Sometimes things happen for a reason. This morning we loaded up and headed for the gondola, with the snow pumping down. At the entrance to the resort a lone figure grabbed my shoulder and said, “look out mate, you look like a trouble maker.” It was an old firey mate of mine who I hadn’t seen for many years.
A great day on the snow, poor visibility, but stacks of powder to be had. Now, phase 2 begins again- cards, beer, spirits, and after that, phase 3 – tuning the skis and boards with a drink or 2. The next daily stage being dinner and the nightlife.Peter ‘Horto’ Horton, a dedicated surfer, Buddhist, and champion bloke, has been boarding Niseko long before the Aussies invasion. We only live 100km’s from each other, yet we bump into each other in a different country.
Meeting up with Horto tonight, Lots of stories to be told between my mates and I, all of which will be appropriately embellished..
The Financial review recently attacked the newly arrived GuardianAustralia online for only representing ‘the view of a clique.’ [‘En garde for the leftist Guardian’ 29 July page 38.]
Given mainstream newspapers like the Australian Financial Review, The Australian and the rest of the Murdoch and Fairfax papers (don’t start me on the daily telegraph in NSW) represent the rich dictating to the poor and middle class, the Fin reviews criticism was somewhat laughable.
That’s a significant public response to an important federal issue.
Yet, the The Australian nor the Australian Financial Review ran any reports of note on these demonstrations. The Telegraph in NSW of course ran a partisan line.
This highlights the fact that under the present mainstream media duopoly the views of a large number of Australians are ignored, and skewed.
The federal election has finally been called, and here in NSW we awoke to the front page on the Daily Telegraph “Kick this mob out“. Some fine independent journalism there.
The Daily Terrorgraph’s front page today is an absolute disgrace. Not because of the side of politics it supports, but because it is so partisan, so blatantly NOT in the spirit of journalism.
Clearly newspapers in Australia are now nothing more than mouth pieces for the ruling class, for the 1%. So where can the 99% go? Is it time to let them go completely, and embrace new social media for independence, or do we need to restore balance in the mainstream media?
This will be an interesting election campaign. Not just around who gets elected, but how. It will also provide an insight into the influence and effectiveness of new and old media.
As a friend of mine wrote today on Facebook, “While News Corp have made it abundantly clear they’ll be running an incredibly partisan line in their newspapers, never before has social media and the internet provided such an alternative for political discussion and debate. In many ways, printed newspapers will be the biggest loser if Rudd wins, because it will confirm their reducing influence and power in Australian politics.”
So will this election be a defining moment for the media?
First Barry O’Farrell announced plans to close up to eight fire stations each day, leaving large parts of Sydney without a fire truck in their local station. Now he wants to hit you with a new tax.
That’s right. Barry O’Farrell wants you to pay more, for less.
In other words, he’s taxing families in order to boost the profits of big insurance companies. It’s outrageous.The new tax will be an average $300 per year on top of your council rates. Clearly Mr O’Farrell doesn’t understand the strain families in NSW are facing.
Why is he doing this?
Barry O’Farrell is trying to change the way fire stations are funded. For over 100 years, insurers have provided the lion’s share of our emergency services funding. It makes sense because a strong fire service saves them billions in insurance claims. Right now it’s a true “user pays” system.But now, the insurance companies have convinced Mr O’Farrell to tear up that system.This will deliver the insurance companies a windfall of up to $700 million in extra profits.
The NSW Government is holding a public consultation on the funding changes. Click the button to say no to Barry’s new tax. Follow our easy-to-use submission guide to tell Mr O’Farrell why you oppose this new tax. Hurry! Submissions close October 8th.
We’ve been together for a month now, and we’ve been through a lot. We started out as a couple of Mo Bros hanging out to raise money for men’s health, but what we got was so much more.
Soon after starting out our journey, over 50 firefighters, friends, families, and Mo Bros joined the team. Before long we raised $10,000 between us all. I had my own MO site, we had the FBEU / NSW Firefighter team page, and Movember was swinging.
Then we joined the Australian Movember Triple Zero Challenge and were running 3rd for a while. We started to drop in the challenge, but then Mo Bro Bill Hutchinson secured that $10,000 donation from Pacific Brands, which put us into first place. From there we never looked back. The team grew to 70, and the donations grew faster than our hairy Moes.
As you know, Mo, the Mo Bros that help with Movember are special people. We effectively become walking, talking billboards for 30 days. Through our growing efforts we raise awareness for the often ignored issues of men’s health, by prompting conversations wherever we go.
As you explained to me on your web site, Movember is not just for men. The women of Movember are known as Mo Sistas. They play a vital role in the success of Movember by supporting and encouraging the men in their life to get involved. Mo Sistas also get involved by signing up at Movember.com, and participate by raising funds and awareness themselves. Essentially, Mo Sistas do everything that Mo Bros do, without a Mo.
We all did a good job, Mo. We finished with $24,500 overall, a win in the Triple Zero Challenge, and a great team effort.
But now I have to let you go, Mo. We can only be together for a month each year, so I have to say goodbye.
Before we part, let’s remember the good times, Mo.
Remember the day we had to choose your style this year? There are lots of different styles, but you chose the ‘Hairy Horseshoe’ this year, and it was a good call.
Remember the first day I had to trim you? My children laughed at us, but we got it done.
Remember the surfs we had together, and the day you scared off that guy that tried to drop in? There have been some great MOments in MOustache history, and that was one of them.
Remember the selflies we took together? People said I was loving myself, but really I just wanted photos of you.
Remember those splendid games of lawn bowls with those other fine Mo Bro gents? The other bowlers didn’t stand a chance against us in that flouro yellow bowls shirt.
Remember the time I pulled my hoodie up and called us “Obi MO Kenobi”, and we laughed?
Remember the photo with our fire crew, and Mo Bro Camo fell asleep?
Remember Last year when I shaved you down in stages to get different styled Moes, and you got cranky at the Hitler one, so I said it was Charlie Chaplin?
Remember that time you drove me home from the pub? Having a Mo as a designated driver is a handy thing indeed.
But they weren’t all good times, and I must say sorry.
I’m sorry that all those girls you attracted had to be turned away, especially the hairy ones.
I’m sorry that you always turn out greyer than you would like. You like to think you’re younger than you are, so perhaps we could dye you a colour next year?
I’m sorry that there is not more hair for you to hang out with while you are with me. While I am going through a separation with the hair on my head, it is always good to know you are there when I need you.
Most of all, I’m sorry you have to go. We had so many good MOments this Movember and I look forward to meeting up with you next year.
Thanks for being MOcaptain of the FBEU / NSW Firefighters Movember team this year, and thank you for helping my team to win the Australian Triple Zero Challenge.
Most importantly, and to all our Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, thank you for working so hard to raise $24,500 for Movember, with every cent going to help and improve men’s health.
Donations are wrapping up, and there are still a few days to get donations in, but Moes have to go.
Goodbye old friend. My wife is chasing me around the house with a razor as I write this, so I really must let you go. We will meet again next Movember. So until then, and to all the Moes across the world, thank you for your visit.
With my 48 hr shift work week as a full time firefighter complete, my days off (dedicated voluntarily) as President of the NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union began, starting with a call from ABC radio at 6.30am. They were calling in regards to our media release on drug and alcohol testing in Fire and Rescue NSW. As I did the interview my family were waking, starting to get ready for school and work. The interview went well, and on completion of the call, my family pretended I didn’t just take a Union call so early in the morning. Thank goodness FBEU State Secretary (Jim Casey) was taking most of the media calls this morning, before he was offline for part of the day. Marriage saved.
Making lunches, and chatting with my girls was soon complete, one lot taking off in the car, the other princess placed onto the school bus. Successful morning (not including the incident involving lost socks) by 8.45am. I was due at my first event for the day at 9.30am, but first – the house work!
After running around the house, tidying up, making beds, and putting washing on, it was soon done, but I was now running late… quick change, and out the door, email by phone on the way.
En route to FBEU Union delegate training, I had time to speak to WinTV News, a Teachers Federation Official, and my Union office. Dad’s birthday too, have to find some quality time with him!
Into the car park, and up to the venue, just in time to meet and greet my fellow Union members, officials, and staff from the Union office. Delegates training was soon under way.
10 mins in, a call from Win TV again, they want to do an interview in the car park – so out I go. I get a good run talking about the FBEU training day, the Teachers Federation event on that afternoon, and our major public sector rally in Sydney on Sept 8. Good interview, good coverage – back to the training.
During the delegate training, several other issues arose requiring phone calls. Luckily I wasn’t presenting, so I could slip in and out of the well run event (thanks to the great FBEU staff and officials present). One of the issues on the boil was the immanent closure of our Communications centres, and some member based issues around some bans we had in place at those centres. In and out – but got the calls covered, including some caucusing with (and solid support from) my Exec around those issues.
Back to the delegates, this time with a chance for some input, and a good chat with them while finishing up. Another successful delegate training day as part of the State roll out.
Cutting it fine for time to get home for my youngest coming off the school bus, I jump in the car, and head back home. On the way home, the office calls, FRNSW has listed us in the Industrial Relations Commission. Some strategic decisions around that are made, then I arrive home. Just in time for my daughter, and as she dawdles down the road, picking flowers and skipping, I’m reminded of why I do what I do. We have a chat about important issues, like her need for some band aids after a school yard fall, and a discussion on today’s library book decisions. Just then, my awesome wife arrives home just in time for the changeover. A quick cuppa, and I’m back out the door, off to the Teachers Federation meeting as a guest speaker.
Once again cutting the timeline fine, I’m back past the places I’ve already been today, with more time to make some follow up calls. The IRC didn’t go well, but we have some time to discuss further as an Exec tomorrow. The traffic is building but I get to Wollongong TAFE just in time for the meeting with Teachers and Labour movement figures. Another great Union event with discussions and info on the current draconian laws NSW public sector workers are facing under the new axe wielding O’Farrell Liberal government.
Finally getting through the main parts of the day now, but the phone rings off the hook all the way home. Some more work now building to followup tomorrow just like the traffic in front of me. Almost home – bugger! “Dad’s B’day!” A quick call (and good chat with my favourite bloke) saves the day, and time to pull in to get food shopping and something to cook for dinner. Evening time with the family and I cook a nice meal while my wife runs the kids around to various events. They’re busier than I am.
Homework with the little one, teenage discussion with the eldest, all part of the night time ritual. Couple of Union SMS’s and emails in between, kept secret like a double agent’s spy work so as to not upset off my girls.
With them all settled in bed, and some emails to attend to, I thought, “what if I blog my days events – I wonder if it will be of interest to anyone?” – probably not….. but there you go.
Ready to do it all again on the rest of my days off, like I have for ten years, then back to firefighting for another week……
June 1 marked the start of hurricane season. The water has begun to warm up and the weather has become tolerable, leaving East Coast surfers anxiously awaiting the first signs of tropical activity. Granted, most years it doesn’t kick into high gear until August, but that doesn’t stop us from methodically checking, hoping, even praying for the first sign of swell on the horizon. Best-case scenario: a solid tropical storm or hurricane rounding its way up the East Coast, pushing solid swell along with it.
But is this “hurricane-friendly” mindset still OK, given the battering the East Coast has taken over the past few years? With devastating landfall hurricanes like Irene along the Outer Banks and Super-Storm Sandy in the northeast, should surfers feel guilty when desperately looking forward to the first sign of these oceanic powerhouses? Irene cost approximately $18 billion; Sandy cost $75 billion in damages, not to mention the months of painful rebuilding and loss. That alone justifies non-surfers’ irritation with those who look forward to more hurricane-driven surf.
During the onset of Sandy, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg stated that surfers put unnecessary strain on emergency personnel and that, “For a small amount of pleasure, surfers’ lives could be in danger, while certainly putting the emergency workers in danger.” The mayor then proceeded by issuing court summons to anyone still trying to surf the storm.
While there is certainly some truth to the self-centeredness of wave-hungry surfers, it is also important to recognize that most surfers also have an innate obligation to the coastline, and have been as active as any group in helping to protect and rebuild the coastal areas they love.
For example, charitable foundations like Waves for Water worked as a bridge to connect the global surf community to victims along the East Coast. By addressing survival needs, assisting with first responders, and contributing to rubble removal, W4W served as a vessel for the surf community to funnel their support. Their extensive experience with disaster relief put them in a unique position to help organize, mobilize, and deploy strategic response initiatives for the victims of Sandy.
The core New York surf organization, NYsea, joined the effort by starting their NY Beach Relief Fund. They donated 100 percent of the proceeds to New York beach communities. New York’s Rockaway Surf Club acted as a headquarters for teams of surfers dispatching to help the hardest hit victims. According to local surfer Mikey DeTemple, “As far as I could tell, FEMA hadn’t been there, the Red Cross hadn’t been there, the National Guard hadn’t been there. It was instantly clear that Rockaway didn’t need a clothing drive, they needed man power to get in there and begin cleaning up from the storm.” According to DeTemple, when residents of the area asked which organization the group belonged to, they simply replied, “We’re just surfers who want to help.”
Now that the summertime flatness is approaching, East Coast surfers await the possibility of real swell. They’ll certainly be conflicted, knowing all too well that tropical activity in the Atlantic sometimes has a darker side. But they can take comfort in two things: First, the best hurricanes are always the ones that avoid making landfall, skirt the coast, and give East Coasters solid swell for days on end. There’s no shame being stoked on good waves. And second, when hurricanes inevitably do make landfall, they will continue to be the first on the scene to help bring the East Coast back to life.
We often hear the word ‘Comrade’, and it is usually in reference to our union activities, or to a fellow union member. Some use the term with pride, others cringe when they hear it and think it is old fashioned. While the term does have references to the Communist Party and Socialists, it has wider and richer meanings.
Definitions of comrade:
At the word’s simplest meaning, a comrade is a companion either through friendship or related interest/situation. Today it is somewhat associated with communism due to its use by socialists and communists, and due to media generalisations, but is also a method of addressing someone that doesn’t imply a status-level. Similar to companion or fellow. The communist use of the word is said by many dictionaries to have originated during the French Revolution and was first recorded in English with this usage in 1884.
The word comes from the French camarade, which in Old French translated to roommate. This came from the Old Spanish word camarada, meaning much the same thing as the French version but especially related to companions in a barracks. Camarada was derived from camara for room, which originally was the Late Latin word for chamber.
Comrade’s first recorded entry into the English language is in the 1500s. The word comrade does not originate from the Russian language, as many people likely believe.
Other meanings for ‘comrade’:
• companion: a person who is frequently in the company of another; “drinking companions”; “comrades in arms”.
• brother: used as a term of address for those male persons engaged in the same movement; “Greetings, comrade!” • Comrade is a term meaning friend, colleague, or ally. The term originally carried a strong military connotation, a “roommate”. • fellow soldier, workmate.
You can see from these definitions, the word comrade relates to us as firefighters and Australian workers in many ways, but also within the Trade Union movement.
Interestingly, at our FBEU 1996 Annual General Meeting (22/11/96), debate on this issue was included on the agenda. The motion which was carried at that meeting was as follows:
“Agenda item 2. Adoption of the fraternal address of “comrade”
State Committee of Management recommendation:
That the undated members’ correspondence questioning the Union’s use of the term comrade and proposing that the Union instead revert to the use of the terms brother or sister, as the case may be, be received, and that this meeting confirm as policy this Union’s adoption of the use of the fraternal address of comrade due to it being standing ACTU and NSW Labor Council policy, its gender neutrality and primarily, it being considered the most appropriate fraternal term for union members generally, and firefighters particularly, due to its most literally accepted meaning of ‘a fellow, mate or equal in work or play or fighting’.”
So the term ‘comrade’ has been well debated and accepted as policy within the FBEU, and this serves as an interesting historical look as to why many FBEU members use the term.
As firefighters we share a rare camaraderie. We work together, we cook, eat and sleep together. This closeness manifests itself into a family that is recognized worldwide. As a collective, a group of members belonging to the same trade union, we share a strong need to protect each other and “the family”, possibly more than any other type of Union. In referring to our brothers and sisters using the term “comrade”, many of us believe that we are bestowing a respect only possible to give to those who you would give all to protect.
It should come as no surprise that the oldest firefighters Union in the world – the FBEU – maintain such terms and traditions, as a show of pride and strength.
So next time you hear the phrase “comrade”, don’t think that you have been invaded by some crazy commie ! Appreciate that you are being referred to as a friend, ally, brother or sister – by someone who stands side by side with you, no matter what side of politics you believe in.
I hope just talking about this, and explaining some of the history about it’s origins can break a bit of the Taboo around the use of the word Comrade. From a personal point of view, when you work and meet with those around the trade union movement, the word Comrade is used often, and with respect. But it is also used in that environment so much that it is just another way of saying ‘mate’. However ‘Comrade’ is our word, we feel like we own it a bit more, and it carries more respect.
Importantly, it means you are calling some your equal – something that can be foreign in a para-military organisation – but this is what makes it so important. When we use this word, it means we are stepping back from work, that we are engaging as equals, and we are engaging with respect.
Make no mistake, when a Union Official turns up and calls you Comrade, or when a fellow firey, or a fellow worker at a rally, calls you ‘Comrade’, it’s not some secret club ritual, or someone trying to emulate ‘the old guys from the fifties’, this is someone saying, ‘I’m your friend, I respect you, and we are united in our goals’.
I know it sounds weird to some, and maybe we throw it around too much, but is that such a bad thing when you take on board all of the above?