Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just watched 2 films –
“whip it” and "Anvil" .
the first: A girl from a small boring town, with a mother she finds too conventional, Clandestinely takes up a sport involving punk-like roller skate speed competitions. Makes me think my teenage life was too conventional for my own good…. Coulda done with some gentle punk stuff. Re finding yourself as a teen, and still loving your parents, though understanding

“your children are not your children, they are the arrow that is thrust forward by the bow of destiny”…. Kahil Gibran.

Goethe: We cannot fashion our children after our desires, we must have them and love them as God has given them to us.

AND “ANVIL” …. a documentary about a Hard Rock band from 80s making a comeback, guys in their 50s. Working menial jobs, and still trying to make it big with their band after 30 years. Very touching. It culminates with a successful gig in Japan, with a big crowd. The paradox about “Anvil” with it’s sometimes anti-christian overtones, is that I’m sure there are angels in heaven who cheered for this band. Anything that you do with all your heart gains support in the other world.

Like Goethe said: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Where is the man who has the strength to be true, and to show himself as he is?
Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes.

re the army and war: When we did our grenade qualification, we sat in bunkers and heard the huge wallop and the ball bearings spray the bunker… and we kind of felt sorry for anyone who might be on the receiving end of one of our grenades. Even though from my readings, a lot of the Taliban deserve little mercy. And I'm sure I would have few qualms about killing them if one of my section members was killed by them.

the Anvil film also made me think : these are the people I want to risk my life and limb for. People come back from Afghanistan with limbs missing, or with mental disturbances. But we do it for them…. For the Afghan people, for the concept that Good must triumph over Evil, for people like “lips” in the Anvil band. So that they may live their dreams and inspire their children to do the same. So that they may bring joy to others.

We are the Stoics, the Spartans. We refine our bodies to be tough and strong, We build our martial skills and tactics. We live rough in the bush, in pits. We carry crazy huge packs. So that the people may harvest and see their children smile. I am in the army for them, and the people I see at Kmart – the ordinary men and women who pay their bills and raise their kids. They may not have the best dress sense or have travelled to as many places as I have, but I love them for their heart and their simple fortitude.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Summary of my gypsy van expedition

10th Dec leave Queensland
– climb in Blue mountains; Christmas in Victoria, Falls Creek walks; Arapiles climbing; Grampians walks; march Shepparton Fruit pick, then up rapidly via Newell Highway to Coonabarbaran, then Qld. in april 09

4.5 months of travel…. On a few thousand dollars, with a 3 thousand dollar van.
And some life-changing experiences in the Warrumbungles etc.
2.5 weeks fruit picking , 1 week kids camp.
I met French backpackers who were working 12 hrs a day, 17$ per hr, free accommodation, on a farm just nth of Qld border (a better deal than most fruit picking farms). So if I ever want to take a year off, travel, sea kayak etc and do casual work , I know it’s possible.

It gave me a big sense of freedom (eg driving on deserted highways with huge plains), and reminded me of one of my top enjoyements in life – mystical communion with nature, and getting away from the predicability and routine of suburban life.

Joining the Army

1. King Leonidas, of the Spartans, in full warrior mode
2. Mosley – the British Nazi leader, barracking for Hitler and “Peace”… or slavery and brutality under a fascist regime.
3. Ayaan Hirsi Ali
4. The Boating party – Renoir. If we want this kind of peace and insouciance, we need to fight wars from time to time to protect just that.
5. The great Massoud – leader of the Northern Alliance against the Russians, then the Taliban. Assassinated just after sept 11 by Al-Quaeda men posing as journalists.
6. –
7. Joan of Arc

“We believed without proof that peace was the natural state and the substance of the universe, that war was only a temporary agitation on its surface. Today, we recognize our error: the end of war was merely the end of this war.”

- Jean Paul Sartre, commenting on WWII.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

- Inaugural Address by John F. Kennedy - January 20th 1961

“War is horrible, but slavery is worse.” -Churchill

"We sleep peaceably in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf." (George Orwell)

I have joined the Army, Infantry corps. In a few days, I start the Army recruit course.

After my epiphany when I almost died with a ruptured appendix (see Jan 08), I realized I had to use my potential in a fuller way. And then I found out that I was not too old to Join the Defence forces.
Many of the skills (navigation, camping, carrying a big pack…) I got from being an outdoor instructor can be crossed over into the infantry. And I was motivated to be part of the force that was tackling terrorism worldwide. So I applied.

I applied in Jan 08, and got final confirmation in Jan 09, after a battery of tests – IQ, Psych, medical… and big delays in getting paperwork for my former Army reserve service. Then I had to wait for the next Rifleman recruit course.

I am no spring chicken, but am fit for my age. During the waiting time, I increased my cross-country running frequency and performed series of pushups afterwards, with a clear goal motivating me to push myself. I had a special black diary in which I noted what I did sport-wise. Eg
Run uphill. Pushups: 10,20,20
I would run from 30 minutes to 1 hour – more would have been overtraining.
And at falls creek, I decided to see what I was capable of and ran 15km with a small backpack at 1700m.

I continued working as an outdoor instructor, getting increasingly professional . I found the cross-country running helped me be a better and happier instructor – I had more stamina, and more reserves in what is quite a draining job.

Missions in East Timor and humanitarian relief (eg Bandah Aceh after the Tsunami) etc would be good to take part in. The defence force is actually the most efficient and equipped humanitarian organization, as was demonstrated after the tsunami, much to the jealousy of some NGOs.
It remains to be seen if I do get posted overseas, but even if I stay in Oz, I will at least be a cog in the machine.

I have met a few serving members, and was impressed by their humanity and strength. I am looking forwards to serving whith such people.

I know I will sometimes chaff under restrictions, and no organization is perfect.

As others have remarked, contrary to some stereotypes, defence force personnel are amongst the most selfless and compassionate people there are.
Now, I don’t mean “compassion” for mass murderers, or sentimental /Marxist compassion for terrorism as being “the revolt of the oppressed”. The latter is merely the projection of rich country left-wing beliefs onto people who act out of religious hatred and a desire for global radical Islamic domination. - As it is clear from the speeches of their radical preachers ( to cite one example, the London preacher who wanted the death penalty for homosexuality, and the imposition of Islamic law in the UK). Or to cite a terrorist after a French tanker was bombed in the Gulf:

We would have preferred a US ship, but that’s ok, they are all infidels anyway.

No, I mean real compassion – active compassion that entails actually doing something at some cost to oneself, such as rescuing someone from a burning house (or from a mountain in the French Alps, as I have done) or tending to an injured enemy. And which sometimes means putting one’s life at risk.

I have Compassion for the Afghans, who are tired of war and now are attacked and tortured by the Taliban. Compassion for the moderate muslims and others worldwide from Malaysia to Holland to the UK, who are intimidated and killed by the radical branch of Islam, which is a thuggish mafia, worse again than Hitler, and sharing many of his hatreds: Jews, Capitalism, Modernity, the Open society, America.

Although paradoxically enough, Islamic radicals use the Internet, email, You-tube to diffuse their messages of bile and hate… all of which are very modern and invented in… the great Satan USA, with the help of freely available credit and capital. Can you imagine a start-up company inventing You-tube in a stifling medieval Islamic dictatorship like Afghanistan under the Taliban ? Neither can I. They use to even beat people up for listening to music.

If I make it through the training in one piece, my aim is to be as close to the point of the sword as possible. My sword will flash and the heads will roll. I will let them know there is still life left in western civilization. And they will feel my “rage divine”.

On the Nature and Danger of Terrorism:

Consider an editorial published in a Lebanese paper on August 20, 2003, the day after a bomb-laden cement truck destroyed the United Nations’ center of operations in Baghdad:

“Yesterday’s operation against the Baghdad headquarters of the United Nations exemplifies this mentality of destruction. Expel all mediators. Banish every international organization. Let things collapse. Let electricity and water be cut off, and the pumping of oil cease. Let theft prevail. Let universities and schools close. Let businesses fail. Let civic life cease. And at the end of the day the occupation will fail. ‘No!’ protests Joseph Samara, ‘at the end of the road, there will be a catastrophe
for Iraq. . . . The attack against the United Nations’ headquarters in Baghdad belongs to another world: it is a form of nihilism, of absurdity, and of chaos hiding behind fallacious slogans, which proves the convergence among those responsible for this action, their intellectual limitation and their criminal behavior.’ ”

Andre Glucksman (french intellectual) on the new warfare:

We have entered another world. The threat of a new Ground Zero, small or great, advances behind a mask. The human bomb claims the power to strike anywhere, by any means, at any time, spreading his nocturnal threat over the globe, invisible and thus unpredictable, clandestine and thus untraceable. The terrorist without borders makes us think about him always, everywhere. Without an accidental delay on the tracks—just a few minutes—the pulverization of two trains in Madrid, at the Atocha station, would have claimed 10,000 victims, three times more than in Manhattan. Then there was London. Whose turn is next? Each of us waits for the next explosion.

The business of terrorists, after all, is to terrorize—so said Lenin, an uncontested master in the field. The ultimate refinement lies in the inversion of responsibility. Operating instructions: I take hostages, I cut off their heads, I show them on video; those who beg for mercy must address themselves to their governments, who alone are to blame for my crimes: my hubris is their problem. The less the terrorist’s restraint, the more he causes fear and the sooner you will yield in tears, or so he believes.

Recall the cries of hostage Nick Berg, agonizing as his torturers persisted laboriously over his bent body. “You know, when we behead someone, we enjoy it,” one of them informs us. “We did not kidnap to frighten those we hold,” another corrects him, “but to put pressure on the countries that help or might help the Americans. . . . It is not a good thing to decapitate, but it is a method that works. In a fight, Americans tremble. . . . Besides, I tried to negotiate an exchange of prisoners for Nick Berg. It was the Americans who refused. They are the ones truly responsible for his death.” Terrorist hubris bases its arguments on uncontrollable drives: I can’t help myself—give up! A similar strategy shows up on playgrounds: Stop me or I’ll do something terrible! The terrorist refines this rationale; he draws out his pleasure, prolongs death, cuts the throat slowly, goes beyond physical torture.

To resurrect the dead, if only by video, in order to execute them a second time: this compulsion prolongs war infinitely from the other side of life. It is pure hatred. A traditional war, however savage, comes to an end. Terrorist war, given over to limitless fury, knows no cease-fire. For the demonstration of force it substitutes the demonstration of hatred, which, nourished by its own atrocities, becomes inextinguishable.

The fight to avoid the Somalization of the planet is just beginning, and it will probably dominate the twenty-first century. If they resist the sirens of isolationism, Americans will learn from their mistakes. Europe will either resolve to help them or abandon itself to the care of the petro-czar Vladimir Putin, who stands ready to police the old continent, while preaching antiterrorist terrorism, with his devastation of Chechnya as a case in point. The borderless challenge of emancipated warriors allows us little leisure for procrastination .

Book: The Trouble with Islam

I read bits of “the Trouble with Islam” by Irshad Manji (a gay woman , from a Muslim family, living in Canada) and realise that there are rifts and contradictions and obsessions within Islam. I have met and worked with decent muslims – I do not make a blanket accusation, but as she says:

Rather than own our dysfunction, we reflexively blame America, Israel, Christianity, materialism, MTV, McDonald’s, and the ever-convenient Jews. An equally popular coping mechanism is to remain mute about our self-inflicted shortcomings, for fear of damaging relations with our higher-ups — be they parents, imams, or even secular leaders of our communities.

Respected Ms. Manji, people like you serve as a source of energy for the ones like me, living in Muslim states, who cannot afford to ’speak out loud’. I tried to, but I was made to realize that I would offend many and win almost none, with harassment being the cherry on the top. May Allah always bless you with the best. And bless me with the courage to stand up, like you have chosen to.” - Muhammad Khurram Yaqub, Lahore, Pakistan.


My path since 9-11-2001

Sept 11, 2001

I am in Canada – in a backpacker’s hostel on the West Coast
I have just hitched a ride to this small town, and watch the scenes of sept. 11 being played over on the Hostel TV.

I take a shower, in shock. Then I find myself sobbing in the shower, under the water.
I sob for the victims in the towers, for the terrorists brainwashed by radical texts into their hatred for the infidels, who died committing such a crime.
It strikes me at the time that they were like a child breaking another child’s toy in spite “I envy you your toy, so I’m going to break it, so there”. An infantile rage of primitive Islam against the far more successful and opulent modern western world.

Later I learn that 100 different nationalities including Muslims, artists’ lofts, import-export companies, bankers, philanthropic societies were present in the towers – a Babel of modern enlightenment, artistic and business creativity and diversity.

In Islamic radicalism, a new satanic death-cult of grunting gargoyles has risen, foaming with hatred and rage and vowing to destroy everything that does not convert to it’s zombie culture.


New York: the metropolis which prefigures the future: a multi-ethnic melting pot, all citizens under a simple constitution, which enforces democracy, the rule of law, accountability of rulers, the right to eject them from rule, using militias in the last recourse – should the ruler become a dictator. And which elevates the freedom to pursue one’s fancy , whether it takes one to riches, or to rags – “the pursuit of happiness” as above the state’s diktats, or comfort, or predictability, or the stifling pursuit of a levelling equality which has sapped the spirit of the French and done so much harm (and has led it to the the-state –owes-me-a-living and stuff everyone else , suicidal chaos which it it presently experiencing).
As one French entrepreneur living in NY at the time said:

No state safety net here, but that very fact is a statement: we believe in you; you can do it, providence and your hard work will see you through.

The freedom to succeed, and the freedom to fail. And try again.

The USA is the melting pot of the world – a new world consciously created by the founding fathers to be the freest country in the world – a misunderstood quantum leap away from old Europe, it’s wars, it’s ideological death machines: Nazism and Communism. And it’s attempt to enter stasis (no change) via nanny-state smothering socialism which ends up making many of it’s citizens feel as alive and self-directed as Zombies.

And now the death-cult of radical Islam, which worships suicide as a weapon.
Which challenges the last man standing to a high noon confrontation. Will Bush follow the Europeans’ advice and not respond ? should he follow their advice and be like the beaten wife who seeks to be nicer to her ogre so that he might beat her less (fat chance) ?
He does not, and the vitality and backbone of the US and some allies will be on display in the years following 9/11. Much to the hatred and bile of those in the west who purport to be sophisticated in their contempt of western civilization (whose branch they are sitting on and cutting off) , and particularly that independent entity which does not bow to their elitist pseudo-thought – that entity which values personal freedom above enforced equality, the USA.


I spend the next few years reading articles and books, trying to understand the enemy and how we can defeat him.

I did not buy into the self-flagellating ideas that were bandied around by some, that 9-11 was punishment for… what exactly ? stopping the genocide of the Kurdish Muslims in Kosovo ? Stopping Saddam H. invading Saudi Arabia (one of his ambitions) ?

or helping that tiny country , Israel – if 10 of thousands of arabs jews were fleeing persecution in arab lands and other jews from Russia etc were also fleeing persecution, where exactly were they supposed to go ? onto Mars, maybe. And the arabs have never cared much for the Palestinians – Egypt refused to give them part of the Sinai, which is huge. No, the real problem with Israel is that it is not a tribal Islamic society: it is cosmopolitan, women wear shorts and fight in the army ! imagine that! And it is successful – as Egyptian president Nasser said in the 70s:
how can we tolerate that they make the desert flower when we can’t even get close ?

Envy and tribal hatred, nourished by the radical islam of Hamas and company, which even Palestinians are become tired of. And the national socialist (Nazi) Baath party in Syria. (and in Irak under Saddam)

And say Israel was handed to the lions, what has that conflict got to do with the persecution of Buddhists , Hindus and Christians worldwide by radical muslims ? or blowing up a secondary school in Beslan (Russia is not exactly an ally of Israel) Or the Mumbai attacks ? or some UK preachers saying they are in favor of the death penalty for homosexuality ?
or… the thousands of death threats, bashings, murders worldwide.

It was clear to me we were up against some sort of conquering ideology, but I wasn’t quite sure what they wanted to impose on us.


Over the years, I link other events together – the destruction of the Buddhist statues by the Taliban, The beating up of gay queens in Amsterdam’s gay pride day by groups of Muslims, the killing of Theo van Gogh in Holland, the Beslan massacre where radicals blew up a secondary school with kids in Russia (which led me into cold fury), the Bali bombings, the civil war against radical Islamists I remember occurred in nearby Algeria in the 90s, the riots in Paris in 2005, where mostly Muslim rioters torched schools and buses with cries of “Allah akbar” – “God is great” , the muslim enclaves in Sweden where no-one dares to go…
I read “Londistan” by Melanie Philips, and see how radical preachers start the conveyor belt which led middle-class cricket-playing British Muslims to hate the modernity and diversity of their country and blow themselves up in the tube in 2005.

And of Sayyid Qutb, who wrote in the 1930s, mixing Islam with Marxism, and was the inspiration for the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, and then of Al-Quaeda, together with Wahab (founder of Wahabism – Saudi-style radical Islam).

Should I travel to America, and become flimsy, and ordinary, ... Is there other than Islam that I should be steadfast to in its character and hold on to its instructions, in this life amidst deviant chaos, and the endless means of satisfying animalistic desires, pleasures, and awful sins? [23]

Finally, Qutb offered his own explanation in Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq, arguing that anything non-Islamic was evil and corrupt, while following Sharia as a complete system extending into all aspects of life, would bring every kind of benefit to humanity, from personal and social peace, to the "treasures" of the universe.[24]


On returning from a trip to the USA, Qutb said “the world is one big brothel !”.

I read arab-american writers such as Faoud Ajami, who point out that Irak is far more important to Al-Quadea than Afghanistan. The latter being just out of the stone age, and having few resources, whereas irak has the oil, and is the historic seat of the Muslim kingdom (Baghdad).
(Hence Obama is being simplistic when he says that we should have just focused on Afghanistan. Once the war in Irak became a fight against al-Quaeda, pulling out would have been suicidal – as Bernard Kouchner ex-boss of doctors without borders (MSF) was bold enough to say from France).

I read of Somalian-born Ayan Hirsi Ali, who speaks out against the radicalisation of Muslims in Holland, and against the non-intervention of the law in Muslim enclaves where women are beaten (and form most of the population in Dutch women’s shelters) and are even killed in Honor killings.
The killer of film-director Theo van Gogh pins a note on him, addressed to her. And now she is under permanent death threat.

The gentle and cultured Europe I grew up in has become a civil-war zone.

Grenoble 1999: I watch in rage as on the football pitch below, a young fit muslim 14 yrs old or so, kicks a be-spectacled jewish looking lad in the shins, down to the ground, makes him beg , then kicks him again to make him get up. And repeats, encouraged by a small crowd of other young muslims.

I realise years later this is a age-old religious hatred of jews playing itself out. He has probably heard his father talk of jews as pigs and apes.

A short while later, this alpha male stops kicking his ball for a moment to kick a young Peruvian-looking lad in the shins. The jew was serious fun to hate, but social Darwinism, Nazi-style is always fun.

Elsewhere in France:

And then the Muslim women I see being screamed at and sworn at by their husbands in public, as docile and passive as lambs.

I see teenage girls being intimidated.

In Paris, from my office window, I see a 5 yr old muslim girl walking along with 2 muslim boys her age, and an eastern-european looking mother with a pram. The 5 yr old girl is playful, and wants to play with the boys she does not seem to know well (I assume to be cousins or friends of her family). Then one of the boys wants her to know the score – to know that spontaneous fun is not what is expected of her, rather : fearful submission is what is expected. He punches her in the stomach in an uppercut movement. She bends over, winded, shocked, and shouts. He looks on with satisfaction. Then they move off, the woman wearing a perverse smug look – I assume she has gotten similar treatment.

In France, I see this kind of thing being played out on a street level, everywhere.

I also work and talk with decent and humane Muslims, but I realise there is something in Muslim culture which pushes some to these fascist and misogynistic behaviours.

I being to realize that if the US pulls out of irak, and hands a victory to Al-quaeda’s irak Chapter, the radicals in Europe and all over the world will become much emboldened and things will become much worse.

As a terrorist said after a French oil tanker was hit in the gulf:
We would have preferred a US tanker, but they’re all infidels anyway


I become disgusted by the democrats in the US and the most of the chattering classes in Europe, who obviously want Irak to fail, and to hell with the millions of Irakis who want democracy, freedom and a decent life, so long as the defeatocrats can score points against Bush.
I want to grab them by their lapels and shake them out of their suicidal narcissism and blindness. If Irak is handed to al-quaeda, we are all in trouble ! this isn’t a game of point-scoring, your attitude can have disastrous consequences. I want to say to them.
As Bernard Kouchner said in 2007 or so:
The future of much of the world depends on what happens in Irak

In 2001-2003, I wanted to be part of it. I would have gladly volunteered to go and kick Saddam’s rotten ass in Irak. But I was in France, and I knew the French army would not go in. Not until Chirac had seen that the Americans and their allies had done the dangerous work, that is. I did briefly consider the UK army, but was concerned I wouldn’t fit in to the British culture, which I knew was fairly unique and not really me, having lived there in 2003.

I was beginning to realise I was not a European, in many ways – my way of thinking fit more into the New World : America, Canada, Australia. Pioneering, quick to adopt new and more efficient ways of doing things, unhampered by much historical baggage or a hankering for a once-was empire. Optimistic and forward looking.

And I was tired of the knee-jerk anti-Americanism I saw in Europe. The US was dammed for toppling a Stalin-like dictator in Irak, but then also dammed for not intervening in Sudan. But the Europeans, for the most part, intervened nowhere at all… not even in their own countries where entire urban sections were becoming violent Muslim enclaves.

They were like kids throwing small stones at builders working hard, risking their lives to build and protect a building which also protected the kids….


I am encouraged by the small number of courageous Muslim leaders who are speaking out against terrorism:

Thursday, July 03, 2008
Saudi Grand Mufti speaks out on al Qaeda
Arab News:
Al-Asheikh called on young Saudis not to be enticed by militants. He further demanded coordinated action from Saudis and residents to uncover members of the group.
In a nine-point statement, the mufti said the criminal acts planned by the militants would not come from the mind of a true believer, adding that these militants were acting as tools in the hands of the enemies of Islam and Saudi Arabia. Al-Asheikh, who is the Kingdom’s highest religious authority, said Islam does not allow the killing of innocent people. He also cautioned Muslim youth against deviant ideologies whose proponents want to undermine the Kingdom’s security.

“You should be aware that these militants, who claim to work for the cause of Islam and defend Muslims, actually hide their vested interests and vicious objectives,” he said.
Al-Asheikh warned Saudis and residents against providing protection and refuge to militants.

Sea Kayak Bribie Isl. Qld

what a sunset !

Rented a Kayak for 2 days,
Then did a 2 day trip with Caz, sea kayaking along the inside passage of bribie island, just north of Brisbane. Great views of the glasshouse mnts (see above). And it reminded me how relaxing sea kayaking is. You carry all the weight in hatches , not on yr back , (eg 15 litres of water) and as a result you hardly notice it. We had a great sunset at the National park campsite. I could have continued for another 5 days or so more... up the coast, past Noosa.

Then drove up to Noosa – paradise on the sunshine coast (apart from the occasional hoon on drugs). Aus’s California. To get my gear ready , and put the van in storage at a storage place at Eumundi. Staying with my mother, who as luck has it, is house-sitting a big house next to a mangrove lake.
now got a wireless internet modem (virgin) - so I can update my blog from almost anywhere. yay !

Jules since the Warrumbungles

0: Caz in front of Tropical Brisbane
1. Sunset in the Warrumbungles, NSW
2. Mt Mitchell path, scenic rim, Qld
3. The best of both worlds.. lake Moogerah, scenic rim, Qld
4. meeting Rosemary at campground, scenic rim, Qld
5. Sunset, lake Moogerah, scenic rim, Qld
6. Mt Barney lodge campsite, morning... life's tough in the van - Not.

Since Coonarbarbaran:

Drove up on the flat Newell Highway, past Silos, up to Goonwindi – first Qld town. Typical Queensland – with palms, big brash signs.
Then across to good old Mt Barney, did a recce day then a week later, did a 5 day camp with 15 yr olds. Great kids , great teacher, for a change. 2.5 days expedition walking up steep slopes, often in drizzle. Some leaches, good views, bush camping.
The 2 days getting 60 kids abseiling and climbing on small cliffs.

I really like the scenic rim area (border with NSW) rainforest slopes and eucalyptus areas, big steep mountains and lakes.

Spent a few days in Brisbane catching up with a friend.
When I looked over Brisbane city, after almost 4 months of travel in my van, it felt like home – the cosmopolitan city in the mangroves. There are still mangroves down on the river.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Let's roll back the 20th century, Not.

Graph Source: UN Panel on Climate Change, 1995

more from Jules on his crusade against the pseudo-science of global warming.

I would rather see poor countries get out of their poverty – have cars and air-con, CAT scans and cheap nrj. Also, it’s fairly evident that poor countries are the ones which take the least care of their environment – eg Indonesia fishing out it’s stocks, and deforesting it’s great forests.
The way out of poverty for 3rd world countries is trade with rich countries, cheap electricity, and industrialization (or and/or services if you are Switzerland). The sooner it becomes evident that man-made Co2 has nothing to do with climate change, the better.

When humanity is colonizing Mars and has Fusion-powered power stations etc, they will look back at the present hair-shirt back to the Hamish-farm movement with amazement.

some cut and paste:

Professor Richard Lindzen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said:

“future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age”.

Dr Martin Hertzberg, a physical chemist and retired Navy meteorologist, sums up the climate - both intellectual and physical:
As a scientist and lifelong liberal Democrat, I find the constant regurgitation of the anecdotal, fear-mongering clap-trap about human-caused global warming to be a disservice to science...From the El Nino year of 1998 until Jan., 2007, the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere near its surface decreased some 0.25 C. From Jan. 2007 until the spring of 2008, it dropped a whopping 0.75 C.

Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in history …When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” - UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, environmental physical chemist.


Lord Monckton recently observed that the exponential forecasts of the UN simply don't match reality [PDF]:

"The IPCC's estimates of growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration are excessive. They assume CO2 concentration will rise exponentially from today's 385 parts per million to reach 730 to 1020 ppm, central estimate 836 ppm, by 2100. However, for seven years, CO2 concentration has been rising in a straight line towards just 575 ppmv by 2100. This alone halves the IPCC's temperature projections."

Roy Spencer argues that the reason there seems to be a consensus among scientists regarding "global warming theory" is that 1) most scientists don't actually conduct research on the forecasting models the theory is based on, and so, though they are scientists, are not any more knowledgeable than laypersons regarding this particular theory and 2) scientists are human too, and as humans, fall victim to group think. Spencer points out that the mathematical models used to predict future climate are NOT akin to the forecasting methods meteorologists use to forecast next week's weather. Some important points: Sure, we are good at predicting whether it will rain tomorrow or in two days, but the validity of even short-term weather forecasts shrinks to nearly zero when trying to predict 10 days ahead or more. Climatologists using mathematical models to predict future climate, say, 100 years from now are playing a whole other ball game.

Czech politician Vaklav Klaus :
Freedom, not climate, is at risk:


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A visit to an Backyard Astronomy dome

above: one of the backyard telescope domes near the town. (not the one I visited).

Monday 16 march, I drive along small country road which leads to the Warrumbungles, and stop at a guy’s property. He’s the ex-director of the Anglo-Australian observatory, and has several telescopes in his garden, including one big one in a dome. He is now an entrepreneur – giving talks in the evening (to myself and 3 others, tonight), to school groups etc. Pretty fascinating to be in the presence of such encyclopaedic knowledge of Physics and Astronomy, made fun by the ability to look at huge nebulae (gaseous clouds), galaxies, planets, stars thru his equipment. $15 for nearly 2 hours of lecture and viewing.

He has a small dome, which he has set up for remote viewing by a fellow in Scotland. The Scottish fella operates it via the internet when he wants to (!)

He projects a film about scale using his laptop, and then shows us the night sky,
He gives us lots of facts, pointing out constellations, the Magellan clouds (nearby galaxies), facts about the size and distance away of stars. And we observe some thru his 3 telescopes. I take notes for my own interest, and so I can share some of the wonder of starscapes with the students in 2 weeks.
Near Orion’s belt (3 stars in a row), there is a reddish star called Betelgeuse, which is a ”red giant”, you can see with the naked eye. Meaning it is a dying star, and could explode and become a Supernova at any time. What we see with our eyes actually occurred many thousands of years into the past, however, as it has taken many light years for its light to reach us. When it does become a Supernova, it will be brighter than anything else in the sky for a month or so, lighting up our nights…. Spectacular.

Just having a little knowledge of astronomy is mind-boggling, and is awe-inspiring when you consider the scale of the universe, of which our galaxy – the milky way – is just one of trillions of galaxies… Also the fact that light travels at a finite speed is hard to imagine, as are other facts of Physics.

Oh that Science could be taught this way – by going to factories, observatories, power stations, talking with bike designers , and going “backwards” as it were to the theory, rather than teaching disconnected theory in the classroom to mostly bored students. In fact the whole secondary/tertiary school system could be outsourced to a multitude of small inspiring operators like this guy, combined with self-study using the Internet. The head of Noosa Sunshine coast uni suggested as much, mentioning the Internet as a new means of learning.

This guy really inspired me, with the facts about the night sky, his interest, as well as his entrepreneurial small-scale business, which he runs out of his front garden.

Town of Coonabarbaran and the Warrumbungles

1: Museum at Narandera. First and only Aboriginal pilot and his plane "Black Magic"
should have been told he was a victim, given welfare for life and rotted on a community in the middle of nowhere... Not.
2: The Warrumbungles nat park - "breadknife" in the background.
3: nat park.
4: View from a small peak where I met the Eagle.
5: Rainbow in the evening.
6: Lake Eildon sunset
7: around lake Eildon
(click on a photo to enlarge)

-a close encounter with an Eagle
-why bother going to National Parks and sweating ?

Town of Coonabarbaran : Astronomy capital of Australia , private telescope domes on green country road that leads to Warrumbungles Nat park. Lots of swank properties – names like “Xanadu”… great place to raise kids. Also a hill at 1100 m with 11 telescopes, including the Main Anglo-Australian telescope. Was chosen by the ANU as having good location – no city glare, night skies clear 70 % of the time.
I saw some good starscapes looking up with the naked eye – shooting stars, the milky way pretty clear.

The Town has the usual practical amenities – a supermarket, information centre, library with internet, some swank cafes, It’s a small country town, but actually quite artsy, with an art gallery, pottery centre, Jazz festival, Astronomy week… (with local Astronomers giving lectures in the pub).
NSW so green after drought-stricken Victoria. .. green starting not that far north of the border with Vic.
I Get a fresh bag of ice for my eski, fill up with water and buy a bit of food at the supermarket. Also get some info and a free map of the National park at the info center.

I Drive to the Warrumbungles Nat park and spend two nights there. Sunday, I do a 14 km walk – the “Grand high tops tour”, which goes up and around some famous landmarks – the “breadknife” and such.
There are some other walkers in the park, but I met no-one. It’s kind of great being all alone in this stunning nat. park. I sit on the top of a lava block and just look at the scenery. I spot several wedge-tailed Eagles gliding around an adjacent volcanic plug. Then one comes right overhead – about 30 m above my head. I look up and we look at each other for a while as he glides past. I can see every detail of his plumage. Then he goes past. Quite an experience. This is why I get out to these places.., nothing I can experience in the city can beat this.

-Why bother get off the couch at all ?

On the way up to the viewpoint, there was a visitor’s book which I looked at. One the entries was written in big print, by kids of about 11, I guess:


mmm… yes, why bother get off the couch at all, in fact ? I could think of a dozen answers to that question. But at least they were being honest… the virtual age is here, as predicted by sci-fi writers many decades ago, and the fun has only just begun. Soon we will be able to experience views in 360 deg, virtual reality with sound.

I wrote in response: “stay at home and get fat and bored”. Which kind of sums it up. But the proper response involves explaining why tactile reality cannot be replaced by technology, why using your muscles to achieve an outcome – a view, getting from A to B, earning money, building something… can bring satisfaction not found on the couch.
And interacting with a real live Eagle, or scaling mountain rock and feeling it’s texture, or being surprised by an Emu, or watching an awesome sunset on a cold mountain top is not the same as simulated reality, however life-like.
(on my walk I saw grey Kangaroos and Emus).

Apart from the above psychological benefits of walking in a Nat. Park, there are also other benefits: It keep you fit, which helps at work, in social life, avoids medical problems and produces endorphins which makes you feel more chirpy.
If the walk is a bit challenging, or involves scrambling rocks, it increases your confidence in being able to tackle obstacles in daily life.

On a deep level, interacting with nature can be akin to a mystical experience – eg watching the stars at night from a campsite. Which can allow a person to see the bigger picture and feel part of a grand cosmos of inter-related beings and phenomenae. And maybe touch his own connection with the transcendent and the oneness of the uni-verse.

Or alternatively, you can feel depressed by convincing yourself we are all "just a bag of greasy water" as a Marxist lecturer in Paris once said to his students. And as Post-Modern lecturers are saying to their students in Universities around Australia. Apart from uni Lecturers of course... uni lecturers are Gods who have a divine right to tell us what to think, say and do with our lives. Somehow, I'm sure they don't include themselves in their reductionist viewpoints about humans.

Western Affluence and Teens

Working with Students again. And thoughts on Western Affluence.

A few days ago, after several phone calls, I secured a week’s work with my old employer in Brisbane. At the end of March, doing a week with 15 yr olds in the Mt Barney area – which I know well (see previous posts on the area). Just on the Border of NSW/ QLD, on the scenic rim of mountains, it’s a great area for outdoor activities. With spectacular mt Barney rising up alone to 1300m above the plain. And several lakes and outdoor centres. This center is “mt barney lodge”, a very nice campground/ B&B combo, right next to Mt Barney.
I ring up the center and fall on Stafford, an English immigrant who’s been on several camps that I’ve worked on (with other kids). He’s an ex-fireman and quite experienced in the outdoors. Funny to be talking with him, now working at the Lodge. I’m looking forwards to our “Recce” day –Beer and BBQ nxt Sunday, then recce on Monday.

Now I’ve had a bit of a break from kids, I can work refreshed… they can be hard work between about 14 and 17 … you always get a minority who are lazy, surly and obnoxious, which can test my patience to it’s limit, especially on expeditions when they complain about being asked to do their turn doing the dishes.

You really need 3 weeks of expeditioning to work thru all the “attitude” of some teens, and get them spontaneously working for the common good and enjoying the expedition. I almost prefer kids from “working class” schools – it might take some work initially to reduce their swearing, but then they are more receptive to new ways of doing things, very interested in rock climbing which they have never done etc And they chip in and do the dishes and tell off those who are lazy… I know from having had such a group up in Nth Qld.

Many of the problems of today’s kids stem from an excess of ease – to many video games, too much food, too much given to them and not enough asked from them. They end up lazy, sometimes rude and with a vague sense of discontent (which stems from not having pushed themselves either mentally or physically, or taken responsibility for anything, I reckon) which they can try and fill with drugs, hooning etc.
Meantime, Kids in Kurdistan work to support the family, and brave minefields to smuggle textbooks over the border so they can write down stuff at school… Lots of western kids need a month in Kurdistan/ similar in my opinion. They’d never take anything for granted again.

Affluence is good – If you know how to appreciate it, don’t take it for granted. Also you need to know the difference between basic survival needs, useful things, and luxuries – particularly if living in a city – or you become a treadmill of working to buy luxuries you don’t need and which don’t satisfy deeply. I find I spend easily in cities – Melbourne was fun, but there’s nothing else to do but spend… on cafes, meals out, transportation, rent…
Whereas in the campsite at Arapiles I lived for 140$ + 10$ per week (my food bill + fuel bill to Horsham and back) . it was like being in a natural monastery – eat, sleep, do challenging climbs, read, watch sunsets, talk with fellow travellers… no temptations like cafes and such, unless you drive a bit.
The campsite is 2$ per day… when the ranger can be bothered collecting it.

The Kurds wish they could have the Aussie std of living – but you need to learn to appreciate it if you are born in it. Hence the immigrants from Italy etc who do well in Australia – they can see all the advantages and know that their hard work here can make them rich, as opposed to their home countries, where Corruption/Governement regulations and taxes/ mafias skimming profits/civil War, can make it very difficult to get ahead.

Pear-Picking at Shepparton, Vic

1: Yorkshire couple Tom and Louise
2: Echuca figurants
3: The campsite at the farm
4: The dining area
5: The brits
Turnbull orchards 22 Feb. 09 onwards

After 2.5 weeks picking pears, the pears ran out on that farm, and we were told (on the last day) that apples would start in about a week. Interesting experience picking fruit – I got pretty fast towards the end, picking 3 bins a day (a bin is approx 24 sixteen kg bagfuls). Ie 3 times 35$ per day – 90 dollars after the 13% tax. Not all that good for 7 or 8 hours of hard labour. Plus there were some days where we were basically used as cheap labour – clearing a sparse field of fruit – taking 8 hours to fill a bin … 35$.
A lot depends on the farm you work on, and the quality of their trees in producing dense fruit. Some other pickers I talked to in town were doing 6 bins per day… now that’s good money.
Anyway, I saved 200$ the second week, after food and other expenses. Not too hot – the same as what I make in a day of Outdoor Instructor work , though this is not regular work (and more than this on expeditions). Given a farm with better fruit, one can make reasonable money, but one needs to shop around and put up with some bad work.
It’s certainly a job you can just turn up and find work in a day, if they happen to be picking that week. Good to have as a fallback.

Felt good to be using my muscles – I enjoy such work in itself, quite apart from the money I make at it.

Earlier entry:

Loving the social life – Alex the older guy who worked for Optus. Lots of French bacpackers . Crazy parties on Fri nite.
The work is not too bad – have to watch lower back ache. I stretch using yoga child's pose several times in a day, and get rid of compression ache.
Getting faster. Nice to have a break from spoilt kids…

The main entertainment at Shepparton is going to the Mc Donald’s in Town (!), buying a coffee , apple pie, and surfing the net for free… not much else to do, except maybe fish in the river and canals, which is what the 4 brit backpackers do.

Pretty dull place. One Saturday, I drive to Echuca with a nice Yorkshire couple. Enjoy the sights, swim in the Murray.

4 brits together – all got a tattoo of Australia on their thighs…
They are from Sheffield and surrounds. 2 of them do Thai boxing, and will travel on to Thailand where they will do a month or more of training in a Thai boxing academy – they let you train at reduced costs if you compete in tournaments.

Monastic experience at Arapiles

Arapiles 16 feb

Sunset last night – a red ball of fire over plains and eucalypts. Flat golden fields just outside the national park boundary. The gnarly rock of Arapiles rises out of the plain like an apparition. Mitre rock, much smaller, stands nearby.
I run along track, into sunset, then walk. Feel peace, transcendence .
Feel very fortunate to be here. Just to feel the peace and quiet.

Every morning, I gaze out on the flutings on the rock – a mystical beauty which draws you to climb it.
My climbing has improved. Much less nervous than a month ago when I climbed with Luther. I lead second pitch of D major, with overhangs, quite easily.

Climb with local Guide “Mookie”, A Canadian fella working for OEG. And seattle guy.
Do 100m “arachne” route on watchtower. Get a bit nervous on last few pitches , seconding – due to exposure (when you have a lot of empty space under you) . Need to be exposed to more exposure. Also need more practice placing gear quickly.

Friday, February 20, 2009

More Climbing at Arapiles, Vic

1. Alex and Max from queensland in their Van
2. The morning view from the campground
3. myself climbing one of the "organ pipes"
4. The rock of Arapiles rising from the plain
5. climbing
6. Roos at nearby Halls gap, Grampians.
(click on a photo for a large image)

After the horrible heatwave, and the terrible fires, I drove to Arapiles and climbed for about a week. the day after I arrived, Alex and his brother turned up in their Van ! these are the guys who got me climbing "trad" seriously in the glasshouse mnts in queensland. On their way to Tasmania. Climbed with them, and on other days with up to 3 different climbing partners... who were alone at the camp. Including a local guide called "Mookie", and a Canadian dude.

With an American from Seattle and the Canadian, did a 100m climb up a big pillar. Quite a bit of exposure to the emptiness up on the last pitches... still getting used to placing trad gear quickly.
Then drove to Shepparton and found picking work in a day, at Turnbull property. camping out with other backpacking fruit-pickers.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Halls gap, Grampians, Vic

1: View towards "The pinnacle"
2: Myself at pinnacle parking
3 onwards (not my photos). Viewpoints around Grampians, fun at Mc Kenzie Falls.

Quick roundup of last few weeks since Falls Creek 1700m:

Bright -> look for fruit pick around, half-heartedly, … realise Shepparton is better bet.
Go to Shepparton … bloody hot ! no shade in campsite, stinky marsh… aghhh
Drive around properties, ask if work. Meet other pickers – friendly.
They give me info … meet 2 quebecois pickers who were at Lennies’ last year.
Owner real nice guy, but says pears not quite ready yet. Best to come back Monday 3 feb. So I decide to shoof of, away from heat, 20$ campground.. to Arapiles. On the way, I decide to go to Halls gap instead. Wow – great slanting slabs of rock, wild-west style. Little ponds of water, wildflowers… quite alpine atmosphere. Peaks at 700m ,1000m .

I Go up “elephant’s hide” on foot – a slab of rock 400m or so at 20-30 degrees slope.
Also Run up to pinnacle from halls gap – uphill about 6km.

Then drive to Arapiles – there for 2 days … but heatwave !!! in vic ! 44 degrees !
So back to Halls gap, decide to check into a backpackers – for some coolth , free wireless internet and some company. Travelling in Van can get a lonely if one isn’t meeting people from time to time.

A group of Dutch backpackers comes in, and for a few days I am offered wine, play cards with them and have good fun. The Dutch are probably the most gregarious people I know. I cross country run mornings / evenings when it’s not too hot, and wait for the heatwave to go. Catch up on my emails etc.
Sleep in the van and get a 5$ reduction … to $20 . Also talk with a French couple from the same Paris suburb as myself, and Run with Arnie from Germany. The hostel has a big flat screen TV where one can watch videos. I watch the amazing Tennis final Federer versus Nadal.

Ring Shepparton and find out pear season hasn’t started yet. It’s either feast or famine regarding employement in this field, so best to wait a bit.
I talk with Arnie about Europe, it’s limitations re too many regulations, feudal minset etc. Also Irak – how it’s working now. His viewpoints are typically European – is terrorism really that much of a threat etc - , but he is intelligent and open to new ideas.
We do a bit of bouldering on rocks nearby.

Fri 6 feb
This morning I go off to climb with Alex from Canada. To a friction slab, 40m of climbing then an abseil. I do it gingerly the first time, few handholds – just small concave rests for the feet, and friction. Then Alex leads, then I repeat the route, going faster and more confidently.
Feels good, in beautiful creek setting. I wax eloquently about mountaineering and a few epics I had in Chamonix, the pleasures of mixed ice and rock climbing as we walk back to the hostel. Makes me realise I need to indulge my passion for mountaineering – by saving and then spending time in NZ.
Sat 7 feb
last few days, I've been cross-country running with Arnie and Alex, in the evening. My thighs are beggining to like a soccer player's thighs - big and round. Will help with the army.
Another scorcher today at 44 degrees... Great to have hostel for company, coolness, wirelless net...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Falls Ck photos

1: Closeup of the Brumbies (wild horses) I saw.
2: Just back from my 2 day walk, all geared up
3. It's sunny but there is a cold wind...
(Click on a photo to get an larger shot).