay.
There is a really cruel stunt that reality likes to play that the people whom society deems are the weirdest, the strangest, the most unlovable, are also the ones most likely to be lonely; thus confirming their suspicions and fears that the world is at best ambivalent and at worst actively hates them. In a world where 20% of the population will suffer some kind of mental illness in their lives, it seems really unfair to me that the cosmos will reward those people who already have sparkling personalities with the benefits therein and punish those who do not. RUOK Day is a societal reminder to those people who are already maligned that they are things rather than people worthy enough to care about for the other 364 days of the year, in they are asked the question at all.
Before you go worrying yourself, I am okay. I think that I was work hardened by life a long time ago, to be pretty robust. I am already fully aware that the world is cruel and that I am a prime candidate to be punched by the cosmos. I do not break.
¹And while we're at it...
I don't really care for the hanging announcements on Sydney Trains which start with the address of 'Customers'.
'Customers' are people who visit a firm with their custom. Now I know that this is incredibly archaic but that should properly apply to someone buying goods from a shop and preferably on a regular basis. The word for people buying train tickets is...
'Clients' are people that buy services. The conveyance of real property from one place to another is clearly a service because you have nothing specifically tangible to show for it afterwards. You can not hold in your hands, the passage of someone for 50 kilometers. On top of that, the more proper word for people who are transported by vehicular means is...
'Passengers' are a very specific kind of clients who make use of the service provided by planes, trains, ships, automobiles, rickshaws &c.
²And while we're at it...
A 'note' is a sum specified that someone promises to pay, or that there is a sum specified which is backed by the ongoing credit of the entity which issued it. Generally speaking a promissory note is issued by a private entity while a bank note is issued by a bank which can either be public or private.
A 'cheque' is an instruction to pay a sum specified from a bank of funds; which usually implies a deposit taking institution but can also be the central bank
A 'bill' is a demand for a sum specified to be paid.
³And while we're at it...
This is something that I find maddening about American English. Those three words mean exactly what they mean in a legal sense but not out in the real world.
People ask for the 'cheque' from a restaurant; which is insane when you consider that in the olden days before credit cards, people would pull out their cheque book to pay for their delicious meal. In Britain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the person who is in charge of writing all of the big cheques that Her Majesty's Government wants to pay. They write the cheque for all of the delicious meals that the government pays for.
People also call that green bit of paper with George Washington's face on it a 'bill' despite the fact that it has the words 'Treasury Note' written on it. A US Dollar bill is not a demand for a sum specified but rather a promise that the US Treasury is good for the ongoing credit of that amount of One Dollar.