Venice

08 10 18_Venice_0064s

© PJ Croft 2015

http://web.photodex.com/view/pgbx42x4

08 10 18_Venice_0069

© PJ Croft 2015

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I’ve always said, people marry either partners who looks like themselves, or a complete opposite. Look at the similarity here. Same facial shape, same mouth. Same bloody politics, too.

Ugh_________________________________

It’s 5am and another sleepless night. Damn, I just can’t get to sleep! It means I crash for a couple of hours during the day, which messes up the next night. Or I take a heavy slug of valerian, which works, but it feels like a hangover the next day.

Plus I’ve got itches all over me. Not rashes, just little nerve itches. I try to ignore them but a new one pops up every 5 seconds or so, sometimes quite strongly so that I just have to scratch. Uuuuuugh. Problem.

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Forgot to mention – I visited a Men’s Shed last week for the first time. These are literally sheds or workshops for old blokes like me (huh!) who are a bit lonely and in need of a work group to make things, or just a good yarn over a cuppa. This one is actually in a modern complex, not a shed, and they’ve got a LOT of space.

I was surprised how much equipment they’ve got. They’ve got multiples of all the machines you could need: table saws, band saws, wood and metal lathes, planers, shapers, belt and spindle sanders, welding gear of all types. Everything you could ever need.

I was shown around by the lead guy, and had a coffee and chat with the five or six guys who were there, but … no-one asked me where I used to work or what my experience or expertise is. All they wanted to talk about was themselves. I was almost offended. I was quite put off, actually. I don’t think that one will suit me. It’s virtually all woodwork oriented, and it’s too far to go, about 25 mins from my place, i.e. about 20Km or so.

I’ve heard there’s one in Wanneroo which rebuilds computers from old parts. That’s more my line. Hmmm, it’s also 25Km as the crow flies, which means further by road, but the freeway gets me most of the way there. I’ll give it a try soon.

UPDATE:  It’s actually in Girrawheen, which (by road, not the straight line), is 30Km away. Bloody hell, that’s a long drive, about 35 mins I’d guess. My place is so far from everything. Anywhere I want to go is at least 15 mins away, and usually half an hour’s drive. I meet with a couple of mates for brekky each fortnight and that’s 30 mins if the traffic’s OK. I sometimes go to lunch on Friday with a few mates from Channel 7 days, but it’s in Victoria Park, 45 mins away. Problem.

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Ah, summer

143-solar-power-for-homeThank goodness for a bit of warm sun at last. It is a month into spring, after all, but the weather bureau says we had three days over 30C this month, the first time on record that we’ve had three 30C+ days in September, ever. This is global warming in action. I wouldn’t mind betting we’re in for another “driest winter”, or “driest year” on record, too.

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I’ve never considered solar power up to now because I didn’t feel my power bills were very high. But the situation has changed. The government has increased electricity prices so much that I’m paying about $250 per 60 days billing period now. That’s about double what I was paying 4-5 years ago. (I can easily verify this – I keep records.) That’s about $1,500 per year.

The cost of solar panels has fallen to the point where you can buy a 5KW system for about $5,000 now. If you could run off solar power alone, that means the system would pay for itself in a bit over three years, and less time if you got paid for the excess power you could feed back into the system.

Additionally, the cost of battery storage to iron out the times “when the sun don’t shine” is now also dropping. That means total independence from the mains power supply.

I doubt I’ll do anything for a few more years, but everything I read suggests that it may be the sensible thing to do, especially in Perth. We’re being affected by global warming and rising temperatures, as I say, but that means we’re ideally placed to take advantage of free power from all that sun. We have more hours of sunshine than most places in the world.

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My run of bad luck continues. I bought a small laptop 12V 5A power supply to run a Betacam broadcast VCR. It cost $65. Yesterday I put the necessary connector on it and connected it to the Betacam machine, which was switched off.

As I plugged the power connector on I heard a very small click, like a static spark. The Betacam VCR was not connected to anything at all so I didn’t think much of it.

But there was no life when I switched it on. I unplugged and checked for volts from the power supply – nothing. I had checked the volts before I plugged it in, but now it was dead. Damn! Power supplies like these are usually overload protected.

The problem is, this power supply is a sealed “brick”. You can’t open it up. There’s no way in without using a small saw. Even if I did succeed in opening the case, I reckon I’d find a black plastic solid “brick” inside. They don’t make these things to be serviced. Return it as faulty? I can’t, because I’ve cut the original plug off and soldered a new connector on.

So it looks as if it’s $65 down the drain. I’ll have a  go at cutting it open, but I don’t hold much hope. I think I’ll have to build one to my own conventional design, so that I can troubleshoot it if I have to.

I haven’t heard a word from the Sydney hi fi shop who have my Yamaha DAB+ tuner that I had to return as faulty. It’s been about 10 days so far. That’s a $425 dead weight that I’m still waiting on. I’m jinxed.

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My quarterly blood test were back last week, and once again I’ve aced it. Liver, kidneys, cholesterol, blood pressure, all good. No sign of any flare up of the CLL. My HbA1C is 8.2, when the recommended range is 4-6, but it’s not dangerously high. I’m seeing the diabetic nurse on Tuesday for advice on medication adjustments. Still very tired.

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I’ve been toying with travel ideas in the past week or two. One idea is a round world air ticket, business class for between $4,000 to $6,999. It seemed attractive at first, but then I thought about being in the USA and having some kind of health problem. We just can’t afford to get caught up in the US health system, I’m afraid. I’m not 100% healthy. If I were 20 years younger, fine, but I could have a diabetic or heart problem at some time while travelling. Too dangerous in the USA.

Plus, it’s just too dangerous a country, I feel. I wish I could go there, but no, too risky.

That takes me back to a cruise I’ve seen advertised, leaving in a year’s time – in late September 2016 from Southampton in the UK. It goes through the Med with a couple of stops, then through the Suez Canal, round into the Persian Gulf to Dubai, then via Cochin in India (southern tip, west side), across to Thailand (Phuket), the Malacca Straits to Penang, KL, Singapore, Bali, Fremantle (duck home to drop off the souvenirs and have a decent shower!), then Margaret River, Albany and on to Melbourne and Sydney. Duration 46 nights for $6,999. That’s more realistic. All accommodation and meals included, so a lot cheaper than an all-air trip.  I’d fly to the UK beforehand and do some driving (or going by train) to see Croft Castle in Herefordshire, then catch the ship on 28 September next year.

I know I said I’d never do a cruise again, but maybe …

At first I thought I’d disembark at Fremantle, but if I went through to Sydney, maybe I could buy my dream car there and do that driving thing back to Perth. That would really round off the trip. Hmmm.

NEXT DAY: Nah. This won’t work. That fare is for twin share. The single price is double that, $14,000. This is bloody outrageous. Sure, I occupy a whole cabin, but I don’t eat twice the food, I don’t use twice the water or other consumables. Unfortunately, the chances of finding a travel companion are low to zero. Also, this is for an interior, windowless cabin. For the 7 day trip on the Arcadia last year, it was OK, but I don’t think 7 weeks would be so easy.

If I wanted to spend $14,000, I could travel business class air and stay in luxury hotels on the same route, for much less. On top of the ship fare, you have to pay around $250 for each day tour in each port if you want to go ashore. That adds thousands more to the fare. Nah!

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Speaking of driving, yesterday I was doing my 80Km/h on Marmion Avenue (two lanes plus bicycle lane) when a small motor bike roared up behind me. But instead of passing me in the right lane, he pulled left into the bicycle lane and passed me on the inside. P-plate rider, of course. He continued on in the bicycle lane for as far as I could see. Bloody fool.

A few days before that, again on Marmion Ave at 80Km/h, a dirt bike roared past on my left, but not in the bicycle lane, on the footpath! He was doing at least 100Km/h in places, but because he had to slow right down at intersections, I could watch him for 5 mins or so and he continued on the footpath all this time.

I read that there is a high death toll on motorbike riders in Perth. Good. I have no sympathy whatever. They refuse to obey the rules, so if they die or get maimed, too bloody bad. Each death is one less to worry about.

Callous? I obey the rules.

Good riddance.

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What a dog of a Prime Minister. But that’s unfair to dogs.

This is the editorial from The Saturday Paper last weekend. I have never seen such a complete demolition of a former PM. They sure don’t pull their punches, and I agree with every word of it (my bold emphases):

“It is no exaggeration to say Tony Abbott is the worst prime minister Australia has had. To the extent that his brief and destructive leadership of the country is remembered, it will not be remembered well.

“Abbott is a prime minister without a legacy. In attempting to defend one this week, he came up with not much: some jobs, a few trade agreements, an infrastructure project, a border protection regime founded on human rights abuses, a royal commission so compromised by bias its own commissioner had to consider removing himself.

“Abbott governed for the past and the few conservatives desperate to continue living there. He governed against science and in contempt of the environment. He governed in opposition to social equality, in terror of reform. His was a government of fear and avoidance, a rolling sideshow anxiously avoiding the fact it had nothing to add and no idea what to do.

Abbott spent his time in opposition degrading the office of the prime minister. His was a campaign of debasement: a coarsening of debate, a running down of the respect once stored in the institution. Those who say he was a fine opposition leader do so in error. There is no victory in destroying what you set out to win.

“On prevailing at the 2013 election, he placed on his head a small and tinny crown. He did nothing to repair it in the years that have passed since. Indeed, he added only to its dents and tarnish.

He treated law like a plaything. He made policy at odds with the country’s own constitution. He fought consensus and held out against change. He refused humility. He let run the island camps where women and children are raped and men killed. He turned in from the world. He mocked treaties. He failed obligations. He fed prejudice wherever he could.

He was a coward with reform. He left the tax system lumbering and unfair. He failed to articulate policy. He hectored the ABC, cowing it and becoming ludicrously involved in editorial processes. He shunned innovation. He craved distraction.

“Abbott’s great fear, and the fear of those people left supporting him, is tomorrow. He is fearful of same-sex marriage. Fearful of an economy remade by climate change. Fearful of the fair distribution of taxes. Fearful of power as it ebbs away from the places where it was once concentrated. But tomorrow is always close; his prime ministership was always doomed.

“Abbott is an experiment that failed. He is proof that Australia cannot be governed from the far right, just as it cannot be governed from the far left. He was the last hope and final holdout of a group of people wishing desperately against a modern Australia.

“His time in the office leaves a hole in this country’s agenda. A period of incompetent stasis. Two wasted years we must now hungrily get back.

He will not be missed. He should not be praised. He was a failure selfishly wishing that the world would fail with him. We can only hope his like will not be seen again.

Hear hear. Yet this man was elected leader by his Liberal and National Party colleagues and enthusiastically supported by them. What a rotten, stinking rabble.

Different leopard, same spots

coal-power“For reasons that still remain obscure, Abbott got it into his head that wind and solar power were the enemy and had to be crushed, while the fossil fuel incumbents, particularly coal exporters, had to be glorified.

“Never mind that around the world, renewable energy industries are emerging as real industries of the future, while coal seems to be in terminal decline. Facts like these had no impact on Abbott’s apparent loathing of renewables.” [The Conversation https://theconversation.com/with-a-single-sentence-malcolm-turnbull-can-end-tony-abbotts-war-on-renewable-energy-47694 ]

This was bizarre. How could such an idiot ever have been thought suitable to be the Prime Minister of Australia? He did serious damage to the renewable energy industry, including stifling investment, job creation and employment, for no good reason whatever. This was just madness. This man was a Rhodes Scholar, but to me he just wasn’t intelligent. He was a slow thinker, said the wrong things and made utterly weird decisions. I listed some of them a couple of days ago but the list of his stupid, silly things is huge.

We can only hope that the new PM will end the madness, but I’m not counting on it. Already Turnbull is showing that he is ready to repudiate his own previously held positions. He’s a coward. He knows that evil is being done on Manus Island and Nauru, but he won’t speak out against it.

Different leopard, same spots. He’s changed his views to appease the dinosaurs of the Liberals and the Nationals. He’s a coward.

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I’m writing this on the new Acer CB280HK 28″ 4K monitor. Wow. It’s beautiful. Absolutely smooth edges – the pixels are completely invisible. No more squinting to read the 10pt type in my Photobooks. I can easily read the text and it shows up my typing errors straight away. Too many times I was only discovering the errors after the book had been printed and delivered. It was very frustrating.

But there are some bizarre effects. I’ve discovered that my password storage program won’t show the password data! The headings are there, but the data spaces are blank. This is crazy. Why would changing the display cause this? It’s not fatal – I can double click on a record to put it into editing mode and the data shows up then. I dunno, Windows is utterly mad at times.

I upgraded to Windows 10 on my laptop last week and I’m not sure about it so far. The upgrade went OK, taking about an hour, but when it finally booted up, the screen res came up at 1600×1200 (native for the LCD screen is 1920×1080) and the text size came up as 125%, so it looked awful. It took a lot of fiddling to get it right.

I can do the upgrade on this desktop PC whenever I want to, but I’m holding off until I’m sure everything is ready. I’m making sure all Win updates and fixes are installed, then doing a full backup so that I can go back if I have to. Won’t be too much longer.

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I had a hypo (hypoglycaemic, low blood sugar) attack yesterday morning while I was out, in a cafe (oh, OK, it was a McDonalds for breakfast). I can easily recognise it and I had my jelly beans in my bag so I got through it, but urrrgh, it’s not a nice feeling. It’s just a matter of drinking an OJ and eating the sweets and waiting, but I was perspiring and woozy and feeling shaky and sick. Not good. But the funny thing is that my BS on rising was 8.2, and when I measured again when I got home, it was still 8.2, even after eating all that sugary stuff. Odd.

I felt pretty tired after it so I went back to bed and slept for another three hours. Doesn’t happen very often.

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I’ve been urged to do more travelling and a flyer has turned up advertising a cruise from the UK to Sydney via Fremantle. It’s in September next year, so plenty of time to think about it.

The thing is, it’s 46 days, nearly 7 weeks, and goes from London, through the Mediterranean with a couple of stops (Italy, Greece), then through the Suez Canal, round to Dubai, then to Cochin in India, Phuket, Malaysia (Penang, KL), Bali, Fremantle, Margaret River then on to Sydney. Many other stops on the way. $6,999.

It attracts me, but I immediately remember the crowds and the awful queueing, plus the very expensive costs in getting off the ship and onto the bus tours in each port. These would add another $2,000 – $3,000 at least.

Nah. A business class round world air ticket would be about the same price, I think, and much more flexible. Something to think about.

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Still no action on the car idea. I’ve asked Barry to see about getting a test drive on the John Hughes CLK500, as I’ve never even seen one of these, let alone touched one or sat in it. I might not like it.

One thing that puts me off is that it’s so black. Black exterior, black interior. It’s very boring. All these Mercs are either black or silver. It’s rare to find any other colours, except grey. Boring.

Remove brain before speaking

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Ah, a beautiful coal mine. Liberal politicians love things like this because they keep the gold flowing in.

The Liberal senator Ian Macdonald has said children are being “brainwashed” by education campaigns urging Australians to take action on climate change, describing the political debate about how to tackle it as “puerile”.

“The children of Australia have been brainwashed into thinking if you turn off a light in Australia, somehow that is going to stop climate change,” the Queensland senator told parliament on Wednesday.

“This is a puerile debate in its extreme. We have to bring some sense into the debate.”

Because Australia emits less than 1.2% of the world’s carbon, considering an emissions trading scheme was “nonsensical,” he said, adding that “few serious countries” outside of the EU were implementing such schemes.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics places the country’s emissions as closer to 1.5%. According to the Climate Institute, Australia is the largest per capita emitter in the industrialised world.

Macdonald said he did not deny the climate was changing. “As I repeatedly say, Australia was once covered in ice,” he said. “Of course the climate changes.”

But he challenged the theory that humans were contributing to this. “This new theory, I refer to it often as a fad or a farce or a hoax, that suddenly since man started the industrial age, a change of climate has happened is just farcical and fanciful.” [The Guardian]

Yep, that’s the guy who said he hadn’t actually read the report on refugees by the Human Rights Commission, but he knew it was rubbish.

The IQ test for membership of the Liberal Party: Q. What is IQ?

They all have shares in coal mines, oil companies and shale oil miners. They receive large monetary contributions (read that how you like) from these companies. See the revelations coming out of Queensland.

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I bought my first 4K monitor today. I’ve been thinking about it for a year or so and waiting for the prices to fall.

What’s triggered it is that I’m trying to compose my books in Photobook, using 10pt text, and I’m finding it too small to read properly on screen. If the program allowed easy magnification it might be OK, but it’s slow to do it.

As well, ever since I changed to my current computer, I’ve been using a 19″ Acer monitor at its native 1920×1080 resolution. It looks good, but it makes text quite small. My eyesight is not as good now, so I’m having trouble reading the screen.

So today, I bought an Acer 27″ 4K monitor for $537. It has 3840×2160 resolution. That should fix things. Naturally I researched it and I’ve got a new AMD graphics card with a Display Port connection to drive it.

I haven’t connected it up yet – tomorrow.

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The Guardian ran an item today asking for stories about good and bad bosses. Naturally, there are far more bad stories than good.

I started writing and found I could hardly stop. The period from 1989 to when I finally took the redundancy and left in 1999 was the decadus horribilus of my life. Unbelievably poor management. Awful stress. Literally drove me to the brink.

I found I’d exceeded their 5000 word limit without even getting close to finishing, so I had to heavily prune my story, but I’ve saved it and will tell the full story here asap. Stay tuned. It’s an amazing, awful but true story.

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Here we go again:

Manly tilted

As published. The tilt is 2.8deg!

Manly un tilted

Horizon corrected. Why don’t they do this before printing?

Lose some, win some

CO3JFKSUkAEshR4He’s gone. He’s gone! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

From Twitter: Karma – Time in office: Gillard: 3 yrs, 3 days Rudd: 2 yrs, 286 days Abbott: 1 yr, 357 days

From Twitter: Wondering what hurts more. Being knifed like Gillard and Rudd, or spending less time in the top job than either of them?

Apparently Abbott falls three days short of reaching the time in office to get an ex-PM’s “lurks and perks.” Hoo-bloody-ray.

From a video list on the Guardian:

  • “Coal is good for humanity. Coal is an essential part of our economic future.”
  • If people live in remote areas it’s a lifestyle choice. (Closure of Aboriginal communities in the desert.)
  • “Good government starts today.” after the first challenge to his leadership. So what did we have before?
  • Introduced to Viet Nam’s top army general, he says “We Australians know well the power of the Vietnamese army.”
  • Calls the loss of jobs under Labor “a Holocaust of job losses.”
  • “No-one is the suppository of all wisdom.” He didn’t know what he’d said.
  • He was going to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin. “You bet you are, you bet I am.” What?! He did nothing.
  • The wink about the sex worker on the radio program.
  • Trying to speak French to French school kids in France, telling them he’s the “Premiere of Australia.” He can’t speak French.
  • He eats an unpeeled raw onion on camera to show his support for Tasmanian growers. Why?

Add to these:

  • The “captain’s pick” to introduce knights and dames to Australia without any consultation.
  • After all the ridicule and criticism, a year later he makes Prince Philip an Australian knight, again with no consultation. More ridicule, especially as he announces it on Australia Day.
  • Makes comment about being on “Cape York time”, belittling the people who live on Cape York.
  • Laughs loudly about time not mattering with “water lapping at your door”. Pacific Island nations are highly offended.
  • Calling windmill power generators “ugly” and trying to stop their use.
  • Making a sustained and spurious attack on the office and integrity of the Human Rights Commissioner Professor Gillian Triggs.

And on and on. This is just a small sample! What a rotten PM, what a rotten party.

One good thing is that we’ll probably hear the last of the loathsome characters Eric Abetz, George Brandis, Peter Dutton, Cory Bernardi, George Christensen and others like them. And make no mistake, there are plenty just as bad as them in the Liberal Party.

Another dud!

Yamaha T-500Holy smoke, what have I done to deserve the long list of faulty products I’m getting? The latest is the Yamaha tuner I bought a few weeks ago. This is the second one to die on me.

The first one I received from Sydney was dead on arrival, just no power-up at all. I had to re-box it and send it back at a cost of $35 postage and a trip to the post office at Clarkson. I got the postage refunded by PayPal (but only in the form of a credit).

The replacement arrived and things were going well. It powered up and appeared to be working well, except that the remote control didn’t work. I went through a checking procedure and verified it was the remote at fault, so I posted it back to the Sydney shop and asked for a replacement. I still haven’t received one a week later.

But while I was manually tuning and using the buttons on the front, suddenly it seemed to get into a lockout situation and that was that – no sound from the DAB+ digital radio section. Dammit! I tried everything I could think of but nothing worked.

So, first, a completely dead unit, then a faulty remote on the replacement, and finally a faulty tuner itself. It has to go back. This is crazy. I question Yamaha’s quality control. I think this is a firmware problem. The unit is made in China, as just about everything is these days.

This joins the long list of faulty products I’ve had. Three successive faulty capsule coffee makers. A pair of lens adapters that fouled the body of the camera and had to be sent back to HK at a cost of $25, not recovered. A model train loco that was dead on arrival that cost me another $28 in postage to the UK, not recovered. I forget the rest at the moment but there have been other items. I’m gettin’ a bit tired of this. I think a common factor is “Made in China”.

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At last!  This ABC News item: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-10/is-it-time-to-change-the-nil-by-mouth-protocol/6765312 says that doctors are finally coming to realise that starved and dehydrated patients before surgery are not ideal.

I’ve been complaining in hospitals for years that disallowing any water before surgery was making me dehydrated, and lack of any food, specifically carbohydrates i.e. no breakfast allowed, was making me light headed, nervous, grumpy and generally feeling unwell before any operations.

Now they’re rethinking this rule and saying that a high carbohydrate liquid such as apple juice or other specially formulated drink should be OK. It should be given up to 2hrs before the op. At last! I’ve been telling the nurses and doctors that as a diabetic, it is bad that I can’t have some kind of food.

However, although it’s been adopted in the UK and US, this country’s medicos are still dragging their heels. Huh.

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I’ve been watching the Channel 9 program Kings Cross ER, about the emergency department of Kings Cross Hospital in Sydney. Gee it’s good. Very well made.

I compare it with the British made programs of the same type – I think one is called Kings Cross, but it’s in London. There’s also Great Ormond Street, also in London. Our program shits all over the UK ones. It’s far better made. Recommended.

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Another bad night. I was tired at 11pm and fell asleep easily with no Valerian, but I awoke 90 mins later and that was it. I couldn’t get back to sleep all night. I read a bit, rolled over and tried to sleep, and probably did, very lightly for a while, but I was wide awake at 4am and now at 0620am I’m writing this. It just means I’ll have to catch up a bit after breakfast again.

Trouble is, itching. Not rashes or anything serious, just constant little itches that need scratching briefly all over me. All over my face and scalp, on my arms. Scratch one spot and immediately another place needs it, and another and another and on and on. I’m not red raw or anything, it’s just nerves, I think. Difficult.

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The sheer nastiness of this awful Liberal government just goes on and on. Kapitan Rabbott first says we can only take a relatively few Syrian refugees but at the expense of refugees from other parts of the world. Then he sniffs the stink this releases and changes his mind, basking in the praise he gets as if he is such a compassionate bloke.

There is a long, long list of evil acts by this government, ranging from our torture camps on Manus and Nauru, to the terrible attacks on Professor Gillian Triggs, to the stupid joke about rising sea levels on Pacific islands which just shows the couldn’t care less attitude of Dutton and Rabbott. The list is endless. This government MUST be voted out in 12 months’ time. This one of the worst governments we’ve ever had.

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Good result in the footy, ay? Crumbs, I’m not much of a sports fan but to have the Eagles and the Dockers 1 and 2 in the finals, with one of these WA teams a very likely premiership side is quite exciting. I don’t watch the games, but I’m interested in the results. Good stuff.