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When we talked of going to Hawaii for a couple of weeks in February 2018 several of our friends enthusiastically recommended it. To many of them it's a nice place to go on holidays - a little further to go than Bali but with a nicer climate, better beaches and better shopping - with bargains to be had at the designer outlets.

 


Waikiki

 

To nearly one and a half million racially diverse Hawaiians it's home.

 

 


Downtown Hilo

 

To other Americans it's the newest State, the only one thousands of miles from the North American Continent, and the one that's more exotic than Florida.

To some it's historically significant - the site of America's single greatest military defeat, unless you count Vietnam or perhaps Afghanistan - and it all took place on a single day: "a date which will live in infamy".

Here, on my father's 25th birthday, the course of world events took a dramatic new direction.  He was not yet married to my mother.  So to me it's one of those places where history most clearly influenced the conditions necessary for my birth and thus the birth of my children too. 

But why was the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour on December 7 1941?  And why is that fleet no longer there?

That story goes back to the arrival of Captain James Cook at Kealakakua Bay, on the west coast of the island of Hawaii, on January 16 1779, and the outcomes that momentous event triggered for inhabitants of the newly discovered Sandwich Islands as more and more strangers arrived.

I found myself fascinated by the youngest US State's short but turbulent history. Statehood is one of the more recent events that I remember clearly.  But you might like to skip these sections if these and other improbable events leading to your birth are of no interest.

 

 


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Travel

Morocco

 

 

In August 2008 we visited Morocco; before going to Spain and Portugal.  We flew into Marrakesh from Malta and then used the train via Casablanca to Fez; before train-travelling further north to Tangiers.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Meaning of Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

'I was recently restored to life after being dead for several hours' 

The truth of this statement depends on the changing and surprisingly imprecise meaning of the word: 'dead'. 

Until the middle of last century a medical person may well have declared me dead.  I was definitely dead by the rules of the day.  I lacked most of the essential 'vital signs' of a living person and the technology that sustained me in their absence was not yet perfected. 

I was no longer breathing; I had no heartbeat; I was limp and unconscious; and I failed to respond to stimuli, like being cut open (as in a post mortem examination) and having my heart sliced into.  Until the middle of the 20th century the next course would have been to call an undertaker; say some comforting words then dispose of my corpse: perhaps at sea if I was travelling (that might be nice); or it in a box in the ground; or by feeding my low-ash coffin into a furnace then collect the dust to deposit or scatter somewhere.

But today we set little store by a pulse or breathing as arbiters of life.  No more listening for a heartbeat or holding a feather to the nose. Now we need to know about the state of the brain and central nervous system.  According to the BMA: '{death} is generally taken to mean the irreversible loss of capacity for consciousness combined with the irreversible loss of capacity to breathe'.  In other words, returning from death depends on the potential of our brain and central nervous system to recover from whatever trauma or disease assails us.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Electricity price increases

 

 

14 April 2011

New South Wales electricity users are to suffer another round of hefty price increases; with more to come.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has announced that electricity prices for the average New South Wales resident will increase by 17.6 per cent from July.  Sydney customers will pay on average about $230 more each year, while rural customers will face an extra $316 in charges.  IPART says it is recommending the increases because of costs associated with energy firms complying with the federal government's Renewable Energy Target (RET).  The RET requires energy firms to source power from renewable sources such as solar or wind.

What is this about and how does it relate to the planned carbon tax?

If you want to know more read here and here.


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