Going nuclear

Kids in Singapore 2004 © PJ Croft 2021

Interesting times indeed. But first, the weather report: brrrrr. My tiny fingers are frozen. It’s a fine sunny day, but Spring sprang, then has sprung back a bit. Lots of rain yesterday and last night.

Yet although it was only 15deg yesterday and 18deg today, it’s forecast to be 29deg next Wednesday. Wow, that’s a range.

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I’m sure that deal to drop the French submarine project in favour of the US/UK has been months in the planning, but what a convenient time to announce it, hoping to distract and cover up the Christian Porter scandal.

For my foreign readers, Christian Porter is my local member of the federal parliament. He’s a man of huge ego, ambition and arrogance and entered federal parliament with his eye on becoming prime minister one day, I’m sure.

But, while he was Attorney General, a huge scandal came out involving his past. It was reported on, and he chose to sue the reporter (personally) for defamation. However, for various reasons he had to withdraw the action, but not before incurring huge legal costs for himself, of the order of a million dollars or so. This was his own personal law suit so he is liable for his own costs.

Last week he told the parliament that someone, he says he doesn’t know who, has donated a sum of money, he doesn’t know how much, into a “blind trust” to help him pay these fees. He says he doesn’t know who did this.

What a crock of shit. He is a top lawyer, a former attorney-general and someone who puts himself up as a man of honour, yet he can’t see the blatant double standard. Even Malcolm Turnbull, another top lawyer and former prime minister, is shouting from the rooftops that this stinks. As he says, it’s the equivalent of some guy coming to his office with a mask on and handing over a bag of money and saying he expects nothing in return. Pull the other one!

Anyway, this was turning into a huge scandal for the government, so what better way to drown it out than to make this big announcement of a deal with the US and UK that we’re going to dump our French submarines and build our own, with US or UK supplied nuclear reactors as power plants.

Sure, it’s a big deal, but the Porter deal won’t go away. As one journalist wrote today, Memo Government, we can think of more than one thing at once, you know.

Yet another feckup by this terrible, awful, corrupt Liberal government.

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Even though I’m a total Labor man, with sympathy for the Greens, I’m not totally anti-nuclear. I’m a science guy and I know that technology exists to make small reactors that are some of the safest things on the planet, due to all the science and engineering that has been developed over many decades.

The US and UK have been running nuclear powered subs for a long time and there has never, repeat never, been an accident on a sub. Holy moley, there are hundreds of submariners and scores of nuclear subs which occupy berths in ports in the USA and UK. Do you think they’d risk this if there was any chance of a nuclear event or accident?

As for Adam Bandt (leader of the Greens) saying that we’ll have floating Chernobyls in our harbours, well Adam, I think you made a wild exaggeration there.

My comment on all this is (a) there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of these subs being combat ready for at least 15 years, until 2035 at the earliest. To think they will be ready for us to use when we need them is wishful thinking.

And (b), we can’t even get enough seamen to man our existing subs now. How are we going to get the submariners to run these things?

And (c), here we have yet another Defence Department stuff-up costing us $billions of wasted money, down the drain, on yet another failed project. The huge amounts of money going to waste on military projects in the past few decades are mind boggling. The Department of Defence has a lot to answer for. In my opinion, they are just flat-out incompetent.

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Phew, enough of venting for now. A bit of praise for a change. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been watching 7Mate (the TV channel) lately and I’m enjoying it. Ugh, this is a channel that’s aimed at the bloke down at the pub, singlet and shorts and work boots, high-vis vest, with, shall we say, limited interests.

Yet I’ve been watching SAS Australia, Outback Truckers, Heavy Haulers (whatever it’s called), and Aussie Salvage Squad.

I shouldn’t be attracted to any of them, being the kind of guy who likes concerts by the Berlin Philharmonic and intellectual dramas like Silent Witness.

But SAS Australia grabs me. Why? I confess to admiration for Ant Middleton, the main ex-SAS guy. He has charisma to burn and seems to me like the kind of guy you’d want to be around in an emergency.

Second, I like seeing the people who have put themselves up for the challenge of doing this gruelling course. Many of them come across as very interesting people, and by jingo, they must have courage to do this. One of them is a former tennis star, a woman, and it turns out she’s a doctor too. I’m impressed. In fact, many of the women are the most interesting.

Outback Truckers – heavy haulage trucking through some of the most interesting country. Seeing what goes wrong and how they fix their trucks and tyres. The shocking quality of our roads! Most of the remote townships in the north depend on big trucks getting through with supplies, once a month or so, yet the trucks have to battle corrugations, narrow roads, dust, sand, and mud! As soon as it rains up there, the roads turn into mud slides. These communities shouldn’t have to put up with this. There’s got to be a better way.

Heavy Haulers – I’m fascinated by watching how they load these enormous loads, usually much wider than the truck that’s carrying them. The skill at negotiating narrow roads and tight corners, low bridges, and the crappy road surfaces too.

The new show, Aussie Salvage Squad, is based in Busselton, WA. It’s set around another charismatic guy who with his wife, owns an enormous ex-army truck, which stupidly, they call Christopher. It has an 800hp diesel engine which drives all eight giant wheels, so its pulling power is enormous. It has a huge winch on the back which deploys steel cable about 30mm in diameter. They also have a big Mercedes Uni-mog, also with winches front and back and tyres the size of ship bumpers.

These guys will go anywhere in Australia so we see rescue operations such as earth moving machinery that’s become bogged in seas of mud, partially or fully sunk boats, beach rescues of sunken or wallowing boats, derelict cars in national parks that have to be removed from deep gullies and so on. I confess, I find it fascinating, especially when it shows places in WA.

The main conclusions I see are first, the very bad road conditions once you get out of the big cities and the costs this causes to the trucks and the people in the remote areas. Second, the damage being done to the existing roads all the time by these heavy trucks and loads. More ports so that the big loads can be transported by sea, then relatively short roads from the ports? If I ruled the world …

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My favourite photography blogger (Mike Johnston The On-line Photographer) said today that he doesn’t find sample galleries in equipment testing of much use or interest any more.

I’ve commented on his blog that I don’t find them as much use as when DPReview was based in London, before it was bought by Amazon and moved to Seattle. I loved the sample shots they got by walking around the streets of London, so much that I downloaded many of them and I go back and look, from time to time. For example:

Fuji S100fs sample.
Fuji S100fs
Fuji S100fs

I wish I could show more – this folder for this camera alone contains 158 images and I have many more folders for other brands of cameras.

These three images were taken with the Fujifilm S100fs camera, which I bought in 2008 and took on my Europe trip. Even though it’s 13 years old and way out of date, I won’t part with it. I still marvel at the sharpness of my photos from that trip, and with a fixed lens of 28mm to 400mm, with image stabilisation, I never found myself short. The fs in the name is short for “film simulation”, meaning it has a built in capability to adjust the output images to mimic Fuji’s film looks, like Velvia, Astia, Provia and so on. I always liked Velvia slide film, with its extra saturation and vivid colour.

A few more samples from different cameras:

Sigma DP1 (I bought one of these cameras)
Sigma DP1
Sigma SD14
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA E-PL2 (I own one of these too)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA E-PL2
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA E-PL2

I have hundreds and hundreds of marvellous images – I wish I could show you more.

By the way, over the past few months I’ve been posting many, many of my own images on my Facebook page and I invite you to look. These are just samples, selections of, say, 16 images out of a folder of 150 or more. I have thousands upon thousands – I wish I could show more. I should set up a web site …