Guns and Freedom

This is an old post which I was working on but somehow became stuck before publishing:

“October ,2013 In recent weeks I have been using my Facebook profile to express my feelings about The American Gun laws and what we have here in Australia. Kater’s election mandate and the lobby groups that are developing here made me sit down and reflect or just what liberal gun laws mean to the average person in the street.

Before I start I think we should just do a simple comparison of gun related deaths in three countries. The United States has 10.3 deaths/100,000 people, Australia has 1.06 and Singapore 0.16. As you can see we are not at the top but we could still improve matters greatly. It is interesting to see that Mexico which is regarded by me as a very dangerous country due to its drug related gangs has just about the same death rate as the US.

Now the question arises as to what reduces the gun related death rates. Is it the restrictions on being able to own a gun or is it the penalties for committing a felony using a gun?

In Australia our gun laws are framed differently to the United States. Here we certainly we can the right to own an armament. To own a gun here you must have a reason such as a farmer who needs it to control feral animals. Persons may own a gun if they are members of a club but generally the rule prohibits most people from owning a gun. Even if you have the right to own a gun it has to be licenced and kept in  a Gun Safe when not in use. The type of gun is also very restricted and for most is restricted to a non-automatic rifle.

These very rules mean that Gun holders in Australia are operating in a much different manner to those in the U.S. In the U.S guns may be kept anywhere in the house and often people keep them near themselves. The type of gun can be a pistol as well. The nature of these gun laws mean that the guns themselves are much more accessible than would be the case in Australia.

In recent decades the Australian Government has tried to reduce civilian gun ownership, notably through a weapons buyback scheme after the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996. It has worked, with figures estimating there are only about 15 guns per 100 Australians. In comparison, the United States has an estimated 90 guns for every 100 civilians – the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. And for comparison purposes Singapore has 0.5 guns per 100 civilians.”

But now read on and see how law enforcement in the United States has gone one step more. And the same is happening in Australia and other places.

Armed and dangerous

No-knock raids, assault weapons and armoured cars: America’s police use paramilitary tactics too often

EARLY one morning a team of heavily armed police officers burst into the home of Eugene Mallory, an 80-year-old retired engineer in Los Angeles county. What happened next is unclear. The officer who shot Mr Mallory six times with a submachine gun says he was acting in self-defence—Mr Mallory also had a gun, though he was in bed and never fired it. Armed raids can be confusing: according to an investigation, the policeman initially believed that he had ordered Mr Mallory to “Drop the gun” before opening fire. However, an audio recording revealed that he said these words immediately after shooting him. Mr Mallory died. His family are suing the police.

Another season starts in a wobbley manner- 2013

After a particularly dry spring we are now having a very wet spell with some flooding last week.

our dam fills up overnight and is seen here over flowing. Fortunately the repairs carried out in the past have held up well.

our dam fills up overnight and is seen here over flowing. Fortunately the repairs carried out in the past have held up well.

The wet weather here last week is certainly a mixed blessing. Obviously you do need rainfall especially as the dam empties which happened last year. But once I get my

We were going to use new ground for tomatoes but it wasn't prepared in time. So made three rows with garlic in between.

We were going to use new ground for tomatoes but it wasn’t prepared in time. So made three rows with garlic in between.

irrigation going in many ways I can do a better job supplying water than coping with such heavy downfalls. The sandy soil we have here is so erodible particularly when ploughed.

But there is so much happening in spring and most things at that time of year depend on steady weather conditions. A major set back this year is the lack of pollination and hence poor fruit set due to trees blossoming in wet or cold conditions. These sort of circumstances keep the bees away.

Another thing is there will be so much grass to mow once I can get my tractor out on the paddocks once they dry off. And all our tomatoes were damaged with weeds taking over especially oxalis which must be the worse weed around. The leave look much like clover but it puts out millions of bulbs all of which sprout the following year. The more you try to move them the more they spread. And the worse thing is there is no herbicide other than maybe fumigation which will get rid of it. Just have to let it lie fallow I guess for a few years.

Wallabies seem more determined than ever to get into out paddocks and eat the things we don’t want eating. They don’t seem to eat the grasses but concentrate on the young trees which after continual denudation give up. Not so long ago I decided that my fences need another update as the wallabies were ignoring the electric and getting in. It was obvious that they were not jumping in but going through the fence as the trails went right up to both sides of the fence. So in the end I contacted the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and was fortunate to have discussions with Mr. Robbie Gaftney. I had envisaged Baiting as a last resort but he supplied many tips some of which I will explain to you now.

As I said they were getting through the net. Apparently they can open the wires up with their paws and use their tail to propel them through between pulses. He recommended that the hot wire system be replaced with wallaby wire. That is both an expensive and time consuming operation. What I have done seems to be working. The idea came to me when I was repairing the cherry netting which these same varmints had punched holes in. So I am now in the process of attaching birdnetting over the hot wires. The theory is that this will impede the roos pushing through the wires as they are still active behind the netting. As they are polyester they are not conductive and in dry weather the fence behave as normal.

here is a tree not destroyed by the wallabies

here is a tree not destroyed by the wallabies

the wallabies have stripped this tree bare

the wallabies have stripped this tree bare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have had some great help come to us this year. Last week we had 5 helpers come to us via Helpx. The picture below shows Michel (Holland) and his girlfriend Ludi(France) who came for a week. Also shown is Mizuki from Japan. Mizuki is here for a while and seems to like most things on the farm and might I even say it is getting used to weeding.

Sprinklers do reduce fire risks to your house

This summer looks like being a real test for all of us. In the cities or rural areas when surrounded by native trees the danger is very real as we are now witnessing in N.S.W and this is only October. In the event that a bushfire comes your way as it did to us in 2006 I don’t think the firefighters will have the manpower to protect our houses. It is up to us to protect our houses and our lives in this event. I recommend that everyone think about installing sprinkler systems on their roofs. Have a look at this you tube video and you will be convinced toohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3Jcl0QpZJI.
We have installed sprinklers on our roofs and whilst it still could be improved what it means is we have in house firefighters working for us when and if we need them. The support for this type of system is increasing see US experience http://www.nfpa.org/research/statistical-reports/fire-protection-systems/us-experience-with-sprinklers. If anyone out there wants to know what we have done let me know. Its not a guarantee that nothing will go wrong but if you have a fireplan and intend to stay or even if you are planning to leave this system can be turned on as you leave.
Part 4 Black Saturday Sprinkler System SOUTH WEST CORNER

www.youtube.com

Following the You Tube video- Sprinkler System Saves House on Black Saturday (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCN7wrMGnjo) I have received many requests for t…
Lik

Jobs- are we usefully employed

“In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshalled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.”

reference: http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/08/labour-markets-0?fsrc=nlw|newe|8-26-2013|6491669|131264822|AP

I was not smart enough to write this myself. But isn’t it demoralising that people now work harder doing meaningless jobs , jobs which they themselves know are demeaning.

Solar Panels

[stextbox id=”alert” bgcolorto=”23db44″]This article is fairly long winded but if you are a potential solar panel user I am sure you might find some of my experiences interesting. Feel free to contact me too if you need to know more…[/stextbox]

Hurrah! Eureka Farm is going solar. We have looked at the costs and have decided there could be no better time to install solar panels. Prices for the panels has dropped enormously as the world enters an over supply situation. Once the decision to go solar was made I became intrigue as to what system I should use. This included the type of panels i.e mono-crystalline or poly-crystalline , are some better than others, what size and then how to put them on the roof landscape or portrait and what sort of mounting would be best for us. Then there was the question of inverters and  how to get it into the grid system.

My research led me all over the place but gradually the folklore around installations and the more real answers came to light. It was interesting to talk to suppliers too and hear their take as well. My neighbour Terry Stingle has a 5kw system installed and he too had done his home work well and gave me some good advice.

I eventually settled on 250w panels and ended up with a panel supplied by Diamond Cell. Now you just can’t use any panel but it has to have Australian Accreditation. And yes the panel given in the quote is accredited. I wouldn’t have chosen this one initially ( virtually an unknown brand) as I favoured the Trina Panels which had a reasonably smart specification and were being offered very cheaply.

3-DSCF6077The things you should look for besides the spec are thwarranty. With the TDG-PV 250w  solar panel shown above there is a 10 year product warranty  and a 30 year linear performance warranty. I don’t place a lot of confidence in these long term warranties for if you have been reading the papers lately you will note that many large and first class manufacturers have given up largely because they cannot compete with China. But the large warranty supplied hopefully will last long enough to see that they go through one summer and one cycle thereby ensuring that most of the performance criteria is met.

It would seem that there are many businesses out there flogging their systems. Usually they seem to have a relationship with certain module manufacturers and are less particular about which inverter to use. It is very hard to distinguish the real costs of parts and installation and the Government rebates offered with many of these suppliers. Often you think you are getting a good price but are inclined to forget this price includes the SPC credits (Government rebates) which are returned to the user or his nominated supplier.

I must admit I began to  suspect that there was a lot of fat built in these prices and was very interested to see what the actual wholesale prices would be for these materials. In our case at Eureka Farm we were looking at a 20kw system or 80x 250w panels.. It was large enough that certain wholesale suppliers were interested in quoting. As an example one wholesale quote for a 20kw wholesale price delivered to me including panels, 3 traditional composite string inverters and  mounting came to $28000. Add the cost of installing the system and take away the credits this comes to about $20000 to $23000 including GST. This compares with having a package supplied by a solar installer of at least $31000 on the same basis  a difference of up to $10000. This settled the course of action plan for me.

Climate change

this is what the organisation GETup stated:

“Stand firm on climate

Today, Prime Minister Rudd announced he will be consulting with Cabinet before making any decisions on climate action.

GetUp members have a short, yet powerful, window of opportunity to influence government policy on climate change and ensure a sustainable future.

Key questions include “If we move to an ETS sooner than currently planned, will there still be the same level of funding for renewable energy?” and “Will there be a ‘floor’ set on the price of pollution, to provide certainty and a clear incentive for business to invest in clean, not polluting energy?” “

And this is my message to my local MP Dick Adams:

Dick, it is important that your government remain strong on principle. Climate change may not be as popular as you would like if your voters think it will affect their back pocket. But the reality is climate change is happening and the effects will do a lot more damage in the near future if not addressed now.
On our farm we experienced the harshest summer ever. Our fruit suffered and the quality was down. We are now short on water and may have even a worst problem if we go into another summer without replenishing our dam and water table.
We can see severe climatic events almost becoming the norm. Only an ostrich wouldn’t see it. Lets not be an ostrich on this matter let our Government show leadership on this matter.
Denis Buchanan

I am interested in what my readers think about this important matter affecting not just all Australians but the long term viability of our earth. Please have your say

East Coast Trekking

For a long time now I have firmly believed that East Coasters (of Tasmania that is) have relied on the natural beauty of the area to attract tourists to this area. Considering just how beautiful this area is I don’t think we can just sit on our backsides and expect newcomers to see the beautiful spots that we know about. Quite often tourists only get to site this area from the roads. They are reluctant to get out and walk because quite frankly we the locals don’t show them where these iconic spots are.

I am very lucky to live in Scamander quite close to Winifred Curtis reserve and a magic beach which practically runs from Falmouth to St. Helens with hardly a soul on it. Sure I am privileged but at the same time I am worried. Why should I be worried? Simply because if we don’t let people know and appreciate our coastal scenery it won’t enjoy  the same degree of protection that we would naturally feel if we all used it and enjoyed it. If we don’t make the coastal reserves accessible I am afraid ad hoc development as has occurred in many other places of Australia will continue to be the main process of development.

We are very lucky in the Scamander Area in still having an opportunity to develop a coastal walk. In time I see no reason why this could not be extended to a long distance walk that went from Freycinet Peninsula to Eddystone Lighthouse. We already no how popular the Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clare walk has become and on a smaller scale the Bay of Fires Walk at Anson’s Bay.

I think we  must become real adventurous and create a network of walks in our region. Many of these treks could later be extended into bicycle paths as well. I foresee not only a coastal walk but walks along out East Coast hinterland. A logical mechanism would be to extend the Douglas Appsley walk to go to somewhere like Ringarooma and another walk to go from Scamander along the old cattle trails to Launceston via Roses Tier and Blessington. The mind boggles when you think of all the possibilities for exciting new activities for this area.

I will close with a few photos that Garry Shaw and myself took the other day on the Scamander beach dunes. What a fabulous area.Isn’t it a pity no one can see it?

Scamander Beach looking south to Falmouth

Scamander Beach looking north to Scamander

If you out there are like-minded about this type of project make contact with me or/and let your local councillors know that you want something like this. We just can’t afford to be complacent.

Ben Lomond Water- Scamander Water Supply

Angry residents have been looking for answers as to why the water supply for Scamander hasn’t improved since the Ben Lomond Water seized the assets under a state proclamation from the Break O’Day municipality.

I say seized as there has never been any attempt to get a detailed assessment as to the value of the assets handed over nor as there ever been any detailed discussions as to what compensation would be paid to the council. A very murky story indeed and one which I am sure citizens of this community now are regretting. I try to get an open enquiry at the time but no one seemed particularly interested in what I foresaw as a great injustice. See letter

The sweetener which convinced locals that this wouldn’t be a bad deal was that the mud which often came through the line probably as a result of chlorination gave the locals the jitters. That this body would fix things up seemed like a good thing. Never did they realise that the downside was going to be quick and substantial increases to their water bills and less than no improvement to the water quality in what must be at least two years.

Now that I have attracted your attention lets go to that meeting that the residents of Scamander organised about two weeks ago. Mr. Barry Cash CEO of Ben Lomond Water , his Corporate Secretary Mrs. Carrolyn Pillans, and two engineers one by the name of Mr. Glen Rowlands and the other one who didn’t say a thing anyhow and therefore can remain nameless.

So Mr. Cash comes with a rather flash team to mesmerise us with all the good work that Ben Lomond Water has been doing in this part of the state whilst never really conceding what a hash they have made of creating a reasonable drinking water for local residents.

It seems strange that after taking over the system bequeathed by the local council that we should be on a long term full scale boil water alert. It even seems stranger to me that all residents were not personally notified. After all such a situation only occurred on a few occasions when the water system was run by our council. The catchment area for Scamander water comes from a pristine wilderness about as ‘Green’ as Tasmania can get except for the last kilometre or so where uncontrolled grazing occurs. Water treatment problems generally occur only after heavy rains when turbidity problems made chlorination difficult to control. High e-coli counts and other measures of water pollution are mainly a problem due to the local grazing situation just mentioned and during low flow periods which are generally a feature of the mid-summer dry conditions.

Mr. Case prefaced his presentation about the need to have a good image in the water quality stakes so that tourism would continue to flourish on the East Coast. Sleek wording was very much a feature of his talk-show. But the reality of the situation is that apparently now that we are getting a new membrane filtration system we are very much the guinea pigs of the state and may have to keep the boil water alert going for several months regardless of the water quality delivered until such time as the bureaucrats say that it has passed the necessary evaluation period. This talkfest by Mr. Cash was particularly painful when one remembers that in June 2010 he announced that this plant would be built and commissioned within a couple of months.Scamander Water Treatment Plant

The question of whether slime removal may or may not be removed as chlorination is still a post membrane treatment requirement still hasn’t been addressed. Mr. Case however pointed out that maybe more pretreatment may be required such as alum additions to make the system work.  Mr. Case fobbed off any detailed answers to questions and by time the meeting closed many of the locals were disgusted.