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Today's quote:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

GOOGLE "Daniel Greenfield" for some interesting reading


Here's something to whet your appetite:

"Forget the Syrian Civil War for a moment. Even without the Sunnis and Shiites competing to give each other machete haircuts every sunny morning, there would still be a permanent Muslim refugee crisis.

The vast majority of civil wars over the last ten years have taken place in Muslim countries. Muslim countries are also some of the poorest in the world. And Muslim countries also have high birth rates.

Combine violence and poverty with a population boom and you get a permanent migration crisis.

No matter what happens in Syria or Libya next year, that permanent migration crisis isn’t going away.

The Muslim world is expanding unsustainably. In the Middle East and Asia, Muslims tend to underperform their non-Muslim neighbors both educationally and economically. Oil is the only asset that gave Muslims any advantage and in the age of fracking, its value is a lot shakier than it used to be.

The Muslim world had lost its old role as the intermediary between Asia and the West. And it has no economic function in the new world except to blackmail it by spreading violence and instability.

Muslim countries with lower literacy rates, especially for women, are never going to be economic winners at any trade that doesn’t come gushing out of the ground. Nor will unstable dictatorships ever be able to provide social mobility or access to the good life. At best they’ll hand out subsidies for bread.

The Muslim world has no prospects for getting any better. The Arab Spring was a Western delusion. Growing populations divided along tribal and religious lines are competing for a limited amount of land, power and wealth. Countries without a future are set to double in size.

There are only two solutions; war or migration.

Either you fight and take what you want at home. Or you go abroad and take what you want there.

Let’s assume that the Iraq War had never happened. How would a religiously and ethnically divided Iraq have managed its growth from 13 million in the eighties to 30 million around the Iraq War to 76 million in 2050?

The answer is a bloody civil war followed by genocide, ethnic cleansing and migration.

What’s happening now would have happened anyway. It was already happening under Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad has one of the highest population densities in the world. And it has no future. The same is true across the region. The only real economic plan anyone here has is to get money from the West.

Plan A for getting money out of the West is creating a crisis that will force it to intervene. That can mean anything from starting a war to aiding terrorists that threaten the West. Muslim countries keep shooting themselves in the foot so that Westerners will rush over to kiss the booboo and make it better.

Plan B is to move to Europe.

And Plan B is a great plan. It’s the only real economic plan that works. At least until the West runs out of native and naïve Westerners who foot the bill for all the migrants, refugees and outright settlers.

For thousands of dollars, a Middle Eastern Muslim can pay to be smuggled into Europe. It’s a small investment with a big payoff. Even the lowest tier welfare benefits in Sweden are higher than the average salary in a typical Muslim migrant nation. And Muslim migrants are extremely attuned to the payoffs. It’s why they clamor to go to Germany or Sweden, not Greece or Slovakia. And it’s why they insist on big cities with an existing Muslim social welfare infrastructure, not some rural village.

A Muslim migrant is an investment for an entire extended family. Once the young men get their papers, family reunification begins. That doesn’t just mean every extended family member showing up and demanding their benefits. It also means that the family members will be selling access to Europe to anyone who can afford it. Don’t hike or raft your way to Europe. Mohammed or Ahmed will claim that you’re a family member. Or temporarily marry you so you can bring your whole extended family along.

Mohammed gets paid. So does Mo’s extended family which brokers these transactions. Human trafficking doesn’t just involve rafts. It’s about having the right family connections.

And all that is just the tip of a very big business iceberg.

Where do Muslim migrants come up with a smuggling fee that amounts to several years of salary for an average worker? Some come from wealthy families. Others are sponsored by crime networks and family groups that are out to move everything from drugs to weapons to large numbers of people into Europe.

Large loans will be repaid as the new migrants begin sending their new welfare benefits back home. Many will be officially unemployed even while unofficially making money through everything from slave labor to organized crime. European authorities will blame their failure to participate in the job market on racism rather than acknowledging that they exist within the confines of an alternate economy.

It’s not only individuals or families who can pursue Plan B. Turkey wants to join the European Union. It’s one solution for an Islamist populist economy built on piles of debt. The EU has a choice between dealing with the stream of migrants from Turkey moving to Europe. Or all of Turkey moving into Europe.

The West didn’t create this problem. Its interventions, however misguided, attempted to manage it.

Islamic violence is not a response to Western colonialism. Not only does it predate it, but as many foreign policy experts are so fond of pointing out, its greatest number of casualties are Muslims. The West did not create Muslim dysfunction. And it is not responsible for it. Instead the dysfunction of the Muslim world keeps dragging the West in. Every Western attempt to ameliorate it, from humanitarian aid to peacekeeping operations, only opens up the West to take the blame for Islamic dysfunction.

The permanent refugee crisis is a structural problem caused by the conditions of the Muslim world.

The West can’t solve the crisis at its source. Only Muslims can do that. And there are no easy answers. But the West can and should avoid being dragged down into the black hole of Muslim dysfunction.

Even Germany’s Merkel learned that the number of refugees is not a finite quantity that can be relieved with a charitable gesture. It’s the same escalating number of people that will show up if you start throwing bags of money out of an open window. And it’s a number that no country can absorb.

Muslim civil wars will continue even if the West never intervenes in them because their part of the world is fundamentally unstable. These conflicts will lead to the displacement of millions of people. But even without violence, economic opportunism alone will drive millions to the West. And those millions carry with them the dysfunction of their culture that will make them a burden and a threat.

If Muslims can’t reconcile their conflicts at home, what makes us think that they will reconcile them in Europe? Instead of resolving their problems through migration, they only export them to new shores. The same outbursts of Islamic violence, xenophobia, economic malaise and unsustainable growth follow them across seas and oceans, across continents and countries. Distance is no answer. Travel is no cure. Solving Syria will solve nothing. The Muslim world is full of fault lines. It’s growing and it’s running out of room to grow. We can’t save Muslims from themselves. We can only save ourselves from their violence.

The permanent Muslim refugee crisis will never stop being our crisis unless we close the door."


The circle of life

Little Malty's first day at "Riverbend" fifteen years ago


Dying closes the circle of life, and euthanasia is the last act of kindness we can give our sick and dying pets.

We finally found the courage to take little Malty to the vet for the injection that gave him a dignified and gentle death.

He'd been no more than skin and bones, no longer ate, could barely stand upright, and had trouble breathing.

And yet we feel guilty and wonder if we have done the right thing.

We buried him inside his soft sleeping box covered in his favourite blanket at the bottom of the property and we will mark the spot with a flowering shrub.

He began his life at "Riverbend" fifteen years ago with love and awe, and it ended with compassion and grace.

Rest in Peace, little Malty. We will never forget you.




From Kath & Philip in Sydney:

"Just reading your blog post and remembering little Malty and all the happy greetings on our visits. Beautiful words you shared and while we would love to keep our dearest with us all of our lives it is not possible and the cycle of life is the natural order of things. He'll be missed but remembered for all the joy he brought to you both. He had a wonderful life with you and his little mate Rover so he was a lucky little guy and yes, you did the right thing. Let's hope that soon that choice is afforded to humans as well."

From Urs in Brisbane:

"You did the right thing and yes Rover will miss him as well. As for burying him on your property, I do that as well and I plant some nice flowers on it or a Bougainvillea and every time I bury a dog I cry. Dogs give us something that is unique, it is called unconditional love and this is why we get so attached to them. Maybe you have to get a puppy again to keep Rover company! My thoughts are with you!"

From Chris in Canada:

"Of course you did the right thing! To do otherwise would be cruel and unkind, which I don't think that you are. It's always very difficult and we do grieve more over our pets than other people and you will have to do so and slowly accept his passing, although you won't ever forget him. I still pause over where mine is buried in the yard and that happened 30 years past. Now is the time to either get another or to forget it entirely. I never will because I don't want to have to go through it again. My condolences and thoughts are with you."

From Reg in Wollongong:

"It is astounding just how close you get to your pets. We had a cross English Sheepdog/Dalmatian that was the nicest natured dog I have ever seen, and putting him down many years ago now seemed harsh but right at the time, but was so attached we have steadfastly refused to ever have a pet again, and his grave is marked with a bird bath in the back yard. He did get even with me because I brought him home from the Vet to bury and did my back in very badly carrying him up to the back yard! I walked around like a half open pocket knife for several weeks afterwards."

From Flora, Tod & Sarah at Long Beach:

"Rest in peace, Malty."

From Ian in Port Douglas:

"You were indeed fortunate to have such a loving, non-judgmental friend for so long - no doubt he loved you as much as you did him."

From Carmel & Laurie in Cowra:

"So very sorry to hear your sad news about Malty, it sounds like the last act of kindness on your behalf. Our thoughts are with you both, his memories will be with you forever and he sure had a very loving and well cared for life with you both."

From Andrew & Sue in Vietnam:

"Sorry to hear about Malty, but you did the right thing. He did not need to suffer unnecessarily. I guess it would be similar to losing one's child."

From Gray in Adelaide:

"Been down that path several times. The inevitable never got any easier which is why we don't have any more pets. Sad for your loss."

From Bill & Rosie in Batemans Bay:

"So sad to hear the loss of your very close friend, but sometimes we in life have to make decisions that cannot be explained, especially when it is a pet that cannot talk to you. May his little soul rest in peace."

From Chris in Switzerland:

"Sorry for your loss."

From Rina & Hengky in Indonesia:

"We are sorry for the loss. Padma and you took such good care of Little Malty until the very end. If Malty could say something, perhaps he would say:

'I'm still here
Friend, please don't mourn for me
I'm still here, though you don't see.
I'm right by your side each night and day
and within your heart I long to stay.

My body is gone but I'm always near.
I'm everything you feel, see or hear.
My spirit is free, but I'll never depart
as long as you keep me alive in your heart.'"

From Margaret & Clayton in Canada:

"So sorry to hear you had to put Malty to sleep. Don't question your decision; I am sure it was the right thing to do. He was very lucky to have had such wonderful owners. His passing will certainly leave a void in your lives and little Rover also must be missing his constant companion. Our pets do indeed enrich our lives; cherish the memories of those fifteen happy years you had together. Thinking of you during this sad time."

From Tony on Karragarra Island:

"So sorry to hear that you lost your pet Malty. It leaves an awful big hole when they go. Why do dogs only live about 10 years? It doesn’t seem fair, neither to the dog nor to the owner."

From Rita & Günther in Germany:

"Wir können mitfühlen, was es bedeutet, einen Liebling zu verlieren. Unser Beileid."

From Renate & Jürgen in Germany:

Hallo, mein Freund am anderen Ende der Welt. Nun ist Malty doch in den Hundehimmel gekommen. Natürlich schmerzt es, wie sehr vermißt man die Kleinigkeiten, die einen manchmal zur Verzweiflung gebracht haben, dieses ständige Hinterherlaufen. All das vermißt man, aber da ist noch der zweite kleine Geselle - wenn ich mich recht erinnere. Es gibt von Avenarius ein Gedicht über seinen Hund, das ist aber sehr melanklüter, ich schicke Dir zum Trost aber eine Kinder-Geschichte, die ist süß, in einem Kinderbuch von Hannes:

Weißt du auch, was in der Nacht
Dackel Hektor gerne macht ?

Er schaut sich kurz um,
tut harmlos und dumm
und schleicht sich kühn ins Bett,
denn Betten sind nett.
Dann kuschelt
und wuschelt
er sich in die Kissen,
das darf keiner wissen.

Er denkt an den Knochen
vor ein paar Wochen
vergraben im Garten
ganz ohne Spaten
nur mit den Pfoten
das ist sehr verboten.
So wie dieses Hühnerbein,
und ein Bein kommt nie allein.
Leise kaut er noch ein Stück
von dem zweiten Knusperstück.

Er zieht sich die Decke
schnell übers Verstecke,
übers Schwänzchen und den Bauch
übers Hühnerbeinchen auch.
So sieht man ihn nicht
im dämmrigen Licht.
Er kratzt noch den Floh
von seinem Popo,
das macht er ganz leis,
damit niemand was weiß.
Auch nicht die Katze
mit frecher Tatze …
nun liegt er bequem
und hat es sehr schön.

Dann endlich ist Ruh:
Die Augen sind zu,
Dackel Hektor schläft nun ein.
Gott sei Dank ! so muss es sein."


Monday, June 27, 2016

Sunday morning on my mind


I woke up this morning thinking it was Sunday. As always, I skipped my Sunday morning sleep-in but I had my Sunday morning cup of coffee and I had my Sunday morning walk. And then I was told it was Monday! Whatever happened to Sunday?



I know when it's Friday because that's when the garbage truck rumbles down our peaceful lane. I also know when it's lunchtime because that's when the tourist boat passes the house.

But how do I know when it's Sunday?

It's not easy being retired!


Saturday, June 25, 2016

What if Hitler had been accepted into art school?


In his autobiography Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler described how, in his youth, he wanted to become a professional artist, but his aspirations were ruined because he failed the entrance exam of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Hitler was rejected twice by the institute, once in 1907 and again in 1908.

So he did the next-best thing and became a dictator. And the rest, as they say, is history. Or is it?


In the run-up to the election here and there


Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit could be followed by Grexit, Departugal, Italeave, Czechout, Oustria, Finish, Slovakout, Latervia, Byegium. Only Remania will stay.

BHP shares on Friday, 24 June 2016


I could see the writing on the chart when BHP shares nosedived halfway through the morning from a high of $19.28 to $17.29, recovering only slightly to $17.54 at the close of trading.

This is the end of the Empire. It may also be the end of the United Kingdom as Scotland will seek independence to remain in the EU (as do Northern Ireland and Gibraltar), and it casts a huge shadow over the future of the European Union and globalisation in general.

Denmark and the Netherlands and then Spain and Greece could follow Britain's example in wanting to leave this unwieldy beast that has minted gold medals for itself in the art of bureaucratic nonsense.

For anybody who doesn't fully understand the Euro situation . . . .


Pythagoras' theorem - 24 words

Lord's Prayer - 66 words

Archimedes' Principle - 67 words

10 Commandments - 179 words

Gettysburg address - 286 words

US Declaration of Independence - 1,300 words

US Constitution with all 27 Amendments - 7,818 words

EU regulations on the sale of cabbage - 26,911 words


"Club Europe" is dead and Putin must be rubbing his hands with glee as a weaker Europe plays right into his hands. So let us be upstanding and sing Europe's national anthem while there still is a Europe:

But, of course, BREXIT may never happen if these comments in "The Guardian" are anything to go by:

"If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost.

Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron.

With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership.


Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor.

And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legistlation to be torn up and rewritten ... the list grew and grew.

The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction.

The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50?

Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?

Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-maneouvered and check-mated.

If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over - Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession ... broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act.

The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice.

When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was "never". When Michael Gove went on and on about "informal negotiations" ... why? why not the formal ones straight away? ... he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take.

All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign."

P.S. More interesting reading here and here.


Chinese kids are turning into cereal killers


Remember those compressed blocks of cardboard that have masqueraded as edible breakfast food in every Australian household, hotel, motel, boarding house and - dare I say it? - construction camp since time immemorial?

Boxes of this travesty of food, also known as Australia's iconic cereal Weet-Bix, are being cleared from supermarket shelves — and secretly sold to Chinese consumers for as much as $50.

Such is the demand for the bite-size treat, savvy sellers are systematically raiding a variety of stores and stockpiling the product in homes and warehouses.

The Chinese appetite for Weet-Bix follows the backyard baby formula scandal which led to nationwide shortages and forced the government to stop thousands of tins from illegally leaving for China.

Demand for Weet-Bix has seen a recent sharp increase and enterprising sellers are capitalising on a growing demand, onselling boxes online at huge marked up prices.

On the website Yoycart, which operates similar to eBay, 1.4kg boxes of the cereal were listed as high as $US39, roughly $50, while 1kg packs were going for $US28 or $37.

Domestically the 1.2kg box sells for only $4.50 at Woolworths and the 1.4kg box will set you back just $5 in Coles.

The site also lists some creative descriptions of the simple cereal, with one seller calling it “Advance Australia Weet-Bix sugar cooked ready to eat cereal” and an “ode to joy with breakfast”.

A Coles spokesman said the chain had seen a spike in sales in recent weeks. “We have seen an increase in sales of Weet-Bix in a number of stores over recent weeks.”

Pictures have emerged of shoppers bulk-buying trolleys full of the wheat-based cereal made by Australian company Sanitarium, similar to what was seen in the baby-formula saga.

One photo shows a customer in a Melbourne supermarket using a self-serve checkout to buy an entire large trolley worth of the cereal.

Figures reveal China is the biggest export market for the popular cereal for Australian -owned Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company.

Woolworths, who were forced to place a limit of four baby formula cans per customer after bulk-buying of the product to onsell to China caused supply issues late last year, declined to comment on the trend.

Invented in 1926 (by a cardboard manufacturer who'd gone out of business and wanted to get rid of his remaining stock), the popular breakfast cereal was picked up by the Seventh Day Adventist-owned company Sanitarium two years later.

Now a billion Chinese want to eat this stuff smothered in milk. As for me, instead of milk with my cereal I use wine and then also instead of my cereal I use wine.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

I've just avoided a tiring 20-hour-flight


In The Art of Travel, by contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton, the author recounts an episode from J.K. Huysman's novel Á Rebours (1884), in which the central character, the travel-phobic Duc des Esseintes, is inspired to travel to London following a morning's reading of Dickens.

Packed, suitably attired and ready to go, he awaits the next train from Paris to London. While he does so he kills some time, purchasing - and reading - Baedecker's Guide to London from an English bookshop and enjoying a drink in a wine bar frequented by English expats, before going to an English tavern where he samples a typically British meal of oxtail soup, smoked haddock, roast beef and potatoes, topped off with a few pints of ale and a piece of Stilton.

When the time comes for him to leave for London, des Esseintes changes his mind: having enjoyed the 'Englishness' of his experience to the fullest, he fears the real thing will only disappoint. He returns home, never to leave it again.

Thanks to the internet and YouTube, I've just wandered the streets of my old hometown Braunschweig. I can't imagine gaining any greater pleasure from the real thing by leaving the comforts of my armchair and so have decided to stay put.


I'm 70 and I'm (re-)tired

Click here for part 2 and 3


I am 70. I've worked hard since I was 14 and my whole vita had very little dolce in it. I put in long working hours, and never - and I mean NEVER, except for one urgent appendectomy at Christmas 1973 ☺ - called in sick. I made a reasonable salary, but I didn't inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am.

I am tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth" to people who don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earned and give it to people too lazy to earn it.

I am tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate (fight global warming? Stop the world's overpopulation! - but that's off the table because it can't be as easily monetised as a carbon tax. Click here).

I am tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses or stick a needle in their arm while they tried to fight it off?

I am tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of all parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

I am tired of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and actions. I'm tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems.

I am tired and fed up with seeing young men and women in their teens and early 20s bedeck themselves in tattoos and face studs, thereby making themselves unemployable and claiming money from the Government.

Yes, I'm bloody tired. But I'm also glad I am 70. Because, mostly, I'm not going to have to see the world these people are making. Thank God I'm on the way out and not on the way in.


P.S. Want further uplifting viewing? Look at the U.K.'s Benefits Street or Young, Dumb And Living Off Mum.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Waiting for a buyer


Waiting for Godot achieved a theoretical impossibility — a play in which nothing happens and yet which keeps audiences glued to their seats.

My waiting for a buyer has become a theoretical impossibility as well: nothing happens and yet I keep wondering when I will go from here.

Not that I am certain at all where I would go or indeed if I still want to go. I was pretty certain some years ago when I received the first offer which was stuffed up by the agent, and a second which seemed as good as money in the bank before the buyer overplayed his hand - see here.

Back then it had seemed quite clear to me: I'd buy a small pied-à-terre in Australia's tropical North - Cairns, Kuranda, Port Douglas - where I'd spend part of the year when I wasn't travelling or living in Kalimantan.

As I keep growing older - which I do annually, almost as a matter of routine - , I keep looking at my remaining options. "Do nothing!" had never been acceptable before I accumulated age and possessions but it is becoming more likely now, although no more acceptable.

At the end of Act I in Waiting for Godot, Estragon asks Vladimir, "Well, shall we go?", to which Vladimir replies, "Yes, let's go", and yet they do not move.

At the end of Act II it is Vladimir who asks Estragon, "Well, shall we go?", to which Estragon replies, "Yes, let' go", but again they do not move.

Why? Because Godot will be there tomorrow.

Is watching Waiting for Godot just a long, hard, hilarious, absurd, ridiculous, depressing, and thought-provoking look in the mirror?


What's wrong about this poster?


Before this poster gets mired in a long debate over its political correctness, let's immediately admit what's wrong with it.

Yes, you're right: there's an apostrophe missing in the contraction 'its'.


To my Canadian Lumberjack friend


On this auspicious, suspicious, or simply picious day, I wish you peace, love, insight, relaxation, fun, knowledge, romance, friendship ... and all that stuff that doesn’t cost anything.

I would've made you a birthday cake but was told they wouldn't allow me to light the candles. It turns out the fire department requires a permit for bonfires.

Have a very happy birthday, Chris!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt



In fact, we're drowning in a river of denials right here. Leading up to our election on 2 July, both Prime Minister Turnbull and Opposition Leader Shorten have been ingratiating themselves with Muslim voters. Ditto the British Prime Minister leading up to the BREXIT vote. Ditto the Democrats in the USA.

Our party leaders are running ad campaigns in Arabic, on the telly and in print, despite the Arabs being a smaller minority than many other special interest groups.

As Julius Sumner Miller would've asked, "Why is this so?" Why not send me a pretty little pamphlet in German? After all, I belong to the sixth most identifiable ethnic group, the Germans, who number 898,700 or 4.5 percent of the population, according to the 2011 Census.

Is it because I stopped speaking in a funny accent, took off my Leder-hosen and gave away my button accordion to become a hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying citizen of this wonderful country?


Their only job is to grow up

As eighteen-year-old paymaster in 1963 or 1964 somewhere between Walsrode and Verden where we built the autobahn from Hannover to Bremen. In the background is my double-bunk and an oil heater on which I cooked meals and heated up water for my morning ablution.


I don't know if it's an age thing but these days as I walk around town I keep noticing those adolescents - young adults really - whose only job seems to be to grow up as they ride their skate-boards and do silly stuff our generation had either never done or already stopped doing by the time we entered high school.

Not that I ever entered high school. High school was for the kids of rich parents; it certainly wasn't for our family of five kids who tried to exist on the meagre pension my father got for getting shot up in the war.

Don't get me wrong: I am not feeling sorry for myself. My education was never ruined by any school system and I successfully completed my professional articled years earlier than other articled clerks had even begun theirs.

And I hadn't even started to shave yet when I left home to become perhaps the youngest-ever paymaster for a construction firm that built the autobahn from Hannover to Bremen. My "office" (which was also my "home") was a kind of gypsy caravan which relocated every few months to catch up with the 200-strong construction crew who demanded their pays every weekend on time and accurate to the last 'Pfennig'.

As a young bank clerk in front of the ANZ Bank's Kingston A.C.T. branch

Those beginnings equipped me well for my first few years in Australia where I built myself a new career faster than those adolescents learn how to ride their skateboards.

Do I envy them their freedom? Hell no! On the contrary, I feel kind of sorry for them because they, too, need to grow up, and I've yet to see a fifty-year-old skateboarder!


Germans are again struggling with "Mein Kampf"


The copyright to Hitler's "Mein Kampf", which has been held by the German state of Bavaria who refused to publish the book, expired on January 1.

Demand for a new 2,000-page annotated version which hit bookstores on January 8 massively exceeded supply, with 15,000 advance orders for an initial print run of just 4,000 copies.

During Hitler's lifetime, "Mein Kampf", containing his thoughts on everything from eugenics and race theory to theatre, movies, and marriage, including a full ten pages to the problem of syphilis, sold more than 12 million copies.

I haven't bought my copy yet and so I don't know if it's true that one morning he sat down to order his breakfast and said, "I don't like juice". If so, he's been quoted out of context ever since.


Winter at "Riverbend"


The origin of tea began, it is said, when Daruma, a Buddhist saint, irresponsibly fell asleep over his devotions, and, upon awakening, was so distraught that he cut off his eyelids and threw them to the ground where they took root and grew up as a bush, the leaves of which, when dried and infused in hot water, produced a beverage that would banish sleep.

It would take a lot more than the thought of cut-off eyelids to put me off my first hot cup of tea of the day taken by the window overlooking the river when it is shrouded in early-morning mist. A Chinese water-colour in motion! Last night was the longest night of the year which I spent, as so many nights before, sleeping in front of the fireplace which is the nicest possible thing to do. I can't image that somebody could go through life without ever having toasted marshmellows or prodded a glowing log or made dream pictures in flames or listened to the fire sounds - the crackling and the hissing and the sighing and strange whimpering of a knotted log - or just dozed off in front of a fire.

Winter at "Riverbend" is a time of hibernation, of introspection. Of watching movies, reading books, playing chess - a time for every purpose under heaven, according to Ecclesiastes.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Happy Birthday to you, Andrew!


Happy Birthday, Andrew, from all of us at Riverbend!
We hope you will "Holt" on for quite a bit longer!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Don't waste your Sunday thinking of Monday


The Bureau of Meteorology has again forecast damaging winds in the Illawarra and South Coast region from the early hours of Monday. Flood warnings have been issued, with locations likely to be affected including Batemans Bay.

Which means staying off the roads and staying at home and not going for our usual Monday swim at the Ulladulla Leisure Centre which we did today instead.

As soon as I could get myself out of the pool again, we drove to the small village of Milton for lunch and a bit of touristy shopping before beating the rain back to "Riverbend".


The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis


Whenever I see a bookcover which displays the author's name in larger print than the book's title, I walk right past it. Not so Padma. She bought me Dan Brown's "Inferno" and, not wanting to let $29.95 go to waste, I began to read it. And what a page-turner and eye-opener it has been!

In it, Dante's Inferno, the Black Death, geometric progression, agathusia, transhumanism, Children of the Corn, Logan's Run, biological warfare, the world's overpopulation, and the Malthusian Theory of Population are all turned into an intellectual cliff-hanger which won't let you stop until you've reached the last page some 600 pages later.

Just consider this: if you picked up a piece of paper and ripped it in half and then placed the two halves on top of each other and then were to repeat the process ... hypothetically speaking, if the original sheet of paper is a mere one-tenth of a millimetre thick, and you were to repeat this process ... say, fifty times ... it would be one-tenth of a millimetre times two to the fiftieth power. It's called geometric progression and the stack of paper, after only fifty doublings would reach almost all the way ... to the sun! --- click here

And thus the book makes its point: that the history of our human population growth is even more dramatic. The earth's population, like the stack of paper, had very meagre beginnings but alarming potential. It took the earth's population thousands of years - from the early dawn of man all the way to the early 1800s - to reach one billion people. Then, astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to double the population to two billion in the 1920s. After that, it took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four billion in the 1970s. Every day, rain or shine, we're adding another quarter-million people to planet Earth. Every year, we're adding the equivalent of the entire country of Germany. Genesis 1:28 "Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth" has turned from a blessing to a curse.

If you and I live for another nineteen years, we will have witnessed the population triple in our lifetime. The mathematics is as relentless - and as non-negotiable - as the law of gravity. - Animal species are going extinct at a precipitously accelerated rate. The demand for dwindling natural resources is skyrocketing. Clean water is harder and harder to come by. By any biological gauge, our species has exceeded our sustainable numbers. And the gatekeeper of the planet's health, the World Health Organization's feeble response is to dispense free condoms in Africa! They are followed by an army of Catholic missionaries sent out by the Vatican (who better than a bunch of celibate octogenarians to tell the world how to have sex?) that tell Africans if they use condoms, they go straight to hell. Africa's latest environmental problem are landfills overflowing with unused condoms.

Free condoms in Africa! It's like swinging a flyswatter at an incoming asteroid. The time bomb is no longer ticking. It has already gone off, and without drastic measures, exponential mathematics will become our new God ... a very vengeful God who will bring to you Dante's vision of hell right outside on Park Avenue ... huddled masses wallowing in their own excrement.

The world's politicians, power brokers, and environmentalists hold emergency summits, all trying to assess which of these problems are most severe and which they can actually hope to solve. The outcome? Privately, they put their heads in their hands and weep. Publicly, they assure us all that they are working on solutions - what solutions? solar power, recycling, and hybrid cars? - but that these are complex issues.

Complex? Bullshit! Lack of clean water, rising global temperatures, ozone depletion, rapidly dwindling ocean resources, species extinction, CO2 concentration, deforestation, rising global sea levels - it's all caused by one single variable: global population! If you want more clean water per capita, you need fewer people on earth. If you want to decrease vehicle emissions, you need fewer drivers. If you want the oceans to replenish their fish, you need fewer people eating fish!

I'm neither a 'connesewer' of doomsday books nor a Dan Brown aficionado. I tend to agree with a friend of mine who's banished all Dan Brown books to the darkest and coldest and most unlikely-ever-to-see-the-light-of-day-again corner of his library. But forget about literary merit! "Inferno" has hit so many buttons and made me scurry off into so many directions to seek out additional information that I challenge you to read this book. You can always go back to your state of denial and pious hand-wringing later.

P.S. For another interesting perspective on this subject, click here.