What will happen in the future?

I don’t think anyone can predict the future, not any more, and definitely now it is a distinct possibility that someone can create a virus that will in essence shut down the whole world, and quite possibly destroy it

This is patenetly clear after the recent troubles with COVID 19 and although a remedy has been found, it is not a perfect solution, or a means or eradicating it. It has shown that while we might be able to combat one version of it, it’s the mutations that will throw up questions about ever getting back to some sort of normal.

And that begs the question, what is, or was, normal?

It’s been a year, or more, and I think we’ve forgotten. What we have discovered, though, is the disparate states of the various nations and ethnic groups, and how they have fared in the wake of the pandemic.

It has highlighted systemic problems the world over, problems that have always been there but simmering below the surface. Problems that could be resolved, but perhaps will not.

But as a first world nation, we have not been immune to external forces, forces that have tried to break us while reeling from the ravaging of a virus that was brought here, and through no fault of our own.

But from the outset, we seem have been in a different bubble here.

I will admit that I live in a country with about 26 million people whereas the United States has about 330 million, there is a significant difference in numbers, whereas the US is only 1.3 times larger in size.

All this means that the US has a much larger problem in containing the COVID 19 virus, and probably why, down here, we are having a lot more success in getting the infection rates under control.

One thing we have all learned in the last month or so, is that lock downs, such as those hated by, and rallied against in the US, do actually work when you have much less population to deal with. This is why the actions taken by smaller populated countries such as Australia and New Zealand have been so successful.

Yes, we have had outbreaks, but it has been proved these can be contained. We have rigidly been adhering to the science, and the advice of our medical specialists without political interference, to keep the infection rates down.

Yes, we have limited freedom, but nearly everyone, except those from overseas who came here as immigrants and refuse to accept any form of ‘control’, have adhered to the medical based requests. Those that don’t, those that have railed against the rules, they are predominantly people who have come here from other countries.

I’m happy for anyone to come here, and get away from whatever horrors they leave behind, but only on the condition they leave those horrors behind, and try in some small way to assimilate with us, without having to give up there cultural and religious beliefs. When they use that as an excuse for their bad behaviour, they should be sent home. Obviously, this country isn’t good enough for them.

We are an island, so it is much easier to guard our borders. No one can get into this country without going through quarantine, and that try to lie their way in are promptly returned on the next plane out. We cannot leave without a valid reason, and if we do, when we come back, we have to spend a fortnight in quarantine, guarded by the defence force personnel.

For countries like the US, it is so much harder to maintain borders. There will be problems in the future with travellers coming from overseas, especially if the science behind the vaccines being touted doesn’t stand up to a very high standard. I suspect that anyone claiming to have a vaccine and using it as an excuse to re-enable overseas travel will find their pleas falling on deaf ears.

That’s because, as we are learning, vaccines are not infallible, there will be transmission, and not eveyone will be willing to have a vaccine, so even here, as anywhere else, we will not be rid of the scourge for a long time. Travel might be possible, but who will want to take a risk going to anothwr country where it’s not completely under control?

I guess, at this time of our lives, our chance to see the rest of the world is over, and that it’s time to tour our own country.

Whether we live long and prosper, well, that’s a story for another day.

My disdain for some reporters, and reporting these days

It is sometimes quite trashy and that’s saying something!

Having been a journalist in a previous lifetime, and one that always believed that the truth mattered, it didn’t take long to realise that journalists should never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Newspapers, and all other forms of media, will only write what they believe will sell, or what they think the public wants to read. The truth, sadly, is not the first thing on the readers mind, only that someone is to blame for something they have no control over, and it doesn’t matter who.

And the more outlandish the situation, the more the public will buy into it.

This, I guess, is why we like reading about celebrities and royalty, not for the good they might do, but the fact they stumble and make mistakes, and that somehow makes us feel better about ourselves.

Similarly, if the media can beat up a subject, like the corona-virus, and make it worse that it is, then people will lap up the continuing saga, as it relates to them, and will take one of two stances, that they believe the horror of it, and do as they’re asked, or disbelieve it because nothing can be that bad, and ignore it and the consequences of disobedience. knowing the government will not press too hard against the non compliers simply because of domocracy issues it will stir up.

That is, then the media will get a hold of this angle and push it, and people will start to think disobedience is a good thing not a bad.

So, our problems of trying to get a fair and balanced look at what the coronavirus is all about is nigh on impossible. We are continuously bombarded with both right and wrong information, and the trouble is, both sides are very plausibly supported by facts.

And that’s the next problem we have in reporting. We can get facts to prove anything we want. It;s called the use and abuse of statistics, and was an interest part of the journalism degree I studied for. We were told all about statistics, good and bad, and using them to prove the veracity of our piece.

I remember writing a piece for the tutor extolling the virtues of a particular person who was probably the worst human since Vlad the Impaler, using only the facts that suited my narrative. I also remember the bollocking he gave me for doing so, but had to acknowledge that sometimes that would happen.

Integrity of reporting only went as far as the editor, and if the editor hated something, you had to hate it too. This is infamously covered in various texts where newspaper publishers pick sides, and can influence elections, and governments. It still happens.

So, the bottom line is, when I;m reading an article in the media, I always take it with a grain of salt, and do my own fact checking, remembering, of course, not just to fact check to prove the bias one way of the other, but the get a sense of balance.

We have state elections coming up where I live, but it does not sink to the personal sniping level as it does in the US, we haven’t sunk that low yet, but we haven;t got past the sniping about all the wrongs and failed promises of the govern,ment of the day, or the endless tirade against the opposition and how bad a job they did whenb they were previously in government.

You can see, no one is talking about what they’re going to do for us, no one is telling us what their policies are. It’s simply schoolyard tit for tat garbage speak. What happened to the town hall meeting, a long and winding speech encompassing the policies, what the government plans to do for its people in the next three years, and then genuinely answer questions?

Perhaps we should ban campaigning, and just get each party to write a book about what they intend to do, and keep them away from the papers, the TV, and any other form of media, in other words, don’t let them speak!

And don’t get me started about the drivel they speak in the parliament. Five year olds could do a better job.

OK, rant over.

I should not be reading posts…

Today as I always do, I go through the last 100 or so posts that turn up in my WordPress reader, and read what are generally some of the most interesting items that will brighten up my day.

Then I find others that, well, are quite frankly disturbing.

My problem might be that I am so far removed from the situation that my perspective is different, tempered perhaps by the fact we get news from a great many different sources, and not from only a few, and some, in a way, quite radicalised in getting their message across.

The news can be black or white with no shades in between. And that sort of news, or opinion, can be damaging, especially if the reader is continually bombarded with a specific message that purports to be ‘right’ to the detriment of all else.

They say the two subjects that should never be spoken about are religion and politics. They’re right, whoever they were, because both a polarising, and both find their proponents with views that are quite strong. And they will argue that your opposing view is wrong, wrong, and wrong, because your sources are ‘radical’ and ignore the ‘truth’.

When the same message comes from both sides of the street, how did you get an informed view?

So, in my infinite wisdom, I bit. I had to say something, and I know I will get a blast, from a pile of people who radically oppose everything I’ve said. In a society that extolls free speech, I expect that. We all have a right to an opinion. The day we don’t, well, let’s not go there, that’s just fuel for the fire of both sides arguments against the other.

But one thing I did say, rather than sign petitions to muzzle or get rid of big tech, whatever big tech is, I thought a more radical approach was necessary.

Let’s get right of computers altogether.

Then I realized the folly of my statement. That meant I would not have this medium to extoll my, sometimes idiotic, notions of how to make the world a better place.

Thinking about it a little more, other than the fact I would lose my platform to speak about this that and the other, it’s not as daft as it sounds.

Computers have done nothing but cause trouble since the day they were invented. Yes, they have advantages, but think of the job losses, think of the crime, think of the scams, think of the cyber bullying, think of the government control over us, the list would go on forever, and we would all eventually be struggling to find a reason why computers were so good.

It’s a silly idea. No one will ever decided to remove computers from the face of the earth.

But you can’t attack a problem without going to the source. Big tech is not the problem, the computer is. It’s like guns, yes, another very touchy subject like religion and politics, except there’s not a simple solution for that problem either. A gun is just a means to do something that can be done a dozen other ways.

So is a computer. Perhaps the answer is not to connect them to each other. After all the original computers were not, and as such fulfilled a lot of the the potential they were designed for. It’s only after they started talking to each other, that a whole host of other unforeseen problems arose. Or maybe they were, and were purposely ignored.

To me, the answer to the problem is far more complex, and, at the moment, far beyond our capacity to understand and resolve. Much like cancer. And, dare I say it, much like the current coronavirus.

Sadly, though, one thing will not change, I will keep reading and commenting, and sometimes make a horse’s ass of myself in the process. After all, I’m only human.

That was my January

It ended as a bad memory, and I can only wish that the 31st never happened.

To start with, I hadn’t slept for three days after taking myself off the anti depressants I was prescribed for back pain. That put me in a bad mood, which had been building for the three days.

Then I had to cater for a family lunch which I’d probably the most favourite thing in my life, and used it to keep my mind occupied, with great success, juggling all of the elements.

But after the adrenaline high of getting it done, after everyone went home, it was like the air had been let out of the balloon.

It might be just a symptom of the past year, where just when we thought it was getting better, along came another disaster, just to remind us that we may never get back to the normal we had before COVID came along.

Are there aspects of the measures put in place over the last year worth keeping? Yes. Like keeping 1.5 metres apart. There’s nothing worse than people leaning all over you in the supermarket, or pushing past you, or into you with the trolley driven by the child from hell.

Like sitting further apart in restaurants so you don’t have to listen to the foul mouthed drunken fool at the next table abuse staff, his guests, and our ears.

Like everyone cleaning off the child dribble, sticky ice creams and slobbered candy off the handles of the trolleys with disinfectant wipes, and doses of hand sanitiser. Some people still don’t understand the basic concepts of cleanliness.

OK, enough of a rant. I’m just tired and cranky.

I think we all have reason to be cranky though. Our politicians seem to err too far one side or too fat the other, and there never seems to be any middle ground. Fortunately most of the people in this country take everything the politicians say with a grain of salt, and can make up their own minds what is right and wrong, and very few go off on a mad tangent, and in that way we don’t suffer too much.

But we can’t leave the country, rightly so, and no one but our own people can come back, and it is these few that cause our problems. I don’t think rigid quarantine works anywhere in the world because there’s always the few that break it, and the few guards who want to profit from it. IT is perhaps the price of freedom, though some will tell you we have none.

In reality, we do, and a lot more than anywhere else in the world, except perhaps New Zealand, and good thing we are neighbours.

But as for January….

It was like December, November, October, blah, blah, blah.

I’m not expecting 2021 to be much better than 2020, and nor am I expecting the vaccine will be the Godsent we’re looking for. I think a lot of people failed to realise viruses mutate, and it takes time for that to happen. TO say you have facilitate a vaccine in record time is the statement of a fool, for that very reason.

It might not take 5 years, or 9, or 15, but it will take as long as it takes to collect all of the variations and mutations, and have a vaccine that works on all of them, not just one or two. The South African mutation is a case in point, and if it becomes the dominant strain, then we are back to square two, maybe.

Perhaps deep down that’s what is making me angry, the fact I, one of the more vulnerable, may never, ever be safe.

Searching for locations: Washington DC

It seems remarkable given the events over the last week that this is the same place.

When we were last in Baltimore, we decided to take a side trip to Washington DC by the train, and then pick up a rental car in Washington to drive back to New York.

Remarkably, it turned out to be a fine day, clear blue skies, but very cold.

We walked from the railway station to the Capitol and then spent most of the day exploring the buildings and monuments.

DSC00818

The Capitol building is the home of the United States Congress and is the seat of the legislative branch of the US Federal Government.  It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall.

DSC00822

The original building was built in 1800 and the dome was added in a later expansion.  The house of representatives is in the south wing, and the Senate is in the north wing.

DSC00823
DSC00827

Not far from the Capitol was the Library of Congress.

I remember visiting Washington when times were calmer


I don’t think anyone in the whole world could miss what happened in Washington on the 6th January.

I watched in horror.

But, why would it matter to anyone who is not American?

12 years ago, in January before Obama’s inauguration, we were visiting a very different Washington.  It was a cold but sunny winter’s day, and at the time there were very few people about.

We had come down from Baltimore by train to visit the sights, and monuments, which included the Capitol.

I remember going into the building, and through the rooms that we saw being invaded, and was struck by a sense of awe in that these were the hallowed halls of democracy.

We have all been taught that democracy and the United States go hand in hand, and that it is enshrined in these buildings and in their constitution.   I saw and read a copy of this constitution, even bought a copy of it to read in more detail later.  Even I could understand what it meant, not only for America, but for the rest of the world.

I wonder if any of those people who invaded the Capitol had taken the time to understand just what their constitution stood for or how sacred their monuments to democracy are.

I did, and I’m not American

I should have paid more attention…

When I was back in school in what seems like a lifetime ago, I realise I should have paid more attention.

Why?

Because for some odd reason, we were taught more about American and English history than that of out own country, Australia.

WE cannot use the excuse that we haven’t been around all that long, because we have, something like 1770, which led to settlement by the English in 1788 or so, but the first landing was in 1606 by a Dutchman.

Of course, these are vague memories of a social studies lesson that briefly touched on our origins, but only to re-affirm our allegiances to Britain. While it wasn’t the Empire when I was in school, it was the Commonwealth, and our atlases still had the ‘wherever the map is red is where the British claimed as theirs’, and there were quite a lot red countries.

But, hey, that pales into insignificance the stuff we learned about England, from the time of William the Conqueror in 1066 through to the modern day. I could at one stage of my life relate from memory all of the kings and queens of England.

I know all about the industrial revolution, travel between Australia and England from the days of sail, right through to the Airbus A380.

It’s why I have a preference reading the English classics of Jane Austen and others of that golden era, and watching period TV, recreated so lavishly by the BBC and ITV in England.

And of course, we were brought up on a steady diet of American TV shows, and films, like out country never existed, and was notorious for producing laughable TV shows of the poorest quality, despite the actors who tried very hard to make it seem believable.

I could not name one Australian prime minister, and have trouble telling who is the current prime minister. Well maybe not, this Covid thing has had his face on the TV every day for nearly a year, but he’s the first. I couldn’t tell you who he took over from, nor who the leader of the opposition is.

It’s probably the reason why over the years people have often said we should become one of the states of the US.

Nowadays we’re trying to put a wall between us and them so China might not see us as an outpost of the US, and come in an attack us. The trouble is 28 million people versus 1.6 billion doesn’t give us any leverage. Come to think of it, the 360 million Americans wouldn’t stand a chance against an invasion of 1.6 billion either.

I’m not sure why it matters any more, because we’ll soon be back to the heady heights of the cold war days in the 50s and 60s, where the only deterrant to perceived enemies was the threat of nuclear annihilation.

It’s the one option where 360 million people could defeat an enemy of 16. billion.

But … there’s only one small problem …

We’ll all be dead.

AS horrifying as that might sound, there is one other problem than might just do the same but not destroy any infrastructure. A pandemic. A virus that can’t be cured, a virus that can mutate and adapt so there is not effective vaccine.

Dystopian? It’s sure a great idea for a story. There’s been a few, but those always have a few survivors, ready willing an able to get along and rebuild the world having learned the lessons of past failures.

This time? I don’t think the next story will have a happy ending. In it though, the aggressors are not going to be better off than the rest, because they forget to build in a fail safe, or couldn’t. Or it just got out before they finished perfecting it, and synthesizing an antidote.

That’s something else we learned a lot about. Nuclear holocausts, and their effect. It reminds me of the day our class was taken to see a movie about the effects of a nuclear war. Was it to scare us, or prepare us? Back then, a nuclear war was more likely than a change of government in this country.

If it was to educate my generation of people who are now the in the government and positions of power, they failed.

So, if I had my time over, I would insist on leaning about my country, the people who have inhabited for tens of thousands of years, without the need for cars, houses, cigarettes and booze, and definitely without the need for nuclear weapons and ideals of aggression towards other countries.

Now, where’s that pesky time machine…

The new ‘COVID 19 Normal’

I’ve just spent the last half hour writing a rant. I’m relatively sure no one wants to know about what’s irritating me right now, so I’ve closed off that post and sent it to the draft bin.

One day, when I’m not so angry, I might being it out again and temper the language. I’m sure there have been days when you’ve been so annoyed at the stupidity of people that you too would want to vent your anger.

Neither the time or the place.

The point is, I have an awful feeling the world is going to hell. It never used to be like this. Life was normal once. You know, we were all battling along the majority of us hovering just above or just below the poverty line, but mostly above.

The Government sailed along making stupid decisions like it always does, increasing our incredulity in either the government or the opposition, because it seemed to me all they did was blame each other when something went wrong.

Coronavirus withstanding, the status quo is almost the same as before it hit, only there are a lot more people hovering below the poverty line, and as governments, reportedly looking after their people in a crisis, start throwing money around like it’s water.

I can’t complain, they threw some water at me and I drank it. I’m still alive becaise of the decisions the current ruling party has made over the course of the pandemic in this country, so I can’t complain. That is left to the opposition party who, for the first few months were silent, but now, have decided to question everything the government has done, or criticiser it for what it hasn;t done.

To me, no one is perfect, and it is a pandemic and none of us alive (except for a very few who wethered the Spanish Flu pandemnic) have any iidea what it’s like to live in such times. We are weathering it, we have lost relatively few people in the fisrt wave, and a lot more in the second.

That the second wave could have been prevented is moot. It happened. We have learned from it. I hope. Foolish mistakes are always accompanied by catastrophic results, and in the eventual wash up someone will be blamed. We live in a world where blame is essential to make ourselves feel better. I’m bot sure anyone will feel better about anything this time.

But, we’re not out of the woods. There is still a whole lot of scope for us to catestrophically fail again, because this virus is insidious, and a killer, and not just to those we know it will kill. We don;t know enough about it yet to know whether any vaccine will give lasting protection, or just a few weeks, like it seems to this who have had it and recovered.

They can get it again. Given the damage it does to some of the survivors, it’s like if it didn’t kill you the first time, maybe it will the second time around. Who’s compiling the results so far from those who’ve survived, or from those who have died? What underlying causes are the worst, who should be protected, and are vaccines being tested on vulnerable groups?

What will happen to those who are given a so-called vaccine in six, twelve or eighteen months time? How long have we been testing the current batch of vaccines, a month, two at most?

I worry that being in that vulnerable group, irrespective of vaccines tested or untested, that I’m between a rock and a hard place. Whoever came up with this coronavirus, whether manmade or from wildlife, certainly knew their stuff, because it seems to be it’s incurable, like the common cold, only with a lot more deadly effect.

I had a cold, I thought it was the virus, but no, it was just a cold. It was bad and I’m still recovering from the effects. Colds, as we all know, can kill. So can influenza. Neither of these have been eradicated, but can be vaccinated against, but you can still get it. This is the nature of such viruses.

So, we now live in a new world, a COVID 19 world where we are going to have to change everything we do, and apply a new level of care, and, unfortunately, suspicion, because the moment there’s a chink in the armour, the results will be catastrophic.

They’re are beginning to call it a ‘COVID 19 normal’ down here.

Limited or no overseas travel, limited interstate travel, a new level of public hygiene, with new laws and regulations? Pre COVIS we thought we were free, but that was just an illusion. Now, we’re still free, but the lines between right and wrong, once blurred are very, very clear.

Will this, eventually, be the fate of the whole world?

I’ve been reading a lot

And at times wish I hadn’t.

Having been a journalist in a previous lifetime, and one that always believed that the truth mattered, it didn’t take long to realise that journalists should never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Newspapers, and all other forms of media, will only write what they believe will sell, or what they think the public wants to read. The truth, sadly, is not the first thing on the readers mind, only that someone is to blame for something they have no control over, and it doesn’t matter who.

And the more outlandish the situation, the more the public will buy into it.

This, I guess, is why we like reading about celebrities and royalty, not for the good they might do, but the fact they stumble and make mistakes, and that somehow makes us feel better about ourselves.

Similarly, if the media can beat up a subject, like the corona-virus, and make it worse that it is, then people will lap up the continuing saga, as it relates to them, and will take one of two stances, that they believe the horror of it, and do as they’re asked, or disbelieve it because nothing can be that bad, and ignore it and the consequences of disobedience. knowing the government will not press too hard against the non compliers simply because of domocracy issues it will stir up.

That is, then the media will get a hold of this angle and push it, and people will start to think disobedience is a good thing not a bad.

So, our problems of trying to get a fair and balanced look at what the coronavirus is all about is nigh on impossible. We are continuously bombarded with both right and wrong information, and the trouble is, both sides are very plausibly supported by facts.

And that’s the next problem we have in reporting. We can get facts to prove anything we want. It;s called the use and abuse of statistics, and was an interest part of the journalism degree I studied for. We were told all about statistics, good and bad, and using them to prove the veracity of our piece.

I remember writing a piece for the tutor extolling the virtues of a particular person who was probably the worst human since Vlad the Impaler, using only the facts that suited my narrative. I also remember the bollocking he gave me for doing so, but had to acknowledge that sometimes that would happen.

Integrity of reporting only went as far as the editor, and if the editor hated something, you had to hate it too. This is infamously covered in various texts where newspaper publishers pick sides, and can influence elections, and governments. It still happens.

So, the bottom line is, when I;m reading an article in the media, I always take it with a grain of salt, and do my own fact checking, remembering, of course, not just to fact check to prove the bias one way of the other, but the get a sense of balance.

We have state elections coming up where I live, but it does not sink to the personal sniping level as it does in the US, we haven’t sunk that low yet, but we haven;t got past the sniping about all the wrongs and failed promises of the govern,ment of the day, or the endless tirade against the opposition and how bad a job they did whenb they were previously in government.

You can see, no one is talking about what they’re going to do for us, no one is telling us what their policies are. It’s simply schoolyard tit for tat garbage speak. What happened to the town hall meeting, a long and winding speech encompassing the policies, what the government plans to do for its people in the next three years, and then genuinely answer questions?

Perhaps we should ban campaigning, and just get each party to write a book about what they intend to do, and keep them away from the papers, the TV, and any other form of media, in other words, don’t let them speak!

And don’t get me started about the drivel they speak in the parliament. Five year olds could do a better job.

OK, rant over.

Is one vote worth anything these days?

Here’s another interesting question that seems to have been forgotten in the election.

The value of one vote.

Let’s forget about the 50 million or so so-called possible illegal postal ballots, and concentrate on just one.

Your vote.

Has any election of any candidate ever depended on one vote? Well, perhaps not, but I’m willing to bet that there have been occasions where the separation between winner and loser has been about 20 or so.

After a dozen legal challengers and recounts.

But…

The point here is, that one vote, your vote, could have been one of those 20. Or just one.

This year seems to be the year where one vote will make a difference.

Just think! That divine right given to you, that one vote, could change the very fabric of what happens in the future.

How often has it been where one person has changed the course of history, sometimes not for the better, but by and large, they have. I know, where we are, my one vote got the right man elected, and he has given us better roads, better sporting facilities to keep kids off the streets, better bus services.

We have learned not to expect miracles, but sometimes, after casting that one vote, miracles are possible. And what was more miraculous was that none of the candidates stooped to trashing the other.

We got policies, we got promises, and we got action.