Wednesday 29th February: Happy first birthday to all those born four years ago today!
I rarely contribute to other blogs but today I added my twopenneth to a UK Daily Telegraph article by MEP Daniel Hannan praising the ‘Anglosphere’:
“As an Aussie and a political refugee from the UK I thought this was an unusually lightweight article from Dan Hannan. I would have expected something much more powerful following a trip down under. He has been on the European gravy train for long enough without changing it, maybe its time to get off at Westminster station and work for justice at home and from home.
Most Telegraph readers under 40 have never experienced living in a free and sovereign nation. Let me assure them it is a very refreshing experience. We choose our own allies, set and exercise our own laws including selective immigration and choose with whom and how we trade. The only brussels we are interested in are sprouts. It is not perfect – we still live within the international community and are influenced by international organisations like the dictator-ridden UN – but its pretty damn close.
Australia also exercises perhaps the best form of democracy to date, one where everyone has to turn up at the polling booth or be fined for failing to fulfil their responsibilty as citizens. Why are British parties afraid of everyone having to vote? You can always spoil your ballot paper but why bother when you’ve made the trip to the voting station? When there you have a choice between first past the post voting or proportional representation. It doesn’t make our politicians better but it does mean we are ALL responsible for them being where they are.
The biggest tragedy for Britain choosing European trade over Old Commonwealth trade has been in the maritime sphere. The loss of your fisheries, a shipbuilding industry, a national-flagged merchant marine and a first rate navy to defend an island nation’s interests. I suspect the final bill for this neglect still lies in the future.
For Australia the effects of Britain joining the EU have ultimately not been negative. It forced an adolescent nation to grow up and play an adult and very effective role, influencing the development of our own South East Asia and Pacific region.
Tuesday 28th February: Anyone who thinks K.Rudd ex-PM of Australia is finished is living in cloud cuckoo land. I enjoyed the schmaltz of the Oscars yesterday, there were two consecutive politically correct awards one to Iran which was received by a most gracious and dignified thank you speech and one for best supporting actress who simply blubbed. Having seen both The Help and The Artist I have to say Bérénice Bejo was robbed. Perhaps if she had been black… On the other hand the Best Actress award in my view should have gone to the Help’s Viola Davis who is also black but was up against Meryl Streep’s make-up in the Iron Lady. Most amusing though was the thank you ‘speech’ by the best film editors. Having won last year they obviously hadn’t any hope of winning this year so hadn’t prepared any speech…. Just goes to show lightening does strike twice in the same spot.
Sunday 26th February: Yesterday I filmed our local river monster. Well if Nessie exists in Scotland… The link of the film is inserted below. Any guesses? Tomorrow promises to be full of ‘excitement’ with the Labor leadership contest being decided and the Oscars live on TV at a thoroughly civilised hour for those of us ‘down under’. Will Julia Gillard get the guernsey or will any of the independents jump ship and force an early (some may say long overdue) election. Certainly K. Rudd gets my Oscar vote for Leading Actor in the ‘most unappealing docyoumentary’.
Saturday 25th February: Today is one of those very hot days (38C/100F) which helps you understand why pre-air conditioning societies had siestas after lunch and returned to work only when the heat of the day had passed.
Thursday 23rd February: The Kevin and Julia show – on all screens in Australia until Monday and beyond. Unbelievable to think that a Foreign Minister takes his duties so lightly he will resign in the middle of a foreign mission. Equally gobsmacking that a Prime Minister hasn’t the balls (sorry Julia, its not your fault) to say “Oi, Keva, I dont accept your resignation – do your job and we’ll discuss this on your return”. The irony is that both consider they are qualified to be leaders of this great island continent. Neither could lead the other out of a proverbial paper bag.
Wednesday 22nd February: Three close encounters with skates today. How graceful they are – just the opposite to this paddle boarder!
Tuesday 21st February: I have viewed The Artist, Hugo and J Edgar in the last three weeks. I will be very disappointed if Hugo takes more Oscars than The Artist. Hugo is beautifully crafted it really is a work of art but lacks a heart in the way that the Artist has. You may want to cry during the Artist but if you cry during Hugo see your doctor and get your tear ducts checked out. While the individual performances in J Edgar are notable that film suffers from its sequencing, jumping backward and forward in time so often it becomes a distraction. The Artist 11/10, Hugo 8/10 and J Edgar 6/10.
Sunday 19th February: “I was” at the beginning of a thought suddenly struck me as a pretty negative way to begin. It looks back not forward and centres around ‘me’. In Australia there is a move to push for ‘presumed consent’ for organ donation because we have one of the ‘lowest organ donation rates in the developed world’. We also live in a country that has referendums on contentious issues. Let us hope there will be a referendum on presumed consent before the politicians heed the call of another vocal minority to change the law. The state does not own our bodies but it will be too late when on the mortuary slab to try saying “I was going to opt out of being an organ donor”.
Friday 17th February: Dieting may not be fun but it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Amazing how a whole industry has developed around the absence of common sense. All you need is a few simple rules including using smaller plates to guarantee portion control. Oh, and a bottle of champagne once a week providing the weight is still coming off. That last rule is essential!
Thursday 16th February: ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’. Two such simple everyday idioms that oil social interaction and are often only noticeable when they are absent. One of today’s contestants on the Australian version of Des Chiffres et Des Lettres seemed unable to use these terms. Tiahn saved up just one of them, a ‘thank you’ until the very end of the show. I would like to say it was just youthful forgetfulness but I have observed this before with an older contestant.
Tuesday 14th February: For those who have always lived in the USA Valentine’s Day has a very different flavour to those who live in the Old Commonwealth countries. Who, in the UK for example (other than expat Americans and their kids), would think of sending all of their classmates (and teachers) Valentine cards? No, Valentine cards are for making card makers richer and giving to the wife or girlfriend (obligatory and dangerous if you forget) but also sending anonymously to those you yearn for but have never been brave enough to come out and tell them. The latter America is what Valentine’s Day is all about outside the 50 states – unrequited love and lust!
Thursday 9th February: Can the United Nations now be any more discredited than its predecessor the League of Nations? How many times must we see the UN fail before genuinely democratic and representative nations breakaway to form a body that means what it says and acts on its word? Somalia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Syria, etc. the list is endless. It is entirely unsatisfactory that the UN has any influence in world affairs. It is an organisation in which a quarter of the members are dictatorships; two out of five permanent members of the Security Council are undemocratic oligarchies and many more are corrupt at all levels of government. To paraphrase Mussolini: its OK when it is the sparrows that are shouting but not when the eagles fall out.
Wednesday 8th February: What a wonderful author Sharon Kay Penman is and what staying power. Anyone who wants to learn about English medieval history the easy way can do much worse than read any one of her novels. While I am on the subject the same goes for the late great Nigel Tranter and Scottish History. How Robyn Young has the gall to compete with Tranter’s the Bruce trilogy by writing another Bruce trilogy is beyond my ken and understanding.
Tuesday 7th February: I heard the expression ‘cowed politicians’ today, used in regard to an additional expensive and unnecessary layer of airport security. Western politicians are cowed. Cowed not so much by terrorists or the potential for/of terrorist acts but by the thought there may be a stable door that they may not have thoroughly bolted. The result in regard to airport security is that that the horses (passengers) cannot get in or out of the stables to exercise and yet the vermin (terrorists) can still crawl under the doors. Ironically, in oredr to appease business travellers security, if flying domestically from Sydney, is terrifyingly bad.
Sunday 5th February: How extraordinary that DFID will continue to give hundreds of millions in aid to a country (India) that doesn’t want it yet the UK government will not index-link state pensions for their own citizens living in Commonwealth countries.
Saturday 4th February: Social media and its methods appear wave -like. While Facebook is a bit of a tsunami at the moment in the long term it too will spend itself on distant shores while new fads build up in the IT ocean swell. Friends Reunited was a much smaller wave and seems to have more or less crested now while Linkedin is a couple of waves behind it.
Friday 3rd February: An old friend just contacted me. He is an avid Dragon Boat afficianado. This has led to three shoulder reconstructions. I’ve heard of ‘no pain, no gain’ and I think after just one reconstruction I would have been happy to accept the ‘no gain’ option. I feel so sorry for those tourists in Sydney this week, what dank,dreary weather given it is summer. Thank goodness I have been working
Thursday 2nd February: The phrase ‘when the rubber hits the road’ sums up my antipathy to some of the academics I have heard in the last 24 hours. Theirs is a view that navies are not required, we’ll all discuss our differences and come to amicable agreements. Pshaw! Thank God for people like Doctor Norman Friedman who dont flannel and recognise that one day the rubber really will hit the road and we’d better be ready.
Wednesday February 1st: I am doing some research for Automatic Adversary at the moment. I wonder how many personnel you will need in a submarine which will enter service in around 2030. Technology already supports so much automation you could run ‘boats’ with only a handful of personnel and place them in a detachable living pod with the necessary interfaces to ensure they could remotely operate essential systems and jettison like an emergency buoy from the submarine in extremis. I wouldn’t assume there is not already a satellite controlled experimental unmanned and approaching full size submarine operating somewhere in the world today. Fewer on board personnel equals more space for fuel, weapons and back up control systems.