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Black dogs and diamonds

Justin Obodie (aka The Albatross) regularly soars the thermals of these pages. This is his third piece for Webdiary.

Not long ago Richard asked me for an update on the privacy thing. To be honest I wasn’t keen. But having read Adele Horin’s piece, "You'll work like a dog to make Centrelink happy" (SMH Saturday 31st January 2009) got me thinking.

Adele’s article found me recalling an recent episode with Centrelink that I have mentioned previously on this site. In that post I was wondering how the system and punters were going to cope with the coming downturn. I read Adele’s piece and agreed. I recalled my bewildered sister-in-law being suspended from her disability pension, for no good reason but pure bloody mindedness. I remembered the problems my daughter had with Centrelink, when she was extremely ill and vulnerable; problems that were a result of staff ignorance and insensitivity.

Today, 2nd February, there appeared another article in the SMH by Adele: "Retrenched workers told they must wait for help". Adele must have it in for Centrelink.

Apparently punters with only modest savings were told they must wait for help. I personally know people who have lost their jobs, been given a few grand termination pay and told (by Centrelink) they would have to wait six weeks before they could apply for benefits. A few grand won’t last long. Many are angry about this and maybe for good reason; in their minds, they have done nothing wrong; it was the greedy bastards as usual.

Do you have any Centrelink stories to share?

But what has this got to do with privacy per se? Not much (maybe) but I thought I’d have a go in mixing up a few issues, after all, most our threads go off into weird and wonderful tangents anyway, sort of:

The unfolding economic crisis

Social unrest

Social unrest and privacy

This economic crisis is unparalleled. Comparisons are made but no two events are the same. Never the less the black dog of depression / recession is descending upon the globe. Many are losing / have lost their wealth, as the globe finishes its first course in this avoidable Grande Boufette of financial fuck ups. We all know what the root cause was – greed with very large doses of stupidity. Feel free to discuss same.

My concerns are with the punters and how they and their loved ones are going to cope when that black dog arrives howling in the night. There will be many, and for the young it will be their first experience with the unforgiving nature of capitalism, as we know it.

Most of the biggest banks across the globe are insolvent – we’re stuffed, it is the punters who are paying for this mess; that was always going to be the case. Grin and bear it if we must. But we don’t have to, do we?

As the punters get their pink slips one day, their credit card bills the next, they are going to find it increasingly difficult to survive; the dole queues (across the globe) will grow and more and more people will be forced to deal with the government for their survival. And it won’t be pretty. After our initial sympathy for these victims wears off, they will become a nuisance to some and an embarrassment to others. Their numbers will grow as the black dog runs wild.

Today with the help of the internet the punters’ information sources are wide and varied. The message is getting through and becoming clear that we have been screwed, and we taxpayers are being forced to trust the greedy bastards (with our cash) who got us into this mess to fix it.

The banks get billions of cash (your cash) to spend how they wish, while the punter has to act like a circus poodle just to get a couple of hundred. And if the punter misses an appointment at Centrelink, it can be no cash for up to eight weeks. The banker gets his bonus regardless.

More and more punters will be looking for less and less work; they will have to get creative to survive. Many will become criminals; working for undeclared cash is a criminal offence, a very serious one in fact, for both the master and servant.

For those who end up with a dose of the black dog it will be difficult: no cash, humiliation and anger, they will think: what did I do wrong? Though forgetting it was probably unwise to overstate their incomes to get that big fat mortgage. Regardless, the Indians may get restless. Just how restless is matter for speculation.

Already we are seeing demonstrations and riots in Europe and elsewhere. The black dog descends with a bite.

I’ve been watching the Yanks for the past number of years and it is in the US and UK that we see all types of things happening regarding privacy. We have seen illegal wiretaps, but the punters were indoctrinated into feeling this shocking attack on their liberties was OK by them, it will keep them safe from the bad guys. Besides, what do honest law abiding citizens have to worry about – it’s them pesky terrorists, welfare groups and pensioner associations that the wolves seek out.

Soon enough there may be a critical mass of citizens of like mind, who have simply had enough of stupidity and greed. This will be a problem for our democratic oligarchies; especially if those of like mind are peaceful, creative and seductive – and honest.

The powers that be will fight back with whatever tools they have at their disposal. I won’t go into that here, maybe that could be one of those tangents we could explore, for there are many weird and wonderful tools to spy on, and track "criminals"; whether they are "dole cheats" or terrorists, or someone who may be a "threat" to the government of the day.

And the Diamonds – when times are tough, the nebulous dreams of justice and fairness may consolidate within the hearts of those who dream of better things, those dreams may harden, and then manifest as the collective will of humanity, for better or worse. One would hope the former, but as we all know things quite often go "round and round again".

Also in hard times, individuals, like diamonds can sparkle – it’s a matter of being tough and creative (in mind and spirit) in spite of everything.


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The black dog is boiling mad

The black dog may have a form of rabies caused by the diamonds glare and the more the diamond grows, so the more rabid will the black dog become.

Of course there are many scenarios which arise with the current situation, yet the time may come when people stop buying, except for essentials and stop providing for the diamonds of the world, which of course will only widen the crack in the diamonds' ideologies. Diamonds, gold and oil held their power because of their unique qualities. Now we have better, cheaper, safer and more job intensive methods for doing the job they did. The black dog can see it's being conned again, that work and a future are there to be created if only the system would step out of the dark ages and into the necessary future of country self-sufficiency through small business. Concentrating on economic and ecological sustainability through price and environmental regulation and not profit growth is the only rational approach.

Whether people turn away from government and big business is irrelevant. A new system will evolve naturally and we will return to a cash / barter market as a decent really representative governmental system evolves from the ashes of democratic capitalism.

Where I live there's a large number of people living on various social services. Being more than 80 kilometres from the nearest Centrelink, many are forced to travel there regularly, with no public transport and very high fuel prices, just to put in forms. On other days they attend their mandatory meetings with the privately owned by vested interests 'No Jobs Agencies'. Luckily I'm not with Centrelink, but have the same problems with the bureaucrats as they are in total denial about what is fact. If you question them, they target you and harass whenever they can.

The people behind governments and big business, the bureaucracies, are totally incompetent, so inbred and controlled by politically correct psychopaths who don't know anything at all. No matter what happens to the markets, the black dog is getting madder. Even the most sceptical and don't want to know types have realised they are being screwed more and more with no sane outcome. The time will come when the elite has given away all our assets, GDP and put us so far in debt that we will be owned by the World Bank, which is owned by the same people who created this mess.

We vote for and elect idiots, who employ idiots to make us look like idiots. Is that the sign of a mature sane race, or a fatalist self centred one? Every service is in the later stages of collapse and chaos. The bureaucracy has seen to that.

The coming revolution?

Gerald Celente predicts the worst collapse ever - greater than the great depression.

This "political atheist " has a very good track record in predicting stuff.

Thought police coming soon...

 And more:

The National Security Agency (NSA) is developing a tool that George Orwell's Thought Police might have found useful: an artificial intelligence system designed to gain insight into what people are thinking.

With the entire Internet and thousands of databases for a brain, the device will be able to respond almost instantaneously to complex questions posed by intelligence analysts. As more and more data is collected—through phone calls, credit card receipts, social networks like Facebook and MySpace, GPS tracks, cell phone geolocation, Internet searches, Amazon book purchases, even E-Z Pass toll records—it may one day be possible to know not just where people are and what they are doing, but what and how they think.

The system is so potentially intrusive that at least one researcher has quit, citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability.

As it were ever thus

Walsingham Matilda.

Beach boys

Another memorable song from that era, "Sloop John Dee".


More on privacy from the UK:

The vast growth of surveillance and data collection risks undermining freedoms vital to the British way of life, a group of eminent peers is warning today.

In a devastating critique of the spiralling use of CCTV, databases and information sharing, they warn that the growth of information collected about every man, woman and child in Britain is a "serious threat" to principles at the heart of the constitution. The Lords Constitution Committee, which includes the former law lord, Lord Woolf, and the former attorney generals, Lord Lyell and Lord Morris of Aberavon, call in a report for new safeguards to prevent government and private databases damaging historic rights to privacy and civil liberties...

The peers warn that the "collection and processing of personal information has become pervasive, routine, and almost taken for granted."

Radio-Frequency Identification

Radio-Frequency Identification:

...a new Intelligent Perimeter Defense system deployed by the FBI that uses covert Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to track people and assets without their knowledge.

That’s right, using RFID to track people without their knowledge. This system is exactly what the privacy advocates have long feared: Big Brother tracking us with spy chips. As Orwellian as this sounds, the undisputed fact is that this system catches thieves and does so at a fraction of the cost of traditional security solutions.

Thieves today, who and what tomorrow?

Back on topic

Just reread Justin Obodie's thread starter and the Adele Horin article it referred to, in thinking about how the thread has evolved.

Justin and Richard were referring to the long term brutalisation of unemployed that Adele Horin makes clear in the way only a good writer can .

From here, the thread moves to an argument about who was ultimately responsible for the upcoming recession, that is going to make conditions for the unemployed even more ridiculous, given that unemployment is going to increase.

From this point some cry foul, blaming neoliberalist alibiing for casino capitalism as the problem. This becomes more obscene when one considers the lucre the rich continue to pull compared the unemployed, often thru premeditatedly criminal means.

Others say no. Don't penalise smarter people for the benefit of possibly lazier ones. The state is to blame, nursing the unworthy and getting in the way of market forces so that some become un-self reliant. Capitalism hasn't failed, but social democracy, somehow intruding on creative forces has; by pandering to a capricious electorate that is something like the plebeians of Rome. How can our producers compete against harsher societies where labour is paid a dollar or two a day, they ask?

Personally, I can't see that our society seems very good at maximising efficient use of resources; neolib OR social democrat. Consumer capitalism thrives in our actually corporatist, economy, based on a tenacious notion that it is good to illogically use resources in fulfilling consumer fetishes, rather than producing that which is needed for essential living globally. Thus we maintain the tyranny of starvation that is the hallmark of a hierarchical essentially uncreative mentality and resulting society. The type of nutty response of a Westernised Israel dislocated from reality toward Gazans who are denied a stake in an economic process is significant, as typical of the west and the third world, rather than atypical.

I can't see how we can have a global economy and a genuine level playing field in a meaningful sense, unless resources are used to pull the poor up to a more healthy and productive level. But no stake is offered, only more stick. But a productive mentality is surely one that requires something more apt than the isolationist-deteriorating-to-narcissist Social Darwinist / Nietzschean / Hobbessian 'naff-you-jack mentality that Anthony Nolan described in an earlier post. Reeks of guard dogs and truncheons.

Perhaps Marx's notion of property as theft and the injustice implicit in this is just what keeps us in a primordial world "red in tooth and claw".

The problem remains this: solving of the contradiction between liberalism, of which socialism is but a variety and actually, conservatist feudalism which denies that a level playing field that is needed for a healthier global culture and that it is good that the many struggle under duress for the idle "divine right" few. So let them eat cake.

THIS is what Adam Smith was hoping for?

The unemployed have to justify every breath they take ( like the third world poor who are much worse off again ) and yet corporate looters and feudal landlords elsewhere, who have already swindled billions, are then rewarded by further largesse in the form of bailouts by governments saddled with the responsibility of tidying up their sh-t after them. The unemployed, who know this, are offered nothing more than another sadistic kick in the butt for misfortunes brought upon them by crooks both corporate and governmental who can't or won't exercise their minds and hearts despite fat incomes, in working on and for things real and productive.

I don't think altruism is the problem. I think the "selfish individualism" that English cultural critic Terry Eagleton describes, is the real black hole that drains imagination and initiative right throughout society. It’s just that some have to live with consequences and some don't.

Sounds fair, does it?

If not, it's no use trying to coerce people resentful of a double standard standing out like dog's balls, into being productive, because really what you’ve got is then the Hartz mountains forced labour factories of ww2 Germany as your socio cultural paradigm, rather than a system based on supposed free association and the level playing field.

... with a little latitude, Google style

Thanks Paul, there's still a lot of ground to go over  This, however, is also in the Albatross's bailiwick, and I'd love his opinion at some stage.  Scares the crap out of me!  It's all well and good to say it can be turned off, but I'd love to see the government/military version ... makes me glad I don't carry a mobile.

Latitude is no Black Widow

Richard: "This, however, is also in the Albatross's bailiwick, and I'd love his opinion at some stage."

The Latitude software has a turn off switch, and filters that give the users choice etc. or so the link states, I should imagine there would be no reason to suspect it does not. In short, the users have control over who can track and who can't. Or simply turn the software off altogether.

One should also remember the software tracks the phone, not a particular user. Your service provider can easily track your phone (simcard) anyway from relay tower to relay tower.

Latitude sounds like more of this social networking stuff we see more and more of. It's totally commercial and could possibly supply the service providers with valuable data re popular meeting places, whatever.

Social networking and experiential/event marketing is the new big thing. It is what we used to call word of mouth, which became the poor relation to TV and Press advertising. GenY doesn't buy newspapers (nor will their kids), they are harder to reach, hence the new IT media has been very much driven by exploiting the youth market.

Obama's election campaign is a case book example of what can be done at grass roots (internet) / word of mouth (text) level using the latest tech. Obama has redefined the electioneering paradigm for good.

Obama also has at his fingertips, not a black dog, but the Black Widow (not just a huge data base of beloved followers):

Barack Obama will be in charge of the biggest domestic and international spying operation in history. Its prime engine is the National Security Agency (NSA)—located and guarded at Fort Meade, Maryland, about 10 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. A brief glimpse of its ever-expanding capacity was provided on October 26 by The Baltimore Sun's national security correspondent, David Wood: "The NSA's colossal Cray supercomputer, code-named the 'Black Widow,' scans millions of domestic and international phone calls and e-mails every hour. . . . The Black Widow, performing hundreds of trillions of calculations per second, searches through and reassembles key words and patterns, across many languages."

More later...

fiscal and blue-chips

Better be careful what am up to on the lazyboy out the back yard, hadn't I, Richard? Thought the neighbours were nosy, but this lends a whole new meaning to the concept.

Back on thread, what's talked about at this thread seems discussed elsewhere in terms more specific, of what should constitute an adequate cushion for the social consequences of an upcoming recession, in terms of the government's latest package, with the latest online describing the gamesmanship afoot, particularly with the Senate. One person's meat is another's soy loaf, it seems.

But Justin is more likely to be worried about Petrel prices, of course...

Interesting numbers

Prof. Robert Reich interviewed by Kerry O'Brien last night on the 7:30 Report claimed that in 1980 the top 1% of earners took home each year about 8-9% of total US income whereas in 2007 the same top 1% of top earners took home over 22% of total income.

His point? When one is extravagantly wealthy that money is NOT put into circulation buying goods and services.  How's that for a market distortion of "let it rip" capitalism.  These characters behave like the "robber barons" decribed by Marx and in so doing erode the very market and social conditions on which they rely.

I'd be very interested to know what the numbers are in Australia.

"It's not the end of the world - yet"

Globalization was the one trend we could all count on in perpetuity (the world is flat, remember?), but now every metric of global trade is plummeting, and national leaders are worrying much less about lowering trade barriers than they are about how to protect their domestic economies from the cross-border plagues of currency collapse and banking failure.

Within a year or two we may even begin to see world population growth go into reverse—though not because of policy shifts.

We are in a new era. Welcome to the conclusion and consequences of the industrial growth bubble.

It's not the end of the world—yet. There is still opportunity to manage economic collapse in such a way as to lay the groundwork for a recovery to low-flow sustainability. But not if we concentrate our efforts on denial, blame, or the propping up of old institutions and industries that have no chance of survival—all of which are the obsessions of our current leadership.

We shouldn't get too depressed as we watch the economy collapse. We need to change and this crisis is just the trigger that will force change. 

Those that want to cling to the past will moan and groan. Those of us that have been pushing for change will see the opportunities to move into a brave new world.

Bring on the revolution!

Knowing the problem is as easy as ABC

Paul Walter: "Paul Morrella, was it the central banks that were the problem, or their undermining by opportunists unwilling to acept any limiting of their $buck-hunger ?

Of course central banks are the problem. I can't even believe this point is disputed anymore. And they're (central banks) all out there causing much, much more damage. The day of reckoning will soon be upon us.

Having earned vast amounts of money at the supposed market place actually degenerated to casino over the last decade, they correctly predicted that society would have to bail them out to the tune of $trillions and become willingly or unwillingly complicit in the Great Hijack.

I doubt anyone could have guessed that. The extent of these bailouts proves we've entered the land of stupid. Thirty years ago, you'd have been laughed out of room for even suggesting such a thing would take place (that's how far we've fallen). The quicker people come to the conclusion that we're being lead by third rate dummies, the quicker we'll all move forward.

I sincerely hope that Obama, Rudd and others who talk of a new Bretton Woods and an overdue reforming of the current "wild west " global economy characterised by unnacountability and vandalism, are not put off by the noise of vested interests.

I haven't heard Obama talk about Bretton Woods. Obama is now in the process of handing out government money (we'll borrowed money) for people to use lobbying for more borrowed government money. And this clown is our saviour?

Instead they could rebuild an international system that rewards that innovation, originality, cooperation, communication and hard work in creation of new and useful technologies typical of the original market place notion, rather than continuing the advanced burglary and  theivery of untalented criminal mentalities that an international system outmoded by a skewed version of globalisation creates.

If you're thinking about world-wide socialism, it aint happening, outside of a Hollywood script. And that you can take to the bank (solvent or not).

A little trigger happy

Anthony Nolan: "Hooray for the end of the radical neo-liberal Hayekian experiment." 

I wouldn't be celebrating just yet. Obama has already started to hit some major stumbling blocks. In the end this current idiot ecocomic disaster, will have to be paid for, by somebody. I really can't see too many people putting up their hand, can you? A return to the classics is very much a wind that'll grow stronger in the coming years. Political cycles work the same as economic cycles.

There's been nothing "Hayeksian" about the last thirty years. For a start he never believed in central banks (a very important point) - the real and only reason for this mess in the first place.

OK then

Hayek and Nozick, I guess, I took as having a strong anti-state regulationist  position.  Nozick in particular was opposed to the state except in a night watchman role (not too dissimilar from the God of liberalism - Hobbes). 

In broad terms what seems to me to be the real political agenda here is whether society exists to service the needs of the market or whether the market can be subordinated to (even competing) social needs.  I cannot see a problem with the latter and I think that we are living with both the economic and ecological consequences of the former which is to say that now we are dealing with the consequences of the dominance of market over social needs over the last thirty years.

This does not mean that I am opposed to markets so much as the full on "let it be" version.  In any event - there never has been a genuinely "free" market - all modern markets have always been subject to state intervention and regulation.  What is monetary policy if not state regulation?

More of the same discussion I daresay over the next five years or so!

Central banks

Paul Morrella, was it the central banks that were the problem, or their undermining by opportunists unwilling to accept any limiting of their $buck-hunger ? Wall St and its ilk found its mouthpieces and tools in academics like Huntingdon and Volker , unscrupulous tycoons like Murdoch, and politicians like Reagan and Cheney, put where they were by rich and powerful interests, to serve these at the expense of humanity.

Having earned vast amounts of money at the supposed market place actually degenerated to casino over the last decade, they correctly predicted that society would have to bail them out to the tune of $trillions and become willingly or unwillingly complicit in the Great Hijack.

Obama's comments the other day express the feelings of most people, in acknowledging that we are "done" twice by these hucksters, but there seems precious little to be done about it in the globalised (exclusivist / exclusionist) economy.

I sincerely hope that Obama, Rudd and others who talk of a new Bretton Woods and an overdue reforming of the current "wild west" global economy characterised by unaccountability and vandalism are not put off by the noise of vested interests. If you predict rightly, these will probably survive their current low ebb, caught as they have been with their fingers in the till, well and truly.

Instead they could rebuild an international system that rewards that innovation, originality, cooperation, communication and hard work in creation of new and useful technologies typical of the original market place notion, rather than continuing the advanced burglary and thievery of untalented criminal mentalities that an international system outmoded by a skewed version of globalisation creates.

Central banks

The central banks have most certainly been the cause of this mess. They are non government entities, created by vested interests, virtually untouchable by the laws of our democracies.

The central banks WILL do whatever it takes to unravel themselves from the mess they have created. The ironic thing is that the government is allowing the very people that have created this mess to "fix?????" this mess.

Make no bones about it, the central banks will do whatever it takes, whether legal or not, to fix this mess for the benefit of their interests. They will work on the principle that it is easier to obtain forgiveness for an action committed than permission to commit an action. 


There exists a website devoted to the intricacies of a life under Centrelink.

 A generation of  Australians has suffered a decade of  Centrelink and of JobNet. The mere notion of  a job has become a commodity,  to be milked by middlemen;  and compliance replaces self-reliance and self-empowerment. This Net  is not the safety-net it purports to be; it  thoroughly entangles and suffocates the unemployed.

The system, so finely tuned as to "embugger" the unfortunate few, is now primed to deliver it's own brand of retribution on those who might yet now  blindly fall into its clutches. Like the song says, never smile at a crocodile.

Soixante huiters return

The long march through the institutions is complete.  Watch the Parisians!

A whole new ball game - the right no longer able to argue that social democracy is socialism as the USSR is a defunct failure and the left, which is to say the social democrats, no longer in any way interested in socialism (or not with any credibility anyway). 

A globalised economy and a brand new, in historical terms, knowledge of our shared responsibility and vulnerability on  a small planet.

Hooray for the end of the radical neo-liberal Hayekian experiment. 

Social democracy or barbarism!

Slow to understand

G'day Anthony. I am not sure if I read you right, but I have long held the belief that the two opposing parties in our democracy periodically claim to hold the middle ground. And they both lie. The capitalistic powers that be are the powers that be because they control the information fed to the voters (e.g., the Murdoch press). By controlling information, they control the minds of the people who have no alternative but to accept what they have been told. So far no government has been courageous enough to challenge them, except perhaps Whitlam and Keating. And at what cost?

But then we could use the power of reason and logic with which we are all endowed. But we will still be influenced by their powers of persuasion.

The nasty names given to any system other than capitalism is considered to be almost treacherous to the powers that be, because their power depends on being in charge of what we are told and what we should believe.

The use of the words "from a reliable source" is surely a denial of a journalist's honour. And so it goes on.

Cheers Ern G.

Growing unrest

The Whole World Is Rioting as the Economic Crisis Worsens:

"Explosive anger is spilling out onto the streets of Europe. The meltdown of the global economy is igniting massive social unrest in a region that has long been a symbol of political stability and social cohesion. It's not a new trend: A wave of upheaval is spreading from the poorer countries on the periphery of the global economy to the prosperous core...

At least in Western Europe, cries of "burn the shit down!" are being heard in countries with some of the highest standards of living in the world -- states with adequate social safety nets; countries where all citizens have access to decent health care and heavily subsidized educations. Places where minimum wages are also living wages, and a dignified retirement is in large part guaranteed.  

.. people, out of their own distress and anger, will organize their own politics, and they will make themselves seen and heard around this country."

Earwigs and Ludwigs

Just, in response to Richard's comments, one can live with the overall thrust of the package, given the times. But a sense of bafflement overcomes me, on a quick reading of the Advertiser's summary.

Vast amounts are to spent on roads, yet in spite of the laughable performance of rail, trams and buses recently in Melbourne in particular, over time in Sydney and to a lesser extent in Adelaide, nothing seems on offer.

Has something already been fed into public transport, or have I missed something?

Is it all about propping up greenhouse intensive roads, to avoid the collapse of the automobile/ engineering sector, at the expense of (relatively) more eco-friendly public transport?

I could understand the sort of studied ignorance in government planning as against the prerequisites of ecological sustainability if this was the nineteen- eighties. But in this stage in proceedings this denialist idiot response seems positively malignant.

If you think I'm exaggerating concerning mentalities, consider the ridiculous attack on Prof. Garnaut by the buffoon Bill Ludwig in today's Oz (4/2/09) .

No, am not saying I prefer roo to beef - that's such a crude, petty, coathanger on which to hang the real purpose of the attack, an attempt to ridicule an educated man who leads the call for rational polices involving most efficient use of scarce resources and capital; before people start writing in grumbling about roo meat which is not the main object of my comment.

We need efficiency in the use of resources to set examples in the avoidance of squander both personal and social, and keep unemployment down. So why is undue attention given, in the press, to an illiterate like Ludwig?

It’s Not Going to Be OK

I read this just now; It’s Not Going to Be OK, the black dog is savilating:

 Will we radically transform our system to one that protects the ordinary citizen and fosters the common good, that defies the corporate state, or will we employ the brutality and technology of our internal security and surveillance apparatus to crush all dissent? We won’t have to wait long to find out.

Hey Richard, the question, to the answer to life the universe and everything, was 6x9.

It makes a lot of sense really - to mice, but to humans it makes no sense at all. In short even if humans were told the answers we wouldn't understand anyway.

And from memory HHGTTG ends like this, and makes sense, well the song does, the images, like 6x9=42, make no sense at all.

"No man owns a fortune," he said. "It owns him."

"No man owns a fortune," he said. "It owns him." It was the motto of his life.

The albatross, as I have previously mentioned, believes that you don't own things - they own you. Being an albatross such a belief comes naturally.

I read the above quote last night and thought it had to be an albatross quote, but to my surprise it was a humanoid quote.

A banker no doubt. 

A banker who understood the intrinsic nature of money, and put it  to use and the best possible way

He had his enemies - this bitter sweet short story about Amadeo Peter Giannini will bring you joy - and sorrow.


It's all a bit like the story in Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.. remember the bit where a computer is created to calculate the answer to the Utimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything, and eventually returns the answer of "Forty-Two"?  In that story, the discovery of the answer resulted in centuries of searching for the question.

Today the Australian Government has announced that the injection of forty-two billion dollars is the solution to keeping the Australian economy out of recession.  A new building at every school, insulation for a couple of million home roofs (maybe a few less people will die next time Adelaide has a heat wave) and a fixing-up of dangerous roads. 

There'll also be more cash for people to spend.   A couple of million kids will get almost a thousand dollars in a Back-To-School bonus, people earning under a hundred grand will be given up to a similar figure (well the upper end only get a few hundred).  There will also be a hand-out for suffering farmers.

"..this government will move heaven and earth to reduce the impact  of this global recession on Australia"  Prime Minister Rudd announced today.  He talked of "wielding a sharp axe" as opposed to stand by with folded arms doing nothing.

It appears to me that, like the Hitch Hikers' story, that if we've found the answer we may need to find the question that the answer produces.   To me that question is this:  How big is the problem?   Also, what happens when we start running out of money to buy Band-Aids for our financial woes?   How far away might that time be?

In a compartment of my brain next to the Hitch Hikers' books resides a set written by Isaac Asimov, The Foundation Trilogy.  Inspired by Gibbons' The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the books deal with the notion of a collapse of a society being "managed" in such a manner that the ensuing chaos endures for a signifigantly lesser timespan than if left unattended.  Rudd's words today give an impression of a similar methodology.

While such plans are being made, what's being done to lessen the impacts that Justin has described in his heartfelt piece? The grief, shame, social alienation are coming, and we don't have the social structures in place to deal with them. 

One of the simpler ones that I miss is the way that people used to drink in "schools" at pubs.  If somebody was down on their luck, the "shout" was carried over to the next person, the unlucky fellow still being included in that social unit.  It was a simple form of socialistic nurturing that  lessened the sensations of inequality and mitigated the effects of financial isolation.

We've forgotten how to do things like that, and we're going to have to relearn very quickly.

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