Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Downhill


Recently I had found a lot of stuff I'd written on my old PC: this one was 2009 and about my depression. I had depression before I moved from New Zealand, it seemed to disappear when I was so happy with my ex-husband, but it came back not longer after we moved here. This one was written on 27 October 2009. I knew I was going downhill. This wasn't starting, it was getting worse.

Journey Down, 27 October 2009

I have sometimes wondered how many people realise when they are slipping into depression, and if they did realise it, would they be able to do anything about it? I thought if I recorded my feelings and thoughts on my own journey, maybe I can stop myself from hitting the bottom again – and if I can't, maybe my words might help someone else.

I have fought my demons for a few years now, firstly on my own, then with the help of Prozac. After I met Stan I reached a happy place I never thought I would be, was able to get off the Prozac, and attempt a 'normal' life, but it was only temporary. What is 'normal' any more? Why can't I have a smooth ride through my life, like most seem to do? My life seems destined to be constantly filled with stress of one sort or another – I think I have had more stressful things happen to me in my lifetime than most people could imagine – and certainly more than most people could cope with. Even when others have stress of one kind or another, they only seem to have one stressor at a time.

I thought my life with Stan and moving to Brisbane was finally the start of something good happening for me, and for a time it was. But destiny seems to have stepped in again, and from mum dying, Zam dying, losing my Ulysses family, Stan's business collapsing due to the weather (sunny Queensland? Yeah, right!), losing the house, moving, taking on more and more at work (why do I do that???), menopause, weight fluctuations and gain, failed attempts to quit smoking – it's all taking its toll. Even my Lovan (Prozac in NZ) doesn't seem to be helping any more.

I get so tired of hearing people say how they can pull themselves up by thinking about how much worse off someone else is. I can't compare myself to someone who lost a family member in a car accident – I haven't experienced that so I can't have empathy. So what if Jane Doe had a mastectomy because she had breast cancer? I have my own breast cancer demons to fight – lumps which thankfully turned out to be benign - and a family history, both of which make me a target, so it seems. Why should my problems be any less important than someone else's?

My joints and muscles ache every day, I'm retaining fluid and feel like a gross fat water balloon, I am so tired I can't sleep, I sit on my own in the middle of the night and cry because I don't know what else to do. I have no motivation, no passion, no libido. I drink coffee at 2am because, unlike 'normal' people, coffee helps me to sleep.

Since I lost so much weight in 2000-2001 staying size 12 has been the guiding principle of my life. I love exercise, Body Combat is still my favourite after 8 years, when I can’t or don't exercise I feel like crap. Maybe that's why I feel like that right now. I thought by using a pedometer I would encourage myself, but to go a whole day – including Combat – and still do less than 7,000 steps is pretty disheartening, and to get on the scales and still be gaining weight is depressing – quite literally. It's probably the main reason I'm in my present state of mind. My life revolves around my weight now, and to have gained so much in such a short space of time – even if it is justifiable with menopause and fluid retention. I don't care what the reason is, I just don’t want to be here, I'm not a size 14, I'm a size 12, I spent years getting there and staying there and I don't want to go backwards. Getting to 80kgs scares the hell out of me; I know how hard it is to lose it. 
 
I am so tired. Why do I have to go through this? What can I do to stop it, to motivate myself again, to stop feeling so depressed and teary and angry? Do I have a finite number of tears or will they just keep coming? How much more do I have to go through before I either start getting better or hit the bottom. And what happens if I get there?

I found out, too many years ago, that depression takes over a person, and my original depression was the result of what happened to me 40 years ago. I know there are many other women who suffer this same feeling. For me, it was continuous. If you are ever seriously interested in what was happening to me, read my other websites: It's Okay to be Angry and the blog Aneurysms with aphorisms. 

These days it's a bit different – I had the brain aneurysm surgery and the stroke with aphasia 3 years ago. Some people are called strong. I was. I still am, occasionally, but these days I don't feel strong enough to get back to where I was, and yet I am strong enough to stay alive now.

Maybe that's because I know what has happened to me over too many years. I think the stroke, with aphasia, has helped me – in the last 8 months - get back into myself. I hit the bottom of my depression – I got there - when I was in a Bethania retirement village, and no-one there cared. Nowadays I have a very few wonderful people who do care. I thank them for helping me to be strong.

I won't ever be 'normal', but I am feeling better.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Three years on...

Tomorrow night, Monday 10 July, on 4 Corners is a program about dementia. The woman, Suzie, that this is about is 58. She had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. I read a blog from Alzheimers with a list of 10 signs of frontotemporal dementia. List numbers 8, 9 and 10 are very similar to what I feel from my stroke. I recommend that you watch 4 Corners and become aware of this.

I hope that many people have become aware of stroke as well. I've written previously about stroke, but I feel I need to encourage people to read about this and become aware of stroke. Too many people throughout the globe either die or suffer downright from a stroke which is connected to the blood in their brain.

Three years ago I had a brain aneurysm surgery, and ended up with a stroke. I spent 7 weeks in BIRU – the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit – at PA Hospital. I found out, the second day I was there, about my stroke during my brain aneurysm surgery. I couldn't talk, I couldn't even read or write, until later in those 7 weeks. Today I read, on a Facebook page link to Brain Injury Explanation, about neurofatigue, and then a link to the USA National Aphasia Association, which explained the types of aphasia. Mine was “very dense global aphasia (receptive and expressive)”.

Both of these descriptions are very much like me. I get fatigue around lunchtime, even if I have forgotten to eat. I usually don't make afternoon appointments because, by then, I already feel so tired. It's my brain – ABI (Acquired Brain Injury).

The description about global aphasia said exactly how I had felt. It was the “...most severe form of aphasia. People with global aphasia cannot speak many words and sometimes don’t understand speech. They cannot read or write.” If you can, have a look at the short video of a stroke victim with global aphasia. I felt that way, too.

I found something I wrote on 22 July 2014, after I had been discharged, so I've printed it here. I know that some of what I said then was.... strange, maybe funny. That was only 3 months after I had the stroke, but it was how I felt, back then.

My ideal of writing has almost vanished. It was my catalyst up until I went into PA, but realising I had a stroke kept me from writing. Reading, too. Finding out about my presentation had nothing to do with my past. I had lost most of that. Including work. And no 'real' income.

After going home on 6 June was hard, but it was my chosen date. A contact with my lawyer was hard, I wasn't able to talk to him. My roof was filled with Clare, my ABIOS, who I spoke to about Greg. She would contact him and give him some deals about me.

We would find out, in a call I received from Greg, that he was not happy. He didn't want to talk to Clare, which upset me. I had to agree, holding my hope that he would still represent me. I found out, just a couple of days after I'd had to wait, that he didn't 'trust' me. I felt that the appearance of me was now reposetant to my – many – years back. He said he was not going to help me. I should have felt good, but he wound me down. I cried, deeply, feeling totally sad, totally deprised of my claim. I thought “Well done Greg – you are no longer an adult.”

I had an application at Inala Centrelink, and after my doc completed my medical link and I provided a copy of the PA discharge (6 pages!!), I was told that this would be 7 weeks. My bank income was nearly gone, so I filled in my ATO application and submitted it. I would get another $8k – so helpful!

I was a Kiwi, and I had had a good day earlier this year at OzKiwi. They gave me some top info, so I applied it to my RRV – and got it! I told Es to apply, and she did and got it. Very recently I read an article from David Faulkner, Nzer, who had been the first RRV application and just this month gone his Aussie citizenship. It turned me into a total hopeful, because by Feb next year we would be – official – citizens. Then Centrelink would not be able to cut me off! I just don't believe that, 9 years after I've been here, I can't be made to go by Centrelink. Surely they can appreciate my DP. I'm waiting.

It's taken me 2 months to accept my failure of working. I've got a 6-month limit at the moment – I can't work, can't fly, can't drive. Actually, thats 4.5 months now, but that is so hard.

This week I decided to have a garage sale. I started in the garage and went upstairs. So found I've found heaps to get off, but I put a required proposal for my FB friends and got no answers except for one, Deb, who will help me for the sale next weekend. I feel pretty disposed. I wish I could move.

I read this a couple of days ago now, and I recognise a lot of errors I had made. I don't think I had felt bad about them back then, but these days when I write something I don't immediately publish it because I know I can still make mistakes. Hell, I still read my publications and find mistakes I didn't even see when I re-read them before publishing! I put that down to my stroke, my evil, wicked, malevolent, frustrating, disappointing and embittering stroke.

Some time after this tale was written three years ago, 22 July 2014, I found something that I had noted from Catherine M Wilson's book series “When women were warriors”:

Death is our destiny, and nothing matters. In the depths of the abyss the end of all things lies. Death is too small in a word. It is annihilation, not of my life alone, but of everything that lives and of the world itself. In the end the whole world will fall.

That's how I have to live. Prepare for death, my destiny; not for my life, because I don't really know what I can do these days. Will I ever have another stroke? Will it kill me? What matters? I had a very full life up until 22 April 2014, but I know I can't change what happened. I can only accept it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. My worst period of time was November 2016 when I didn't felt I had any support, any help. Since then I have found out that yes, I did – and yes, I do. I still live alone, with my 15 year-old beautiful American bulldog, Jordie, but living alone has taken me the last 6 months to accept and I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter and her partner.

These days when I'm writing a blog – like the last one, about billionaires compared to poverty – I have to feel undamaged, unhurt. I know how I feel when I write something, but I can't publish it until I know that it's not a definitive future for me. How I feel about money is my own issue, no matter how much I wish I had more money. How I feel about QIRC is my own issue, no matter how much I wish I had won. How I feel about my previous friends is my own issue, no matter how many walked away after my stroke. I will write my own feelings, but they are mine - whatever I'm saying for many other people to read.

I had felt that same way when I read from 22 July 2014.

I ask readers to watch 4 Corners, about frontotemporal dementia. It is up to you to educate yourselves, to become aware of the damage or injury in the brain. How you feel is not up to me, no matter how much I would love to be able to argue with people who don't agree with me. You don't have to comment, but I - we - need support from you.



Saturday, July 8, 2017

Obsessed

ABC's Drum (Episode 115) introduced the author of a book Wellmania. Bridget Delaney is a senior writer at The Guardian, and had spoken about her book at the Sydney Writers Festival earlier this year. Time Out, written about that, had saidYoga has been commandeered by capitalism. Wellness is all very... well, but what it often boils down to is big business lining its pockets with the spoils of people's narcissism”, and printed what Delaney has said. You can’t let yoga be your god, she had said. “Self care is really important but we need to step beyond it and remember it’s feeding a commercial beast.

So many words I wrote down from that program: yoga, diet, “Mediterranean” diet, no processed food. It was very interesting to hear how each person on the Drum looked at “wellness”:
  • be clean, lean and serene
  • obsessed with people who tell us what to do
  • get off the yoga mat and get into social change
  • exorcise demons which are toxins
  • religions which celebrate aren't communal
  • celebrate – for example, Australia Day – then detox
  • feast/famine
Two decades ago I was overweight: I lost 40kgs at the start of this new century. After moving to Australia in 2005 I was down around 72kg. I'm 5'11”, so I felt pretty thin. Before I lost all that weight I'd been up and down and up and down, feeling pretty depressed that my weight was hanging around me. Yes, I know that's a disparate saying, but that's how I've felt about it. I shed my overweight – maybe I cut the rope so it could no longer hang around.

I kept it off for 15 years, but since my brain aneurysm and stroke it seems to have crept back on. Not all of it, but too much for me.

At the beginning of this century I had joined the Les Mills gym where I was living in New Zealand. I worked on the treadmill and the weights almost every day, and I fell in love with Body Combat, a musical session which included punching, side kicking, front kicking, jumping, elbow punches and anything from karate, boxing, taekwondo, tai chi and muay thai which anyone doing combat might recognise. I loved it! I stuck with Body Combat when I moved over here, at first in a gym in Ipswich and on to a gym at Sunnybank Hills when I moved to Camira. The Sunnybank Hills gym soon gave up Body Combat and started in a different sort of body combat which they called Group Combat, I think. It wasn't anywhere near as good as the Body Combat I had fell in love with. Later I moved to Parkinson, and went to the AJs gym where they had Body Combat too. AJs also had two decent sized swimming pools, one indoor and one outdoor, and I got back into swimming – I was swimming up to 80 lengths – 2km - three days a week with a plan to go to an ocean swim in Vanuatu. (I never got there, long story – read my other blog Aneurysm Aphorisms).

My last home before hospital was Inala, and I joined the PCYC gym with much of the equipment I was used to. After hospital, when I moved up to Redliffe area, I joined Dolphins gym and started a recovery class with a heart recovery team. I started swimming again. Very recently I've moved to Eagleby, and there are no indoor pools around here, no gyms with Body Combat, and a PCYC which I fell out with in Beenleigh.

So what am I doing that Wellmania says I shouldn't be doing in order to lose weight instead of continuing to put it back on? Or can I just be happy with how I now am?
Is it possible to integrate good habits into your daily life? What does our obsession with wellness say about us? And why do you smell so bad when you haven’t eaten in seven days?”
This was what Black Inc Books said about what Delaney has written. I'm thinking about buying this book, because what they said about it would (I hope) make me feel very good about where I am – I don't really feel too good just right now!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Who wrote this?

How many newspapers – online newspapers – are the same? How many print the same as the other online newspapers print? Are they owned by the same company? Why? 


I did a little bit of research the last couple of days and found out something fairly interesting. If you already know this, don't hold it against me – I didn't know about it because I didn't really want to if Murdoch's name popped up. I've had a long beef against him and his “fake news” papers.

The first onliner I looked at was ABC. Their journalist Michelle Brown had started her article with the title “WestConnex contractors seeking $1b in compensation, according to documents leaked to Labor” and her first paragraph started with “Contractors on Sydney's WestConnex have handed the Berejiklian Government a $1 billion compensation bill, the New South Wales Opposition has said.” She'd written it about 2 hours ago – around 1.20pm.

The second was News.com.au, which published an article by the Australian Associated Press writer Dominica Sanda at 1.38pm, titled “ WestConnex $1b claims budgeted for: govt”, which started with the paragraph “Sydney's WestConnex motorway will be completed on time and within budget despite a $1 billion compensation bill from companies tasked with building the multi-billion dollar project, the NSW government says.”

The third was The Australian which printed exactly as News.com.au had printed; theirs was printed at 2.08pm. 

The fourth was Daily Telegraph – exactly the same as the last two. They said theirs was printed about “an hour ago”. My time was 3.20pm so they must have printed their copy around 2.20pm. 

The next story I looked at was ABC's article titled “Flammable cladding: Baillieu, Thwaites to head taskforce to 'accelerate' investigation of Victorian buildings”, which started with “The Victorian Government has appointed a taskforce to fast-track the investigation into flammable cladding on the state's buildings in the wake of the deadly London tower fire.” No writer quoted.

The second, News.com.au, printed at 11.57am the article written by an apparent Australian Associated Press writer Christopher Talbot, titled “Vic cladding task force examines fire risk” and started by saying “Former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu will spearhead a new cladding task force assessing fire safety in buildings across the state following the deadly Grenfell tower fire in London.”

That, of course, was picked up by The Australian (1pm) and the Daily Telegraph (also 1pm) – and by Sky at 2.24pm.

So why were News.com.au, Daily Telegraph, the Australian and the Sky printing the same stories? Who owns them?

If you know this it's very old news, but News Corp Australia over the years bought Daily Telegraph, News.com.au, the Australian and many more, and very recently also bought Sky. News Corp is Murdoch.

A story from the Sydney Morning Herald interested me. SMH was from Fairfax. This story explained a lot: until 2015 Gina Rinehart owned more than 14.99% of the shares for Fairfax, which she had to sell. According to Wikipaedia, “Rinehart was denied a place on the board because she would not agree to Fairfax's charter of independence, and sold her stake in 2015.” That was reported in SMH (Sarah Thompson, Anthony Macdonald and Jake Mitchell), Reuters (Byron Kaye), Mumbrella (Nic Christensen), Business Insider (Sarah Kimmorley), Crikey (Paddy Manning and Myriam Robin), ABC (Pat McGrath), the Guardian (Sean Farrell) and many more.

AAP reported this through News.com.au with no name of the original writer.

Now, as you probably know AAP (Australian Associated Press) was a Murdoch agency which had been started by Rupert Murdoch's father in 1935. It's the back-up of Murdoch newspapers, printed or online.

Back in 2013 The Conversation wrote an article about a query made about something that Kevin Rudd had said before he lost his PMship. Rudd had said that Murdoch “owns 70%” of the newspapers. The Conversation found that incorrect, but that Murdoch's papers counted to nearly 60% of the total sold newspapers. They also said:

the overall number of newspaper sales is declining... The major reason for this decline is the migration of news consumption to the internet, where news.com.au and other News Corp sites face stronger competition from ninemsn, Yahoo!7, Fairfax Media, the ABC, and other sites such as The Conversation, Crikey, On Line Opinion and Guardian Australia. The extent to which some of these sites either gather original material, or have the influence of the News mastheads, is certainly debatable, but the online news environment is far more diverse than that for print newspapers.

The Conversation is a non-profit trust which started in 2010 and provides good information about them. Read this.

Fast-forward to 2016 and say that Murdoch companies own 70%, according to Gizmodo. Gizmodo is owned by Fairfax

Gizmodo writers – or readers - it seems are as much against Murdoch as I am. This year, one comment from Silverdrone for Charles Pulliam-Moore's 15 May article said that he would “want to watch it but I have a moral objection to funding anything that benefits Murdoch.” Hugh Manatee, commented on the article on 3 May by Rae Johnston, said that his ISP is downgraded, which “I feel is in accordance with the Murdoch government's wishes.” Oh dear... Murdoch government? Libby Watson's article on 18 April said that “RT, Australian news site News.com.au, and British tabloids Daily Mail and The Sun, ran stories on Monday suggesting that the recently revealed jobs site would allow employers to see users' search history.” Lee578 responded with a very short comment: “Rupert Murdoch as ever the first with the fake news.” Straight out of the anti-Murdoch online papers' mouths.

I've been reading online newspapers that I feel comfortable with, not newspapers owned by Murdoch. Why? So many people feel the same way I do. These articles have been back quite a while ago:
  • The biggest media scandal in the modern age is exploding and the world's most powerful family is under siege, yet some key players in Australia still don't understand that the media power game has changed forever. ABC, Stephen Mayne, 28 Jul 2011
  • News Ltd's capacity to influence the opinions of the vast majority of less engaged citizens - whose political understanding is shaped directly by the popular newspapers and indirectly through the commercial radio and television programs that rely on newspapers for content and, more deeply, for the way they interpret the world - is unjustifiable. The Sydney Morning Herald, Robert Manne, 2 September 2011 
  • Make no mistake: Murdoch’s press is waging class war on behalf of the extremely rich, and it’s being done in the name of a phoney popularism. It takes quite some nerve to push a distortion of this magnitude down the throats of the people on whose behalf you’re supposedly speaking. More to the point, it takes power and money. Global Comment, Chally Kacelnik, 6 September 2011 
  • Free reign to control every last newspaper, TV and radio station in Australia - Rupert Murdoch’s fantasy could become a frightening reality unless we stand in his way right now. Independent Australia, 19 January 2012 
  • Murdoch(s)... newspapers had spent the past three years waging a relentless campaign against the government of Julia Gillard and all its works. The Monthly, Mungo Maccallum, September 2013 
  • Not only do newspapers have a shrinking readership, they also have an ageing readership. Older people, already disproportionately Coalition voters, are more settled in their political preferences and outlooks. The key to a Labor victory will be how the younger age groups, perhaps especially those under forty, will vote, and these groups are not reading Murdoch’s newspapers. Inside Story, Rodeny Tiffen, 23 June 2015 
  • Ever since Rupert Murdoch decided to enter the television game in the early 1980s, his newspapers have waged continuous war on public service broadcasters... The Conversation, Julian Petley, 26 August 2015
  • The competition watchdog has raised concerns about Rupert Murdoch's News Corp gaining a monopoly on print newspapers in Queensland if allowed to buy its rival's mastheads. Brisbane Times, Lucy Battersby, 6 October 2016
and continue this year:
  • As this new year starts – one in which Parliament will debate changes to Australia's media ownership laws – News Corp and the Murdoch family have set about expanding their level of control over media in this country. The Sydney Morning Herald, Lucy Battersby, 14 January 2012 
  • Opponents of Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take full control of Sky have called for it to be blocked because the mogul’s family are not “fit and proper” owners following the phone-hacking scandal. The Guardian, Mark Sweeney, 8 March 2017 
  • Only a tiny fraction of voters would have read The Australian newspaper’s editorial on Friday in which the paper implored West Australians to vote for Colin Barnett’s Liberals... Rupert Murdoch’s great vanity project, which for decades dominated the nation’s journalistic landscape, has lost the plot. The West Australian, Ben Harvey, 13 March 2017 
  • Even though phone-hacking is now a dark part of its history, Murdoch's media empire continues to churn out partisan and sometimes highly abusive content. Independent UK, Neena Gill, 29 June 2017
There are comments from a blogger:
  • These results are very disturbing because effectively the biggest Australian newspapers are lying to their audiences although journalism is supposed to be about reporting as truthfully and accurately as we can. News Corp is responsible for most of the articles that don't accept the consensus. Desmog, Graham Readfearn, 1 November 2013
and a reader:
  • Rupert Murdoch's media empire is a negative force in the Western world, poisoning the politics of the US and the UK especially. tjefferson Jun 28th 2012, 21:21

So much of what is written and published online is against Murdoch's politically penetrating, immoral, vicious and malicious ownership of media empire.

When I started this blog I titled it Who wrote this? That's my problem – I don't trust, don't enjoy and would never buy any newspaper in the Murdoch harem if I knew that whatever I was reading was Murdoch's. There are many others which I can read, can enjoy and can trust. I hope that every reader of this blog will read all this, read every link, find truthful information against Murdoch, and feel that same way.

Have a wonderful life away from such an evil media empire!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Millionaires, billionaires, who else?


How many millionaires in Australia? You don't know? Okay, I'll make it easier. How many billionaires in Australia?

There are 32, according to the Forbes 2017 list. 32 billionaires in Australia. Do you know what 'billionaire' means? I looked up the online dictionary for a definite definition: a person who has assets of finance at least 1,000 million dollars. That is $1,000,000,000 – one thousand million. Any idea how this sort of assets or finance competes to your own? I can't even work that out.

Gina Rinehart has $15 billion. She's 69th richest person in the globe. The richest person is Bill Gates, from Microsoft, with $86 billion. This year there are 2,043 billionaires around the world – 233 more than last year: the first time more than 2,000.

This year there are 559 billionaires in the USA (Donald Trump is one of them). There are 317 in China; 108 in Germany; 101 in India; 93 in Russia; 66 in Hong Kong; 53 in the UK; 41 in Brazil; 38 in Canada; 36 in France and South Korea; 34 in Italy and Switzerland; 32 in Japan (and Australia); 30 in Sweden and Taiwan; and many other countries which have less than 30 billionaires.

The youngest billionaires this year are from Norway - Alexandra Andresen, age 20, and Katharina Andresen, age 22, both making money from their investments. The oldest this year is David Rockefeller Snr, from USA – he's 102 and makes his money from real estate and investments.

So why do people save a billion dollars, and why do they keep that money instead of helping other people – who, like in Australia, live in poverty?
  • Algeria has one billionaire who made his money from food.... yes, food! Al Jazeera wrote about Algeria in 2014 saying that 23% of that population lives under poverty! 
  • Chile has 12 billionaires who made most of their money from mining, paper and banking, but according to Contact Chile there is 14.4% of poverty in this country.
  • Colombia has a severe poverty of 29%, but it also has 3 billionaires who made their money from banking... and soft drinks. It has been reported by the Borgen Project that Colombia's poverty has cut quite a lot, but there has still been a lot of violence as rural land is stolen from the owners. 
  • Georgia has one billionaire but Georgia has 17.1% population in poverty
  • Guernsey has one billionaire but Guernsey had 22.3% population in poverty (2014 reported in their 2017 pdf).
  • Iceland has one billionaire but Iceland had 9% in poverty
  • Romania had one billionaire and yet it had the “highest relative poverty rate in the EU”, according to Romania Inside. 25.1% of the population.
  • Slovakia has one billionaire who got his money from real estate, but Slovakia has a poverty of 13%.
Nigeria has 3 billionaires with their funds made from cement, sugar, flour, telecom and oil, and yet it is the only country I found which has increased its poverty between 1990 and 2013. Why on earth would billionaires live there if they would never give to their countrymen?? 

The Philippines is one of the worst – 14 billionaires live there, while around 26% live below poverty. That would be around 26 million people with their population at 103 million. The Philippines is rated as 13th populated on the globe – yet it is far behind many western countries for poverty. 

So how does Australia fare? ACOSS (Australian Council of Security Services) wrote a report in 2016 titled Poverty in Australia 2016. Australia is considered against OECD countries, and ACOSS found that 13.3% of the Australia population is “living below the internationally accepted poverty line”. There are, on the DSS spreadsheet workpage titled 'Payment by Rate', 2,497,468 beneficiaries not counting aged pensioners. Forbes said there are 32 Australian billionaires. There are, undoubtedly, many, many millionaires, but Forbes didn't count them in the report I looked at. There are, this year, somewhere around $89.7 billion dollars in Australia belonging to just the billionaires. I used to think I'd be angry when I found out this sort of stuff. Now, I'm just sad.

The DSS spreadsheet is very interesting – I can use that in the future. But for now I am looking at the Australian billionaires, thinking of the Australian millionaires (I even know some of them) and thinking of where I am living now. I'm pretty sure no rich people live here.

The quote I've printed here says what I feel – not just for children, but for anyone who does need it. I hope a millionaire – or a billionaire - will listen to me.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

What is "religion"?

I know that Wikipaedia information is not believed by everyone, but bear with me and read on. According to Wikipaedia “Religion is any cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, ethics, or organizations, that relate humanity to the supernatural or transcendental. Religions relate humanity to what anthropologist Clifford Geertz has referred to as a cosmic 'order of existence'.”

The trouble is that there are rarely, throughout the world, countries which agree! Word Atlas said that Christianity is an Abrahamic religion, the same as Judaism, Islam, Ba'hai and others. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and others are Indian religions. Taoism (or Daoism), Cao Dai, Shingyo, Shintoism and others are Asian. Wikipaedia has a breakdown of the denominations.

In Wikipaedia, Christianity was shown as at 2010 as the predominant religion, followed by Muslims. The third is atheism – no religion. What surprised me the most was that New Zealand, where I was born, had a 42% of atheism within their country! That % includes agnostics. I had a look through the 2013 census which was quoted on Wikipaedia as a reference, which noted 41.9%. That has increased a lot between 2006 (34.6%) and 2013 (41.9%). As mentioned earlier, 52.1% for the 2016 census were Christians – a large drop. The next census will be 2018 – I will be watching.

Gabe Bullard wrote an article for National Geographic in April last year, talking about how non-religion is growing - and quickly. Bullard said that the lack of religious affiliations has changed how people bring up their kids, how they react to death and how they are now living. And he said that “France will have a majority secular population soon. So will the Netherlands and New Zealand. The United Kingdom and Australia will soon lose Christian majorities. Religion is rapidly becoming less important than it’s ever been...” Maybe that's where it should end up.

In Australia the predominant religion is Christianity, including all the sub-dominant affiliations, but it's now losing out. The ABS stats report of the 2016 census said that 52.1% of the people in Australia were Christians, but a further 30.1% said they had no religion, which includes atheism, agnosticism and 'Secular Beliefs and Other Spiritual Beliefs and No Religious Affiliation'. What surprised me in this country is how many people truly believe that Islam is “taking over”, when, on the census, only 2.6% people claim Islam as their religion.

News Limited wrote in an article titled No religion’ tops religion question in Census on 28 June that Australia is growing into a non-believer country. It mentioned 1966 as 88% Christian and has now dropped. Maybe that is why people like me moved here – a decent life, good jobs, good money... until you end up homeless, unemployed and in poverty. That's another story... but non-religion is the present. It should be.

ABC's religion and ethics writer, Barney Zwartz, a senior fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity, media adviser to the Anglican Primate of Australia and a freelance writer (he said), wrote in August about the demise of religion. Zwartz converted from agnosticism many years ago when he was 24 and considered himself up to date with his religion, yet “the fact is the world of religion, for most newsdesks, is an alien world, and as budgets and space have shrunk they have focused ever more on politics and sport, court or crime stories - which are cheap and easy - lifestyle stories, and eventually clickbait.” He thinks that “anti-Catholicism” is a new “anti-Semitism”. Could he be right? I dislike the fact that he thinks he is.

At the end of his article Zwartz quoted. The first was from Sir Noel Coward - “It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” Coward was agnostic. He wrote “Do I believe in God? I can't say No and I can't say Yes, To me it's anybody's guess.”.

The second was from Joseph Heller's novel Something Happened - “Every change is for the worse.”. In an interview in Australia in 1998 Heller had said that “The only wisdom I think I've attained is the wisdom to be skeptical of other people's ideology and other people's arguments. I tend to be a skeptic, I don't like dogmatic approaches by anybody. I don't like intolerance and a dogmatic person is intolerant of other people. It's one of the reasons I keep a distance from all religious beliefs. I think in this country and in Australia too there's a late intolerance in most religions, an intolerance, a part that could easily become persecutions.” Non-religious?

The third was from a previous USA Vice President Dan Quayle: “The future will be better tomorrow.” I haven't read anywhere in his biographies that Quayle was religious, but that wouldn't worry me. What worries me was reading his quote in a religious article. Zwartz finished his article with another comment after Quayle's quote: “Isn't that comforting? But Christians know it is true.” Zwartz gave me a shiver up my spine. I'm atheist. If the future is better tomorrow, then seriously, we need a NEW government, NEW beliefs and NEW trust of people in this country who say they are “religious”. Unfortunately, religion drags money far too far away from Australia – and everywhere else around the globe. Poverty? In a country like Australia?

Atheists know it's true.