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Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right!

We're leaving now for a New Year's Eve party in the neighbourhood. I'll be playing 'Auld Lang Syne' on my button accordion to make sure we get thrown out and come home early ☺ !

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My blackberry is not working!

The joys of new technology!

I would like to read the "book" Bali & Chips but can only read it on a kindle which I hardly even knew existed and certainly don't possess.

Maybe I should've ask the Christkindl to bring me one?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hope springs eternal!

BOC share price last twelve months

BOC share price since 1981

The weekend papers are full of news that good ol' Bougainville may re-open again. With the seemingly unstoppable China-driven commodity boom having pushed up the copper price to record levels, the reserves in the Bougainville pit are now worth about $50 billion.

Its port, its access road up 30km of rugged terrain and its 200 million tonnes of prestripped ore are ready and waiting. Re-opening it would cost a mere $3 billion.

So are the shares worth a punt? Well, the horse may have already bolted as the shares, which at their lowest traded at a mere 10 cents, have recently gone up as high as $1.79. Last sale before Christmas was $1.55.

Mind you, the turnover in these shares is very thin so don't get set with a large parcel you may have trouble shifting when it's time to sell!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Islomaniac or just maniac?

Watching Martin Clunes' Islands of Britain, I came across this nutter, a Stewart Hill, who declared the 1-hectare wind-swept Forvik Island off the coast of Shetland, which had been gifted to him under dubious circumstances, a Crown Dependency.

His declaration of dependence stands on the wobbly legal leg of an arrangement struck in 1469 between King Christian I of Denmark/Norway and Scotland's King James III, whereby Christian effectively pawned the Shetland Islands to James in order to raise money for his daughter's dowry. Hill contends that as the loan was never repaid, and no other legal agreement ever put in place, Shetland remains in a constitutional limbo, and should properly enjoy the status of Crown Dependencies such as the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

"Captain Calamity", as he became known after he failed to circumnavigate the British Isles in his converted rowing boat, the "Maximum Exposure", and capsized off the coast of his new micro-nation, created his own website, on which he offers for sale Forvikean (?) citizenship complete with (yet-to-be-printed) passport, t-shirts of various colours and sizes, and even a car registration. He also sells one-square-metre "blocks" of land on his tiny rock and plans to issue his own currency. Why not? Every other nutter prints money in mad abundance these days!

Read all about Stuart Hill, warts and all, [here]. Since this is a self-confessed list of his "achievements", it must be assumed that the reality is far worse. As he writes, "Failure is not a word that usually enters my vocabulary".

David Glasheen, eat your heart out!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

U Soe Tint

I am trying to locate U Soe Tint who formerly worked for TOTAL-CFP in Rangoon in Burma.

I last was in contact with him sometime in the late 1980s after he had moved to Thailand.

If you can help, please

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Welcome to our outdoor s-a !

Notice there's no p in it - please keep it that way!

That cast-iron bathtub from the old bathroom was simply too good to cart off to the tip.

A few wooden sleepers and a couple of cute rubber ducks turned it into a wonderful outdoor s-a at the back of the horseshed!

Once confined to areas of Europe where the earth's water escaped through fissures, this s-a is now one of "Riverbend" 's many amenities.

Pass the other bottle of Bollinger, Jeeves!

How many pairs of underpants did you get?

The Christmas-giving is behind us - thankfully! - for another year! So how many pairs of underpants did you get? I managed close to a dozen! I used to run out of underpants; now I have run out of excuses not to change them!

As well, I can add another four books to my huge collection:

Journey to the Edge of the World by Billy Connolly; a little bit of local history in the shape of a small volume by Stuart Magee, The Rivers and the Sea; Ben Dupré's 50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need to Know; and a delightful dog story, Katie - Up and Down the Hall.

Not to forget a new DVD to add to my equally large movie collection:

Islands of Britain with Martin Clunes. Just reading the backcover has already taught me something I never knew, namely, that the UK is made up of about 1,000 different islands. Amazing!

I'll start watching this 3-disc set as soon as I have put on a new pair of underpants!

Friday, December 24, 2010

From all of us to all of you: Merry Christmas!

We invite you on a tour to the North Pole with Santa - click [here] and turn on the sound.

Here's a good thought from the writer William Rivers Pitt:

"Before Santa and presents and shopping and all the attendant Christmas (stuff) got involved, this holiday was enshrined to commemorate a guy who got nailed to a tree for daring to tell people to be kind to one another. If you have two cloaks, He said, give one away. Remember those who have less than you, be charitable, be good, be merciful."

Hear, hear.

This would have amazed even the Artful Dodger

Of course, they already have most of your personal information after you've gone on facebook:

Remember: what happens in the facebook, stays in the facebook.
So, if you want to remain an omnibus, stay away from it!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Music self-made is happiness self-made

The Eurobodalla Adult Education Centre will run an 8-night course from early February until the end of March on how to strum a ukelele.

Judy Malonyay
Never played an instrument before but always wanted to? Want an enjoyable way to destress? Want to be part of a local and world-wide music movement? Come and learn the ukukele! It's cheap, portable and easy to learn - just 4 chords and we'll have you strumming.
Date: Mon x 8, 7 Feb-28 Mar, 5.30-7pm, Batemans Bay, $95

What an enjoyable way to destress indeed! (or should that have been 'distress'?)

Both Padma and I have enrolled in it. As soon as I have mastered the chords and recovered from the all-important voice-altering operation, I shall give Tiny Tim a run for his money.

Santa Claus is coming early this year!

BHP Chart as at close of business yesterday

Being a sceptical optimist and a hopeful pessimist – in short, a typical, jovial German - I have used the Santa Claus Rally on the sharemarket to sell down and go 35% into cash.

BHP closed at $45.82 yesterday and, at lunchtime today, had gone up by another 68 cents to $46.50. It reached an intra-day high of $46.59 and closed the day at $46.47.

Since the 9th of December, I have been selling BHP down by 5% at $45.50, then 7% at $45.75, then another 10% this morning at $46.30, and this afternoon yet another 12% at $46.50.

Cash is King over the holiday period!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The ugly "face" of the burqa

A heated court case has seen a burqa-wearing woman convicted of making a false complaint to Australian police.

She claimed a policeman tried to remove her burqa to check her identity, but his official video proved otherwise. So is this ongoing social friction just another argument for banning the burqa? The answer is yes.

This is a video you have to see! Were it not for this video, an Australian police officer’s career would have been ruined.

It is now common for Muslim leaders and Islamic organizations in the West to issue a knee-jerk accusation of “racism” or “Islamophobia” at the first hint of criticism of radical Islam.

The goal of the tactic is clear – shut down any critique of Islam.

This video reveals, in living colour, how the widespread use of this propaganda name-calling tactic is now playing out “on the street.”

As you can see by the news below coming from France, the burqa problem is not just in Australia.

...and here are Christmas Greetings from our unelected Prime Minister:

The Office of the Prime Minister

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral, celebration of the summer solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religio/secular persuasion and/or tradition of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all, and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Australia great (not to imply that Australia is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AUSTRALIA" in the southern hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee.

Merry Summer Solstice to you and yours.


By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for him/her or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

The land of the no longer debt-free and the home of the broke

Many retail investors are still chasing "high" yields by investing in municipal bonds.

What are they smoking?

And that's just the states. The same is going on in counties, cities, and towns.

The chickens are finally come home to roost. Watch for massive financial fireworks in the next twelve months.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spot on!

The Riverbend nerve-centre

The plumber and his helpers needed direct access from the front of the hallway to do the bathroom renovations. It meant shifting my computer corner to the "back" of the hallway overlooking the river. I should have done it years ago!!!

The new position and outlook is perfect! And right next to my computer desk is an old sofa which I had bought when I arrived back in Sydney in 1985. It's all worn out with a lovely sleep-inducing sag in the middle. With the sun streaming in and a cooling breeze coming off the river, and the dogs curled up at my feet, it's the most comfortable place for an afternoon nap! ☺

We all need a spot in our house where we feel totally at peace. This one really hits the spot!

As Christmas approaches ...

Christmas at Riverbend

... let us again ponder the age-old question,

"Why is a Christmas tree better than a man?"

Here at last is the answer:

It's always erect,
Stays up for 12 days and nights,
Has cute balls,
And even looks good with the lights on!

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

(This Christmas I'm putting Mistletoe in my back-pocket
so all the people who don't like me can kiss my ass!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

All about H2O

"Tomorrow you must row for your children. Tomorrow you must row for your parents. Tomorrow you must row for your city. And tomorrow you must row for freedom." The Greek Admiral Themistocles, before the Great Battle of Salamis.

While the Greek Navy's inflatable trireme was taking on water just off "Riverbend", the water inside the house had been cut off by the plumber who was stripping the old bathroom of all its vanity (and shower and bath-tub).

This may become a rather unwashed Christmas unless the suppliers can deliver the new fittings in the next few days, including a large and bubbly SPA (so named to help schoolkids remember the chronological sequence of the three great Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle).

The yellow cast-iron bath-tub will be taken behind the horseshed so I can take outdoor "baths" in the nuddy. Next time you drive into the property, blow your horn several times to give me a chance to cover up certain vital parts before the sight of them upsets your vital signs.

Play the resources boom for as long as it lasts

A spike in bond yields, as the outlook for the US economy brightens, has the stockmarket bulls very excited about BHP Billiton. Broker Southern Cross Equities has slapped a $60 price target on the stock that is up 4.43 per cent so far this year. The broker believes the miner is receiving record prices for copper, silver and iron ore, while coking coal prices - where it is the largest supplier to the seaborne market - are also tipped to rise.

If that's not enough, SCE thinks oil prices are heading back to US$100 a barrel, while bauxite and manganese prices are also moving north. Uranium prices are also on the march. At the same time production is growing, implying the stock is going to enjoy record production with record prices - it doesn't get much better than that.

It all adds up to BHP Billiton generating huge cash flow, which is being used somewhat sparingly in a buyback of its heavily discounted shares in Britain.

With BHP expected to be debt-free by the end of this year, the market is struggling to see how it can avoid returning even more cash to shareholders, barring a major deal.

The company has outlined plans to spend US$15 billion on growth projects this financial year but has not provided details on which are the most likely to be approved by the end of June.

Analysts' forecasts for this financial year and next continue to rise as they try to play "catch-up" to rising commodity prices.

At the moment consensus earnings-per-share forecasts for BHP in 2011 are US$3.74 and 2012 US$4.32.

That puts BHP on a forward price-earnings ratio of about 10.5 times.

Southern Cross says that is way too low for a company that will grow its earnings at more than 50 per cent in the next two years. The bears may say that earnings are "peak cycle" and so the P/E should contract to reflect that but if commodity prices continue to rise and investors continue to ditch government bonds and seek out risky assets, then stocks such as BHP will get a boost.

Souther Cross says there "isn't enough skilled labour or equipment in the world for a meaningful supply response by 2012, with analyst supply estimates in most commodities way too optimistic in terms of time, cash cost and volume".

They argue that in 2012 earnings per share will be around US$5 a share and, based on the stock's long-run P/E of 12 times, it puts the share price at $60.


Friday, December 17, 2010

It's been a long time since I lived in Saudi Arabia ...

... but I heard that Saudi women are now allowed to drive cars!

A true story?

P.S. This clip comes courtesy of the Présipauté du Groland which is a fictional country featured in various humorous programs on French television channel Canal+. It is a vague parody of France and of European microstates.

The landlocked nation is described as a ‘presipality’ (a neologism made from "principality" and "president"), and its main regions are: Upper Groland (le Groland-du-Haut), Side Groland (le Groland-de-Côté), Lower Groland (le Groland-du-bas), and Other Side Groland (Groland-de-l'Autre-Côté). The capital is Groville, the main river is the Gro, and the main prefectures are Grugny, Mufflins, Maroufle and Vichumes. The placenames, certain elements of Grolandais speech (e.g. the use of "ch'" instead of "le" or "la"), and the generally crass and unintelligent character of the Grolandais themselves, reflect popular stereotypes about rural northern France. Groland has the distinction of having a border with every country in the world.

The motto of the country is Joie, hospitalité, lâcheté ("Joy, hospitality, cowardice"). The country remained neutral during World War I, and was famous for being a haven for soldiers on leave, with its cheap alcohol and prostitutes.

Only five more trading days before Christmas ...

... and the question on everybody's mind is, "Will there be a Santa rally?"

If there is and it pushes BHP to $46, I'll sell out; if there isn't and BHP drops back to $45, I'll buy in!

Right now BHP is sitting at $45.22 on very thin volume so it could go either way.

BHP Billiton stock chart

Various brokers' 12-month average price target for BHP is $49.64 with 3 BUY and 2 HOLD recommendations.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Untied States of America ("un-tied", get it?)

The US disintegrating by 2010?

Not likely...in that time frame.

US self-destruction has been a Russian and Soviet theme for decades.

The Russians should know...having watched their own Union disintegrate.

But what does "disintegrate" mean? Dis-integrate. Break into pieces.

Is that so really unlikely?

It is if you don't know history.

Strangely missing from the hysteria over a Russian academic's prediction is the existence of a well reasoned study of the same topic by an American academic and venture capitalist Juan Enriquez.

You can read his book "The Untied States of America" ("un-tied", get it?)

Enriquez has a 50-year time frame and he's not predicting (much less hoping for) dis-integration of the US into smaller countries.

But he points out that not only is it possible, there's evidence the US is on this seemingly unlikely trajectory.

Reality check:

ALL states disintegrate over time. Anyone who doesn't know this hasn't thought about the last 200 years of history. In fact, the US came pretty darn close to dis-integrating less than 150 years ago.

But US dis-integration by the end of 2010? That's a heck of a projection.

A rarity: a politician with courage!

Sign up!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Nelligen Stock Exchange

You're looking at the "Trading Desk" of the Nelligen Stock Exchange!
I am monitoring BHP to see if I can sell out at $46 before Christmas.

It's a little less high-tech and slightly more messy than the ASX at 20 Bridge Street in Sydney but perhaps the Singapore Exchange will make an offer based on the spectacular views alone:

Live Metal Spot Prices

Baltic Dry Index

BHP on the London Stock Exchange

BHP on the New York Stock Exchange

Why I'm Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange

Michael Moore has just sent this email:

December 14th, 2010


Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.

Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.

So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth. The assault on them has been over the top:

**Sen. Joe Lieberman says WikiLeaks "has violated the Espionage Act."

**The New Yorker's George Packer calls Assange "super-secretive, thin-skinned, [and] megalomaniacal."

**Sarah Palin claims he's "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands" whom we should pursue "with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders."

**Democrat Bob Beckel (Walter Mondale's 1984 campaign manager) said about Assange on Fox: "A dead man can't leak stuff ... there's only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch."

**Republican Mary Matalin says "he's a psychopath, a sociopath ... He's a terrorist."

**Rep. Peter A. King calls WikiLeaks a "terrorist organization."

And indeed they are! They exist to terrorize the liars and warmongers who have brought ruin to our nation and to others. Perhaps the next war won't be so easy because the tables have been turned -- and now it's Big Brother who's being watched ... by us!

WikiLeaks deserves our thanks for shining a huge spotlight on all this. But some in the corporate-owned press have dismissed the importance of WikiLeaks ("they've released little that's new!") or have painted them as simple anarchists ("WikiLeaks just releases everything without any editorial control!"). WikiLeaks exists, in part, because the mainstream media has failed to live up to its responsibility. The corporate owners have decimated newsrooms, making it impossible for good journalists to do their job. There's no time or money anymore for investigative journalism. Simply put, investors don't want those stories exposed. They like their secrets kept ... as secrets.

I ask you to imagine how much different our world would be if WikiLeaks had existed 10 years ago. Take a look at this photo. That's Mr. Bush about to be handed a "secret" document on August 6th, 2001. Its heading read: "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." And on those pages it said the FBI had discovered "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings." Mr. Bush decided to ignore it and went fishing for the next four weeks.

But if that document had been leaked, how would you or I have reacted? What would Congress or the FAA have done? Was there not a greater chance that someone, somewhere would have done something if all of us knew about bin Laden's impending attack using hijacked planes?

But back then only a few people had access to that document. Because the secret was kept, a flight school instructor in San Diego who noticed that two Saudi students took no interest in takeoffs or landings, did nothing. Had he read about the bin Laden threat in the paper, might he have called the FBI? (Please read this essay by former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, Time's 2002 co-Person of the Year, about her belief that had WikiLeaks been around in 2001, 9/11 might have been prevented.)

Or what if the public in 2003 had been able to read "secret" memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the "facts" he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched -- or rather, wouldn't there have been calls for Cheney's arrest?

Openness, transparency -- these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. What if within days of August 4th, 1964 -- after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin -- there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today.

Instead, secrets killed them.

For those of you who think it's wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he's being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please -- never, ever believe the "official story." And regardless of Assange's guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money -- and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.

Might WikiLeaks cause some unintended harm to diplomatic negotiations and U.S. interests around the world? Perhaps. But that's the price you pay when you and your government take us into a war based on a lie. Your punishment for misbehaving is that someone has to turn on all the lights in the room so that we can see what you're up to. You simply can't be trusted. So every cable, every email you write is now fair game. Sorry, but you brought this upon yourself. No one can hide from the truth now. No one can plot the next Big Lie if they know that they might be exposed.

And that is the best thing that WikiLeaks has done. WikiLeaks, God bless them, will save lives as a result of their actions. And any of you who join me in supporting them are committing a true act of patriotism. Period.

I stand today in absentia with Julian Assange in London and I ask the judge to grant him his release. I am willing to guarantee his return to court with the bail money I have wired to said court. I will not allow this injustice to continue unchallenged.

Michael Moore

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Chance ...

... to look at our 1960-ish Art Deco bathroom which will go "under the hammer" this weekend when it will be completely gutted and replaced by a state-of-the-art spa bath, shower, and vanity.

The height of vanity indeed!