Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Could New Zealand adopt Norfolk Island?
Apparently, some locals would love it.
And we would love it, too. Historically, socially, and visually, it is an amazing island. Unique.
Until recently it was easy to fly for a very different holiday, but the link between Auckland and Norfolk has vanished. We would love to have it back. We would love the island to be part of Us.
But is it possible? Andre Nobbs, resident and past minister, thinks it is.
Since the administration of Norfolk Island has been taken away from the locals, and given to the bureaucrats in New South Wales, the situation there has changed.
As we know, the folks who live there manage by having at least three jobs. They also have a barter system, to get around the fact that there is not a lot of money to pass around. The sort of situation where someone will drop off a basket of lemons, and get a dozen fresh laid eggs in exchange. A system that worked really well. Until now.
But, as Andrew Nobbs says, New Zealand is not known for being heavy-handed with the islands it administers. It tends to let the locals get along as best they can, and help out when they get into trouble.
Will it happen?
We can hope....
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Friday, August 18, 2017
DEFENDERS of President Donald Trump offer two arguments in his favour—that he is a businessman who will curb the excesses of the state; and that he will help America stand tall again by demolishing the politically correct taboos of left-leaning, establishment elites. From the start, these arguments looked like wishful thinking. After Mr Trump’s press conference in New York on August 15th they lie in ruins.
The unscripted remarks were his third attempt to deal with violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend (see article). In them the president stepped back from Monday’s—scripted—condemnation of the white supremacists who had marched to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, and fought with counter-demonstrators, including some from the left. In New York, as his new chief of staff looked on dejected, Mr Trump let rip, stressing once again that there was blame “on both sides”. He left no doubt which of those sides lies closer to his heart.
Mr Trump is not a white supremacist. He repeated his criticism of neo-Nazis and spoke out against the murder of Heather Heyer (see our Obituary). Even so, his unsteady response contains a terrible message for Americans. Far from being the saviour of the Republic, their president is politically inept, morally barren and temperamentally unfit for office.
Start with the ineptness. In last year’s presidential election Mr Trump campaigned against the political class to devastating effect. Yet this week he has bungled the simplest of political tests: finding a way to condemn Nazis. Having equivocated at his first press conference on Saturday, Mr Trump said what was needed on Monday and then undid all his good work on Tuesday—briefly uniting Fox News and Mother Jones in their criticism, surely a first. As business leaders started to resign en masse from his advisory panels (see article), the White House disbanded them. Mr Trump did, however, earn the endorsement of David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
The extreme right will stage more protests across America. Mr Trump has complicated the task of containing their marches and keeping the peace. The harm will spill over into the rest of his agenda, too. His latest press conference was supposed to be about his plans to improve America’s infrastructure, which will require the support of Democrats. He needlessly set back those efforts, as he has so often in the past. “Infrastructure week” in June was drowned out by an investigation into Russian meddling in the election—an investigation Mr Trump helped bring about by firing the director of the FBI in a fit of pique. Likewise, repealing Obamacare collapsed partly because he lacked the knowledge and charisma to win over rebel Republicans. He reacted to that setback by belittling the leader of the Senate Republicans, whose help he needs to pass legislation. So much for getting things done.
Mr Trump’s inept politics stem from a moral failure. Some counter-demonstrators were indeed violent, and Mr Trump could have included harsh words against them somewhere in his remarks. But to equate the protest and the counter-protest reveals his shallowness. Video footage shows marchers carrying fascist banners, waving torches, brandishing sticks and shields, chanting “Jews will not replace us”. Footage of the counter-demonstration mostly shows average citizens shouting down their opponents. And they were right to do so: white supremacists and neo-Nazis yearn for a society based on race, which America fought a world war to prevent. Mr Trump’s seemingly heartfelt defence of those marching to defend Confederate statues spoke to the degree to which white grievance and angry, sour nostalgia is part of his world view.
At the root of it all is Mr Trump’s temperament. In difficult times a president has a duty to unite the nation. Mr Trump tried in Monday’s press conference, but could not sustain the effort for even 24 hours because he cannot get beyond himself. A president needs to rise above the point-scoring and to act in the national interest. Mr Trump cannot see beyond the latest slight. Instead of grasping that his job is to honour the office he inherited, Mr Trump is bothered only about honouring himself and taking credit for his supposed achievements.
Presidents have come in many forms and still commanded the office. Ronald Reagan had a moral compass and the self-knowledge to delegate political tactics. LBJ was a difficult man but had the skill to accomplish much that was good. Mr Trump has neither skill nor self-knowledge, and this week showed that he does not have the character to change.
This is a dangerous moment. America is cleft in two. After threatening nuclear war with North Korea, musing about invading Venezuela and equivocating over Charlottesville, Mr Trump still has the support of four-fifths of Republican voters. Such popularity makes it all the harder for the country to unite.
This leads to the question of how Republicans in public life should treat Mr Trump. Those in the administration face a hard choice. Some will feel tempted to resign. But his advisers, particularly the three generals sitting at the top of the Pentagon, the National Security Council and as Mr Trump’s chief of staff, are better placed than anyone to curb the worst instincts of their commander-in-chief.
An Oval Office-shaped hole
For Republicans in Congress the choice should be clearer. Many held their noses and backed Mr Trump because they thought he would advance their agenda. That deal has not paid off. Mr Trump is not a Republican, but the solo star of his own drama. By tying their fate to his, they are harming their country and their party. His boorish attempts at plain speaking serve only to poison national life. Any gains from economic reform—and the booming stockmarket and low unemployment owe more to the global economy, tech firms and dollar weakness than to him—will come at an unacceptable price.
Republicans can curb Mr Trump if they choose to. Rather than indulging his outrages in the hope that something good will come of it, they must condemn them. The best of them did so this week. Others should follow.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Evening Grey Morning Red
a novel by Rick Spilman
ISBN: 978-1-943404-19-3 978-1-943404-20-9
In Evening Gray Morning Red, a young American sailor must escape his past and the clutches of the Royal Navy, in the turbulent years just before the American Revolutionary War.
In the spring of 1768, Thom Larkin, a 17-year-old sailor newly arrived in Boston, is caught by Royal Navy press gang and dragged off to HMS Romney, where he runs afoul of the cruel and corrupt First Lieutenant. Years later, after escaping the Romney, Thom again crosses paths with his old foe, now in command HMS Gaspee, cruising in Narragansett Bay. Thom must finally face his nemesis and the guns of the Gaspee, armed only with his wits, an unarmed packet boat, and a sand bar.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
***Fans of Alaric Bond's hugely popular Fighting Sail series will be delighted to see this
Satisfied that he has forged HMS Kestrel into a formidable weapon, Commander King is keen to take her to sea once more. But the war is not progressing well for Britain, and his hopes of remaining in Malta are shattered as Kestrel is moved closer to the action.
And so begins a story that covers two seas and one ocean, as well as a cross-country trek through enemy territory, a closer look at the French prison system and a reunion with several familiar faces.
Containing breathtaking sea battles, tense personal drama and an insight into the social etiquette of both Britain and France,Honour Bound is a story brim-filled with action and historical detail.
ISBN 978-1-943404-14-8 e.book 978-1-943404-15-5 paperback
***And the current rage for SuperWoman will guarantee an enthusiastic audience for the third in Linda Collison's Patricia MacPherson series.
Rhode Island Rendezvous
Newport Rhode Island: 1765
The Seven Years War is over but unrest in the American colonies is just heating up…
Maintaining her disguise as a young man, Patricia is finding success as Patrick MacPherson. Formerly a surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, Patrick has lately been employed aboard the colonial merchant schooner Andromeda, smuggling foreign molasses into Rhode Island. Late October, amidst riots against the newly imposed Stamp Act, she leaves Newport bound for the West Indies on her first run as Andromeda’s master. In Havana a chance meeting with a former enemy presents unexpected opportunities while an encounter with a British frigate and an old lover threatens her liberty – and her life.
ISBN: 978-1-943404-12-4ISBN: 978-1-943404-13-1 (electronic edition)
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Reported by the New Zealand Herald
An "incredibly rare" blue whale has entertained and amazed tourists in the Hauraki Gulf.
Then all at once, a huge whale popped out of the sea, just twenty meters away from the boat. Light said he knew at once what it was -- "I've been doing this a long time and I know a blue whale when I see one - their dorsal fin is very, very distinctive, different from any other whale on the planet."
To make absolutely sure, he is sending photos of the dorsal fin to universities around the world.
No doubt, they will be amazed. And extremely envious of the lucky tourists who happened to be on board the boat.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
From The Smithsonian
Last week, the Irish Ministry of Culture and Heritage confirmed that divers have recovered the main ship's telegraph from the RMS Lusitania, the Cunard ocean liner sunk by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915. The sinking of the ship in Irish waters on a journey from New York to Liverpool caused the death of 1,198 people, including 114 Americans. The sinking became a rallying cry for the United Kingdom and helped push the U.S. toward military involvement in World War I.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
From The Smithsonian
Read the rest.
By Marc Wortman
SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE | SUBSCRIBE
JULY 14, 2017
JULY 14, 2017
"We turn out of our hammocks at 6.30am and lash up and stow in the usual way,” a Royal Navy sailor named Frank Baker wrote in his diary on December 6, 1917. “We fall in on the upper deck at 7am and disperse to cleaning stations, busying ourselves scrubbing decks etc. until 8am when we ‘cease fire’ for breakfast.” Baker was pulling wartime duty as a ship inspector in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the lookout for spies, contraband and saboteurs.