Thursday, March 30, 2006

Australia to get C-17 Airlifters.

"Amateurs talk tactics - Professionals talk logistics". Something of a military truism.

Rome controlled much territory with a relatively few legions. Possible because they could get those legions to troublespots via the network of very good Roman roads. Airlift and sealift are the modern equivalent.

A small military force, or needed supplies, that you can get to where they're needed, beats any size force that isn't where it's needed. Australia's Hercules transports, and now, C-17s when we get them, have the same effect as those Roman roads in projecting either military power, or helping in civil emergencies - like cyclones and tsunamis.

The C-17 has an impressive factsheet. A payload of more than 170,000 lbs (77 tonnes!) means it can lift roughly 5 times what a Hercules (C130-J) can over a longer range. Welcome aboard!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Direct Democracy.

You may note from my by-line that I favour Direct Democracy.

Australia has referendum imbedded in our constitution. The other 2 components of Direct Democracy are are Initiative and Recall.

Initiative being a law proposed by the populace (via a petition process), or the striking down of a law by the populace - a veto.

Recall being the sacking of a public official by the people. An example being the sacking of Governor Davis in California and his being replaced by Arnold Swarzenegger.

Government too often tends towards being a kleptocracy, and I'd argue ours is tending towards an oligarchy, rather than a democracy.

Direct Democracy is the way to put our politicians in their place, and on a short leash at that.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Our ANZAC cousins across the Tasman...

Kiwis. EnZedders. New Zealanders in other words. Australia and New Zealand seem to me to have a very similar relationship to that shared by the US and Canada. I strongly suspect that Canada and NZ spend more time thinking about the relationships than do their bigger neighbours.

That diminishes the argument unfairly however. OK, we are both part of 'the Anglosphere', but NZ is family as well as friend, who happens to live right next door. We have a great deal in common, shared values, and if it got down to it, our potential foes are the same. (In East Timor 1999, it was the Kiwis who took the next biggest weight after Oz, they put in a damn good effort, unfortunately with casualties). The shared ANZAC tradition in WW1 goes without saying, although our immediate interests diverged in the Pacific campaiign, particularly PNG in WW2 - NZ stuck more with the UK then, which is hard to understand, since NZ's position would be interesting if the Japanese had made it onto the Oz mainland.

Aussies sometimes refer to Kiwis as 'South Sea Poms', arising from a perception that things British have a heavy influence on New Zealand attitudes, and policy. Australia on the other hand arguably tends to be more independent in terms of policy and national attitude, if anything, leaning towards the US ways of thinking than the UK (well, around Sydney at least).

A lot of Kiwis live in Australia, east coast predominately (Bondi used to be well known for the number of Kiwis living there), mostly it would seem as economic immigrants. Good luck to them, if they can do better here, go for it. They don't cause the dramas many groups do lately (eg middle eastern enclaves) and they undoubtedly contribute more than they take. The numbers seem mostly to flow from NZ to Australia, but I doubt that is the whole story - there are many stories about Aussies buying retirement properties in NZ (ex NSW premier Bob Carr being an example).
I wouldn't mind checking out my NZ retirement option out either - at least I could pursue my hobbies - in NZ the gun laws are more reasonable than the unworkable ones we are lumbered with in Australia.

The subject of expats comes up reasonably often in NZ, most recently on '' and I found that from reading Murray's post on one of the best blogs I know of - which happens to be a NZ based blog - 'Silent Running'. Hat tip Murray.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Remember ISS - the International Space Station.

It's sometimes observed that 'When you're up to your arse in alligators, it's sometimes difficult to remember that the original intention was to drain the swamp'.

Well, NASA hasn't lost sight if it's long term goals. Let's hope humanity doesn't lose sight of our collective goal(s) either. We all have individual goals, hopefully we share some goals as well. Some things above the basic human requirements of Food, Shelter, and Clothing. For I believe humans need something more than these basic things. We can call it, or them many things. Hope. Challenge. A better life for our children. The big project - be that via our employment or a personal goal. Jefferson distilled it to Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness. (And that needs to apply to us as individuals - not as defined by some elite who take it upon themselves to define what we want or need - that has always degenerated into what that are prepared to let the plebs have, rather than wahat they/we want or need).

I hope that some day in our future, we as human kind will have the option to board an immigrant spaceship, as our ancestors once boarded immigrant sailing ships. Ready to build new societies with renewed freedoms wherever we have the courage to go and start anew.

NASA and the ISS, and the various other organisations that look to space, take the small steps for us towards that goal.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

One very brave lady.

An incredibly brave lady, Dr. Wafa Sultan appeared on Al Jazeera TV in a televised debate with a Muslim cleric. From what I can see she had the guy for breakfast.

Watch the (subtitled) debate here.

Read the transcript here.

(The lady is apparently now under protection after receiving threats). Dr Sultan tabled some rather unpoular home truths, which weren't well received. Some highlights;

"...he calls the Christians "those who incur Allah's wrath." Who told you that they are "People of the Book"? They are not the People of the Book, they are people of many books. All the useful scientific books that you have today are theirs, the fruit of their free and creative thinking..."

and more;

"...Wafa Sultan: The Jews have come from the tragedy (of the Holocaust), and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. 15 million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them....".

Interesting, Dr Sultan has debated such a cleric before, in July 2005.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Another Blogger has cause to think like Tim Blair...

In my previous post, Tim Blair had reason to muse;

"...I recently had cause to be contacted by authorities who asked if I might feel safer with police patrols outside my house or, should the need arise, a brief relocation to somewhere unfindable. The offer – unsolicited, very much appreciated and not taken up – wouldn’t have been worth even a second’s consideration if I was allowed to keep a decent firearm...."

Pamela, over at Atlas Shrugs, had reason to reflect on that same subject, due to hate mail and actual actions of a nasty. Pamela at least has the ability and means to look after herself

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

John Howard and those nasty guns.

Tim Blair in the Bulletin had a bit to say about our hoplophobic PM ("..guns. I think they’re evil....");

"...Guns aren’t evil, as anyone who has defended their life with one can tell you. I recently had cause to be contacted by authorities who asked if I might feel safer with police patrols outside my house or, should the need arise, a brief relocation to somewhere unfindable. The offer – unsolicited, very much appreciated and not taken up – wouldn’t have been worth even a second’s consideration if I was allowed to keep a decent firearm. Bad guys turn up? Bang. Maybe one extra bang, to make sure. Goodbye, bad guys.

“Aha!” you’re likely saying. “But what if the bad guys were also allowed to have guns? Not feeling so tough now, are you, Mr Trigger-Happy Clint Eastwood Wannabe!” So what’s changed? The bad guys already have guns; it’s part of being a bad guy. If you’re the sort of person who’s inclined to use a gun to murder someone, you don’t generally worry about breaking a few gun-ownership laws along the way. Excessive gun laws – such as we have in Australia – merely concentrate gun ownership in that sector of the population you’d least like to own guns...."

The current entuhusiasm fo gun control only goes back 10s of years. The philosophers of 'The Enlightenment' held quite a different view. Their ideas seem to work By way of contrast, the social engineering of the last 30 years doesn't work very well at all;

"... arms... discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. ...Horrid mischief would ensue were (the law-abiding) deprived the use of them."

-Thomas Paine.
"...False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes..."

- Cesare Beccaria, as quoted by Thomas Jefferson's Commonplace book

Which leads me to think that the Statesmen of yesteryear knew more about what actually makes humans tick than do the politicians we are saddled with today.