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Ebola and the carnival of death

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Am I the only one who sees this event here as the beginning of a very nasty carnival of death for west Africa? Because I just can’t shake the conviction that we are going to see a tide of death flowing out of that part of the continent that will make the bubonic plague look like a mild case of the sniffles. It already seems that the official death-toll may well be underestimated and as there is no cure or even an effective treatment beyond hydration and a plaintive plea to what ever deity one holds dear.
You see disease epidemics like this one are virtually unstoppable once they get rolling and this outbreak of Ebola is certainly rolling now.
Frankly if the disease can be contained within the African continent the world will be doing very well but even on that score I have my doubts because we live in the age where anyone can be traveling the world by the perfect disease incubators/infection pods in the shape Jet airliners

Trying hard not to abandon hope here but frankly all I can foresee is a carnival of death that may soon get to the point where there are not enough of the living to inter the dead. I really hope that I am wrong in my dark expectations but I see nothing to convince me otherwise.

Pessimistic mood on this one Comrades

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Guardians of the Galaxy the Sandpit review

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Yesterday I had to visit my doctor for myself and to take my son as well so once we were finished visiting the sawbones I gave in to my son’s repeated pleading and we went to see “Guardians of the Galaxy” and you know what? I it wasn’t a bad movie at all it both engaged and entertained us both which isn’t too bad from where I was sitting:

Marvel Studios’ new superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy is a smart, funny, self-aware bubblegum movie; like the recent X-Men film Days of Future Past, it features a retro playlist indicating an increasing possibility that middle youth, as well as actual youth, is an important target audience.

Chris Pratt (from TV’s Parks and Recreation) plays the Han-Solo-ish intergalactic freebooter Peter Quill, whose cynicism masks an inner hurt: he was abducted from Earth as a little kid just after his mom had died of cancer – a classic touch of comic-book fantasy, alchemising pain into superheroism – and always carries around the old-fashioned Sony Walkman with a mixtape his mother made for him. (A very prominent British producer once told me pop soundtrack riches like these induce stunned awe in indie film-makers – only the big studios can pay the staggering copyright fees.)

Quill has found himself in possession of a mysterious orb that certain ruthlessly villainous parties would like to have, and this compels him to team up with a ragtag crew of space adventurers whose story takes place in surroundings made to look like classic photorealist sci-fi paperback covers. There is a huge Tolkienian creature in the shape of a tree called Groot (played in motion-capture by Vin Diesel), the enormous musclebound, oddly coloured hombre Drax (Dave Bautista), a strangely beautiful female alien with the off-puttingly biblical name of Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Rocket, a cunning little talking raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, with hints of Nathan Lane’s Timon from The Lion King and the meerkat in the TV advert who says “simples”.

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The makers of this film managed to get the right mix of outrageous action with believable and likable characters. Its not at all  deep and meaningful, instead its a roller-coaster ride of colour and movement with a quite satisfactory conclusion. My boy loved the film almost as much as he loved having the bragging rights engendered by seeing it in the first day of its release. Me? Well at least I did not retreat to the land of nod as I did for the Lego Movie so I rate it as a good four on the five star Sandpit scale and that means you won’t regret paying yer money for the seat if you are accompanying a small person for a day out .

Cheers Comrades

The difference between appearances and reality

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Bjørn Lomborg click for source

COPENHAGEN – Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, wants to be the world’s first CO2-neutral city by 2025. But, as many other well-meaning cities and countries have discovered, cutting CO2 significantly is more difficult than it seems, and may require quite a bit of creative accounting.

More surprisingly, Copenhagen’s politicians have confidently declared that cutting CO2 now will ultimately make the city and its citizens wealthier, with today’s expensive green-energy investments more than paying off when fossil-fuel prices rise. But how can deliberately limiting one’s options improve one’s prospects? These sound more like the arguments of green campaigners – and they are most likely wrong.

The first challenge that Copenhagen faces in reaching its zero-emissions goal is the lack of cost-effective alternatives for some sources of CO2, particularly automobiles. Denmark already provides the world’s largest subsidy to electric cars by exempting them from its marginal 180% car-registration tax. For the most popular electric car, the Nissan Leaf, this exemption is worth $85,000 (€63,000). Yet, just 1,536 of Denmark’s 2.7 million cars are electric.

If there is one thing that distresses me more than  any other when it comes to warministas is their naive belief that the so called “alternatives” can be viable as this piece form Bjørn Lomborg argues in the piece that I quote that it needs much more than creative accounting and the pretense of viability .

Its certainty to be recommended to my readers who are interested in the issue of Climate change
Cheers Comrades
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MH17 blown up or finding God over the Ukraine

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As if we need reminding this is a horrible consequence of war, any kind of war can result in the death of anyone who gets too close to the battle ground. my question is why was a commercial aircraft over a “no fly zone” at all? Even if it was a thousand feet above the ceiling of that exclusion zone it was obviously not enough to avoid being targeted and shot down. As we are talking about the former Soviet Union here the assumption that the combatants would not have access to  sophisticated anti aircraft ordnance  capable of  downing high flying  aircraft  is obviously  catastrophically wrong.

Its also a horrible coincidence that the aircraft belongs to Malaysian Airlines, the company that brought you that disappearing plane trick not so long ago. Anyone want to predict the airline’s chances of survival now?  You might get better odds on them serving bacon sarnies on future flights.

Then again this might not have been a missile strike at all, it could be the result of the old favorite of a “bomb on the plane” itself and its location of destruction could be nothing more than a coincidence. Time will tell and reveal the truth, but by the time it happens we will have buried the bodies and largely forgotten the whole thing.

Cheers Comrades

image by request

image by request

SLAB

There is a lovely Aussie tradition of mates helping each other out on big projects and this film is an example of that tradition made manifest. My brother Peter has built himself a super new shed to keep his vintage cars in and today he organized the pouring of a concrete floor for about half of the shed ( the rest will be done in a few weeks time) after setting up the boxing laying the moisture barrier and steel reinforcing mesh he also arranged for a whole tribe of his mates to come out and help lay the slab. Fortunately his mate Charlie has done this sort of thing before so the end result was the beautiful floor that you see in my final shot. In keeping with another fine Aussie tradition after the work was done it was my job to cook everyone burgers and snags on the barbie and most importantly a few ales were shared to celebrate the end of a job well done.

Cheers Comrades

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Colour of the past

For a change of pace I wish to share this story of newly rediscovered colour pictures from the eve of WW2 in England. I just love this sort of thing in general but this in particular because the car featured is none other than a Morris Eight.

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Click Image for source piece and more pictures

Cheers Comrades

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Hell in the shadow of the high rise

Yesterday I visited the bowels of hell and it is actually a rather dull and dreary place that is far from being as glamorous as its public image would suggest.

You see I had to go to Surfer’s Paradise   so that my daughter could spend some time with her friend from Tasmania who was on holiday with her family there. The drive there and back  was nice for the conversation with my daughter , terrible for my back ( I am likely to be bed bound all day today as a consequence of the journey) but as it has been many years since I have spent any time on the Gold-Coast  I spent some of my time there at looking at just what sort of place it has become in that interregnum.

The overwhelming impression  one gets is of squalor with a veneer of tat  and pretence.  The footpaths are an unending patchwork  of different surfaces and pose a great risk to anyone, like yours truly,  who walks with a cane.  Once you raise your eyes to the many people on the streets its hard to see much real joy among them.  It seemed to me that most were trying very hard to  “have fun” with a rather grim determination.

To give my daughter the most time with her friend I spent most of my day reading  ” Dexter is Delicious”  I finished the book as it happens and in many ways it was a most apt read for the day because the Miami setting Of Jeff Lindsey’s novels are so very similar to the place were I was reading his clever prose. I also could not help but wonder about the lives of those people who serve the tourists because I did not see even one person in the shops and Cafes who looked even vaguely happy or even marginally cheerful .

By my calculation it must be more than thirty years since I have been to Surfers Paradise  and if I manage to go another thirty years before I again visit I will consider that  to be too soon for this old codger.

Cheers Comrades

Now this is a proper holiday destination.

Now this is a proper holiday destination.

 

On a wing and a prayer

Some say that Qantas’s woes are due to global economic circumstances others will insist that its poor leadership from Alan Joyce as their CEO Personally I say that both factors are right up there along with my personal favourite , namely that the era of cheap air travel will not last or be at all enduring, it has only existed this long because so many governments have, for political reasons and a desire to enhance national prestige been propping up so many airlines.  Essentially air travel has been heavily subsidised and no that this country has a government who won’t play the same game it hardly surprising that Qantas  is in such a dire circumstance. With that in mind lets consider the Union response as reported in the Fairfax press.

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Street marches? Digging their heels in? Do these dinosaurs understand nothing of reality? What it boils down to here is the simple reality that the choice is to have a far leaner Qantas  or no Qantas at all  and it would not matter a damn how many street marches they have  the public are just no longer buying into this kind of stupid industrial campaign and no matter how much the usual suspects will insist that we should keep the jobs in Australia their rhetoric is not matched by their credit cards when it comes to their own air travel. Oh its easy to propagate a sort of aviation jingoism about Qantas but if the flying public don’t vote with their bums and chose Qantas above the other purveyors of high altitude near death experiences then the company won’t be able to make a quid and if the company can’t make a quid then the protesting unionists may was well move their protests to their nearest Centerlink office.

On a wing and a prayer Comrades

The spitfire certainly is an elegant looking aircraft

The spitfire certainly is an elegant looking aircraft

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