2012 July

Tuesday 31st: Wasn’t it Salman Rushdie who said “free speech is life itself”?  On the day we read of a seventeen year old being arrested for tweeting ‘malicious communications’ to UK olympics diver Tom Daley, John Leonard, the Executive Director of the World Swimming Coaches Association was quoted on the subject of the world record performance of sixteen year old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen. Will the police be arresting Leonard? Under the UK’s 1988 Malicious Communications Act it could reasonably be argued the suggestion that Ye Shiwen used drugs was “false” and that his alleged remarks would “cause distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom he intends that it or its contents be communicated”. Is free speech dead or just subject to the whim of the constabulary. Will the justice system eventually choke on twitter proceedings?

Monday 30th: History, in every field of human endeavour, reminds us of how we arrived at where we are today and, through its salutary lessons how to avoid where we do not want to end up tomorrow.  In banking for example it must surely be important to teach new bankers the mistakes made during the history of economics whether it be from the South Sea Bubble or the bursting of the Wiemar republic.  One of my great regrets is that when I attended the world’s premier naval college, that establishment had by then ceased to teach naval history to its entrants.  I expect that when our descendants review this century they will conclude that never before had so much historical data been so readily accessible to so many, yet there was so much twittering going on no-one had the time to  listen to the warning calls of history.      

Thursday 26th: So the first olympian is expelled from the games for a twitter remark. The Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was obviously making a joke and one unrelated to the oh so PC games. The tweet said: “With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!!!”  Tasteless? Yes, of course but worthy of being kicked off the Greek team? Absolutely not. Unfortunately she is known to be a supporter of the far-right political party Golden Dawn and we can’t be having that now can we?

Wednesday 25th: The patriotic authors of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States would never have imagined the events of Aurora or Columbine. It is clear US politicians have no prospect or intention of introducing British style gun control laws. Therefore let them consider the Swiss Army model, an army incidentally which is not far off twice the size of the new British Army! Let them legislate that all citizens of an age and fit to serve in a militia have the right to bear a particular type of firearm in their homes, provided free by the government. Compulsory education in the safe use and storage of that weapon and optional military training by National Guards would encourage a sense of responsibilty and duty. Of course those that do not wish to bear arms would be under no compulsion to do so and the possession of all other weapons could then reasonably be outlawed or subject to a carefully policed licensing scheme without altering the spirit of the Second Amendment.

Monday 23rd: Yesterday and today I drove past scores of new born lambs gambolling in the paddocks of North Tasmania. The rather ironic thought struck me that without meat-eaters like myself many of those lambs would never have the chance of life.

Thursday 19th: I hate golf on soggy, step-swallowing courses. What a joy it will be to visit the Tasman Golf Course in Summer though and how wonderful that the Tasman peninsular takes most of the rain before it reaches us. Thanks to the wonderful staff at the Tassie Devil Centre for taking pity on two Scots who arrived today ten minutes before closing time.

Wednesday 18th: I’ll probably play 9 holes of golf tomorrow. Last week it was indoor bowls and bowls of the crown green variety. Our bodies, if not our brains, adapt as we age to participate in sports we remain capable of playing.  My knees certainly wouldn’t enjoy the squash and rugby of my youth yet my brain still yearns to play football.  Is golf a good walk spoiled? For me the jury is still out on that one but I was told about an indomitable veteran golfer yesterday who is in his eighties but still manages to get round 18 holes with a score lower than his age. No need for him to adapt yet! A new short story was added yesterday: ‘Yummy! It’s Her Birthday’.

Friday 13th: Listening to a commentator describing the media city surrounding ‘Le Tour’ I was struck by the thought that we ain’t interested. The Media (bless ’em) should be heard and not seen. I dont care about who reads out my news, writes in newspapers etc. I do care that they do it well, just not their names, backgrounds, sex-lives… and as for ‘news bulletins’ where one interviewer asks another media johnny for their views, well Gawd save us! Unless they have a doctorate in politics they should find a real politician to interview.

Wednesday 11th: When you think ‘green’,  are worrying about global warming and how you can help save the planet, its worth thinking about consumerism and the throwaway global society we now inhabit. Fifty-odd years ago before ‘growth’ was the new religion, most families only had one car and one little TV (if they could afford them), smaller houses, shorter commutes etc. etc.  As a result Western societies were almost certainly easier on the earth’s ecosystem. The third world was yet to reap the ‘benefits’ of the next stage of the industrial revolution and people lived within their means. The majority were still paid weekly in cash and the banks had yet to discover where hire purchase and credit cards could take them and a bonus was unheard of.  Of  course there is no going back but perhaps we can learn to ‘make do and mend’ and  temper our consumption with a bit of common sense. Rainy days and all that.

Monday 9th: I saw another sea eagle today. I think it was one of the pair from two weeks ago. From it’s markings it is quite young and it made me wonder where the other one had gone. How does a Sea Eagle find a mate, after all it cannot find a soulmate on line?!  Adding to the top ten ‘things I would do if I was in charge’ list is not giving another dollar to Afghanistan.  Let us include that one in ‘A comprehensive review of Foreign Policy’. It is amazing that Australia now has a five yearly Defence Review but does not consider that Foreign Policy, a key driver of Defence priorities requires a regular, objective and non-partisan review.   Within ten years the murdering scum who are the Taliban will be running Afghanistan and what exactly will NATO have achieved?

Sunday 8th: New Poem ‘Shifting Sands’ on the Poetry page.

Saturday 7th: How convenient, Christine Croyden (who she, Ed?) a ‘Melbourne  based playwright and author’, is in The Age newspaper today with an article criticising bloggers. Well how narcissistic of me to blog Christine, pardon me. However, before I take your advice and “go to bed and forget about” my blog I’ll  just consider how, while you are “visiting Paris” you consider your critique of bloggers important enough to submit to a newspaper and receive remuneration for your pithy contribution.  Perhaps you should consider writing something “more insightful, well-written and interesting” or even  better – get over yourself, get out and see Paris.

Friday 6th: I am working on a top ten ‘things I would do if I was in charge’ list. Legalise drugs will be in there (shock, horror) as well as abolishing the UN and the EU. Requiring all elected politicians to have had a ‘proper’ job and to represent their constituents without pay, only allowances is up there near the top…. watch this space!

Tuesday 3rd: With some 50 million estimated refugees worldwide, the United Nations policy based on the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols  appears to have failed miserably (a bit like several Western nations’ “war on Drugs”) it really is time for a radical review. The UN defines refugees as people who are  “unable or unwilling  to return to the home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin.” It is simply unacceptable to allow nations to carry on conducting forms of ethnic cleansing or even genocide, expecting their neighbours (or countries much farther afield) to pick up the pieces. The UN must to create a subordinate body perhaps within UNHCR which can recommend and then effectively enforce sanctions on individual members of national leaderships and their connections and families who are found to have created this fear of persecution. If regime change is necessary then the UN needs to create temporary UN protectorates and run those nations until humanitarian order has been restored. In the short term this might prove bloody but after one or two examples it will be as refreshing as the Arab Spring after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Monday 2nd: So it looks as thought the next President of Mehico will come from the “Institutional Revolutionary” Party. Imagine that, ‘revolution’ institutionalised. The earth still turns.  That sounds like serving in the Armed Forces (on both sides) after the Wall came down.  They might as well call it the ‘Change for Change’s Sake’ Party.  But what a choice the Mexican electorate have. The new El Presidente could have come from the rival socialist party, the ‘Party of the Democratic Revolution’. Now that’s real democracy, not just one socialist party but two and neither have the word ‘worker’ in their name! Well at least its all institutionalised or democratic but even if it wasn’t Mexico wouldn’t need a revolution ‘cos it seems that is ongoing.