Saturday, 12 August 2017

Two of a Kind

Trumpkim - origin unknown

I know I’d promised, gentle reader, to avoid matters political (national and international), but right now there’s a very large elephant (actually two elephants) in the room.

Given that our PM has said that we are “joined at the hip” with the US, we are involved in the current standoff whether we like it or not.

Turnbull’s statement brings back memories of Holt’s “all the way with LBJ”, and shortly after it was made, along with thousands of other young Australians I found myself beating around the bush in South Vietnam whilst a number of young men from another dispensation tried very hard to kill me.

You will understand then, gentle reader, why I don’t greet the PM’s words with any enthusiasm.

But back to the title of this post.

It’s fascinating to compare the two individuals at the epicentre of the current dispute.

In the first place, they both inherited unbridled wealth and power through no merit of their own.
In Trump’s case, from his father, and likewise for Kim Jong-un. The Kim dynasty is in many ways similar to a royal family. Australians know all about that.

The Trump dynasty began with his paternal grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf who emigrated to the United States in 1885 at the age of 16. He amassed a fortune operating boom-town restaurants and boarding houses in the Seattle area and the Klondike region of Canada, during the gold rush.

Trump inherited the family company and all its wealth (the Trump Organization) in 1971. It fell into his lap.

Kim Jong-un assumed power in North Korea in December 2011 upon the death of his father Kim Jong-il. Both the Trump dynasty and the Kim dynasty are characterised by serial “marriages”, although in different generations. Kim Jong-il had four, Trump three, so the Korean wins that one….

Trump has five children by three marriages, and has eight grandchildren. His first two marriages ended in widely publicized divorces.

Nether Trump nor Kim Jong-un saw military service. Trump was at college during much of the war in Vietnam and was deferred five times, and Kim Jong-un was educated in Switzerland,  a long way from conflict both in time and place. This probably helps to explain why both demonstrate a proclivity for bellicose rhetoric. This has always come easily to politicians who have not experienced the reality of operational service.

Then there is their physical appearance. Both are chubby, and have unusual hairstyles. Both look as if they need to be aware of issues such as diabetes and hypertension. Kim Jong-un is much younger, so his viability into the future is probably stronger.

But most of, their public behaviour (excuse me whilst I quote my PM) really joins them at the hip.

Both have cultivated the cult of personality to the utmost. Trump has used the media, going to the extreme of setting himself up as a soap star. Kim Jong-un has used the media he controls in North Korea equally as effectively. It’s easy to note the eerie similarity between a Trump rally and a Kim Jong-un parade.

The main difference is the standard of choreography. Kim Jong-un comes out on top here.

Both claim to lead democracies. Kim Jong-un’s state is called the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, so it must be so. We keep hearing, after all how Hitler was a left winger because the word “socialist” appears in the term NAZI.

Trump was elected by 27% of eligible voters (subtracting those who voted for Clinton – 2.8 million more, and those who did not vote at all). Put another way, 74% of eligible American voters did not support him. That is not “democracy”.

So there it is. We can only cross our fingers in the hope that those surrounding this pair of lunatics can restrain them so that the Korean peninsula (and probably Japan) don’t become piles of radioactive ash.

And we are “joined at the hip” to one of them. Aren’t we lucky?

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Of Cats and Frogs

Appearance is good.

Sustaining my current distaste for issues political, once again I’m blogging about issues mechanical.
My bride is one of eleven, and six of her siblings are female. This means I have lots of sisters-in-law.
One of them has a fondness for Jaguars (the motor car – not the animal). She is also fond of frogs, but that’s another story.
2.1 litre V6

Her hubby (my brother-in-law) has been for some time, searching for a Jaguar as a surprise gift. He found one (a 2002 manual X-Type) and it was in Toowoomba. These things are not all that common, and manuals are like hen’s teeth. His bride (said sister-in-law) also has a fondness for manual transmissions.

So the plot was hatched. I was to look at the car, and if it seemed OK, serious negotiations would be entered into. It was very OK, well-priced, and the deal was done.

Brother-in-law and bride are flying from their home base (Cairns) today, and I am meeting them at the airport with the surprise – the Jag.

Fake wood - real leather

Not everything went smoothly. Turns out the air conditioning was non-functional, although it was working when I first inspected the car. Now air blowing warm is not a good thing in humid Cairns, so parts had to be found, and repairs done. As this is written, the parts have been dispatched but not delivered to Toowoomba, so here’s hoping they get here in time to be fitted before I have to drive down to meet the midday plane.

I’ll keep you posted.
Snarly cat on wheel!

As to the car – it’s in top nick and has covered about 120000 kms. These were the first Jags produced after Ford bought Jaguar in or around 2000. Ford used the Mondeo frame, which upset many Jaguar traditionalists, but the cars are more reliable than pre-Ford Jags as a consequence, and well-sorted.

The Jaguar ambiance is still there, with lots of leather and wood, and it’s a very pleasant drive. It’s powered b a small (2.1lit) six, and has a Getrag gearbox. It actually feels a little bit like our Focus to drive, and has idiosyncrasies like the bonnet opening handle on the passenger’s side which it shares with the small Fords.

It was the first (and only, I think), front wheel drive Jaguar.

It’s much more refined than the Focus, but handles much the same – no bad thing. You won’t find a better set of driver’s cars than the small Fords, even if Ford fitted them for a time with that weird and troublesome Powershift transmission.
Frogs are a thing.

As mentioned above, my SIL likes frogs, so I found a frog themed key ring (pictured) to go with the car. I hope she is impressed.

Update -
The parts for the A/C didn't arrive in time to meet the plane, but a rendezvous was organised later in the day.
Sister-in-law was surprised (very pleasantly) and liked the frog......

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...