Saturday, 13 October 2012

Sign of the Times

These signs are beginning to appear in inner-city Brisbane.

Update - And another (sign).

There's also been a choice suggestion made by CATA spokesman Jacques Laxale that laws should be passed which would fine people who participated in online campaigns such as the one mounted against Jones.

And these are the same people who are screaming about Finkelstein?

It Sips

One of the reservations I've always held about owning something with six cylindersare the running costs due to  the ever increasing cost of fuel.

The best price you can get in Toowoomba at the moment is 141.9cpl, and that's with a shopper discount.

So I've been keeping a weather eye on the fuel slurping characteristics of my recently acquired six cylinder ute.

In that regard, I've been pleasantly surprised.

On a trip to Brisbane yesterday, it went as low as 7.6 lit/100km. That's MX5 territory, and better that our Ford Focus which will get in the eights for a similar journey.

Even in the cut and thrust of city commuting (or the Toowoomba equivalent) I've seen mid elevens in the Commodore.

I was considering an LPG conversion, but doubt now whether it makes economic sense, given these figures, the steadily rising taxes on LPG and the phasing out of the subsidy.

Unless of course Romney ends up in the White House and does a George Bush in Iran.

It's entirely possible. Consider what would happen to crude prices if there was a stoush in the Straights of Hormuz.

The big extra expense with a six (in Queensland anyway) is the cost of registration.

Napoleon Newman was going to put the lid on rego costs - one of many broken election promises.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Bishop Bill in Retrospect

I’ve removed the link to the Bishop Bill story from this blog, as the page has lapsed.

At first glance, the fading of this episode into history could be seen to indicate a victory for the Temple Police, the anonymous dark force ultimately responsible for his removal.

It’s far from that of course.

The inclusive culture so solidly embedded into the Toowoomba Diocese by Bill Morris will long outlive the Temple Police.

Women will still routinely preach on Sunday in our parish.

TRAMS, the Toowoomba migrant centre, will continue to operate in support of refugees (many of them Sudanese) in Toowoomba and surrounds.

Kids with disabilities will continue to be supported through their sacramental programme by SPRED.

Churches as far away as Cunnamulla will continue to practice his compassionate approach to the most vulnerable in the diocese.

The Bill Morris legacy will endure.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Recurrent Theme

A cursory glance at Australian history reveals our consistent and pathological need to harbour fear. There's a permanent bogey man hiding under the bed where our national psyche sleeps.

Perhaps it has something to do with our convict origins. Perhaps being dragged to the ends of the earth, never to see your home and family again, is deeply traumatising. It seems that a kind of collective historical PTSD has emerged, the primary symptom being irrational fear.

Whatever its origin, from time to time, pollies use it to frighten the voters. It works a treat.

More often than not, the objects of this chronic fear and loathing have turned out to be historical chimeras. 
First it was the Chinese. Remember Lambing Flats? Then there was the Hun in WW1, followed by the Commies in the late 20s. Remember the New Guard?

The full sweep of history reveals the mythical nature of this paranoia. Ironically, the real dangers (Imperial Japan for example) never generated fear and loathing until well after the threat became obvious. Remember how the Japanese were considered short sighted and technologically incompetent? Menzies was dismissive and happy to sell them the materials to wage war. Fascism emerged in this country between the wars, and admiration for Hitler - he made the trains run on time - was fashionable in some circles.

Flushed out by the likes of Menzies and Santamaria, the Reds emerged from under the bed in the 50s and 60s. Menzies turned the fear of Communism into an art form. He tried unsuccessfully to have the party banned, but surfed into power on the backwash over and over again. (His use of the Petrov affair in 1954 provided a template for Howard, almost 50 years later, when the Tampa loomed on the horizon).

For a time the wave of post-war immigrants became a target. The terms "wog" and "reffos" were all the go. The fact that our post war prosperity was largely built on the backs of these people blunted it somewhat. The loathing was not used as a political wedge back then, but it simmered under the surface.

There were other consistent anxieties. The Protestants were afraid of the Catholics, and the straights of the gays. The former has evaporated, and a rearguard action is being fought around the latter in our legislatures.
There were dark mutterings in the seventies and eighties about Vietnamese boat people, but back then we had political leadership with mettle, and it was essentially defused.

Compare that with the recent paranoia generated by boat arrivals. It's been variously called an "invasion" or a "wave". A more accurate metaphor would be a "trickle" in comparison with the numbers in other countries. But then, a good scare will always trump a sense of proportion. The hysteria is now bi-partisan.

The potency of one particular brand of paranoia – the fear of Aborigines, called “savages” at the time - had enough power between 1813 and 1830 to wipe out an entire race in Tasmania - powerful stuff.  

It’s always been there. Remember Mabo? Remember how the Kooris were going to be camping in our back yards and taking over our parks and gardens as a result of the decision? I wonder what became of that

And now it's the Muslims.

A group of religious fanatics kill 3000 civilians in New York and Washington in 2001 and in the "get square" at least 120000 civilians have died in Iraq. Bringing “democracy” to that part of the Middle East has cost the lives of over 4000 coalition soldiers, and still the bombs explode. Remember the weapons of mass destruction that never were?

Throughout our history, fear and loathing as a political tool has been used successfully to collar the mob. The mathematical principle of using the lowest common denominator has endured.

Since the First World War, it has thrived on the template established in Europe in the 30s. It continues to be exploited by politicians on all sides. What these alleged “leaders” have in common is their lack of backbone, leadership and courage. Cowards have always understood how to use fear. It’s crude, simple and effective, and there are always reserves of xenophobia waiting to be tapped.

Frankly I'm jack of it. Excuse my plain speaking, but those who use bigotry as a political wedge can shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

I saw enough of the results of fear and loathing 40 years ago to convince me that it's the mark of the Neanderthal. I well recall abject terror in the eyes of an old Vietnamese woman caught in a free fire zone in April 1970.  

It remains burned on my soul.

Oakey Fly-in


I headed out to the annual Oakey fly-in (held at the Army Aviation museum) last weekend. I'm routinely out there anyway. They sell my book.

The event occupied both Saturday and Sunday, and camping overnight isn't allowed, so when I was there on Saturday, the displays were limited to what was in the museum, and Army Aviation. Most of the fixed wing warbirds flew in on Sunday.

So there were plenty of rotors, and not many wings.


There was one MRH90. Apparently they're having dramas ironing out bugs in what should be a versatile aircraft. Perhaps there are too many roles being shovelled on one airframe - jack of all trades - master of none?

 They're assembled locally (Brisbane). Eat your heart out - Sydney and Melbourne. 

MRH90 interior. Sorry about the angle - just tilt your monitor.

There was a Tiger or two. These things are also assembled in Brisbane.

Occasionally Tigers overfly us in South Toowoomba. You hear them before you see them, and they have a characteristic auditory signature which makes them immediately distinguishable from the RACQ rescue chopper that routinely overflies on the way to the hospital, usually with a casualty who has fallen off a mountain.

The yellow thing gives the kids a look-in.

Photo is muddy. I'll have to ask my daughter to fix the camera settings.


Caribou - I probably flew in this thing 40 years ago.


Hueys don't look any prettier now than they did in 69/70.

Nomad - The "Danger"sign is warranted.

There was a GAF Nomad. One version of these was accident prone.

There's a plan afoot to resurrect manufacturing them as a single in Gippsland.

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Biter Bitten (or The Mice that Roared)

So poor old Jonesy is complaining that the advertisers endorsing his programme are being victimised.

Listen carefully, and you will hear the clucking of chickens coming home to roost - the bully is "victimised" - Priceless!

If you pay your company’s money to 2GB to fund Alan Jones to publicly vilify people daily, I’d assume that you were prepared to accept the consequences.

It’s a bit like going to a supermarket, and noticing that in one corner of the shop a geriatric loudmouth shouts abuse at (say, for argument’s sake) anyone who looks vaguely of Middle Eastern appearance. You could of course, substitute members of the Labor party, unionists, coal seam gas miners, and females in positions of authority for this same group of targets for abuse.

Guess what? I don’t think I’d shop there anymore.

To quote Jones - "They don't have the right to decide for Australian companies which media outlets they will or won't use to advertise their products and services,"

That’s strange. Isn’t the right to choose products and services one of the fundamental tenets of our free market?

Consumers have every right to reject products endorsed by bigots.

If these same consumers want to get organised, and place a facility on-line to make this rejection easier, and make it public, what's the problem? Isn't that called free speech?

Of course, this issue is fundamentally about power.

The tables have been turned by social media. The same harnessing of the new media has brought down totalitarian governments in the Middle East. It’s a healthy phenomenon. It empowers people who previously had no voice.

If you'll excuse a clumsy metaphor - the mice* have roared.

When vested interest and privilege starts to feel this power in the hip pocket, suddenly it’s unfair.

Jones (and 2GB) can’t see the irony. But then, Alan Jones has never been conspicuous for demonstrating a sense of humour.

* Those mice attached to computers.

Some Kind of Mishap

I wish I could understand Swedish.

It did, however stop, and the auto-brake also turned the wipers on.

I'm not sure if the truck comes as part of the package.

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...