#AUSPOL save the dole!

Don’t think getting kicked off the dole for six months at a time is just some character-building kick in the arse for lazy stoner punks – it will apply to all adult jobseekers under 30 who receive Newstart, the vast majority of whom want to work. Some of those people will have children to feed, clothe and educate while they themselves seek employment, but even those that only have themselves to look after will essentially be consigned to half-lives of desperation and poverty if the Newstart demolition is passed.

Removing the base of the social safety net might save some dollars, but the pressure on society and the state of a new underclass of disenfranchised, impoverished and increasingly desperate people will outweigh it significantly. Most unemployed are that way not through choice but through a combination of factors including economic climate, location, legislation, market forces and plain bad luck. Take away the one thing they can count on to fill their fridges, their prescriptions and their petrol tanks (yes, Joe, in their cars) while they look for work and you run the very real risk of turning good people who need a break out onto the street, placing pressure on already overworked public hospitals, welfare agencies and NGOs and perhaps turning them into desperate criminals, placing undue pressure on their victims, their families, the police and legal system and everyone else who has to deal with them.

People without work should be afforded a basic allowance to enable them to live while they look for work, not punished as part of some unjustified austerity drive. If paying unemployed people a basic wage is too expensive or frivolous for this government, perhaps they’d like to reconsider their baffling, dogmatic contempt for the rapidly-growing renewable energy market as embodied by their fear and loathing of the RET and the carbon tax, their propping up of the dinosaur that is coal as exemplified by their teaming up with a nakedly self-serving coal-miner to scrap the mining tax, or their general coddling of billionaires.

Whether we like it or not, welfare for the unemployed needs to be a non-negotiable fact of life in a wealthy nation, for the simple reason that there are never enough jobs available for all eligible workers to have one at the same time. It needs to be that way too: if capitalism is to function at all and as growth is a desired facet of capitalism, there must always be a pool of available labour to enable that growth. That means that there must always be a small percentage of the population unemployed, ready to pick up the jobs that arise in a growing economy. It is the duty of a capitalist state to ensure its labour pool can sustain themselves while they’re between jobs (of course a minority will just toke up and slack off, but I’d like to see how their malfeasance stacks up next to the rorts of our esteemed elect), not use them as pawns at the behest of a small and unduly noisome cabal of self-interested arch-consevatives.

So sign the petition, go and march, hassle your MP, get loud.

Welfare isn’t a handout, it’s just a hand. And taking it away is pretty much a fisting.

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Kevin Andrews suddenly learns that everyone else knows Catch The Fire are batshit #auspol

Minister for Putting Single Mums in Their Bloody Place Kevin Andrews, among other Team Australians, has recently learned that the people of Australia don’t particularly like that the “World Congress of Families” is run by well-known slavering extremist anti-choice homophobic bigots Catch The Fire Ministries and has decided not to open their adorable little Hatesturbate For Jesus for them after all.

Catch The Fire Ministries, whose head douche Danny Nalliah infamously linked Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires to that state’s abortion laws (and will now have to find other high-profile fundamentalist scenery-chewers to mix the green cordial [red is SINFUL!] and run the games of “pin Satan’s pitchfork on the eternally burning lesbortionist,”) have since thrown K-Drews under the bus for being a sad wuss. Because how dare any public official in a secular democracy respond to public outcry over lending explicit government support to a pack of fringe-dwelling cultists whose lunacy is only exceeded by their self-importance.

I suspect that, much like a pair of cling-wrap Y-fronts, this is a transparent arse-covering on the part of Kev and his fellow Tory wingnuts, Eric “I Am The Politican Every Sketch Show Bases Their Politicians On” Abetz and Cory “Looky, I Wrote A Book Just Like God Did” Bernardi, who would surely have gone along had the public not had something of a issue with members of our government explicitly validating the dark-ages lunacy of extremist evangelist hooligans.

Not Catch The Fire but close efuckingnough, amirite?

Ruminations on the Great Barrier Reef, asylum seekers and sharks

This is a very odd country. In one corner we have a state government indiscriminately executing sharks on the off-chance that it might prevent the very off-chance that someone might get attacked, apparently in the name of tourism (maybe they’re planning a flake n’ chips festival). In the opposite corner, one of our greatest tourism drawcards, the Great Barrier Reef, is being sacrificed by our federal government – World Heritage listing, already threatened status and vital, unique ecology be damned – so a small group of obscenely wealthy sociopaths can generate a slightly larger profit for a small amount of time. At the top, the feds are so frightened of frightened people in leaky boats that they’ve sent our Navy up there to frighten them some more.

This is all costing lots of money so here’s my solution:

Move the Great Barrier Reef north of Darwin to keep all those scary boats full of scary brown poor people from being able to land in Australia. Move all the sharks to the water between us and the reef (better deterrent value than guard dogs, but slightly harder to train). Have the Navy depth-charge a couple of decent holes in the Reef to let smog-tankers through to that shiny new port in Queensland, then just guard the holes (instead of the whole ocean). Two birds, etc.

Come on, give it a chance – it can’t be any stupider than what’s already happening.

It Came From The 80s – The Flamer’s Bible!

Anyone who’s been anywhere near the atheoskeptoblogosphere in the last two years might well have noticed an undercurrent (or over-current) of hate-speech, flaming, obsessive trolling, twit-stalking and general petulant shit-slinging – especially if the target is a feminist blogger. But it’s nothing new – online communication has been around for ages; as such, the anonymity inherent in it has always provided cover for keyboard warriors to dispatch rhetorical missiles and toxic word-sludge across the globe, the nation or just the building – all with no social consequences.

Without further ado, from some time in 1987, I present a selection of tips for being an Internet Tough Guy:

The twelve commandments of flaming

  •     Make things up about your opponent: It’s important to make your lies sound true. Preface your argument with the word “clearly.” “Clearly, Fred Flooney is a liar, and a dirtball to boot.”

 

This might be familiar. How about: “She’s a misandrist! She’s a Feminazi! She hates men! It was only an invitation to coffee at 4am! She’s frigid!”

  •     Cross-post your flames: Everyone on the net is just waiting for the next literary masterpiece to leave your terminal. From rec.arts.wobegon to alt.gourmand, they’re all holding their breaths until your next flame. Therefore, post everywhere.

 

This one’s never been so important to the career troll: you can’t expect every one of your hate-chorus to just be reading your blog, so to increase your back-pats & pingbacks & likes you need to facebook, tweet, instafreakingram, blog, re-blog and link to everything in whatever dark, mouldy corner of the ‘net where there are no standards of behaviour when it comes to Approved Enemies.

  •     Conspiracies abound: If everyone’s against you, the reason can’t possibly be that you’re a fuckhead. There’s obviously a conspiracy against you, and you will be doing the entire net a favor by exposing it.

 

This is now known as the Galileo Gambit: They made fun of Galileo, and he was right.
They make fun of me, therefore I am right. However, the counter to this comes from Robert Park: It is not enough to wear the mantle of Galileo: that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right.

  •     Use foreign phrases: French is good, but Latin is the lingua franca of flaming. You should use the words “ad hominem” at least three times per article. Other favorite Latin phrases are “ad nauseum,” “vini, vidi, vici,” and “fetuccini alfredo.”

 

Accusations of ad hominem abound on the internet – usually as soon as someone gets insulted for acting like a douche. However, a true ad hominem is dimissive of an argument based on who’s making the argument, i.e. “You’re a douche therefore your argument is wrong.” Much of the time you hear an a.h. invoked, it is done so in response to a simple insult, e.g. “You’re a douche and your argument is wrong.” To avoid confusion, please be sure to dismiss someone’s argument on its own lack of merit and then call them a douche.

  •     Accuse your opponent of censorship. It is your right as an American citizen to post whatever the hell you want to the net (as guaranteed by the 37th Amendment, I think). Anyone who tries to limit your cross-posting or move a flame war to email is either a communist, a fascist, or both.

 

FREEZE PEACH! “Because the country I live in has granted me the right to say anything I want (of course there aren’t caveats – I can walk onto the White House lawn and threaten to stab Barry O because FREEZE PEACH is absolute!), it therefore follows that I get to follow you around the internet and regurgi-hate on every single one of your online properties. The fact that you own your twitter account, facebook, youtube account or blog doesn’t give you the right to decided who gets to talk to you! StasiNazi #bullies baawww!”

Um, yeah it does. A website/media account, as far as you’re concerned, is someone’s property as much as their doorstep or the counter of their store – if you don’t like when they shut the door in your face, try modifying (or at least paying attention to) what comes out of your face.

Go and read the rest – you’ve probably seen all of them in the last week.

Herr Ratzinger continues the massacre

[Doubled from Dangerous Intersection]

HIV/AIDS is possibly the worst health crisis to hit this planet. It’s also arguably the worst thing to happen to the African continent since white people were regularly kidnapping its inhabitants and trading them like farm machinery.

But the one hopeful thing about the whole situation is this: while there’s no cure yet, AIDS is easily preventable. Ridiculously easily preventable. Avoiding the sharing of needles & using contraception are the two most effective ways to avoid the long, tortuous, wasting death we’ve all come to associate with this horrendous epidemic. And if you’re not an intravenous drug user (or you studiously avoid sticking sharp, blood-stained things in your body), there’s 50% of your prevention pretty much sorted already.

So … how the hell are you supposed to react when the gold-robed, paedophile-protecting dictator-for-life of the Catholic Church continues to threaten people with eternal torment for using contraception during sex (based on a very, very, um, interpretive interpretation the Bible) and instead tells people “just say no” to sex? In this story (BBC) Pope Oberstumbannfuhrer Herr Kaiser Ratzinger (I refuse to use his picked-out stagename, he’s not Axl Rose for crying out loud) once again proves to the world that not only is his outlook anachronistic, unrealistic & laughable, it’s also flat-out fatal. To millions upon millions of people.

In the referenced article Ratzinger, in the very same breath, calls AIDS a “cruel epidemic” and then follows that with this clanger: “The traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.” Except when it hasn’t, doesn’t, isn’t and won’t. Obviously.

Allow me to rephrase & clarify that statement for you, Popey: “The inestimable, genocidal cruelty of AIDS is most efficiently perpetuated by people in positions of power (like Popes, for example) asking poverty-stricken superstitious people, living in abject fear for their very souls, to do what amounts to the impossible.”

In the past, before I knew much about AIDS’ awful presence in Africa (for instance, the article states that today, around 60% of the entire world’s AIDS 40 million patients are African and up to 1000 die each day), whenever I’d hear some robed halfwit with celestial voices in his head make a pig-ignorant statement like that of Ratzinger’s I’d just roll my eyes, sigh and think “Gosh, those wacky Catholics. At it again, asking the impossible and being ignored by the world, even Catholics. Laugh out loud!” But after a while I realised that while most people in the developed world treat Ratzinger’s words with all the respect they deserve, large swathes of Africa (and other developing regions) are still tightly gripped by superstition of all kinds and take the word of people like Herr Ratzinger and his little wizards as gospel. Accordingly, they avoid the simplest precautions against unwanted pregnancies and definitely unwanted STDs because they’ve been taught that wasting sperm incurs God’s wrath.

Then there was this gritty little cultured pearl of wisdom:

It is of great concern that the fabric of African life, its very source of hope and stability, is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraception mentality [emphasis mine]

Righto. Right up there as the biggest threats to Africa’s future, along with human trafficking (a modern form of slavery if there ever was one) and prostitution (often related to said trafficking) are those gravest of grave sins: the right to choose if you conceive a child during sex (regardless of whether the sex was legal or consensual), the right to not carry an embryo into actual foetus-hood and that most awful of activities, the right to end a relationship.

Does this geriatric idiot in the imperial robes who lives in a palace not see the links – right there in his very own statement? There’s human trafficking – desperate, poor people either taken advantage of or simply forced into such activities as prostitution – quite often not presenting a choice to the new sex-slave about who they have sex with, when they have sex with them and whether the “customer” protects himself or not. Divorce – well, in many cultures across the globe, obviously including Africa, people (and by “people” I mean “women”) don’t get a choice who they marry or when their new spouse decides to consummate that marriage (search the web for “obstetric fistula” – a painful & embarrassing condition which occurs way too often in underage African girls). Abortion, that old Catholic standby – well, disregarding the fact that a fertilised ovum or a tiny clump of undifferentiated cells isn’t a human being – what if you’re nine years old and aren’t physically capable of carrying a child to term? Well, if you’d read the news lately that doesn’t matter to the Papacy. Their official response? Excommunicate the doctors and the kid’s family – but not the mangy son of a bitch stepfather who repeatedly raped the girl from when she was six years old – then impregnated her with twins which would almost certainly have killed the girl. But hey, everyone knows it’s par for the course for the Vatican to protect child-rapists.

Rape & sex-slavery & STDs aside, even in the average committed, loving, monogamous relationship – even one completely without risk – there should be a choice. There should be a right to choose not to have a child. One word comes to mind when people think of Africa: poverty. If you can’t afford to feed & clothe & educate a child, there is absolutely no reason that you should be forced to have one. To force people, under the threat of eternal damnation, to simultaneously conceive children they cannot support and risk contracting the deadliest disease ever experienced by humanity is possibly the most reprehensibly immoral act that can be undertaken by a person in a position of power and responsibility. Ratzinger knows the effect his words will have among the faithful, he knows what the stakes are and, unless he’s been living under a rock (maybe not but I’m willing to bet he sleeps in a coffin), he surely must know what the results have been from decades of official Vatican “don’t protect yourself, just say no to sex” wisdom. Of course he knows all that, for crying out loud. But why care too much about adding millions more to the existing millions of sick & dying Africans? There are more where that came from, right Ratzi? Of course there are going to be if you tell people they’ll burn in Hell for wasting their sperm. And hey – dying slowly & horribly of AIDS and watching all your kids starve, followed by eternal bliss in heaven has just got to be better than a long, healthy life followed by forever with a red-hot pitchfork inserted somewhere less than convenient. Right?

But, honestly, I don’t know how to react anymore. These days when I hear Ratzinger, as he frequently does, displaying a stark ignorance of the realities of the world (unmatched except perhaps by Sarah Palin or your average coma patient) or condemning people to what he surely must know is an early death, I’m not sure if I should scream unintelligibly at my screen, post floweringly verbose excoriations, sigh in defeat & just sit and feel powerless and frustrated or … just have a healthy, profane vent & say “Ratzinger. Hey. Shut the fuck up. You’re killing people with this retarded dogma of yours – actually killing people – just as much as if you strangled them with your own bony, pampered hands. Your words are weapons of genocide – a war crime in peace-time, a crime against humanity – and if anyone’s going to Hell, you elderly virgin whose first & last experience of a naked woman was being pushed, tiny, wet & screaming, out of one, it’s going to be you, because you had the opportunity to save millions of lives and you bailed on it, your mind enslaved by your precious god-damned magic book. And once you’re there, roasting, I hope the millions of victims of your arrogant delusions & murderous idiocy visit you in Hell to kick your balls right up through your face.”

Here endeth the rant.

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