Archive for June, 2009

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Perennials

28 June 2009

I’ve been reading a daily paper since I was a child (yes, I was that sort of child!)  But sometimes I wonder why I bother because as I get older, it all seems just so repetitive.  I’ve read all the “Shock, Horror” tales before. 

There are the constant stories of abuse by Catholic priests, sports people taking drugs, MP’s fiddling their expenses (though I have to admit that the ingenious ways that British MPs have been doing this has made it a little more interesting to read!)

And the Sydney Daily Telegraph had as its headline story one day this week the “Exclusive revelation” that a prisoner had been allowed to go out shopping with a prison officer.  When all else fails, when there’s nothing “newsworthy” happening, the press turn to what they see as the cushy life of our prisoners.  And it makes my BLOOD BOIL!  

Being imprisoned is a punishment;  the curtailing of someone’s freedom is the ONLY punishment that is allowed in prisons under international law.  We aren’t allowed to humiliate, torture or starve prisoners – just lock them up.  But most prisoners (about 99% in the UK and Australia, I would think) will be released.  Very, very few get ‘natural life’ sentences but there are a few who’ll die in prison anyway, from old age or illness. 

The rest will be walking the streets again some day.  And it may be wishful thinking but I’d really like them to come out of prison and live useful lives.  Get jobs, care for their families, pay tax.  We can’t lock someone up for 10 years then just turf him out onto the street one day and expect that he’s become a model citizen.  He’ll be back.  Apart from the social aspects, this is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money. 

Contrary to what most of the population (and the press apparently) believe, prisons aren’t full of evil wrongdoers.  It may sound very “pinko-liberal” but most prisoners are inadequate more than evil.  They’ve got mental health problems and/or drug and alcohol addictions.  About 30-45% of prisoners have a mental illness.  About 12% have an intellectual disability. On top of that, they’re highly likely to be illiterate.  Not easily employable, with or without a criminal record.

The least we can do for them (and us) while they’re in prison is to try to address the issues that got them there.  Teach them to read.  Teach them a trade and other skills useful for employment.  Improve their general education.  But there are no votes in Governments increasing the educational funding of prisoners.  And the press just tears them apart for “rewarding” criminals by providing them with useful ways to spend their time while incarcerated.   

I remember in the 1980’s when Margaret Thatcher got her fingers burned by appointing a judge with practically no criminal experience and who had never been inside a prison as her Chief Inspector of Prisons.  I presume she was expecting a report that all was well in the world.  But Stephen Tumim took on this role with great gusto – sleeping at the prisons and eating with the prisoners.  He was horrified.  I can’t find the actual figures he quoted but I believe one of his reports said that something like 75% of prisoners shouldn’t be there and 25% should never be let out. 

I do care about the 25%.  As a society I don’t think we should just lock people up and forget about them.  But it’s the 75% we should be devoting a great deal more energy and money to.  And if that means educating them, taking them out of prisons for the day, and giving them day release to work then whatever the press and the radio pundits say, we should be doing it.

For ALL our sakes.

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Terrible Tasks

21 June 2009

I’ve often thought there were some jobs I just wouldn’t want – for any money.  This was brought home to me this week by the number of stories in the news about the Department of Community Services (DOCS).  Their role is child protection and welfare, including foster and adoption services etc.

Now I’m quite sure there are DOCS employees who are incompetent and lazy.  Why not?  They can’t be immune from occasionally hiring the wrong people.  But I bet they don’t last long.  If you’re looking for an easy job, this probably isn’t quite the right choice.

I’m also sure there are employees who have made wrong decisions, as there are in any organisation or profession. 

But I’m also sure there are many, if not all, DOCS employees who have sleepless nights worrying if they’ve done the best they can do.  And when they get up in the morning, they have to face what has become the daily ritual of criticism from the press. 

I have no children.  I have no expertise in the raising of children.  But I do know that to take a child away from her family has very serious long-term implications.  I believe research has shown that however well-intentioned foster parents are (and there are many cases documented where they weren’t well-intentioned at all), they’re really no substitute for the real thing, even when the real thing isn’t up to the job.  Obviously a child in serious danger has to be removed from that danger.  But this is one of those instances where hindsight is a wonderful thing.

In New South Wales, one in ten children is “known to DOCS”.  TEN PERCENT OF THE STATE’S CHILDREN.  How on earth can they properly monitor each of these children?  Leave a child in danger and you’re damned, as is the child (and the press baying at your heels).  Take it away, and you’re damned – seriously damaged child, distraught family with its reputation in tatters (and the press baying at your heels).

They’re accused of being slack.  And they’re accused of being heavy-handed.

I wouldn’t for one moment think that they’re particularly highly paid but whatever they get, they deserve every penny.

Not for me, thanks! 

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I’m Not Very Fond Of (Re-Visited)

20 June 2009

Many moons ago, I wrote a couple of posts here about things I’m not very fond of . . . titled that way because as a child I wasn’t allowed to say that I hated something, usually a particular food, so my sister and I decided that to say we weren’t fond of it would convey the right message to our parents without actually breaking the rules.

But here, it was words that I referred to.  I’m REALLY not fond of the word “Lifestyle” (as in “Sydney Lifestyle”, “Lifestyle Choices” etc etc).  I’m not at all fond of “Values” (as in “Family Values”).

And I’ve been particularly irked lately by the use of the word “Decade”.  Newsreaders use it all the time and I’ve no idea why.  I’ve heard that “It’s been nearly three-quarters of a decade etc ” (translated as 7 years) and  “Almost two and a half decades”, (which meant 23 years apparently),  It isn’t even a short form.  “Almost two and a half decades” is 8 syllables.  “23 years” is 4.

I think they believe it gives their report some sort of gravitas, but it doesn’t – it just makes it less precise.   Is “almost two and a half decades” 23 years, 24 years, or somewhere between 24 and 25 years? A decade is a precise period of time.  Almost a decade is utterly imprecise. 

I think I’ll get a few more of these off my chest over the next few days.  After the week I’ve had, I feel the need to rant! 

 

 

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My Leftovers Scarf

17 June 2009

I’ve had LOADS of great comments as I’ve travelled about wearing my Leftovers Scarf and many requests to point knitters in the direction of the pattern.

100_0209

 It’s available on Ravelry (free) as the Scrappy Lengthwise Scarf but for those of you NOT on Ravelry, you can find it here.

Happy Knitting!

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Correction/Apology

17 June 2009

In my previous post about WWKIP Day and Expertise Events (the organisers of the Sydney Quilt and Craft Fair), I wrongly assumed that David, the Manager of the Bayside Lounge, had been asked by Expertise Events to call them should any teaching take place at our event.  Apparently, this was incorrect.  I have been informed by Expertise and I accept their advice that Expertise played no part in what occurred and apologise for any distress or embarrassment which this may have caused to Expertise and the Craft and Quilt Fair.

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Kipping Photos

16 June 2009

Photography isn’t my strong point but I did manage to take a few on Saturday. And I DID promise overseas friends that I’d post them.

For a further selection you could visit Web Goddess and Witty Knitter.

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Unauthorised Knitting

14 June 2009

Our wonderful WWKIP event yesterday took place at a restaurant next door to the Darling Harbour Convention Centre in Sydney and, as last year, it coincided with the Quilt and Craft Fair taking place at the Centre. Today I sent this email to Expertise Events, the organisers of the Craft Fair.  You’ll see I promised to ensure that it received as wide an audience as possible where knitters gather on the Internet.  I’ve already put it up on Ravelry and will post any reply I may receive.

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In April I received a phone call from one of your employees asking if
she could help in any way to promote our WWKIP event being held at the
Bayside Lounge in Darling Harbour on 13th June, ie when the Craft and
Quilt Fair was also taking place at the Convention Centre.  As our event
was to be in a restaurant, with limited seating, I declined her kind
offer as I was concerned that far too many people may turn up.  As it
was, we had 80 knitters attend.

I was particularly surprised to receive this call as last year we’d
approached your company to see if we could in some way coordinate the
two events.  Your response was particularly unfriendly – there was talk
about “unauthorised craft” and a threat to call the police if we came
anywhere near the Craft Fair.  It was reassuring to see that this year
you’d appeared to appreciate that a large group of knitters gathering near the
Convention Centre could only benefit the Fair.

You can therefore I’m sure imagine how stunned I was to receive your
message when I arrived at the Bayside Lounge yesterday. The Manager told
me that he’d received instructions to call you if anyone made any
attempt to teach knitting.  Apparently Expertise Events corners the
market in craft teaching while the Fair is on.

We had no intention of running any kind of knitting class but I must
tell you that, despite my best attempts to stifle it, I DID see knitters
showing others how they’d produced a particular stitch or created a
particular effect.  One knitter was clearly seen by me showing another a
new cast-on technique she’d just discovered.  I wasn’t sure whether this
was “authorised” and the Manager, being extremely busy and not being a knitter, was probably not aware it was going on.

May I suggest that next year you send over someone from your Knitting
Police department to oversee this event as I found myself quite
incapable of keeping order?  I will however ensure that your request is
widely circulated where knitters gather on the Internet in the hope that
such a blatant disregard of the rules will not take place at future events.

Best wishes
Sally Ogilvie
Coordinator – WWKIP Sydney 2009

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