Friday, February 12, 2010

And, normality resumes

Last week I actually agreed with something Andrew Bolt said.

I knew it was too good to last.

The byline from the front page of the Herald Sun website, with Andrew's new article:

"IF he hasn't yet burned down your house, lost your cash or fried the guy in your roof, you might laugh at Kevin Rudd's latest joke"

Andrew Bolt, on the front page of a prominent news site, accuses our Prime Minister of Arson. He says, right there, that Kevin Rudd is burning down peoples houses. Also, I won't be sleeping tonight, because up until now, I didn't know there was a guy in my roof. God only knows how he got up there, what he's up to, and - most disturbingly - how Andrew Bolt knows about him.

But it gets better. On the Prime Minister:

"He's come up with this excuse for the drop in his support: that he still hasn't sold you enough spin.

Swear to God! That's what he said...."
Except he admits, in the next line, that the Prime Minister actually said something completely different:
"Here are his exact words: "I think our challenge is to communicate more effectively that which we have done.""
I can see where Andrew got confused. The word "That" is in both sentences. 
It's a good thing Andrew is a professed atheist, because swearing to God and then admitting you're fibbing in the next sentence isn't looked on too kindly on by most deities.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Good lord

Some of the comments on this article make me ill:

"Is anyone surprised that this is happening under Australia's mandarin speaking prime minister?"
Yes. Because learning another language means... what, exactly?

"Could you just imagine if K Rudd and his bunch of misfits were in government back in 1942? They would have engaged the Japanese to make armaments and clothing for the Australian digger serving in New Guinea. Why doesn̢۪t he just hand control of our intelligence gathering over to the Chinese as well?"
You get that we're not actually at war with China, right? 

"Not only as a member of the RSL but as importantly a Proud Australian Citizen I feel a huge sense of anger towards the Australian Federal Government to even consider such a deplorable move to have OUR uniforms that are worn by our brave men and women to be made in ANY country other than Australia. Mr. Rudd your relationship with China has gone too far and you are a disgrace to the Australian flag."
Bet if we took a look around your house we'd find plenty of non-Australian made merchandise, wouldn't we?

"So we can drive tanks from the USA and use rifles from Germany but we can't wear unifroms from China. Smacks of racism to me."
A voice of reason?

Seriously, we use planes, helicopters, guns, expertise from countries all over the world. Half of our clothes, a lot of our electronics and countless other things we never think about day to day would be made in China. 

What exactly is our problem here?

Friday, February 05, 2010

He's got a point

It's certainly not usual for me to read an Andrew Bolt article and find myself nodding along in agreement, but this story makes a lot of sense.

Black Saturday, in terms of the history of bushfires, was an anomaly. A rare, devastating event the likes of which we've not seen before. It challenged some of the advice given by the fire-fighting authorities, and provoked a Royal Commission which increasingly looks like a witch-hunt, given the individual authorities are represented by one legal counsel, meaning their individual interests will not be served by that counsel.

The big question for me though, is do we reject conventional wisdom - based on years of studies and a history of success in survival rates in bushfires - or do we abandon what we know based on one catastrophe, that we don't know for sure will occur again?

I used to live in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. My family - the family I lived with when I first came to this country, still does, just inside the borders of the National Park. There's a verandah out the back overlooking the valley, and we used to sit there, feet on the railings watching the fires crest the furthest hill - three or so kilometres away - and be told there was no immediate danger.

That was based on the advice of the park rangers and the Fire Authorities. If that had been Black Saturday, leaving even then may have been too late.

How do you prepare for something like Black Saturday? Do we flee every time when a Code Certain Death is called and gradually become complacent as to when to go, ignoring that the best advice previously - the most successful strategies - have always been based on preparing yourself and your property and knowing how to defend yourself and your property? Do we wipe the advice based on years of study and go with Code Useless Panic evacuations that will gradually ebb away the diligence of people evacuating, so they're neither preparing themselves in the most effective way possible, nor leaving before it's too late?

I don't know the answers. It would be a shame if we don't learn anything from Black Saturday, but shouldn't we be careful that what we put in place is based on fact and not on Panic Overdrive?

We drove up to Kinglake on Australia Day, and the devastation was terrible. But looking at the trees, nature knows how to repair itself. Let's hope the communities do as well.