We've only got one trip left before Christmas. I've made it something special, quite different to the one mentioned in the last newsletter.
If you click only one link in this newsletter make it the Omeleto link in the Photo and Video section.
Note. The NY Times allows non-subscribers to look at ten free articles each month. I've got more links than that in this newsletter so I've marked them with a red asterisk (*) so that you can choose which are of most interest to you. Want unlimited access? I've got five free subscriptions to give away by Friday 14 October.
In this issue
Wonders never cease! After a fairly poor wet season last year, we've had some amazing rain already. In Kakadu, Jabiru had almost 30 times the September average. I can't say exactly where I'm going but go I will.
This trip should take place during Gunumeleng or the Build Up. Click the link to see why I enjoy bushwalking at this time of year.
However, with our recent weather, it may be more like Gudjewg or the wet season. Click the link to see what to expect if we have really wet weather.
Free 12 Week Subscriptions
The NY Times has given me five free 12-week subscriptions if I give them away by 14 October. I've rushed this newsletter to make sure that I sent the offer to as many as possible. The first five to ask get them.
If you are interested, click here and send me an email.
It's never been more important to keep an eye on space weather
A solar flare as big as the one which occurred in 1859 would almost certainly take out all the GPS satellites and disrupt communications world-wide. It would take years to recover .... if we ever did. We haven't had a really major flare since 1967. It's not a matter of "if" but of "when".
Or maybe you'd prefer a different scenario.
Crisis & Chaos: Are We Moving Toward World War III? examines some possible scenarios, none of which can be ruled out with absolute certainty.
If that's not enough, maybe the biggest terrorist event to date will scarcely be worth a mention in future.
A secret group bought the ingredients for a dirty bomb in the U.S.
The clandestine group's goal was clear: Obtain the building blocks of a radioactive "dirty bomb" — capable of poisoning a major city for a year or more — by openly purchasing the raw ingredients from authorized sellers inside the United States." I'm willing to bet it wouldn't be much harder now than when the test was done.
Or how about cyber warfare?
Suppose you woke up tomorrow to find that you couldn't get access to your bank accounts? That no one could get access to their bank accounts? How long would it be before things really came unstuck?
This is shaping up to be a great year. The Met Bureau
Easy, hard or somewhere in between. We already have bookings on four different wet season trips but not one has the bookings we need to run it. By the time the next newsletter comes out, it may already be too late for some or all of these. If you have 15 minutes or more to spare, the best place to begin is with our Wet Season page. This links to a second page which links to a third. By the time you've read them all, you will have a real understanding of what the wet season is like — and why I enjoy it so much.
Warning. These pages are not designed for mobile devices. You'll get much more out of them on a full size screen. The following trips all have bookings but none is yet a definite departure. If you are at all interested, make sure you click the links to the PDF trip notes at the end of the two html pages.
Those are the trips with bookings. While no one has yet booked, we've had enquiries about the others as well. Here's what else is still on offer.
The Dizzying Grandeur of 21st-Century Agriculture *
"From cranberry bogs to cattle feedlots, George Steinmetz captures the grand and disturbing nature of our expansive food system."
A couple of the photos were almost enough to make me want to give up some foods .... at least when I'm visiting the US.
From Australia, Bad eggs: free range label shysters exposed
The official definition of 'free range' is up to 10,000 hens per hectare. We need a new label.
Truth behind the bottled water myths
"with rare exceptions the drinking water across most of Australia was just as good, if not better, than bottled water."
Sadly, after some recent scandals, it's not as true in America. We neglect our infrastructure at our peril.
'Gluten-free' foods not what they seem
But where products contain gluten, the levels are very low in keeping with overseas regulations which tend to be less stringent than ours. According to the article, very few people would be hurt by the levels present.
Or more accurately, curcumin. Mellow yellow? The mood and cognitive effects of curcumin from turmeric talks about the increasing number of studies that indicate that curcumin, the substance which gives turmeric its colour, has a variety of health benefits.
Unless there are some dramatic behavioural changes, it's not a matter of 'if' but of 'when' someone will get eaten in Kakadu. Kakadu crocodile rangers say people taking too many risks
The woman in video appears to be a local. Locals should know better. I hasten to add, we never go into the water in any area where large crocs are likely to be present. No one has ever seen one above the top of the escarpment where our Kakadu walks take place.
In 2014, I put sections about how mobile phones can kill in Newsletter 73 and in Newsletter 74. Technology and society move on. As mentioned in one of the links, texting while driving is more dangerous than driving with a blood alcohol reading of .08. Here are some ideas as to what we can do about the problem.
Do you care enough to do something about it? If enough people speak up on an issue, politicians will take notice. I haven't worked out exactly what I'll say, but I will email my local member and senators and say something like, "I don't want to be killed by an idiot texting while driving anymore than I want to be killed by a drunk." Maybe you've got a better idea. If so, let me know.
I grew up in America. I spent four weeks there earlier this year. I spent four weeks in September in Madagascar. I'm still trying to get my head around one of the things I saw.
In one ranking of 'happy countries', Madagascar came in at 10th from the bottom. That would seem to make sense, but ....
I saw more smiles in Madagascar than I did in America. On one level, the people seemed happier than those in America. The only thing I can think of is that average people in Madagascar see things as getting better or at least no worse while, in America, people feel that things are getting worse.
It's an interesting thought.
Here are a couple of interesting ideas from Rob Jung of the Coast & Mountain Walkers in Sydney.
Here are a few ideas about other places to go and people to go with.
Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon, once said that "it may be dangerous to be America's enemy, but to be America's friend is fatal." It's a great quote, but not exactly what it seems. Here's the context.
I have marked stories which I think apply as well or nearly as well in Australia with XXX.
Since the last issue, two more articles in this series have been published. As I said then, whether or not you agree with the author, it should give you something to think about.
If you are curious as to what an American ballot paper looks like, click here for a sample and some comments which might help explain the American system.
In no particular order, here are a few interesting stories.
I took the last one to heart when I read it and had a single light beer before bed that night.
"People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both." — Benjamin Franklin
"Not free thought for those that agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate" — US Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., 1929
Will the Left Survive the Millennials? *
"Liberals used to defend the free speech of nonconformists. No longer.
I firmly believe that if you are not willing to tolerate people expressing views that you strongly disagree with, the dictators have won. George Orwell's 1984 has arrived at last. Whether or not you agree with the views expressed below, I believe they deserve to be heard.
The Islamic Hatred of Modernity analyses the conflict between the West and ISIS in terms of game theory. "... because of our very values, we end up playing the 'game' in a way that predisposes us to continual frustration.
The link above is to a John Mauldin newsletter. His preamble says, "I thought long and hard about whether to send this to you. I know I will lose a few readers over it, and I always hate that, but sometimes we have to think about the hard things." Now another quote to get you started.
"ISIS and radical Islam are at war with the entire modern world, not just Christianity. They are True Believers and are simply not interested in negotiating."
The Islamic world is just as divided as the Christian one. Of Murder, Men and God gives an interesting perspective. The quote below is from Muhammad himself.
"This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them ...
Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants."
Not exactly the message that ISIS is putting out.
"It minimizes harm to vote for the lesser of two evils. That's nonsense, because it still leaves you voting for evil. The lesser of two evils is still evil." This was said about the American election. The argument in Australia would be never to register or to vote informal.
The views expressed in Five Reasons Not to Vote may be extreme, but if we don't allow them to be heard, we are well on the way to a dictatorship of one form or another.
The Road to Serfdom in Cartoon Form.
The place where I found the original reference thought America was at number 9.
Don't think it can happen here? Poll data reveals Australia's waning interest in politics, decline in support for democracy.
"Any exporter is hostaged to its customer. Australia exports a great deal to China. Click the link at the end of this section to get a better perspective on what this means.
"first we step back and understand that our ability to make money really depends more on war than anything else. If you want to understand the development of the economy in the 20th century, understand what the first world war did, understand what the second world war did economically, understand how the cold war shaped economic development. The single most important long-term driver is political and military. Then comes the finance, because if you are being bombed, the chances are the stocks are going to go down. And then, maybe not, who knows?"
".... the economies of Southern Europe are in depression. The economy of Greece has 25% unemployment, Spain has 23% unemployment, southern Italy is at 21% unemployment. In other words, these are the levels of unemployment that the United States reached during the Great Depression. Southern Europe is in massive depression. Unemployment among the young, including college graduates, ranges between 50 and 70%, in other words, you are not getting a job any time soon. And in these countries, it is the middle class that says, you have got to cut that government spending. Government spending in Europe means doctors, nurses,engineers."
These quotes are from a talk by George Friedman given at the Mauldin Strategic Investment Conference earlier this year. I can't give you the whole talk, but if you're interested, I put together an abbreviated version of the talk.
For something completely different, Wildlife live webcams.
If nothing is happening when you have a look, try again later. That's the beauty of live webcams.
Note. The bear cam (first link) may no longer be operational. They are all in different time zones so it may be night there when you click on.
Saving the best for last, Omeleto. Whether or not you like the style, I hope you appreciate the sentiments.
I have come closer than most to living my dreams. Even now, age 71, I have new dreams to follow. I don't know where they'll take me, but I have to try and find out.
Next Newsletter — When?
One, maybe even two before Christmas. Depends a bit on how fast some of the changes here take place.
I had a lot more I could have included in this one but I thought it better to get it out sooner and start work on the next one shortly after this one goes out.
I'm also always looking for other interesting items I can add. I'm particularly interested in environmental issues, especially those which might affect bushwalking and in the technology which is shaping our lives. As I said in the last newsletter, Suggestions welcome.
Sending the newsletter
While I now send most of the newsletters using MailChimp, I still send about 200 newsletters using a program which is hosted on the same server that hosts our website. (MailChimp Free only allows 2000. The commercial version costs too much for an extra 200 people.) In both cases, the newsletters are sent from firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the contact address on our website. If you would like to continue to receive these newsletters, please include this address in your "friends list" so that it isn't blocked.
For some reason, some servers block the newsletters no matter what you try and do. I send these in small groups from my normal email. It's not a simple problem. If anyone thinks they might have an idea how to overcome the problem, I'd love to hear from you.
Emails sent to email@example.com are currently automatically forwarded to rrwillis at internode.on.net. If you want to send an email to that address, replace the word "at" with the symbol @. I am trying not to put that address any place where it can be harvested by spam bots.
We don't want to add to the mass of email spam. If you don't want our newsletter, please send us an email and let us know. We'll then delete your name from our newsletter list.
Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note. Both MailChimp and the other program we use to send some of these newsletters have an automatic delete at the bottom. Clicking that link will delete you from the mailing list on the server but it will not delete you from our main database. One of the programs will not allow the auto delete to send me an email notifying me that a deletion has been made. If you want to be sure that you are removed from all further mailings, please send an email to email@example.com
If you know someone you think would enjoy this newsletter, please forward it to them. The more people who get it, the more likely it is that I'll be able to run the trips which might interest you.
May all of you come to live your dreams,