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Raison d’etre

Silly Socks on Friday started in Africa in the early 90’s. The blog followed in the early years of the 21st century

We stand for quirks and whimsy, and intend to take serious looks at silliness and silly looks at seriousness.

The rant is a favoured mode when things get my goat.

Our first campaign was a global war against that yoke of uniformity, the neck tie, now largely won. There can be no logical explanation why people continue to tightly tie strips of cloth round their throats and then dangle them on their chests.

Next on our list is a twin campaign to attack the plague of plastic and promote the global revival of hemp

Wear silly socks on Fridays, if you like.

If this tickles your fancy, sign up as a follower and get an e-mail notifying you of new posts.

Please comment on what is written, especially if you disagree. Outrage is a validation of effect!

An Enjoyable Lenten Obligation

Those of you who know me or who follow my currently sporadic blog, are aware that I was raised a Catholic, steeped in the conventions and rituals of that ancient organisation.

So, when Lent comes around I attempt to focus on objectives requiring some discipline. Sadly my resolve to skip one meal a day and ride more kilometers on my bike only lasted a week.

However I am glad to say that I have approximately completed one objective, which was to paint at least one sketch a day. Approximately, because I missed some days and did some in batches – but I did at least 40 during Lent.

Regrettably, like my writings, most are mediocre; but here and there a glint of almost art may peek through.

I promised my sister in law I would post them all, so here they are. Please do exclaim on the variety of colours to be found in leaves. (There is no need to mention the unsophistication of the artist – he is cognisant thereof.)

Like any good showman, the best is saved for last!

Impatiens

Another Impatiens & Evolvulus
Sundry Gum leaves
Mini zinnia and Hibiscus bud

Dying eaucalypts
More of same (slightly smudged)
… with a chili
A lemonade lemon
More dying leaves
More death and a sick nasturtium
Some colour
A poor flamboyant
Pots of petunias
Maybe a petunia?
Evolvulus in a pot (such an awkward name for a pretty flower)
More colour
Prettier petunias
Frilly hibiscus
Duranta – Brazilian sky flower
My favourite

Yellow

Autumn is a yellow season.

The sketch is of sunflowers we picked from a farm field.

Who said farming can’t be appreciated by many? I don’t mean just the produce, but the intrinsic beauty of crops in the field.

An enterprising farmer recently opened the sunflower fields for the public to enjoy.

Thousands of people left their city homes and travelled over 100 kilometres to walk about the fields, smiling and posing and picking sunflowers while avoiding bees. The entry fee was not hefty.

Pop-up food and souvenir stalls abounded: I had a very fine, cheap hamburger and some unremarkable gin in grapefruit juice.

One could glamp in luxury tents, wander through a maze in the sunny fields, get married amongst sunflowers or take a helicopter flip to photograph the fields.

I half expected a March Hare and a Queen of Hearts to appear – it was a sublimely pleasant experience!

On the same yellow road: Autumn is the month for the flowering of Golden Penda trees which almost outnumber flamboyant trees in our part of the world.

After good rains (which we have had) the trees burst out in yellow sprays of flowers, which have copious nectar. This attracts the honeyeaters which include the rainbow lorikeets, who become besotted and wild, seeking out more and more.

I have written before about the cacophony of Austraian bird calls. In this season, the noise starts before dawn and continues into the heat of the day. Gangs of the electric green, purple headed birds speed from tree to tree, shrieking their critique of the nectar quality for all to hear. It is almost oppressive.

Aren’t we lucky?

Bureaucratic humanity and pragmatism

Are  bureaucrats humane and pragmatic? One would hope so.

Assuming they are, it follows that they must have regard for the impact of their decisions. 

Last year a long term resident had his application for renewal of his residence visa refused, because his original visa granted in 2014 had expired when he submitted his renewal application.

He had applied in time in 2019, but that application was found to be invalid because the wrong fee had been paid.

The correct fee was paid in July 2019, but by the time the application was submitted in August, the fees had been increased. Government applications require proof of payment before submission of applications. 

In a matter of days, the application was declared invalid as there was a fee shortfall of $25. The applicant was advised by the department to re-apply with evidence of full payment, which was done, but by the time the new application was received, the original visa time period had elapsed by one or two days.

The applicant was also advised that he could no longer work as he had no valid visa and he had to resign.

After a week he was granted a bridging visa pending the consideration of his subsequent (late) visa application. Fortunately he was re-employed by his employer.

After 15 months, he was advised in 2021 that his application was refused as it had been made in Australia, when he had no valid visa.

He has lodged  an appeal against that decision and his bridging visa has been extended.

This appeal will be heard in anywhere between 15 and 30 months.

The applicant is a family man, who has held full employment as a manager since his arrival in 2014. 

The man loves Australia; he is a sportsman and lover of the outdoors; he wants to buy a house and raise his family here. He has no criminal record or history of bankruptcy; his partner is a top level educationist. His qualifications have already been scrutinised when he first applied in London in 2014.

The prolonged torture of having one’s career and family future hanging by a thread for 3 to 4 years is agonising for him and his family.

Why can’t bureaucrats look beyond such petty transgressions which can be so easily fixed? Presumably when appeals are lodged the relevant decisions are internally reviewed. 

Does this mean this type of petty bureaucracy is condoned and thus encouraged in government ministries?

Where is the benefit for Australia?

Politicians would not survive scrutiny of such petty acts.

 Just a thought – If these processes were digitised, turnaround would be almost instantaneous. 

Even systems can be taught compassion and common sense.

Call me cantankerous

The statue of Edward Colston was toppled in a Black Lives Matter protest and tossed into a river in Bristol. He had been a merchant who amongst many other activities was involved in the Royal African Company which traded in slaves. It had been founded at the instigation of King Charles II in the 1600’s.

The slave trade was outlawed in 1807 in Britain and slaves were emancipated by in 1833.

Colston also supported and endowed schools, houses for the poor, almshouses, hospitals and Anglican churches in Bristol, London and elsewhere. He died at age 84 in 1721. A statue was erected in his honour.

A jury recently found 4 people clearly identified as perpetrators to be not guilty – they argued that the presence of the statue was a hate crime and it was therefore not an offence to remove it.

Perhaps statues of King Charles II should also be tossed? Perhaps it’s time to give the Queen and Royalty the heave-ho ? After all, their ancestor founded the Royal African Company.

If society does not allow the discussion of ideas and issues, people descend to shouting. Shouting is offensive and leads to confrontation. Those people who deny platforms to those who express opposing opinions and topple statues rely on the civilised reticence of the majority who will withdraw and avoid confrontation.

We have seen how demonstrators attack the police, deface buildings and defy regulations.

How far should they be allowed to go? What is peaceful demonstration?

Not so long ago – in my lifetime, unruly demonstrators were orderered to disperse. If they defied these orders, shots were fired over their heads, if they persisted, ringleaders were shot by marksmen. That always did the trick.

Can’t say I fault the process.

How do you do, 2022?

It is the time of year one reviews and previews.

The highlight of 2021? – Undoubtedly watching the Boks beat the All Blacks.

From the anthems to the seething happy crowd, to the joy and exhilaration – all amidst a plague! Who would believe it?

I cannot overlook the joy of meeting my grandson! I have already worked out that I will only be 92 when he will be playing in the Rugby World Cup!! Now there is an objective in life! Hope some of my mates will still be around to join me.

Just a mention of the plague, now entering its third year: will it fizzle out once we have all contracted it ? Does not seem likely, with another variant in France being mentioned …

With a growing groundswell of feeling against mandates and restrictions, the politics become decidely difficult for those in office.

But if we keep getting new variants and requiring more jabs and hospital beds and ventilators for the sickest run out… some hard decisions on who gets admitted will arise. I bet the politicos will leave that to the doctors.

Looking ahead my predictions for the near future are:

  • I think the Coalition will survive the Australia election.
  • A Trump will run for President
  • We will have a new King
  • China and Russia will become more menacing
  • EV’s will begin to proliferate
  • Cash will disappear
  • The All Blacks will rise again

Finally, I urge you all to consider carefully before you condemn, do not blindly follow the media mob, hear what the other side has to say.

That is freedom and it is being trampled by the populist views of identity politics. Do not discard institutions to accommodate extreme views.

Become a freedom fighter

Happy new year and may the Covid die!

The mysteries of sex

Hopefully the title has lured your interest and you read on. This is about an older man’s resistance to change and opposition to the incursions of identity politics into history and life as we know it.

Back in the day, say 1960’s and 70’s when Germaine Greer was shaking the tree and ruffling the entrenched privileges of patriarchs, a “trannie” was a transistor radio.

Now  there are arguments between medical philosophers in “The Lancet” about politically correct gender terminology

The streaming company Twitch recently said it would use the term “womxn” in order to be more gender neutral in its language.

“But LGBT communities online called the change transphobic because it suggested trans women were not women.”

I think I grasp most of what the LGBTQ anagram stands for.

A 2011 survey in the US suggested LGBTQ’s make up about 10% of the population. Of course each group are all different with different demands and there are variations within each grouping e.g.: Transgender people may identify as heterosexual (straight), homosexual (gay or lesbian), bisexual, asexual, or otherwise, or may decline to label their sexual orientation. 

This has become quite confusing for some of us. What do we call these people, other than saying ” one of those LGBTQ types... “?

I have a few suggestions which might help:

  • The tensions over who can use which toilet could be eased by renaming public conveniences as urinals and non-urinals and by increasing the number and privacy of toilet cubicles which could be open to anyone.
  • Allow males into breast feeding/ baby care rooms only to change nappies (that will keep them out)
  • Instead of ‘people with vaginas‘,or ‘people who menstruate’ congenitally heterosexual women could be re-labelled as wombmen
  • Trans males who have had surgery to acquire female conformation could be called ginamen
  • Trans females who have had surgery to acquire male conformation could be called cockerelles
  • Female Bisexuals could be callen whimen, males could be bisons
  • Unaltered transgender people could be called cocktoos

I would like the word gay to be returned to its original usage, describing happy, merry and frolicsome behaviour. I get that queer and other labels may be unacceptable, so maybe they could be called otherlovers. In line with that, pansexuals could be called anylovers

No hurt is intended but if it is felt, it certainly couldn’t be more than the hurt felt by the the world of women who have been told they no longer can be called females or ladies and must change their nomenclature.

Of course sarcasm doesn’t help other than to perhaps signal discomfort at the disproportionate reactions in social media against those who question the rationale or proposals advanced by identity politicians or proposals that the whole be changed to accomodate tiny minorities.

Another view of Spring 2021

As is my habit I breakfast in the morning sun on the patio. It is fresh and I don’t switch on the radio, as I want to hear the birds.

Next to me is a kumquat tree with bright orange fruit and new season flowers, which have that lovely citruscent. One of the day’s decisions is whether to turn the fruit to marmalade – I think I will.

The lawn is patrolled by spotted doves and magpie larks. The local magpies pass through to ensure their territories are being respected. They viciously attack any magpie intruders.

A pair of magpie larks,called peewees, are frequent visitors. This morning one of them walked past my chair as I read on the patio after breakfast. I glanced at her and she stopped and eyed me over, then as I was not an obvious threat or interest walked under the table.

She emerged on the other side hopped up onto a chair and then onto the table, only 4 feet from me, looking for morsels. She then stopped, looked at me and sounded her ear piercing tweetshriek. Who knows: maybe defiance, or just a joyful greeting?

In the foliage around the bird feeder, where the pyton often hangs out, crested pigeons kerfuffle frequently – their libido goes through the roof in Spring. Rainbow Lorikeets pop in occasionally, but don’t linger.

Less frequently, we are privleged with glimpses of King Parrots and Pale-headed Rosellas and the occasional galah and cockatoo.

In the syringa tree, figbirds and blue eyed honeyeaters search for flowers or berries almost every day. Noisy mynahs squabble and shriek on the move like gangs of unruly children released from class. Their noise is often pierced by the harsher scrapescreech of the noisy friars who pass by.

Finally, there is a sweet pair of Lewin’s Honeyeaters, who bathe in a patio gutter that needs fixing, carelessly splashing and spraying. They chatter happily as they flit through the trees, playing catch.

Life is not too bad, if we stop and listen to the birds.

The spectre of Spring 2021

Foreboding lurks at the back of my mind, almost continuously. It’s not so much the plague, but how people are behaving. Society is being strained at its seams and frayed edges begin to appear.

As you may recall, my world context retains strong ties to Southern Africa and I am a child raised during the Cold War, when the spectre of the time was Communism driven by totalitarians. Then, as now, simple maxims were used to sway the masses. Freedom and equality for all!

Isn’t it ironic that these are the underpinnings of the woke movement, demanding representation and retribution for any cadre with some identifiable characteristic, practice or habit.

The process of promotion of the interests of minority groups has attacked current institutions, individuals and laws on the premise that their existence has been achieved to the disadvantage of minorities who were discriminated against in history.

At the same time, the prevalence of conspiracies and their adherents is challenging democracies’ability to govern and is widely being used as a political tool to fuel fire in followers. The old name for conspiracies was propaganda. Its purpose was to galvanise popular belief, without challenge.

An alarming feature of recent campaigns of identity movements like #metoo and Black Lives Matter is that mere allegations are accepted as facts. Now that’s okay when allegations are admitted, but when they are disputed, there has always been a process to ascertain the most accurate version of the truth.

Corroboration is essential. But nowadays, every accused person is deemed a liar unless they admit their guilt.

Capitalism has created a huge disparity in earnings with the super rich becoming the aristocracy of old.

Marketing and Kardocumentatries, scripted reality shows and social media exaggerate and glorify lifestyles impossible for all but the rich. Tension, envy and outrage brew amongst those who can never indulge in champagne cruises, drive Porsches, wear silk shirts and eat caviar.

Attributions for the London rioters’ behaviour in 2011 included social factors such as racial tension, class tension, economic decline, and the unemployment that decline had brought. Well that is also an accurate picture of what happened in South Africa and eSwatini. Put a lid on a boiling pot and eruptions are certain!

I am trying to say that world wide we are at a stage that reasonable judgment has been suspended and gut feeling is carrying the day. This means that democracy is dead, it cannot be sustained in the face of ever-increasing individual demands for unique treatment. Capitalism in its present form has also failed. The poor are increasing and want more.

The task is to find new inviolate principles by which all agree they can be governed.

Tragically, all we need to do is look at organised religion to see that so many prophets arise to lead that there is continuous alienation and conflict.

I hoped that the plague would give rise to strong, credible leadership but fear there are too many critics, not enough followers.

So, sadly it seems that fragmentation will continue until another global catastrophe arises to force us together, maybe a world war – any bets on how soon and who will oppose the Chicomms?