Home-Grown Fruit and Stroppy 2019

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Nectarines

Today’s my birthday and therefore the day to announce the winner of this year’s Stroppy. But first I make will make another announcement: Mrs SG and I have harvested our nectarine crop! It amounted to 7.2kg after cutting off the rotten bits. St Bernard’s Market is selling yellow nectarines A$2.99/kg at the moment, giving our crop a retail value of A$21.50. Mrs SG wondered aloud whether that would cover the cost of watering the tree for a year.

I was reminded of an email circulated recently by my old friend Ron Allan. It was a picture of lots of tomatoes with the caption “Growing your own tomatoes is the best way to devote 3 months of your life to saving $2.17.” Well, Ron, even if that’s US$2.17, we did much better than that!

That curtain-raiser is little more than an excuse to display a colourful picture of our nectarines. Now to the main business. The winner of the 2019 Stroppy Award for Meaningless Drivel is … drumroll … the South Australian Academic Health Science and Translation Centre, for this passage from a report to the state government agency SA Health:

“What we can deduce from our work is that it is possible to generate a narrative around the experience of multiple stakeholders, going through a large-scale system change, in ways that both acknowledge the limitations of the data but support the emerging themes from the data, and from other (realist) literature reviews.”

A worthy winner! Thanks are due to Brad Crouch, the Advertiser’s Medical Reporter, who drew this to my attention.

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Asylum for Apostates

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We just got the news that Rahal al-Qunun has been granted asylum in Canada. Indeed, the 18-year-old Saudi woman is already on her way to her new home.

Rahal al-Qunun

Most people applaud her courageous escape from an oppressive regime, under which the renunciation of Islam (apostasy) is punishable by death. One hopes that by her action she will embolden other women to rebel.

One can also feel sympathy for her family, who will surely be condemned for letting this happen while they were on holiday in Kuwait; and for Canadian authorities who will be responsible for protecting Rahal from vengeful attacks by Muslims who consider death a necessary punishment for apostasy.

How likely are such attacks? According to the Independent newspaper there are twelve Muslim-majority countries in which apostasy carries the death penalty. Scholars are divided over this issue. As often happens where religious belief is based on a very old book, texts can be cited to support any point of view; and because the Quran has been supplemented by a body of writings known as the Hadith (meaning ‘tradition’) Islam is especially vulnerable to this phenomenon.

Asia Bibi

But judging by the scale of violent outrage when Asia Bibi, a Christian woman in Pakistan, was acquitted of a charge of blasphemy against Islam, views that most non-Muslims would consider extreme are not necessarily rare. (Blasphemy is a capital offence in Pakistan, but apostasy is not.)

Given that a) most people in the world would rather live in Western Europe, North America, Australia or New Zealand than in their own countries, and b) some of the nastiest countries to live in have Muslim-majority populations, should we not expect a blossoming of apostasy in the expectation that it will confer immediate refugee status and resettlement somewhere nice?

Muslim readers are especially welcome to comment on this post. I claim no theological expertise.

Broadband Down!

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Please imagine the following diary entries being ticker-taped like news flashes. That’ll make the story they tell seem more exciting . . .

Wed 19 Dec
No broadband connection, so no internet and no landline! Never mind, it’ll be back soon. Went to bed.

Thu 20 Dec
Still no internet. Spoke to iiNet call centre in South Africa. Diagnosis: NBN Co* has probably reassigned my connection to someone else – happens all the time. No need for technician visit. All will be well.

Sat 22 Dec
Text message received: “Will someone be at home on Monday between 0800 and 1200?”

Mon 24 Dec
NBN Co contractors come and notice a wire dangling from a pole, and coiled wire hanging from a pole on the other side of the road. Hmm, this calls for a specialist, can’t do it today. Tomorrow? Tomorrow is Christmas Day, sir!

Fri 28 Dec
NBN Co contractors come. Hmm, this will need a special attachment to the pole. That requires a special specialist, can’t do it today.

Wed 2 Dec
An middle-aged man with a weathered look turns up with his young assistant, bits of bent metal, pliers, a hacksaw and a ladder. A specialist. Unfazed by having an inquisitive onlooker he sets to work. Three hours later we’re back online.

Two other wires were down in the same street, so the current theory is that an over-sized vehicle, perhaps connected with a nearby building site, was driven along the street and simply chopped through them.

It occurs to me that with all our relativity and quantum mechanics, with all our light-fast hi-tech whizz-bang technology and machines that go ping!, making things work often comes down to having a bloke up a ladder who knows what he’s doing.

* NBN means Australia’s National Broadband Network, and NBN Co is the state-owned company that is building and operating it. But customers access the network through competing retailers.