And another one!

0170042-01“A Four Corners investigation has found rorting of the [Job Services Australia] scheme is rampant. Forgery, manipulation of records and the lodgement of inflated claims for fees are widespread.” [ABC News]

It’s not ordinary employees who are committing these crimes, it’s business owners! The Liberal Party mantra – The law is for the little people – allow me to make myself rich and some of it will rub off onto you (the so-called trickle down effect). Get out of my way with your rules and regulations – I’m running a business here. Why should I pay tax when I’m paying payroll tax etc?  Eh, Rell? Yeah.

When those apprentices and young casual workers were electrocuted in metal roofs during the home insulation scheme in 2009, it wasn’t them who ordered themselves up into the roof spaces without training or safety rules. It was their bosses! The business owners. They saw a money earner and they grabbed for it, at any cost.

Yet the government minister Peter Garrett was blamed for it. Why the hell should he take the blame? He didn’t know this was happening, how could he know?

A Nationals senator is calling for a Royal Commission into the finance and financial advice industry, as he says up to $60 billion has been lost to small investors in dodgy advice and schemes in recent years. The National Australia Bank has recently made big payouts to small investors who followed bank employees advice in recent years. The Storm Financial company in Qld was another scandal, heavily involved with the bank we trust, the CBA. So much for integrity.

I doubt these fine business people vote Labour.  Grrrrrrr.

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I’ve got no water. No warning, just cut off. There seems to be a truck and workmen down the street a bit. If it doesn’t come back soon, I’ll have to walk down and “ask” them.

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Cheap appliances. My $50 Coles coffee capsule machine seems to have given up the ghost. It is supposed to show a green blinking LED in the button as it heats up, but it’s just blinking red all the time now. Less than a year’s use. Not happy.

And my $350 robotic vacuum cleaner has also stopped. It seems to work for about a minute, then just stops and goes back to standby. No indication of any fault or error. Damn. I bought it through Amazon and they asked me to review it. I never got around to it, but I was going to say, “It works, but not very well.” But it doesn’t even work now.

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I partially dismantled my one and only model loco last night prior to installing a new DCC decoder board which should arrive any day now. I followed the instructions, but I couldn’t get the old PCB out. I loosened the screws even more and “sproing”, it came apart and the wheels fell off.

I spent about 15 mins last night trying to get it back together without success, but my eyes were tired so I gave up. More work today.

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I’ve got a work guy coming this afternoon to do all the odd jobs around the house. I’ve gone downhill in the past two years that I’ve been here. I’ve lost all my strength. I can’t do the stuff I used to do. I can’t get up a ladder very easily, let alone work up there. It’s disheartening. It’s the leukemia, I think. I can feel the lymph modes at the back of my jaw much more now. Hmmm.

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3.30pm Huh! He came, but right off the bat, he didn’t want the work. First job: fix my reticulation sprinklers on the verge. “Sorry mate, I don’t do reticulation.” He’s got a mate who does, but …

OK, next job: weeding and revamping my garden at the front. “Sorry mate, I don’t do weeding.” He’s got a mate …

OK, I show him the garage and the cleaning up I need. Not hard work. But he starts sucking his teeth and looking through his diary and says, “Hmmm, I might be able to fit you in on the 17th.” The 17th of March!

I say, No, it’s too long. Just text me the names of your mates. So, a complete waste of my time. I’ve waited five days just for him to turn up and tell me this. Rack off, mate.

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Well I never

20050304 US Defense VisualIn Tomahawk cruise missile detonation over target San Clemente Island California 19860401I’m sure you know that I have a very poor opinion of Liberal Party politicians and members. Well take a look at this: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2015/02/21/inside-sa-senator-cory-bernardis-business-web/14244372001523#.VOmiBuaZGUk

Yet another Liberal politician who doesn’t know the difference between proprietary and propriety. Who can’t understand why they can’t use their taxpayer funded office to further their personal business interests. Who doesn’t understand ethics. Look at Nalder, the Liberal WA state minister who used his ministerial office and staff to arrange business meetings with some Chinese guys in connection with his own business in China! He couldn’t understand why this was wrong. He still can’t. And Barnett didn’t sack him. He’s a Liberal, and the law is different for them as we all know.

What is the difference between people who run dodgy businesses, tricky financial planning businesses, get their parliamentary and private interests mixed up and break the law, and trade unions? Answer: one lot has a government Royal Commission imposed on them at HUGE cost, and the other is allowed to get away with it.

This is tragic

This awful Prime Minister and his incompetent government have undone decades of careful diplomacy with Indonesia in a few stupid sentences.

See http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/21/aceh-residents-use-koinuntukaustralia-campaign-to-offer-to-repay-australian-aid  The people of Aceh are outraged at Sir Lord Rabbott AO, OA, KCMD, Order of the Stuffed Shirt, VC, over his suggestion that our aid to Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami makes them owe us. I don’t blame them. This is sheer stupidity. This guy is a rank wanker amateur. A prize ocker fool.

Already this whole business is having an effect. Australians are left out of Indonesia’s change to free visas. We still have to pay. How embarrassing. There is now a growing mood of hostility to Australia in Indonesia, a complete change from before our stupid government came to power in 2013.

I’m sure a big proportion of Aussies will be saying, “Too bad. Why does it matter?” I read the other day that 52% of Aussie visitors to Bali don’t know that it’s part of Indonesia. I cringe.

Well, Indonesia is 220 million people, ten times our population, and not far away. With good relations, we sell them food and manufactured goods (fibreglass swimming pools is one example from WA that I know about). And education, which is just as valuable an export as cattle or anything else.

With bad relations, regional cooperation on drugs and people smuggling stops, just as one example. Too bad? I don’t think so.

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I’ve said before that I check all my supermarket bills for errors, and I find them all the time.

Well, a week or two ago I got a letter in the mail with a bill from Unicare for $51. There was no indication of what it was for, just a code number.

Unicare? Who are they? I assumed it might have been a QE II Medical Centre bill for the eye tests I had in January.

I nearly paid it on-line, until I noticed I had a Unicare pdf file on my desktop. It was a receipt from when I’d made an on-line purchase a few weeks ago. I had bought and paid in the one transaction.

So this Unicare, based in Welshpool in Perth, tried to bill me again, and I nearly paid it again! See what I mean? They’re out to get us. Inefficient accounting, obviously. I phoned them and said I’d already paid and the receptionist said, “Oh, please hold and I’ll speak to our accounts person.” So I held, then after a minute or two she said they’d phone me back, but they haven’t.

Wave power again

I was talking about the Carnegie wave power plant that’s just started up on Garden Island in Cockburn Sound. (That’s near Fremantle and Rockingham for my remote readers.)

Here are some more pictures, all courtesy of the Carnegie web site. Rather nice, I reckon:

141106_NearMap_GI Site Aerial

You can see the undersea pipe coming ashore at lower-left/middle

PWEPMap

This picture looks as if it should be rotated 90deg. right, but it looks funny then as well.

20070306ran8109430_055343.JPGGIMapI like this! Free power, or relatively cheap, pollution free, permanent, independent of day or night. The only drawback is that you need to be beside the sea, but aren’t we all? 🙂

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I’ve spoken before about the Lockheed Martin announcement last year of a new compact fusion power generator. Their web site is still there, but I have been wondering about the lack of talk about it. Scientific people seem to be ignoring it.

I’ve just been listening to a radio program that talks about it and, oh dear, it seems that Lockheed Martin are refusing to talk about it apart from their web site, will not take interviews, have not published any details apart from a patent and don’t attend any conferences about fusion energy. Oh dear.

The suggestion is made that they are doing it to attract development money since their defence contracts have been reduced. Oh dear.

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Oh dear again. Last night was the last ever episode of  Foyle’s War, the BBC drama about detective Christopher Foyle (always called Mr Foyle) during WW2 and immediately afterwards. These last four episodes seem to be it. They didn’t kill him off, but it was pretty final.

This series has been the epitome of good TV as far as I’m concerned. Immaculately made, restrained, credible, beautifully recreated wartime scenes (how do they do it?!). I’m sure there’ll be repeats for a long time to come, there already have been, but it’s not the same.

My other favourite show is Silent Witness. It’s not quite as good – the lab scenes are just too clean and slick to be believable, they only ever seem to have one case on at a time, such a light workload, but the story lines have been fantastic. And Emilia Fox! Whoo whoo … ! Talk about thinking man’s crumpet.

But how come … ? Last year, Leo was killed in a suicide bomb explosion while on a job in the Middle East. That seemed pretty final to me. But recently he’s back in episodes that I don’t remember seeing before. Not that I’m complaining, but …

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Crumbs, this model railway planning is harder than it looks. I’m on about version 7 by now and struggling to get the point work right. It looks easy but when you place a point (a switch, a turnout) on the drawing, it’s locked in place. You can unlock it and move it, but then you have to move all the track to make it connect up again. This takes a lot of work. I can see that this planning is going to take months before I start physically laying track.Grubbe Street 160215You can see how I’ve attempted to reproduce the complex tracks on the left, but I’ve got sick of it and I’ll have a go at the Waverley Station end on the bottom part. It takes hours!

I’ve found some pictures of typical WA railway locos – not all of these are in WA, but they’re all Aussies:

CBH Group CBH Class loco

I’ve just noticed – the wheels look odd, but it’s because they’re narrowly spaced. This is the WA country rail network in the Wheat Belt, where the track would still be 3ft 6inches spacing from the old days. The Australian standard is 4ft 8.5 inches, Standard Gauge, but our counry lines wouldn’t have been upgraded – far too expensive. So these WA locos look as if they’re balanced tippy toe on the rails. Huh.

4996758-3x2-940x627 BHPB AC6000CW + EMD SD70ACe CBH_1_and_2_Cranbrook CBH_1_Wagin_2012 DB1588_Forrestfield,_1986  NR29_in_Pacific_National_Livery Nr-bl-class Pacific-national-g-classes PN_DL45_Dec2007By the way, what other hobby wants the models to look dirty and grubby? As they come out of the box, they’re clean and shiny new, but real trains aren’t. They’re muddy and rusty and oil stained. So in theory, we “weather” all our model trains, including adding rust to the rails and oil stains all over the sleepers. You can even buy your models pre-weathered, at extra cost. Crazy. I don’t think I want dirty trains, not yet, anyway.

Incompetence!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A product of the management of ASC as a prototype for Australia’s next subs. © PJ Croft 2014, 2015

Yesterday I was talking about the subs Australia is currently trying to either build or buy. In a timely way, the news comes today that Sweden, Germany, Japan and Britain have all submitted tenders or proposals based on their own proven designs. And where was ASC, our Australian company? The Australian Submarine Corporation in Adelaide has not submitted a bid. Why? They didn’t know they had to. They weren’t ready. They didn’t understand the tender process. [See today’s West]

I can guarantee you that all the engineers and technicians and skilled tradesmen will be shaking their heads in amazement, gnashing their teeth and shaking their fists at their management.

Why is it that Sweden, a country with a smaller population than us, can build submarines successfully to their own design, and we can’t? Why is it that Sweden can design and build terrific fighter jets and we can’t? Why is it that we bought our new nuclear reactor (Lucas Heights) a few years ago from Argentina??? Argentina! How embarrassing.

I’ll tell you why. Senior managers in this country are incompetent, that’s why. They are lazy, complacent, risk averse, timid and don’t know their stuff.

At the place I used to work, the managers were a joke, laughable, good at anything but managing. I could tell some stories.

I’m reading a book called Mayday at the moment, about all the management blunders that nearly killed QANTAS in 2011-12, and may still do so yet. That grounding in 2011 was unnecessary and hugely costly, not only in money terms but in trust and reputation. People don’t trust QANTAS any more.

Yet Alan Joyce and his henchmen at the top got salary increases of up to 40% at that time, while they were adamant that the rank and file were not going to get more than 3%, the inflation rate. No increase, in other words.

Now I’m reading about Fairfax. I read the book, The Rise and Fall of Fairfax a few weeks ago. Total chaos in the upper management ranks over decades. Now Fairfax profit has fallen very low, down by 86% this year, and the company’s losses amount to $2.5 billion dollars in recent years,

“Hywood’s bold plans to turn the business around are self-evidently not working – except to enrich the company’s executives, who have awarded themselves tens of millions of dollars worth of cash and shares by way of bonuses for their dismal performance.” [The Guardian]

This is the way it works in Australia – no matter how much damage the CEOs and CFOs and boards do to companies at the expense of workers and shareholders, they STILL award themselves massive salary increases and bonuses. Alan Joyce, the CEO of QANTAS, saw his salary and bonuses increase from $3.7m to $4.5m in one year alone, while telling the workforce they couldn’t have more than 3%.

I could go on, but I don’t have to. I do have to go and be sick.

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This is the asylum

What is it? See below.

What is it? See below.

We are living in an age of magic, an age of engineering and scientific marvels. What is this? It’s the surface of a comet! It’s the comet Gerasimov from only 6.5Km away, roughly. No-one in history has ever seen anything like this before. We used to think comets were just balls of dirty ice which got partly melted with each sun pass. But this European Space Agency spacecraft has shown that this comet, at least, is much more than just dirty ice. This is history being made!

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We’re going to spend $22 billion to obtain 12 submarines. At the same time, we have a huge budget deficit which will require drastic measures to correct.

Well, how about this? There is an alternative. Forget building submarines altogether. Why do we need them? Where’s the justification? They will never fire a shot in anger. They will never be needed, just as the six Collins Class subs have never been blooded.

Submarines are 20th century. There are so many alternatives to kill ships by stealth now. Even if the justification is intelligence gathering, it’s a hugely expensive way to get it. UAV (drone) technology is taking over. Besides, it is very, very difficult to get submarine crews. Very few can tolerate the long periods submerged in such tight living conditions.

If we have $22bn to spend, spend it on 21st century technology such as the US Fast Littoral Combat Ships (built right here in WA by Austal) or small stealthy, but deadly, patrol craft (ditto). For $22bn we could have a hundred of them or more. They could overwhelm an enemy like ants attacking a large prey. Cruise missiles. Forget subs!

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I was talking about the wave power experiment in Cockburn Sound yesterday. Well, shazzam, it went on-line today. The pilot installation has been connected to Garden Island and is supplying 720KW to the RAN base there, plus desalinated water. All from only three generator buoys.

I thought the generators were in the buoys, but no, the buoys generate sea water at high pressure which is piped ashore to drive turbines. The desalination is a byproduct, presumably by reverse osmosis.

If only three buoys can generate that much power, imagine what 100 could do.

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I had an attack of GAS today. GAS is Gear Acquisition Syndrome, the need to buy one more piece of photographic gear. But I resisted …

I was reading a piece about a new Tamron 150-600mm zoom telephoto lens and getting all gooey about it. Wow, what a lens, I thought. Sigma makes one of the same range in Pentax mount which I could use. $1,497. Ugh.

Then while browsing the lens lists, it suddenly hit me – I’ve got the Olympus 75-300mm lens for micro 4/3rds. That’s equivalent to 150-600mm in full frame. So I’ve already got a lens of that type!! The attack of GAS went away.

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In tonight’s Guardian, they show that the lead lawyer for the government in the Trade Union Royal Commission is being paid $3.6 million for less than two years’ work. The government is willigly paying that amount of money in the hope of getting even with trade unions.

At the same time, they’re suggesting we might have to forego the census next year as we can’t afford it.

I think that shows this execrable, disgusting government’s priorities.

Peter Dowding in the West points out that in 1986 the WA Labor government’s move to abolish capital punishment (government sanctioned killing) went close to defeat because nearly all the conservative side (Liberals and Nationals) voted to keep hanging people. If hanging had been kept, John Button and Daryl Beamish, two entirely innocent men, would almost certainly be dead.

And don’t forget it’s the conservatives who want royal honours restored (so they can give each other knighthoods again). Disgusting, revolting people.

RETs and all that

Pollution free energy. Don't be a galah. © PJ Croft 1987, 2015

Pollution free energy. Don’t be a galah. (I took this shot in 1987 on the Exmouth Peninsula.) © PJ Croft 1987, 2015

I’m a financial member of GetUp, the small organisation that tries to influence events by getting people to speak up. They asked us to email our local MP yesterday about the RET, the Renewable Energy Target, the legislated target to have “20:20” – 20% of our energy generated from renewable resources by 2020. This damnable Liberal government has abandoned any target.

This is what I sent to Christian Porter MP, my local member.
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I’m 68, and I’m old enough to remember what WA’s climate USED to be like.

There’s no question that our rainfall in WA has dropped dramatically and temperatures have risen noticeably. I used to have to rug up at night. No more. Winter nights are now mild. Summer temperatures are noticeably higher and heat waves ( > 3 days @ > 30C ) last longer, as long as a month.

This is plain evidence that WA’s climate has changed. This IS climate change. I have to use much more air conditioning now, at great cost, both to me and to our environment.

For goodness sake, look at the cost/benefit analysis of acting, or doing nothing. To me it’s clear.

You believe climate change is crap ( I say this because you stand shoulder to shoulder with your leader who says that, and you say nothing to the contrary).

I believe climate change is not only scientifically proven, it’s real. I can feel it. And when more than 1,000 scientists around the world, with full rigorous, peer reviewed research and the qualifications to do so, speak unequivocally, I listen and believe.

I could be wrong, and we could spend billions of dollars combating climate change without halting or reversing the change. But look where and how those billions would be spent.

We’d invest in renewable energy, and I include both nuclear power stations (fission) and fusion power (see the Lockheed Martin announcement about small sized fusion reactors within 5 years). Geo thermal power – why aren’t we developing it, for goodness sake? Solar power. Wave power – it’s happening right now in Cockburn Sound in tests by the Carnegie company, with no government help! Virtually cost free power with desalinated water as a by-product. Why not do it?

All these things are money makers and jobs creators. Australia is good at doing this and could become a major exporter.

The result would be cleaner air, fewer waste products, less degradation of the land by open cut coal mines, cleaner oceans, no damage to coral reefs, and JOBS. Technical, engineering jobs, just what we need. Manufacturing jobs.

I could be wrong and this may not halt climate change, but the money we spend is not wasted! It would have huge benefits, even if the climate continued to change.

Or, we follow Tony Abbott’s path and do nothing. We place great reliance on coal. We continue to allow large scale coal mining, when the economic case is no longer there – we don’t need massive coal any more. All we’re doing is shipping it to India to cause massive pollution and environmental damage, and causing great damage to our own environment in the process, all to enrich an Indian billionaire. This is just one example. We continue to see our manufacturing base disappear. We wring our hands and try to think of solutions, and watch our jobs disappear overseas to Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and China.

You COULD be wrong. And if you are, the damage would be incalculable.

So if we follow your path, what are you going to say in 40, 50 years’ time? Ooops, sorry? The Monty Python apology?

If you are wrong, how are you going to fix the consequences of your opposition to a RET or a carbon (dioxide) emissions tax, or a resources rent tax?

If I’m wrong, I can’t see that I’ll need to apologise, because the consequences of my error will be terrific even so. We will see new jobs, cleaner air, cleaner and more efficient power generation and new technology. Patents, royalties. Revenue from the levies and taxes flowing to the government.

For goodness sake, THINK.
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Why aren’t we developing geothermal power? According to my reading, a particular spot in South Australia (near Woomera, I think) has the ability to provide enough power, free of charge, free of pollution, to supply the whole of the eastern states forever!

It seems to be the cost of building the power transmission lines from the site to link into the SA power grid. Huh? Surely even a cost of $500 million would not be out of the question?

Here in WA we have a major geothermal hotspot near Dongara, again able to supply massive heat. And another one just over the Darling Scarp near Perth. Why aren’t we developing it? I don’t understand it.

My reference to wave power is the Carnegie Energy project in Cockburn Sound http://www.carnegiewave.com/ . Big weights anchoring buoys to the ocean floor (about 20m down?). As the waves pass, the buoys rise and fall and drive a generator in the buoy. This generates power which is fed to the shore by electric cables under the water. Each buoy is fairly small but you have a large number of them (100, I think), in a grid.

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Interesting sights yesterday. Sitting in a cafe on the coast and first, a RAAF Lockheed Martin C-130 Super Hercules four engined prop plane flew past, low and slow.

C-130 Hercules

C-130 Hercules

It was followed 10 mins later by a C-17 Globemaster, a massive four-jet engined transport plane flying low.

C-17 Globemaster transport.

C-17 Globemaster transport.

Both were only 200 ft or so above the ocean, north to south.

Then an hour later, they came back again flying south to north, right above the coast line. Phew!

Then I went to Joondalup shopping centre and there was an army Military Police vehicle there, and inside the centre, sipping milkshakes, three MPs with their red badges.

What’s going on? Has Indonesia invaded?