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Monthly Archives: October 2008

About Aesop, and poultry farming

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So, the chickens have finally come home to roost in the global financial meltdown.  Who would have guessed it?

Well I have been, for several months boring everyone to death here commenting on the inadvisability (stupidity even) of acquiring large personal debt.

And I know some other people who will not be surprised.

The farmers of the world are an often maligned, underestimated and criticised sector of society.  Yet not only do they provide food and fibre essential for our civilisation, they are often repositories of profound wisdom about life and the universe.
They have acquired this knowledge, not only through formal education, but from lives lived in thoughtful observation of the natural and human world around them, and from the harsh lessons learned during their stewardship of land, water and environment. 
Self-evident truths, the products of toil, hard times, and dealing with the vaguaries of nature.

And farmers are inevitably grounded in common sense.  They know about risk……not the elective sort you take in gambling on the stock exchange with the mistaken view that economies and profits must inevitably keep getting larger…..the risk they have faced every single year of their lives knowing that they must accept the hand given to them by Mother Nature. 
They also know that happiness in this world is not dependent upon material possessions.

I have previously dealt quite adequately with the high flying corporate financiers and bankers who contributed to this financial crisis. (here)

There are however, other equally responsible co-contributors.
The individual borrowers who applied for and received loans beyond their means to repay.
It was their impetuous and impulsive choice to take a path of extreme indebtedness in order to own everything RIGHT NOW, without considering the time honored processes of previous generations which accumulated wealth and possessions gradually during whole lifetimes as a reward for hard work.
They have been seduced by the culture of greed and instant gratification which has pervaded our culture, especially during the last 3 decades.
It was never, ever going to be sustainable, and the farmers of this world could have told you so.

The old wisdom always applies;  If it seems to good to be true, then it probably is.

When you were offered finance up to 110% of the value of property, did it not, deep inside your heart and mind occur to you that something was wrong with both the arithmetic and the morality?

When, in your twenties, you married and demanded instantly a brand new house complete with every luxury item of furnishing imaginable, in exchange for a lifetime of debt, did it not trigger your intelligence to question whether this was either a necessity or indeed the reality of how life should be?

Have you never ever learned Aesops fables?  Did you not learn about the ant laying food aside for winter and the grasshopper squandering his resources irresponsibly.  Do you not think that these fables have been perpetuated for centuries because of the sound life principles contained within them?  Do you think they suddenly became irrelevant from 1980 onwards?
"It is best to prepare for the days of necessity"

Some will view my sentiments as unnecessarily harsh.
Truth sometimes appears that way.

Our civilisation will not support limitless consumption indefinitely.
Increased profits or Gross National Product are not indicators of quality of life, or that we are living life as it should be done.

We now have a whole generation which must either voluntarily understand the need to radically modify its fiscal behaviour, or be forced to do so by financial disaster and elective poverty.

And, ask a farmer to share his wisdom.

P.S.  For the purposes of this discussion I refer to the old-fashioned family farmer, and not the modern corporate farming conglomerate which will shortly receive a little GOF wrath as well.

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Mysteries of life; #3 Sailing craft

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                                          Why is it spelled Y A C H T ??

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Population control

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There!  No deceptive title. I've said the two magic words seemingly most feared and avoided worldwide by politicians, theologians and business organisations.

There seems to be very little discussion of population control taking place in the public arena.  Even less in political campaigning, religious synodry, or economic analysis, for all these fields of human endeavour have a vested interest in an ever increasing human population.

No lesser person than Sir David Attenborough (a scholar of both the environment and human behaviour) has drawn our attention to the fact that NOW is the time to address the incapacity of the earth and our technology to produce food for a significantly larger population, whilst maintaining some semblance of natural environment.

Numerous conferences discuss global warming, pollution of environmental atmosphere, land and ocean, AIDS and other viral epidemics, poverty and starvation, desertification, and the diminishing supply of the worlds potable water supply.
Am I just totally dumb, or are not every single one of these issues directly attributable to, and symptoms of, overpopulation of the planet by humans?

Very occasionally an intelligent outcome is achieved from a talk fest. Such was the Kyoto Protocol which was subsequently ignored by the USA and Australia in order to perpetuate their economic growth at any cost.
Fortunately most participants agreed to a reduced cap of greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, why not address the base issue here, and agree to a population cap for every country on earth.
High birth rates in third world countries are resultant from inadequate education and a lack of access to health resources.  It is also a family defence mechanism against a high mortality rate.

In developed countries there is no longer any excusable or legitimate justification for producing large families.
Self glorification or a public demonstation of fecundity are no longer  acceptable grounds for procreation.  The Australian Governments $5000 reward scheme for baby production is an example of political expedience over logical thought and long term vision.

I rarely get angry about anything I cannot control. Human ignorance and stupidity is an exception, for, theoretically, it should mostly be avoidable.
We, all humans on this little rock in the universe, are tenants in common.  What happens on one side of the world affects the other.  We have one constantly recycling air and water supply and limited physical resource of land on which to live and produce food.

So where are the aspiring political and religious leaders willing to address the issue.  Of course there are none.  Instead we have the Pope, Sarah Palin wishing to take fertility control out of the hands of individual women, and $5000 baby bonuses.

I give up.  Sometimes I choose to blog about some really dumb stuff.

P.S.  World human population is predicted to increase by 1 BILLION in the next 12 years.

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Corporal punishment is back

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The Bucket remains a fountainhead for those seeking impeccably researched knowledge and truth.

This one came printed inside a beer bottle cap.

"In ancient Olympic events, a false start could result in a whipping"

Seems like fair punishment for the crime to me, and well overdue for reintroduction in the 21st century.

I'll provide the whips.
Here are the crimes;

1. Politicians who change party allegiance after they are elected.

2. People with more than the prescribed number of items in the "fast checkout" supermarket queue.
(Punishment will be applied before they get to the checkout.  Little old ladies will be exempt. They can do what they want to because they probably have earned the privilege. Replace the whip with a tolerant smile;-)

3. Telemarketers.  I get to choose with whom I do business, or the charities I support. Not vice versa.  No exceptions. Never were. Never will be.

4.Unlicensed people who get caught driving cars, having either never bothered to get a driving licence like the rest of us had to, or driving whilst disqualified.

5. Judges who only give them a rap on the knuckles.
(Your Honor, it might be my child they kill when they get back in the car and drive again tomorrow, and sore knuckles only make them even more inept drivers.  The correct sentence is corporal punishment followed by destruction of the car they were driving.)

6. Plastic surgeons who get it wrong and mutilate human bodies. (Reconstructive surgery, to repair injury or deformity not caused by them in the first instance, is exempt.)
Cutting open healthy human bodies is gross stupidity.  

7. Everyone who constantly complains about how bad Australia is, and what a tough life they are living.
(whipping, then deportation to Zimbabwe)  Replace them with some talented politically- oppressed people from overseas who will have an enduring appreciation of just what a wonderful country this is.

8. Those who discard supermarket trolleys in any place other than within the boundaries of the supermarket property.
(whipping then community service 1 month as a trolley boy/girl/person…[ I just had the strange urge to pander to those who require politically correct language… won't happen again])

9. Shop assistants who have to finish personal conversations with each other before attending to customers.
(dual whipping, then we take our business to the opposition, before finding the girl about whom they were gossiping and telling her all that was said.)

10. Telephone callers who fail to adequately introduce themselves. (Indian Government whipping approval will be required before implementation)   Friends of our teenage children will be given a special dispensation because their parents are probably bigger and meaner than us.

11. Pedestrians on the wrong side of the crowded footpath.
In Australia the correct side to walk is the LHS.  GOF and his whip will be watching.
GOF himself will be exempt from self-flagellation on those occasions when he chooses deliberately to walk on the wrong side just to be obtuse and annoy people.
Friends who choose to walk 4 abreast blocking the entire walkway width in shopping centres will attract multiple, simultaneous whipping.

12. Anyone who takes financial advantage of an elderly, disabled or otherwise disadvantaged person.  Duration and intensity of whipping will be at the sole discretion of the aggrieved person.

I am looking for a team of voluntary enforcers.

Just call 1800FLOGGING for your free GOF-endorsed humane whipping device.

Now dear reader, if its OK with you, I might just go and open another beer to quench my insatiable thirst for knowledge.

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Beauty and the beasts

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Satirical lyricist Tom Lehrer during a concert tour 50 years ago urged his audience to adopt a social "cause"  to make society a better place in which to live.  He went on to describe how his own particular cause was "smut" and that he was in favor of it.  A bold stance indeed during the 1950's when a strict censorship regime was in place.  A committee dominated by God-fearing narrow-minded puritans was given the right to determine what the majority of other adults could read, hear or see.
During the 1960's radio stations were not permitted to broadcast the word "bloody" which frequently appeared in the lyrics of the popular Red Baron Song.  The "good old days" did have some redeeming qualities, but freedom of information was not among them.

Happily those times have passed, yet occasionally I am reminded of Western societies continuing reluctance to admire, acknowledge and respect the healthy human body as something of great beauty and functional wonder.

Producers of "Survivor" on television this year felt the need to consistently and annoyingly block out vision of individual contestants as soon as any small amount of "butt cleavage" threatened to reveal itself from within the bounds of clothing.

Following the conclusion of each Survivor episode, the same television station then went on to show a half hour of "news" with uncensored vision of victims of war, dead and shattered bodies, including children, followed by 3 hours of crime drama depicting humans being abused, raped, shot, stabbed, decapitated, dissected and post-mortemed…..all in the name of entertainment.

This is the true obscenity of our time.

Television in general seems totally obsessed with ensuring we never see vision of the female breast  (and, shame on me for even mentioning the word "nipples")  as though it was something hideous and disgusting, and likely to lead our civilisation into moral decline.  A very large number of us grew up with some quite intimate knowledge and appreciation of the human breast from a young age. 

By what standards of twisted morality are we on one hand permitted to view explicit images of the atrocities of war and yet on the other hand live in a society which still makes women feel uncomfortable about breast feeding their babies in public?
We are apparently still forbidden in 2008 to view one (well a matching pair actually) of the most visually beautiful and magnificently functional parts of the human body, without resorting to R rated material.

The well-cared-for human body is a thing of wonder, beauty, grace-in-movement, and if I am to have a "cause" then it would be to have it depicted tastefully, respectfully, non-pornographically, and artistically more often in the public arena.   Perhaps, just perhaps, that might even dissuade some who would otherwise be inclined to inflict violence upon it. 

(Ed;  The Bucket has a contractual obligation to publish most of whatever literary trash is thrown into it.   Whilst it could be interpreted that GOF simply wants to see more bums and boobs shown on his television, we accept that his primary motivation is to draw attention to this peculiar aberration in our accepted standards of morality.)

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Electrons; Good, bad, and not enough.

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I would like to launch on this forum my revolutionary, ground-breaking discovery in the field of molecular physics.

Except I don't know anything about the subject, so….something more earthy.

Mr and Mrs GOF chose to live in a location not serviced by the electricity grid of Australia.
Powering household energy requirements became one of our most challenging priorities.  Compromise became the inevitable reality.  We could have no ambition to own every electrically powered product ever known to K mart.  Alternative power is very expensive on a per kilowatt hour comparison with mains electricity, and every situation requires an individual solution.  No "one size fits all".

Hydro power was an option, except there was inadequate water during the 4 month dry season.
We built a wind generator which was not favorably viewed by God, who supplied temperamental winds.  Unimpressed by my persistence in carving a more efficient propeller and almost beating Him at His own game, He totalled the whole enterprise with a single bolt of lightning.
It was almost enough for me to demote Him from capital letter status.
God, it would seem, is not a very environmentally friendly dude.

We settled on a small solar power system for lighting, and powering small appliances, in tandem with propane gas for refrigeration and water heating.  Solar remains an expensive solution for these two high energy consuming applications.

Our electricity usage requires daily compromise and strict rationing of electrons.  We have a one- hour- only computer use allocation.  If Mrs GOF wants to photoshop,  then the world is spared GOF inflicting his blogging upon it for another day. The world would probably be a better place if Mrs GOF did a lot more photoshopping.
If the sun does not shine,( which is a frequent occurrence in an area of 150 inch annual rainfall,) then neither of us can use the computer.
And we never, ever, leave a light on if we are not using it.
Visitors incur the wrath of GOF if they forget to turn a light off. 
GOF Wrath is not a good thing.

We have neighbours who adopted an energy policy of "you can never have enough" and, along with solar have 2 micro hydro turbines, and a diesel backup generator.  They do have an adequate flow of electricity to power the complete K Mart whitegoods repertoire……..When the system is working!!!!   Which it frequently is not.  Their installation, maintenance and repair costs are high.

There is no intention in this discussion to make judgement of right or wrong with these two systems and start a bun fight between good neighbours.  Each system has both advantages and deficiencies.
Each is a compromise and an individual choice.

These same choices may well face all countries in the world on a larger scale as they grapple with the issue of increasing energy demands.   Coal-burning power stations are polluting our planet.  Nuclear technology can have frightening and catastrophic consequences. (Chernobyl).  Natural gas and petroleum products are a finite resource. New and alternative technologies are urgently required.

Just as our planet will not forever tolerate every member of its increasing human population driving its own individual petroleum powered motor vehicle, so also will there not always be a completely unlimited and cheap supply of electricity available at the flick of a switch.

It is time for the innovative, environmentally aware energy planners of our future world to step up onto centre stage, grab the baton, and start conducting the orchestra of world electricity consumption with a little less fortissimo and a lot more moderato.

And please turn the light off when you don't need it.  Thank you.

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Appreciating the little stuff #2

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British radio entertainment

My day begins at 5.30 when ABC Radio National broadcasts repeat episodes of classic British comedy programs such as "Just a minute", "My music", "My word" , "The Goon Show", Hancocks Half Hour, "Dads Army" and "Yes Minister"   

Simple, clever, old-fashioned comedy, and entertaining panel games from a long time ago, with some extraordinarily talented actors, comedians, wordsmiths, musicians and singers, most of whom are now no longer with us.

They always start my day with a smile, and make me thankful that these people chose to live their lives just to bring happiness into the world.
And their legacy lives on.

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False advertising

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Somewhere along lifes journey I have developed some antipathy towards false advertising.

Some years ago in Australia a company supposedly selling us expensive vitamin pills was revealed to be selling, well, expensive blanks.

I cringe every time I see a new laundry or womens beauty product being advertised which contains some newly discovered miracle ingredient that will purportedly act with some extraordinary properties not yet known to empirical science.

Yet I unfortunately have to admit personal guilt to having once advertised in a misleading fashion.
It was, of course, not my fault.
Very little ever is.

We go back once again to remote Papua New Guinea, an area with no roads, and numerous Government patrol posts……a small airstrip carved into the jungle surrounded by a handful of houses and office buildings.  To assist pilots in determining the correct destination, it was common practice for one building's iron roof to have the name of the airstrip painted in large red letters upon it.

Now it seems that a very young, and mostly innocent  GOF must have had a social event with some compatriots (less than 6) at his house.  My memory of this night is deficient.  We may have been conducting a deeply meditative religious ritual, although the empty Rum Negrita bottles I found the next morning could possibly provide evidence of some other reason for my lapse in historical recollection.
Whatever the reason dear reader, I was unaware that one of my distinguished guests had taken a large brush, and can of paint (white) up onto my roof during the night, and left a significant and unfortunately inaccurate message of graffiti.

All was well in my world until a year or so later when a Government team of painters arrived to spruce up the station, including my house and roof.  These talented artisans were not English literate, but they were professional and talented tradesmen and very experienced at painting large red roof signs.
After discovering some indistinct white-on-silver writing on my roof, they, in their infinite wisdom, chose to demonstrate to the skies and the universe their true artistic talent.

And so it came to pass that the following day, one very Christian pilot of a Missionary Aviation Fellowship Cessna 185 almost had a heart attack at the controls of his aircraft whilst flying the downwind leg of a circuit to land at the now apparently renamed "GOFS  BROTHEL" airstrip.

I am an innocent man.


PS.   I was not amused by this event at the time, for, apart from besmirching whatever little good character I might have had, there were also some serious bureaucratic consequences, but I nevertheless secured written apologies from those responsible.

Forty years on, and I view it in a different light.  Life is like that.

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