Saturday, 31 July 2010

The gall bladders of public figures

My mate Denis from The Nature of Robertson lets off political steam on his blog, The Body Politic.

This morning he has posted on the genre of the body politic about Kevin Rudd's gall bladder operation.  BTW it must be the season for public figures and their gall bladders, coz Chrissy Nixon has been hospitalised too recently.  And since things have a habit of happening in threes, who will be the third public figure.

Anyway, Networkers, pop over here for references to gall bladders and pancreatitis and bile and assorted matters in The Body Politic.

And I don't mean to be morbid but the topic of public figures and their assorted gall bladders got into my head and I googled politician gall bladder and turned up an interesting site.  Over at The Political Graveyard there is a whole list of politicians who have died of gallbladder ailments.  Talk about things you didn't know and forgot to ask your mother!

And I have just discovered another thing.  You might not need surgery!  If you grab hold of this li'l ol' e-book you can find out how to pass your gall stones naturally!  But does it hurt, I ask.  Does it depend on how big they are!  Ooh, the thought!

Public figures on foreign shores who have taken their gall bladders to surgery in 2010 include Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian President, andJohn Murtha, American Congress Representative (died of complications).  Miss Eagle invites notifications for addition to this tiny list.

Thursday, 29 July 2010


Have a chuckle, Networkers, as you seek the grain of truth in this one:


Of late, I have been thinking of the empires and enclaves of which I know precious little and, in some cases, absolutely nothing. 

There have been periods in my life - such as the greed is good '80s - where I have felt alienated from a wider society.  Recent events have resulted, inadvertently, in something I have never done before - foster parenting a child in the care of the Department of Human Services.  The child is 14, the eldest of seven children in a household where neither parent works and one wonders if recent additions to the family have been encouraged by the generous "baby bonus" introduced by the Howard Government.  

So what else is new, you might think?  True.  I am not the social worker, hand-holding, there-there type of person.  I don't consider myself ungenerous of heart and I have always been involved in working for a just and equitable community and system of governance within a civil society.  I have heard of and read about people who inhabit the world of chronic welfare dependency.  

Now such people have entered my world in a way that has not occurred before - in spite of the fact that I have worked with people at the margins such as alcoholics, the homeless, Aboriginal people and communities, and the working poor.  Now, I find myself a stranger in a strange land.  

I then think of other strata of society of which I have no knowledge - the drugged people; the thinking all the time of money people; the always climbing the social ladder people and so on.  Empires of which I know nothing, nothing at all.

And into all of these thoughts comes this article by Niall Ferguson.   I have recently introduced Networkers to Ferguson in this post.  I don't want to discuss the economics in this latest article.  As I have made clear previously, I am a Krugman-ite.  But I am interested in what he says about the rise and fall of empires.  I am particularly interested in this paragraph which I will take into my thoughts to dwell upon:

Yet it is possible that this whole cyclical framework is, in fact, flawed. What if history is arrhythmic - at times almost stationary, but also capable of accelerating suddenly, like a sports car? What if collapse comes suddenly, like a thief in the night? 

I think this is worthy of consideration because, just as I am caught up in thinking of the division of human society into microcosms of separate empires and worlds, there are a lot of people agonising about what might be the empire/s of the future.  These people are the people of the climate change action groups which abound around the place. 

Now lest you think, Networkers, that I am a climate change sceptic, I wish to state I am not.  I am of another form of scepticism: I am a Climate Change Group Sceptic.

I look at the ones who major in Climate Change activism alone in a mixture of wonder and horror.  

I see Chicken Littles telling us that the sky is about to fall.  I don't see the Climate Change people working where I am on trying to avert the disaster of bad management and bad political decisions which have been wreaking havoc on our rivers, oceans, forests and vegetation for a long, long time and which show no sign of abatement.  

Talk to the CC activists about the details of these management decisions and one finds one self speaking a language which is not understood.  So, the rivers, oceans, forests, and vegetation suffer in a way which contributes to the global warming they protest about and they spend their time time angsting about the abstract and looking for middle-class technological solutions.  I, it seems, inhabit one empire and they another.

The CC predictions are for a future empire of woe - and yet we don't know, even if the planet as we now know it is affected adversely, how this will work out for the planet and for humanity.  Some Gaian arrhythmic purpose may take over and transform the planet and our future generations - or it may collapse overnight.

I am a CC Group sceptic because I think such people/groups have communicated their message badly and, in turn, have switched off people or frightened them into inaction.  There were complaints that the powers that be in Australia didn't understand (they did - the groups didn't seem to understand how politics operated in a pluralist, democratic society) and it was all their fault that Copenhagen turned sour.  Did they not bother to think about the attitudes of the USA, China and India and take them into account?    

And then, activist though I am, my thoughts turn to the great lesson of the Tao: wu wei.

Related reading:
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire

Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial Classics)

The Essential Tao : An Initiation into the Heart of Taoism Through the Authentic Tao Te Ching and the Inner Teachings of Chuang-Tzu


Thalidomide was the drug that horrified the world - as you might understand, younger Networkers, from the picture above.  The Australian medico, William McBride,noted the link between thalidomide and birth defects.  Due to his work, pregnant women receive much less prescribed medication in pregnancy than once was the case.

To-day comes this good news story of more compensation for ageing Thalidomide victims.  Ken Youdale and Peter Gordon are brilliant.  And it is pleasing to write about a care-full corporate, Diageo, who had no legal obligation to pay compensation.

Related reading:
Thalidomide Kid

Beyond Thalidomide: Birth Defects Explained
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Further to yesterday's post about Jason Wood MP which mentioned Upwey station, The Network has come up with the information that Upwey Station - which was de-staffed under the 'reforms' of Jeff Kennett's Liberal Government - has, in the 2010 Budget of the Brumby Labor Government, been listed for re-staffing.  It won't happen overnight, Networkers, but it will happen.  I am told it could be three years before you see it.

Networkers on the Belgrave Line will notice that Ferntree Gully (otherwise known as Lower Gully) Station was staff-less too but the station has had quite a bit of attention in recent times and has been re-staffed.  So just wait for it, Upwey Networkers.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Jason Wood on the left at Upwey Station

Jason Wood is the Liberal Member for the Federal seat of La Trobe situated in the outer east and south-east of Melbourne. The seat of La Trobe is one of the Liberal Party's most marginal seats.  Jason Wood sits on a majority of  .51%.  In short, Jason cannot afford to offend any one - especially if they have a large family or are part of a large organisation or network.

To-day Jason crossed the line, upset people, and - arguably - broke the law namely the Victorian transport legislation and the electorate act.  Jason and his helpers were handing out their particular brand of political propaganda at the railway stations of Boronia, Upper Ferntree Gully, and Tecoma on the Belgrave Line within the seat of La Trobe.  Jason himself was handing out stuff at Boronia.  When asked to desist and move on by Metro station officers he refused claiming that he was within his rights to do this.  

Now the rule of thumb is that anyone wishing to hand out material must seek permission - and permission is not given to those handing out commercial or political material.  This means the local RSL, as an example,  is likely to get permission to sell badges or poppies.  Politicians and political parties won't get a guernsey.

Now one would think that this little nicety would not have escaped Jason.  Not only should politicians be a bit astute about how and when and where they can campaign but, dear Networkers, Jason is a former policeman.  Here is how he describes his policing career:

In nearly twenty years working with the Victorian Police Force, I experienced the best and worst sides of humanity. I worked in the prevention of both youth and drug related crimes. This experience encouraged me to push for greater opportunities for young people who might be challenged by school, family or other social issues. I strongly believe that a society’s youth is its greatest asset. I believe that we must invest in our youth, provide them with opportunities and give them a sense of confidence and hope in themselves, and in the future.
In my time with the Victorian Police, I worked as a Junior Constable at Boronia Police Station, later becoming a Detective with the Organised Crime Squad (OCS). In time, I was promoted to Senior Sergeant with the Counter Terrorism Coordination Unit (CTCU).  In this capacity, I was responsible for reviewing legislation and for research into counter-terrorism. Now, in Federal Parliament, I am a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission and most recently, I have been appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Public Security and Policing. This work enables me to apply my experiences with the Victorian Police to current debate and decision-making about Australian’s national security, counter-terrorism and crime.

Wouldn't you think that Jason would have had a clue on such a basic matter as railway station campaigning.  Mmm......?  Is he this effective in other elements of his job as the representative for La Trobe?

Needless to say, there has been a bit of a hustle and bustle around the rail between Boronia and Tecoma this morning.  One hander-out had to be publicly called out over the loudspeaker, was asked to shift, moved - but not far enough - and had to be asked once again.  The public calling out was because this had to be done remotely from another station because there are no staff at Tecoma.  The Metro Media Centre has been fielding some enquiries this morning.  And Jason's activities were noted on air at 3AW Breakfast with Ross and John.

Election campaigns can be roller-coaster events with the unexpected always to be expected - but I wonder how many votes were lost to-day by Jason.  

For a start, it might be a good idea, Jason, to be a bit sensitive about railway staff.  You see, you are a Liberal and there are long memories in the railway - even to transferring that corporate memory on to new generations of staff - about how Jeff Kennett 'reformed' the railways.  

The picture of you at the top is about discussing of security on the railway.  It is noteworthy that it was the Kennett Liberal Government that did away with the guards on suburban trains.  Under Kennett, stations were de-staffed.  Take away the people, Jason, and you take away security. 

The members of the RTBU remember these things - and when you don't comply with the rules as their job requires them to ask you and your helpers to do - you don't do yourself any favours.  They have a vote too, you know.  And, Jason, when you don't comply with legitimate requests you are not setting a great example to those non-compliant travellers who threaten the security of train travel.

Ah well, Jason.  At least people have a choice.  For one there's Laura Smyth and, for another, there's Jim Reiher.

Related reading:

Liberal MP Jason Wood's campaign stopped in its tracks

GAS RUSH : ENERGY : WATER - Across the world

JULY 27, 2010
Reign of Sand
Michigan’s New Natural Gas Rush: Energy and Water in Play
A Leasing Frenzy
Dear Miss Eagle,

America's deep shale seams, one of which runs through northern Michigan, contains enough natural gas to fuel the country for a century. That's awakened the fossil fuel industry, which spent a record $178 million in May leasing state-owned mineral rights. But drilling and production practices that involve millions of gallons of water and thousands of pounds of chemicals have generated considerable public concern. This week Circle of Blue takes its first look, and certainly not its last, at the promise and potential peril of producing natural gas from Michigan's Collingwood Shale.
Meanwhile, China grapples with its new position as the worlds largest energy-consumer and faces its biggest oil spill.
In Africa, the PlayPump, a water-storing device fueled by the merry-go-round energy from kids that defies the laws of thermodynamics--has fallen out of favor with the international aid community, including with UNICEF.
Looking more at long-term sustainability in foreign policy, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announcedPakistan water programs last week.
As Asian carp continue to be a potential threat to the Great Lakes, Midwestern state officials filed suit in a U.S. District Court to force the government to take more drastic steps to block the invasive aquatic species. And Sitka, Alaska faces a few hiccups that could hinder its bulk water export ambitions.

Well, dear Networkers, what can I say.  It is clear that Australia (in particular New South Wales and Queensland) is not the only place in the world suffering from the Coal Seam Gas phenomenon.

Recent events in Queensland regarding Cougar Energy led a friend to write suggesting a moratorium until the science was settled on this subject.  I wrote back as follows:

Anything that would stop this would need a REAL campaign.  I don't believe a moratorium until the science is right is the way to go.  That argument could be knocked over in five minutes flat. One only needs to argue that science is never settled.

There is another way - and it uses a phrase I only came across recently on Lateline. I might have been thick - but the big boys know about it.  It is the phrase "social licence".

Here is the link to the transcript of Geoffrey Cousins on Lateline.  The social licence is what is behind what Geoffrey Cousins did in sorting out Gunns at Boardroom level.  

Social licence means that, whatever the big boys might want to do from the ivory towers of their boardrooms, it can be very difficult when the people around you don't give their permission or their affirmative consensus in what you wish to do.

Fast forward then to Background Briefing's program 'Gas Rush'.  Here is the link to the transcript and audio.  Towards the end of the program, one of the more senior folk in the CSG industry mentions the social licence.  He says, more or less,  that those who have taken the trouble to consult with people have not had any bother.  The bother comes from those who rush in.

I believe that on so many environmental fronts this phrase has to become embedded in our society.  It can only do this by pressure from widespread communities and campaigns.

The social licence for the current CSG push or gas rush is dubious.    The effects in so many ways are massive - not only for the environment but for communities and how they live.  It is not drawing too long a bow to suggest that Australia's own food security is under threat.  Yet do these resource buccaneers have the social licence of the communities they enter, the states they operate in, or of the people of this nation?

So,, I am all in favour of a campaign - but a serious one that can get runs on the board.  May be Geoffrey Cousins has to be consulted since he has done what seemed impossible to so many - but he has certainly pulled Gunn's teeth and their share price has improved to demonstrate the benefit. 

So let's set up a campaign that says that, with all the govt permissions and licences you receive, there is one more.  The social licence of the community.  If you want it, you prove yourselves worthy of it.  Oh, and BTW, if you think your company is doing the right thing - the social licence to you have may be withdrawn along with those clearly doing the wrong thing.  And just as government licences frequently carry some conditions - any social licence the community might give you may carry some conditions as well.

In addition, I would like to draw your attention to the Bimblebox campaign against the coal companies.  Please see the relevant post here.  At the end of the visible part of the post you will see a link saying 'Read more'.  Please click on this and you will find a petition which you can copy, paste, print and sign.

I also attach for you a coal map of Queensland.  What is happening across Queensland is of significant environmental interest.  I don't want to take up any more time because you could go to most places on this map and find a concerning story - and inevitably it would link in some way to impact on water.  If anyone wants to know more, please ask.  But I think I have given you enough to get going.  But if you want to some clues - look at Gladstone and Bowen, both Great Barrier Reef towns.

g '
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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

New Gluten Free Bread at Sharon's Place this Sunday

My friend Sharon has written to me as follows:

Could you please advertise by word of mouth or sending on this email as a Community Health announcement:

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease. It is a permanent intestinal intolerance to dietary gluten. The will be a free demonstration of a new Gluten Free Bread which is fructose friendly too this coming Sunday at my place.
This picture of gluten
free bread from here.

Now Networkers, I don't want to plaster Sharon's address and phone numbers publicly so...if you want to go to this could you please email me at misseaglesnetwork(at)gmail(dot)com for the details.


It is Federal Election Time in Australia - a time when politicians are much sought after by a wide variety of civil society organisations.  The seat of Deakin where I live is a hive of activity because it is a marginal seat which could change hands.  Labor has held it for one term, due to an active Your Rights At Work Campaign at the 2007 election.  The former long-term Liberal member is trying to win it back - so things could be interesting.  There is a Green candidate too - and, it is worth noting, that the City of Whitehorse, the local government in this area, has a Green mayor.

Jeremy Brennan is a busy lad.  He is organising for World Vision the Make Poverty History Community Forum.  Here are the details:

Deakin Electoral Forum
6:00pm - 7:30pm
Thu 5 August 2010
NewHope Baptist Church
3 Springfield Road, 
Blackburn North, Victoria

Jeremy Brennan 
Phone (B.H): 0432 241 194
RSVP by Monday 2 August 

Forum Speakers: 

Tim Costello – as key note speaker for MPH and panel member (World Vision Australia CEO and co chair of Make Poverty History); 
George Savvidesas Moderator (Managing Director of Medibank Private, Board Member of World Vision Australia and World Vision International and Director of The Australian Centre for Health Research Limited); 
Mike Symon MP – panel member (ALP); 
Phil Barresi – panel member (Liberal Candidate for Deakin); 
David Howell – panel member (Greens Candidate for Deakin).
Every minute, 17 children in developing countries die of easily preventable diseases.  Australia could make a difference by committing just 70 cents of every $100 in national income to aid (0.7%).  We know that the majority of Australians support this change.
As a supporter of Make Poverty History, it is hoped that you can attend this Community Forum to hear how those who would represent us in the Australian Parliament are responding to this important issue.
You can meet the speakers, ask questions and join like-minded people in Deakin.  Don't miss this event!  It is a special opportunity to put your voice together with others in your neighbourhood to help the world's most vulnerable children.  

This forum is being organised by World Vision through the Make Poverty History coalition and is supported by:

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Trier Murphy at The Wilderness Society.
Waiting for your call.

Victorians deserve a real plan to secure our water future. That starts with protecting our rivers and native forest water catchments. You can make a difference. Bring yourself, a friend and some savvy ideas to our next event and make this year’s state election deliver big-time for saving water by protecting forests and rivers.

Our environment needs help and we can’t do it without you. The lead up to the November 27 state election is your chance to make a big difference for the environment. Come along to learn more about our forests and rivers, and to help us prepare and deliver an exciting community driven campaign in your area. Join us in this interactive hands-on event!

Help to protect our native forests and rescue our rivers – 
bring your ideas or just come along to find out what you can do

Thursday, 29 July 2010, 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Field Naturalist Club of Victoria’s Hall, 
at 1 Gardenia Street, Blackburn 
Melways Ref: 47 K11


Admission free

To The Wilderness Society Victorian Community Campaigner on 

0433 010 390 

or email

right now

For more information:

In previous years, the Walk Against Warming has always been held in the Melbourne CBD.  This will happen again this year.  However, the seats of Deakin and La Trobe in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne are vulnerable seats: Deakin for Labor, and La Trobe for the Liberals.  And Election Time - as you will understand, Networkers - is a great time to grab the attention of politicians.

So if you can make it to a WaW in either Deakin or La Trobe 
please let people know of your intention - an soon.
~You can phone Trier as above.
~You can phone Environment Victoria on
9341 8100
~You can email me at

We want to make all three marches a great fun time - 
with a purpose!  

Monday, 26 July 2010


Overnight my bedside radio is on ABC Local Radio 774 - but occasionally the dial slips and I land on a station which takes the BBC World Service.  I am an information junkie and so appreciate a little leaven in the lump in an external form.  Thus it was that I heard an interesting interview with Niall Ferguson. Film buffs will recall that Ferguson was the inspiration for the young specialist teacher, Irwin, in The History Boys.

This time he was speaking about the subject of his recently published book, Siegmund Warburg - who was one of those Warburgs.  Go here, here and here for reviews of the book, High Financier: the Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg.  Go here to listen to Niall Ferguson speaking under the heading, Banks: Money and Morals
An assortment of United States coins, includin...Image via Wikipedia

In this part of the 21st century when we have seen bankers of all types and persuasions playing fast and loose and bringing down economies across the globe, Ferguson claims that Warburg was insistent on quality and demanded that banking be approached ethically and aesthetically.  The first quality we must all demand, and insist upon its implementation.  How aesthetics can be brought into the world of banking to bring about its transformation can be another matter altogether.  The ugliness and dishonesty, though, of the sub-prime mortgage maestros makes one want to think long and hard on the linkage of honesty and beauty.

Ferguson does not see an answer in regulation.  He believes the thousands of pages of recently drafted US legislation will still only result in a ticking of the boxes by those who want to return to the slice and dice, party atmosphere of the toxic derivatives market.  
Ferguson thinks right and wrong needs to be taught way back in business school.  Now I'm sure, that right and wrong and ethics need to be taught in business school - but, it should be as plain as the nose on one's face, that - if personal morality waits until it is taught in business school - it is way, way too late.  

Moral development 
is a cradle to grave imperative - 
or else it fails.

Related Reading:
High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg
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