These are a few of the odd things that set Australia apart from the mother country (i.e. the UK!) Similar, yet different, eh?
The Spider Mailbox
Most suburban houses follow the USA mailbox style, with some sort of box on the edge of the property. But watch out for spiders when fetching the post!
Yet funnel web spiders, some of which can kill you in hours, aren’t the only strange, odd, things.
Merry Christmas in Rye, Victoria
Because just across the road, Santa awaits… inflated to gigantic proportions in an expensive house, built on sand dunes, made in the style of a 19th century colonial house, filled with all the gadgetry and labour-saving devices of the modern world.
A walk in the country can provide a host of oddities, from the deadly to the silly.
These are a few I came across. Places include Melbourne, Port Douglas in tropical Queensland and various sites across the Mornington Peninsular. I’m fascinated by the signs that are put up for public information. A real clue into everything, I think.
Japanese Bomb Sculpture – note the guy mowing the grass in the background. That was a noisy machine I can tell you!
Japanese Bomb Sign – little girl was the only casualty of WW2 on the East Australian mainland. (This contrasts sharply with the tens of thousands killed NOT on the mainland)
Crocodiles and Stinger Signs Next to Each Other! Just off the Captain Cook Highway.
Lotus Blossom in McClelland Art Gallery – contrasts to the large sculptures…
Tourism is Big – this is the Puffing Billy train in the Dandenongs
Big, forward control lorries are common in Australia even in urban areas. They hammer along everywhere, apparently in all lanes.
Graffiti All Over Melbourne – despite the sun and wealth, many of man’s creations are amended with random ink. Cops go on trains in fives.
Even Cats Get Banned from a Vineyard
Man-made Floating Island – this is on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. The breaking surf is The Coral Sea
View from a Yacht – Queensland and it’s hills round Port Douglas. You just point and click, there are views everywhere.
More Views – from near Cpt Cook Hwy. Banana fields just out of sight.
Fascination with Olden Days – signs all over, this is Daintree
Daintree River Crocodile Sign – no paddling and keep your eyes open – they’ve had crocs in excess of 5m long here.
Humourous Daintree Crocodile Signs on the WC Publics
My own image of Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas
Cape Tribulation – here the tropical jungle hits the Great Barrier Reef via the mangrove swamps and beach. It’s where Cook’s ship “Endeavour” was dragged ashore to be fixed after crashing into a coral reef (now named after the ship).
Cassowary v Range Rover; not so fair.
Dangerous Pedestrians! They can injure and kill people when provoked.
Views! Along Captain Cook Highway. Australia is full of views. Loads. All over the place.
Tropical Rain Forest, Hot. This is Mossman Gorge, Queensland.
Garbage Recycling, Queensland Style. In Packers Creek, upstream from Port Douglas, they just dump their boats and leave them to the crocodiles when they’re finished with them.
Sign Overload, some graphically scary – Stingers are not nice
View at Port Douglas, Queensland
Melbourne Memorial to a war on the opposite side of the world – beautiful quotes from Wilfred Own in there.
Random Public Art – McClelland Gallery, Frankston.
Odd Signs with Humour
Serious Melbourne Tram System
Ancient “cold” Tropical Rainforest in the South (Dandenongs)
Odd Signs and characteristic Oz Humour
Blue-ringed octopus in a pool at Cape Schanck – there is no known anti-venom!!! It is there in a crack. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-ringed_octopus
Sudden Waves don’t reach the odd sign.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-bellied_black_snake Red-bellied black snake taken walking down to Cape Schanck
Australia is a strange, deadly place, filled with amazing natural resources.
The quirky humour of the people is to be treasured.
They try to be uppity with their restaurants, vineyards, big boys toys and gadgets, yet underneath, the wild west existence is evident all around.
It’s all in the nature of the place.
We are a mixture of the land we live in and the land we came from.
Exploring the Simultaneous Nature of Cause & Effect
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Finale, Episode – “All Good Things…”
"The Trial Never Ends": Q and Captain Jean-Luc Picard discuss the collapse of the anti-time eruption.
I’ve just watched the double episode finale to the TNG Picard series just after the cyclists finished their ascent of Mont Ventoux in this years Tour de France. It was “All Good Things…”(see link, link & link for full episode info)
In a nutshell, Picard, by the absolute faith that his crew have in him, across three different life-times, undoes a space-time anomaly of their own creation which saves life on Earth…
What I saw was a fine dramatic representation of the Buddhist principle of karma transcending time and space, and the principle that karma (all that we and our lives are) can be changed both backwards and forwards in time; The simultaneity of cause and effect!
Well! While all fine and dandy as a piece of fiction, how can I say that this is what it’s really like?
Nichiren Daishonin, the 12th century Japanese Buddhist monk, in a letter to the grandmother of Jibu-bo Nichii, one of his disciples, tried to explain a bit of the history behind a ceremony for the dead to her. (A Buddhist service held for the repose of the dead. Such ceremonies were conducted annually, usually on the fifteenth day of the seventh month.) In it, he says, almost a conclusion to his explanation,
The Venerable Maudgalyayana put his faith in the Lotus Sutra, which is the greatest good there is, and thus not only did he himself attain Buddhahood, but his father and mother did so as well. And, amazing as it may seem, all the fathers and mothers of the preceding sevengenerations and the seven generations that followed, indeed, of countless lifetimes before and after, were able to become Buddhas. In addition, all their sons, their wives or husbands, their retainers, supporters, and countless other persons not only were enabled to escape from the three evil paths, but all attained the first stage of security and then Buddhahood, the stage of perfect enlightenment. – On Offerings for Deceased Ancestors, WND, p820
I’ve highlighted the crushing significance that summarises the whole letter, both in it’s literal summary and as it’s sense and meaning. Nichiren is saying that we can affect the past from now, as well as the future. Like Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek episode, the past, present and future are as one, overlapped, affecting each other in a miraculous way.
It’s as if the arrow of time , something everyone experiences in their daily lives, does not exist.
Maudgalyayana gets killed
Of course, faith is behind all of this; but if we accept both tales at face value there is much to commend it and the value system for life that they support. Here’s how it panned out for Maudgalyayana….
He was a disciple of Shakyamuni, (the person we call “The Buddha”, idolised in many lands). Maudgalyayana was supposed to have supernatural powers, such as mind-reading, out-of-the-body experiences and walking through walls. He also brought bad karma upon himself by killing his parents which led to his death at the hands of bandits. To change his karma, he studied the Lotus Sutra, so that later, when he met the bandits he ignored his powers and did not defend himself.
Harry Patch fought at the Battle of Passchendaele in World War I
Shakyamuni said that even supernatural powers are of no use to avoid one’s karma, especially when it is so heavy… That’s what was said and believed at the time.
But is it true? Is any of this possible?
I believe it is so. We can change the past as well as future. Harry Patch who died today aged 111, recalled shooting a German in the leg so as not to kill him (see here), just after seeing a young man die. He said,
“I fell in a trench. There was a fella there. He must have been about our age. He was ripped shoulder to waist with shrapnel. I held his hand for the last 60 seconds of his life. He only said one word: ‘Mother’. I didn’t see her, but she was there. No doubt about it. He passed from this life into the next, and it felt as if I was in God’s presence. I’ve never got over it. You never forget it. Never.”
When they reached the enemy’s second line four Germans stood up, and one ran forward pointing his bayonet at Patch who, with only three rounds left in his revolver, wondered what to do. He then deliberately fired at the man above the ankle and above the knee….”You’ve got a memory. You’ve got a brain about the size of a tea cup. I’ve got a memory that goes back for 80 or 90 years and I think that memory goes on with you when you die. And that’s my opinion. Death is not the end.”
Experiences like this can be rationalised into the mere electrical workings of the brain. But in a way, Patch’s actions shaped the rest of his life. He didn’t die early, and maybe had the well-known “survivor’s guilt” for not doing so. But like the fictional Jean Luc, he has communicated across the ages and affected people because of it. Without being a Buddhist, his actions have nevertheless been Buddhist.
The follow up to the quote above (from a BBC documentary), is that his three chums were blown to bits 6 weeks later. His not un-natural words were;
“If I had met that German soldier after my three mates had been killed, I’d have no trouble at all in killing him”….
The thing is, he didn’t. The order of events was different and as in the Star Trek story, who’s to tell what’s what?
Planck’s Constant and Entanglement
J B S Haldane: My own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
It’s been said that if Planck’s Constant were slightly different – or maybe not so constant – then we ourselves might have the supernatural powers to be able to walk through walls like Maudgalyayana. In fact, the physics says that this must be so! The natural repulsions of atoms would be different and matter could diffuse through matter with less interaction (or be totally inert depending which way it went).
F. W. Dyson, A. S. Eddington, and C. Davidson, "A Determination of the Deflection of Light by the Sun's Gravitational Field, from Observations Made at the Total Eclipse of May 29, 1919"
Surely this is a definition of supernatural?
Entanglement is another “spooky” quantum property. Einstein did not like this because of the “simultaneity” which went plain against his experimentally provable Relativity theory (Edington proved this because light bends near large masses). But it exists and experiments have now been done that confirm (at least so far) simultaneous action at a distance. (see Was Einstein Wrong?: A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity). So experiments prove both instantaneous action at a distance and space-time bending….
Surely, this also is a definition of supernatural?
“My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we cansuppose.” – JBS Haldane
…although a better version, attributed to Edington goes,
“Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.”
Nichiren, in his explanatory letter to the grandmother of Jibu-bo Nichii, follows the passage above with a quote from the Lotus Sutra saying,
Therefore, it is said in the third volume of the Lotus Sutra, “We beg that the merit gained through these gifts may be spread far and wide to everyone, so that we and other living beings all together may attain the Buddha way.”
This is also similar to a further sentence which I say twice every day,
But those who practise meritorious ways, who are gentle, peaceful, honest and upright, all of them will see me here in person, preaching the Law. At times for this multitude I describe the Buddha’s life span as immeasurable…
When Patch first spoke about WW1 he said, “For eighty years I’ve never watched a war film, I never spoke of it, not to my wife. For six years, I’ve been here [in the nursing home]. Six years it’s been nothing but World War One. As I say, World War One is history, it isn’t news. Forget it.”
He obviously hated everything about WW1. But for his last 11 years, after living a life of gentle merit, he finally spoke and told his tale. Like the Venerable Maudgalyayana who changed his karma, bathed in the ‘queerness’ of the universe, Patch changed his by finally telling his story after sowing the seeds so long ago. He’s made sure people don’t forget it. The Star Trek episode “All Good Things…” touched on this also. Where the past meets the present, which meets the future.
when you are happy, you should remember that your happiness in this life is nothing but a dream within a dream
It’s as if there is a common strand of semi-known knowledge across all of humanity that just needs to be awakened.
Sometimes it’s story-tellers,
Sometimes it’s traumatised soldiers,
Sometimes it’s scientists searching for truth…?
We all know it, we all know how to behave. But we forget.
A Dream within a Dream
I suppose that all sentient beings are questing for “truth”.
Sometimes we need some proof, like the scientist.
Sometimes we need emotional trauma, like Harry Patch.
Sometimes though, the truth is self-evident, and is a belief, derived from universal truths beyond time and space, elucidated by an enlightened one and transmitted as a belief system and a way of life.
This later one we call Buddhism.
As Nichiren said, a dream within a dream…. the proof for this truth lies within the words and actions of ordinary people searching for this truth….
When the world makes you feel downcast, you should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, remembering that, although the sufferings of this life are painful, those in the next life could be much worse. And when you are happy, you should remember that your happiness in this life is nothing but a dream within a dream, and that the only true happiness is that found in the pure land of Eagle Peak, and with that thought in mind, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. – The Fourteen Slanders, WND, p760
The inter-connectness of all things is how The Buddha described it. His last words have various translations into English, but they all convey the same meaning that the universe is transient and an exhortation to do one’s best!
“Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!” – link
“All created things are impermanent. Strive on with diligence.” – link
“Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation. Do your best.” – link
“Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.” – link
See Harry Patch’s death today in my previous post here.
Last Friday, 20/3/2009, some archaeologists in Pennsylvannia, USA, dug up some bones of Irish labourers whose bodies had been unceremoniously dumped next to the railway line they were digging after they died, probably from cholera. There were 57 of them.
This is a big thing for Americans! Despite the almost ubiquitous death penalty in that country and the hugely expensive but ineffective health care system (certainly if you’ve no insurance), and despite the twin foundations of that place being built upon the ideas of “the self” and “hand-on-heart god bless America”, this team of people on the Duffy’s Cut Project are spendinghundreds of man-hours in a search for truth and to give the almost anonymous people some sort of decent burial, 175 years after the event.
Maybe there’s some sort of change happening after the excesses of the Bush era and the collapse and then public rescue of financial institutions and global businesses? It’s almost a Welfare State! Almost socialist! Maybe they’ll move on to properly interring some of the tens of thousands of Native Americans killed in the various massacres during the colonial push?
He’s described variously as the ‘father of epidemiology’ and ‘the greatest doctor that ever lived’. Probably rightly so.
Snow witnessed at first hand the arrival of Cholera into the UK in Sunderland in 1831 and it’s subsequent spread to Newcastle. While having an annual mortality rate of ~5%, in an epidemic most deaths occur within a week or so, which made it particularly appalling in Newburn near Newcastle and down the Sandhill in Newcastle-on-Tyne itself.
Thousands died within weeks in the crowded streets in an area not much bigger than a football pitch. Sandhill is just to the west of the famous Tyne Bridge. It’s a hill up to Dean Street which is actually a culverted stream/sewer. An original report on the 1832 epidemic is here (pdf file).
Because of this and subsequent events (e.g. the Broad Street epidemic now commemorated with a pump memorial) , Snow pushed for clean water for people to drink, actions that could either be provided by enlightened wealthy individuals or by the intervention and provision by the State. That is, public welfare by the State.
In Newcastle, the first proper water supply came from Whittle Dene, and the (since expanded) ‘Whittle Dene Filters’ can still be seen next to the Military Road. Since that time, hardly anyone has died from Cholera in Newcastle, a horrible way to go since you literally shit yourself to death.
Throckrington is a teeny-tiny place set in the ‘Wilds of Wanney’ in Northumberland. It has a cute little church and a farm that straddles both sides of the little cattle-gridded road. It’s truly one of the most wildly tranquil and beautiful places on the world.
Yet just to the west of the Church are a few bumps in the sheep-grazed grass. These are the remnants of the former village that was ravaged by a later Cholera epidemic, in 1847). (This is subsequent to the one witnessed by Snow in Newcastle). The Cholera was brought by a returning sailor who’d passed through Newcastle. The village was completely wiped out!
Remarkably, standing in the Churchyard, gazing out across this former village, if you cast your eyes down over the western tombstones in the churchyard, you’ll find one belonging to Lord Beveridge( and his wife), surveying the glorious western vista for eternity.
The Welfare State
William Beveridge as he was, was commisioned by the WW2 wartime UK government to produce a report which became known as ‘The Beveridge Report‘. This laid the foundations for something that became known in Britain as the Welfare State and the National Heath Service (NHS). And quoting from Wikipedia:
The Report to the Parliament on Social Insurance and Allied Services was published in 1942. It proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly national insurance contribution. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired or widowed. Beveridge argued that this system would provide a minimum standard of living “below which no one should be allowed to fall”.
It recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the five ‘Giant Evils’ of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. This led to the setting up of the modern Welfare State (the culmination of the Fabians’ project) with a National Health Service (NHS):
19.Plan for social security : XI.Medical treatment covering all requirements will be provided for all citizens by a National Health Service organised under the health departments and post-medical rehabilitation treatment will be provided for all persons capable of profiting by it.
It’s a long way coming, but it demonstrates the Buddhist principle of ‘the connectedness of all things’ and also the benefits of working altruistically for the common good, sometimes against huge peer pressure. This last is part of something called the Noble Eightfold Path by Gautama Buddha, that is;
right concentration. .
Dr Snow had many obstacles to his now accepted theory on disease transmission from his fellow medical professionals. Beveridge likewise had much opposition, only the arrival of WW2 made it happen. An earlier Clinton presidency failed at making Welfare reforms. There are some odious vested interests out there!
Yet despite it’s many curses, failures and problems, the UK still has it’s NHS, welfare provision, and public water supplies. The population of the country is extremely healthy and despite complaints, are considerably better off than that prior to 1845.
The USA under Obama has plans to considerably reform ‘medicare’ and the costly private healthcare insurance system that leaves vulnerable people worse off and yet costs much more per capita than the UK’s NHS. Let’s hope they do it right and fix all the other iniquities that have bedevilled that place.
A little realised consequence of Bush’s ‘war on terror’ and the ramping up of common hysteria across the English speaking western world is, bizarrely, that it’s now illegal to take pictures of people commemorating, in a patriotic symbolic way, the lives and deaths of the millions who’ve strived to keep us free!
Q. How Can This be Possible in Free Society?
Section 76 of the Terrorism Act, 2008, introduced by our freedom-loving government on 16 Feb 2009.
76Offences relating to information about members of armed forces etc
(1)After section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (collection of information) insert—
“58AEliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc
(1)A person commits an offence who—
(a)elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been—
(i)a member of Her Majesty’s forces,
(ii)a member of any of the intelligence services, or
which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
(b)publishes or communicates any such information.
(2)It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for their action.
(3)A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
(a)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to a fine, or to both;
(b)on summary conviction—
(i)in England and Wales or Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;
(ii)in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.
(4)In this section “the intelligence services” means the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ (within the meaning of section 3 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 (c. 13)).
(5)Schedule 8A to this Act contains supplementary provisions relating to the offence under this section.”.
(2)In the application of section 58A in England and Wales in relation to an offence committed before the commencement of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (c. 44) the reference in subsection (3)(b)(i) to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months.
(3)In section 118 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (c. 11) (defences), in subsection (5)(a) after “58,” insert “58A,”.
(4)After Schedule 8 to the Terrorism Act 2000 insert the Schedule set out in Schedule 8 to this Act.
Now, after wading through this bollox, the key bit is 58a up to sub-section (5) which means that;
It’s an offence to gather information about a member of the police and other governmental forces, serving and non-serving! “Information” means everything, which naturally includes taking photographs.
Furthermore, you have to have a “reasonable excuse” to save being arrested, and the maximum penalty for not having a reasonable excuse is 10 years jail. The bollox does not even mention the usual government sweetener that “proper safeguards are in place to ensure fair bollox and safe bollox etc”. It’s gone so far now that they think (and do) get away with murder, illegal imprisonment, bombing of civilians etc.
I suggest, although it’s not been tested yet, that a reasonable excuse in a free society, is “because I felt like it”. Here’s a scenario:
Now suppose I had a camera and was impressed by the late Victorian and Edwardian buildings and the impressive British Police Sergeant upholding the law.
As it now stands I could be arrested and locked up for 10 years.
Q. What if I’d gone down South Parade?
A. It depends if there’s a copper there, really!
But in both cases I would be doing what I’d be doing “because I felt like it!”
And that’s the trouble with this stupid, stupid law, enacted by a government devoid of common sense.
It opens up a free path to a society like this photo, where the man being killed did far, far less than take a photograph. He was a man born in the wrong place, that’s all. The people at top are commemorating a struggle to free the world of acts like this and ensure it ‘never happens again’. Now I need a ‘proper reason’ to go there and photograph them.
And the ultimate irony, of course, given that the police have direct control over who they arrest, is it’s also illegal to photograph a policeman beating up an innocent! But if I photograph a person shooting someone, like here, that’s okay.
It really is a police state. The actual police, derived from our citizenry to ‘uphold the law’, unfortunately, are asked to deal with this crap – I see it in their eyes sometimes, when they’re finished dealing with the piss-heads and dregs of society. And with a morally bankrupt home office and financial system, what chance for fairness? See the acquiescent uniformed people in the background watching these people die in the photograph? How many times have we seen this happen since WW2?
That’s the future unless we fight to stop it.
So far, no-one has been arrested for the ‘offence’ in Trafalgar Square or outside Buckingham Palace yet. But let’s see someone taking pictures outside Whitehall or the Admiralty or any air-base in the country frequented by the anoraked airplane-spotters? What hope on Fairford Open Day?
http://web.archive.org/web/20130312224357/http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/ – POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG Ruralshire Constabulary, England 2009. Fiddling Whilst Rome Burns.
http://www.rainham-history.co.uk/html/war_memorial.htm – Rainham’s War Memorial
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