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Willis's Walkabouts Newsletter 87, November 2016

If you click only one link in this newsletter make it

  • A Useful Lesson from the American Election in the News About News section.

    I have an amazing collection for a Christmas - New Year newsletter, but I wanted to get this out while there was still time to book some great January & February trips.

    Willis's Walkabouts logo

    Last Chance — January-February

    Last chance. The three February trips below do not yet have the bookings we need to guarantee departure. They will be confirmed or cancelled by 16 December at the latest.

    Special OfferBook any of the four trips listed below, quote this newsletter and take 20% off the list price. Our past client and membership discounts apply as well.

    • Kakadu Super Circle No. 1: 8-28 January 2017
      Definite departure. Probable guide: Russell. I'm excited. I haven't done this trip since 2009.
      The trip notes were extensively revised on 10 November. This is the only trip anyone offers which allows you to visit Jim Jim Falls at its spectacular wet season best. It is also our longest and hardest Kakadu expedition. Once you are in it, you are in it to the end.
      Super special offer. If you can carry 5-6 kg over and above your own gear and normal share of the group gear, contact us for details of the best offer we've ever made.
    • Kakadu Light: 5-18 February 2017
      Two sections, either of which can be done on its own. This is the easiest wet season trip we offer. The two night walk on the first section makes the trip easier than it was when we tried to visit the same areas on day walks.
      For those with an interest in history, there will be a special ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin the day after the trip finishes.
    • Bungles in the Wet: 5-18 February
      This is the only trip that shows you the Bungles when the creeks are actually flowing. See our Bungles in the Wet photo gallery to get a better idea of what it is like.
    • Kakadu Highlights No. 2: 19 February - 3 March
      Two sections, either of which can be done on its own.

    If you have 15 minutes or more to spare and want to learn the truth about our wet season, 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.

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    Facebook — Help!!!

    I had a section about Facebook in Newsletter 84. Thanks to those who replied with a few suggestions. It's still not working. Have a look at the last post on our Facebook page. It reached a lot of people but the only real comment was one I put up on behalf of someone who is not on Facebook. Without comments from others, it is less likely to get new people engaged. Without new people, the business will slowly fade away.

    If you are on Facebook and get a notice about a post we have made, (I'm planning an interesting new post about a week after this newsletter goes out) please consider posting a comment. If you have any other suggestions as to how to make Facebook work for us, please let us know.


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    Making Sense of the American Election

    I was more surprised by the magnitude of Trump's victory than by the fact that he won. It was inevitable that an outsider like Trump would eventually win. If you didn't read it before, or even if you did, have a look at Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected in my Newsletter 84. When the losers in a democracy begin to outnumber the winners, something has to change.

    The mainstream press, for the most part, still doesn't get it. Below is a collection of some of the better articles I've seen.

    • Michael Moore's 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win, written before the election, showed a good understanding of the real situation.
    • George Friedman's President Elect Donald Trump explains how the Democrats had effectively abandoned the group that used to be their core support.
    • In The Reinvention of the Democratic and Republican Parties published on 31 October, explains the long term problem for the Democrats. "What is the Democratic Party about now, if it has already won on gay rights, abortion, and prayer in schools? What is the reason to vote Democrat in 2020? If there is a recession and 2020 is a tough economic year, what is the coalition that will flock to the Democratic Party?"
    • From the UK, We are living in a depression – that's why Trump took the White House
      "Between 2009-2012, more than 90% of US growth went to the richest 1%, which included the financiers who had caused the crisis in the first place."
    • A Great Fight of Our Times * Stagnation is the reality for much of the population gives the NY Times view of the same conditions mentioned in the Guardian article above.
    • John Mauldin's The Day After gives his first thoughts. Make sure you scroll down to the pieces by Charles & Louis Gave as they give an outside view of what it means and why many people from other countries were encouraged by Trump's win.
    • Mad About The Boy gives Grant Williams' take. (It's an excerpt from a fairly expensive newsletter.)

    Where To From Here

    • Trump’s win may be just the beginning of a global populist wave
    • Brexit was nothing. Renzi's Great Gamble
      The vote in Italy later this year may have more of an impact on the western world than the one in the US.
    • In last October, The Conversation ran a piece called, A new breed of post-Trump populist leaders could put the US on the path to fascism
      "A new, post-Trump breed of leaders will be more adept at shifting populism toward a more sinister 'ism', one that widens and deepens grassroots discontent. What we could be seeing is the emergence of fascism — American-style."
      Click the 'look to history' link for an in depth look at fascism in America in the 1930s. Somewhat heavy going but interesting.
      My opinion, for what it's worth, if Trump becomes seen as becoming part of the establishment, the next US President may make people look back at him with nostalgia.
    • What It All Means and Where Do We Go From Here
    • In Restoring America’s Economic Mobility John Mauldin notes that, "The U.S. today lags behind many of its First World rivals in terms of mobility. A class society has inserted itself within the folds of what was once a classless country, and a dominant New Class — as social critic Christopher Lasch called it — has pulled up the ladder of social advancement behind it."
      Australia looks relatively good, but not as good as Canada in terms of social mobility.
    • Five myths about democracy suggests that, "John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and President Obama tended to side with the rich even more than George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did."
      That should make you ask, does anyone really represent the middle and lower economic classes?

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    This is the time when the wet season gives way to Banggerreng — The Knock 'Em Down Storm Season. We already have three trips with bookings.

    • Baroalba - Hill 420: 5-18 March
      This trip takes you into the greatest concentration of Aboriginal rock art which we have ever found. It also takes you to the top of the highest point on the Arnhem Escarpment.
    • Kimberley Coast Explorer: 5 March - 15 April
      This is the longest single walk we offer, divided into four sections, any of which can be done on its own. Going at this time ensures we see the waterfalls when they are still flowing and that we have plenty of water on the drier sections.
    • Bungle Bungles and the Osmond Range: 9-29 April.
      Two sections, either of which can be done on its own. Going early means that the waterholes are all still full and the helicopter noise is minimal compared to later in the year.

    Note 1. If any of these trips interests you at all, please make sure to click the link to the detailed trip notes at the bottom of the HTML page.

    Note 2. As of late November, none of these trips was a definite departure yet. The first two will be confirmed or cancelled during the first week in January. The third at the beginning of February.

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    Prescribed Burning

    Bushfires are a major problem in Australia. Governments feel that they need to be seen to be doing something. Pity their choices don't work.

    Down South

    New modelling on bushfires shows how they really burn through an area
    "in the past two hundred years, Australian forests have been getting more fire than at any time in the tens of thousands of years before, and all of the controlled burning is not helping.
    For 26 out of 30 bioregions in south-east Australia, there is no evidence that prescribed burning has reduced bush fire sizes."
    "... forests are dying. They are being burnt so often that they may be gone by the end of the century. Like the tallest hardwoods in the world and the thousand year old King Billy pines of Tasmania, they are places we have no room for in our fossil fuel economy."

    Up North

    Small mammals have been declining in Kakadu more or less since I first arrived in 1974. Current burning practices have not stopped the decline. In Fire and spear grass: a case for wet-season burning in Kakadu former, long-time Kakadu Ranger Greg Miles explains what's happening now and makes a good case for changing burning patterns. Having walked through areas which had been burnt in the Wet, I believe he is onto something that needs to be tried on a larger scale.

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    News About News

    "If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're misinformed." (Quote supposedly from Mark Twain, but no known source I can find.)

    The following articles give different views as to how we get a distorted view of the world around us.

    • Behind the Scenes, Billionaires' Growing Control of News *
      "Today's quiet maneuvering by the ultrawealthy is very different from — and can be more dangerous than — the undisguised views of moguls like William Randolph Hearst."
    • The curious power of hate propaganda in open societies
      "Today, demagogues don't actually need to silence or censor their opponents. It turns out their followers are quite happy to succumb to willful blindness, believing what they want to believe even as contradictory evidence stares them in the face."
    • The robots are polarising how we consume news — and that's how we like it
      "Changes in news media distribution and the impartiality of news sources provide good reason to be concerned. However, digital inequality is not the way to understand or measure it."
      "Expecting that greater internet access will lead to a more tolerant or equal society goes against what we know of internet use: the way we use the internet conforms to our social world and capacities." "Rather than feeling nostalgic for an era when a small number of news outlets did the quality control for us, the answer may be to create algorithms that help us to be suspicious, questioning and aware of other viewpoints."
    • Overconfidence and the scout mindset
      "Confirmation bias: Everyone reads what confirms their prior beliefs. Everyone. Not just read, but specifically seek it out, retain it and ignore everything else. This is why the internet is so balkanised, and why fact-checking hardly matters. Confirmation bias is hard to shake and often impervious to reality."
      .... "more information is making us less informed. But that seems to be the path we're on. And I suspect the reason for this is that the truth is not what people are seeking out. After all, it's easier to confirm what you think you already know than it is to learn and accept something you don't already know. And given the abundance of sources on the internet people have tended to find their news and information where it most conveniently confirms what they think they already know."
    • How the Internet Is Loosening Our Grip on the Truth *
      .... "the internet is distorting our collective grasp on the truth. Polls show that many of us have burrowed into our own echo chambers of information. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 81 percent of respondents said that partisans not only differed about policies, but also about 'basic facts.'"
    • A Useful Lesson from the American Election
      Short, sharp and to the point.

    Facebook & Google

    These are so big, they need a section of their own.

    Australia's ABC

    It would appear that the ABC is continuing the dumbing down of its content.

    • What the ABC’s new Catalyst could mean for science on TV
      "The ABC says the run of the popular science television show, Catalyst, has reached the end in its current format.
      In its place, the ABC has proposed it will deliver a series of 17 one hour-long documentaries that will be aired later in the evening than the current half-hour science magazine style programming."
      I think it's a minor disaster, helping dumb the country down. Science is important. The current format gets seen by far more people than the new one will.
    • Changes to Radio National are gutting a cultural treasure trove
      The title says it all.

    If you're not happy with the changes, why not contact them and let them know what you think.

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    Willis's Walkabouts Overseas

    Over the years we have offered trips to Patagonia, other parts of Chile & Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Vanuatu, northern Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Baffin Island and elsewhere in Nunavut), Alaska, New Caledonia, Japan and Madagascar. If you are curious and have a bit of time on your hands, try looking for one of those places by using the search button on our website. You can find the trip notes for many trips we have offered in the past. This will give you an idea of what we can still offer and might suggest a trip you'd like to do.

    You might also be interested to know that the area where we have run our last three Patagonia trips is #6 on Lonely Planet's top ten list of places you should visit in 2017.

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    Bushwalking Tips & Ideas

    Kangaroo Island

    The Kangaroo Island 5 day, 61 km walk is now open. Do it with or without a guide.

    Kimberley Books

    Here is an email I received from George Kulek earlier this month. I haven't looked at any of his books myself, but several do look quite interesting — and useful.

    You may be interested in several books that I have published this year. Of particular interest to bush walkers are two bush food books that would prove useful in the outback. Kimberley Bush Food is a very comprehensive guide to edible plant food in this region and describes over 200 edible species on 430 pages. It is by far the most informative book available on this subject. The other book is Wild Edible Plants in Western Australia and this comprehensively describes 400 edible species with over 950 photographs. This is also by far the most informative book available on the subject. These books and other bush books can be viewed and bought on website au.blurb.com. I have lived and travelled throughout the Kimberley region for over 30 years and have also conducted rock art tours on Mt. Elizabeth station often with Scotty Martin (Ngarinyin elder).

    Bushwalking Basics

    Hiking basics is a page on an American website. The page itself isn't much. The links on it are. Some things may apply only in America, but others are just as important in Australia. Run your cursor over anything beginning with a hyphen and it comes up as a link.

    If you have children you'd like to take bush, I particularly recommend the three links in the Hiking With Family section.

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    Willis's Walkabouts on Smart Phones etc.

    Read this section to the end and you could save big dollars on your next trip.

    Neither our website nor this newsletter are optimised for mobile devices. If we don't fix that, we are in trouble to the point where the business may not exist in another few years. Easier said than done.

    I tried using different mobile phone emulators to see how this newsletter would look on a mobile. Some wouldn't recognise it. Some wouldn't show the landscape (horizontal) view. What I did see looked terrible. But, when I looked it on an actual smart phone turned horizontally, it didn't look all that bad. Not good, but not all that bad. If you are looking at this newsletter on a smart phone, What does it look like to you? click here and send me an email to let me know.

    Fixing the whole website is almost certainly going to be a long, drawn out process. The end product has to be something we can edit ourselves. Depending on the quality of the suggestions, I'm offering up to $1500 in discounts, over and above our normal discounts, to the best suggestions/help I receive over the next 3-6 months. For now, I'll start with three relatively simple (I think) things.

    • This newsletter is sent as an attachment. What can I do to make it easier to read on all devices from smart phones to full size screens
    • We've been told our home page is too cluttered. Unlike most of the website, it's already in dot point form. What should we do to the home page to help entice people to go further in exploring what's on the side.
    • Many of the trips have both an HTML page and a PDF trip note description. The intention was to make the HTML pages relatively easy to find and leave the details to the PDF. Is this worth maintaining, or should we drop the HTML pages and just keep the PDFs?
      The first two of the four January-February trips have HTML pages. The last two only have PDFs.

    If you think you can help with any of these, please click here and send me an email.

    Finally, I would like to publicly express my thanks to a young woman, Gavrila Piper, who put in a lot of work showing me what could be done using a program called Squarespace. Sticking with them requires having them host the website so I may or may not do it. But, at least I have begun to see what is possible.

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    Children's Ground

    We do many trips in Kakadu. One of our guides, Don Butcher, asked us to mention Children's Ground, an organisation that "was established to work with communities experiencing disadvantage and inequity as they lead the way towards positive change." They are heavily involved with some of the traditional owners of Kakadu. Click the link and see what you think.

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    NY Times Offer Update

    In my last newsletter, I said I had five free subscriptions to give away by Friday 14 October. I had a total of 17 requests, two of which came in after the deadline. I attempted to give them all a free subscription. It worked for most, including the last. I have no idea why it didn't work for the others.

    The free subscription link still appears to be live.

    If you are interested and want to test it, click here and send me an email.

    The following note was at the head of previous issues. I've shifted it here to make the start of the newsletter less cluttered for people on mobiles.

    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.

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    Photos & Videos

    This face-planting fox is a winner we can all get behind
    Humourous animal photos — click through the lot for a smile.

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    News About This Newsletter

    Next Newsletter — Help!

    Next one should be a special edition just before or just after Christmas. I'll be away for most of January. I'd like to include some good photos & videos. I don't have much. Suggestions welcome.


    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 walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au. 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 walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au 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 walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au.

    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 walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au

    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.

    Just in case I don't get the next newsletter out in time, Happy Holidays!,
    Russell Willis

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