Saturday, October 30, 2004

"In My Father's Den" - film review...

Went out last night to see ”In My Father’s Den” . I have not read as many of Maurice Gee’s novels as I should have and so was not quite sure what to expect.

The story is of a prodigal son, a boy who ran away from home at the age of 16 in circumstances that form the central theme of the plot. He returns sixteen years later as a rather cynical and dis-spirited but acclaimed war correspondent to attend his father’s funeral.

From there the film is a mix of memory, current event, imaginings, and perhaps even hallucination, seen mainly from the son’s point of view and occasionally from that of the other three main characters – the ex-girlfriend, her daughter, and the main character’s brother.

Some will think that this film is at worst confusing, at best requiring concentration and thought. It is not an “easy” film. It is not “entertainment” in the Hollywood style. It is a very tense and compelling drama.

This is a film that explores in depth the relationship between three people, the history and events behind that relationship, and how that places them in current society. There is no anonymity in the setting, a small remote New Zealand town. Everyone knows everyone, went to school with them, are remembered at sight even after sixteen years absence. With that close level of scrutiny, there is no escape from the events as they unfold. The settings becomes increasingly claustrophobic and dark.

Do not be put off by the fact that the characters are played by “unknown” actors, or that the Director and his team are relative new-comers. The lead actors are excellent in their parts.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Those reading this in NZ, I urge you to go see it. Those elsewhere, it is likely that your only chance to see this small gem will be in festivals and special circuit (art film) theatres. Keep an eye out for it, it is well worth seeing.

Local review...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I thought that ye pays yer money if yer takes yer choice...but not in Australia?

From today's NZ Herald...

Man to sue over sex-change op

CANBERRA - A Melbourne man who regrets becoming a woman has launched legal action against the surgeons and medical centre that gave him a sex-change operation.

A County Court judge is considering whether to extend a six-year limit on litigation to allow British-born Alan Finch to sue Monash Medical Centre's gender dysphoria clinic over the removal of his testicles and penis and the construction of an artificial vagina in 1988.

Finch, now an anti-sex change activist who took his campaign public on national television last year, claims that, far from being a man trapped in the wrong body, he had in fact been clinically described as displaying above-average masculinity before the operation.

The neuropsychological report made as part of the process to determine his suitability for a sex change found he did not display female gender identity but instead escaped into fantasy. The findings were not made known to Finch until eight years after he became a woman.

Finch, who runs a support group called the Gender Identity Awareness Association, claims he was misdiagnosed. He has had his hormone-induced breasts removed and again lives as a man, although without a penis.

In May, the Monash clinic came under attack for its decision to begin hormonal treatment on a 13-year-old girl identified only as "Alex" in preparation for a sex-change operation she can have only after she turns 18.

The treatment was allowed by a Melbourne court after expert evidence.

The clinic has been conducting sex-change operations since 1975 on patients assessed as true transsexuals and after hormone treatment lasting between 18 months and two years.

Finch's organisation estimates that 5000 patients have been referred to the clinic since it opened, with referrals continuing at the rate of two or three a week.

Of these, the group estimates that 4000 were approved for a sex-change operation, although most did not complete the treatment.

Only about 500 to 600 had changed sex surgically, with about 30 patients a year still completing the process.

Finch underwent the operation at the age of 21 because of what he now describes as an identity crisis. But he told ABC TV's Australian Story last year that the results had been disastrous, leading him into an illegal marriage, another failed relationship with a man, and finally a relationship with a woman who had urged him to change back to a male.

"Anatomically, I was never a woman," he said. "[The operation] is just rearranging flesh, but the tissue that's used is still male tissue."

International research indicates that up to 20 per cent of sex-change patients regret the operation.

"After discovering that the removal of their sexual organs did nothing to address their gender confusion these patients now have no way back to their former selves," Finch's website says.

"Faced with the prospect of living an isolated and lonely life on the outskirts of society without any real possibility of marriage and family, too many have found suicide their only remaining option."

A 2001 report by the Victorian Psychiatrist's Office reportedly expressed some concerns at the Monash Centre's procedures, and a confidential review was ordered last November.

This week Melbourne County Court Judge Michael McInerney reserved his judgement on an application by Finch to extend the six-year limit to sue for negligence in wrongfully diagnosing him as a person born a male but from an early age exhibiting a female identity.

Or is this an alternate means of Shylock getting his pound of flesh?

And so the fun begins...

Florida absentee votes missing...

Man, does this get the ol' conspiracy theories churning away...

Speculation -

How many of these missing voting papers have already been lodged?

Who filled them out?

Who are the votes for?

Time will tell.


Why is it Florida that has these problems?

Voting machines and all that.

I have followed the Diebold "scandal" since Scoop got hold of it in 2001. Scoop News...

I have to wonder just how "real" this might be...

Florida Voting System

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Econ 101 - just on the offchance that anon might come past again...

For the benefit of the poor soul who can only post under the “anonymous” label, and who believes that Colin James was (is) on some form of psycho-active substance, perhaps he might like to take a look here…

Fred Bergsten - Oped in Economist

Out of respect for the Economist, I will post only the first couple of paras. For those with strong stomachs and a desire for truth read the rest of the article.

FIVE major risks threaten the world economy. Three centre on the United States: renewed sharp increases in the current-account deficit leading to a crash of the dollar; a budget profile that is out of control; and an outbreak of trade protectionism. A fourth relates to China, which faces a possible hard landing from its recent overheating. The fifth is that oil prices could rise to $60-70 per barrel even without a major political or terrorist disruption, and much higher with one.

Most of these risks reinforce each other. A further oil shock, a dollar collapse and a soaring American budget deficit would all generate much higher inflation and interest rates. A sharp dollar decline would increase the likelihood of further oil price rises. Larger budget deficits will produce larger American trade deficits, and thus more protectionism and dollar vulnerability. Realisation of any one of the five risks could substantially reduce world growth. If two or three, let alone all five, were to occur in combination then they would radically reverse the global outlook.

There is still time to head off each of these risks. Decisions made in America immediately after this year's elections will be pivotal. China, the new growth locomotive, is key to resolving the global trade imbalances and must play a central role in future. Action by a number of other countries will be essential to maintain global growth and to avoid deeper oil shocks and new trade restrictions.

The most alarming new prospect is another sharp deterioration in America's current-account deficit. It has already reached an annual rate of $600 billion, well above 5% of the economy. New projections by my colleague Catherine Mann (see chart 1) suggest it will now be rising again by a full percentage point of GDP per year, as actually occurred in 1997-2000. On such a trajectory, the deficit would exceed $1 trillion per year by 2010.

So, to the anonymous who do not seek truth, read again…

FIVE major risks threaten the world economy. Three centre on the United States… Realisation of any one of the five risks could substantially reduce world growth. If two or three, let alone all five, were to occur in combination then they would radically reverse the global outlook.

Does that paint the picture clear enough?

It does not matter WHO wins the White House in a week or so (or months after the Supreme Court sorts out the electoral mess). Bush or Kerry or Nader or Mickey Mouse; top of the new President’s shopping list must be the impact that current US fiscal and economic policy is having on the global scale.

In terms of raw probabilities, the US will suffer the consequences of at least one of the major risks outlined.

Whether the oil price goes beyond USD70 is, in my humble opinion, a relative minor. The oil shocks of the 1970s would equate to current prices in excess of USD100. If we (the world) see prices like that again then no one will land softly.

The impact that China might have – that is I think problematical.

How many times has GWB insisted that deficit economics is good for the US, good for the rest of the world? Every time he mantions the word “capitalism” I suspect. How did the USSR collapse? Not from capitalism or anything like that. The collapse of those economies came from decades of internal deficits; they got to the stage where internally the nation was insolvent. Even then they pressed on, using current income to pay arrears in coal miners wages so that there was coal to manufacture steel.

Believe me, anonymous, I (we in NZ) know what it means to wake up one morning with the head of state appearing on national television, under the influence of two or three bottles of whisky too many, to announce that the nation is “technically insolvent” and that we may default on loan payments due at the end of the week? Believe me, anonymous, that is something that you do not want. Believe me, that is something that the rest of the world does not want either.

Think for a moment... what do you imagine the words "radically reverse world outlook" might mean in the context of the present?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Colin James in NZ Herald

Colin James: It may be God's will, but it's not what the world wants


The latest issue of the New York Review of Books features a chart of polls of 34,000 people in 30 countries on their opinion on the United States presidential election. Only three are coloured red for George Bush.

For Bush are Poland, the Philippines and Nigeria. India and Thailand are evenly balanced. The rest are blue, most very blue, for John Kerry.

Australia and New Zealand are missing, but New Zealanders I asked in a poll were decisively against Bush - and most said the election was important for this country.

Yet Bush appears set for re-election. Americans, self-absorbed in their paranoia about Arab Muslim terror, don't give a damn what the rest of the world thinks.

And why should they? Their election is their business, just as one here is our business (though Bush aides whacked Mark Latham in the Australian election).

Moreover, the United States is militarily dominant. What it wants it can force. That encourages Americans to dismiss or despise other countries. And the United States is economically pre-eminent, the engine of the world economy.

Put all that together and you get an empire. That is how its current neoconservative ruling caste think of it, and it is as an emperor that Bush conducts his foreign policy. Empires are self-centred and expect other countries to pay their respects or pay for their disrespect.

But even so, why would Americans re-elect a man who declared war on terror and then ducked off on a side-campaign to topple Iraq's dictator on "evidence" of terror shown to be false and without a clear policy of occupation and exit, with the result that American soldiers are still dying there?

If you were an American voter, wouldn't you wonder for a moment if someone thoughtful and subtle might be better equipped to steer the war on terror back on course? If you genuinely fear attack day by day at home, has Bush proved the right man to lessen that danger?
Listen to this from the prominent American commentator Russell Baker:
"He makes grave decisions on the basis of inadequate or incompetent advice, wilfully persists in them though they prove mistaken, and surrounds himself with people careful not to unsettle his views."

Or this from Bob Woodward, who chronicled the aftermath of September 11 from the inside: "In my case," Bush told Woodward, "I pray to be as good a messenger of his [God's] will as possible." Americans applaud: 42 per cent told a Gallup poll recently they see themselves as evangelical or born again.

And don't counterpose "reality" to God. Former Wall Street Journal reporter and author, Ron Suskind, no ranting Michael Moore, quotes a Bush White House aide (who typecast Suskind as being in "what we call the reality-based community"): "We're an empire now and when we act we create our own reality. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
And author Mark Danner writes that the clique inhabits a realm "not of politics or strategy but of metaphysics". The enemy is evil incarnate. Bush and bin Laden are matched opponents.

The big plus in this style of rule is resoluteness in difficult times, give Bush that. The problem for those in other countries, who prize and celebrate the American values of liberty, democracy and the rule of law, is that God-given certitudes, set in "our own reality" conjured from a titanic clash of good and evil, obscure those very values.

Listen to Ian Buruma, outstanding analyst of Asia and self-styled Americophile: "Turning the United States into an armed fortress, making it harder for foreigners to enter the country, is the opposite of defending an open society.
"Legal sophistry in defence of torture casts a dark stain. Harassing harmless campaigners for causes not popular with the current Administration damages not only the beauty but also the substance of the American idea of freedom."

And is the world safer for this sacrifice of values? Give Bush the benefit of the doubt: we can't know yet. But, though we should thank him for removing a tyrant, the Iraq campaign distracted him from the real war, the war on terror, and for now has created a new playground for terrorists.

No cascade of democracy is likely in the Middle East after Bush's troops leave Iraq. Instead, there has been a worldwide cascade of distaste for Americans.

Moreover, the Iraq campaign has cost as much as 1 per cent of the United States' GDP, the Brookings Institution calculates.

Which brings us to what may be Bush's more serious error: the dangerous cantilever of debt he has built, which hangs over the world economy. His unwise fiscal policy has pumped up enormous deficits in the Budget and the external accounts.
Bush's cantilever has dangerously unbalanced the world economy. It might be gradually dismantled. But if it crashes, it will wound us all. It will not help to know, as the American people seem set to tell us in effect next week, that it is God's will.

Any wonder the world wants Kerry?

Colin James is considered one of NZ’s more “conservative” economists and right wing political commentators.

The first part of his comment is nothing out of the ordinary in so far as commentary on the US elections in the international arena are concerned. In fact, most is just regurgitation of a number of his favourite commentators; nothing original or startling.

Where I listen to what he is saying is in the final paras, where James' personal knowledge and abilities lie.

How much realistic commentary on the US economy is actually reaching the ears that matter most?

The great pity is, as always, that the far greater number who will be affected by US policies have absolutely no say in the election processes that will determine the future direction of the US.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Another one I like to bite on...

Lance on morality...

I have grabbed this from Grandpa John because it highlights a number of moral issues, but then in my opinion ignores some of the obvious answers.

"Let's assume there are two possibilities: God exists and has laid down rules for us; or there is no God and we, humans, are the highest power in existence.

Under the second possibility, there is no absolute basis for morality: there is only what we decide.

In a comment to a previous post, Grandpa John wrote: "As a social species, morality is part of our 'natural instincts' just as with the other social species. Our problem is our 'higher intellegence' allows us to override our natural instincts."

I don't see it quite that way: our natural instincts aren't moral, and it's our higher intelligence that allows us to override those instincts and to act in a moral way.

We've evolved a society that is based on morality, because it's in all of our self-interests to have certain standards.

But, if morality is only what we, humans, say it is, then the only limit on what I can do is whatever I can get away with. The only penalties for lying, cheating, and stealing are earthly ones - therefore, if I can get away with it, or if the potential penalties are worth the rewards, I might as well do it. I might as well go ahead and sleep with the woman I meet at a conference in Seattle. Without God, there is no incentive for me to avoid temptation.

The other possibility, that God exists and wants us to follow certain rules, gives me an incentive to be a good boy that doesn't exist otherwise. The standard is no longer "whatever I can get away with."

There's already an awful lot of corruption in our society. It would be interesting to compare reality to a completely atheist society, and to a completely Christian society. How's that alternate universe transporter coming? "

Well, there you are. That has all of the arguments of Aristotle and the other ancient Greeks in one small passage. I will say this much, the author would not last long in Athens of 300 BC, that much is certain. Why? Well it is relatively simple but not a short path.

First, the debates of the ancients on the nature of "virtue" and the relationship between intellect, reason, and the place of the individual in society centred upon whether those virtues were "innate" - i.e. within the person at birth - or "learned" - i.e. that a person without honour and virtue could be educated to embody those traits. The argument continues today in the "nature or nurture" debates in the realms of psychology etc. But I am not going to follow that particular path here. I am not a deconstructionist any more than I am a psychologist.

The point that I do want to pick out here is that I believe the Greeks separated the virtues from the creation of man. They were (as I read the various commentaries and translations) far more the qualifications that a person needed in order to remain or be accepted as a functioning member of society. It is (as I think that Pythagorus is quoted as saying) that a man (person) without virtue is little better than a beast. As a corollary, if he should act like a beast then he should be treated in similar fashion.

So, if I return to the passage above and might comment upon how I hear (I note this is getting close to deconstructionism) what is being said...

"There are two possibilities..." There is a third. That is that God put us here with the intention that we should form our own way, that we should form our own society, that we should (as the ancient Greeks did) seek our own personal virtues.

"There is no absolute authority..." Absolutely. I take full responsibility for my own actions. There is no devil to make me do it, there is no god to stop me, there is only myself. If I should diminish myself through my own actions then I can blame no one. Only I can increase the standing of my own person, and that through my own actions..

" We've evolved a society that is based on morality, because it's in all of our self-interests to have certain standards." Undebatable. Taking the very wide view, there are as many "moralities" as there are religions, there are as many civilisations as there are religions. What does this tell us? Simply that every society by one means or another develops a set of rules or virtues which must be observed by every person in that society. Who is to say that one system is wrong, less moral, that another is right, more moral? Morality, rule of law, responsibility to society, call it what you want. There are people in this world who want to take it out in their search of "total freedom". There are two places where this is available to them. Iraq and Somalia. You might add Sudan, it depends upon whose side you are on. Let them take themselves to those parts; to experience for themselves; just exactly what that means.

But, if morality is only what we, humans, say it is, then the only limit on what I can do is whatever I can get away with. The only penalties for lying, cheating, and stealing are earthly ones - therefore, if I can get away with it, or if the potential penalties are worth the rewards, I might as well do it. I might as well go ahead and sleep with the woman I meet at a conference in Seattle. Without God, there is no incentive for me to avoid temptation.

This is where I completely part company with the author. The intention of the words here is clear. I totally disagree with what he is saying.

First, forever and a day, morality is and always will be what we, humans, say it is.... Yes I know all about the tradition and mythology of the "Word of God" and all that. I look to other civilisations, the Greeks, the Japanese, Bhuddist, Hindu, Chinese, Islam; there are so many... All of those civilisations survived and in many cases still survive despite the fact that they are NOT, NEVER WERE, Judeo/Christian. They have also in some cases survived for far longer than the two millenia of the "Christian" civilisation.

Second, the "penalties will only ever be earthly ones". Debateable. Both the Hindu and Bhuddist faiths have reincarnation based upon action and "virtue" in the current life. Are they wrong? How do you know? I certainly do not. Nor is my ignorance a problem for me. I am here to do the best that I am humanly able to achieve. If I can die with the knowledge I have in some small way succeeded then I will die happy.

Third, "without God, there is no incentive for me to avoid temptation..." Well, I ask you. What manner of person does that make you? Responsible? No. You believe that your god is in some way responsible for what you do. If that fails then your anti-god is responsible instead. Honourable? No. Your "honour" is based upon your ability to be unfaithful to your wife and get away with it. Virtuous? Never. You have no virtue. You are the equivalent of the beasts.

" Our problem is our 'higher intellegence' allows us to override our natural instincts." Yes, that is why we consider ourselves to be "better" than beasts.

Why did God (if you want to continue the line of thought) give us an intellect? Was it so that the intellect would lead to evil? That is what this piece argues. The "original sin" - was it disobedience to a vengeful god, or was it achieving intellect and hence transcending the realm of beasts?

The line of reasoning DOES NOT PROVE TO ME that religion ( and I infer from the tone of this that the author is speaking specifically of only one religion) is the only acceptable basis for society.

To be quite honest, it proves the contrary. To follow the logic of this piece of writing, the author's religion would seem to be the only "incentive" - yes he used the word - he has for acting with any kind of morality.

Perhaps, before the author gets too far down the path he is on, he should look to those who are considered liars ("I did not have sexual relations...") , corrupt ("I had no knowledge of, nor approved, any break-in..."), cheats (What DID Jack Kennedy think of Marilyn), stealing (How about a certain televangelist) and ask them what religion they follow?

I agree with his last thought - bring on the machine that accesses alternative universes; let's find a society that has honour and virtue earned and not god-granted or where action against fellow man is not god forgiven; let's find that society where a person is respected for what he does and what he achieves himself for the benefit of society, and not for his ability to spout large tracts of mythology and superstition or claim the personal support and rights of a god.

My own feelings on the matter?

That intellect and the concept of virtue are inseparable. Lose one and you lose the other. So if, as the author proposes, a person acts without virtue then they are demonstrating a lower level of intellect than a person who does not follow the same path.

THAT has nothing to do with religion.

As a postscript, I have just been listening to the first of three radio documentaries on Pitcairn Island. There has been considerable local interest (some I admit has been a little purient) in the island in recent times since Britain (as the administrators of the island) announced that 7 men on the island would be charged with criminal rape and indecency crimes against girls as young as 12 years under British law. It was announced today that all except one have been found guilty. The seven men are from a total island population of 47. Those found guilty include three of the island leaders.

I am making a direct link to the post from Lance above and my commentary on the basis that -

The island is so remote that it is a "social laboratory".

The island is Christian ( I will not mention the particular variety as that is in my mind immaterial ).

They claim (or some do) that the practice of sexual intercourse with girls of 12 is cultural and traditional practice.

Given Lance's logic on morality, I can but wonder at how he might rationalise a "community" morality like this.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


There is just something about inspiration. I have always maintained for example that some of my better ideas have come to me whilst otherwise occupied. To get a picture of what I mean, take Rodin’s “The Thinker” and work out what he is really doing.

Like this morning for example, I am driving to work. There is a slow spot in the traffic, a queue for the next set of lights, and the old mind starts to wander again.

Why is it, after the English spent about 500 years before getting religion out of the governance of their country, after the Pilgrims fled England and the politics of religious persecution, after writing a Constitution granting all freedom of religious worship but excluding it from direct involvement in governance, after all of this history; the U.S. as a nation gives the determined appearance of trying to revert to some form of religious involvement in the governance of their country.

They have not yet asked the Archbishops.

It might not be an individual charismatic Christian fundamentalist.

Or is it?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The things we do... :-D

Some few weeks back, there was a photographic exhibition at the local art gallery. It looked interesting so Shirley and I went look.

One of the photographs, of the small remote village of Ruatoria on a very hot afternoon, was the basis of a competition - write a short piece to the theme of the photograph.

Not being one to turn down such a challenge - here is my attempt. BTW it didn't win anything.


Wiremu half asleep,
Down from the Raukumaras
Sways in the saddle.

Waiomatatini Road
Melting slowly in the heat

Shag the pony plods
Round the bend, over the bridge,
Slow, under the trees.

Wai's left the pie cart.
The iceblocks are melting and
The icecream has gone.

Heat of a summer Sunday,
Sizzling, slowly melts the tar.

The chiller broke down.
There is only bottled beer.
Stu has closed the bar.

The last of the little flags
From Santa's parade hang limp.

Nothing moves at all.
Until Wiremu comes past
Slowly on his pony.

Dr Michael King -

I don't watch a lot of television (as distinct from "sitting in front of") but last night was an exception.

Feature of the night, the one thing worth watching in the whole week, was a television biography of one of NZ's leading academics, historian Dr Michael King.

I am not going to even try to summarise either the programme or the man, there are others who have done and will in the future far more successfully than I would ever be able.

His death early this year in a car smash was tragic. His ability to write of New Zealand's history in clear, simple and uncomplicated language will be unsurpassable. His research and knowledge of the true (as distinct from the paternalistic colonial ) history of the country will not be seen in a very long time.

Let it be said that if ever you want to read NZ history then you can not go past any of his books.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I like this…


and here is where I found it…


Friday, October 01, 2004

What with summer a-cumin and all...

I am in need of something to cheer me up some bit. I bin watching Vaughn for a while now and I like his style. "Been there done that" in so many of the universal domestic situation comedy...


I am getting old, Father William...

Well, it seems that I have to face one fact…

After “a long and glorious career” without any real reknown or fame, the probligo is going to have to hang up his flying boots, leave the strapping at home, and frame the last of his chuckies as wall ornaments.

One of the lasting passions of my life has been flying model aircraft, and the most stimulating, the most invigorating, and the most challenging has always been the humble hand launch glider.

To explain, these are always thought of as the ultimate in “kids stuff and toys”, and I confess that in many ways they are. A hand launch glider (HLG and “chuckie”) can be anything from the little dime panel glider to fifty or sixty dollars of crafted wizardry. Mine have always fallen somewheres in the middle, or somewhat toward the upper end of the scale. The "average" chuckie is about 16" to 18" span, between 400 and 450mm across. Mine are usually in the next range up, from 500mm to 600mm. In recent times I have built several that head into the "gorilla" class upwards of 600mm span, the largest (in the workshop waiting for me to fix it yet again) at 850mm. The reason for taking the larger end is that I have a "slow arm" and need the extra glide capability to counter (in theory at least) the slower and lower launch.

Almost anything with wings can be made to fly as a HLG, but the trip is in making something that is better than anything else. Hence it is a technology field that is never standing completely still. To show what I mean, there are on the ‘Net quite a few sites and webpages devoted to the sport, design, techniques, competition; the whole shebang.

The challenge is one which (and I have tried this as well – unsuccessfully) I like to describe as being the equivalent in difficulty of dry-fly fishing. It looks deceptively simple; it can be devilish difficult.

For a start, a competitive glider is not easy to build. You need skill with wood carving and shaping, you need skill with advanced adhesives, you need to be able to handle advanced composites such as fiberglass and carbon fibre. They are not easy to fly competitively. You have to be able to throw a 40 gram or less weight at least 15 metres vertically. I can (could) manage 10 to 12 metres consistently on a good day.

To give an idea…if you were ever lucky enough to try skipping stones over water then think of that best ever throw; the one that went over 30 metres and skipped at least 6 clear times. That is a rough equivalent of the best I have seen flying HLG’s. One (an Aussie chappie I flew alongside a couple of years back) had a technique which started with the HLG somewhere in the vicinity of his left ankle and ended with his feet about .75 metres off the ground. I could get nowhere near his altitude, nor his flight times. Others in my club have watched me “practicing” (I call it enjoying) and said that I have done pretty well. For me yes, for competition I know that I am well back.

So, why the epiphany? Why the sudden decision that it has to end?

Since I was 17 or so, I have had intermittent problems with my ankles but especially my knees (old rugby injuries). In recent years, the two or three kilometer treks to retrieve gliders have taken their toll. When you are walking over cow paddocks, it is not (literally not) a walk in the park. On top of that is the stress on my left knee from my throwing action as well. But that is not the reason..

For the past three or four months I have had recurring gout attacks in my left wrist (I am left handed) and it has gotten to the point now where I have lost about 50% of the flexibility that I had. Instead of being able to “throw” my wrist through close to 160*, it is now closer to 60*. THAT is a big reduction. It loses probably 80% of the power in the throw. Worse, the pain is now every time I throw rather than just a mild two or three days of aching after a day’s flying.

Anyone want flying lessons? Free gliders provided to left handers. Right handers provide their own. :D :D