Thursday, 30 May 2013

A ridiculous over-reaction to Asbestos

On Bigpond news today: Thursday, May 30, 2013 » 07:05am
Workplace safety regulators have ordered a halt at several NBN construction sites amid asbestos fears.

 Federal workplace safety regulators have reportedly ordered a halt at several National Broadband Network construction sites amid asbestos contamination fears.

Comcare has told News Limited it issued stop-work orders at multiple locations, and expected to issue more in connection with work on the NBN.

The move comes after a resident in Penrith, west of Sydney, contacted the NSW WorkCover authority with concerns that asbestos safety procedures weren't being followed.

News Ltd on Thursday reported Comcare had confirmed one case in which Telstra had not applied proper risk assessments to its work on the 'pits' that are crucial to the network.

In addition to the Penrith incident, News Ltd said there were allegations of asbestos release at work sites in Ballarat, in Victoria, and in Hobart.

It is in regard to cement insulation that contained Asbestos. They were used to line pits for phone lines.  It is now being removed, apparently without the precautions now deemed necessary. So big scandal, demands for reparations, owners of houses told to get out 'immediately' and claiming to be terrified of the effects of their 'exposure.' One said, "What if I tracked the fibres into my house?' There are even suggestions that Telstra  (the Australian phone corporation)  pay to replace carpet!  An idiot reporter was grilling the Telstra boss as if he'd committed mass murder!  
But think about it!  Asbestos is a component of a building material, very commonly used in the past.  Three quarters of Australia's population would have come in contact with that and similar products for many years - living in fibro houses, ('fibro' contains Asbestos) installing and living with insulation products containing Asbestos, working with cars that had asbestos as part of brake linings -  all sorts of other things.  There was Asbestos everywhere.   If it was anywhere near as toxic as they now say it is, Australia would not - could not possibly - have so many old people.
So now what's happening?
Telstra boss has apologised and acknowledged their grievous error. The job will cost millions of dollars extra, all of which will be paid by us - the tax payers.  All for a ridiculous trifle.

Asbestosis:  A serious and terminal disease which has affected Asbestos miners. though usually many years after exposure. It does not happen to a person because they once lived in a fibro house, it does not affect a child who plays with broken bits of fibro - I'm pretty sure I remember doing that myself,  it has not even affected a man I know who used to be a mechanic and remembers covering his face while blowing dust particles containing Asbestos from the brake linings of cars. (I may not have that precisely right - it was something like that.)


People just need to use a little perspective. Look at all the old people who survived routine exposure, and don't go into a panic because some tradies were tossing old Asbestos cement onto a truck. It is not going to kill you, it is not going to kill the tradies, and there is no need to put millions of dollars away in a fund in case some householder nearby gets lung disease thirty years down the track.


Just - have a bit of sense, people! 


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Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Nature of racism and 'appalling behaviour.'

From  ABC online, 26th May, 2013,  10.27am

Adam Goodes 'gutted' by racial slur but wants AFL fan educated

A 13-year-old girl has apologised for calling Swans forward Adam Goodes an "ape", an incident that the AFL star said rendered his side's breakthrough win over the magpies meaningless.
Goodes was the star for Sydney with three goals in his side's famous 47-point salute over Collingwood at the MCG that opened Indigenous Round.
But the 328-gamer fell victim to a racial vilification incident after being verbally abused by a Magpies fan, who was then escorted from the venue.
The win, the first of its kind in 13 years, to play such a pivotal role ... just means nothing. I turned around and I saw it was a young girl I was just like...really?
Swans stalwart Adam Goodes

Goodes, with security staff around him, had stood only metres away and pointed to her following a verbal clash with the fan.
Victoria Police said on Saturday morning that a 13-year-old girl was interviewed over the incident and released last night pending further inquiries.
But Goodes said he is not blaming the girl, saying she deserved to be supported and educated about why the racist comment was unacceptable.
"I'm pretty gutted to be honest," he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday morning.
"The win, the first in 13 years, to be up 47 points against Collingwood, to play such a pivotal role just sort of means nothing.
"To come to the boundary line and hear a 13 year old girl call me an 'ape', and it's not the first time on a footy field that I've been referred to as a 'monkey' or an 'ape', it was shattering."

People should not throw insults at football players during a match, or after the match, or at any other time.  A thirteen-year-old girl called a football player an 'ape.'  She should not have done that, obviously.

But still - I tend to think that very many football players are thugs - big, brutish, with no manners - (how often do they spit!  Yecchh! )     And they are far too often involved in brawls, assaults, and are routinely accused of inappropriate behaviour to women.  Too many are thugs.  I could have just as easily used the word 'ape.' When used as an insult, 'thug' is akin to 'ape.' 

So just exactly how is that 'racist?'  It is in no way inherent in the term.

Who says it is racist?   And why are they saying such a thing? 

To me, accusing someone of being an 'ape' has not a thing to do with their ethnic origin.  The girl has said publicly that she never thought of it as being 'racist.'

So who has it wrong here?  The girl was guilty of poor behaviour, but I do not think she was racist.  Most of you who read my blog are of superior intelligence and sense, so maybe it is worth trying to explain my concept  - that many terms labelled as racist are not at all. It is the ones who call them racist who are betraying their feeling that the term conveys inferiority.  'Black' for instance. It is an adjective, and also a term for the darker skinned races. It does not say that being darker skinned is in any way inferior. To become incensed at the term, to abuse anyone who uses it - that is somehow saying that the darker-skinned races are inferior.  So it is not the one who uses the word as an innocent adjective who is racist, but the ones who see it as racist.

Is this too hard for some to understand?  Probably it is. People would far rather put themselves on the perceived 'enlightened' side than to actually think about what they are truly saying. 

So - is being an 'ape' linked with being dark-skinned.  I guess that after all this fuss, then it is. It was not before, or not to me.  I don't run with the football crowd, of course, but I am perfectly literate.

The poor kid was led off the grounds by policemen.  She appeared to be crying.  The big, tough footballer had his triumph and now nobly says that people need to be 'educated.'

But maybe he needs to develop a thicker skin, and maybe he needs to realise that being called an 'ape' has nothing at all to do with racism.

'Appalling behaviour' they screech.  Yes, it was.  But the girl?  That was poor behaviour.  The mass ganging up on her afterwards by the footballer, the policemen, the media -  now that is appalling behaviour.

The Australian Oxford Dictionary:  racism - theory that human abilities are determined by race.

Not at all relevant
Or maybe it denotes the sun going down on all common sense the moment someone cries 'racist.'

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Vaccinating our children – yes and no

Vaccinating our children – yes and no 

A new law is on the point of being passed in Australia  - that Childcare Centres will have the right to exclude  children who are not vaccinated.  The Anti-discrimination Act is likely to be modified in order to pass it.  I am against these vaccine laws.  I do not believe this sort of a parental decision is a matter for legislation.

Should we have our children vaccinated? 

 This is the question people are always being asked without the questioner stopping to define his terms. Do they mean the standard mumps, measles, polio?  Or do they mean every single vaccine that has ever been developed?

Measles, Mumps, Chicken Pox, Polio.

I am strongly in favour of making these a routine part of childhood. They are all serious illnesses – I was quite shocked when my own children had Chicken Pox to see just how sick they were.  (Before the vaccine was available.)  It can even be regard as selfish not to have your children immunised.  

All the same, it should not be compulsory, and it is not a matter for legislation.

New Vaccines against diseases that are either rare, or to which your child is most unlikely to be exposed.

 Vaccinations have been so wonderfully effective in the past, that the Medical Profession has become a little carried away. To vaccinate against one particular form of Cervical Cancer?  It is a rare thing. Make up your own mind.

To vaccinate a baby against Hepatitis?  No.  A baby is too precious to put him at any risk without good reason. In later childhood, especially if a parent suspects he is indulging in risky behaviour (or they are)  then it is probably a very good idea. But no baby properly cared for, should be at risk of Hepatitis.

The flu vaccine -  a new one every year.

I do not agree that children should have the flu vaccine. That is because with just one year to develop a new vaccine for the latest flu strain, they cannot possibly be properly tested before immunising thousands or hundreds of thousands of children. There have been very serious side-effects, including some left with permanent brain damage.

I do not agree that pregnant women should have the flu vaccine. Have they forgotten the tragedy of Thalidomide? Certainly those around them can have the vaccine in order to protect the pregnant one, but the woman herself can best protect herself by staying away from crowds, and especially, steer clear of people who are coughing and sneezing. 

Should all old people have the flu vaccine?  The medical profession recommend it. An acquaintance of my husband found himself confused and then collapsed after he had his injection.  His doctor blithely told him that it was ‘quite common.’

Like pregnant women, old people can try and protect themselves by staying away from crowds, and avoiding people who are coughing and sneezing. At least, if an old person suffers a problem because of an inadequately tested vaccine, there is not an innocent little one that is affected.

Why are so many parents refusing to vaccinate their children against serious disease?

The medical profession seem to very much resent people thinking for themselves. I am a believer in people thinking for themselves. And maybe the medical profession should consider that a factor in some parents’ reluctance to vaccinate their children is that they have become over-enthusiastic about it – too many vaccines in combination, multiplying the risk of side-effects, (usually still small)  and too many vaccines against diseases that are rare or that the child will not be exposed to.

My  own stand
 – Yes for the main vaccines – definitely.

-  No for the flu vaccine – but make up your own mind

And the others?  Think and then decide. Do not give too much weight to those who tell you a healthy diet will make your child immune from disease. It never has in the past, and it will not in the future.

From the BigPond News page,  Wednesday, May 22, 2013 » 06:32am
Vaccine laws to allow for exemptions

The New South Wales government says children who haven't had their vaccinations because of genuine medical or religious reasons won't be banned from childcare centres.

State Health Minister Jillian Skinner has flagged the new legislation in parliament to allow for special consideration in cases of medical reasons and genuine religious beliefs.

The move comes as Opposition Leader John Robertson is flagging amendments to the public health act, giving early childhood centres the right to refuse children places if they haven't had their shots.

Premier Barry O'Farrell has said he's prepared to make changes to the state's anti-discrimination laws to empower childcare centres to refuse children who haven't been vaccinated.

One more thing - how do you avoid the spread of flu?

1.  Yourself.  Stay away from crowds. Especially stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing.

2. To protect other people:  If you are the one coughing and sneezing, do not go to work, do not 'soldier on,'  and make quite sure to do your uttermost to KEEP THE GERMS TO YOURSELF!

3. Are you an employer?  Do not make an employee feel guilty about 'taking a sickie.' Regardless of what you think, nearly every 'sickie' is taken because someone is sick.  It is quite normal to have five or six days in a year in which an individual is too sick to work. And if you see one of your employees busy spreading germs and trying to do this silly  'soldier on' business, send them home. You will gain by not having five other employees with the same illness the following week, and maybe another ten the week after. Productivity is not lost because an employee stays home when he has the flu - it is lost when you're stupid enough to insist that he comes to work and spreads his disease, resulting in a lot more absentees.

A comment made much later, (May, 2018

After a penetrating injury to the foot, I thought I needed a Tetanus vaccination. It happened that I could only get it in combination with Pertussis (whooping cough.)   So that sounded okay. 
Eight days later, I started to get out of bed and found I could not.  Acute dizziness and nausea. I would have thought it was serious, maybe a stroke, only that a re-reading of the possible side-effects mentioned dizziness. 

I was two days bedridden, and felt the after-effects for months.

I notified the doctor, who said that he would pass it on to the authorities.  There never was a follow-up. They would never have known if I had died from that damned injection. 

The vaccine's brand name is Boostrix, and it is a combination of Tetanus, Pertussis and Diptheria.  (Why Diptheria?  No-one gets Diptheria these days.)
This is a common vaccine recommended for everyone, especially including pregnant women and children.  This experience has made me far more dubious about the benefits of vaccinations than I ever have been.  And giving it to pregnant women!  I wish that the medical profession would not give any medication to pregnant women without extremely good reason.


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Saturday, 18 May 2013

Beautiful beaches and inconsiderate fishermen.

Beautiful beaches and inconsiderate fishermen.

Pristine sands, a lovely morning, a beach marked only by foot-prints, but it seems a bit smelly... A half a step later, and you quickly move to avoid the stinking mess. A fisherman has had some success – and left the head and spine of his catch on the sand to offend every other user of the beach. Those remains don’t just stink, but what if you were running and maybe didn’t see the mess in time to avoid it? I would not like to plant my foot on a fish spine – not only that it would be revolting, but that bones could penetrate and fester.

A fisherman will say that the seagulls will take the remains, but as far as I can see, they seldom seem interested. Or they say they’ll be washed out on the next tide.  Well, sometimes they are, and sometimes they are not. And sometimes the sand will wash in, cover it, and make a disguise for the smelly corpses so that innocent bare feet will be more likely to sink into it.

So fishermen – exactly why do you think you have the right to mess up our beaches?  Have some consideration and do not leave the remains of your catch to offend other people.


Penwinnard is a Boys' Home, (fictional)  I have two Penwinnard stories so far published, one more almost finished, and the fourth one started. There is to be a set of six, but a series of stories, rather than a serial. Each is complete in itself.
In other words, the above compilation is just an ad for my books.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

They've stolen our National Parks

They’ve stolen our National Parks.

Once upon a time, not actually that long ago, Australia’s National Parks were regarded as belonging to the people – places of beauty, part of our heritage. They were ours.  For families who couldn’t afford expensive holidays, there was always the option of a campout in a National Park. It was the one place they could go that costs nothing. Certainly, there were no hot showers, and maybe only a ‘drop toilet,’ (a toilet seat over a hole in the ground) but that was fine for the young and active. A tent, sitting on logs around the campfire, usually too cold the first night, but somehow, the second night always seemed fine. That was how it used to be.

But then they introduced a ‘token’ fee – even just for a day visit. I was very much against this fee, as it violated what I felt was an important principle, that Australia’s places of beauty, the National Parks, belonged to all of us. Not to the few, but to all of us. The small fees were supposed to cover the cost of infrastructure – better toilets, showers, set camping sites, sometimes firewood supplied – all of those things we’d previously managed without.

The fees increased. A few years ago, I wanted to look at a lighthouse and the view from it. Maybe a half hour visit? I forget how much it was, but I refused to pay it.

And now... Here we are at a very nice caravan park, beautiful views, good facilities, not too crowded, $23/night for a powered site. 2 people. Nearby the National Park has some sites where people can also camp if they choose. Beautiful views, ( after a short walk) poor facilities, sites not marvellous, and costs – $10/person, extra for extra people, $7 for the car, for us, it would be $27/night  -  $4 more than the 'for-profit' venture.   Why would anyone pay that to camp? More irksome is that they want to charge just for a visit!  $7 for a vehicle is unreasonable for a ten minute lookaround.

So what happens? We no longer go to National Parks.  They’ve stolen our National Parks.


Nat Park camping ground, $26/night
Nat Park Camping ground,
the beach is a short walk away.

Nearby is a very nice commercial caravan park, price $23/night (2 adults)
good amenities and a great beach very close. 

Looking over the beach from one of the caravan sites.
Brooms Head caravan park, beautiful surroundings, reasonable amenities, and just $23/night.  Why would anyone go to the National Park?

The wildlife?  There is a lot of birdlife at the caravan park, and if you're up early, you can see kangaroos grazing around the vans and units. 

Maybe it's for the perceived prestige of staying at National Parks? 

The caravan park at dusk.
And if you want kangaroos, just get up early enough.
The beach:

Brooms Head beach,  northern NSW.
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