Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Sunday, 15 April 2018


The Sponsor's pig

Yesterday, gentle reader, was our local agricultural show.

I wandered along, not because I have any strong interest in matters agricultural, but because of the photo opportunities it usually presents. I wasn't disappointed.

Sideshow alley.

Sideshow alley is these days an anachronism. Perhaps the sparse crowd was an indication. Having said that, those that were there were having a great time on all the usual rides, and the shooting galleries persist.

The signs were entertaining.
Creative use of language - French or English?
Guns actually go bang.
Maybe this is the future - nerf guns instead of 22s?

Attendant looking bored.

Getting your ducks in a row.

Everything is possible at your local Ag show, even your hand in wax.

Show bags are still a thing. I can remember when they were called sample bags, and were free.

Where would we be without China?

There were celebrities (Costa Georgiadis)

There was the occasional Alpaca.
And a camel or two.

Produce was displayed.

Send in the Clowns.

The Dagwood Dogs were there.

And a ferris wheel.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

I'm Over It

The one in the middle is our next head of state. (Getty images)

I don’t know about you, gentle reader, but I’m over it.

The “it” being the Commonwealth Games (abbreviated to “Comgames” by the usual suspects in the media.

And when you think about it the media is the raison d’etre for this boringly repetitive event. Like the Olympic Games, the whole deal is rapidly approaching its use-by date.

After all, the narrative is always the same – the endless promotion prior which seems to begin years ahead;  the stories about the athletes’ accommodation; the conjecture about the flag bearer; the Sally Pearson will she/won’t she story; the success/failure of the swimming team; the “how do you feel” questions for both winners and losers; the African athletes who scarper; and the opening and closing events stories.

We also get the odd royal out to open the show. We scored Charlie. The royal family are all a bit odd, of course, but Charlie is right up there.

Pauline Hanson found something to be outraged about. The state government over-reacted to the transport problems, and the volunteers’ training programme was criticised by the leader of the state opposition.
In other words, we’ve heard it all before, and none of it is news or inspiring.

The athletes, of course, deserve the rewards for their hard work and effort, but they’re athletes, for crying out loud. That’s what they do.

There is one bright spot. The paragames are being run in conjunction.

That is one organisational aspect that the Olympics could duplicate.

And don’t forget, gentle reader, you and I are paying for it.

Monday, 2 April 2018

The Fair Go Question

Nobody minds the surcharge.

My local coffee shop pays penalty rates.

How do I know?

Well, I just asked them - politely. The barista with whom I have developed a basic customer/employee relationship over the years was quite happy to tell me so.

She also makes great coffee.

Why ask?

In my case, if the answer had been "no", that would have been the last coffee I would have bought at that establishment. It's not as if there are any shortage of coffee outlets where I live in regional Queensland.

They're everywhere, even in the bush.

That simple enquiry is an expression of consumer power.

Make sure, gentle reader, that you use it.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Foot Shooting

After the latest in a long line of school massacres in the US, we’re hearing that arming teachers is proposed as a possible solution.

 It’s asserted by gun rights activists and the NRA, that the presence of an armed teacher would deter a shooter, or if one actually turned up, that this same teacher would be able to shoot back, and lives would be saved.

Let’s do a little common-sensed analysis of these propositions.

 The first is that the knowledge that teachers may be armed would deter a prospective shooter.

That is a very frail assumption. History shows that most active school shooters either die by their own hand, or are shot by armed police. They’ve usually killed a number of staff and students prior to being shot or suiciding. It’s completely implausible that an individual who is prepared to shoot himself, or take on armed police is going to be deterred by the possibility of being confronted by an armed teacher. Such an individual is, by definition, not behaving rationally. In some cases, the expectation that he may have to engage in a firefight with an armed teacher might well constitute extra motivation. Shooters have equipped themselves with flak jackets and protective gear. They’re typically up for a fight with no rational fear of consequences.

Then there is the contention that the armed teacher will have the realistic capacity to prevent a rampage by shooting back.

You'd have to be kidding yourself to swallow that proposition..

Let’s assume that the teacher is carrying a concealable firearm. Obviously concealed carry by teachers who have to operate in the classroom unhampered is practicable only with short barrelled weapons. These weapons are notoriously inaccurate except at very close quarters and aren’t as powerful as say, an AK47 or AR15. The shooter will always have the advantage of surprise, and no doubt would be cunning enough (if he assumes the teacher is armed) to use this surprise, as well as concealment, in initiating the attack. The first person most likely to be targeted would be the armed teacher. The shooter would be ready - the teacher, most likely, would not.

If you believe that someone packing (say) a 9mm Browning would have a fighting chance against an assailant with an AR15 or AK47, you obviously have little real understanding of firearms. Or perhaps you’ve watched too many movies where the good guys always win.

 In the army I was trained on long barrelled semi-autos (FN 7.62, which we called “SLR”) and full auto sub machine guns (M16). We were also trained on the 9mm Browning (sometimes carried by chopper pilots and tank crew).

This training, and my experience in as a rifleman in Vietnam where people actually shot back, has given me a clear appreciation of the relative lethality of the two classes of weapons. A pistol, pitched against a long barrelled auto or semi-auto is a very bad joke. The only people happy to use pistols in Vietnam were tunnel rats. A long arm is a liability down a tunnel.

 So the proposition that a teacher with a handgun is going to deter a shooter is simply invalid, taking into account the relative capacity and power of the weapons, the element of surprise, and the murderous intent of the shooter. Then there are a whole range of other real world factors to be considered.

These factors are cheerfully glossed over by the proponents of arming teachers. The first of these is the built environment. Schools are typically rich in concrete, glass and steel. The behaviour of a spent round striking these hard surfaces is totally unpredictable. In fact, I couldn’t imagine a better definition of chaos than a firefight in a school building. The risk of death and injury from ricochet and dislodged glass or other fragments is real. Ricochet killed one of the armed serge hostages in the Sydney Lindt cafe siege.

 Assuming that the armed teacher has the opportunity for a clear shot at the attacker, that same teacher would have to be sure that no student or staff member was likely to be harmed by overshoot or ricochet. The shooter would have no such concern.

 The human element - panic, the adrenaline rush, the unpredictability of the situation, all combine to make any firefight a deadly lottery. This was brought home to me nearly fifty years ago when the digger standing next to me was hit by friendly fire. Standing a metre from the cone of fire of an M60 as it brings down branches and foliage from stout looking trees concentrates the mind somewhat.

 Of course, a school inhabited by teachers bearing arms is a very different place from a gun-free school. With over twenty years’ experience as a school administrator in our Australian gun-free community, I can imagine that managing a situation where staff are armed would be daunting. It’s challenging enough without firearms.

Weapon security would be an element of school management with horrendous outcomes should it break down. My experience in Vietnam reminds me of accidental discharges, mislaid or stolen weapons, and ammunition security issues. Visiting this scenario on a location teeming with children, families, teenagers, the usual mix of school staff, stressed individuals, distracted individuals and the statistical small percentage of people with mental illness would be, put simply, an administrative nightmare. All of these factors are part and parcel of any modern school community.

 The plaintiff lawyers are probably rubbing their hands in anticipation.

The “solution” of arming teachers is a pretty fair barometer of the level of desperation that US gun culture has visited on its citizens. Whatever the remedy, it sure as shooting (sorry) isn’t this one. 

From where I sit in school massacre free Australia, I can feel only profound sympathy. The Americans have let the genie out of the bottle. Or, to use a more appropriate metaphor, they've shot themselves in the foot.

The best we can hope for on this side of the Pacific is that the school massacre nightmare doesn’t cross the Pacific.

 Keep your fingers crossed.

We’ve done a pretty good job of it so far - since 1996.

Sunday, 18 March 2018


I have always loved this song.
It's presented here by a variety of Cuban musicians, all of them great.

iPad Blogging

Random weird pic.

It is possible, gentle reader, to blog from my iPad, once I have worked how to get photos I have taken on the infernal device to my Google images album.

Wish me luck.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Trump and Seeming

If I insisted, gentle reader, that there is a striking similarity between the current US administration and the government of Vietnam you would probably conclude that I had been smoking some illegal and dangerous substance.

But hear me out…..

A few years ago, I was visiting Vietnam, and spent a couple of days aboard a junk exploring the world heritage listed Ha Long Bay.

It is indeed a beautiful area, with spectacular formations of ancient volcanic origin, and pristine waters.

The area is being loved to death, and there are so many tourist junks daily visiting that careless disposal of rubbish has become an issue which is troubling the authorities.

There was an account of how they were dealing with the pollution in an English language newspaper I found on the boat. They had commissioned a couple of patrol boats who would look for junk skippers tossing rubbish over the side in the World Heritage area. 

Anyone sprung would be hauled up before the province authorities. The penalty would be not a fine, not imprisonment, not a loss of licence. None of that.

The penalty would involve the offender writing an essay about the evils of environmental pollution and reading it to an audience of the local party committee. There wasn't a great deal of detail provided as to what would follow from this public act of atonement, but it's assumed from the newspaper report that this would put an end to the matter, and the skipper would be allowed to resume business after this was done.

In other words, there was no punishment as such, and what mattered was how it looked - or seemed.

I remember thinking that this a uniquely Vietnamese way of doing things, but then began to think about the Trump administration and its activity so far.

Amongst other things, Trump promised he'd act on the Paris Accord, the immigration issue, and the Affordable Care Act.

He has taken photo ops posing with various odds and sods signing executive orders. These photos are spread all over the media reinforcing to his base that he's actually "doing something". 

In reality, very little has changed.

The withdrawal from the Paris Accord has had virtually no effect, as US emissions have actually fallen slightly since he took this action, as most climate mitigation action in the US was already in place and is taken by State and Local authorities.

The senate has stymied much of his action on immigration, and Obamacare remains in place.

So little has changed, but Trump is acting as though it has. He has "seeming" down to a fine art, and could probably show the Vietnamese a thing or two.

As pointed out at the outset, the similarity is stark.

It's a funny old world......

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