Friday, February 4, 2011

The return of the blue slug.

The writing proceeds apace, and other things jump up and intervene. We had a better night knowing James was safe - after Scottish dancing in the toxic hall (something nasty and chemical on the room divider screens and after a hot day it had half of us wheezing). Fortunately we won't be there again and are moving to the Sports club. I shall miss the Masonic lodge with 1959 picture of the Queen, but it is apparently in the throes of being sold, and the insurance (for liability) was crippling. I have to say I find the whole liability thing really strange. When the hell are you personally responsible? Fair enough Australia did a magnificent job with limiting damage and loss of life with Yasi - with one missing (who sounds like he was looking perhaps for a Darwin Award, but I don't know the whole story) and one dead from running a generator in a closed room (Darwin...) but with a catagory 5 extreme Cyclone - compared to South Africa's Demoina (which didn't even crack cyclone status by the time it hit SA - and still killed over 200 people)they did incredibly well. If you have a life that natural disaster follows around, maybe Australia is a good place to live...

Anyway, moving along, we have our blue slug back - I feel I should take a photo - at the moment we have 4 cars in the yard right now (one is actually ours) including a very smart Honda CRV. So instead I will show you a picture of a skink on some sheep-poo. Your lives are all immesurably richer for this, don't all thank me at once. It's a White's Skink. In the old South Africa they'd have probably given it a job on the Railways.

We've added some more plants to the veggie patches from Bill, but I just don't have the time for the labor of getting my two new round raised beds operating until this book is in. Likewise fishing. I turned down a trip today to get some words done. And on Monday our mate Peter's container comes in. I'd have gone spare if I was him - he's been sitting here waiting and waiting... he flies back to the big smoke, and it arrives within days. Inside are some bulk non-perishable food bits for us (flour, oats, ginger, rice, dogfood, lead) and another second-hand wetsuit and a BC and weightbelt mould. Now all I need is an octo... and some time to use it in. Well, we'll get there.

Anyway, back to the antics of Fionn and the black and white sheepdog.


  1. I believe a rather clever lawyer managed to convince a NSW court that the local council was liable for not signposting the fact that there was a sandbar at a beach, after a surfer became a paraplegic by discovering it for himself.

    After that the personal injury lawyers and insurance companies set up a big scare campaign to convince the various state governments to regulate that all gatherings of people had to be covered by public liability insurance before they could be held, and you've got the situation you've got now.

    The lawyers (who have wanted to move to a US style of litigation for a looong time*) are happy. The insurance companies are happy (especially since they can still contest the claims quite readily, employing aforementioned lawyers). Only the small social and hobby clubs are really unhappy. It was the death of many fetes and meetings. And made a picnic in the park illegal.

    [Please add or subtract cynicism to taste.]

    [* "Somebody must be at fault. And whoever is at fault will have to pay. Even if that fault was best practice or undetectable at the time." **]

    [** Don't get me started on medical malpractice insurance...]

  2. Speaking of Fionn, my mother just finished Dragon's Ring and loved it.

  3. Demoina occurred in 1984.

    Most of the damage was caused by the huge amount of rainfall (540mm in 24 hours recorded in some places), bridges washed away etc. which hampered rescue operations. Flooding even occurred inland where we live, approx. 120 kms from the coast and 1,200 metres above sea level, e.g. rivers bursting their banks etc.

    Yasi occurred in 2011.

    It is good to see that governments have used the intervening 27 years to learn more about handling natural phenomena. Improved communications over the intervening 27 years should help even South Africa get the message across to citizens and help to keep the casualty count down.

  4. Peter - some governments anyway. The floods in good old SA still kill a depressing number on the Jukskei for example, every couple of years. Some of the downpour in Yasi was around twice Demoina -in the meter of rain in the same time, and with the wind too - and flooding has spread right across half of Australia -rains as far as South Australia - 1500 km away as a result. But they have a fantastic system of alerts (including SMS to your phone alerts for people in flood prone areas) and really good volunteer emergency services, as well as integrating govt, with things like police and army. I just can't see that level of social commitment and cohesiveness or skill or organisation in South Africa. It's probably the most impressive aspect I've seen of Australia. I've seen things that annoy me, things I like and don't like, but their disaster management so far leaves me in awe (and that's even for minor disasters here on the island).

  5. MataPam - thank you for that :-) lifts my day.

  6. Reverence Pavane - intrinsically you left one word out of your '[* "Somebody must be at fault. And whoever is at fault will have to pay. Even if that fault was best practice or undetectable at the time." **]'

    the word is ELSE - just after somebody.

    It is hell on small communities and social cohesiveness - which is really what helps for disasters. I hope this pendulum swingsthe other way really soon.

  7. Too true. It was my reflex at having to deal with lawyers in accident investigations ("there are no accidents in accident investigations"), where our version of "fault" differs from their version. We're trying to work out what happened so we can take precautions against it happening again, whilst they are trying to work out who to blame for the fact that it happened in the first place. Which is quite a different thing.

    But yes, the compulsory liability insurance requirement definitely hurt a lot of small communities and associations and stopped them holding events (or even causing them to disband). As I said, even a picnic in a park could be considered a violation of the law (not that it would be tested for fear of setting an unwanted precedent). Now that it's the status quo I don't expect them to go back to the staus quo ante.

  8. One of the things that moved me to tears when I lived in Oz was the reactions of ordinary people to others in need. I can't remember now if it was a flood, fire or drought on the coast; what I remember was the response - train car loads full of food, clothes, and most importantly, car after car of bales of hay to feed livestock in the east.

  9. In a former life (mainframe computer software) I had occasion to visit a company in Dallas a few times. One of the Dallas guys I worked with was from India. His wife ran a small food stall. He mentioned that she had a large visible sign stating that she carried NO insurance. Result, she was never sued. Had she not had the sign, one imagines she might have been sued because the curry had chillis in it and the type, source and labour practices of the chilli farmer was not specified, or the coffee was too hot.

    (Our labour relations company sent a very competent lawyer to a meeting some years ago. I asked the lawyer what her background was and she replied “I am a criminal lawyer”. My flippant response went down like a lead balloon – “but I thought all lawyers were criminals”…)