A REAL foreign country  © PJ Croft 2008, 2012
The other day I was talking to someone in Sydney (by email, of course) and mentioned the awful stuff up on Radio National on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. At about 7am, Mark Colvin’s voice (AM) was mixed over Fran Kelly’s voice for three minutes! At full, equal level, so that neither could be heard properly. When is someone going to wake up and stop it? I was thinking.
The Sydney person said yeah, it happened there at 7am too.
So even though it MUST have been obvious, it was not considered important enough to fix it before the two hour delayed program was replayed in WA.  Two hours, but they didn’t fix it for us.
This is Sydney arrogance at its worst. I am making a formal complaint to the ABC management. It’s not the first time it’s happened of course, things like this happen all the time on our ABC.
I mentioned to the Sydney (ABC, of course) person that we are a bit sick of the neglect of WA. We are regarded as a foreign country over here, we don’t matter. The two hour delay of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant is a prime example. Two hour delayed??!! Oh, it’s only WA. I am sick of it.
I said I’m reminded of Kruschev’s Cold War speech about the West: “We will bury you.” He was referring to Communism, of course, but … draw your own conclusions.
This gives me an idea: I’m quite an admirer of New Zealand. I’ve found that whatever Kiwis do, they do it well. Peter Jackson and The Lord of the Rings series is an example. Cheese is another – NZ cheese is brilliant. NZ wines are another example – they decide to get into it and they do it superbly well.
So, WA and NZ form a new country. We have the wealth and the jobs here. They have the scenery and the expertise and the ideas – they won the Americas Cup, after we did, don’t forget, and held it longer than we did. We get to have cheap holidays and skiing in NZ. What? We’ve got that already? Yeah, OK,
That way we form a vise over the eastern states of Australia. We squeeze the bastards. They’ll need a passport to go either way.
What are we gunna call it? WANZ? NewZWA? I’m working on it.


I’m reading The Guardian on the banking scandal in London. The head of Barclays  Bank worked a deal that saw the bank pay him a huge salary, plus an amount equal to the tax on that salary, plus an amount equal to the tax on the tax benefit as well. So that he got the bank to pay him a tax free salary, free of tax!

If it wasn’t so sick and dishonest it would be funny. But the effect is that people are losing confidence in the banks in Britain, and when that happens, they take their money out, and when enough people do that, banks fail, and then more people lose confidence and the system draws ever nearer to collapse. Then the government is called on to step in and save the banks with public funds and …

All based on the greed of a relatively few men. Who drive their Rolls Royces and Jaguars back to their homes and hold dinner parties with their trophy wives …


Only in America

I’ve removed these
pictures of Chuck Norris. 
I can’t stand the guy. 
 I don’t want to see him! 
Only in America!
Chuck Norris, y’know, that 1980s pseudo TV tough guy, devout Christian, has written an article saying there’s no place for gay children or youths in America’s (I emphasise, America’s) Scout movement.
In the same article, a woman who happens to be lesbian was asked, no, told to step aside from her role as leader of a Scout troop in her area. Not a Girl Guides troop – these were boy scouts.
But additionally, her son was also told to leave the Scout troop!  Her son is blamed for some perceived deviance of his mother!

Only in America? I fear not. Witness the boy in New Zealand who was barred from child care because his mother is HIV positive. “The sins of the father are often visited upon the son …” I don’t know who said it, but it’s still true. [And will continue to be true, as long as people lack the courage to stand up and take a stand against it. Easy for me to say, I know.]

Remember that the former Republican presidential candidate in 2009, (what was his name, that ancient former Marine? so memorable, so forgettable – white hair, old, ultra-ultra conservative) chose him, Chuck Norris as a future Secretary of Defense in his administration, alongside the nutcase Sarah Palin.
Just count your lucky stars – we nearly had a super hawkish ex-Marine war heeroh as President,  with another nut case as VP, and a Neanderthal brain deficient Ultra Christian  ex movie tough guy as Sec Def, all with their fingers on the nuclear trigger.  Oooowwww!

7:30 Report on Police

I’ve just sent this to the Police Union web page:
Subject: 7:30 Report interview
Bravo! I’ve just seen George Tilbury give clear, unambiguous, direct answers to Andrew O’Connor on police chases. I am very impressed. Full support. This was such a refreshing interview – no waffle, just Yes, No answers.
I support the police. You’ve got a rotten job and it must be hard. Keep going. I also give full support to Karl O’Callaghan. The Commish will always be attacked by the forces of darkness.
Peter Croft, Trigg
Speaking of the Forces of Darkness! 
On 8 December 2010 my back fence neighbours held a wild ALL-NIGHT party. Full live amplified rock band (which finished about 1am), then partying on until dawn, literally. Loud music, shouting, screeching, swearing, screaming, dirty jokes, singing along to the music. And that was just the women! If you doubt me, just ask me for the DVD. I have 2 hours of it in video.
I sent them a letter of protest, saying I’ve been putting up with your back patio entertaining for years and never complained before. But your patio lights shining in my eyes (as one example) are just too bloody much and I listed all the shit I’d tolerated over 8 years (the thud of basketballs, the endless yapping of a lonely dog breaking my heart, the screams of kids, the crackling of 5.30am sprinklers, the smoke of a barbecue fire every few days etc etc.)
I got a letter back, “Sorry about the party, we let everyone know beforehand, as for the rest of your complaints,…” go take a running jump. They actually said, “The rest of your complaints are ridiculous.”
I wrote again saying “What great neighbours! How neighbourly! I tell you of my distress and you tell me to fuck off”, etc etc.  No reply this time, but it all stopped. Quiet as a mouse for the past two years. No more barbecue smoke, no more loud parties, no more back verandah entertaining. I was so pleased I even considered sending a Xmas card saying Thanks.
They’re baaaack.
My darling back fence neighbours  Friday 29 June 2012 7.30pm

The barbecue smoke is back tonight (the haze in the image). Wood smoke, blown into my yard by the prevailing westerly breeze, light as it is. Carcinogenic smoke.  As well, these lights shine directly into my eyes as I sit watching TV. I complained about them in 2010. They seem to have been augmented and tilted up in the past week or two.

How am I supposed to interpret this? Are they so stupid that they don’t realise the effect? I think they are. Mr and Mrs Mason.
Time for another letter?  Time for a 1 million candle power spotlight on my pergola aimed at them? Time for a laser pointer or three, legal power of course.
Stupid, stupid people.

The Revolution has come

Venice   © PJ Croft 2008, 2012
The inscription seems to say Dom Suffraggio Gather to Arch Brotherhood of Suffrage of Deaths in Rome. I don’t speak Italian, this is Google translate.
Revolution? No, not another Commie rant.
  • Camera and lens prices in Australia in many instances are now equal to or cheaper than US prices. 
  • It’s now reached the stage where it would seem cheaper to buy a ready made computer, even if it’s not exactly the fastest or contain exactly what you want, rip the motherboard out and put another in with your choice of processor. Keep and reuse the items such as RAM, DVD drive, power supply, keyboard, mouse, monitor and Windows software (if you get the disc, that is!)
    Datavideo HDR-40 DV/HDV Recorder/Player
    Datavideo HDR-40 video recorder
  • What used to take a room sized VTR  costing $100,000 in 1965 dollars (probably ~ $1m in today’s money) can now be done infinitely better to full broadcast quality by one of these:
Phwoar. I’d like one of those. Nine hours of recording, no tape (tape, yikes!). Available off the shelf for $2,016, ffs.  (STOP PRESS: I just fixed the corrupted photo and it has dropped to US$1920, a reduction of $96 in three days! That’s electronics for you…)

Thirty five years of learning and using audio and videotape and it’s gone, dead, forgotten. Sob.

Speaking of phwoar:
Madame Najat-Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s new Minister for Women’s Affairs or something. Not conventionally beautiful, but she can have an affair with me, any time.
Only problem is, I’d never be able to introduce her to anyone because I could never remember or pronounce her name. “Hi, this is my friend, er, I call her Frenchie.”

GetUp, Stand Up

Palm   Thursday 28 June 2012

I kept something I found on The Guardian web site a week or two ago:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
It was contributed by a Guardian reader in the UK.  I don’t know the origins or who wrote it, but I find it poignant and meaningful. Maybe it’s adapted from some other writing – I don’t know.
What I think it means is that there are times when we see injustices and count ourselves lucky we’re not involved. We can stand back and watch, thankful that we don’t have to show courage.
But eventually, it may be our turn to show courage. We should think about that.
We have an easy life in Australia.  We rarely, if ever, have to show courage.
One of my “friends” sent this to me a few days ago:
I for one also classified these people as illegal migrants and I agree with Andrew [Bolt] on his views here.
I am not being racist here as these people are actually what they are.
By definition, refugees are people who flee a war torn country or a country of savage killings of ethnic people.
These people want a cut short into entry into Australia.
There are official and legal methods for entry which they chose not to follow as they know they will not qualify.
This  person is a Malaysian Chinese (or is that Chinese Malaysian?). He already lives very comfortably in Perth on a permanent residency and he wants to keep the boat people out.

From GetUp:
Currently, Australia makes available a very small number of humanitarian visas through official channels in our region. In the 10 months to April this year, Australia granted only 97 refugee visas out of Indonesia. A further 1126 were made available through Malaysia, but 95% of those went to Burmese refugees. So for those fleeing other troubled countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, their chances of receiving refuge are slim. Many are left with little choice but to risk their lives on leaky boats.
Another quote from the Malaysian Chinese “friend”:

Who knows what diseases they bring into the country?
People like me have to subject to points test for qualification for entry.
Then my family has to pass a medical examination to qualify.
I have to meet 70 out of 80 points to qualify for entry and that’s not easy.
The government is weak.
They gave these illegal migrants housing and feed them well.
You would think why won’t they gather more to come here.
I don’t claim any special courage but I’m finding I’m surrounded by xenophobic racists and I’m fed up to the back teeth with it.
I’m faced with a dilemma. Do I take a stand and fight these “friends” or do I take the easy way out and stay quiet and polite? Another friend said, “Hey, take it easy Pete, he’s a mate.”
He’s not my mate, not after this. All this has happened in the past 7 days.


August 5. Remember that date! Mars Curiosity Lander enters the atmosphere of Mars and lands on the surface 7 mins later. By the time we’ve received radio notification of first atmosphere touch, the automated landing will already be over.
If it works, it will be one of the greatest human achievements ever. See here:
This video is inspiring. I get blasé but this is good.
This is good too. A sample of my latest DVD. This is 4 mins out of about 11 mins. The quality here is utterly destroyed by my internet connection. It took more than 90 mins to upload.
The DVD is BluRay to retain the quality. Ask for a copy.
I want to limit it to BluRay because (1) it looks awesome in hi-def and ordinary DVD quality cuts it to pieces; and (2) because BluRays can’t be copied very easily. I want to sell it.

The revolution has arrived! Australian camera and lens prices are now on par or lower than US prices, and Michael Keenan, Liberal Party MHR for Stirling, WA has shown some sympathy for asylum seekers. I never thought I would live long enough.
I have strongly criticised Michael Keenan in the past in emails, telling him I feel disenfranchised in my own electorate, but I will now make another attempt to find common ground.
I am surrounded by “friends” who gloat over the drownings off Christmas Island. People drowning? They’re not like us, so it doesn’t count. “Serve ’em right”, “They should join the queue”, “Why do we bring them to Perth, why don’t we send them to Indonesia?” 
Indonesia doesn’t care and won’t take them back. What are we supposed to do? Leave them in the water? Make war on Indonesia and force them to take them back? Throw lifebelts and let the sharks take them? Let them swim 36 miles back to Java or to CI or Nauru?
We can’t go into Indonesian ports to stop the boats and the smugglers! We don’t have the power. We have no choice but to rescue the swimmers. Do they suggest we do nothing and watch them drown? I seriously say that many, many Australians do say that at the moment. I am not proud.
This is blind, irrational fear. Fear of some Northern Invasion Hordes. I’ve even had one Malaysian Chinese immigrant “friend” say to me, seriously, “We don’t know what diseases they are carrying.” We put them into quarantine, for fuck’s sake!

He’s OK, of course: he’s here, therefore he wants to keep others out. I spit.


The cane

The cane. I said yesterday that I got the “cuts” from the maths teacher in my school days.
It happened in 1964 at Northam Senior High School. Late in the year, upper floor, near the Art room, next to the SE stairs, afternoon maths class.
He’s a nice enough bloke and I don’t feel it affected me badly, and I do not make any defamatory statements about his character, but the point is, I remember it clearly: you humiliated me in front of the whole maths class by doing that, mate.
I was one of the top students. I didn’t expect to get caned, and it was for something as trivial as being late with maths homework or something.
The point is, I had to stand in front of the whole mixed class with my right hand out and take four or six lashes from you with a 3/8″ rattan cane.
It hurt a bit physically, but the fact that I can remember it clearly shows that it wasn’t without lasting effects.

And now, 48 years later, despite your exalted achievements, I don’t have to keep quiet any more. I used to be introverted, but I don’t need to kowtow any more.  I agree, it was the done thing at the time, but events have consequences. It’s not the pain that lingers, it’s the humiliation, and kids should not have to suffer that!

What stirred this post is that I had no idea until yesterday that the use of the cane is still legal in WA and two schools are still using it! I thought it had been outlawed, but apparently not so.

Oh Dog, it’s raining outside and Minnie has not come looking for her dinner. I gave her a nice big chunk of meaty bone at 5pm, but she usually comes to the door at 6.30pm for the main course. I fear I one night I am going to find her lying in the cold wet sand, unable to get up. This is hard.

Cane me, cane me, they oughta take a rope and pain me

Russell Wolf is talking on the radio at the moment about caning of school students. He spoke of his own experience of being caned not that many years ago and how he ran in panic from the headmaster’s office on the second occasion. Good on you Rusty, I am in full support.
What struck me (ha ha) is that he had the Director of the Independent Schools Association of WA on-air and she said it is still legal to use the cane in schools in WA even now, that there are still two independent schools that use it, but she refused to name them! She also didn’t know whether any school child has been caned recently.
What a cop out. Not my responsibility. I vass only following orders, mein Fuhrer.
Then Russell read out listener SMS comments. Most were sympathetic but several, obviously from blokes, were “Get over it” — you must be a wuss, what’s wrong with you, a bit of cane never hurt anyone, a leather belt hurts more, you got off lightly.
I got the cane at high school too, didn’t I, Dr Norm Hoffman? I can’t remember specifically why, something about poor homework. Heinous crime!  I don’t say it affected me, but the fact that I remember every detail of the day, time, place, class, and you, Dr Norm Hoffman, doing it, must mean something. You rose very high in Education and academic life, but you lashed me with a cane for poor homework. I hope you’re enjoying your retirement. I have a photo of you in 2007. Watch this space.
I have spent all afternoon working on a slide show of the Venice images I mentioned. Selecting a theme, arranging the image order, selecting music, extracting CD tracks as mp3s, editing the music to ensure it fits and has no gaps …
Wow. WOW! The result knocks my socks off. I sat there spell bound, even though I’ve seen all the individual images. I can’t claim all the credit: Antonio Vivaldi plays a part, as do the software writers who make the slide show software. But this has turned out to be something special, one of my best ever efforts. It’s burning a BluRay at the moment. There will not be a Standard Def DVD – it requires hi-def.
This is the first pass. I’ve done a simple opening title but more can be done yet, and closing captions, so another day’s work yet. Also, this is just the still images. I’ve also got high def video I can put into the same show. More to come.


Why do I feel so cold? I usually am not bothered by winter, and even now I’m still wearing my shorts, but this winter seems unusually cold. It’s only June, too – July and August still to come. Wiwin, you would not like this, believe me.
A few days ago I was talking about using the RAW files from a camera to get better images. There’s another way, too, HDR. It stands for High Dynamic Range. It’s the technique of taking at least three successive shots, one on normal (average) exposure, one under exposed and one over exposed.
The three shots are aligned in software and the computer adjusts the processing to lift the dark parts and pull back the too bright parts to give a better exposure balance, ie the three shots are combined into one.
When done well, the results can be superb. Here’s a good example: not my photo!
Croft Castle, Herefordshire  Copyright – photographer not known.
It can look a bit artificial, but I think that one is OK.
I hadn’t realised until a few days ago, but my camera can do it in camera! It’s a menu item, but here’s an example:
L  normal exposure           R  in camera HDR
Here the difference is subtle, but see how the sky is more natural and the deep shadow is lifted? Nice. Now that I know about it, I’ll use it more, I think.
Two problems though: it takes time – you have to wait about 15 seconds for the camera to do its processing before it’s ready for the next shot; and you can only do it in jpeg mode, no RAW capture. That means you have to trust the camera to do it right, because you haven’t got a RAW file for later. Anyway …
It  actually used to be done in film days too! When you had a slide, particularly slide film, that was too contrasty, if you were really keen you could re-photograph the slide using a slide copier with b/w negative film. You developed the neg film to a low density then sandwiched the slide with the neg in perfect register to get a lower contrast print.
You can imagine the skill and time and effort this took! But sometimes, it was the only way to salvage a really important slide. Hallelujah for digital. Now it takes seconds, with better results.
Speaking of RAW, I spent several hours last night going through all my Venice shots from 2008. Out of about 300, I’ve selected and processed about 57 for use in a slide show. You should see me in action! Crop, boost contrast, sharpen, change gamma, boost saturation, rotate, perspective correct, lift brightness, pick out a small part to use, noise reduce …
Voila –
In each case, original on left, processed on right. Hard to see in these small images, but the second last pair – crop vertical shot out of horizontal shot – picture from no picture. Still need to rotate it a little more, actually, and some I need to crop even harder but …
As I said, I got 57 keepers, through all  those processes, out of nearly 300. The more I did, the faster I got. My fingers were flying. Bit of a buzz, actually. There’s that word again.
My point is, I worked on the jpegs. I’ve still got the RAWs in their unchanged form as well. I never had to worry about making a mistake and over-writing the original, because the RAW files are still there in a separate folder. Hmmm, better do another backup, though.
Item on the ABC News site this morning: Australia’s big four banks are among the most profitable in the world. Normally, I would be pretty cynical about news like that, but it comes only days after Moodys downgraded the credit ratings of 15 of the world’s top banks very heavily, some to near junk bond status.
Alongside that, I don’t see bank profit as such a great thing, but Australia is yet again managing its way past all the world financial turmoil.

Another quote from yesterday – Australia is virtually unaffected by the current world financial storm. That makes three in a row – the Asian financial meltdown in the mid 1990s; the “Tech Wreck” or dotcom disaster of 99/2000; and the GFC of 2008. And now this world financial disaster makes it four.

As they say, to avoid one could be considered luck, to avoid two could be considered arsey, to avoid three, we must be doing something right and to avoid the fourth, current crisis, maybe we know what we’re doing. Yet Mr Juan Manuel Barroso, President of the European Bank or whatever he is, got mad and said, “We didn’t come here to be lectured on how to manage our financial affairs.”  OK, mate, you just go on doing what you’re doing.

There’s going to be a war in Europe, I say. People are scared and they don’t like being told to take the medicine by Germany and France, or Britain, for that matter. It’s just waiting for the spark. Syria shoots down a Turkish jet. Turkey says it is going to retaliate. Saudi Arabia is bankrolling the Syrian opposition fighters. Iran is building nuclear weapons and ICBMs. 

Frightening. If you want to do something, do it now.

Blog booking

Did I mention bugs?   © PJ Croft 2012
As I said, let’s not miss a day. Might get hit by an asteroid!
I made a donation to BlogBooker yesterday This is a website that makes it possible to translate your blog (this site) into a PDF document, both for archiving/backup reasons but also because one day, our descendants will be able to read it if they want to. (Thanks Ian.)
The “donation” is so that the hi res images from the blog go through to the PDF document. It’s only E10 (10 Euros – I tried to find the symbol in Character Map, but it’s not there in this font – that’s shocking) = $13.50.
When you donate, the site asks if you want to list your blog. I left the field empty. It all went through and I thought that was that.
I was surprised next day to get a personally addressed email from them, just signed BlogBooker, asking if I want to list my blog. I replied explaining that, no, at the moment it’s a bit personal, full of grief about my dog etc etc. Those who know about it know where to find it, etc. Maybe later.
I got a very nice reply, “Sorry to hear about your dog, let us know if you decide later and we’ll list your blog etc etc.” Well, that was a surprise. Germany, I think.