Biting the hand that feeds you is an unpleasant quirk of human nature that is hard to understand. It must trouble those generous and unstinting volunteers who are subject to it
Photo by Rodney Dekker, Oxfam
TUMBY BAY - There are vast numbers of volunteers out there in the community. They are all doing good work and most will derive a lot of personal satisfaction from this.
Very few of them expect monetary recompense for what they do. Or even recognition.
Continue reading "There are hidden traps in helping others" »
I was languishing in an excruciatingly boring job in a bank when I saw the recruitment advertisement in a newspaper....
TUMBY BAY - When I finished high school in 1965 Robert Menzies was Australian prime minister.
He had been in office for over 16 years and wouldn’t retire until the following year.
Continue reading "I’m grateful that I went to the School of PNG" »
‘Whitlam would have meant no offence. He probably used the term to emphasise the treatment of the people as second class or something like that’
CANBERRA - I have a memory of a published photograph and caption which I cannot find on the internet or after extensive searching on the National Library’s Trove and other archives.
I wonder if any of the editor’s connections on PNG Attitude can place it.
Continue reading "Did Whitlam say this? And were you there?" »
Pearls & Irritations is particularly noteworthy for gathering together a ‘stable’ of former senior public servants who bring great weight and understanding to their observations
NOOSA - John Menadue’s began publication of his daily newsletter, Pearls & Irritations, at about the same time as Ingrid and I made Noosa our retirement destination.
Now in its tenth year, Menadue started the blog as a platform for independent policy discussion in the face of the general failure of Australia’s mainstream to cover issues with calm and authoritative analysis.
Continue reading "Bite-size platform more than pulls its weight" »
Drivers compete with each other for a few metres of advantage and swap insults with hand signals to assert their rights of domination
Traffic in Port Moresby
TUMBY BAY - Dervla Murphy, the Irish travel writer who died aged 90 last month, had two particular dislikes. The first was capitalism and the second was motorcars.
In the early 1960s she rode an old fashioned gearless pushbike from Waterford in Ireland to India. She subsequently undertook many more similar adventures on her trusty wiliwil.
Continue reading "The curse of motorcars & their insane drivers" »
Time is scarce. So is the energy of youth. Don’t waste a moment.
Scott Waide. Journalist and Thinker.
| My Land, My Country
LAE - Time is the most precious commodity every person is given. It is a gift we all receive.
You can never get back the seconds you waste. Seconds that turn into minutes, hours, days, months and years.
Some people learn quickly. They turn their youth into the most productive years of their lives and, when in their prime, they continue to build on those earlier years.
But most don’t. Time just slips away.
Continue reading "Your time is so precious, don’t waste it...." »
Google 'typical Aussies' and this is what you get - a representation of the Anglo-Celtic constituency
TUMBY BAY - Australia certainly has a multicultural society with a wide range of different cultural and ethnic groups among its population – 278 in all.
However Australia has an unsuccessful multicultural society mainly because of the power imbalance between 277 of those groups and the old Anglo-Celtic establishment.
Continue reading "Dividing not blending: multi-culturalism in Oz" »
Philippines new president Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr was an indulged youth whose excesses came at the expense of the ordinary people of the Philippines who suffered under his father's ruthless rule
SAMFORD VALLEY, QLD -The result of this week's presidential election in the Philippines are a reminder of the adage that ‘those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.
With the son of the former dictator and looter of the nation’s resources, Ferdinand Marcos Sr, winning the presidency in a landslide this week, the wheel of history turns and brings to mind the worst excesses of the past.
Continue reading "Bongbong wins on a myth as history wanes" »
My religion has no name
It’s just the very best in us
Compassion Fairness Courage Love
Honesty Reason Friendship Truth
Faithfulness Kindness Consistency
Candour Tolerance Generosity
(And here’s a space for the best in you)
No material construct ever captured these
Each of us can claim them as our own
The aged care home - privatisation is privation
TUMBY BAY - When you crack the Bible’s ‘threescore years and ten’ something strange happens – you begin to fade from view.
If my elderly next door neighbour is anything to go by, when you progress to your eighties you are all but invisible.
I can see him but no one else seems to.
Continue reading "Getting old in Oz: The meaningless years" »
The 'sandwalk' where the great scientist. Charles Darwin, did much of his thinking
SONOMA - A fertile brain bubbling with game changing ideas is the by-product of habits consistently practiced.
A fertile brain does not emerge by accident, nor is it given on a golden plate.
It needs to be shaped and transformed through consistent good thinking and good practice over time.
Continue reading "You can improve the way your brain works" »
TUMBY BAY - Historians tell us we should not make comparisons with the geopolitical situation in the world today with what prevailed just prior to World War II.
This is despite the similarities creating a great sense of déjà vu among many people.
Chief among these is the emergence of a leader with imperialistic ambitions and scant regard for the human cost; a man who is prepared to risk everything to right what he perceives as historical wrongs.
Continue reading "The generation that’s ceasing to care" »
NOOSA – The American offer to evacuate Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky from Kyiv was not one he wanted, like throwing a no-fly zone across Ukraine air space or blockading the Bosphorus to prevent Russian passage to the Black Sea.
But it did yield the best quote of the Ukraine War so far, Zelensky earning the admiration of most of the world outside the Kremlin with his spirited response, “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.”
Continue reading "Praise the Lord & pass the ammunition" »
Putin-web (New Statesman)
COMPILED BY KEITH JACKSON
NOOSA – I always have more reading around me than I’m able to accomplish in the course of one typical lifespan. But I’d rather have too much than have too little.
So today I thought I’d dip into a range of some publications I subscribe to, and get a feel for their first take on Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine.
Continue reading "What my inbox is saying about Ukraine" »
'Noken Simuk - Smoking forbidden. Leave the matchbox and inflammable matches inside the box' (Robert Eklund)
CRAIG ALAN VOLKER
| Edited & updated
First published in The National, February 2018
PORT MORESBY – All of us probably remember dictionaries from when we were at school.
They had a long list of English words and explained them in English. This is a monolingual dictionary. Words and explanations in the same language.
Continue reading "Making a dictionary for your own language" »
Illustration by Kal (The Economist)
TUMBY BAY - Hang on, what’s up? The world wasn’t supposed to turn into custard until my generation was safely six foot under.
As Stan Grant eloquently put it, “We are miserable, getting poorer, afflicted with disease, on the verge of blowing ourselves to smithereens and facing a climate catastrophe”.
Continue reading "Sick, crippled & besieged by con artists" »
During the year Big Pat turned right instead of left and ended up at Fatima Secondary School in Banz
PATRICK (BIG PAT) LEVO
| Papua New Guinea Post-Courier
PORT MORESBY - In all of the meandering years in the life of Papua New Guinea, 2021 had to be the big meander.
The colours were there, the love and laughter were there, the sadness, emotion, losses, highs and lows, the bleakness of our long-suffering population and blackness of ethereal poor governance were all intertwined to make 2021 stand out.
Continue reading "Bleak & black year shook Land of the Respected" »
Woody Guthrie - The work of one of the most significant figures in American folk music focused on themes of American socialism and anti-fascism. His music has inspired several generations politically and musically
FROM THE READER’S CATALOGUE
| New York Review of Books
NEW YORK - Woody Guthrie wrote the heartfelt and playful resolutions below on New Year’s Day, 1943.
From 29 December 1942 until 1 January 1943, Woody filled a 72-page composition book with a letter to his love, Marjorie.
This little gem, in the middle of the book, provides insight into his daily concerns at the time — the large and the small.
Continue reading "Woody Guthrie’s New Year resolutions" »
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia. Phil Fitzpatrick found this country more to his liking than a city teeming with consultants
TUMBY BAY - After leaving Papua New Guinea I went to work for the South Australian Museum in a new unit responsible for Aboriginal heritage legislation.
There were less than a dozen of us and shortly after I arrived we were shifted from the museum to a warehouse with attached offices out in the suburbs.
It was a decidedly casual arrangement and on most days when I wasn’t doing fieldwork I turned up at the office in shorts and tee shirt.
Continue reading "The wreckage they left behind" »
NOOSA – The eminently sensible article by Stephen Charteris, replete with sly hat tips to consultants, took me back.
It took me back to those periods of my career when I was a consultant – and there were many such periods often for big chunks of a long career.
Continue reading "A probably useless glossary of Consultish" »
TUMBY BAY – Every day I receive up to a dozen spam telephone calls, text messages and emails.
My son and daughter, who spend more time online as part of their work, score double that number.
It seems that the criminals have moved out of the dark alleys, backstreets and the corporate towers and onto the internet.
Continue reading "The cyber crooks who fill my day" »
Bougainville seascape (Simon Pentanu)
SIMON PENTANU MP
KIETA – It is said that some of the best personal and political successes in life have followed great adversity and disappointment.
How many of us have come to the best of times when the worst of times has taken us to the brink?
I have some personal perspectives on this from the Bougainville contest, where we have individuals, businessmen, political leaders, church leaders and women and youth leaders who have the opportunity to change things for the better.
Continue reading "Perspectives on building a successful society" »
Gary Juffa (left) shares a joke with two constituents
GARY JUFFA MP
ORO - My dear young person, I have some thoughts formed from not a few experiences gained along the way in my last 49 years.
I decided to share them to mark the 46th Independence Day of our great young nation, Papua New Guinea.
I offer them to you in the hope that perhaps they will be of some use.
Continue reading "Some useful advice to a young person" »
'The Bosses of the Senate', 1889 lithograph from the collection of the United States Senate
TUMBY BAY - For Australians, and other people with a close interest and involvement in Papua New Guinea, there is a curious dilemma that revolves around trust.
This is the result of the rampant corruption and lawlessness that seems to permeate everything that happens in our near neighbour and good friend.
Continue reading "Can you trust a politician with high BMI?" »
NORTHUMBRIA – Keith Jackson writes and I too have begun to worry that many people under the age of 40 have lost resilience, stoicism replaced with almost permanent protestations of victimhood.
Or who exhibit grievances with so much of what is said to them or by being exposed to unavoidable circumstances like the Covid pandemic.
Continue reading "It's that ingrained Calvinistic stoicism" »
ADELAIDE – In an insightful piece, ‘A Place, A Time & Lessons Learned’, Jim Moore writes that “we humans share so many common traits and characteristics that transcend time and place [and] we need to recognise that we don't know it all... that we’re not members of an exceptional tribe”.
We humans do indeed share many common characteristics, and simultaneously our different cultures create endless opportunities for misunderstanding and conflict.
Continue reading "The difficult road to modernity" »
Ol narapela kain man. Young kiaps, 1960s
TUMBY BAY – Culture shock. It was one of the things expatriates were warned about at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) before departing to take up positions in the then colonial Administration of the Australian Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Culture shock describes those feelings of excitement, anxiety, confusion and uncertainty when you find yourself in a new and unfamiliar environment.
Continue reading "Lessons we might have missed" »
Democracy will have to do better than this... Panicked Afghans storm an aircraft as they try to leave Kabul after its seizure by the Taliban
ADELAIDE - While I endorse Governor Gary Juffa's sentiments in ‘The world is ours, let’s act that way', I am afraid 'ordinary people' will not retake possession of their particular worlds any time soon.
In places like China, theocratic Iran and newly Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, the world will belong to armed minorities who will impose their world view upon the great majority.
Continue reading "PNG people unlikely to reclaim birthright" »
Governor Gary Juffa and friends relax after a meeting of the People's Movement for Change
GOVERNOR GARY JUFFA
ORO - I say this often, but it cannot be said enough, although I’m confident that eventually many people will understand, and act upon their understanding, in due time.
I pity those who do not wish to understand and cannot see this reality, so let us focus on helping them understand.
Continue reading "The world is ours, let’s act that way" »
NOOSA - My romp through Tok Pisin the other day brought some amusing embellishments from readers.
I've packaged these into this brief piece, along with other information about how you might pursue an interest in this most eloquent language.
When Phil Fitzpatrick returned to Papua New Guinea in 1997, more than 20 years after he had finished his service as a kiap (patrol officer), he worked in oil and gas exploration and, later, in social mapping.
Continue reading "Further adventures in Tok Pisin" »
ADELAIDE - I agree with Phil Fitzpatrick who observed yesterday that Papua New Guinea should have become a state of Australia.
If this had been done, several predictable things would have happened.
First, there would have been a steady inflow of migrants from the Australian mainland lured by PNG’s almost limitless opportunities in agriculture, mining, energy, tourism and so forth.
Continue reading "What might have been could yet be" »
TUMBY BAY - I was lucky in high school because I had a succession of very good English teachers.
Their presence made the experience bearable as I grappled with all the other banal subjects on offer.
I can’t remember the name of my first year English teacher. He was a younger man and I later ran into him outside Steamies in Port Moresby.
Continue reading "The meaning of life" »
WARWICK - The expansion of China’s influence into the Solomons, Vanuatu, Samoa and Kiribati is of increasing concern to us in Australia.
But it is as nothing compared to the mischief to happen if the Chinese move into Daru.
This is because Daru - together with its mud and mangrove neighbour, Bristow - is the only island in the Torres Strait which is part of Papua New Guinea.
Every other island is Australian territory.
Continue reading "China. First Daru. Then Queensland?" »
TUMBY BAY - Do we older folk need to apologise to our children and grandchildren for the sorry state of the world we are bequeathing to them?
I guess the answer to that question depends on how culpable we feel and how complicit we think we have been in bringing the world to the edge of the catastrophe so many scientists believe it faces.
Continue reading "Maybe all we can do is apologise" »
World War II Japanese artillery piece on Kangu Beach, near Buin south Bougainville
SIMON PENTANU MP
‘Only the dead have seen the end of war’ – Plato
KIETA - These are my thoughts from looking around Buin in south Bougainville every time I travel there. It is a great place, like other regions on the island.
It is also where I first saw, in 1964, the menace of war in the relics that all wars leave behind. The relics of Buin are from World War II, when Bougainville came under Japanese control.
Continue reading "On winning whatever the price" »
TUMBY BAY - The articles featured in the Anzac Day edition of PNG Attitude had a common theme related to the corrupted mythology of Australia’s leading commemorative event and its emergence as a caricature of reality.
The comments by various authors reflected on the inconvenient truths revealed in the articles or sought to defend some of the mythologies thought to be questionable.
Continue reading "Words that mean more than they say" »
NOOSA – Well here’s a pleasant something for Easter. You can read about it just below or listen to it first by linking to it here.
I recommend you listen first.
This 'pleasant something' is a choral collaboration under the guiding hand of my son, Simon, in Auckland, New Zealand.
Continue reading "A true musical treat this Easter" »
Elon Musk has just edged ahead of Jeff Bezos to become the richest man in the world. Each man is worth nearly $200 billion (K700 billion). PNG's total wealth is K80 billion
TUMBY BAY - It seems that slavery is alive and well in the USA and is being perpetuated by one of the richest men in the world. He is Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon.
What began as Bezos’s innovative online bookstore in July 1995, which later assisted writers publish and distribute books, has morphed into a monstrous retail operation that is trampling all in its path, including its own workers.
Continue reading "What to do about a big & ugly Amazon" »
John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations
MELBOURNE - History has demonstrated that when people are fearful, believe they are powerless and can’t cope with threatening events they very often resort to conspiracy theories to explain their situation.
Equally often they look for scapegoats who are believed to be at the heart of the conspiracies – in the Christian world Jews and heretics; in the Muslim world heretics and Christians; and in the plague-ridden medieval times sins and sinners.
Continue reading "Danger! Fake news & conspiracy theories" »
From HMS Basilisk (left), the three-masted paddle steamer from which Captain John Moresby named many topographical features of southern PNG during an important voyage of discovery in 1874
TUMBY BAY - When you look at a map of Australia the precedence of its European colonial history is very apparent. If you run an eye around the coast, all the names of state capital cities echo that history.
Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart all owe their names to significant British places or personages.
It is only with the federal capital that any acknowledgement of the previous inhabitants occurs.
Continue reading "Should Hanuabada be capital of Peengee?" »
TUMBY BAY - It has always been a commonly held belief that politicians don’t run the country. That prerogative is exclusively the domain of the public service.
Anyone who has ever studied human relations theory will also know that managers always appoint people in their own image. This is particularly so among senior bureaucrats.
Continue reading "The mysteriously blank face of DFAT" »
One of the many search parties looking for Maclarence
MARY TERRIETTE ASEARI
| Academia Nomad
A student from the University of Papua New Guinea is reported missing. A week goes by and he is not found. Students conduct one of the biggest searches the city has seen. Mary Terriette Aseari is a third year student at the university.
PORT MORESBY - Maclarence Akua - a 22-year old third-year student, a good friend and a course mate of mine at the University of Papua New Guinea - had been missing for almost a week.
Mac is of mixed East Sepik and Bougainville parentage but grew up in Kimbe.
Continue reading "Finding Mac: Search brought us together" »
PORT MORESBY – Is one of our greatest struggles the struggle to stay focused?
Is it a truth that not one of us was born to stay focused?
Staying focused seems to be something we learn in life. Didn’t seem to be born with it.
Continue reading "Principles of staying focused" »
PORT MORESBY - I believe distraction is the greatest hindrance to impede human potential to accomplish great things in life.
The world today is encircled by distraction. And no person is immune.
The clever inventions developed to help humanity in some cases take us captive as we become fully absorbed in them.
Continue reading "The world today is encircled by distraction" »
ADELAIDE - One of our species’ best inventions is the scientific method, which has enabled us to create and sustain what we call the modern world.
Importantly, science works by discovering and understanding the reality or truth about how the natural world and wider universe operates.
Continue reading "The trouble with science" »
TUMBY BAY - We’ve only got one pharmacy in Tumby Bay. I believe it’s been in the same family since it began.
The grandfather passed it on to the father and now the father has just passed it on to the daughter.
I was in there the other day collecting some diabetic gear: a box of needles for my disposable syringes; a couple of packets of test strips for my glucose testing gizmo; and my blood pressure tablets.
Continue reading "Yeah, I know I’m getting on, but…." »
TUMBY BAY - After 70-odd summers on the surface of this planet, my impression is that it is a decidedly cruel and dangerous place.
It is a place where one’s major preoccupation has to be avoiding being eaten by the savage beasts that occupy it, both in reality and metaphorically.
Continue reading "Humankind - the coronavirus of the animal kingdom" »
Chiaromonte - once a dog eat dog nightmare, now a pleasant Italian township
TUMBY BAY - Edward Banfield was an American political scientist who studied a poverty struck Southern Italian village, Chiaromonte, in 1955.
There he discovered a self-interested society that put the needs of the family ahead of the public good.
He postulated that the backwardness of Chiaromonte could be explained in large part by the inability of the villagers to act in unison for their common benefit or for any other end not immediately related to their family interests.
Continue reading "The village as a social battleground" »
TUMBY BAY - You may have heard more than once persons of senior years proclaiming that the older they get the less they know.
That proclamation doesn’t mean a shrinking knowledge. What these aged folk mean is that the older they get the more they discover the vastness of human knowledge and the small part of it that they know or understand.
Continue reading "Old fogey cognitive deficit disorder" »
TUMBY BAY - If you were born in Papua New Guinea after 1975, especially if it was in Port Moresby or one of the other big towns, you would have grown up in an entirely different country to the one your parents knew.
Even if you were born in a village after 1975, unless it was extremely remote, the same circumstances apply.
Continue reading "Such is life" »