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Archive for June, 2012

KC Resists Take-Over

Mainstream media have missed the real story behind Gina’s buy-in of Fairfax Media. With similar moves on KC’s share register she is in fact going after WA’s influential side-stream news organ, the Kookynie Courier. The Fairfax feint is camouflage to take the spotlight off the threat to our beloved village voice.

The bleeding heart liberals who make up the KC board are rallying against the move now that Gina’s intentions are apparent, and both of us are refusing to offer her a seat. Problem is that three into two doesn’t go, and with only two bar stools to share she wouldn’t be comfortable anyway. Plus she would occupy lots of drinking (sorry, that’s thinking) space.

KC editors are watching from the back bar newsroom at the pub, and dusting off the Olde Worlde Charter of Editorial Independence to display on the notice-board. That should do the trick! The Chief Editor (moi?) addressed staff at the Friday BBQ and told ‘em not to worry, as management has set a new strategy direction with a great slogan. Although KC started out at the end of the century before last, defending the rights of miners (see About), these days they’re big and mean (oh yeah!) enough to look after themselves.

KC hasn’t wasted money on paper since it went online in 2009, so readers don’t have to worry about this silly broadsheet to tabloid nonsense. Ahead of the game indeed! Talk of introducing an online pay-wall is premature, as we are just happy to have any readers at all. For kconnected readers a KC app will soon be available for your epad or androgenic (androgynous?) tablet. Remember, the latter should only be taken as directed by your doctor.

Drum roll for the new slogan, which we’ve acquired from the Sydney Morning Herald, circa 1831: “Sworn to no Master, of no Sect am I”. How cool is that! Actually we kinda borrowed it for a while. And it’s not really a new direction, just a ploy to show Gina we mean business, which is not hers. Go the Wedge-tail Eagle! Bringing you news & views since 1896, it says on the masthead.

On second thoughts, we could re-position as KC & Mining Advocate (like the old Newcastle Herald), which is okay here in WA’s goldfields. Hmm, make mine a schooner of KB (Kooky Bitter) while we strategise.

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The Magic Pudding report generated a keen response calling for more analysis of the unchallenged economic and social assumptions of modern society. The holy grail search for ever-increasing labour productivity is another great economic shibboleth (lovely word) in need of deconstruction. The Applied Social Sciences unit at Kookynie Lo-Tech University (KLOTU) has been conducting longitudinal research on low labour productivity for years.

Consider the unremitting logic of producing widgets with less and less human intervention. Theoretically human wage slaves released from factories would then move on in post-industrial societies to make ‘services’, while the Chinese beaver away. Unfortunately there aren’t enough jobs in services to soak up this workforce, hence the high rates of unemployment in Western Europe & USA. The furphy that we would progress seamlessly to having lots of uplifting leisure time, while the machines did all the work, aka Barry Jones 1982 book “Sleepers, Wake!”, has definitely not come to pass. Reality has proved to be uglier and society inflexibly selfish (known as capitalism). So, with not enough work to go around, in our Thatcherian world we wind back social security because it’s now too expensive. The result is that society starts to fracture as the wealth divide widens. Beware the uprising and malcontent!

KLOTU has been collaborating with the University of Surrey’s Professor of Sustainable Development Tim Jackson (best-selling author of “Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet”). In a recent opinion piece he argues compellingly for a slowing of the drive for labour efficiency, as we may have reached its limits. He calls for the value of human services to be properly recognised rather than the ‘relentless outpouring of stuff’.

The Kookynie study findings in favour of a low-productivity future look promising. The pendulum is swinging towards the life side of that infamous balance with work. The latter has been re-defined along eco-working lines with cottage industries like tea-cosy knitting, beer brewing (don’t tell the pub), composting and screen door repairing. Meantime creativity is flourishing. Don’t worry Barry, some of us are awake, just not that early in the day.

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What an irresistible menu item for multi-national corporations pushing national boundaries to avoid paying tax!  The Google people may not be actually doing evil, but they are up to plenty of dodgy tax tricks. As they flagrantly ignore the legal-ethical interface of shareholder value maximisation and social responsibility, or some such.  The Global Mail has an interesting, and simple, expose of how Google have their revenue cake (or DIDS) and eat it too.

The Indian government is apparently fighting back against corporate tax-avoiding tactics, which proliferate in the wonderful new world of e-commerce without borders. Even the fearsome weapon of legislative retrospectivity is being brought into battle. I’m barracking for the Indians this time, not the cowboys! Meantime, Australia seems to have gone to sleep at the tax wheel.

Check out Google’s tax takeaway favourite. When you’ve had your fill, google (oh yeah!) Apple with the same menu item, and you can chew on them together, as the little golden delicious also tried the DIDS recipe.

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As WA’s only quality newspaper, KC aims to keep readers up-to-date with the latest in lifestyle trends. This introductory eco-living supplement (bio-degradable DVD available at your friendly newsagent) is specially devised for busy lifestylers. It will keep you riveted, or mildly distracted for about two minutes, if you read slowly, or savour every word and thought.

To make your lifestyle sustainable, meaningful, more fun and in line with TED-like values, follow this simple dozen living guidelines. Alternatively keep on consuming endlessly and mindlessly.

Cars:  optional, second hand, max. engine size 2.5L, and use sparingly.

Clothes:  90% second-hand; only new underwear, socks and shoes.

Furniture:  minimalist, 100% second-hand; think ebay or Council pick-up day.

Exercise:  running, swimming, cycling, walking, yoga and own exercise routine (no personal trainers); yeah, of course paddling is ok, etc.

Entertainment:  books, radio & TV (free to air), board games, sex.

Eating out:  no breakfasts – who can’t make muesli, toast, eggs, bacon and coffee; see cooking below.

Alcohol:  drink less, brew your own beer.

Cooking:  do cook whether you’re ‘time poor’ or not; wash your dishes without a machine.

Pets:  only working dogs & sheep, and cats OK if ‘done’.

Overseas travel:  long haul flying has a huge carbon footprint, so don’t go so far, and ONCE a year.

Electronic devices:  one music device and computer each; min. 5yrs ownership; then recycle.

Housing:  max. 100m2 space for two people, single 60m2. If you don’t know how big your abode is, you’re Australian. For essential renos, think embedded energy.

Eke!  A living epistolary that is ecological, environmental, empathetic, edifying, elegant, erudite, essential, ethical, exciting, etc. and sooo cool – the lifestyle that sustains the planet.

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The world’s highest mountain, Everest, also known as Sagarmatha or Qomolangma (‘Holy Mother’), is the ultimate bucket-list item for super egos. Last week over two hundred climbers tried for the summit during good weather.

Holy Mother was more defiled than usual by the tragedy unfolding on her flanks on the last stretch below the summit at 8000+m altitude. The Death Zone lived up to its reputation, with four climbers dying there in the same 36 hour period.

The Australian report makes chilling (no pun intended) reading. The final climb route is narrow with room for only one fixed rope, so climbers have to literally climb over each other if someone stops, dead or otherwise. Britisher Leanna Shuttleworth, 19 years old, and her father Mark did just that.

The first body they met was Shriya Shah-Klorfine, a Nepalese-Canadian woman who had died the previous day. They unclipped themselves off the rope to go past her, and then clipped back on to continue. Shuttleworth reports on their next encounter: “There was another man who was almost dead; he was sitting attached to an anchor…and I just thought it was a dead body rocking in the wind, but as we passed he raised his arm and looked at us. He didn’t know anyone was there. He was almost dead. He was dead when we came back down”.  Just think for a moment about what she is actually saying. They literally left him for dead.

That body was either Wang Yifa, a Chinese climber, or South Korean Song Won-bin, both of whom died in that period. Next was the dead body of Eberhard Schaaf, a German doctor. Shuttleworth’s team cut him from the rope to get past.

Leanna was ‘briefly elated’ when she reached the peak but believes the day will haunt her for life: “You’re thinking, ‘Is there anything I could have done?’ It’s put me off Everest. I really, really didn’t enjoy summit day because of that”. What a shame her fun was spoilt.

The answer to her question: yes, her team should’ve tried to help Yifa or Won-bin. How did she know that the semi-conscious climber was unseeing or almost dead? The callous and matter-of-fact rationalisations are very cold indeed. What happened to common decency and empathy? Shuttleworth deserves to be haunted. She still lacks remorse and insight.

The story has a redeeming strand of mountaineering ethics. Israeli Nadav Ben Yehuda, 24 yrs old, came across Turkish-American climber Aydin Irmak, who he’d befriended at base camp, slumped only 250m from the summit. Yehuda gave up his ascent, carried him back down and Irmak survived. Yehuda also found a semi-conscious Malaysian climber on the way down, when another climbing team appeared: “After a long debate they gave him oxygen and he survived”. Debate about what, one wonders? And, where were the abandoned climbers’ mates?

The selfish indifference of all these ambitious goal-seekers determined to claim their moment of glory and bragging rights is staggering. Is this the inevitable result of our corporate-cultured and self-centred societies, that we can climb over dead bodies, or walk past those still alive, merely in pursuit of our own fame?

Special thanks to Christian Wild for permission to use these photos

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