Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dianne Trussell and human mating

I knew Dianne Trussell over a quarter of a century ago.  I was her  landlord for a while.  And she was into diving -- with airtanks and other diving stuff prominent among her possessions.  She was happy and optimistic in a fixed-smile, brittle sort of way.

I could see where she was going wrong then but said nothing.  But perhaps now I should say something.

Psychologists have been interested in human relationships for a long time and they have converged on a "trading" view of relationships.  Each partner brings to the relationship something of equal value.  The value will be subjective but is nonetheless real.  The subjective does matter.

And the valued items are very upsetting for those who believe in romance.  Both males and females value physical things highly. Women are particularly fixated on height.  Few women will tolerate their man being shorter than them. This is particularly bad for short men -- making their prospects of offering value to a woman very poor.  So many short men will end up going to  the Republic of the Philippines for brides -- because Filipinas  are usually only 5' or 5"1" tall.

There is one group of women who value the physical above all else  -- Chinese women living in the Western world.  Australia is about 5% Chinese so one sees a lot of Chinese ladies about the place.  And if the lady is attached to a man, he will normally be a Caucasian man  -- a TALL Caucasian man.  If you see one with a Chinese man, he will be a TALL Chinese man.  So lots of unremarkable Australian men get devoted wives that way.  Chinese ladies will put up with a lot in order to get tall fathers for their children.  They know how genetics works and they think ahead.

Men are slightly less rigid.  They look for an hourglass figure in a woman but insecure men will accept a relatively flat-chested woman because they don't like other men looking at her.

But the whole process often grinds to a halt because individuals overestimate the value of what they offer.  There are skinny, gangly, flat-chested  women who think that their own wonderful self is sufficient to interest a man.  So they aim for high value men -- good looking, competent men.  But such men are not interested in them.  Such men can get a much higher value woman -- probably one with a good figure.  So the woman concerned wonders:  "Where are all the men?"  And they keep up that misjudgement into their 30s, by which time most of the good-deal men of their age and circle are married off.

I remember a singles party for people in their 40s and 50s that I once went to.  I was talking to a lady who said:  "Where are all the men?"  I pointed out that there was actually a majority of nen present. She replied: "No, not THOSE men".  She was looking for men much younger than herself.

And I think Dianne Trussell was one woman who valued herself too highly.  She was mixing with divers  -- who would generally be very fit and confident men.  And such men would have a lot to offer and would want a woman with a good figure.  But Diane was flat-chested.  So she would have sparked only fleeting interest from the men she mixed with.  She was fairly tall so could have got herself a short man but her value of herself was too high for that.  Short men will have almost any tall woman who will have them.  They know how genetics works too.

I gather it is the selfsame Dianne who now does alternative things down at Byron Bay.  Alternative things are a way of coping with the fact that you are not getting what you want in life.

I knew she was fishing in the wrong pool all those years ago and it has always bothered me that I said nothing to her about it.

Backlash over George Brandis' racial discrimination repeal

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a storm of protest from religious and ethnic groups, human rights organisations and sections of his own backbench over sweeping changes to race-hate laws which have pleased right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt.

Under changes proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful for someone to act in a manner likely to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" someone because of their race or ethnicity, would be repealed.

Section 18D, which provides protections for freedom of speech, will also be removed and replaced by a section that removes the words "offend, insult and humiliate", leaves "intimidate" and adds the word "vilify" for the first time. Sections 18B and 18E would also be repealed. They include provisions that can make employers liable for race-hate speech

On Tuesday, Mr Abbott argued the changes were designed to give the "red light" to bigotry and strengthen free-speech protections, but several Liberal MPs, human rights lawyers and ethnic groups were concerned about an extraordinarily broad exemption contained in the exposure draft regarding public discussion.

"What the government is attempting to do, as carefully, as collegially and as consultatively as we can, is to get the balance right," Mr Abbott told Parliament. "This is draft legislation which has gone out for consultation with the community."

Liberal MPs Sarah Henderson and Jason Wood added their voices to growing concern among Coalition MPs during the government's party room meeting.

Liberal MPs David Coleman and Craig Laundy, who represent electorates with a high proportion of multicultural constituents have previously flagged concerns, as has indigenous MP Ken Wyatt, who warned he could cross the floor over the issue. Mr Wyatt has since softened his position.

One Coalition MP said Senator Brandis' proposed changes were sensible, but admitted MPs were aware political opinion was turning against the Coalition with another 30 days of public consultation ahead.

"This is turning into a mess, Labor now has six weeks to throw bombs and marginal seat holders are getting nervous," the MP said.

Labor, the Greens and ethnic groups all criticised Senator Brandis' "public discussion" exemption, while the Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs argued the exemption was "so broad it is difficult to see any circumstances in public that these protections would apply".

The commission will make a detailed submission and questioned why the "intimidation" provision would be limited to physical intimidation and would not cover psychological or emotional damage.

Labor's legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus accused the government of giving a "green light to bigotry" and asked Mr Abbott to name a single community group that supported the changes. Mr Abbott was unable to name a group.

The changes would not pass through the current Senate and will struggle to get through the new Senate, which forms on July 1. Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer said his party, which will share the balance of power, had yet to decide its view.

Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein, lashed the changes for removing "any protection against public insults and humiliation on the grounds of race".

"To pass the amendments as they stand would risk emboldening racists," he said.

News Corp columnist Bolt, whose 2011 legal case prompted the changes, said he thought the Abbott government had done the right thing. The proposals, he said, should "permit us to ban what is truly wicked while leaving us free to punish the rest with the safest sanction of all - our free speech".


Senate votes to block mining tax repeal legislation

The Senate has rejected the Federal Government's push to repeal the mining tax.

The legislation to abolish the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) was defeated 35 votes to 32.

The Lower House passed the legislation in November, but it had not been expected to pass the Senate which is controlled by Labor and the Greens until the changeover in July.

Before the bill was rejected, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann reminded the chamber of the upcoming West Australian Senate election.

"Today the people of Western Australia will have the opportunity to observe who in this Senate stands up for the best interests of the great state of Western Australia and who in this Senate continues to persist with trying to impose anti-West Australian taxes," he said.

But Greens leader Christine Milne says the repeal would have served mining companies, but not the people of Australia.

"The Greens will never allow the Abbott Government to boost the profits of a few at the expense of measures that benefit so many and are vital for our future economic success," she said in a statement.

"The Greens' position on the mining tax has never wavered. We want a mining tax in the form it was recommended by the Henry tax review. We believe that instead of repealing it at the behest of big business, this tax should be strengthened.

"Voters in Western Australia have an important role to play in keeping a strong Greens voice in the Senate, to stand up against Mr Abbott's short-sighted favours to the big end of town."

The MRRT came into effect in July last year, collecting 22.5 per cent on the profits of iron ore and coal producers - which has so far come to billions of dollars less than first estimated.

The MRRT was the result of a compromise between the then-Gillard government and miners, who fought the introduction of its precursor, Kevin Rudd's Resource Super Profits Tax.

Treasurer Joe Hockey used Question Time to make fun of the tax.

"In 100 years' time when tax classes are taught at university, they'll go back and say: 'Mr Professor, what was the worst tax that was ever designed?'," he said.

"And the professor will respond: 'It was the five versions of the mining tax'."


Craig Thomson: Former Labor MP sentenced for defrauding Health Services Union

Former federal Labor MP Craig Thomson has been granted bail pending an appeal against his three-month jail term for defrauding the Health Services Union (HSU) of more than $24,000.

Thomson launched an immediate appeal after Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg sentenced him to 12 months' jail, with nine months suspended, on 65 dishonesty charges.

Mr Rozencwajg said the former national secretary of the HSU and federal member for Dobell had shown "arrogance in the extreme" and a "breach of trust of the highest order" in misusing members' funds.

He said it did not matter that Thomson had used the money to pay for sexual services, but that highlighted the "selfish personal ends for which the offences were committed". He was convinced greed was the motive.

He said Thomson had committed the offences well aware that the procedures at the HSU meant it was highly unlikely he would be held accountable.

"In fact, accountability in the national office of the HSU is not something I saw much of in the evidence led before this court," he said.

"For this blatant dishonesty to continue on a regular basis over a period of years says much about the lack of accountability.

"This, no doubt, accounts for the flagrant and insouciant manner in which these offences were committed by you."

Mr Rozencwajg said Thomson had shown no remorse, and that led him to conclude that a term of immediate imprisonment was the only option.

Thomson was taken into custody straight after being sentenced and spent a short time in the court cells before getting bail. His appeal will be heard on November 24.

After being bailed, Thomson continued to maintain his innocence, saying there had been no admissions in his case.  "Today wasn't what we was looking for in terms of where this is," he said.

"I've always maintained I'm not guilty in relation to the charges that I've been convicted of, which is why we've appealed.

"I look forward to going ahead in terms of this appeal. It is inappropriate for me or for anyone else - be they media commentators or even parliamentarians - to be making comment in relation to this matter while it continues to be before the courts."

Thomson thanked his wife, his ex-wife and supporters. "I'm now going to leave you and spend some time with wife and my lawyers, in that order," he said.

In sentencing, Mr Rozencwajg said he had taken into account the defence's argument that Thomson had already lost his career and would never work in the public sector or politics again and had suffered public humiliation as a result of "intrusive" media coverage which he believed to be unparalleled.

"It is true that, to a limited extent, this is something you have brought upon yourself by engaging with the media in an attempt to convince them and the Australian public of your innocence in these matters," the magistrate said.

"No doubt this intense media focus is rooted in political machination as well as an attraction for the salacious.

"It may, however, be said that the loss of one's career in such circumstances stems directly from the trust that reposed in you; a trust which you have breached by the commission of these offences."

Thomson has also been ordered to repay the HSU nearly $25,000.

Chris Brown, the acting national president of the HSU, is pleased Thomson got a custodial sentence.

"We've been waiting over seven years to have Mr Thomson brought to account," he said. "I think Thomson definitely deserves to pay this price.

"He's only going to be in jail for three months but I think that, along with the other costs that he's had to bear as a result of this, I think would be a deterrent to anyone."

Union whistleblower Marco Bolano is also pleased with the sentence.

"The only comment I'll make on the sentence is that I think yet again Craig Thomson has been reckless in regard to his appeal," he said.

"He could get a stiffer sentence. He may very well get a stiffer sentence. That's between him and his lawyers."

HSU national secretary Kathy Jackson says there will not be closure until the royal commission into union corruption has completed its work.

"This is about justice for all working men and women across the nation not just the Health Services Union," she said.

"We took these allegations to police and we were persecuted for it."

However, there was further evidence of the infighting which continues to rock the union with a small group of members waving placards reading "members demand jail time".

Last month Thomson was found guilty of misusing his HSU credit card over a five-year period.

He was convicted of using union funds to pay for sex workers, flights for his wife and hotel stays, make cash withdrawals and buy items such as cigarettes and firewood.

After the guilty verdict was handed down, Mr Rozencwajg acknowledged some grey areas defining what constituted business use, but said it would be an affront to common sense to think the card could be used to pay for sexual services.

Meanwhile, in a character reference submitted to Melbourne Magistrates Court, Thomson's wife Zoe said her husband was a good man who was sorry for the hurt he had caused.


KNIGHTS and dames are being reintroduced to the Order of Australia honours list

Tony Abbott said the first two to receive the titles would be outgoing Governor-General Quentin Bryce and her successor Peter Cosgrove, who takes up the vice-regal office on Friday.  Up to four knights or dames will be appointed each year.

“My intention is that this new award will go to those who have accepted public office rather than sought it; and who can never, by virtue of the office they have held, entirely return to private life,’’ the Prime Minister said.

“This special recognition may be extended to Australians of `extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit’ in their service to Australia or to humanity at large.

“I believe this is an important grace note in our national life.’’

Henceforth, Mr Abbott said, the serving governor-general will be the principal knight or dame in the Order of Australia.

Mr Abbott said Dame Quentin and Sir Peter had been happy to accept the honours.

He said all future governors-general would receive the honour, adding dignity and stature to it.

Mr Abbott did not say if former governors-general would receive the honour.

He did not rule out politicians becoming a knight or dame, saying he didn’t want to pre-empt who may be considered worthy of the honour.

Mr Abbott defended his decision to return to honours not used in Australia for 28 years, saying they would enhance the dignity of the existing system.

“I don’t think it’s really any surprise,’’ he said.

Knights and dames of the Order of Australia were created by the Fraser Coalition government in 1976, but scrapped by the Hawke Labor government in 1986. During that period 12 knights and two dames were appointed.

The Prime Minister said the Queen had approved his recommendation to amend the Letters Patent constituting the Order of Australia.

The chairman of the Order of Australia Council will be consulted on any such recommendation.

Mr Abbott said the change would not affect existing companions, officers or members of the Order of Australia.

New Zealand had allowed existing Companions in the Order of New Zealand to convert to knighthoods, but this would not happen with the Australian changes, he said.


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