Bunker bunkum day 164

The Mandurah beach house of my 1980s/90s friend Haruko. She died in 1995.

Lovely day, 21C, no wind. Nice. Spring tomorrow. Can’t wait.

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From Crikey.com: Strange how business calls for “economic reform” are always aimed at everyone else, and never at the worst forms of rorts, incompetence and scandals, which cost millions of Australians billions in lost income.

Take AMP. It was a corporate hero in the recession of the 1990s, coming to the aid of a near bankrupt Westpac. It helped in the float of the Commonwealth Bank. It owned 10% of Macquarie Bank (now Macquarie Group). It was perhaps the most important investor in the country, the bluest of blue chips, with more than $90 billion in total assets.

The old AMP Society was demutualised in 1998. Shares in the new company were valued at $6.19 in that deal and quickly soared, touching $15.87 in November of 1998. Since then it’s been a long slide punctuated with repeated managerial and boardroom unrest and scandal.

When AMP demutualised it had an excess of capital. It soon went on a spending spree, picking up UK funds manager Henderson, National Provident Institution and then GIO. GIO was a $3 billion investment that lost $1 billion.

By 2003 AMP’s share price had hit a record low $2.72, having lost shareholders 73% in value since listing. It recovered briefly above $10 a share in 2007, but has rarely been above $6 since.

As the Hayne royal commission unfolded and revealed a remarkable array of misconduct and egregious rorting by AMP, it fell below $5, the $4, then $3, then $2. Last week it closed at $1.50.

That was Crikey, this is me. In the 1990s a work colleague was allocated AMP shares when they demutualised. He didn’t want them, so I offered to buy them from him, believing, as they say above, that they were the bluest of blue chips. I paid the going rate then, $20 a share for 155 shares.

After twenty years of mismanagement, dishonesty, frauds, incompetence, “egregious rorting” and plain management greed, my shares are now worth just over $1.50. I’ve lost most of my money. It’s hardly worth selling them now.

My point is, the Liberal Party is always down on unions, to the point where they ran a Royal Commission into unions with the word “corruption” in the title, yet any misbehaviour by unions (and yes, there is some) pales to insignificance beside the incompetence and dishonesty, greed and criminality of Australian managements. Promotion in Australian companies is rarely based on education or qualifications. It’s far more often based on being one of the boys, being rough and tough. I’ve seen it.

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I finished the second edition of Croft History vol. 1 2nd edition and sent it off for printing on Saturday. It’s a tedious process because although I bought three vouchers and want to use them for the same order, the web site won’t let me. Each voucher number had to be submitted as a separate order, which meant three separate upload processes, requiring about 30 mins each. And paying $12.95 for postage on each order.

I’ve now bought four more vouchers for my own copies (which will be for sale) and I don’t want to have to go through their rigmarole again. I’ve sent off a query to Support asking why their multiple copy function won’t work but going on past experience it will be several days before I get an answer.

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I watched the four episodes of The Salisbury Poisonings on SBS last week with rapt attention. It was pretty well made, showing the lengths the police had to go to to keep the public away from anything that could have been contaminated by the Russian Novichok nerve poison. I was surprised, though, by the public displays of anger at the police. This seems to be a characteristic of the British people – they are much more prone to demonstrations and shows of anger than we are. Maybe it’s just TV drama but it occurs very often.

The other thing that struck me was the sexism. The civilian leader of the Public Health Department crisis team was a woman and she was repeatedly shown in private displays of weakness, crying, showing her fatigue, how the weight of responsibility was bearing down on her.

Yet the male police were never shown in any form of distress. They just showed the calm competence that we think of them. The contrast was very clear to me. The woman got through, of course, but it wasn’t a good look.

Great show, though. It was just another illustration of what rotten leaders the Russians have. We’ve seen it again last week in the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader. Once again, Putin and his cronies resort to crude poisoning to cripple anyone who opposes them. It’s disgusting. In the Salisbury case, they took enough of the deadliest nerve agent to poison an entire city, and dumped it in a bin where it could have been found by anyone, as it was.

I’ve said this before: the lack of morals by Russians – Russian airforce pilots have no qualms about dropping bombs on hospitals in Syria, killing medical staff and children without a care. No Australian pilot would do this! They would refuse such an order. It is a war crime, an outrage. But Russian pilots do it repeatedly. They are amoral cowards.

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Hah! I replied to a Facebook post from a woman in the USA who loves Trump. She believes the sun shines out of his arse. I thought I’d have a play with her and boy-oh-boy, she is a sick woman. Trump doesn’t tell lies, the Washington Post does. (Why would the newspapers lie? What advantage would it give them? Quite the opposite, if they are caught lying, it would go badly for them.)

Anyway, I batted back and forth a few times but I’ve bailed out. This US woman is a true believer in the Trump lies. Wasting my time.

The thought of him being voted back in scares me. It would give him a new sense of his power and legitimacy which he would use to do even worse things. It’s frightening. Half of the USA has gone mad. I wish the mad half would get the virus and die.

Bunker bulldust day 161

The wake of a cruise ship at sunset, 1984. © PJ Croft 2020

Aaaah, there’s a sense of Spring around. The forecast is for 25C today and I can see the angle of the light and the earlier sunrise and later sunset. Yeah, bring it on.

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I don’t usually write a post after dinner, but I’m so upset at what I’m hearing on TV and reading.

The rules being enforced by the bureaucracy in this virus crisis are worse than bizarre, they are just cruel. There’s a closed border between NSW and Queensland. Fair enough. We need to be very careful with this damned virus.

But a woman and her partner live in northern NSW just south of the Qld border. Her elderly father was taken to a Brisbane hospital and died. She was informed by phone, but was denied permission to visit the hospital.

Then the funeral was arranged, and although she was permitted to attend her father’s funeral (i.e. cross the border), she was allowed to be at his funeral for no more than 30 minutes and was prohibited from approaching any of the mourners – her family and relatives, in other words. Thirty minutes! She has a disability and relies on her partner to function in life, but he was denied permission to cross the border to be with her.

This crosses a line, I think, the line between laudable caution and blind unreason. The woman and her partner could have been provided with full PPE suits for the funeral, surely?

Then today I read: “The heart-rending story of a Ballina [a northern NSW town near the Qld border] woman who lost one of her unborn twins last week after waiting 16 hours to fly to Sydney for urgent surgery (rather than attempt to cross from NSW into Queensland), highlights the mounting unintended consequences of border closures across Australia.”

There are many other stories similar to this. There’s a level of incompetence, stupidity, unreasonableness, and cold, callous, unfeeling obstinacy in government departments at the moment.

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I can’t help noticing, also, in all the many cases of people ignoring or defying the rules about quarantine and deciding to escape or go to parties or shouting defiance at police and authorities, the high proportion of women offenders.

There seems to be an attitude in some females, especially, that they ain’t going to play by the rules. You might think it may be just that they are noticed more by reporters, but I don’t think so. There are too many examples. Females are breaking the rules and the law, way out of proportion to males and endangering us all. They lie, cheat, rage at cops, escape confinement and disregard the law and safety. Let’s not forget the woman or women who had sex with the hotel security guards in Melbourne back in May/June. It wasn’t rape, it was consensual. That led to the enormous loss of life, the huge lockdown and economic disaster in Victoria, still ongoing.

No doubt I will be criticised for this, but these are facts.

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The other point is the enormous imbalance in deaths in aged care homes between state owned and run and privately owned and run homes. The federal government is responsible for aged care in Australia, and aged care homes are split between government owned and privately owned. Nearly all the deaths, more than 90%, and we’re talking around 450 deaths so far in Victoria, have occurred in the privately run homes.

The thing is, privately run aged care is almost a licence to print money. The profits are enormous. The owners become hugely wealthy. I’ve seen an article about multi-million dollar mansions, yachts, helicopters, private aircraft, all the trappings of wealth. All the profits go to shareholders, of course, and there’s enormous pressure to cut costs in the homes by skimping on costs, be it staff wages, meals, cleaning and so on. Almost all the staff are casuals with very minimal training because there is no federal regulation about nurse to patient ratios.

By contrast, state homes are regulated and most of the staff in state government run homes are trained nurses, and it’s shown by the very low death and infection rate.

Yet in all the horror stories coming out, the federal Liberal government, and the prime minister (Scott Morrison) are trying to shift the blame onto the Victorian Labor government of Daniel Andrews. The PM says, Oh yes, we regulate aged care, but it’s not us who are responsible for all these deaths. It’s sickening! The Minister for Aged Care, Richard Colbeck (Liberal) couldn’t even answer the question of how many deaths there had been when questioned earlier this week. Incompetent. When he was questioned in the parliament, he got up and walked out of the chamber! The PM has cut his responsibilities back, but left him in place. It’s almost impossible for any federal Liberal minister to lose his job in this Liberal-National Party government, no matter how incompetent or corrupt they are.

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I’ve just read this article today: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/alchemy-of-energy-breakthrough-offers-mass-hydrogen-storage-options-20200702-p558dj.html

It’s a method of storing hydrogen (the gas) in a metal alloy, i.e. within the metal crystals, that’s cheap, efficient and simple (relatively), and it’s been developed here in Oz. It’s more efficient than Li-Ion batteries, lighter, cheaper, smaller. And it can all be manufactured here and could be in use by next year.

Couple that with another item I read today – the generation of hydrogen gas by electrolysis of sea water can now be done economically by solar and wind generated electricity (it’s always been possible, and easy, but the cost of the electricity was prohibitive). There is a serious proposal to set up an enormous (500GW) generation plant at Kalbarri, just up the road, so to speak. Well, 574Km up the road anyway. Kalbarri has all the sun and wind they need (as we found out in January 2019 – the wind almost blew us away) and the proposal is to send the hydrogen gas down the same pipeline as the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline.

Unfortunately, if I had a dollar for every time one of these hopeful stories runs, only to never be heard of again I’d be rich. Even so, we can hope.

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Grandpa Ernest, Dad’s father, around 1932 (?)

Nearly finished the revised edition of the Croft History Vol. 1 book with all the enhanced and colourised photos. Crikey! it is so boring doing the enhancements. One at a time, waiting, waiting. I can see an end in sight so I’m sure one year’s subscription will be enough to get it all done. No doubt there will be pressure and nagging to renew the subscription but I’ll resist.

Grandma Doris, Dad’s mum, late 1920s?

But it’s pretty weird, having an Israeli company sending me emails almost daily saying they’ve found links for my family tree. I think it must be because in a weak moment, I added a little bit of detail to my name and my father and mother’s names. Wham, that was enough for their computers to find links to almost the entire Bruce Rock family tree. It’s almost impossible to resist adding a few more details and links, and before you know it, you’re sucked in. Oh well, I’ve paid for my 12 months so I may as well use it.

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Holy smoke, how does it happen? I bought a few items from Amazon Prime an hour ago, and just now I’ve had a robot call (scam call) from a mechanical woman talking about my Amazon purchases and asking me to confirm details (or something) by pressing 1! How can this happen? Do these scammers have access to my Amazon connection? This is a bit scary.

I just hung up on the call, of course.

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PS: I’ve discovered this just now:

NY photo map. Each dot is a photo taken at that spot in the 1940s.

Some guy in New York has put a black marker dot on a map of New York City representing a photo taken at that spot in the 1940s. That’s one of them above. Each dot you click on brings up a b/w photo taken at the time.

This is amazing. The amount of work that he must have put in, and he’s made it available free on the web: https://1940s.nyc/map/photo/

Bunker bulldust day 158

Bankok 1988 © PJ Croft 2020

Phwooaar, an 8Byoot day today, I reckon. Beautiful blue sky, a few wispy clouds, 21C, warm sun, almost no wind. Yum.

I’ve had brekkie with a couple of photo mates at North Beach, looking out over the ocean. The sea is almost calm and a sailing boat was slowly gliding across the view, about 1Km out. Lovely.

We noticed the chalkboard as we were leaving: “Limit 1 hour per table”. No lingering. It didn’t bother us as we rarely stay that long, but that’s how things have changed. The second entrance has been closed off so there’s only one way in or out. I’m not sure what that’s about. Otherwise, things are pretty normal.

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I had my first chance to use my new (second hand) car AV Stereo in the Verada today, having finally got around to fitting it yesterday. Ugh, they sure don’t make these things easy to fit. All the centre dash trim has to come off first of course, and all the plugs and sockets for the air-con and fans etc have to be disconnected.

It’s like seeing someone’s guts open on the operating table.

This model is my first with DAB+ digital radio. That means an antenna on a plastic backing has to be stuck to the inside of the windscreen on the passenger side. It has a thin coaxial cable which has to be fed under the A-pillar trim and was supposed to go down behind the dash to reach the radio. I’m damned if I could figure out how to do it. Somehow you’re supposed to reach behind the airbag and glove box, but I just couldn’t do it, so it’s draped across the top of the dash and enters through the centre trim. Can’t be helped.

Anyway, I wasn’t sure it would work well, digital radio being prone to fading and dropouts, but it works brilliantly. Only once did it drop out, but only for a few seconds.

I’ve spent at least an hour yesterday and today figuring out how to work the thing. These AV units are not like the old car radios with their knobs and push-buttons. All these have is a column of touch pads down the left side for volume down and up, a Mode button, a couple of other buttons and Seek Fwd/Back switches. Everything else is done by touching or tapping the screen.

The thing is, where once we could do things by touch and feel without needing to look, now it’s almost impossible to do anything while driving without taking your eyes off the road and looking at the display. This is just as dangerous as using your phone while driving and I’m surprised the police don’t treat these as they do phones. Especially as, if you’ve cheated with the wiring, you can play DVDs or mp4 video files while driving. I haven’t done that, but it’s possible.

The other point is that I’m fed up to the back teeth with radios that are designed for the US market where all the controls are on the left, the furthest from a right-hand side driver. In this case, the volume “buttons” are at the top left, requiring me to stretch across to operate them. I don’t like it!

This Mitsubishi Verada, made in Australia, is the only car I’ve ever had where the original equipment stereo unit, made in Australia too, had the volume control on the right, the driver’s side. Unfortunately, it’s been replaced by this “new, modern” unit.

I can’t believe they can’t make L-R swapped units for RH drive markets. This is an easy thing to do these days, especially considering all the touch display controls are done in software. Also, they’re made in Japan. Japan is a RH drive country, like us. Surely they want RH controls too? Apparently not.

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The War of the Worlds concluded on SBS last Thursday. I was an avid watcher – this is my kind of program, a tense sci-fi thriller about an invasion from space.

But what a disappointing ending. I almost threw the remote at the screen (no, not really, but I did emit a small exclamation of disgust). I should have known. Half the tension was because some force was attacking the goodies in the cities and forests, but with conventional guns and bullets. Huh? These are machine things with four legs, walking like animals. How did they hold and fire weapons?

One of the goodies is a young woman, early twenties maybe, who mysteriously regains her sight from being blind, and can sense when the baddies are coming while no-one else can. She also seems to be immune to their attacks, being ignored by the dog-like machines. Why? We’re never told.

The ending is that they discover a huge thing like a submarine in the Thames river in London. She jumps from a bridge to land on it and explores an opening. She goes down a long ramp into the interior, to discover — some man, hooked up to pipes like a life support system. He reaches out his hand to her … The End. What?? Who was he? What was it all about? What happened after that? We’ll never know.

I was very disappointed. I had high hopes, but in the end all it amounted to was goodies and baddies shooting at each other. There was hardly any science. Waste of time. I recorded all the five episodes but I’ve wiped them. I won’t bother watching it again.

On the other hand, The Salisbury Files (whatever?) looks good. It’s a semi-fictionalised account of the Novichok poisonings that happened in Salisbury, UK in 2018. I like.

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I’ve seen a small ad on Neighbourhood from the Save the Children Fund Op Shop in Clarkson appealing for donations of goods. Yippee! I’ve got so much clutter in this house that I’m desperate to be rid of stuff. I’ve got far too many clothes, clothes I never wear. Out, out! I gave the Vinnies shop a bag of four pairs of shoes last week, hardly worn. I’m like a magpie, buying all the nice shiny new things then never using them.

Two printers have to go before I can install my new Ecotank printer. In one case, the yellow channel is half blocked and can’t be cleared, and the replacement inks are just too expensive. In the other case, the paper feed has stopped working and it jams all the time. It only ever cost me $35 and I’ve had my money’s worth. Out, out!

I do wonder what’s going to happen after I die. Someone is going to have a big job clearing the house out ready for sale. I don’t envy him. I’ll hardly be in a position to care then but I feel the need to start getting rid of my things now. I tend to be thinking a lot about my passing these days. When will it happen? How? Will it be quick or will I lie here for days before anyone wonders why they can’t reach me?

I do plan to buy a pre-paid funeral asap. I don’t want anyone to have to worry about it after I’ve gone.

Nice thoughts, eh?

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I’m ploughing on with revamping my Croft History vol. 1 book with the new, enhanced and colourised photos. It is hard going! It’s because when I did the enhancements, they all end up with new file names, and the photo book software says, uh oh, these photos are missing so I’ll put a red warning triangle on them on the page. So I have to go through every image that has been enhanced and change its file name to match the original b/w images. That means the originals have to have a slightly different file name so they don’t clash.

This is taking many, many hours of work. I’m almost finished. But next time I compose a book, I will make folders on my hard disk labelled page 1+2, page 3+4 and so on, and put all the images for each page in these proper folders. That way I’ll be able to collect everything up for backup, and I’ll know where the images are. Next time …

More comparisons:

Cute, wasn’t I? All these are black and white originals.
All these were in Sydney, 1947-49.
My favourite picture. Grandpa and me, c1949.
I can still smell his pipe.
I was born in Feb 1947, so this would be early 1948 I’d guess.
Kangaroo or deer?

I’m so glad Dad and Uncle Darcey were such keen photographers. If there’s one thing I would say to people, TAKE PHOTOS OF YOUR KIDS NOW and store them away safely. Make sure they’re dated and captioned too, if you can.

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When I had the internet loss about a month ago, one of the effects was that I lost my “land-line” phone as well. When I got iiNet to restore the internet connection, I didn’t immediately realise the phone was dead as well.

I let it go for a while, and tried to restore it myself without success. I finally complained to iiNet last week and we don’t know what the problem was, but after applying a new password, it came good. Why?

However, now the scam callers are back with a vengeance. I’ve just had two, only 20 mins apart. It’s obvious when you answer, the foreign, mechanical pre-recorded voice telling me my internet is being disconnected unless I pay a bill or something. I don’t know what they want because I never let them get that far. It’s reached the stage now where these criminals, these low life scum, have virtually rendered our land line phone system useless because I never answer the phone any more. I figure if it’s a genuine caller, they’ll leave a message.

Bunker bulldust day 155

Mangroves near Cairns. Kodachrome 64 film. © PJ Croft 2020

Oooaaarrrgh, 7Byoots today, eh? A bit cool, 20C, but nice blue skies with wispy clouds. A bloke should get outside.

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A couple more comparisons from the photo enhancements:

The mouth is not quite right. That doesn’t look quite like Dad. Also, look at the hairline – that’s wrong.
This is Mum from the Kalbarri shot yesterday. It can’t do miracles every time.

I’ve got another photo where it’s clear that the software enhances the face, but not necessarily the rest of the scene. It’s very obviously programmed to look for faces.

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All this makes me think about what will be possible in 20, 30, 50 years time. I’ll predict even better enhancements very soon, such that we’ll be able to see details we can’t see now. Then 3D, possible now, probably, such that we can move around a 100 year old scene. Animation that will make old photos “come to life” with movement of the characters (that would be weird).

By the way, have you seen the restoration, rejuvenation and colourisation of the 1914-18 War film done by Peter Jackson, the NZ director?

It’s remarkable! And this is today’s technology. Prepare to be amazed. Notice the addition of new sound to silent film.

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I’ve found a few more books written by Walter Isaacson, the author of the Einstein biography that so impressed me and I’ve ordered two (see below). No wonder he’s such a good author, just look at his qualifications:
Rhodes scholar, Oxford; Time magazine – political correspondent, national editor, and editor of new media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996; chairman and CEO of CNN; president of the Aspen Institute; advisory partner at Perella Weinberg, a financial services firm; honorary degrees from Tufts University, Cooper Union, William & Mary, Franklin University Switzerland and a dozen others; and more than I can write here. He has a Wikipedia entry. Rarely have I seen a man with so many past and present eminent roles.

Anyway, I’ve ordered two more of his books today, The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made; and The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. Follow the links if you want to see what the books are about. He’s also written biographies of Leonardo da Vinci, Henry Kissinger, Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin, among other works. He’s a powerhouse.

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For the past few months I’ve been suffering from what the doctor calls chillblains on my fingers. I was sceptical that they are chillblains as they don’t look like what I remember from childhood.

But twice now, I’ve come across news clips that mention them, the latest just yesterday. From Crikey.com.au yesterday (I subscribe):

Cough, fever and frostbitten toes — the list of potential symptoms for COVID-19 goes on and on. Now, Australian doctors have reported an uptick in patients with chilblains — a rash appearing on patients’ feet. 

The link between COVID-19 and chilblains was first reported in May, with one study finding itchy small red bumps and blisters appeared on up to 9% of patients in the study. The rashes sometimes appeared in the absence of other symptoms. 

New research has also found COVID-19 patients in Perth recovered from the virus only to develop signs of a “post-COVID syndrome,” consisting of diabetes, liver dysfunction, acute inflammation and increased cardiovascular risk.

I’ve put it in purple because it’s also referred to as Purple Toe Syndrome. Mine are not on my toes or feet but my fingers. It’s very painful, not all the time but very sore to touch and if knocked. Itchy at night too.

It’s odd, I’ve never had chillblains since childhood in winter, but they were more like dry blisters and only on my ears. The doc has prescribed a blood pressure drug to open the veins but I can’t see any effect. Another person has enthusiastically recommended Evening Primrose for the same effect, improved blood flow. I’ll try that in the next few days and report. Strange to read that it’s linked to COVID. In my case, how? I have no other symptoms and Perth is virus free.

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I’m incensed by Google’s actions regarding the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s proposal that they should pay for the use they are making of news produced by Australian news sources. Google and Facebook take news without paying for it for use on their web pages, with no acknowledgement of the source.

The result is massive loss of jobs in news and journalism as newspapers lose their advertising revenue. Something like 240 newspapers have been closed down to date this year. These American companies are taking Australian content for free and re-using it on their own channels. At the same time, because young people don’t read newspapers any more and get all their news (in little dribs and drabs, easy to read, requiring no intelligence or effort), all the advertising dollars are moving to Facebook and Aussie companies are dying.

This is the American way: they not only want to compete and dominate, their aim is to drive the local competitors completely out of business, to close them down. They want 100% of the market, not just 70% or whatever.

Now, when you go to Google search, you get a bogus note asking you to read how the ACCC is being nasty to this US company. Don’t believe it! They are lying.

Sorry to my USA readers, but the USA can be a really shit country in so many ways. I’ll never set foot in the USA again.

Bunker bunkum day 154

My first car, a 1961 model. Very nice to drive but gutless.

Ooooh, I am so tired, bleary eyed, fed up. I have spent hours and hours and tens of hours, maybe hundreds, enhancing photos and re-doing my Croft History volume 1 book. I need a break.

First, although the photo enhancement process is simple (no choices to be made), and fairly fast, it’s still a one-image-at-a-time process. With nearly 3,000 to be done (I found more), my fingers are just about worn down with mouse clicks. I want batch processing!

Once each image has been enhanced and downloaded, the file name is changed, by them, to Enhanced_photo(1).jpg and so on, and when you download it, it goes into the Downloads folder, not the original folder. That means I have to transfer them to the original folder.

Then I have to visually match the new files with their originals and change the new file name to match the original, but with one letter or number changed so they don’t clash. This can be needed for as many as 90 files in a folder.

OK, so I did this. Then I started to update the images in the photo book with the new enhanced images. But their file names are different, so the book thinks all the original images are missing. Gaaah!

So then I had to go back to the folders and rename all the files so that the new coloured image file names are the same as the b/w images were, and rename the b/w images to be different, so they don’t clash again. I also keep finding duplicates and I’m not sure which one is used in the book.

Ugh! I am exhausted. I’ll get there, but it’s in a mess at the moment. I need a beer.

This is what it looks like on screen. Images to be imported and placed, are on the left. Completed pages are at top. The little red triangles mean “Image missing”. Lots of those at the moment.

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There are some funny aberrations coming up in this image enhancement software (it’s in Israel, via the web, not on my PC).

This is a face manufactured by the software, it’s not real.
Looks like this guy cut himself shaving.
Looks like a horror movie.

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However, the quality is just remarkable:

Dad at 19. You can see that the original was always out of focus, but look at the enhancement!

Dad’s camera was a Voigtlander 6x6cm twin lens reflex with scale focusing. You had to measure or estimate the distance to the subject and set it on a scale around the lens for each shot. You couldn’t see focus on the screen and so many photos were out of focus, or more correctly, focused on the background (infinity). This software finally gives me sharp photos.

Dad’s mother Doris.
Wonderful quality. Doris’s mother Massey.
Newport Surf Club 1913. This photo is 107 years old!
Doris at Narabeen Lagoon, with Darcey.

I’ve also found that it works on scenes without faces too, something I thought it wouldn’t. And it’ll spice up my more recent (e.g. 1960s onwards) film images too, although if they’re in colour, it’s a waste of time to ask it to enhance the colour. It just turns it to mush pastels.

I’m inspired now, to do more volumes of the history books.

Kalbarri 1969. This is an example, the background is sharp but the foreground is not. I haven’t done this one yet.
The original is b/w. Northam High School magazine committee 1963. I was the only one who wasn’t appointed a prefect. There’s a story behind that!! I’m still angry.

I’m still in touch with all those people above, although one lives in Tasmania now. The others are all still in Perth.

But my bum is sore and my legs are weak from too much sitting!

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Brrr, it’s August and just normally cold and I’m tired of it. Only ten days to Spring. Yippee.

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People are talking a lot about the effects of this pandemic on our mood. Personally, there’s hardly a day goes by that I don’t tank my lucky stars that I’m living the life I am in the place I am. I almost feel survivor’s guilt about how well I have come through life and how well I’m travelling in this terrible time.

  • I have a government pension, so no money worries;
  • I don’t have a job to lose;
  • I don’t have kids to worry about;
  • I don’t have a mortgage, so no mortgage stress or fear of homelessness;
  • I live in a great location in a beautiful house;
  • I live in WA, where our movements are virtually unrestricted;
  • I have just about everything I want;
  • I always know where my next meal is coming from.

The only thing I’m a little fractious about is that I don’t know when I’m going to see my partner again. She’s in Vienna and who knows when international travel will be allowed again or our borders opened to foreigners? We can talk on the phone (for no cost on WhatsApp!) and talk by email, but it’s not the same, is it? I’m used to the solitary life so nothing much changed at all for me. Even so…

Bunker bunkum day 151

Beverley panorama, approx. 1964

Hmmm, only a 4Byoot day so far, grey and cool (15C). Only a little rain so far. There’s a bird pecking at one of my ground level windows, covered in reflective film so they see another bird.

I found a dead willy wagtail on the back lawn yesterday. A pity, but birds do die of natural causes. Another one still visits me.

Despite some quite wet weather this month and last, we’re still way below the average. Western Australia has dried out incredibly over the past 45 years and our rainfall is still declining. I remember well when it started, 1977. We’d just finished a summer where we went three months without rain when I went on a trip to the UK and Germany. I remember commenting to people I got talking to about our extremely dry summer. And the graphs show that’s when the big dry started.

See the step down from the green line to the brown line, around 1975-77.

It’s lucky we have the two desalination plants, initiated by Labor governments.

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My time is now being eaten up by photo restorations. I did a folder of shots from Beverley in the 1960s and ’70s yesterday, about 90 images, and it took me around three hours. But the MyHeritage website renames all the fixed files to Enhanced_image.jpg, discarding the original file name! That means my Downloads folder fills up with Enhanced_image(1).jpg …. to Enhanced_image(126).jpg or whatever. These have to be moved back to the original folder, then the original image has to be found for each, the file name copied and pasted to the Enhanced_image(x).jpg, with an added “e” or some small change so they don’t clash. This takes time! I’ll have to complain to them — “Don’t change my filenames, please!”

As well, they place two small symbols on the bottom left of the image. No thank you. They’re not too intrusive, but I don’t want them on my photos.

Anyway, I continue to be amazed at the results, so much that it’s given me new impetus to produce more books. These are history and should be preserved for show, not stored away on hard drives. In fact, I’d better take extra care to back up as these are valuable history.

The other point is that each restoration and colourisation (colouration?) roughly doubles the size of the file. Therefore a folder of say 25 images and 300MB becomes 50 images at about 600MB. I’m currently using a 2TB drive, about half full and I’m going to have to buy a new hard drive, probably a 5TB. Criminy!

Anyway, some more examples:

You can see a slight pattern on the left part. It’s because I photographed a photo. Good result!
There’s something odd about the shape of Mum’s lips here. It’s not a good likeness.
Same here – the top lip is wrong. But it’s passable, this is an enlargement.
Same here – Grandma Croft looks a little odd.
Beverley, Xmas 1965
Beverley, 1964 I think. All these were B/W originals. The colourisation is remarkable.
Beverley 1964. That EH Holden was pale blue, not grey.
Again, this was a B/W original.

Here’s something funny. Here’s the original:

And the software found another face in this picture:
Scary monsters hiding in the flowers!

This tells me that the AI software is looking for face shapes and then substitutes face parts from its stored parts. Same for the distorted lips and mouths in the comparisons above. But you only see the distortions at high magnifications, the normal sizes look good:

Grandma would have been flattered – wrinkles, gone.

So, I plug on. As I said, at least 2,467 and I’ve only done about 200 so far. Months of work ahead. I love doing it so that’s fine.

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I’m not sure if I mentioned – my current book is Presumed Guilty by Bret Christian. He’s a local, Perth author. It’s all about the WA police and the awful miscarriages of justice that have been visited on at least five innocent men in WA since around 1964. Make no mistake, it’s improved somewhat now but you did not get a fair trial in WA in years past.

The main problem is the police approach to crime solving of seeing a small piece of evidence or seeing a possible link to someone they know and focussing entirely on that evidence to the exclusion of everything else. It’s called confirmation bias, the process of seeing every new bit of evidence as confirmation of your original theory. It’s also called copper’s instinct, which can also be described as blind pig-headedness.

One of the worst in this regard was former detective, later Commissioner of Police Owen Leitch. He was notorious (now) for his blind faith in his own instincts, his gut feeling about a crime, so that he fitted the evidence to the suspect, not the crime. Once he had a suspect, his mind became fixated and he disregarded any evidence that didn’t fit that suspect.

The falsification of confessions was also a specialty of the WA police. They would dictate a confession and use verbal and physical abuse on a suspect until he (it was almost always a male) would sign anything just to be relieved of the police abuse. Often it was on false promises of “Just sign this and you can go home.”

The book goes into incredible detail about the miscarriages of justice against these men. The corollary is that the real guilty person is not found and gets away with the crime. In my opinion, the Corrinne Rayney murder is just another of these cases. The police picked the husband, Lloyd Rayney as their “prime and only suspect” in the first few months of the case and pursued him exclusively. He was tried and found not guilty, the judge heavily criticising the police, but the real killer has gone free all these past ten years or more. I’m sure the police are still working on it but there’s no evidence of any progress.

The other awful thing the book reveals is how one-eyed and blind the courts and judges can be. The judge in the cases of Darryl Beamish and John Button was Justice Sir Albert Wolf. The prosecutor was Ronald Wilson. In both cases, they were so determined to accept the police evidence, especially Owen Leitch, that they sneered at anything that didn’t fit with that evidence and disregarded the confession of Eric Edgar Cooke, the rwal killer who went to the gallows swearing he committed the crimes that these two innocents were convicted of. Luckily the Labor government of the time abolished capital punishment (despite the Liberal Party wanting it retained, which many Liberals do to this day). Otherwise these two, Beamish and Button would have been executed for murders they didn’t commit.

I said this before, be very afraid if you fall into the hands of the WA police and courts. Things have improved, but you still stand a good chance of being “verballed”, “fitted up”, made to sign false confessions and being subjected to physical abuse. NEVER sign a confession, no matter how badly you want to get out.

This is a great book. Presumed Guilty, Bret Christian. Quite tense and scary in many parts.

Bunker bulldust day 148

Canal Rocks, W.A. © PJ Croft 2020

Oh hell, WordPress has changed the interface. They’ve introduced the “Block”. I don’t understand what it means, I just know that things have changed and shifted and I’ve got two extraneous lines above what seems to be a floating formatting bar that I can’t move out of the way to the top of the page. This has always been a clunky word processor in my opinion, very restrictive, simple but inflexible and lacking so many things. Grrrrr! They’ve been warning us this change was coming 

AYiiii! I just hit backspace twice to correct a typo and it dumped me out of the paragraph back to the list of posts. Luckily it had saved the draft. This is going to take some getting used to.

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I mentioned last week that the MyHeritage website said they would offer me a price reduction in response to my comment that I don’t need their family tree part, just the photo enhancement facility.

They did phone me on Thursday (from Israel, actually) and although I didn’t manage to drive them down to what I wanted, I got 15% off so I signed up for a year. I figure I’ll easily be able to do all my photos in 12 months and I’ll get out then. Famous last words, of course. Genealogy does seem to be quite addictive.

[By the way, genealogy and Mineralogy: the cane toad Clive Palmer’s company is called the latter. Now, call me naïve but I pronounce that Mineral-ogy. To me, it’s obvious. But everyone, news readers and radio journos, is saying Minerology. Why? It’s not spelt that way. Why introduce spurious pronunciation? Sheeee.]

Anyway, I’ve made a big start on sharpening and colourising all my photos and it is remarkable!

Ce’st moi, Cunderdin 1955 I notice in all these that my front teeth were straight and well formed. When and why did they become a bit misaligned?
The addition of colour brings the photos to life, as if they were shot yesterday. That’s me with the basin cut, sucking my thumb in the wheat. Bruce Rock, approx 1953.
Some are better than others, it doesn’t always perform miracles.
Bruce Rock c1954. L-R Mum, Ian, Pete, Maxine, Grandma Doris, Grandpa Ernest.
That’s pretty remarkable. Me in about 1954.
Tamsin, my niece, 1980. That was a colour film original.
Cousins, Bruce Rock c1954. The colourisation is remarkable. (I’m not in this.)
The Butlers’ farm c1954. Look at that colour!
Grandma Arnold’s back yard, c1954. Me standing behind Robbie, crouching.
It looks 3-dimensional. Bruce Rock c1954
Original
The scene comes to life. Belka, near Bruce Rock, c1954

Anyway, you get the idea. I’ve just done a file and directory tally and I have 2467 images, give or take, in the Croft directory alone. There are duplicates but that’s 12.2GB of images.

I’m going to complain about a few things:
* No batch processing, each image has to be done separately. Tedious.
* It changes the original filename to Enhanced_photo.jpg. Grrr! I have to go back and find the original file, copy the filename and apply it to the new file, with a small change to indicate it’s a new file.
* It places two small symbols in the bottom left of the enhanced image. No! I don’t want these.

(I’ve had to use asterisks to show a bulleted list as the easy way has disappeared and I can’t find it. What a dog’s breakfast!)

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By the way, I use TreeSize Pro by JAM software https://www.jam-software.com/. It allows me to right click on any folder or disk to get a listing and size, then I export it as an Excel file to get the totals. Easy. I’ve been using TreeSize Pro for at least 20 years. Recommended!

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Speaking of dogs, there was a good program on SBS on Thursday evening, about dogs and their relationship to humans over the millennia. The old story is that dogs evolved from wolves and became domesticated.

It turns out that’s only partly true. Analysis of wolves’ and dogs’ DNA has isolated a few genes, one in particular, which show that a sub species split off from wolves several thousand years ago. Wolves can’t be tamed or domesticated, but a branch of their tree with this gene split off a long time ago to become the dogs we know. This gene seems to predispose dogs possessing it to want to be friendly and “loving”, not just to humans but to other species of animals as well.

It showed a Russian experimental farm where up to 60,000 wild foxes were caged (ugh!) and assessed for their willingness to let humans get near them and touch them. Most wouldn’t, but some would and these were separated out and bred. Gradually, they produced offspring that were human friendly. Analysis of their DNA showed this gene.

So when your dog looks lovingly into your eyes, it’s not just wanting food, it’s built in to their DNA to be friendly to humans, and your pet pig too, if you’ve got one. If not, maybe you should get one?

That leads to the question, what about all the other animals that can become human friendly? Do they have this gene too? The program didn’t ask that.

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Well, it was a 6Byoot day in the morning but the clouds have rolled over and although it hasn’t rained yet, I’d only put it at about 4Byoot now. They forecast 100% chance of rain today and tomorrow.

I’ve taken a chance and done a load of washing, and just hung it on the line. What are my chances of getting it dry before it gets a rainwater rinse? Too bad if it does.

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While hanging it out, I noticed that my pegs have stainless steel springs. That’s remarkable. Stainless steel has become so cheap that it can be used for disposable clothes pegs. And stainless steel screws and fittings are now so cheap and common. It’s only a few decades ago that you wouldn’t have found that stuff outside a shipfitter’s yard.

Bunker bulldust day 145

Cloverleaf junction

How’s that for an intersection? Contrast that with our airport intersection, a difficult to navigate mess, with tightening curves and confusing signs. Poor design.

Capture

Perth Airport interchange. A confusing mess.

Aaaooouuurrrgh, it’s cloudy fine outside but with a max of 16.2C, a bit cool, 15 deg at the moment. Maybe a 5Byoot day. Another 16C day tomorrow, they say.

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I finally chose and bought a new printer yesterday, an Epson ET7700. I’ve had a small Canon one for about 10 years and although it only cost a couple of hundred, I reckon I’ve fed about $2,000 worth of ink cartridges into it in that decade of use. I’m fed up with the expense. As well, the yellow nozzle is partly blocked so my colour printing looks wonky. Apart from that it’s OK and when it was printing colour well, the prints were magnificent.

The new Epson is from their Ecotank range. Instead of little 10ml cartridges, each colour (Black, Grey, Yellow, Magenta, Cyan) is a big tank of about 250ml (I think) which you can refill from bottles. The printer advertises itself as being good for 19,000 pages of black and white, and 14,000 pages of colour per refill. The ink is included in the box.

The initial cost, $729, is quite high but I hope to save at least that amount by not having to buy new ink so often. I’d estimate that the initial bottles should last me at least a couple of years before needing more ink. I’m told the refills are reasonably priced too, $25 for the black and $15 for the colours. Wow.

So now I’ll be able to fill all those photo frames I’ve got. I’ll report.

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I also have the Epson Stylus R2880 A3 photo printer that I’ve had since about 2007 (?). It’s a great machine and has been very reliable, despite being unboxed for a while, then reboxed and stored away for nearly two years, then unboxed, working fine first time despite its long sleep, then being boxed up and moved here. I don’t recall ever having a head clog. But I think a sensor is blocked because it doesn’t detect the paper and just feeds it straight through, not printing anything. Frustrating. I should tackle it, but it’s so big that it’s hard to work on. It’s one of those “gonna” jobs awaiting me.

I was sorely tempted a couple of months ago. A Perth photo store was advertising the latest Epson A3 printer, a couple of generations on from mine, for about $1,000. But I stopped short because I thought, what am I going to do with my existing machine? It’s not saleable with the fault, so what do I do with it? I concluded that I’ll just have to fix the fault.

By the way, my existing R2880 uses eight ink cartridges plus a Photo Black, at approx $23 each. A full set costs about $210! Luckily I’ve only needed a new set about three times in over ten years. Photo printing is an expensive business!

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L: Clive Palmer                                                  R: my jocks

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I’m still waiting on the MyHeritage people to phone me for their special price to use their photo restoration software. I reckon I could do all the shots I need in much less than a year, so I suppose $240 for one year’s use would/might be reasonable.

My USA second-cousin has sent me her family tree which she’s done (so far) on Ancestry.com. It made me realise that I registered for that many years ago and made a start on our tree, but didn’t go on with it. It’s very addictive and it works even better now that so much data has been sourced to build links. Maybe I might have another go.

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I watched Craig Reucassel’s program, There is no Planet B on the ABC last night. Very well done. What got my hackles really raised is that Chevron and Woodside signed contracts during the tenure of the last WA Liberal government (i.e. about 5 years ago) for the right to retrieve and process huge amounts of LNG from the Browse Basin, on the proviso that they capture and store underground an equivalent of CO2 that they generate.

Have they done it? No. Nothing. Despite the contract, they haven’t bothered. This is criminal! Remember those names, Chevron (USA) and Woodside (Canadian). Liars, polluters, law breakers.

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I’ve started a new book in the past few nights, “Presumed Guilty” by Brett Christian, the Perth author and suburban newspaper proprietor. It’s mainly about the research he’s done (publication date 2013) about the way Perth police lay false charges and fabricate evidence about major crimes. His research in this case (I’m only early in the book) is about Darryl Beamish, the deaf and speechless young guy who was charged and convicted for the murder of Jillian Brewer in Cottesloe in 1959. He was convicted on utterly false evidence, obviously couldn’t defend himself and was sentenced to hang, but the sentence was commuted, yet he spent 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Only after 44 years was he finally exonerated.

He is just one of many people in WA who have been “fitted up” by the police. One of the worst doing it was Owen Leitch, the former commissioner. I remember that name well from the 1980s. I have long thought that if you are ever held by the WA police, be very scared because often they will fabricate evidence and “confessions” to get a conviction. It’s been shown over and over again and it’s only due to people like Brett Christian and Estelle Blackburn that the truth has finally come out.

The book is gripping reading. I’ll report back.

Contact

SIP_Albany

It’s in WA.

For the past 20 years I’ve been working away on preserving and documenting our family history. I’ve produced a CD-ROM and three books (so far).

Memories title map text3

The CD-ROM

Croft Family History vol1 cover

Croft Family History vol. 2 cover2A

And for me:

My Life Cover

The years since 2015 have been eventful. I’d better update this.

I’ve also produced three volumes of my best images:

Cover

[000241]

Veni Vidi Vol 3 cover1

As well, I’ve made books on Venice, Java, Japan, Bali and the South West of WA.

0001 Front Cover

Page 2

_Front Cover

_Cover_1

Book cover

This was my first effort at a photo-book in 2009. I forgot to put my name on the cover.

It occurs to me to show the range and quantity of my family image collection. This is big – there are 48 contact sheets, too many to show individually. Here are two:

Croft Peter contact

Croft BK2 contact2

The rest are compressed into contacts of contacts:

Croft contact of contacts

A contact sheet of contact sheets.

Croft contact of contacts2

Croft contact of contacts3

I still have yet more photos and negatives to be scanned.

Bunker bulldust, day 140

Dad Mum Colin 028

Dad, Colin digging, Mum, Beverley, c1966

Hmm, only a 4 Byoot day today, no rain and a fair bit of blue sky, but cloudy and cold now at 6pm. Must try harder, Mr Weatherman. Oh, only 23 days to Spring, too. Good-oh.

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You saw the amazing photo restorations I did on the MyHeritage website last week:

Early Croft photo

Screenshot_2020-07-26 Early Croft photo(1)

Screenshot_2020-07-26 Dad Ian Pete Max c1958

Screenshot_2020-07-26 Dad Ian Pete Max c1958(1)

Amazing results, but after I’d done 10 they blocked me until I pay. There was an invitation to comment on the site and I said, “I don’t need the family tree, all I want is the restoration software, but A$240 p.a. is too much to pay.”

It seems that they are flexible in their pricing and have asked to be able to phone me to talk about it. With misgivings, I’ve sent my phone number. I have a maximum price I’d be prepared to pay in mind so I’ll see what they offer. I have a finite number of images to do, and once they’re done I won’t need it any more. I hope I could do them all in a few months.

I’ll also say I want to be able to restore full size images, 3,000 x 2,000 pixels or more. and get them back in the same size, not reductions. This will be interesting. Something told me they’re an Israeli company.

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Early PJC 005

This little guy turned 60 last month. Beverley c1966.

I did try two other photo restoration programs, Topaz Sharpen and PhotoGlory.

Topaz does quite a good job but you have to fiddle with the controls. There are two Auto buttons but I find it confusing about which does what. Engaging them doesn’t seem to do much. The results are nothing like the results from the MyHeritage web site. No thanks.

Similarly, PhotoGlory gives you lots of control over the result, but that also means it takes time and requires you to make decisions about how much is enough. Again, the colourisation is nothing like the results from the MyHeritage software. So, no thanks again.

The thing is, I have hundreds of old B/W photos to do and I need speed and good results, as shown above.

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Has anyone else noticed the proliferation of pop-up notifications on web sites since the beginning of this year? I mean, you open a web page, but as soon as you move your mouse over it or scroll down, a rectangular notification panel pops into view, covering part of the page. You have to click an X to dismiss it.

Grrrrrrr!  I’m sick of it. It seems to be new this year, making me wonder if someone has discovered it and published the code or something.

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Also, has anyone else noticed how many women, and it’s all women, have rings through their nostrils? It’s reaching the stage where I seem to see more women who have one than don’t.

Ugh. Ugh. UGH! I do not like it. I do not want to look at your nose if you have a ring through it. Or a stud in your tongue. UGH! Don’t women understand what this signifies? It’s obscene. I mean that word, obscene.

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Likewise, torn knees in jeans and pants. It’s only women, but they’re all the same, all copying the same artificial pattern of cuts in the knee area of jeans and pants. Gee, how original. Come on.