Monday, March 31, 2008
Now this event has not been noted for its consideration of other people. Little or no consideration was given to those in the racing industry when the Catholic Church showed its take-no-prisoners attitude to staging the papal mass at Randwick. Negotiations took what seemed like forever and have resulted in Federal and State Government intervention with Australian and New South Wales taxpayers footing the bill.
One wonders how the Catholic Church will handle another hiccup in its planning agenda. Aboriginal people are concerned about the arrival of Pope Benedict on a sailing ship. Too reminiscent of the beginning of white settlement they say. Presumably, the Pope will be clad in his usual white so it just might be a case of looking like Great White Father, Miss Eagle thinks.
JEWISH LESSONS FROM THE WORLD CUP
Large, round object. Move it towards the goal; get it through the doorway. Outmaneuver those big, burly guys trying to stop you, trying to take it from you. Be quick. Use your feet.
Sounds familiar? Sounds like my life.
"From everything that one sees or hears about," taught Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, "one should derive a lesson in the service of the Creator."
Perhaps the most popular sport on earth today is the game of soccer (otherwise known as football). As is the case with every phenomenon in G-d's world, this game can serve as a model and metaphor for our mission in life.
The objective of the game is to move a ball into a "goal" or "gate." This would be fairly easy to achieve were it not for the fact that facing the players is an opposing team which will do everything in its power to prevent them from scoring a "goal." But then again, if there were no opposing team, the full extent of the players' skill and power would never be actualised. For such is the nature of the human being: our most potent potentials are awakened only by challenge and adversity.
The ball can be maneuvered with various parts of the player's body, but the game is played primarily with the feet. The game requires much skill, but no less important is the player's speed-much depends on whether a player can outrun his opponent and move more quickly than he.
What can all this teach us regarding our daily endeavors and inner lives?
The earth is a sphere - a fact noted nearly two thousand years ago by the Jerusalem Talmud.The objective of life is to move this "ball" into the shaar haMelech - the gate of the King. By fulfilling the mitzvot of the Torah, we move the world toward the goal of its creation.
At our every step, we are challenged by a formidable opposing team - composed of our own negative traits and habits and a host of external foes - who obstruct our advance toward the goal and seek to move the ball in the opposite direction. But it is the perpetual presence of this opposition that provokes our deepest potentials and maximizes our achievements.
A key factor in achieving victory are speed. The most skillful player will be quite ineffective if his movements are slow, plodding, and unenthusiastic. Similarly, a person's life must be animated with alacrity and joy in order that his deeds should translate into scored goals and a true impact upon his world.
The other important lesson is never to underestimate the power of the feet. To advance the ball towards its goal, we make use of the full array of our faculties, from "head" to "foot" - our minds, our capacity for feeling, our talents and our physical energy. But our most important faculty is the "feet," which represents our capacity for action and "mindless" obedience. Although it constitutes the "lowest" and least sophisticated of our faculties, it is our unequivocal commitment to the divine will and the physical action of the mitzvot that has the greatest impact upon our world and is the most powerful force for its advancement and ultimate realisation.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
The Easter Triduum refers to the three days from the evening of Thursday through to Sunday evening. It also refers to the three major events around which the community of faith gathers: the commemoration of The Last Supper on Maundy Thursday; the commemoration of the suffering and death of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on Good Friday; and the celebration of His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, is a day of quiet and mourning remembering that this was the time that Jesus lay in the grave.
I was thinking to-day that I have kept these traditions for sixty years. Sometimes the Triduum has not been kept in its entirety when health matters have intervened. This has happened a lot over the last decade. But health has improved and I am looking forward to full participation this year.
To-night will be the washing of feet. Last year, this was done with towels and soap and bowls from our local public hospital where St Thom's has a huge and long involvement in chaplaincy and pastoral care. Great symbolism! To-morrow, we go ecumenical joining with the Catholic and Uniting Church in procession and ceremony. Sunday, St Thom's starts at 6.10am with the sun and kindling the new fire followed by breakfast followed by the great rejoicing as the purple disappears and the Gloria that hasn't been heard for six weeks rings out. "He is risen!" is the greeting of the day with the response of "He is risen indeed!". Miss E will be following this with a trip into the Hills to the tiny Quaker Meeting for Worship at Menzies Creek.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
- Research and innovation in food products just since 1800 caused over 100 fold more food production per American farmer.
- Research and innovation in travel methods since 1950, enabled over 100 fold increase in travel by Americans.
- Research and innovation in medicine just since 1900 caused over 100 fold increase in information about our bodies.
- Research and innovation in electronics just since 1900 caused over 1000 fold increase in information available to us.
In 300 centuries, humans observed less than a million stars; but just in the last two centuries innovations in methods and research has revealed a cosmos of 100 billion times 100 billion stars."
The Templeton Prize is based on the premise that
progress is needed in spiritual discovery as in all other dimensions of human experience and endeavor. Progress in religion needs to be accelerated as rapidly as progress in other disciplines. A wider universe demands deeper awareness of the aspects of the Creator and of spiritual resources available for humankind, of the infinity of God, and of the divine knowledge and understanding still to be claimed.
Listed below are the prize winners including the just announced 2008 prize-winner Michael Heller.
1973 - Mother Teresa of Calcutta
1974 - Frère Roger, founder of the Taizé Community
1975 - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, President of India
1976 - Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens
1977 - Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement
1978 - Prof. Thomas Torrance
1979 - Rev. Nikkyo Niwano
1980 - Ralph Wendell Burhoe, founder of Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science
1981 - Cicely Saunders, hospice founder
1982 - Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, evangelist
1983 - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Soviet dissident novelist
1984 - Rev. Michael Bourdeaux, founder of the Keston Institute
1985 - Alister Hardy, founder of the Religious Experience Research Centre
1986 - Rev. James I. McCord of the Princeton Theological Seminary
1987 - Stanley Jaki
1988 - Dr. Inamullah Khan
1989 - Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, physicist and philosopher, Lord MacLeod of Fuinary, founder of the Iona Community and Indarjit Singh
1990 - Baba Amte and L. Charles Birch
1991 - Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits
1992 - Kyung-Chik Han
1993 - Charles Colson, founder of the Prison Fellowship
1994 - Michael Novak, philosopher and diplomat
1995 - Paul Davies, theoretical physicist
1996 - Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ
1997 - Pandurang Shastri Athavale
1998 - Sigmund Sternberg, philanthropist
1999 - Ian Barbour, professor
2000 - Freeman Dyson, physicist
2001 - Rev. Arthur Peacocke
2002 - Rev. John Polkinghorne
2003 - Holmes Rolston III, philosopher
2004 - George F. R. Ellis, cosmologist and philosopher
2005 - Charles Townes, Nobel laureate and physicist
2006 - John D. Barrow, cosmologist and theoretical physicist
2007 - Charles Taylor, philosopher
2008 - Michael Heller, physicist and philosopher
Now I am not sure about the scientific credentials of some of the recipients but I do have some favourites with whose recognition I am well-pleased. These include Charles Hard Townes - who was introduced to Miss Eagle on Late Night Live, the lively radio program on ABC's Radio National hosted by the evergreen Phillip Adams - and the cosmologist, George Ellis.
Miss Eagle had the privilege of hearing George Ellis speak in Melbourne in January. Ellis is a Quaker and he delivered the 2008 Backhouse Lecture: Faith, Hope, and Doubt in Times of Uncertainty: combining the realms of scientific and spiritual inquiry (available for download here or in hard copy here; ISCAST review here) at the Australian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
Miss Eagle has never heard of Michael Heller - but she looks forward to hearing more.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
What don't they get? They do not understand, do not comprehend the interest ordinary, everyday Australians are taking in their food - its nutrition value, the way it is grown, who are the people who grow it, the impact of climate change upon it, and the impact of major domestic and international corporations on it.
It seems to me that the Australian government sees only major corporate entities: the farmers, their organisations; food distributors and manufacturers and their organisations; agribusiness and its organisations. Then there is that strange entity called "the consumer".
Now "the consumer" does not hold weighty conferences attended by all those listed in the previous paragraph plus agricultural researchers and economists. But, last time I looked, the consumer still had a brain, was still a sentient being, and is capable of making reasonable and clear decisions.
We see farmers organisations and their supporters drumming up the so-called "city/country divide". What is not recognised is the large numbers of Australians - who qualify only for the title of consumer - who have moved to the country to establish their own small holdings; who have built relationships with farmers - particularly through Farmers Markets; who are concerned with ethical eating and who are so supportive of the agricultural enterprise that they support drought appeals and angst together with rural residents over the mental health of the farming community.
Australia, with its mild climate across most of the continent, has always been home to keen growers of edible gardens. And most of these gardeners are trying to be organic. Many of them are keen students of permaculture and biodynamics. Lots of them could imagine putting Monsanto and Dupont on trial for agricultural and economic terrorism but instead support seed savers groups and heritage varieties of fruits and vegetables. They are learning not to damage Australia's fragile soils with excessive tilling and their no-dig gardens are multiplying day by day. Primary Schools are teaching children about food from seed to souffle in their own kitchens and kitchen gardens - often aided and abetted by celebrity chefs.
The Minister seems to be entirely ignorant of this movement that votes with its green and dirty thumbs. Why else would he have come out with these statements? (Please take time to read the comments!)
ABARE Outlook 2008 has been on in Canberra. The Minister made his views clear in a doorstop interview there:
[Inaudible] campaigns against food miles, etc. Are you going to invest in advertising or is this something that you’re making comment about?
Certainly, with respect to the animal welfare campaigns, there’s been ongoing investment – and I referred to some of it today – in trying to make sure that we are not just at world’s best practice, but leading world’s best practice in overseas abattoirs and the destination points of some of our live exports.
With respect to food miles, I think we have to take, as I’ve said today, every opportunity to let people know and to let the consumers, both in Australia and internationally know – and I took the advantage today when we had international press here – to make it clear that food miles is a system deliberately designed to deceive. It does not provide quality consumer information and preys on the fact that a lot of consumers – and good on them – want to make sure that they’re doing their bit in trying to reduce carbon emissions.
The problem with food miles is that it takes one tiny [inaudible] of an equation and that’s their entire answer.
So clearly the Minister has a limited understanding of the concept of "food miles": of being near enough to your food to shake hands with the farmer; of caring about freshness and nutrition and value-for-money goodness; and of cruelty free animal lives.
Miss Eagle's solution to these sort of things is - organise. After all, that is what the major corporations and their hangers-on have done. But Miss Eagle looks around and sees organisation: the organisations devoted to permaculture and biodynamics and organics; the increase in retail outlets distributing these types of food products; the countless books, blogs, journals and websites promoting the good, simple, healthy and sustainable life.
Such a mind-set takes one beyond the suburban picket fence mentality and the four walls of a boxy apartment. It takes one into a wider world where nature is valued, treasured, and studied with a view to greater understanding.
Perhaps one day this understanding will reach as far as the board table in the Cabinet Room of Federal Parliament (who will water a Prime Minister's and Minister's edible garden?) and find a forum at ABARE.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Miss Eagle was forced to ask the question above after reading this. The ACTU is, perhaps, flinching under the fruit of success. It's wonderful Your Rights At Work campaign was central to the Rudd Labor Government's ascent to the reins of power.
We all watched open-mouthed the me-too campaign run by Labor in the lead up to the election. We wondered if this is what really had to happen to come to power and if Rudd would change his public tune when he came to power. Rudd seems set on being a promise-keeper and appears determined not to follow John Howard down the dishonest path of core and non-core promises.
Rudd and Gillard prior to the election were intent on projecting an image that was business-friendly and business wanted what they had got out of Howard. But, as the union movement is set to remind Rud and Gillard, the Your Rights At Work campaign by the ACTU delivered government. People who had never voted Labor before changed their vote. John Howard's Work Choices were, for most people, a bridge too far. Business has to face that fact. After all, they do love the benefits of a democracy governed by the rule of law, don't they?
And why this magic year of 2010 before things can really begin to change - if at all? Rudd had said that this was because business had to make forward plans. But, really, Kevin. A business that does not factor in the "change of government" risk? A business that can't figure out that industrial relations might change with Labor in power?
People are - by year's end - going to want demonstrable workplace change. They really would like it sooner, like right now. But their patience may stretch to year's end. After that, Kevin and Julia, if there is no demonstrable and meaningful change you will be seen as someone who keeps your word - to business but not to ordinary working Australians.
The left unions are restless. The Socialist Alliance - not an organisation brim-full of burgeoning membership - had a State conference here in Melbourne. The Saturday afternoon panel was devoted to the industrial relations scene and the AMWU, Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union, and the CFMEU as well as the Geelong & Region Trades and Labour Council turned up and clearly expressed their points of view.
The contribution of these unions was indicative of what could be a groundswell from the Left. The AMWU with its strong foothold in a declining Victorian manufacturing base clearly wants a return to the previous way of operating including Pattern Bargaining. While the TCFU outlined lucidly the way in which flow-ons have operated in Australia, the AMWU's dream of pattern bargaining is a wish that Miss Eagle predicts will remain unfulfilled. Somewhere, though, between the traditional flow-on practices and the rigidity and targetting of pattern bargaining there could be an opportunity for some new and negotiated thinking.
Traditionally, there have been unions like the AMWU and the Construction Unions who have set the pace. They have used their clout to progress demands and those with less clout - particularly in industries whose workforce is populated by women and the young - have, in time, been able to apply for flow-ons into their own industrial instruments.
However, back in the 1980s the AMWU and the Construction Unions overlooked one very important factor: the service sector. There was a time back then when the service sector was the one area of the economy that displayed marked growth at the same time as manufacturing entered its decline and some areas of construction were in the doldrums.
The AMWU drove through enterprise bargaining. This was a disaster for workers in the service sector such as the retail and hospitality industries. Enterprise bargaining has potential in the tradeable goods area and in construction. The economies of these industries were the meat and milk of the old Industrial Relations Club. The IR Club knew the ins and outs intimately and its people on a first name basis. The service industries were foreign to them - even to the men who ran the trade unions who serviced these industries. No thought had been given to how they operated: their culture, their economic milieu. I'm not sure that this has occurred yet. Draw an AIRC Commissioner into conversation over a coldie and he (very few she-s) would admit his ignorance.
To put it simply, dear Reader, in Enterprise Bargaining one could negotiate efficiencies in this wise:
If the business was making 500 ball bearings per day but efficiencies were negotiated and work practices not currently facilitated by the industrial award were streamlined and 750 ball bearings per day could now be made, then workers could negotiate a share of the increased productivity. Dead easy.
Then you go to the service industries. A check-out operator has no control over the number of customers served; the room attendant has no control over the number of beds made and rooms cleaned; the bar attendant has no control over the number of customers nor beers pulled. And while, in this day and age, it is possible to measure anything. When people do not want to find quantifiable or qualitative data, that data will never be forthcoming - particularly in relation to the work of women. This is why, in the end, Enterprise Bargaining became associated in these industries not with improved productivity but being forced into giving up conditions and working horrible hours without penalty rates. Of course, the more this sort of Enterprise Bargaining became the norm in these industries the fewer people joined trade unions. Mmmmm.....!
So to-day we look at the linked article which seems to be attributed more to Jeff Lawrence (himself from a Left union, the LHMU) than to the Rudd Government. It is interesting that this has come within ten days of the union panel at the Socialist Alliance. Within ten days of the panel at the Socialist Alliance saying that the current position of the ACTU was quite confused; saying that if the ACTU was to mount any sort of campaign it would be months away.
But the revival of the Australian Labour Advisory Council will hardly be a sop to disgruntled unions. This would have been likely to occur anyway. Similarly, union business committees to consult on legislation - as has been advised by Miss E's AWU contacts. This process is always likely under a Labor Government.
What Australian trade unions don't take to kindly is having a Labor government giving business its wish list or giving business an upper hand to the disadvantage of trade unions and, particularly, trade union rights as spelt out in ILO conventions.
And, as you are aware Kevin and Julia, the CFMEU want the abolition of the draconian Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner forthwith.