Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Friday, 27 March 2020

The Bug





I'm writing this, gentle reader, on the fourth day of what is variously called "self-isolation", "lockdown", or "social distancing".

I don’t know why it’s not called “staying home”, because that’s effectively what it means, but in 2020, euphemisms rule.

I’m fortunate. My superannuation is taking a hit, but I can pay my bills, look after my family, and have somewhere to sleep.

There’s a lot of people for whom at least one of these activities is under severe threat, and the measures being taken by government and individuals to deal with the situation are almost beyond belief. I would have been considered bonkers if I had predicted a month ago that Centrelink payments would be doubled, cash sent to individuals, and most businesses would shut down completely.

If I had predicted that people would be destocking stores of toilet paper, I would have been quietly taken away and probably placed under close supervision. That's probably what should happen to the toilet paper hoarders.

But all these things have happened. It’s remarkable.

We're seeing both the worst and best in people.

People posting on Rightwing blogs are behaving like the idiots who assault emergency paramedics by abusing the medical profession. It's called "shooting the messenger". if you don't like what you're hearing, get stuck into the bearer of bad news. It won't change anything - but it might make you feel better for a minute or two.

These same medics (forgive the military terminology) are working to save the lives of others by putting their own lives at risk. People get commendations for that behaviour in wartime.

My kids are OK, although for a while, the immediate future of my daughter, working in the UK, was looking bleak. Thank heavens for her compassionate employer and Bojo’s wage subsidy.

Perhaps that strategy might have also worked here and prevented the block-long queues outside Centrelink offices.

My bride’s compromised immune system, as a consequence of twelve months of chemotherapy, is also a worry. She had planned a holiday with her many sisters in Cairns to celebrate the completion of the course of treatments that have anchored us pretty thoroughly since diagnosis. That's cancelled. Airnorth refunded - not so Tigerair.

I was supposed to be heading to Adelaide in April for a B Company reunion. That's also cancelled, and my air fares (Virgin) are somewhere in the ether - minor matter.... The greatest disappointment is that we're all becoming geriatrically compromised, and a future event, by the time it's organised, might be a bit late for some.
Now there’s a different kind of anchor for both of us. The problem with this one is that it’s open-ended.

My daughter’s carefully drafted plans to tour Europe in the Northern Summer have also been thwarted. At least she got to see the Northern Lights in Iceland before the axe fell on international travel.

There seems to be some kind of tension between those who say that the government is going too hard, and those who say it’s not going hard enough. There’s no contest between saving society and saving the economy.

You can’t have one without the other.

An “economy” operates within a "society". Despite what Maggie Thatcher said, there is a structure called "society". We socialise first - we trade later. There are enough resources on God's good earth to go around, so long as greed and fear don't trump generosity and compassion. 

The economy will recover. Some of those who get this bug won't.

A damaged economy may see a reduction in quality of life, but this may be a time when quality of life may need to be sacrificed simply to maintain life itself.

Many people with disabilities have been living with diminished quality of life for years. Perhaps able bods doing it tough might now develop a different view after this experience.

And perhaps the same compassionate appreciation of people on Newstart will develop as it becomes, for many, the new reality.

It’s an ill wind.

My blog stats tell me I have 185000+ viewers worldwide. Here's a message for each one of them.

Stay home.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Motoring Nostalgia



This popped up in my Youtube feed.

It was posted by kiapenna1 who was advertising the car for sale.

He/she was successful in that exercise, as it has been sold.

I'm posting it because the car in the video is almost identical to the first car I owned. Back in 1966 I bought a 1956 Volkswagen 1200 from a used car dealer in Caloundra. I had saved my earnings from holiday jobs such as tobacco picking and delivering mail.

From memory, it set me back two hundred pounds. I have no idea whether that was good value or not, but it was unmarked, rust free, and it was just what I was looking for as a student teacher needing basic transport.

Looking back on it, I had no strong preference for make or model at age 19. I had learned to drive on a Morris 850 which belonged to my cousin, and passed my (rudimentary) licence test in my father's EJ Holden.

On the whole, it was a reliable car, although it chewed up a differential bearing not long after I acquired it, which drained my meagre savings.

I used it initially to drive daily to teachers' college, and weekly to drive the 70kms home to Landsborough most weekends. Post graduation, it took me home to Texas (Queensland - not USA) and to teaching appointments, first at Inglewood, and then Goondiwindi.

It came to grief halfway through my first year at Goondiwindi when it put a valve through a piston, as a consequence of the cooling fins on one of the cylinder heads being clogged with dried mud after an adventure in a flooded creek.

The only surviving photo. Note the indicators on the door pillars.

I put a long motor (out of a Kombi) in it, and drove it until I traded it on another Volkswagen, a 62 model, after a month or two.

The second beetle was OK, but it somehow lacked the mystique of the first one. They are a remarkable piece of engineering.

This US model differs in the positioning of the steering wheel, the presence of bumper overriders, and the parking lights and indicator setup. My car had pop-out trafficators, which I replaced with indicators mounted in the door pillars. where the trafficators had been.

The car in the video is exactly the same colour.

They worked OK.

Beetles continue to have a special place in my heart.




Wednesday, 4 March 2020

33Bravo




I was reunited with an old friend yesterday.

This friend weighs 51 tons on the old imperial system, and served in Vietnam in 1970.

On 22nd April that year, we encountered a bunker system at grid reference 574685.               .

After an attempt at assaulting the system, during which 4 platoon took one KIA and one WIA, the CO called in artillery support, US air support, and a light fire team.

Later on the day, a troop of tanks was introduced into the contact, but because of the thick scrub, they didn't arrive until dusk, and weren't in position to assault the system in daylight. The tank in the video (callsign 33 Bravo) was one of them.

Combining infantry and armour at night was not a good idea, so the assault was postponed until first light the next day.

The tanks certainly did the job, using canister rounds, which cleared the vegetation, and allowed a passage into the system which was destroyed by the tanks driving on to the overhead cover and grinding their tracks on it until it collapsed.

There were four bodies in the system, which had apparently acted as a hospital.

Most likely, the bulk of the occupants decamped under cover of darkness. It probably had housed forty or so.

Without the tanks, the outcome may well have been very different.

It was interesting to see and hear this beast again - a very large and noisy blast from the past.

Apologies for the quality of the video.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

The Best and Worst of the Era.



 This is one of the most evocative music videos of the era.
The extraordinary music of The Doors and the juxtaposition of the video grabs works extremely well.

 Lest we forget.....

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Stolen Wages

Graph courtesy ABC

This item appeared in yesterday's news.
There is a long list of companies who have underpaid workers. It includes -
Bunnings
7 - Eleven
Woolworths
The ABC
Blackwoods
Dominos Pizza
Workwear Group
Coregas
Greencap
Rebel Sports
Supercheap Auto
BCF
Commonwealth Bank
Bankwest
Michael Hill Jewellers
MAdE
Press Club
Gazi
Hellenic Republic
Jimmy Grants
Rockpool Restaurant
Subway
Endota Spa
Coffee Club
Jamaica Blue 
Muffin Break
Crust Pizza
Her Fashion
Box Sushi
Sushi 79
Wage theft is now institutionalised in Australia.
This is the result of a decline in union membership which has led to a massive power imbalance between workers and employers.
Then there's superannuation theft.
One third of eligible Australian workers are being underpaid super.
This is 2.4 million workers collectively having $3.6 million stolen from them each year.
No wonder Millenials are OK with socialism.
Capitalism is right royally ripping them off.




Friday, 7 February 2020

A Globetrotting Parcel

Well travelled parcel.

My youngest daughter is living and working in the UK, which means last Christmas was the first she had spent away from family.

Our mob always get together for Christmas.

So we missed her a great deal.

In an attempt to compensate, we selected one small gift from each family member, gift wrapped each, and packed all of them in an Australia Post mailing box.

This was dispatched, together with a separate large envelope containing family photos, well in time to get to the UK for Christmas. Both items were posted on the same day.

Australia Post has an excellent tracking system, and we were able to follow the progress of these items as they made their way to to other side of the globe.

Subsequently my daughter received a card in her letter box letting her know that there was an item waiting for to collect at the local Royal Mail Post Office.

She went to the Post Office expecting two items, but was presented with one - the envelope with the photos. She was more than a little surprised to be told that there was only one item, not two, as I had photographed both packages and messaged the shots to let her know they were on the way.

She demurred, saying that she knew there was a second item, but was told, in no uncertain terms, that if there were two items, she would have received two notifications.

When she told me, I checked the tracker (which by this time had been taken over by UK Royal Mail), and it told me that the second item had arrived at the same time as the first, and was indeed waiting to be collected.

I let my daughter know, who went back to the post office, only to be told that there was no second item.

This process occured one more time, until my daughter began to feel embarrassed by returning to the Post Office without a card. No card - no parcel, apparently.

Eventually the 18 days allowed for an item to be collected expired, and Royal Mail sent the parcel back to Australia. The infuriating aspect of all of this was that both myself and my daughter knew where the item was the whole time, and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it.

Anyway, it has just been delivered to my address (returned to sender) and I am about to reboot the whole process. Hopefully it will get to my daughter by Christmas 2020!

If it does finally get to her, it will have travelled about 48000 kilometres.


Update -

It arrived yesterday.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Playing God


The targeted assassination of Qasem Soleimani is only the latest in a long line of ex-judicial killings carried out by the USA, Israel, and many other countries. The fact that it was drone facilitated is also nothing new.

Wikipedia reveals the Israelis as the most prolific users of targeted killings, listing 29 since 1972, but they're certainly not the only state using the strategy.

The most well-known of the Israeli attacks is Operation Wrath of God, avenging the Munich Olympic terrorist atrocity, although the Israeli catalogue includes targeting a wide range of individuals across a number of countries, including Malta, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Malaysia.

The Israelis have used a wide variety of methods, ranging from airstrikes, Apache helicopter-launched missiles, electrocution and shootings. Collateral damage, on the shape of civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time, is also not unusual.

These assassinations as carried out by Mossad have become almost commonplace.

Next in line in terms of the frequency of these killings is the USA.

The War on Terror was used by both the Bush and Obama Administrations to justify targeted killings, and the Trump Administration has followed suit.

The most famous of these assassinations carried out by the USA was that of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, but there have been a succession, including most recently that of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Qurashi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The Intercept ran an interesting expose of US drone operations on its website recently.

Other regimes, including North Korea, Iran, and Russia have used targeted killings. The Russian speciality is poisoning. The North Koreans are more creative.

Perhaps, gentle reader, I'm squeamish, but I have deep reservations about any strategy of targeted assassinations, however noble the motive.


Extra judicial killings have no place in international law, and despite the fact that many countries, including the USA, scorn the notion of the rule of law applying internationally and universally, it is a noble concept worthy of recognition.

Without it, the powerful can basically do what they like.

Then there is the issue of innocents being caught up in these attacks. 

I can acknowledge that these killings target the worst of the worst, but even the most notorious NAZIs were given the privilege of trials.


When you think about it, this use of technology is something entirely new.

With all the power of artificial intelligence unleashed, nobody on God's good earth, no matter where they live, or their race or nationality, is safe.

God does not live in the White House, the Knesset or the Islamic Consultative Assembly, nor, as far as I know, does He have a squadron of Raptors handy.


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