Saturday, 7 January 2012

Minimalist Motoring

Have you ever watched the ubiquitous seniors' electric trolleys scooting around the burbs, and wondered about transport solutions for an increasingly congested urban environment?

The vast majority of Australians live in exactly these situations, yet we persist in buying machines to get us from home to supermarket, friends’ place, sporting venue or restaurant that weigh tonnes, use extravagant amounts of rapidly diminishing resources and take up precious road space.

We are conditioned to believe that unless our daily transport tool can travel at 200 km/hr, has a range of 750 kms, and is capable of shifting the contents of the shed out the back in one hit, it’s not worth having.

I’ll concede that maybe once or twice a year, we may need to undertake the Great Australian Road Trip, but why would you buy any piece of kit based on a need that is the exception rather than the rule?

Hire a 4WD when you need it – in the long run it’s a helluva lot cheaper.

It’s a bit like purchasing an industrial grade refrigerator when your needs are domestic only. Madness – yet when it comes to motor cars, we generally take leave of our senses.

Before you scoff – consider this.

In rapidly developing India, the industrial giant Tata has come up with a solution to India’s everyday transport problems called the Nano.

It will get four people from one side of Kolkatā or Mumbai to another quickly, relatively quietly, and out of the weather for very little fuel. It may not meet our local vehicle safety requirements, but it’s a bloody sight safer than your average pushbike, motor bike or 20 year old clunker.

So if it works in India, why not here?

Based on up-to-date currency conversions, a Tata Nano would retail here for $2820 AUD. That’s less than you’d pay for a battery powered senior’s scooter.

And they’re air-conditioned. Apparently it gets hot in India.

Watch the tester driving along talking to the camera which is outside the vehicle (at about 1.02).

That’s confidence.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Minor Mystery

I'm trying to solve a small mystery in relation to my dad's war service.

Someone out there might be able to help.

In the process of building a time line of events during WW2 involving my father and his units, I came across this document. It's very hard to read, but a number of things are obvious.

It's a stat dec. You'll need to click on the image to read it, and then it's still a bit unclear.

It was sworn at No 3 Personnel Depot RAAF Sandgate on 13th July 1943.

Given that dad disembarked for PNG in July 1943, and returned on 1st December 1944, and that it substantiates an entitlement for War Service Leave, a couple of issues emerge.

How can you compete a stat dec for an event that hasn't yet occurred (returning to Australia)? He obviously completed it prior to embarkation.

Were they all organised to do this? Was there so little faith in military records at the time that it was considered necessary?

Were they able to forecast the period of deployment? Given the situation back then, I wouldn't have thought so.

Any advice is appreciated.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...