So in February 2011 — ten years ago! — I…

Ended the month rather dramatically! That particular adventure began on 28 February as I smoked my last ever cigarette while waiting for the ambulance which took me to Wollongong Hospital.

March 2011 revisited — 1

Posted on  by Neil

Here’s how it began for me:

And that dominated this blog for the next couple of weeks, though by 9 March I was back home.

Of course that should be 2011…

My then laptop was dying at the end of February, though I had another I called Baby Toshiba which provided the hospital image above. How my dying laptop manifested its departure I managed to capture on video on 27 February:

Remember Windows 7?

There was Christchurch of course — the earthquake. On this day ten years ago I also had a coffee at Diggers with Mr Rabbit, aka Mitchell, a well-remembered Class of 2000 ex-SBHS student, and in 2011 a teacher in Wollongong. An English teacher in fact. Still is, I just confirmed, in the Blue Mountains.

Down to The Gong; coffee at the Diggers

Posted on  by Neil

Called in to the Uniting Church on the Mall. Thought about New Zealand.


Met Mr Rabbit for coffee at The Diggers Club. We were still there for the 4.30 ritual. I have grown to appreciate the ritual; Mr R hadn’t experienced it before.

At RSL Clubs throughout Australia, the Remembrance Silence is a solemn ritual that takes place every night. All lights except a Memorial Flame or an Illuminated Cross are dimmed. Everyone present stands in silence facing the Flame or Cross and the Ode from For the Fallen is recited (usually from a recording).

Originally this ritual took place at 9 pm and it’s still listed that way on the government’s Defence website. However, some RSL Clubs now have it as early as 5 pm (Miranda RSL). No one knows for sure why it was at 9pm. It may be a coincidence, but the BBC went silent at 9 pm during WWII to allow radio listeners to hear the chiming of the bells of Big Ben in London. It was said that the BBC did this as a symbol to free men in the captive nations of the world.

Note: RSL Clubs (Returned & Services League of Australia) are social clubs for returned service personnel. People mistakenly refer to all Service Clubs and Memorial Clubs as RSL Clubs. Only those clubs associated with the RSL should be called RSL Clubs. – source


Mr R was in the SHS Class of 2000 and now teaches English here in The Gong. I passed my academic gown on to him yesterday. It’s almost 50 years old! Nice to know it will continue appreciated for some years to come, and may even appear in a speech night or two…

See, I really am an old reactionary after all!

And the day before I was still thinking about Christchurch and posed a question I would still pose to anyone moaning about this politician or that, or saying they don’t like any of them. Anarchy — no-government government — is not an option.

Natural disasters–what would an anarchist do?

Posted on  by Neil

In every major catastrophe such as that now confronting New Zealand we see images like these.


Now I can’t even begin to imagine what The Anarchist Guide to Natural Disaster Relief and Management would look like. Can anyone? Does this not reveal that anarchism is merely the ultimate pie in the sky, a political philosophy that is, when it comes down to it, no more than self-indulgence stretched to the point of absurdity?

This guy had a go at defending the proposition: In Praise of Anarchy.

This site asks the right questions.

I personally believe that Anarchy is a utopian ideal which cannot be reached. The following questions reflect why I am skeptical of a stateless society.

1) How would a stateless society deal with an invasion by an organized army ?

2) How would a Stateless society deal with famine or plague?

3) How would a stateless society deal with environmental disasters like the recent one involving British Petroleum ?

4) How would a stateless society deal with ethnic/religious/cultural tensions ?

5 ) How would a stateless society deal with natural disasters like hurricanes,tornadoes, etc ?

6) How would a stateless society deal with organized crime ?


Calibre — an old friend

Back in 2012 I posted:

11 April 2012

I have borrowed/adapted my title and the following picture from My Overstuffed Bookshelf.


How many books are in that picture? Around 200, I would say.

Now let’s look at my virtual bookshelf, as seen in Calibre on my laptop. 


That’s the latest freebie from Smashwords there in the reader window….

On Sunday on Facebook I wrote:

I have been using Calibre ebook Manager and Reader since at least February 2012 — on several computers, all but this one now dead. But Calibre and its library — so long as you back it up somewhere — happily migrate. At the moment I have 2,701 books — all of them free! Thanks Project Gutenberg, ANU Press, the sadly no longer with us University of Adelaide eBook Library (got all Orwell from them, for example, and all Proust!) plus Feedbooks and Smashwords. Some are short, like just a short story, but I also said Proust just now. And there is Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” — and a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio!

The latest version of Calibre has “a ‘Read aloud’ function that works via the operating system’s Text-to-speech engine.” It does a few weird things — so that Dr. Dave is always said “Drive Dave” and the Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon becomes the Revelation Dorothy….But aside from that it is quite amazing! Even gets close to having normal intonation.

The Calibre Reader reading! The word being said is highlighted. The voice control is top right. The poem BTW is by WW1 poet Ivor Gurney. The voiced version is quite acceptable.

Don’t ask me how it works — but what a boon for us oldies!

Jim Belshaw, eBooks and Calibre

My fellow blogger Jim Belshaw has been an amazing source of information and inspiration, even where I don’t completely share his conclusions. For example, his patience on the subject of Donald Trump probably should be an example to me, but so sure am I now that despising Trump is a totally rational position that I can’t be as judicious, perhaps, as Jim. Not that Jim is a fan of Trump — it is just that he retains a certain coolness in analysis that no doubt reflects his many years of scholarship and public service.

Jim, you probably know, has a number of blogs, one of which is New England History, referring to New England in NSW. Jim would be the first to admit that some of what he espouses there is not highly fashionable. So I was pleased to be able to tell him the other day that a new biography of founding figure of the Country Party and one-time Prime Minister Sir Earle Page has just been published by ANU Press. You may purchase it for $65 or get it free as an eBook — PDF or epub. I chose epub. Jim’s research and blog features in the notes and bibliography, and it covers much that has been, partly for his own family reasons, Jim’s focus for many years.

On Facebook Jim kindly said:

Hat tip to Neil James Whitfield for pointing me to this book. Shadow minister for health Chris Bowen has just delivered the 36th Earle Page memorial lecture. At the same time, ANU Press has just released Stephen Wilks new biography of Page “‘Now is the Psychological Moment’ Earle Page and the Imagining of Australia”. It was nice to see my work appearing in citations and the bibliography, including my history blog. That’s a first! The bibliography actually includes three generations. my grandfather (David Drummond), my father (J P Belshaw) and me. it’s self indulgent mentioning this, but it was nice because so much of my historical research and writing has been done in isolation remote from the academy on now unpopular topics overtaken by time and fashion.

I elected the epub version because I have Calibre on my computer, which means I read it thus:

I said today on Facebook: “My eBook library on Calibre now sits at 2,675 books — some actually being short stories! However, there are also things like an unabridged “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (from Project Gutenberg), several Bibles, the Quran and so on…. And lots of lighter stuff. And I must add I have paid for none of these books. Not one. In that respect I must mention ANU Press, from whom I have many free treasures….”

In later posts I will tell you about some of these books, especially about ones I am currently reading or have read lately. Yes, I have done this before — and here is one example from 2018: War and Peace. The image shows what the interface looked like then, but it has been altered and added to, for the better, since.

Screenshot (184)

Calibre works really well. I recommend it.

Wi-fi at Illawarra Leagues

Spent some of yesterday at Illawarra Leagues Club. Just a note about the club:

The club was formed in 1947, the inaugural meeting being held on Friday, May 2.

It received it’s license later that year, one of the first clubs on the coast to do so, but it was not until December 12, 1951 that the doors were officially opened.

Illawarra Leagues is the second oldest leagues club in the world, a fact that all those associated with the club are especially proud of. The oldest, NSW Leagues Club, is located in Phillips Street, Sydney.

And here I am:


One reason I went there was to use their excellent wi-fi (45.9 mb/s) to at last update my Windows 10. That took a while even so, but I had no chance doing it from home. Then, sharing with T and C, friends at the club.

A good afternoon all round.