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Monday, 15 July 2019 Dereel Images for 15 July 2019
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Pension adjustments
Topic: general, opinion Link here

There has been a certain amount of talk about pension increases in the Australian media, and on checking I see that pension rates have increased slightly in the time that we have been receiving the age pension, though it's marginal. So when I received a surprising amount of mail today, the two from Centrelink (the intuitively named Australian Social Services) looked exciting.

Ha, ha, not for you. Pension down by $7 per fortnight (the bizarre time unit they use). Thank you, Centrelink. This kind of fluctuation (it also goes up) seems to happen several times a year for reasons that they're too polite to explain, but I can't recall it ever being very different from the current levels, though maybe we're at the lowest rate right now.

But wait, there's more. Another letter from the deutsche Rentenversicherung. Change in pension. Another 33.95 € per month, along with details of how to complain if you're not happy („Rechtsbehelfsbelehrung“, literally "Rights be-help instruction") and a certificate to be filled out („Lebensbescheinigung“, literally “life certificate”), to be filled out by a Justice of the Peace who has never seen me before, but not by my General Practitioner.

That more than makes up for the shortfall with Centrelink, and in fact we don't have any financial concerns. But somehow it seems that we're getting more and more money from Germany and France, and nothing much seems to change in Australia. Can I be bothered to go back 5 years and see what things were like then?

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 Dereel Images for 16 July 2019
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Winding up LEMIS
Topic: history, technology, general, opinion Link here

I founded LEMIS pretty much exactly 40 years ago, at a time when microcomputers were becoming a force to be reckoned with. Almost nobody knew about them—even at work few people had any contact with them—but I could see that there was to be a great future. This was two years after the introduction of the Apple II, and two years before the introduction of the IBM PC, the computer that would bring microcomputers into the mainstream.

Microcomputer? Isn't that PC? Yes, it is now. It wasn't at the time, and that's why I called the company “Lehey Microcomputer Systems”, abbreviated to “LEMIS”. I even gave notice at my well-paid day job in order to be able to address the job full time. Fortunately my company talked me out of it: I would have gone bankrupt within months. I may have seen the technical side of things, but I've never been a businessman, and I had absolutely no plan about how to earn money.

Thirteen years later I finally did leave my company and found LEMIS GmbH, a company that I kept running until I left Germany. Then it was LEMIS Pty Ltd in Australia. In each case, I made enough money to survive.

That ended twelve years ago when I retired. But I didn't wind up LEMIS. It required a certain amount of administrative effort, and who knows, I might need to revive it again. So I've been paying my annual fee to ASIC for thirteen years, and nothing has come of it.

Enough! Get Thomas Elford of PPT to do the necessary. I might be able to do it myself more cheaply, but that way more procrastination lies.

First signs of spring
Topic: gardening Link here

It's been less than a month since the winter solstice, but gradually there are signs that spring is on its way:

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I'm particularly happy with this Camellia japonica, which hasn't looked very happy since we moved here, but at least it has lots of buds this year.

Towards a 28th amendment
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

The founding fathers of the USA were remarkably far-sighted people, and it's a sign of that far-sightedness that the constitution that they wrote has survived intact with only 27 amendments. The French constitution has been rewritten several times during that period.

One of the weaknesses that I see in the constitution as it stands is the fact that the president has too much power. The lawmakers have seen that too, and at least tw amendments try to limit that power: the 22nd amendment limits a president to a maximum of not quite 2½ terms in office, and the 25th amendment addresses presidential succession. Currently it's under discussion because it could arguably be used to force Donald Trump to step down. And then there's the 12th amendment, which arguably also seeks to limit power by ensuring that the president and vice president should not be too close to each other.

But somehow it's not working. Donald Trump treads on the ideals of US independence. Consider:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Never mind what he does to non-US Americans (against which the Declaration does not discriminate). What does he do to the citizens of his country? He tweets divisiveness and downright lies:

So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

These people are representatives of the US population, the people whom he has sworn to defend! And who is he to tell people how to run this once great nation?

The people in question are Ayanna Pressley (born in Cincinnati), Rashida Tlaib (born in Detroit), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (born, like Trump himself, in New York City) and Ilhan Omar (by some mishap born in Mogadishu, but a naturalized US citizen).

So what do they have in common? They're Democrats (the party), and they're “women of color”, a term many US Americans use to describe anybody who is the slightest bit “tainted” by non-white blood.

What disgusting behaviour! Is that worthy of a president of the USA? No, of course not, and the House of Representatives, even the vast majority of the Republicans, condemned it in no uncertain terms. Omar stated that Trump had “openly violated the oath he took” by allowing “human rights abuses” at the US-Mexico border, amongst other things. And yes, his oath was to the constitution, of which the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom. In passing, it's surprising that I couldn't find any reference to this statement in a mainstream US newspaper.

More to the point, though: he lied. That's nothing new; the Washington Post is keeping a fact checker's database which currently has tallied 10,796 lies. And of course there's the old saw:

How do you tell if a politician is lying?

His mouth is open.

But Trump has taken this far beyond normal lies. There are lies that he repeats again and again, even after being called to account. Three of these representatives were born in the USA. Barack Obama was born in the USA. But he repeats the lies again and again, and people believe him.

Clearly the USA needs to do something to limit this damage, which is tearing the country apart. One thing is obvious: a large minority of the US population don't care that he is eroding the democratic principles of the US constitution. Pandering to them gets votes, but it damages the country in the process.

I'm sure there will be a post mortem after the Trump presidency (hopefully in 18 month's time). Will they create a 28th Amendment? What would be in it? At the very least, much more adherence to the ideals of the constitution. And somehow there should be a method to call any politician to account and get him to retract claims that are demonstrably untrue. It won't be easy, but it's necessary.

This is only part of the issue, of course. I haven't even mentioned how the president is at odds with Congress about foreign policy, but that he gets his way, something that has a more direct effect on most people in the world. But that's a different can of worms.

This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. It's also not a vehicle for third-party content. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.

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