Category Archives: Uncategorized

Champagne soaked boys and home security.

Nearly cracked up laughing when my house mate, a feminist, told me the organisers of the Vuelta a Espana bicycle race have decided that this year there would be male ‘podium assistants’ and there will be no kissing. Apparently the Spanish organisers were inspired by a similar move to include males by the organisers of the Australian “Tour Down Under” who reportedly believe the practice of kissing and the cyclists shacking up the champagne bottle and giving the girls a shower is sexist. Seen plenty of motoGP riders and F1 drivers spray each other and the crowd but anyway, logic would have it that if women have a problem with this type of behaviour, they could simply refuse to be podium girls.

LOL – I know one motoGP champion who would not be complaining if the girls were given the flick altogether and, was it not in ‘Republic’ that Plato suggested the way to get soldiers to fight harder would be to give the bravest amongst them first choice of the boys?

It’s expected this will be expanded to Formula 1 and motoGP and it will be interesting to see who between podium boys and podium girls gets the most camera time. Advertisers will be sitting in front of their televisions stopwatch in hand as will feminists at the ready to write angry emails if the girls get a second less on-camera time than the boys. In the words of doctor Gonzo – it just gets weirder.

Also – yes you guessed well – it’s our prime minister again and this time he announced on the public television not many watch and in the middle of the working day, that essential to our safety is putting the intelligence agencies, the federal police and border patrol under one super ministry. Yep that’s it, putting intelligence gathering and covert operations, policing and covert operations and border control under the authority of one minister is supposed to make the country safer from – drum roll please – terrorists. Not much mention of pedophiles and only in passing drug dealers this time.

Now, normally, let us say that as an investigative journalist, political dissident or member of a greenie group opposed to a coal mine the government supports, you would have two types of opponents. One, those who are required to respect the law (your local police for example) and the second, those who are not always required to respect the law. That could include Intelligence officers who might be given a task to complete and where the only rule is the eleventh commandment. “Thy shalt not get caught”.

Imagine you were the target of such an operation and survived and wanted redress. You might go to the police or in Australia to the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) who might instruct the federal police to raid and seize compromising documents from the spooks or even drag the spooks into a dark cellar to be questioned by a yellow-eyed woman with her sleeves rolled up. No chance of that happening now. Spooks and federal police will be under the control of one minister. I think they want to call this the ‘ministry for home security’ but maybe a more seventies-style South American name might be better such as, “Ministro supremo para la protección del poder estatal”.

Home” “Security” and “Ministry” (preaching the good word?) who is going to see anything but ‘good’ in that?

If you understand Spanish or know how to use Google translate, click here for the article about the podium boys.

Legislation driven by fear.

 

And strengthening state continues with today the prime minister announcing proposed changes to the ‘call out’ (the army) legislation because allegedly the New South Wales police didn’t do a good job dealing with a ‘terrorist’ incident in 2014. What happened was that an unhinged person took hostages in a Sydney cafe and after a stand-off the police went in and a few people were killed. The police came under a lot of criticism for how they handled the incident, most of it unfair as they could not know how determined this man was, whether he had explosives, what type of weapons he had, etc.

The armchair generals who are never put in a position where their own lives might be at risk and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, decided the army should have been called in. Allegedly they would have done a better job at neutralising the threat presented by a lone person with mental health issues holding a gun to the heads of a few persons on a coffee break. Delicate situation for sure, but a skilled negotiator might have been able to de-escalate the situation whereas the arrival of the military more likely than not, would have had the opposite effect.

What the prime minister is proposing is dangerous to democracy in that it removes checks and balances that were wisely written into the constitution and in federal law to protect the civilian population from the excesses of power whilst at the same time providing for emergency usage of the military when and only when, the resources of state police have been exhausted.

Section 119 of the constitution says that,

The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion and, on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.

What this guarantees is that a state cannot call out the army against civilians who might be protesting whatever as is their democratic right. To further limit the ability to call out the army in situations of civil unrest, there is also section 51A of the defence act which says that in the case of a state requesting call out of the army, federal ministers must be satisfied that,

                     (a)  domestic violence is occurring or is likely to occur in Australia; and

                    (aa)  the domestic violence would, or would be likely to, affect Commonwealth interests; and

                     (b)  if the domestic violence is occurring or is likely to occur in a State or self-governing Territory–the State or Territory is not, or is unlikely to be, able to protect Commonwealth interests against the domestic violence; and

                     (c)  the Defence Force should be called out and the Chief of the Defence Force should be directed to utilise the Defence Force to protect the Commonwealth interests against the domestic violence.

The above is what the prime minister claims needs to be changed to protect us from nut cases in cafes. I doubt it would make any difference and a better strategy would be to give more training to local police, if there is indeed a clear need, in the art of negotiating with the mentally unhinged. What these changes will do for sure is remove checks and balances from the threat of a bad federal government, and no nation is immune from electing the wrong persons, having the ability to call out the army against protesters without having to first receive a request from the state government which might be on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

I think most would agree they would prefer to be blown up than leave our descendants with less freedom than we enjoyed and this and other recent changes giving more power to state is an example of the dangers Franklin D. Roosevelt was referring to when he said in his 1933 inaugural speech that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

 

And yet more surveillance. RIP Liu Xiaobo.

Depressing this morning listening to our prime minister together with top brass from the Australian Federal Police going on about why the ability to force tech companies to decrypt communications is essential to protecting us from – drum roll please – terrorists, drug dealers and pedophiles. The usual suspects and none better to strike fear in the populace. To the civil libertarians who might question this breach of human rights, his argument was that we should not put the entire population at risk to protect the rights of a small and criminal minority. Sounds logical and who would argue that, well, no amount of lost freedoms is too great where the lives and virginity of children are at risk? Certainly not Hitler who from memory, made pretty much the same argument in Mein Kampf.

The truth is that the number of terrorist organisations capable of committing a successful attack is less than forty years ago, pre Internet, and all those terrorist organisations of mid last century simply faded away because of a lack of popular support and Islamic terrorism will do the same. There was no need then nor is there now for a permanent loss of civil and political rights. Drug dealers and pedophiles? They do not need Internet access to commit their crimes and at best these proposed laws will create an inconvenience for the petty criminals and one they will quickly overcome. In fact, it is known that terrorist organisations that are well-organised and capable do not use clear net social media, download-for-free encryption nor even the dark net to organise their attacks but rather rely on old and tried systems of covert communications such as code books, messengers and face-to-face meetings in safe locations such as a cave in Afghanistan. Furthermore, no wide spread loss of freedom and rights will ever prevent a person with sexual hangups and feelings of being downtrodden and ignored when they should – in their mind – be ruling the planet from constructing a bomb, renting a truck or buying a hunting knife from the hardware store. What will go a long way to preventing such lone wolf and other attacks would be a society in which you are not only what you have and where people have equal right and opportunity to be heard and in which they feel accepted as equals. Not just ‘tolerated’ like we do the kid next door who annoys the crap out of everyone with the drum set he got for Christmas.

The prime minister certainly chose the right day to announce yet another loss of civil and political rights because today is also the day those who believe in freedom and are prepared to fight for it, lost Liu Xiaobo. The Chinese hero who put freedom ahead of his personal safety starting from Tiananmen Square in 1989.

An inspiration and example to all who believe in democracy.

OK… I mentioned before a print business which is coming together but slowly in part because of equipment sourced from overseas going missing. Just like the bike trailer. The latest is a press which is both heavy and rather big and that unloaded in Newcastle which is just a hundred kilometres north of Sydney was sent to Perth which is on the other side of the Australian continent where, it was ‘lost’ until I requested a refund. Miraculously found, it is now on a truck, or so I’m told by the transport company, and on its way back. All up since been unloaded in Australia it will have made a nine-thousand kilometre detour before landing, hopefully, God willing and planets aligned, on my door step. The bad news for my little enterprise is that this press is just one of six items which appear to be experiencing difficulties in finding Katoomba.

Work also continues on the animation project. I’ve got to the point where my character kicks and tosses a skull around an abandoned factory, will make sense when and if I post the finished result here, but animating this sequence is proving to be a challenge in that I can’t find suitable reference. How fast does a skull fall after been kicked in the air? 9.81 metre/second square you will say.

screen shot of blender animation interface.

Character preparing to throw skull into the air. Animating this sequence without reference is proving to be a challenge.

And the book for young persons which is taking the lead over book two which is dark and for older and wiser persons. I don’t think anyone who has never written a book can realise how bloody difficult it is! For starters you are faced with the problem of trying to hold the entire thing in your head. Notes help of course but the sense of approaching writing a book as similar to building a house becomes obvious. Have a plan, detail your characters, are they driving the story or is the story driving them, lay out the foundations of the whole construct, build it up and only then worry about the colour of the curtains. Still not easy but better than your character liking plums in chapter two and despising them in Chapter fifteen. This young person targeted novel started out as a script for a short children’s animation, got put aside as most projects do, was resurrected and has gone from light story for little kids to something a bit more involved and profound for somewhat older kids. I will finish it if only because the learning journey makes writing this story well worth the effort. If you’re bored I’d strongly recommend writing a book. Believe me, it takes you into another world and you don’t see the hours fly past. Great fun and much frustration – if that makes sense.

 

 

Heroes in our thoughts and prayers.

There are those who talk and those who do.

I received the letter below from the ‘White Helmets’ – heroes who risk their lives to save others.

      Dear Paul,

   In response to the tragic fire at the Grenfell Tower in London the White
   Helmets have sent a letter to the firefighters responding. We're sharing
   it with you because it is an inspiring testament that humanity has no
   borders.

   To the London Fire Brigade from the Syrian Civil Defence [White Helmets]
   in Daraa, Southern Syria:

   We were saddened to hear about the loss of souls in the Grenfell Tower
   fire, including Mohammad al-Haj Ali, a Syrian from our home of Daraa who
   had fled to London seeking safety from death and destruction.  
   We appreciate your efforts to search for bodies for days in a row and we
   feel your pain because this horror is our daily reality. In Daraa, we’re
   under the heaviest attacks we’ve ever seen in this deadly war. Hundreds of
   airstrikes have destroyed entire neighbourhoods and fires are everywhere.
   Just like you, our teams are rushing towards the blazes and we do all we
   can to rescue the injured.  

   The past 16 days have seen 88 people killed and nearly 35,000 civilians
   displaced from their homes.

   A civil defence centre was targeted and destroyed, and 5 volunteers were
   injured in the bombing -- as you know it’s a terrible thing to see your
   teammates suffer.

   You have been so generous to us, donating equipment to our teams when you
   met with our teammates in London. We’ve received trainings from British
   experts in search-and-rescue and firefighting. Who knows, we might have
   been trained by the same people. And who knows we might also be saving the
   lives of the friends of Mohammad al-Haj Ali here in Daraa.

   We feel we have so much in common. We all risk our own lives to save as
   many lives as possible as fast as possible. Our hearts are with you and we
   wish we could help you in your search for victims.  
   We send you strength for your mission and we hope to meet you one day.

   The Syria Civil Defence [White Helmets] of Daraa

   PS. If you'd like to share this letter of solidarity on Facebook, [
https://act.thesyriacampaign.org/go/517?t=1006&akid=467.487734.y9bjbK ]click
   here. 

   --------------------------------------------------------------------------

   [ https://act.thesyriacampaign.org/go/175?t=1001&akid=467.487734.y9bjbK ]The
Syria Campaign is an independent advocacy group campaigning for a
   peaceful and democratic future for Syria. Our mission is to elevate the
   voices and demands of Syrian heroes.

   Want to know what's happening in Syria? Start here with these figures
   telling you who is killing civilians:
   [ http://act.thesyriacampaign.org/go/395?t=1002&akid=467.487734.y9bjbK
]http://whoiskillingciviliansinsyria.org/

   We take no money from governments to maintain our independence and rely
   solely on donations from individuals and philanthropic foundations. Donate
   to The Syria Campaign [
https://act.thesyriacampaign.org/donate/donate-to-tsc/?source=footer&t=1003&akid=467.487734.y9bjbK
]here.

   Follow us on [
https://act.thesyriacampaign.org/go/226?t=1004&akid=467.487734.y9bjbK ]Facebook
and [ https://act.thesyriacampaign.org/go/227?t=1005&akid=467.487734.y9bjbK
]Twitter.


A weird statement, a printer and a photograph.

Weird things happen such as a guy coming over to your place of residence to declare art should be about ‘spreading good in the world’. If it were a kid I’d give him a pat on the head and compliment him on having such a noble thought but such a simplistic comment coming from an adult left me scratching my head and not least by the question of what might have caused this sudden and irresistible need to set me straight on what art is.

The temptation would be to simply answer there is no such thing as ‘art’ and even if there were such a thing, it is less than certain it would have any ability to ‘spread good’.

I know some might bulk at the suggestion there is no such thing as art including this person who appears to have concerns about my ‘art’ which I can assure you he has never set eyes upon but whatever and who cares, whether there is art or not is an interesting question. We could say that before mass media, cameras and cheap books there was ‘art’ and that it fulfilled an important social function in providing guidance to the masses in how they shaped their lives. Maybe it is this art this guy meant? I’d hate to wake him up to the reality those days are for the most part gone.

The reality today is and as said by someone from the Frankfurt School of philosophy and social theory, that marketing and advertising have replaced art and religion. The operative word being ‘replaced’, one swapped for the other, and it’s true if we agree that people when seeking meaning and direction in life are by far more likely to be influenced by a lifestyle advertisement appearing on their Facebook page than Chris Ofili’s “Virgin Mary Encrusted with Elephant Dung”.

Should we consider a Facebook advertisement ‘art’? That could be debated as well but what we could say for sure is that the Facebook advertisement would be a by far more effective way of “spreading good” than a pretty drawing of a flower by unknown.

OK – maybe stating there is no art is a bit rough and as Kokoschka replied when asked what he thought of modern art, he said “It’s actually very good art in that it is dehumanized art that perfectly reflects a dehumanized society. I paraphrase sorry, but even if ‘very good art’ the question of its relevance to contemporary society remains. I liked what feminist and academic Camille Paglia had to say on the subject in an interview with Vice magazine.

“ – the fine arts have become very insular and derivative. There is good work being done, but it too often reminds me of ten other sometimes better things over the past 100 years. The main problem is a high-concept mentality. There’s too much gimmickry and irony and not enough intuition and emotion”. 

Critic Camille Paglia thinks “Revenge of the Sith” is our generation’s greatest work of art. Vice magazine, November 28, 2012

In other news the ‘good’ is that I finally received part of the kit I need to start printing shirts. Still chasing up the rest but feeling more confident I’ll be up and running in a few weeks.

Haven’t posted any pictures for a while so here is one I snapped this afternoon and decided to call “The Lovers”.

Two stuffed personages outside a wooden door with graffiti and miscellaneous objects.

Note to English speakers – I will change the default language to proper English some time soon.

Blessings.

Photography site (near) back up and running after hack.

Been working these past few days on restoring my photography site after it was trashed by some drop-kick hacker in April. It’s far from complete with new content needed, typos to fix and pages that need redesigning but despite that it’s looking promising. Comments are welcome.

djinnproject.org

Cheers.

Mea Culpa – I trashed the Pell post as having relied on memory I got some historical details wrong. I should know better!

Democracy, T-shirts and why people don’t buy newspapers.

Working on getting work which increasingly is less about scanning the classifieds and other employment websites for a nine-to-five job but rather will have to involve creating the money machine myself. Business, books in progress and not forgetting the art and photography entirely – suddenly there are not enough hours in the day and often I’m still at it in the early hours of the morning.

Part of ‘the plan’ involves reviving my t-shirt business of years ago but this time rather than just airbrushed shirts, I’m also adding screen-printed into the mix. Sounded easy enough but a few hours research was enough to discover it’s actually quiet involved if you aim to make anything someone might actually want. The technicalities of getting a design onto cloth in such a way it is somewhat similar to what was intended is difficult enough but before that one needs to be a creative genius, especially in these days of gross oversupply, and come up with colors and shapes that displayed on the wearer’s chest will satisfy his or her need for peer approval.

So full of enthusiasm and putting leftist philosophies aside I decided to engage in some capitalism, ordered equipment I no longer had due to past bills and later garage sales and then and after setting up the accounting software – oh the horror – got stuck into doing some designing. Well, couldn’t help myself and after churning out a series of sentences, images and jotting down other ideas for shirts that would for sure rake in the orders, the question of what I was actually doing came to mind.

Designing shirt graphics of course but beyond that and seeking ideas it occurred to me that a ‘good idea’ is one that adds to a human debate that is ongoing and probably started as soon as humans realized there are aspects to their lives they knew to exist but could not grasp sufficiently to fully understand. How many texts are there about Love for example? Starting from the first recorded which could be ancient Greek such as the writings of Homer or Plato and up to “Pretty Woman” or present day debates about gay marriage? The important thing is not arriving at a final answer which is beyond our abilities anyway but rather is the perfection of the debate. It must include all voices and be unlimited in scope and working on a seventies style counter-culture design and realizing I was self-censoring and have less freedom than the artists of the mid-twentieth century, it occurred to me that just as climate change could already be a runaway process, if in the simple act of designing a T-shirt I feel a need to exercise caution then all those important social debates have been closed by ill-informed legislation and democracy is already in an advanced state of decay.

And in Paul’s “also” section – a thought on why people don’t buy newspapers anymore. I was going to make this the subject of a post but a few examples are sufficient to make the point that the Internet is not solely responsible for killing print news.

From the BBC style guide a few examples of what we get these days in broadcast and print,

Dying more than once…

For the second time in six months, a prisoner at Durham jail has died after hanging himself in his cell.

A suicide bomber has struck again in Jerusalem.

It’s a sad and tragic fact that if you are a farmer you are three times more likely to die than the average factory worker.

Running out of celebrity rapists? No problem for this writer, the dead can do it as well.

Sixty women have come forward to claim they have been assaulted by a dead gynecologist.

OK – now compare the above to the beautiful piece below,

The boy’s spindly body sank slowly to the dusty gravel road. He lowered his head to the pebbles, resting his sunken cheek on his hand. His dry cracked lips did not close. He tried to cover his bare feet, but the torn dirt encrusted rags he wore were not long enough. He placed an empty tin can, his only possession, near his stomach. And then he started to cry.

Afghan Children Die in Streets of Hunger. James Sterba. New York Times 1972

Notice the rhythm created in the repetitions,

He lowered his head – His sunken cheek – on his hand – His dry cracked lips – He tried to cover – he wore – He placed an empty tin can – his only possession – his stomach – he started to cry

Poetry in prose in which the repetition of “he” and “his” in this single paragraph achieves the writer’s goal of drawing readers into the tragedy of the 1972 Afghan famine and in a way that establishes a personal connection between the reader and this Afghan child whom we know, in the following moment, died of starvation. He forces the reader to make that conclusion his or herself and hopefully write a letter demanding humanitarian intervention. (Which by the way, had we done at the time we would not be fighting the Taliban today.)

I’d buy a newspaper everyday if writers such as James Sterba filled its pages.

 

True Art is Truth – an explanation and Go Japan!

I thought I should explain the byline ‘True Art is Truth’ which is a Spartan proverb and has nothing to do with realism in the visual arts as some assume but rather is about the need to speak truth to the extent that is possible in speech and writing. I found that Aristotle had covered the subject and much better than I possibly could and I also added part of an essay on writing by Robert Louis Stevenson in which he also speaks about the need for truth and honesty.

Aristotle.

The first rule of good speaking is to know and speak the truth as a Spartan proverb says, ‘true art is truth’; whereas rhetoric is an art of enchantment, which makes things appear good and evil, like and unlike, as the speaker pleases. Its use is not confined, as people commonly suppose, to arguments in the law courts and speeches in the assembly; it is rather a part of the art of disputation, under which are included both the rules of Gorgias (Sophist) and the eristic (Eris – goddess of discord and conflict) of Zeno (philosopher best known for his ‘paradoxes’). But it is not wholly devoid of truth. Superior knowledge enables us to deceive another by the help of resemblances, and to escape from such a deception when employed against ourselves. We see therefore that even in rhetoric an element of truth is required. For if we do not know the truth, we can neither make the gradual departures from truth by which men are most easily deceived, nor guard ourselves against deception.

You probably have heard much mention of fake news and alternative facts recently or proposed laws presented as ‘protecting’ us from evil when in fact it is to protect established power from civil society.

Robert Louis Stevenson.

Man is imperfect; yet, in his literature, he must express himself and his own views and preferences; for to do anything else is to do a far more perilous thing than to risk being immoral: it is to be sure of being untrue. To ape a sentiment, even a good one, is to travesty a sentiment; that will not be helpful. To conceal a sentiment, if you are sure you hold it, is to take a liberty with truth. There is probably no point of view possible to a sane man but contains some truth and, in the true connection, might be profitable to the race. I am not afraid of the truth, if anyone could tell it me, but I am afraid of parts of it impertinently uttered. There is a time to dance and a time to mourn; to be harsh as well as to be sentimental; to be ascetic as well as to glorify the appetites; and if a man were to combine all these extremes into his work, each in its place and proportion, that work would be the world’s masterpiece of morality as well as of art. Partiality is immorality; for any book is wrong that gives a misleading picture of the world and life.

I like that last line in which he states that partiality is immorality. Ever try discussing religion with a fundamentalist or an atheist, politics with a member of the far right or left or gender relations with a militant feminist?

Also, you know I’m pretty militant when it comes to civil and political rights and so I was happy to see the reaction in Japan to the passing of new ‘anti-terrorism’ laws. Violent protests and funny that in a matter related to democracy we in the West can now start taking lessons from the East. Rather than go over the details myself, just click HERE to go to “The Guardian” article which covers it all pretty well.

More fear and thoughts on ‘Wonder Woman’

Like many I often have the television switched on in the next room so I can listen to the news channel whilst doing something hopefully constructive like writing a book, working on the animation project or cleaning the kitchen. Usually what’s coming from the flat box is not all that interesting but the other day something did make me put down the mop to pay more attention to what was being reported. Namely, our prime minister together with state premiers and first ministers fronting the media at the end of their COAG meeting. COAG, for those who don’t live here, is the ‘Council Of Australian Governments’ which are the state and federal government. What struck me listening to each premier (head of a state government) and the federal prime minister was the level of agreement on giving our law enforcement and intelligence services yet more power, “the tools and powers they need to keep us safe” was more or less how they all put it. Not a dissenting voice and no mention of a sunset clause nor how these extra tools and powers would be independently managed.

Benjamin Franklin’s words come to mind,

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Thinking about Britain, recent terrorist attacks and the slippery slide towards becoming a nation governed by fear something else comes to mind and it is that in WWII Britain could have surrendered to the Nazis and avoided 67,200 civilian casualties and the greater part of their 383,700 military casualties. But they didn’t because for a nation that has strong beliefs with courage to match, surrender to tyranny was not an option. They stuck it out, took the blows and won. With help of course from like-minded nations but it is true that had the British given into fear and surrendered, the world would be a worse place and to this day. No nation has ever stood proud of its fear. Terrorism? Nothing new and not a reason to give away freedoms and rights that cost all wars and nations combined, literally millions of lives.

The problem we have is that we are fighting an idea and don’t have a better idea and strengthening state, history has shown, weakens nation.

OK and I also wanted to draw attention to an article on the al Jazeera website about the hypocrisy of Hollywood. You might have seen “Wonder Woman” and you may remember the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza which killed over 2500 thousand people including 511 children. Here’s what the little actress who somehow landed the role of ‘Wonder Woman’ had to say,

As quoted in the al Jazeera article.

I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children…We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom! 

Hiding? Like cowards? The ‘boys and girls’ risking their lives? Does she mean as in dropping bombs from a great height and shooting shells, from heavy tanks and at a safe distance, onto schools and hospitals? Brave indeed and as for ‘hiding’ behind children and women (sexist comment that implies women are as helpless as children btw) instead of fighting would she also say the Jewish heroes of the Warsaw ghetto were ‘hiding behind women and children’? Sorry but Gaza and that WWII Jewish ghetto have a few disturbing similarities.

This ‘Wonder Woman’, whose name is Gal Gadot, was an Israeli soldier and a ‘settler’ on land stolen from the Palestinians. A feminist idol maybe but also clearly a member of the ultra-right – the same from which her fellow citizens had to be liberated by others – and is an outspoken supporter of land theft and genocide.

Now, remember the Oscars and all the outrage about the lack of females, of non-white actors, directors, etc? You could be led to believe the arts community has a morale concious and is socially progressive but – apparently not when it comes to children surviving as best they can in the world’s biggest prison.

I’m not anti Israeli – honestly – but strongly feel that enough is enough, we need to fix this puss-oozing sore and that means Israel needs to respect the international law that created it and withdraw to the 1967 green line as it has been repeatedly told. If it fears further attack then the United Nations can disarm both sides and put peacekeepers in place for as long as it takes for the extremists, on both sides, to die of natural causes. Happy days for all.

Brrrrr – too cold

The winter bike trip, as it turned out, was a nice idea. The one thing I didn’t anticipate was that overnight temperatures would drop to sub-zero. In the early hours of Thursday and unable to sleep, I realized the sides of the swag were frozen. I was told next morning by a security guard from a nearby power station and who probably feared I was some greenie intent on doing evil to the coal-fired station, that it had hit -5. That’s OK if you have a sleeping bag which I didn’t because there was no room left on the trailer and I thought the swag and sleeping fully dressed would be sufficient. Anyway, learned a few things and the next attempt will be in Spring.

Hill on the way to Lithgow with mountain bike and trailer in the foreground.

Steep and a long 2.5 kilometer pushing the bike and trailer.

Dead Wombat on the highway west of Lithgow.

Felt like a dead wombat myself – the hills are a killer!

Swag, mountain bie and trailer by the side of the highway to Mudgee.

Setting up camp by the side of the Mudgee highway. In the early hours of the morning I realized the swag’s canvas was frozen.

Also, just have to make a comment about president Trump’s latest act in ‘make America great again’. In what is the gravest threat to ever confront the human species, he decides to align the United States with Syria and Nicaragua and has effectively surrendered leadership in solving this problem to China. I’d be very surprised if the nations who did sign off on the Paris agreement accept a renegotiation and the way they will most likely deal with the United States will be with a punitive carbon tax slapped on everything it tries to export. Net result? More rust in the rust belt.

The fact is that, and regardless of America’s greatness, at the very least we have to bring the carbon level back to 350 parts per million or less for life on this planet to continue. I’m an optimist, it will be done with the only question being, at what cost? Climate catastrophe is just not going to happen.