My Personal Racism

20 03 2014

I like to think that most of you think I’m “a nice guy” and I’d like to think that I am too.

But I was racist, or at least partially so, yep… me, and not all that long ago either.

I suppose this is what’s known as soul-searching, or having a change of heart. a row with yourself can really help at times, and I’m going to write about how all of it played out.

Firstly, there was racism in my family, and when it’s in the family, it gets passed down to kids, it’s a nonsense which is learned but can be unlearned (in time). And better to do so as it’s self-destructive, ruining friendships and family relationships.

Often people do things which parents did, and grandparents did, because “that’s what you do” and little thought is given to why it began and if we really need to do it anymore, often those who think about these things, realise that they don’t need to continue as things have changed, and stop doing it.

So I thought back.

My Grandparents came from near Ballarat, which is an old gold mining town, and I think that they must’ve seen a lot of different people who had come all the way from overseas to try and make their fortune, especially the Chinese.

There has never been ill will to the Chinese in this family, perhaps because of this early contact.

WWII began, and Mum was a teenager, She met a handsome young Man called Norman, who she fell completely in love with. But Norman went to fight the Japanese, He was fighting in New Guinea when he was captured and put below deck in a Japanese prison ship, which was spotted by the Americans and torpedoed.

It ruined the life my Mother dreamt of, she adored him, and her love never faded.

Yes, she did meet another man, oddly enough, He was called Norman too, He was My Dad.

Mum loved Dad,  it was sometimes a bumpy marriage, She loved her first Norman till she died, something Dad was conscious of and perhaps
a little envious of now and then. How do you compete with the dead?

And she hated “The Japs”.

My Uncle had spent time in Changi Prison, He was there till just before the war ended. He remembered the Japanese becoming very quiet one day, and then a British fellow parachuting in and declaring that He was taking over the camp.

Not that log after coming home, My Uncle Ern, developed Parkinson’s Disease… You know, I never knew my Uncle, As I only saw him as an old shaky man who couldn’t speak, While the rest of my family treasured him.

Mum blamed the disease on “The Japs” too, although Parkinson’s Disease probably doesn’t come about from a terrible life experience, but not having researched it, I honestly don’t know why people get it.

Mum, and Dad (who had also fought in WWII) both hated “The Japs”, and passed the hatred down to my older Sister, who was full of hatred for the Japanese too, but, much to Mums dismay, I didn’t feel it myself, but I hadn’t been exposed to things the way they had been.

I hoped Mum had let go of her hate, maybe she had, I’m not sure… but I saw what carrying that hate around, did to her.

Mum had got on well with a lot of people during her life, She knew Finnish people, Italians, Greeks, Yugoslavs, most were kind to her, and so she was kind to them. I remember she often got cakes or vegetables from them, things she had never tried before, and she loved it.

I sometimes think that if Mum had found some Japanese living locally, then perhaps, somehow, conversation would have lead to a change of heart.

But I worry too, You see, Mum was holding onto her hatred as a way of coping with her losses, if that were taken away, would she have found another way to cope? I don’t know.

I have imagined that perhaps, one day, if she had Japanese friends who were good to her, that she would have opened up, and that somehow there would have been healing.

Strangely enough, she was fine with Germans.

Racism caused a family rift, and may have done so again, more recently.

My Mother had gone through a terrible birth, and had her first child, My Sister, Who, as it turned out, was of a darker skin… My Dad was partially Aboriginal, which naturally (in the 50’s) was not something you wanted anyone to hear about… No, Dad had Mediterranean or perhaps Spanish blood in him, that accounted for his colour.

As a result of this, I was never really sure, until a few years back, that I was, therefore, partly Aboriginal myself.

There was a skeleton in the closet, which Mum never spoke of, you see, I discovered that Mum had a Sister, at a later age than I should have, and that she lived locally.

I had asked Mum to explain why we’d never gone to see Ruby, but she remained tight-lipped.

One evening My Sister told me.

Jan, My Sister, Had been bought home from Hospital, and was in her cot. Ruby came to visit and went into the room where Jan was, and declared that she was “a little black mongrel” or some such… and Mum threw her out, never to be seen again.

So the two Sisters were lost to each other, and My Sister and I missed out on an Aunt, for what?

In the 80s, Vietnamese boat people came to Australia, and My parents didn’t like them at all, I didn’t like them much either, suddenly my school and our area seemed to be full of them.

They took over the shopping area, Footscray, a place where My parents and Jan used to spend a lot of time shopping. Mum said that they didn’t like it much when the Greeks and Italians moved in earlier, but they did keep their shops looking lovely, it seemed that they were always cleaning… while the Vietnamese clearly didn’t.

I think this is true, I still think it’s true. I used to go to Footscray myself as a teenager, and it seemed to be in a lot better condition back then, these days it’s run down and smells bad, it’s really not a nice place to be… but then, I’m not the best house keeper either.

One day, A friend of a friend, became a friend of mine, and he was Vietnamese, and of course I liked him. And I always thought very highly of his lovely Mum, who was a former teacher, and a bloody good cook too.

One day, Dad was out delivering, that was his job, and we stopped at a crossing, and dad mumbled “Look at them, bloody heads on ’em like mice” as some Vietnamese crossed in front of us. What a strange thing to say, I thought. and then said “Dad, James is Vietnamese” and he replied “Yeah But he’s a better class of person” which didn’t seem to make any sense either.

You see, Dad really liked James.

This was the 80s, by the way, and there seemed to be a lot of homophobia too, even though 50% of our music seemed to come from Gay artists, which seemed to be ok, oddly enough.

One day, dad was talking about a local mechanic who had employed a man who was “a poofta”, who Dad had got to know, and he said “He’s a poof… but he’s a good poof” (Yes, you and me both)

It was difficult back then too, because I had feelings which I would have preferred to have opened up about, but couldn’t. There was a wall up, what could I do?

Mum may have threatened to toss me out of the house, which she had done a few times, but I had grown up before I realised that she never would have.

It may have been the late 90’s and refugees were coming by boat from another far off land… We were seated around the table at My Sisters house and the refugees were mentioned, and Jan said something like “I’d heard that now and then the navy sinks the bastards” and she was clearly pleased about that.

I’m not sure how I felt about that, fifty-fifty I think.

One day I was talking to a very good friend of mine and I said something like I agreed with Pauline Hanson when it came to refugees, and he hung up on me, now I could have said “up yours” but I didn’t, I usually never bend for anyone, but I did here, because I wasn’t completely sold on the idea.

We’re still friends.

I’m barely racist at all, it’s a bit strange when it does crop up, and you know, I feel it, I feel like my face turns to stone, it’s awful.

The refugees come again, and for a long time… did you notice it on Twitter? I never mentioned them, because frankly I didn’t care about them, partly because they were unknowns, so what did it matter to me?

Partly because, I mostly concern myself with environmental matters, I do think Humans are a plague on the planet, who are destroying it and everything else, and sadly I am too, though I did decide early on that I’d never produce more… heck, i would have been an awful Dad anyway, I’m not provider material.

And partly because that old racism thing was there in the background.

Then the straw that broke the camels back:

My Niece posted something really ugly on Facebook, You know the horrible right-wing bullshit about people invading the country and taking over our jobs and our land, the kind of thing that if a puff of wind hit it from one side, they’d be Nazis?The kind of thing that ends “and if you don’t re-post this, then you’re not a True Australian”.

I told her that She was wrong, that’s not how things are at all. It was clear to me where her thoughts had originated, Her Mother, and now she was doing it too, but was clearly worse.

I had forgotten about the incident when, about four months later, she did it again.

This time I tore strips off her, I really let her have it, I told her exactly what I thought of her and her posts, she pleased with me to go easy, as we’re family and all that, but it had gone far enough.

I had clearly jangled her nerves, she deleted her facebook account.

The next day my Grand Niece messaged me, “How dare you talk to Mum like that, IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYWAY, NOBODY CARES!”

and I messaged her back “and you can fuck off too”.

And that was it, There has been no communication with either of them since, I don’t really mind as I rarely saw them anyway, they may as well live on Mars to be honest.

As for the bit of racism I had, I think I vomited up the last remaining blob of it, and that was that.

However, you’d have to have a pretty hard heart to look at what’s happening in these detention centers and not see how utterly brutal and sickening it is, and to think we are the country doing it.

This isn’t my Country, where has My Country gone?

Let’s end with a recount of casualties here: Mum and Her Sister, split apart, never to see each other again, My Niece, Grand Niece and I… for what?

Let it go, that’s my advice.

Wolfie!

One last thing… Dad pulled up his truck once and he asked me “How can a man love another man anyway, I mean, an ugly, hairy, smelly man?” I thought it was a strange question, I think it hit me from the side, and I was unable to say anything… but later I thought “But don’t Women generally love Men?”

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You get what you pay for

5 05 2013

When I want to buy an appliance, I will be considering a few features I want, and probably need, plus the reputation of the company and the price.

I will then go to a shop, have a really good look at what I may be buying, and if it shapes up to my expectations, I will pay for it.

That’s how I’m sizing up the Government.

But this is how I see most Australians.

Bloke reckons he wants a TV, goes to The Good Guys, Says “I’ll have that one because Tony, reckons it’s Ace” Pays his money.

Finds out the TV is too large for where he wanted it, Lacks most of the features he wanted, and despite everyone telling him beforehand, discovers for himself how unreliable the company which made it, really is.





Bandwidth explained

14 04 2013

I sometimes write for people who may be raw beginners on the internet, and this will be one of those posts.

There’s a word going around at the moment which you may have heard, especially in discussions about the NBN here in Australia.

It’s Bandwidth.

I’m going to explain to you exactly what bandwidth is.

Imagine that data, is water, and your computer is an empty bath.

Now, imagine there are three sets of taps over your bath.

One tap is really small, it’s only about as wide as a drinking straw.

The second tap is the normal sort of tap that anyone would have over their bath.

The third is huge, it looks more like a fire hydrant than a tap.

Now out of those three, which do you suppose would fill your bath the fastest?

The big tap!

And yes, there would probably be some splashing involved if it was turned on full.

Because the big tap is really big, a lot of water can go through it all at once.

That’s really all it is.

The tiny tap represents Dial up internet, Very slow, It will take hours to fill your bath.

The normal sized tap represents Broadband over copper wires, Fast-ish, but nothing amazing.

While The Big Tap represents Broadband over optical fiber, BIG SPASH, All Done!

Easy?





Going Backwards

18 03 2013

Australia may soon have a new right wing government, and I personally find that a very scary thought.

Strangely enough, We call them The Liberal Government, their name indicates a left wing government, but yes, they are right wing, because of this, I prefer to call them the LNP or Coalition.

While we vote for a party in Australia, most of us have a leader in mind when we vote, so in reality I think we do vote for a leader, even though they may not be on our ballot papers, when we think of the Labor Government, We think of Julia Gillard, and equally we think of Tony Abbott in opposition.

Tony has been, as is often the case with right wing governments, a bit cosy with New Limited, and it’s leader Rupert Murdoch. (as is the case with Fox News in the US which is owned by Rupert Murdoch).

Why is this a bad thing?

Imagine you own all the newspapers, some radio stations and some TV stations, and you have a lot of people reading your work, or watching it on television once they’re home, that gives you a lot of power.

For instance, if you had a friend who built houses, and you decided to tell everyone, via your media company, that your friend builds the best houses, and another bloke built poor houses, then without checking the facts a lot of your readers and viewers would believe you and go off and pay for your friend to build them a house.

Your friend would get really rich and maybe the other builder who may have even built better houses, could go broke.

And that’s the trouble with people, people believe stuff… it’s easier to believe stuff, rather than checking to see if it’s right, a lot of people say they have no time to check the facts, and often they don’t know how to.

This is why people buy particular smart phones, or vote for people, or go to church.

Belief is a fence, a handy device to keep the sheep all together in one paddock. when people believe in things, they’re far easier to control.

While it may be harder to spend time sorting out the facts, perhaps simply by reading, you could end up with a better product in the end.

A lot of people right now are being told, by News Limited, that everything Julia Gillard does is wrong, but Tony Abbott is Mr Perfect, which is a bit like saying Bohemian Rhapsody was never as good as Achy Breaky Heart.

And they’re quite happy to accept it as the truth.

But in a few months we may have a leader who doesn’t believe (so he says) in Climate Change, Thinks that we should keep mining Gas and Oil rather than look at alternatives like wind and solar, Thinks wireless internet will work just as well as fiber optic cable (as a techie I can tell you it won’t, nothing is faster than light), doesn’t seem to like migrants much, doesn’t like gays and lesbians.

If we are so easily conned, then the future will not be pretty.





That NBN thing

17 05 2012

A lot of us in Australia are either talking up, or talking down the NBN, as you know.

I think those of you who are talking up the NBN need to get your message across to this person.

This person has only recently bought a computer,

They think Internet Explorer is the thing that turns on “The Internet”.

They have an ADSL connection but when asked about how they’re connected to the internet, They’ll say Bigpond or Google.

Speaking of Google, this person thinks it’s something ON their computers.

I think of the time before 2000 as the “black and white era” of the internet, anyone who has just got online may have no real sense that one file is larger than the other, To them a short text file is the same as a Movie, I have seen one person burn a single short text file, to a CD.

This person has never experienced the effort of downloading an mp3 file, on dialup, which took a whole hour to download.

I’ve seen a computer ruined because someone downloaded “a song” from a P2P program which was only a few hundred KB in size, a huge red-flag to me, (virus) but they thought it was the song they were after.

They have no understanding of why Apples insistence on a closed app store is a bad thing, and probably think that everything is on the app store anyway. I’ve met an apple owner who doesn’t know how to use the app store.

When I got my first computer, an Amstrad CPC 6128 for my 21st Birthday in 1986, I was very aware of the size of files, I had to be, as I could run out of disc space very fast. The same when I moved to my Amiga A500 and my Amiga A1200… and I learnt about the limits of my machines and it’s software.

Newbies never had that education.

And while I fully appreciate the idea of having an NBN, this person won’t understand any of it, and probably think they’re fine with what they have.

This person will accept any of the rubbish they hear from Tony Abbott, about how a wireless system would be better.

To the techie, you need to explain yourselves very clearly to this person, and fast, You need to sell the idea that an NBN is a very good thing, you need to make it sound as appealing as a new Apple gizmo… and realise that even if all the customer understands is that they can buy a white one, then sell them a white one.

To the person who is new to computers, who may be reading this, feeling a bit confused, would you like some things to think about? If so, here’s a few.

Speed.

There are three ways to send data.

1. Cable

2. Regular copper wires

3. Wireless

Now I know some of you confuse Wireless with Wi-Fi, I’ll get to that shortly.

Consider this, do you recall from school what the fastest thing of all was?

If you said light, you’re right, and deserve a gold star.

Light is the fastest thing of all, and that’s what will travel along the fiber cables of the NBN.

Now there is some talk about different cable systems being faster than others, so some people worry that perhaps all the old cable will have to be dug up again and replaced with the new technology, this is highly unlikely… instead when it’s time for an upgrade, it will be as simple as the NBN people replacing their computers with new ones, just like you would if you need a new machine.

Wireless.

Wireless is fine, and I’m not against it. But radio waves cannot ever go as fast as light can, and it doesn’t matter what politicians of either side say, the fact is that nothing in the known universe, is faster than light.

Have you ever had your mobile phone slow down when you tried to access facebook, or poor reception? or worse no reception? Well that’s what it will be like if we all had wireless internet, which would get worse in the evenings as kids tried to play games on it or do their homework, it could even stall completely.

Granted, Wireless internet can be great for accessing things on your computer while on the train, but at home it’s probably not the best.

What’s the difference between Wireless and Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is usually the signal which comes out of your router, that box with the blinking lights on it. It’s that box which allows you to connect to your internet via a laptop, a mobile phone or iPad.

Wi-Fi will only work within range of your router, and is usually password protected so that only you and your family can make use of it.

You can access the NBN via Wi-Fi if you want.

Wireless is different.

To access wireless internet on your laptop, you need a small plastic thing which plugs into the USB port.

While an iPhone or iPad would need something like a pre-paid plan with Optus, Telstra or someone like that.

Wireless internet allows you to take a computer or phone with you and use your internet on the go, it would be useful to someone who’s an interstate truck driver, for example, or someone who regularly flies interstate.

But the down side is that it’s generally quite expensive and rather slow to use, and while it’s perfect for E-mails or Facebook, it’s no good for downloading movies, skype or playing fast moving games with.

Old copper wires.

If you have a really good phone connection, then you can connect to the internet via dial up, which is the very old method which makes odd squealing sounds through the phone,

You cannot use the phone when you’re using the computer for  dialup  internet.

Dial up is terribly slow, so slow in fact that it could take an hour to just load a youtube video.

Or you can have ADSL which is a fairly standard method used in most homes in Australia.

ADSL is for the most part, pretty reliable, it will allow most people to do pretty much everything they need to do, however the problem here is that the further away from your phone exchange you are, the slower ADSL becomes, and if you’re in a rural area, it might not work much better than dialup.

So, if you’re on a farm in the bush, your internet may suck more than your milking machines do.

What an NBN would do, is basically give everyone the chance to drive a Ferrari,

And it should cost about the same as standard ADSL internet (Generally ADSL works out to be a lot cheaper than wireless as you get a lot more data for your money).

It may surprise you to know that the internet came out of the 1960s and has slowly been advancing, always getting better.

That Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are all fairly new, and have come about as the new technology became cheaper and easier to use.

And that although things are pretty good as they are, they could be a lot better and a lot fairer to the wider community if we decide on having an NBN.

Well Like what?

People in rural areas would have the same internet experience as those of us in the city would.

It would give doctors life saving information about patients extremely quickly, or possibly allow surgeons in Melbourne to operate on a patient in Alice Springs via a robot.

It would allow anyone to upload high definition videos they’ve made themselves in just a few minutes (It once took me eight hours to do this on ADSL)

Business people could have conferences online, rather than fly interstate or overseas, allowing more time for people to remain with their families, the experience should be a lot better than todays Skype calls.

I really love to dream of possibilities, I’m really not sure what the next step will be, and that excites me.

So far I have met the most amazing people online, people who I thought I’d never get to meet, but what tomorrow brings may be a complete knock out, for all of us.

I say push it hard and as far as it will go, choose the NBN, it’s the best technology we have at the moment.

Wolfie!

The current, cheapest option is $50 per month, which is 30GB per month, with a speed of 12mps down, and 1mps up

(on internode)

*There was an error in my research last night, this has now been corrected.