The Great Escape

The Great Escape

After writing the previous post about the Predator movie it got me thinking about other movies. Those with an escape theme.

This coronavirus crap has created an amazing opportunity for people to live out their great escape fantasies. Here is a light-hearted look at a few ‘escape’ themed movies, some of which have a tenuous link to this present farce.

The Great Escape:

A fantastic, if jingoistic, second world war movie and clearly the first one most people would think of. I am not advocating digging a tunnel under your floorboards of your house. But if you do please be aware of the neighbours. They are highly likely to snitch on you in this current climate. Remember; “We are all in this together.” Yeah; as if!

If you have an old motorcycle you could even try outrunning the local nazis – sorry – police. A lá Steve McQueen. Possibly best to wait for them to put up some barbed wire road-blocks first though. For authenticity.

Escape from New York

A classic dystopian movie made in 1981. Blimey! Nearly 40 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. This John Carpenter film was supposed to be set in the (then) near future of 1997. Right now, in the year 2020, the people of New York’s Manhattan island can actually try their luck and attempt to mimic the movie’s hero, Snake Plissken (brilliantly played by Kurt Russell) They’ll need a trustworthy taxi driver who knows all the routes and a ‘pimped’ Cadillac for the final drive.

New York City is on lock-down in real life. I wonder how much longer before some of the inhabitants of Manhattan attempt to cross one of the bridges… It could be very interesting.

Midnight Express:

Based on real events. Poor Billy Hayes got careless. He tried to smuggle some blocks of marijuana resin out of Turkey in the year 1973. Hardly the crime of the century but a bad move by young Billy. Now I am not trying to excuse the smoking or smuggling of even small amounts of cannabis but this one is a little more involved.

At that time in history diplomatic relations between Turkey and USA were not the best. William Hayes quickly became a political pawn. For the heinous crime of smuggling a small amount of dope Hays received a sentence of 30 years as the Turks wanted to make an example of him.

If you think Billy Hayes was harshly treated (and he certainly was) then ask yourself what the hell is happening to whole populations right now. The planet is under house arrest. Mostly on the say so of doom-data from a “computer model” produced by a Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, London. How the hell is that justified? Police swooping on anyone out for a walk in the park when they have previously been conspicuous in their absence for well over a decade (in the UK at least). Maybe like me, when you see that man’s name and the word ‘professor’, that’s enough. Yeah, exactly; Get a real job mate!

Papillon:

Probably this one belongs in my all-time top ten. Whenever this movie comes up I always refer to the 1973 version starring Steve McQueen as real-life Frenchman Henri Charriére – known as ‘Papillon’ for the tattoo of a butterfly on his chest. There is also a 2017 version which is supposed to be just as good. I must try and watch that. Bet it’s not on bloody Netflix though…Nope. Just checked. Typical.

The best thing about this movie (for me) is that it is set in the French equivalent of Australia. As recent as 1933 ‘Papillon’ was sentenced to life imprisonment within the penal system in French Guiana. This was the French way of hiding their prisoners as far away as possible. Amazingly it only closed in 1953.

From what I have seen of the coast of Australia that famous cliff-jumping scene near the end of the movie could have been filmed here. In fact, it took place from cliffs in Maui, Hawaii.

Escape to Victory:

Dreadful movie but a bit of a cult classic. Set in a second world war prisoner of war camp, starring Sylvester Stallone plus a host of real footballers like Bobby Moore and Pele. The allied prisoners play a game of football against the krauts  squareheads  boche Germans. While they are supposed to be showering after the game they break out through a tunnel dug by the French resistance into the changing rooms. Of course, they had just won the game despite heavy refereeing bias and constant German fouling. All in all, a corny and rather shit movie. Don’t you agree?

No obvious links to the present apart from the increasing tendency of your friendly police force to imitate the Gestapo. That will only get worse, trust me. When given powers above their IQ level it always goes to people’s heads.

Shawshank Redemption:

Surely everyone’s favourite escape film. Almost certainly the best ‘feelgood’ escape film and definitely one of my top 10 all time films (of any genre).

So much is great about this film it is hard to know where to start. There are top acting performances by Tim Robbins , Morgan Freeman and Clancey Brown to name but a few.

Perhaps the best thing about this movie is that truth and justice win in the end. Take note you hopeless politicians.

Battle Royale:

A kind of escape movie, made in Japan. Also, a kind of crazy movie. In fact, this one could become reality in the not too distant future if they try to keep up this global imprisonment farce. It follows a group of junior high-school students that are forced to fight to the death by the totalitarian government.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I can highly recommend it. But beware. It is not for the squeamish.

Final Word

If you think any of those films are far-fetched then consider this latest development. In the USA right now, there are people campaigning for the release (escape if you will) of real prisoners because of this virus thing. Really! You could never make that up. Even in the movies… Life is definitely stranger than fiction.

Get to da Choppa!

One of the best things about having a kid of Dani’s age is being able to introduce them to some old classics. Music, films or just lines from films – like this one: “Get to da Choppa!”

Recognise that classic line? It is possibly the best piece of acting never to win an Oscar. Often imitated (by old dads like me) but never bettered. Yes. It’s that line from the one and only Arnie!

Kid, you are gonna love it!

I came out with it the other day walking Dani home from school. A helicopter flew overhead – probably looking for someone out on their second walk of the day – when it just popped into my mind.

“Get to da choppaaa” I shouted, doing a bad Arnie imitation.
“What the hell was that?” said Dani.

Exactly. I had to explain that it was a great line, expertly delivered, from a fantastic film. Also, that he was going to love that film. That great 1987 movie, Predator. He soon became interested as I knew he would. Like all boys (and men) he loves all that kind of crap. Who doesn’t?

Netflix Let-down – Again

Ever since, he asks me if we can find the movie on Netflix. I knew it wasn’t there. Not just because I had searched for it recently, but because pretty much every film I look for on Netflix is not there. Their choice of movies is poor to say the least.

I believe part of the problem is that they give too much space and time to long drawn out series. Some are OK. Occasionally there is a really good series – Breaking Bad being the standard by which they are all now measured – but generally they are just average. And certainly too drawn out with no realistic finale in sight.  Why can’t they put up more classic old movies? Some seem to come and go. It’s almost like a game of ‘watch them while you can’.

I have the movie on DVD but it is packed in a box and stored – in Madrid. Typical.

Has anyone else noticed how bad Netflix really is? Whenever I search for a film I want to see (again) it is never there. Is that just my taste in films or has anyone else discovered the limitations of Netflix? Please let us know what you have searched for and failed to find on Netflix.

Youtube to the rescue?

We looked on youtube, but the full movie is not there. Dani just wanted to see the Predator after I had described it. So, I showed him the scenes available on youtube. Now, as expected, he wants to see the whole movie.

Incidentally Predator 2, made in 1990, is on youtube, in full. That was not a bad sequel.  There have been several others also. All fairy poor and to be frank, pointless. Most importantly, none of them have Arnie and definitely do not have any line to compare with this one…

 

Three Newfound Interests

Since arriving in Australia I have discovered an interest in three things that I would previously not paid much attention to. I have not quite gone geeky on them yet. But my curiosity is almost turning into a hobby. The three things are completely different too. But the one common denominator is of course clear: Being Australian…

Three Newfound Interests

First there is the bird-watching thing I touched on in previous posts. More on this one below.

Second. I have developed an interest in the residential architecture. Not as weird as it sounds (and no disrespect to architects) because there are some interesting styles of housing that have a definite time-line and reason. I think the houses tell a story about how cities like Sydney grew up.

Third (or lastly) is the convict history of Australia. I find myself reading about different characters whose actions and decisions basically shaped present-day Australia. I guess that one is excusable (not that the other two need to be excused. I think it is hard to come to Australia and not be interested in its convict past.

Anyway, more on the second and third of these new found interests to come in future posts.

Budgies – Smuggling them is illegal…

Due to its location and climate, Australia is home to a wealth of bird-life. Much of it is what us northern Europeans would call ‘exotic’.

For us poor northern Europeans our first experience of an exotic bird would have been our first pet, the humble little budgie. (Budgerigar to give it its full name). When I was Dani’s age everyone seemed to be buying a pet budgie. Now of course they are more famous for being smuggled inside small swimming trunks. Allegedly. Ours was a blue one, called Peter for some reason. Probably because of that old children’s TV programme Blue Peter. Or some equally daft reason.

Parrotry?

The budgie is not alone. This huge island is home to all sorts of cockatoos, lorikeets and other such “parrotry”. Is that even a word? Probably not, but I will claim it as it works to serve my point. Actually, parrots and lorikeets belong to the same family of birds while the cockatoos are from another group. The budgie is a member of the parrot family.

Twitching Again

Here are some of the exotic birds we have seen and managed to photograph. Not being a full on twitcher (yet) I only get to take snaps of them if I am lucky. Very lucky and very quick in most cases. We have seen quite a few more…

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Rainbow Lorikeets
The Galah – also known as the Pink and Grey Cockatoo

The galah is widespread in Australia and a member of the cockatoo family. It has a distinctive salmon-pink neck and underparts.

Little Corella

When I first saw the little corella I thought it looked like the psychopath of the cockatoo family with those big, wild, blue eyes. The large “eyes” turn out to be blue skin. They still look quite intimidating though eh?

Big Blue “Eyes”

Nothing New (for me)

I always did have an interest in bird-life. It stems from way back when I was Dani’s age. I used to go fishing with my grandad Danny (who our Daniel is partly named after). He not only taught us how to fish but he knew all the birds along the river, where they nested and could identify their eggs. He would often stick his hand into a bush where he knew they were nesting and pull out an egg to show us. He always put them back though. I loved all that. It brings back some great memories. When you go fishing you can relax and take in your surroundings.

Trying to get my lad interested in any such things is not easy. He would rather play with the iPad. That’s the (pre-coronavirus?) world in which we live. Will it change? Doubtful.

Other Types

Oz also has its fair share of birds of prey. Not just the ones frequenting the bars where rich businessmen go for a drink. There are plenty of large predatory feathered birds too, including eagles with wingspans of over two metres. We are yet to spot these however.

We saw this one the other day in a park near the wine tasting areas. The black swan.

I have only ever seen white swans and now I know why. It turns out that this is the world’s only black swan. Every bit as majestic as the white swan and it is native to Australia.

I hope to update this blog with more bird sightings as and when we spot them (and photograph them) and get Dani involved in doing it.

 

Dani Invents a New Board Game (Sort of)

Dani just invented a new game. To be more exact he merged two well-known games that often come together in the same pack.

This is ‘Chessdraughts’

Yeah, I know it’s a crap name but that’s the only thing Dani could come up with.

Draughts is the English name for the game. I think they call it ‘checkers’ in America. You could go the American English route and call it ‘Checkerchess’. Or ‘Chessckers’? Yeah those do sound a bit better… If you have a better name please let us know.

Yesterday, we arrived in our new temporary accommodation (more on this at a later date) to find the classic board games. Dani raced over and shouted “Chess”. But then when he opened the drawer of the box below the board he noticed the draughts pieces. Before I could even be bothered registering any interest, he had set up the board using most of the ‘checkers’ to fill  the middle of the board.

“Come on dad” he says confidently. “Let’s play.”
“Play what?”
“It’s a new game. Chess and draughts together.”
“Eh? You can’t play that. There is nowhere to move any pieces. Where are the draughts going to go?”

The Penny Dropped

I could only see a few moves for half of the pawns. I clearly wasn’t paying attention. Just as well the little lad was.

“Yes. You can move the knights. They can jump over remember?”
“Erm… Oh yeah.”
“Come on let’s play. What are the rules?”
“Erm… let’s see…”

Sure enough you could indeed start a game by bringing the knights into play. While I was still getting my head around it all Dani decided that the draughts pieces would move as normal and jump diagonally over other pieces to take (or capture) them. This would work for taking chess pieces as well as the ‘checkers’ discs. By the same method any draughts disc could be taken by the opponent’s draughts (As normal) and by a chess piece as if it was in the line of capture (just like any other chess piece capture).

Bring the Knights into play first…
After a few moves it opens up…

The Rules

Basically, played as mentioned above. Each piece moves and takes other pieces according to its own game’s rules. The only other rule we came up with was that the King was immune to the threat of the draughts. This allowed the king a little more scope for moving out of trouble near the end of game.

If any draughts piece makes it to the other side of the board, we decided that it would become a “super-king”. Three pieces high instead of two and able to jump and take two diagonal squares instead of one. Not that any ‘checkers’ made it that far in our games. It is far less likely than a pawn turning into a Queen.

The overall aim is generally the same as chess. Capture the opponent’s king. Simple eh?

It may not catch on, but it is another game anyone can play at home. Nearly every chess set comes with both game’s pieces, and of course the same standard board. Who knows it could become popular during these virus lock-downs? Give it a go…

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Mark Twain famously said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

He was right. When it comes to this corona virus story there is no end of misinformation. It is not just that however. The biggest problem is the complete lack of context. But then reporting these things correctly just might not have the desired effect. That of scaring the population into hiding, terrified, in their own homes eh? Think about it.

Here is a look at some statistical data and how it can put this present “crisis” into context. A serious, but sometimes light-hearted, look at some numbers the media will probably not be telling you (just yet)…

Finding Data – Not as Easy as it used to be…

Firstly a quick point to be aware of. Finding this kind of data is actually harder now than it was only a couple of months ago. More on this to come in future posts…

Italy

I love Italy (just thought I should say) so let’s start there. Italy is now supposedly the hot-spot. That’s if China’s figures are now to be believed -and we all know that China would not hide anything from the rest of the world right? 

There have already been reasonable explanations as to why the Italian outbreak was so intense (e.g. the extremely high number of Chinese imported as slave labour to make fashion items so they can be labelled “Made in Italy”). Similarly for Iran, being another area of high incidence. I decided to look into some data about Italy….

After a little digging I found a report on deaths in Italy between the 2013/14 and 2016/17 winter flu seasons. In those four winter flu seasons the report highlighted the following:

  • An estimated average of 5,290,000 flu related cases occurred in Italy, corresponding to an incidence of 9%.
  • More than 68,000 deaths attributable to flu epidemics were estimated in the study period.
  • Italy showed a higher influenza attributable excess mortality compared to other European countries. Especially in the elderly. (Does this last one sound familiar?)

Now for the interesting detail. In the “Results” section it lists numbers of deaths per season over this period:
“We estimated excess deaths of 7,027,  20,259,  15,801 and 24,981 attributable to influenza epidemics in the 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17, respectively…”

Those figures are quite a surprise eh? The first one has already been passed with this corona thing. But only if you believe that all the deaths in Italy this past few months were corona related and there are no (zero/zilch/zip/nessuno) normal flu deaths. Is that even possible in any given year? I think not, but I will come to this in a moment. It is also worth noting that in this study there were several strains of “flu” in action.

If you want to read the article yourself, in full, then here is the Link:  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1201971219303285

ONS Data…

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is, by their own words, “…the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and its recognised national statistical institute. We are responsible for collecting and publishing statistics related to the economy, population and society at national, regional and local levels.”  So its data should be the best place to start for UK cases. Right?
Wrong!

Up to week 10 they only had deaths by ‘respiratory disease’ (often brought on by influenza).  And this is quite normal, every year. Then came the government lock-down. What a surprise that (as of week 12) the numbers are being shunted under a new heading! And that heading is the star of the show, Covid-19 of course. What else? Over the coming weeks this ONS data will (have to) show that it is Covid-19 doing all (or most of) the killing. Once again we will be led to believe (more or less) that only the corona virus is killing people. This seems to be the case in most countries. However bad (or otherwise) this outbreak is, they are most certainly starting to ‘cook the books’.  (For Source Data: Click here )

Do you really believe that shit? Is this Covid-19 some super intelligent and scheming bug that can muscle other flu viruses out of the picture?
“Hey H1N1. Feck off. I’m the daddy now.” (“Scum” movie link there folks!)
“The Coronaleone family will make these other bugs an offer they can’t refuse.” (Yeah, “Godfather” reference there.)
Come on folks. It has to be time to wise up. This hysteria is mainly just that. Whipped up by governments and mainstream media presumably for some other (as yet) hidden agendas.

Germany

The German scenario has attracted a little interest from the mainstream media. Not least because it seems to have weathered the storm better than other European countries. Could it be because they have just been through all this recently? Well achtung baby…read on.

Around 25,100 people lost their lives in Germany in the exceptionally strong flu wave in 2017/18, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). This was the highest number of deaths in the past 30 years. The following season (2018/19), the flu caused 3.8 million doctor visits – less than half as many doctor visits as in the previous season. That following year some 40,000 patients were hospitalised “many with acute respiratory distress”. Does that symptom ring any bells? Yet there was no hysterical news about lack of respirators (vee haf vays of making you breath). Nobody proclaiming the end of the world was there? About either of these two flu seasons. I only found the data almost by accident. 

Maybe the German health system is so much better than Italy and the the rest of the world? Maybe the just took it in their stride. I wouldn’t know. Can anyone help out on that one?

What I definitely know however, is that in different years, in different countries there are huge numbers of deaths by flu. There will be various strains with various medical names. Sometimes called “coronavirus” – because there have been several already. This Covid-19 is only so called because it was a coronavirus discovered in 2019

When it’s all over…?

What will happen after the dust settles? It’s a good question. If my predictions are correct then that should happen sooner rather than later. Plus, there will be a lot of red faces trying to look as though locking up all your citizens was all the right thing. No doubt actually claiming that the measures worked in “preventing the spread of the virus”. There will be a lot of questions being asked.

Will it be the social distancing that made all the difference? Or the lock-down?
Will the death toll be as bad as predicted or not?
Should the governments have acted quicker or not?
I really don’t know the answers to these questions. Nor do I  particularly care what the politicians and media responses are. Those responses will almost certainly be biased and untrue. Twisted statistics etc…

The one thing I do want to know is this: What will the western world’s response be to China? We certainly need to become more self sufficient and less reliant on China. We also need to recognise and protect our borders a lot more. What is the point in putting your entire population under house arrest if you still allow flights in from the country which started the outbreak?

That type of policy has no sense, and no amount of lies, damn lies or statistics can make it seem otherwise.

End of Term 1

End of Term 1

There is was. Gone! In no time at all 10 weeks of school has passed.

Dani was the only one of his class who never missed a day – at school. I am sure some others did so their work online form home. But Dani was in the school every day of the term. One or two other kids almost made it but ‘fell off the map’ as Dani himself says. They used to give some sort of prize for that kind of attendance when I was a lad. And usually only one kid ever managed it.

A New Home Schooling

Now there is a new form of schooling that has pretty much been successfully trialled these past few weeks. Home schooling now does not mean teaching the kids yourself (as it would have done when I was in school). Now in this age of internet and online access (and in this particular case ‘Google Meet’) most of Dani’s classmates were following their teacher on a PC screen. Crazy, but effective.

I don’t blame the parents as such. The confusing and ambiguous messages coming from the NSW government did not help. Then there was all the scaremongering, courtesy of the media. Most parents just panicked and kept their kids at home. As far as I am concerned for no apparent reason. But time will tell… Meanwhile, Dani continued to go to school like a good little boy.

The Really Scary Thing…

The real scary part has nothing to do with that “c” word. It’s that ten weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye (seemingly). TEN weeks of school! Where does that time go? The most important thing for me is that Dani has settled in very well and made a lot of new friends.

Now it’s a three-week Easter holiday for the little lad. Three weeks of lock-down, effectively, if we remain in Sydney. Not a good idea. So, we hope to get away to a more remote setting – if we can. I have no idea what new measures the government are planning to bring in this weekend, maybe tonight. Time to check the news…

Dani’s First Term of Australian School Draws to a Close

First Term Down-under

Dani’s first term of Australian school draws to a close. Only two days to go. To say it has been an eventful first term for Dani would be an understatement. With all this coronavirus crap it has been an interesting introduction (to say the least) to life down-under for all of us.

I went for a jog this morning. Just after dropping Dani at school. I decided to go and check out the scene at Bondi Beach. The beach itself was empty. I am sure until this virus bullshit it would never have been empty at this time of day – ever! This was known as a 365 beach, never closing.

While the beach was empty the surrounding streets and grassed areas were busy enough. How long before they close off the streets and green areas? Any day now surely.

First Term of School Almost Over

Not that Dani has to worry about any of that nonsense. I do all that for him. That is to say I don’t really worry about it and encourage him to be the same. But that’s digressing slightly here. For more on that you can just read any of my ‘virus’ based posts (there’s a few of them here).

As for school. He likes it. I mean he really seems to like it. I really can’t complain on that score. Of course there is the odd day when he says he doesn’t want to go in. Especially when the kids in his class were disappearing to do the remote learning from home – i.e. over the last two or three weeks. Apart from that he has been great.

Lost in Video

Outside of school he is easily and happily lost in his daft iPad games. He will sit quite happily giggling away watching youtube videos of other people playing the bloody games. Nuts!

His personal favourite right now is a young man (American or Canadian I think) who demonstrates the various versions of games like Mr. Bullet; basically a bloodthirsty ‘shoot ‘em up’ game. Despite the primitive graphics it leaves very little to the imagination. Actually, I quite like it too…

He will get completely engrossed in these videos of videogames. So I asked him what he was doing the other day.

What are you watching Dan?
Look dad. These videos are by this man. They are great. I really like him. Look how many subscribes (sic) he has.
Subscribers.
Yes, subscribers. Loads. I am not subscribed yet, but I am going to.
Are you? How are you going to do that?
Just click on this button, look. It says ‘Subscribe’.
And then what?
I don’t know. But mum will show me.
Oh. OK. Well you will have to ask her first won’t you?
Yeah.

And back to the video watching. Seamless…

The problems come when you try to amputate the iPad from his arm. You would swear that you were torturing him. No different from any other kid his age though. Worse than that; try taking a mobile phone off a teenager. They would happily go without food first.

Easter Getaway?

And so, the Easter holidays are almost upon us and look destined to be ruined by this virus thing. Actually, it will be the government that does that, not some microscopic bug. But what can we do? I do not fancy being locked up in this apartment with no beaches or parks open. It’s time to act.

The problem for us is that our container is in quarantine somewhere in Sydney. It seems unlikely that we will be able to get its contents delivered for some time now. We have been managing with minimal furniture and utensils etc… Having to be in the apartment full time does not look like an option.

Best Bet

Looking at where we have just visited, there are houses and apartments for rent (still). Maybe many who have booked months in advance will not be going on their holidays. Those new rules released here yesterday suggest as much.

The main thing for me is to get out of the city. If we can. At least down in places like Jervis Bay the towns are so small and the outdoor space so big, that if you wanted, I am sure you can take your daily exercise with a long walk and swim on the beach. Effectively staying there for a couple of hours. Like you would on a (normal) holiday in fact. Then stroll back to the house. Without bumping into anyone else. Who would notice? Who would care? Beats being on lock-down in a city suburb.

I happen to think that Dani deserves it, so that’s the plan. But can we get out? What will be the restrictions come this weekend?

As always, we will have to wait and see…

Scaring the People into Lock-down

Final Word – Before Lock-down.

When it comes to this virus garbage, I don’t buy it. None of it. Well, hardly any of it. The powers that be are using it as a smoke-screen for other things. What exactly, I cannot tell you as I do not own a crystal ball (or know how to use one). No doubt this will all become apparent in due course. Meanwhile, here in New South Wales, there are more new rules to be obeyed…

Don’t be afraid…

The worst part for me is how they have used this virus to scare people. That is totally unacceptable. With the help of the mass media they have done a bloody good job of frightening the shit out of most people. If you read any of my articles on this scare ‘panic-demic’ you will see that I try to do the opposite. Almost belittling the threat. At least it may appear that way – but not really.

It is not that I am totally unafraid. I am one of the lucky few who has never had the flu (of any kind). Every time they come out with a new scare story, about some new strain that will wipe out x million people world-wide, I do stop and think. Maybe this is the one for me! I will get this flu this one time and the little fucker will finish me off.

But you can’t live your life hiding from something that you cannot see, hear or feel in any way – until you have it (I guess). I fully understand for the elderly or most vulnerable. But how many of those are there? It should certainly not be taking over the lives of everyone. Normality has to be the priority in these cases not hiding away and shutting down whole countries.

Breaking News

The New South Wales government passed new rules last night which effectively put people on lock-down – in everything but name. With some pretty severe punishments if you don’t abide by the rules. However, there are sixteen (16) caveats, nicely referred to as “reasonable excuses” – see below. Reading through the list it does seem as though there is scope for manoeuvre here. It looks like a test of how well you can blag it out with the cops then…

For the record, here’s the full list of reasonable excuses:

  1. Obtaining food or other goods or services for the personal needs of the household or other household purposes (including for pets) and for vulnerable persons
  2. Travelling for the purposes of work if the person cannot work from the person’s place of residence
  3. Travelling for the purposes of attending childcare (including picking up or dropping another person at childcare)
  4. Travelling for the purposes of facilitating attendance at a school or other educational institution if the person attending the school or institution cannot learn from the person’s place of residence
  5. Exercising
  6. Obtaining medical care or supplies or health supplies or fulfilling carer’s responsibilities
  7. Attending a wedding or a funeral
  8. Moving to a new place of residence (including a business moving to new premises) or between different places of residence of the person or inspecting a potential new place of residence
  9. Providing care or assistance (including personal care) to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance
  10. Donating blood
  11. Undertaking any legal obligations
  12. Accessing public services (whether provided by Government, a private provider or a non-Government organisation), including social services, employment services, domestic violence services, mental health services, and services provided to victims (including as victims of crime)
  13. For children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings — continuing existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children or siblings
  14. For a person who is a priest, minister of religion or member of a religious order going to the person’s place of worship or providing pastoral care to another person
  15. Avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
  16. For emergencies or compassionate reasons.

Numbers 1 and 5 look good to me. But with fines of $11,000 or six months’ jail? it’s a bit of a gamble…Watch this space…

Coronavirus – The Curious Case of Australia

The Curious Case of Oz

For some reason Australia seems to be bucking the trend to completely lock-down its population. That’s not a bad thing, but there are some odd peculiarities about Australia’s response and reaction to the current global panic-demic. Curious to say the least…

Australia should be in as bad a state as anywhere. Given the number of Chinese who live here and visited family in China over the kids’ summer holidays back in December 2019 and January 2020. If only a small fraction of the stuff that has been put out by the media (both mainstream and ‘social’) is to be believed, then Australia should be in deep. Yet the numbers of cases of coronavirus (and related deaths) refuse to go through the roof over here. Why is that?

Here is one theory.

Every year it is claimed that between 1500 and 3000 die of the (normal) flu here. In 2019 Australia actually had a fairly serious seasonal winter flu outbreak. That flu season ended in about October, only two months before coronavirus hit the news. It turned out that the 2019 flu season was not as bad as another outbreak in 2017 but it was still considered a biggy.

Could it be that most Aussies have been toughened up by recent flu? Two big flu seasons in the last two and a half years may have just made all the difference.

The government is stubbornly refusing to go into full lock-down. Holding out, it seems, as long as possible. What are they waiting for? Every other (western) country has totally panicked and gone for it. In that respect (at least) there is nothing to be ashamed of. Are they really that brave? Are they really not falling for all the doom scaremongering like the countries in Europe have (for example)?

Waiting for that rise? Or Worse?

Could it be that they are just waiting for the statistics to rise? Worse still, have they been (almost) trying to increase the numbers of infected by allowing the situation to fester? If you think that is a crazy accusation, then look at some of the recent actions and/or knee-jerk responses…

  • Flights from all the supposedly high-risk countries were allowed to continue until very recently. The same goes for foreign nationals arriving from these places.
  • No quarantine for arrivals from (supposedly) infected areas such as China, Europe and Middle East until just now.
  • Suddenly (only yesterday) deciding to quarantine all flight arrivals in hotels! How many hotel beds are there in and around Sydney airport? Anyone know? Because within the 14-day quarantine period, at present rates of arrivals, they could well need over ten thousand rooms! (see below for more analysis on this). And who is going to clean them all -properly- afterwards?
  • Allowing cruise ships with known cases of the virus to dock in city centres and disembark thousands of tourists who would be either infected or potential carriers.
  • First allowing some schools to close then telling them to re-open. Then telling parents to keep their kids at home but making it ‘clear’ that schools will remain open.

It is hard to see what they have achieved or hoped to achieve with some of these actions.

What the hell are they waiting for?

So, what are they waiting for? Any ideas? Is there some magical number of confirmed cases required before they say “Aha. See; we told you what would happen. Now we are locking you in your homes until further notice.”

Or is there a death count figure they need to reach? It really is a curious case in Oz.

In some ways what the government here has already done is as bad as total lock-down. I mean closing the beaches! It couldn’t get any more un-Australian could it? I am sure there are plenty here who would accept lock-down if their one permitted daily exercise was a walk to the beach. Taking into account ‘safe social distancing’ of course. That would include surfing,  which naturally requires keeping a safe distance.

It seems people are already getting fed up. Before they even lock them up! So why don’t they just get it over with?

Fortune Favours the Brave

On the other hand, this could all be seen as a good thing. Maybe the Australian government is actually trying to tough this one out. If they can hang on in there for just a couple more weeks, the countries in Europe may declare the virus is on the way out and lift their totalitarian, martial law rules. Then Australians do not have to follow the trend like sheep.

I am not very optimistic when it comes to politicians, and I have been expecting a lock-down any day now for well over a week. But maybe, just maybe this is what is happening. If I am correct (and I hope I am) then the present Prime Minister could become the biggest Aussie hero of all time. The man who went against the global mass hysteria and won. The bloke who held his nerve. The world leader who rode the wave of bullshit and came out clean. Suffice to say I won’t be holding my breath on that one…

Doing the Maths…

OK folks. No rocket science here, just simple arithmetic. Working on a 14 day (2 week) quarantine period here is a reasonable example:
On the first day of quarantined flight arrivals (last night) the police stated there were some 1500 people put into hotels near the airport. They expected a similar number on day 2. If the average number for the first week is say, 1200, then that makes 7 x 1200 = 8,400.
The second week, just before the first lot of arrivals can be allowed out, would be a 6-day period. Let’s assume the numbers would be less as most would have got back home during the first week. Say, 800 per day on average; 6 X 800 = 4000. Total needing quarantine will be about 12,400.

There are simply nowhere near enough hotels in any one area to house so many people (in this case near the airport and without encroaching into residential areas and the city). There are about 14 large hotels in that area which have on average about 150 rooms. (Many have large suites but you cannot mix people as it defeats the object of quarantine. Some arrivals may find themselves with a lot of space!) That makes for approximately 14 x 150 = 2,100 rooms. Way short of the required number. And who is going to pay for all this? Free meals and hotel rooms for two weeks?

As usual the numbers do not make sense and the ability to cope with such numbers just does not stack up.

On the plus side however, if you feel like putting your feet up and having two weeks of free meals you could always turn up at the airport (with luggage) and pretend to have just arrived. Simply hover around the “Arrivals” door looking lost. The wonderfully kind Australian border staff and police will escort you to your hotel room – free of charge! And I am sure there will be toilet paper!

Jervis Bay – Day 2.

After a long and active day out yesterday we almost took it easy today.

Walking on Water

We only visited three or four beaches and a freshwater lake called St. Georges Basin. The lake is almost impossibly shallow for some way out that you can almost appear to be walking on water. See the photo below of Dani and his dad “walking on water”.

Walking on Water

Beach Checklist

You could make a list of beaches in this area and spend a good fortnight’s holiday just visiting them all. Most of them are superb and have the same fantastic white sand as Hymans Beach (see yesterdays blog post).

Today we visited Shark Net Beach (not as scary as it sounds) and walked around the point to Huskisson Beach. Later we drove to Callala Beach and spent some time in the sea. The sand on Callala Beach is as good as Hymans but there is a great deal of seaweed on this shore and this gets washed up and dries out. So, while Hymans Beach has long undisturbed whiteness, Callala Beach in comparison appears speckled – almost in need of a sweeping. Still great though as there was hardly anyone around. Then it was off for a picnic on the nearby Callala Bay beach.

Return to Sydney

Sadly, a great ‘free’ weekend was almost over and it was time to return to Sydney. When we returned to the city it wasn’t with a sense of impending doom. It was more a quiet resignation. Reluctant acceptance of our fate.

And yet…

Lock-down is still (somehow) not a reality here. The government are doing all they can to postpone the inevitable it seems. Now they are saying that gatherings of more than two people are not allowed outside. While at the same time closing parks and public open spaces. This will effectively confine most people to their homes. However, schools are to remain open. Amazing really, but what can you do? It’s the blind leading the blind anyway so who cares?

I am trying to look beyond all this nonsense. But I have a clear feeling that things may never be quite the same after this farce is over.