Sunday, January 30, 2011

Flood a memories

I've lived through a flood and a fair few droughts. My last case of lower floor flooding in Lower Bowen Terrace New Farm was the end of the eighties but I could look up YouTube and see a nearby street that (suburb being on the Brisbane River and all) was flooded so I get a pretty good picture (there's a YouTube picture of drier times and a tamed bird flying across the park - and over picnickers heads - and returning to its perch. But that's a different story)

I thought Anna Bligh's statements to the media (well, the ABC at least) were exactly the kind you'd want - expect - from a leader. She made it very clear the priorities and she took charge.

I also loved the fact that both Prime Minister Gillard and Foreign Minister Rudd, whose electorate is in one of the flood-affected areas, were straight on site; offering comfort and organising relief.

I thought it was perfect that it was the Premier's Flood Relief campaign that would sort all the donations and put them toward the mop-up.


Conditions were severe enough for (sometimes remote) neighbours to render assistance. Australians were by turns shocked and saddened and alarmed. They had reasons for all these emotions and more. Conditions after the worst flood effected regions were said to resemble the aftermath of a tsunami.


Alarmed? Suddenly  other states starting putting in flood reports of their own. The north of New South Wales often cops it and is close to the existing floods. But Victoria started sandbagging and calling panicky meetings (a year after they had been wracked by bush fires), South Australia was getting what - run-off from Victoria? And parts of Tasmania also flooded. We got some rain here.

Western Australia had another bad bush fire.

Yeah, to cultural theorists and reactionaries both, with their whole claim to dominion over nature, I say PHOOEY

We may be on the verge of nanotechnology breakthrough and in the process of buggerising around with DNA to our heart's content, but we couldn't stop a flood (or riverine rise as some insurers are calling it) hitting on several fronts at once, while a destructive fire happened elsewhere in the country. We couldn't even stop massive flood damage in one of our state capitals. Government and Opposition have both come forth and addressed the obvious need to raise funds for the huge expense of rebuilding.

The Gillard government have proposed a flood levy but, in the same way that the Rudd bonus going to overseas nationals was counterproductive, the impost would also affect those ravaged by the very conditions that the levy is meant to help. Unless you spent months on drafting tax legislation to consider how to exempt some taxpayers from the levy. Help is needed until things are returned to normal, whether this be in the way of keeping businesses alive in the townships that were inundated, by going and cleaning up, helping out in the wayfarer stations of people who've lost homes, sending money, raising funds, it's all necessary.

Opposition Leader Abbott has asked for a bipartisan meeting with the PM and Treasurer to propose alternatives to another, you guessed, Great Big New Tax.

Though thinking about it, if you were hit directly by the floods recently, you're not going to be earning too much for a while, so the limit might sort out most of the faults with a double jeopardy model.

It's not as though Julia has been resting on her Green supported independent allied laurels, as witness her moves to slash Cash for Clunkers and, oh, I don't know, every single positive environmental initiative in place. Like that's going to help the erratic weather.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

All at Sea

Atlantic Ocean

Mediterranean Sea


Arctic Ocean

Southern Ocean

Indian Ocean

Sunday, January 02, 2011

That was '10 and this is Now

I ended the year on strange note: Tom Waits will be among those elected to the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame this go round, while my other all-time favourite gruff-voiced songsmith, Captain Beefheart died at the age of 69.

I barely made it through two French speaking countries yet my table companion at the big office Christmas party speaks fluent French and said when he's in France he likes to speak French. I was so impressed, and he's only a few years older than me.

I did surprise him with a good language anecdote before becoming too drunk to keep up such banter.
He left early. Others left early. I went on to the next pub with the hardier soles, including our director.

This was the year that I made a connection with my Dad's past

and truly went abroad, ahead of the maelstrom.

It seems every year now I read of misfortune on reflecting back over the year. I think 2010 was a cracker of a year. I caught up with my good mate, stayed at my sister's house in the English countryside, visited the home of the Bard, went through the many drawing rooms of Windsor Castle, and climbed the many steps of St Paul's Cathedral

We soaked up the sun on the Seine and strolled the canals of Amsterdam. We visited van Gogh Museum, Reijksmuseum, and sections of the Louvre. We climbed the crawlspace of Anne Frank House and the bell tower of Westerkerk.

Back home, I'm the shoveller with sunburn so - with the days getting even hotter - have started going outside in the eve.