Did neuroscience researchers inadvertently give Daniel Tammet a malingering test? A revised and massively added-to 2017 edition of my ebook about Daniel Tammet and his "incredible story" is now available! Daniel Tammet: the Boy with the Incredible Story
C'mon everybody! Who believes that Mem Fox being detained by immigration officers in the US had nothing to do with having a convicted paedophile for a husband?
Did you see her on The Project the other night, playing the victim? I didn't notice any hard questions from the panel, which generally consists of entertainers, commentators and a token old shock jock, who present the news as a form of light entertainment.
Rather than slapping Sir David Attenborough on the back and naming things after him, maybe we should be asking the famous Sir David exactly what he knew about the illegal, prolific and unconscionable activities of the famous BBC TV host and serial paedophile Jimmy Savile, whose child molestation apparently peaked in the 1970s, in a time period overlapping Attenborough's term as the BBC's Director of Programmes. Why did Attenborough choose to return to making programmes in 1973, when his career could have gone even further, to the top of the heap of BBC administration? Was there some nasty mess that he didn't want to have to confront, as a senior administrator?
So, now I've found out that the bail justice who let free the violent young man who later mowed down and killed people in Victoria with a stolen car was a volunteer bail justice filling in after hours for the regular paid ones. Can you believe that? A job as crucial to public safety and justice as that, being left at times for volunteers to fill! I have no wish to make any sweeping statement vilifying or questioning the capability of volunteers, but any role of importance in our community should be done by a paid and carefully selected and fully qualified and experienced worker or professional practitioner. Apparently these voluntary bail justices can be very young or unqualified. This is madness and it must stop! This news is astounding enough, but I also find myself agreeing without qualms with today's editorial from The Australian newspaper! This does not happen often. I've been writing and ranting about the exploitation and stupidity of workfare and excessive use of volunteers in this blog for ages, but there has been no better time than today to demand a stop to this epidemic of unfair, dangerous and recession-mongering over-reliance on unpaid labour and services in Australian society. Businesses large and small exploit the young and inexperienced and the unemployed in unpaid internships and prolonged unpaid training or probationary periods. Training given under such arrangements can be redundant, demeaning or non-existent. All levels of government in Australia: local, state and federal, use the services of volunteers or advertise unpaid internships or cadetships. While these positions can be sought after, competed for and subject to written applications, interviews and clearances just the same as hiring for a paid job, the fact that people are willing to fill these roles in government departments, museums, events, legal roles, welfare roles etc, for zip pay does not excuse the fact that it is not legal to fill roles that are in every way like a job while offering no pay. Sure enough, such roles might offer valuable work experience or "a foot in the door", but that still does not make it acceptable or legal to offer the kind of role that would have once been a paid job as an internship or volunteer role today. There was a day when young people could expect a choice of job opportunities that they could walk into and start earning from, while they were also trained and mentored on the job. The fact that today applicants outnumber paid jobs does not justify the existence of this slave economy. The volunteer economy is a false economy, because when people work for nothing, they cannot participate in the economy as consumers and thus the money does not go around, and they are also kept reliant on welfare income, which is paid for by taxes. There are other obvious reasons why the slave economy is a stupid idea. It is demeaning and demoralising to the unpaid workers who have no recognised responsibility or standing in workplaces. It is also stupid to expect this unpaid and unrecognised "ghost labour" to perform to the occupational standards, abilities, reliabilities, initiative, levels of responsibility and accountability of hired and paid workers. Can they be held legally responsible for mishaps on their watch? Who knows? If every mug in Australia who works for nothing solely to stop their dole being cut off, to create work experiences to write into a resume, to train for a job that they have never been offered or to have a life and identity beyond parenting or retirement or a shit marriage all decided today to ask to be paid for their work, what would happen? Some people might gain secure, dignified, safe, paid jobs, rather than no people gaining secure, dignified, safe, paid jobs. That would be something at least.
So today it looks like I've judged the Victorian police too harshly over the Bourke Street rampage, as I read in today's paper that the murderer was out on bail at the time, and bail had been opposed by police. I hope the bail justice today feels the leaden weight of guilt for their central role in this tragedy and is now drafting a resignation letter. We all know that much too often the legal system undoes many hours of work done by police, leaving dangerous people at liberty to cause serious harm to more victims. Did the Lindt Café siege and the murder of Jill Meagher leave the legal profession with no lessons learned? To the Victorian Police Force - I apologise for suggesting your organisation did little to prevent the Bourke Street tragedy, but all the same, it would have been nice to see a cop or two at the scene before it was too late to prevent harm.
This isn't the only obvious and urgent question arising out of yesterday's horror. Why was an offender with a long history of offending and psychiatric disorder and drug use not incarcerated securely inside a psychiatric facility that was able to address both the mental disorder and the drug abuse problems? Australia is too poor a country to afford to create and use as needed such institutions? Bullshit! The trouble is that in the crusade to "take the stigma" out of "mental health" and popularise the idea of psychiatric labelling led by chattering attention-seekers such as McGorry and Hickie, the dangerously insane have been lumped together into the same category as harmless public servants who freeze with fear at the thought of public speaking and neglected children with joyless lives who correspondingly feel joyless. We all know there isn't room in any psychiatric ward for all of these people, so we are forced to accept life with the insane amongst us.
We should also ask, with countless mind-altering drugs available for prescription and psychiatry regarded as a science, with countless millions of dollars spent world-wide on research into the workings of the brain and the mind, why can't irrational murderous anger, from drug use or other causes, be diagnosed as a serious psychiatric disorder and treated effectively? As far as I know, only recently has a psychiatric disorder with unfounded anger been formally recognized as a mental disorder, even though it has been recognised as one of many possible symptoms of epilepsy probably as long as epileptics have been identified and shunned. Only days ago the science journal Nature featured a story titled "lasers activate killer instinct in mice". Predation behaviour in mice can reportedly be switched on and off with stimulation to the central amygdala in mice, and there's every reason to believe the same kind of activation of a specific part of the brain could activate aggressive behaviour in humans. So why can't psychiatry switch such behaviour off in humans? Ask your doctor, ask the directors of mental health services and brain research institutions, ask state and federal ministers for health, but don't expect any sensible or substantial answer.
So at this stage it looks like young men armed with a baseball bat and unarmed pedestrians did more to try to prevent the Bourke Street tragedy from happening than the Victorian police. Useless fucks! Please, readers, do not be impressed by all the work done by countless police officers to investigate this crime, and the countless hours of work done by countless WA police officers to investigate the Claremont serial killings, because the preventable harm has already been done, and it is too late, way too late. Convictions hardly matter if they are not related to the prevention of crime.