Thursday, 24 February 2011
All hell has broken out in the Middle East.
Recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and now Libya mean this part of the world will never be the same.
There are a couple of interesting aspects to this rapidly changing (and frightening) situation.
One of them is the discomfort of many western nations, relying as they do on the oil deposits that are across this area. The oil price has shot up to more than $100 per barrel as I write.
No doubt we'll feel it in the hip pocket here soon. This has to be another strong argument for switching to renewable energy sources sooner rather than later.
Our mild discomfort over fuel prices pales in the face of what Libyans are putting up with at the moment. The best the West can do is a great deal of rhetoric and hand-wringing. The prevailing sentiment seems to be along the lines of - "They're only Arabs after all".
A more charitable view is that they are worried about getting Gaddafi offside for fear of retribution against western ex-pats. Sanctions and a no-fly zone might save lives rather than cost them, especially if the regime is using airborne assets against his own people.
The situation is obviously fluid, and the defection of two Libyan Air Force Colonels to Malta is evidence of this.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the control tower as the two Mirage F1s were on short finals to Luqa Airport. A few days after this incident the Maltese authorities refused permission to land to a Libyan Airlines A300 alleged to have Gaddafi's daughter on board .
I guess telling the pilot of a fully armed fighter that he can't land is different from saying the same thing to a commercial heavy. The F1s had apparently been ordered to strafe dissidents in Benghazi.
Knowing exactly what is going on in Libya is challenging because of the regime's media bans. There is a way around it. Log on to the Tripoli Post which seems to be reporting without Gaddafi's direction.
If you are more adventurous, you can follow the news on local sites that broadcast in Arabic and use Google Translator. The English is a bit garbled, but you catch the drift.
Gaddafi is an ugly bugger......
Update - this link takes you to the Times of Malta with story and video.
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Sunday, 20 February 2011
It was really too hot for alfresco.
I spent some time on the local university campus today.
It's been a long time (1977) since I've spent any serious time inside such an institution, except for attending conferences and the occasional speaking engagement (usually in front of Education undergrads) when I was working full time.
The occasion was an Orientation day for one of my daughters.
Shade was good.
It was interesting, and the contrast between the campus of the seventies and today is marked. During two years full time study and ten years part time which began on my RTA and extended into the early eighties, I got to know U of Q pretty well.
The first thing I noticed today was the lack of political activity of any kind. Nobody was trying to sign my daughter to Young Labor or Young Liberal. There wasn't a cause to be seen. No Ferals - no Rah-rahs. Times have changed. The Red Frogs were there. My daughter dismissed them - "I didn't need them because I didn't go to Schoolies - I don't need them now".
They looked very earnest.
In this respect, (lack of political activity) the modern campus is a very boring place. Either because they are too busy earning the necessary cash to survive, or because they are too self-absorbed to care for ideas of any kind, the current generation (the millenials) are simply detached from ideology.
Flags everywhere, but no breeze to fly them.
Maybe they are turned off by the lack of conviction shown by today's political leaders who are blinkered to everything with the exception off focus groups and their spin doctors.
Two other things are different.
Everything (from parking to printing) has a price attached - a dollar value. Here, as everywhere else, the accountants are running the show.
And you can get good brewed coffee. That was simply unheard of thirty years ago.
Why do baristas wear black...in this heat?
Click on the pics to embiggen them.
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