Chinese Leftovers

No, I’m not talking about Taiwan.

I mean the oblong plastic containers that h0ld the remnants of last night’s takeaway. They  are the most valuable asset that you can find in the fridge:

  1. If you were not a cook last night, it is doubtful whether you will be one tonight. Skill with cuisine doesn’t set in at 3:00PM . Those leftovers are what stands between you and hunger at midnight.
  2. If you look critically at what is in the containers you’re likely to encounter meat, vegetables and rice in considerable quantities. I’ve no idea whether it has gluten, lactose, fructose, sucrose, or twinkletoes, but if you eat a little from each container you are likely to have a balanced meal.
  3. It is all tasty. Depending upon which uncle or cousin was cooking there will be various Asian spices in the mix and enough variety in the textures to make for an interesting dinner.
  4. It is paid for, and will not last longer than another day. Eat now, or waste money. Which should not be a matter for any debate.
  5. We need the container for model airplane parts so hurry up and wash it out.
  6. That’s all that is on the menu tonight. Eat or starve.
  7. You’re allowed to drink Goon with Chinese leftovers with no loss of social status.

On The Trail Of The Lone Pine

If you are a weblog columnist, rather than just a weblog reader, you may have experienced this before; you go to your ” Draft ” column and find a title that seems unfamiliar. You open it and find that it is just that – a title with no essay underneath it. As you are the only one with access to your dashboard, you know that you wrote that line…but have no idea what the heck you intended to say with it.

It is like a signpost to a wilderness. That title at the top of this is just such a one.

Well, wildernesses are supposedly valuable and everyone tells us they are being swallowed up by encroaching suburbia – perhaps if I wait long enough someone will build a strip mall or a tyre dump on that page and it will stop being a blank. I would welcome this, as it would at least give some meaning, albeit vile, to my mind.

We were often told in the 60’s and 70’s to let our minds run free and to imagine that we had a right to do everything. That was a fine idea for white, middle-class westerners who had dinner waiting on the table that night and a prospect of the same every for day for the rest of their lives. The Africans, Asians, and South Americans had the prospect of being downtrodden by powerful overlords. The Eastern Europeans and Chinese had the prospect of the same thing by the faceless Party. Their minds were only allowed the freedom of wondering where the next meal would come from.

Well, times is changed. The Chinese are getting regular meals and feeling more confident in their ability to do things. The Eastern Europeans have changed the old Party for the new Czars. The Africans and the South Americans still get the old recipe. And the West gets the prospect of joining them. I hope Australia can dodge it.

Of course it may only be a matter of time before we see the next regional war – the trick will be to avoid being drawn into it. I am hoping that the Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs, and Persians will finally settle their differences over religion and territory by diplomacy instead of the good old-fashioned way…But they are who they are…As long as we can avoid being the shore upon which their burned-out warships wash up, It may serve to clear the air wonderfully. I shouldn’t wonder if Africa and South America could not do with a bit of this same old-fashioned practical diplomacy themselves. If nothing else, it would take their minds off football.

The North Koreans? They are a problem for the South Koreans and the Chinese and the Japanese and the Russians and themselves. A half-salvo from an OHIO and they are no-one’s problem anymore, ever. And they know it.


A Pile Of Pooh

The news that Communist China is banning pictures of A.A. Milne’s characters from internet use came up as a slightly hilarious story in Facebook. Apparently the character of Winnie The Pooh is used as a substitute for the head of the Chinese government in mild political satire. The Japanese Prime Minister is likened to Eeyore and the former American President has been depicted as Tigger. None of the drawn messages are rude, but the fact that they allow the Chinese people to poke fun at authority is considered too dangerous.

I am not surprised at this attitude in Asia. The perceived dignity and prestige of the mighty are so very much more valued than free speech, that no deviation from any sort of party line can be expected to be tolerated. It’s as much Confucian thought as it is Communist.

Personally I think the Chinese leader is making a mistake. If you are going to be seen personified in anything, a child’s favourite book character would seem to be a charming and lovable image to put forward. The world is full of enough monsters as it is… take a good name when you can get it.

Good Morning, America.


It is a good morning. It’s election day.

It’s the day your ancestors earned with Lexington, Saratoga, and Yorktown. And you kept it with LEXINGTON, SARATOGA, and YORKTOWN. Good for them and good for you.

Go vote. Vote for the candidate you think is best for the job. Vote according to your own opinion – not the memes of Facebook or the television’s paid commentators…or the umpteen dozen polls that have flooded the net. You have a brain. Use it.

And disregard the overseas detractors that say the country is doomed. They’ve been saying that since 1774 and they’re wrong. The nation has survived war, famine, disease, and pestilence for over 200 years and it will do so for 4 more no matter who gets to be President.

I can examine the records of the chief executives of the US for the last 68 years and find loudmouths, crooks, and political pansies. Sleazers, geezers, and breezers. Loons, toons, crackers, and coons. I can also find genuine patriots, heroes, and able planners. In every administration, each President has made seriously good decisions, and seriously bad ones. They have also all had pieces of good luck and bad luck. The country has survived.

Go out there and do your duty – and do it with pride and pleasure. Regard it as a holiday for your spirit. The rest of the world can govern themselves for a day ( or not…) while you govern yourselves.

The rest of the world will not shut up yapping – the internet and their own egos will make sure of that – but they cannot go into that ballot booth with you.

The Guild Firmly Endorses The Righteous Decision Of The Duck Government


The Central Control Committee of the All-People’s Righteous Thirty Second Conference of the Backstabbers Guild of Australia has issued a definitive statement endorsing the correct stand taken by the Duck Government In Beijing* against the arch-hegemony of the terrorist collaboration between the running dog imperialist forces of the American navy and the Dalai Lama.

No longer should the all-mass of people be forced to listen to the defence of these kulak-inspired revancist counter-revolutionary dangers to peace. How dare the European Union allow the spiritual terrorist to visit their small and insignificant countries while spreading the poisonous doctrine of kindness!  Do they not know that it displeases the Central Committee of the Duck Communist Party?

The resolute workers and defenders of the Righteous Ducks Of Heaven, except we do not officially believe in heaven, will stand up to this as they have resolutely stood up to the American neo-colony of the Philippines and the ungrateful cousin ducks of Vietnam. As we write this sand dredges are being prepared for action and will be sent wherever in the world that the Tibetan arch-fiend is welcomed. They will valiantly dredge up everything they can, separate out the valuable bits, and dump the rest in a pile in whatever waterway they can find.** This will show them.

Note: The 5-yearly flooding of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers with starvation and disease will now take place yearly due to the absence of sand dredges required elsewhere. Residents of the Yellow and Yangtze flood plain are requested to dig their graves beforehand to avoid the rush.

Practical help will be rushed to the Central Committee by the Central Control Committee as soon as bags are available. We have reports in from Eucla, Norseman, and Balladonia and we are pleased to see that sand has been discovered***.

  • *As opposed to the Duck Government In Taipei. Or, as we prefer to refer to it…in Formosa.
  • ** The Dutch have welcomed us dredging anywhere we like as long as they get the sand to build a dike. As usual, they have declined to pay for it.
  • *** No need for this footnote, but the stars come in packs of three.



At Least Don’t Bomb the Plastic Airplane Factory


A plea to the US Navy.

Fart about as much as you like with the Chinese on the sand island they dredged up in the South China Sea. Sail by, make rude gestures, do ELINT…anything you like. But please do not Tomahawk the Chinese factory inland that is going to produce 1:32 scale B-17 kits until there are enough of them out on the market to supply Australia*. I want one of those kits.

Actually, you can probably cool it until the next typhoon goes through and then you can pick up the troops stationed there with a scoop net and deposit them back in Hong Kong. They’ll be soggy, but grateful. Remember 1945.

  • Well then you can, but is it actually worth it? Where are we going to get flat-pack furniture from IKEA then, eh?

The Designed Life – Part Three – Air


Right, here we go. Pencil, pad and coffee…

You need air to live, and air to feel good. If you live in Beijing this is no small matter. None of the stuff you have available locally is any good…move.

For the rest of us we need air in our habitation that is clean and temperate – we cannot design the outside environment, but we can do the inside bit. So let’s get smart. In our dwellings, ( Western Australia ) summer heat is the menace. Get hot and you get sad. So when you design your room(s)…or go looking for someplace to live that someone else has designed…look for ones that can be cooled. Dark rooms. Rooms underground. Rooms with high ceilings. Rooms like we used to get before air conditioning.

These rooms will be bastards to heat, though, when winter comes. Western Australians traditionally forget that winter is cold and every year they find it out anew. Then they run off and piss away money on inefficient little heaters that gobble up electricity or gas. If they would plan a little ahead – like you may do with your pad and pencil, they would build thick walls and insulate the ceiling – and take up the slack in heating with warm woolen clothing.

The really wise designer might even realise that the two seasons need two different rooms, and divide the available space accordingly – one section for summer and one for winter. After all, royalty had summer and winter palaces – why not designate one side of the house for hot and one for cold and build accordingly? More outlandish things have been done. This could even extend to a deliberate choice of white walls and roof covering for the summer side and dark shades for the winter side. It could be quite a little celebration to do the internal house moving at each solstice.

Electrical air conditioning? Fine if you need it to fight the design that has been foisted on you by the house builder or the council. Use it as much as necessary, but box clever in how much of the area around you that you condition. Whole of house may mean hole of wallet. Hole up and hull down and you will save.

Air movement inside your house will be closely tied in with noise movement. I have people in my house who are football fans at intemperate hours and it has required some little skill to get their sound to stay with them while I try to sleep. Plan for this. Place air blocks and you will have sound blocks.

Finally, do not forget that outside air movement can be a friend or foe as well. Quite apart from watching the reports from Tornado Alley, we have all seen houses or rooms situated in such a way as to catch every stray cold wind in winter while avoiding cool breezes in summer. Play smarter. Also remember that fresh air blowing compost and trash smells away from the house is a blessing – do not park the bins upwind. Do not expect a potting shed or garden storage to make the patio fun.