Monthly Mailbag – January 2020
To Peter Strain of Bondi (Monthly Mailbag, The Beast, December 2019), who took great offence at the expression ‘Happy Holiday’: Dear oh dear.
Life must be pretty empty if that’s what gets your goat. By opening with, “Don’t you just hate…” it presumes we readers (or the editor, at least) are automatically on his side, much the same as a racist taxi driver used to be when spouting hateful rhetoric at their passengers.
So, in answer to that question: No, I do not hate the expression ‘Happy Holiday’. It covers anybody who is about to kick back and relax after a year of hard work, regardless of who they worship or whether they worship at all. Not only is it pleasantly secular, it doesn’t discriminate to exclude a good chunk of the population who don’t observe the commercial, consumer-based, quasi-religious holiday that is Christmas.
As for being PC, um, so what? For those of you who use that expression as ammunition to put down anyone who tries to basically do the right thing by others, (e.g. not offend, insult or hurt), you might want to come up with something a little more original because I think that one is worn out.
While I have no particular issue with being greeted with ‘Merry Christmas’, or indeed returning that greeting, I also think ‘Happy Holiday’ is just fine. It takes in the entire festive season, and even the kind of holiday (which comes from the expression ‘Holy Day’ anyway) where one might go away with the family or friends. I would wish someone a happy holiday, as opposed to a crappy holiday, any day. Happy Holiday!
The Wheels On The Bus
As a regular commuter of our buses and as anyone who uses Bondi Road’s buses will know, they are frequently crowded with standing room only (The Wheels on the Bus…, The Beast, December 2019).
In the old days (I loved the picture of the old double decker buses that we used to have going up Bondi Road in the ‘60s, when we used to hop on the open rear end and scramble up the back stairs!) we were always taught manners, including respect for our elders, and that meant giving up our seats for those needing it more than us youngsters. It annoys and angers me so much when I see this value completely lost, and even though there are signs posted in the front of the bus designating specific seats as ‘courtesy seats’ and requesting us to give up those seats for those needing it more, they are completely ignored.
Young people today are completely absorbed – I say “addicted” – to their mobile contraptions, with their ears plugged up and their eyes glued down to the screens, sitting comfortably in those very seats, oblivious to the fact that, right next to them, an older person is standing and struggling to remain upright while they selfishly hog the courtesy seats.
Where are their manners? Where is their respect for their elders? Where is their sense of compassion for another human being? Yet this generation will readily storm the city’s CBD, halt traffic and not hesitate to be part of a nuisance protest to save the planet from climate change and have no qualms to storm a restaurant and denounce patrons enjoying a meal containing meat or trespass on private properties of farmers with animals on their property to prevent cruelty to animals. But give up their seat to an elderly person on a crowded bus? No way, they are far too busy engrossed in their online chats, emails, games or what-nots on their mobiles to even look up for a few seconds and see what is right in front of their face and do the right thing!
I’m an old-fashioned commuter who misses the good old days when we still had R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Yes, that is what it means to me!
An Idiotic Idea
Hi Guys – Randwick Council has just sent us an idiotic idea with our rates bills. Under the title “Improving Randwick’s water quality” they have asked the rate payers to “adopt a stormwater drain”.
What a bloody cheek this council has. We pay huge rates, plus special levies for all their projects, and now they want us to clear the storm water drains! I am sorry but isn’t this a basic utility we pay for – the cleaning and upkeep of the streets and drains?
I am so sick of this council wasting money on daft projects instead of doing the basics to keep our neighbourhood clean and in good repair. I have lost patience with them all. It is about time that these councillors concentrated on Randwick and stop dreaming up ever-more ridiculous ideas.
Please put service back into the council instead of always having their hands out for more money and for us to do more.
Giving a worthy person recognition
I live on Arden Street in Clovelly, opposite the St Anthony’s school, where, during school arrival and departure times for students, the lollipop pedestrian traffic lady called Mary operates.
I have noticed, over the time that I have watched and interacted with her, how seriously she takes her work, with enthusiasm and kindness to all. She greets and meets everyone, she even knows the names of all the parents and children. She is recognised by the truck drivers as they drive past and she gives everyone a wave and says hello as they go by, wishing them a good day.
I often talk with her when her job eases off. She is a special individual who brightens up the day for each person she encounters. I personally would like to say a big “Thank you,” to Mary, “for bringing your happiness to many.”
Reflecting the Love
Dear Beast – It has been a while since I have contributed a sarcastic letter to these pages, but this time I write sincerely. One of the highlights of each month, since it began, is to pick up The Beast and read it cover to cover. The magazine is a reflection of all the love that people have for this beautiful slice of the world we call home.
Unfortunately I never got to meet Dan, but the positivity he showed in his personal story was inspirational and hopefully made everyone appreciate how good we have it here in the East.
Thank you Dan and James Hutton for creating this magazine for us all to enjoy. The Eastern Beaches are infinitely better off for your contribution to it.
RIP Dan Hutton
I never knew Dan but as an avid reader and regular contributor to The Beast I weirdly feel his loss. His remarkably frank revelations through his struggle with lymphoma and his stoic courage in the face of ongoing adversity were an inspiration.
Dan’s untimely death is a shocking reminder that life is too unpredictable and short to waste on things that don’t matter.
Dear James – I am very sad reading the latest Beast about Dan’s passing. My commiserations to you, his family and friends. I admired his courage, honesty and style in his writing of the battle. Your eulogy was wonderful. The Dan edition achieved what you wanted.
I’ve loved The Beast since it’s inception as the best for local news and entertainment in a fun, friendly format. He has left a great legacy. Keep up the great work.
To Dan and his family
While I did not know Dan personally, I have followed his story in The Beast. I started reading the article, hoping there was positive news from the last one I read (as positive as can be as it’s horrible and nothing anyone should ever have to go through) and I am bawling and so sorry to hear of this.
Among many things, it has made me realise the fragility of life and the unfathomable way that life pans out for some, and how you really can’t take any day for granted. It puts into perspective those things that you shouldn’t be worrying about in your day-to-day life.
Thank you for sharing your story. You have hit the hearts of many I’m sure. For someone who didn’t know you, to be impacted so strongly in this way is saying something about your legacy, strength and bravery. I would happily look after your children and help Georgie out if you ever need as I’m a Bronte local myself. Thinking of you all.
Albert, sadly, has gone to cat heaven
Yesterday in the street, while he was sleeping under a bush, a black dog on a lead attacked Albert the cat and crushed him to death. The dog’s owner could not pry open its jaws to save Albert. The owner told me his dog had attacked cats before and that he was thinking of getting a trainer for him.
We are all so upset beyond belief. Albert was 11 years old and had a great life being the ‘street cat’ of Oakley Road. During the day Albert would patrol the street after breakfast, he would say hello to everyone in the street and then find a bush to nap under until his afternoon rounds. He would then come home for tea. He was the Claytons cat for all those who didn’t have a cat. He would take pats and morsels and give love back in return.
Vale Albert, missed by his human family, Oakley Road friends, housemate Millie the exotic, Lulu the pup he trained, his Bondi friends and many more.
Vilya, Asta and Max
Scomo and Bushfires
Our esteemed Prime Minister prays for rain as the answer to bushfires. Some might be inclined to see praying for rain and rain-dancing as slightly insufficient in the face of global warming, with heat wave after heat wave, droughts and another “hottest year on record” year after year. Meanwhile, ScoMo’s offsider, Michael McCormack, whinges about “raving inner-city lefties”. (bbc.com/news).
Well, those Chardonnay-drinking, Inner West socialists are not the ones who caused global warming, and they also did not “wipe out carbon gains by bulldozing” millions of trees in rural Australia (theguardian.com). Perhaps global warming has more to do with “coal-into-parliament-carrying” ScoMo’s coal and oil industry than McCormack’s “raving inner-city lefties”.
It seems that the majority of people who elected ScoMo are also those people who will have to suffer the most in coming years. Recently, “11,000 scientists warned of untold suffering” (aljazeera.com) that lies ahead for the many ScoMo voters in northern New South Wales and Queensland.
Eventually it will hit us all, yet those who voted for ScoMo will have to pay the bitter price first – Michael McCormack’s “raving inner-city lefties” will be hit by the climate crisis later. The faithful coalition voters in regional Australia also include people voting for sexually hyper-attractive Barnaby Joyce – at least in the eyes of one of his secretaries.
Raving Inner-Coogee Lefty
Low Act in Paddington
Yesterday (Wednesday, November 20, 2019) I was in the Red Cross shop at Paddington to buy some candles and a tie. I did find a couple of things to try on.
When I came out of the cubicle there was a young man aged about 25 helping his female friend who was trying on a beaded dress. I asked the shop manager to hold my things behind the counter while I went to the bank. I came back less than five minutes later to find the manager very agitated and upset as this couple had stolen the designer dress that he had just put on the rack an hour earlier.
It was for sale at $60 but was apparently worth $500. So, to the couple who stole this from Red Cross: Please remember that it’s the Red Cross, among other charities, who are there helping those who have lost everything in the bushfires. Please pay for the item you stole. I suggest you put the $60 in an envelope and hand it to one of the staff. Stealing from a charity is a low act, it’s bad karma, so come on and do the right thing.
The two reasons councils across Australia use when deciding to stop using glyphosate are U.S. court decisions and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) rating of a probable carcinogen. I want to explain why these two excuses are flawed.
Firstly the U.S. courts. It’s scary that any tier of government in Australia would look to overseas courts for policy guidance, especially litigation courts in the U.S. It’s filled with predatory and ambulance chasing law firms. The first decision was made by a jury of regular people, not scientists. Only certain evidence was allowed and the burden of proof is much lower.
These same courts said vaccines cause SIDS and talcum powder causes cancer (they don’t). If the council is looking to such an institute for guidance, when will they be banning the use of talcum powder in public areas?
The second is the IARC ruling that glyphosate probably causes cancer. The IARC only dealt with the hazard, not the risk. A shark in an aquarium is a hazard, but the risk is minimal to nil. The IARC also rated bacon and drinking very hot beverages as a probable carcinogen. I’ll wait and see if the council bans the serving of bacon from all council associated events.
It also must be noted that the IARC, an offshoot of the World Health Organization, was the outlier. Three other United Nations associated agencies ruled glyphosate as not harmful to humans. All independent chemical regulatory bodies around the world including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc. ruled there to be no risk. They conduct the systematic reviews, they evaluate the scientific consensus.
It was later discovered that many on the IARC panel were consulting for the same litigation firms suing Bayer/Monsanto. Glyphosate was unusually added late to its monograph.
So anyway, we have a situation now where busy, hardworking councillors are being asked to make complex scientific decisions and most of the time they understandably give in to the populist pressure applied by residents.
Glyphosate is a Schedule 2 poison (caution label), which can include anything from strong insect repellent to cleaners you can buy in the supermarket. We can’t ask councillors to make decisions on individual Schedule 2 products. It should be left to operations and they make the decision on what to use and whether they take guidance from our regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
Giving in to misinformed populist hysteria results in what we saw in Randwick. They are now using the “organic” product (yes, I’ve talked about the organic fallacy before) Slasher, an acid that is also a Schedule 2. It’s not systemic so the herbicide doesn’t travel to the roots, it just burns the foliage, so you often have to use three times as much. Plus, it costs three times as much. This results in a worse outcome for the environment, the public and workers.
Hopefully Waverley Council maintains more of a commonsense approach to chemical management by working to reduce its use through following best practice in horticulture and seeking advice from the appropriate experts.