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Augusta Georgia

 

Making our way east we decided to have lunch in Augusta.  Originally we'd considered this as a place to spend a night but friends had suggested Columbia, the capital and second largest city in South Carolina, might offer a better range of accommodation.  On arriving in Augusta their advice seemed to have been well advised.  Despite its famous golf course it's a small place, a little worse for wear, except for an apparently thriving car culture.  There were several historic cars, one an 'E Type' Jaguar and another with enough chrome to blind other road users, even on a dull day. 

There is also a surprisingly large museum featuring an historic steam locomotive with a full set of 'rail cars' and other historic vehicles, in addition to the obvious golf and by now predictable Civil War galleries.  In one gallery we learned that Augusta had an important role manufacturing gunpowder for the Confederate army. Other galleries remember the blues star James Brown, a local son, and local medical infrastructure and achievements.

 


Augusta Museum of History - Click on this picture to see more
 

 

The museum information centre recommended a café across the road.  This turned out to serve traditional African American fare and we joined the other races there and ate in harmony.  This might have surprised someone who's only contact with Augusta had been the museum and who'd seen the segregationist signs and slave shackles displayed there.

 

 

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Travel

Darwin after Europe

 

 

On our return from Europe we spent a few days in Darwin and its surrounds.  We had a strong sense of re-engagement with Australia and found ourselves saying things like: 'isn't this nice'.

We were also able to catch up with some of our extended family. 

Julia's sister Anneke was there, working on the forthcoming Darwin Festival.  Wendy's cousin Gary and his partner Son live on an off-grid property, collecting their own water and solar electricity, about 120 km out of town. 

We went to the Mindl markets with Anneke and her friend Chris; and drove out to see Gary, in our hire-car, who showed us around Dundee Beach in his more robust vehicle. Son demonstrated her excellent cooking skills.

 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Electricity Shocks

 

 

 

I've always thought that would be a good headline. 

Now that I have your attention I have to report that Emily McKie, my daughter, is the author of a new e-book on Smart Grid technology in her sustainable cities series.

 

 

 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Manufacturing in Australia

Originally written in August 2011 - it might have been yesterday - so little has changed.

 

 

Manufacturing viability is back in the news.

The loss of manufacturing jobs in the steel industry has been a rallying point for unions and employers' groups. The trigger was the announcement of the closure of the No 6 blast furnace at the BlueScope plant at Port Kembla.  This furnace is well into its present campaign and would have eventually required a very costly reline to keep operating.  The company says the loss of export sales does not justify its continued operation. The  remaining No 5 blast furnace underwent a major reline in 2009.  The immediate impact of the closure will be a halving of iron production; and correspondingly of downstream steel manufacture. BlueScope will also close the aging strip-rolling facility at Western Port in Victoria, originally designed to meet the automotive demand in Victoria and South Australia.

800 jobs will go at Port Kembla, 200 at Western Port and another 400 from local contractors.  The other Australian steelmaker OneSteel also recently announced a workforce reduction of 400 jobs.

This announcement has reignited the 20th Century free trade versus protectionist economic and political debate. Labor backbenchers and the Greens want a Parliamentary enquiry. The Prime Minister who reportedly initially agreed has now, perhaps smelling trouble, demurred.

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