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Lowy Institute's Power Index

Posted June 7 into Politics by John Birmingham

The Lowy Institute has a pretty cool interactive index looking at dynamic power matrices in the Asia Pacific over the next decade.

Very clickable for strat-nerds.

Not reassuring for anxious types.

3 Responses to ‘Lowy Institute's Power Index’

insomniac asserts...

Posted June 7
As a patent information nerd I'd like to know what Switzerland is doing in the middle of Asia in place of China. It's wrong I tells ya.

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Dave W reckons...

Posted June 7
Bah, goddamn clickbait chewing into my afternoon.

I could definitely while away the hours comparing Myanmar to Taiwan in terms of influence, military spending and relations to other regional powers.

And it's got pretty colours.

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted June 9
and convienent as I imagine you fall into both catagories.

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Bad lip reading: the royal wedding

Posted May 24 by John Birmingham

Many thanks to Sherrif Melton for this one.

"That present is a fail."

1 Responses to ‘Bad lip reading: the royal wedding’

insomniac reckons...

Posted May 24
Even ms insomniac laughed through that one.

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"The Long Way Round: The Plane that Accidentally Circumnavigated the World"

Posted May 11 into Awesome by John Birmingham

This is a three part story by John Bull (seriously) at Medum that is defnitely worth half an hour's quiet time and maybe a glass or two in memory of some ordinary guys who pulled off an extra-ordinary feat. An accidental circumnavigation of the globe in a flying boat during the first days of the Second World War. I couldn't help but wonder why Stephen Spielberg hadn't bought the rights yet.

By morning they had been airborne for almost 19 hours, flying on Swede’s careful balance of 90 octane and on Brown’s ‘guestimated’ route. They knew they should be nearing land, but the layer of low-lying cloud beneath them was a problem.

“We’d better start heading down.” Said Ford. “I don’t much relish the idea of missing the island and having to backtrack while our fuel reserve gets used up.”

Swede eased back on the mixture and they slowly felt their way down. Soon they were flying a mere 300 feet above the waves. They began to look for land.

A little later, as they neared the coast, Johnny Mack yawned. It had been a long flight and he was looking forward to both sleep and a breakfast. Ahead, out of the cockpit, the sea was calm and unbroken. Unbroken, he noticed, apart from…

“Hey Skipper.” He remarked with a frown. “What do you suppose that is, there, dead ahead? A whale maybe?”

Ford squinted, following his First Officer’s gaze to the object on which they were closing fast. Suddenly his eyes flew wide.

“Submarine!” He shouted.

By now the conning tower was visible, a Rising Sun painted on its side, men running towards the large gun on its foredeck.

“Swede!” Ford bellowed, “Full rich! Full power!”

“They’re aiming that thing at us!” Mack warned.

“Max climb! Let’s get the hell out of here!” Ford cried.

With the sluggish Boeing 314 resisting the change, Ford and Mack hauled back on the yoke desperately seeking the cloud cover above. They blazed directly over the submarine mid-climb, the deck gun below swinging round as it began to track them through the sky. After what seemed to the crew like an eternity, they finally broke through into the clouds. It was just in time. A bright flash from below illuminating the clouds around them. The men braced for impact.

It runs over three installments. The first is here.

6 Responses to ‘"The Long Way Round: The Plane that Accidentally Circumnavigated the World"’

WA n'ker mutters...

Posted May 11

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jl reckons...

Posted May 11
This story is simply amazing. It deserves to be read. Imagine flying around the globe on bad gas using a library atlas to navigate with unknown support infrastructure on the ground. And oh yes, you are doing this amidst the Second World War. Astounding. Thanks for sharing this, JB.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted May 12
I think I got the link on Twitter from Greybeard. It is an amazing tale.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted May 11
Reminds me of the time we turned left instead of right after leaving Heathrow and ended up going the wrong way around the M25. By the time we figured it out, it was simpler to carry on.

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Bondiboy66 mumbles...

Posted May 14
Cracker of a story!

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Halwes mumbles...

Posted May 14
That was so interesting. Thanks John. There is a book called an intruders guide to East Arnhem land by the late Andrew Macmillan that describes the old flying boat base at Groote Eylandt really well. It was a major stopover on the way from Sydney to London.

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Sweep the leg!

Posted May 3 into Telly by John Birmingham

I can't believe I'm thinking of getting a Youtube Red subscription just to watch this series. But I totally am. It looks great. Like, way better than you'd imagine for a reboot of this franchise. And for anything from el Goog.

4 Responses to ‘Sweep the leg!’

Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted May 4
It looks hilariously awesomeful. I don't know if I'd pay for this many cliches in one package, but I know I'd watch it.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted May 4
bahaha. This was made on the back of this wasn't it?

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Bondiboy66 asserts...

Posted May 7
We've seen the OG Karate Kid, the remake version AND The Next Karate Kid on the teev these last few I'm considering the subscription just to see this! 'Awsomeful' seems appropriate!

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Leftarc would have you know...

Posted May 11
And sweep it again. Its been renewed for Season 2.

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The legendary journeys

Posted April 23 by John Birmingham

I was going to blog at Blunty about that 12 year old boy from Sydney who had a fight with his mum, lifted her credit card, tricked his nan into handing over his passport, and booked himself on a fight to Bali, via Perth.

But I decided not to, since there's no way they'd let me write: WHAT A FUCKING LEGEND!

Seriously, this kid had to pull off some Jason Bourne level subterfuge and intrigue to make this happen. He researched which airlines would carry him with just a passport and student ID, and he booked himself into a swank hotel at the other end, telling them, he was 'checking in early' and his sister would be along to join him soon.

He's done a six hour flight across the continent, plenty of time to rethink, and he's landed in Perth, gone, "Nah, fuck it," and powered on to Indonesia. I've done that flight. You land after midnight in third world madness. This kid has shrugged it off and stayed on mission.

If ASIS don't have him signed up for an internship yet there is something wrong.

Seriously glad he's not my kid... and yet, you have to admire his opsec and mad org skillz.

12 Responses to ‘The legendary journeys’

WA n'ker asserts...

Posted April 23

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WA n'ker has opinions thus...

Posted April 23

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jl asserts...

Posted April 24
Wow. Balls of brass.

jl puts forth...

Posted April 24
JB sez: "Seriously glad he's not my kid." I second that motion.

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jason swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 24
And they say this generation are lazy narcissists. This kid has more can do attitude than almost anyone I know. He should be doing seminars on how to get stuff done.

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Leftarc has opinions thus...

Posted April 24
He is actually on his way to Vegas for a series of TED talks.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted April 24
I'm rofling.

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Dave W puts forth...

Posted April 24
In my day he'd have just lifted the car keys and rolled the family commodore wagon halfway down the first road.

International flights, however, shows much more elan. Definitely worth a tip o' the hat.

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Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted April 26
With my parents, if I made that trip, I'd best disappear for good.

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted April 27
Off topic, but you need to watch the EXPANSE on Netflix....Space wicked, guns, hot chickes, Aliens yeah baby. Just completed ep8 of season 1. NOT FKN BAD!

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted April 29
Way ahead of you.

Brother PorkChop puts forth...

Posted May 2
Worth it? Havock says yes but lets face it hot chicks and guns alone encourage chubby to make an appearance...

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Robbing the Dead

Posted April 20 into Writing by John Birmingham

Every now and then I let one out from behind the pay wall. Felt like todays bit on the banking royal commission needed to run free. As a companion piece, Michael Pascoe (recently let go by Fairfax and immediately snapped up by The New Daily) has a really good column on the exclusive club which runs corporate Australia.

But I do swear more:

Sheesh. It used to be that the only two certainties in life were death and taxes, and the former freed you from the burden of latter. But it turns out that even in death there’s no escape, at least not from the big banks or AMP, because those greedy motherfucking crooks will crawl into the grave with you for one last chance to go through your pockets. It’s no surprise that racketeers and bottom feeders are attracted to the money business, but after this week’s raging karmageddon at the banking Royal Commission colour me faintly dumbstruck that there seem to be so many fuckin’ corpse robbers trousering performance bonuses for shaking down the dead.

I’m a little less surprised that the government is claiming credit for an inquiry they tried to strangle in the crib. They have no choice. It wasn’t just the ALP and Greens demanding for years that the banks be dragged into the town square and given a solid kicking. Apostate backbench Nats like George Christensen and Barry O’Sullivan were even more vocal. But former banker turned impotent chuffnut Malcolm Turnbull and his grinning scab collector Scott Morrison, did not just resist but actively and aggressively trashed the idea of an inquiry for years.

Morrison ignored the demands from his own right flank, preferring to shitcan Bill Shorten as a Leninist bomb thrower imperilling the economy with his political opportunism and callous disregard for the feelings of everyone who was ever paid millions of dollars a year for running a bank.

Again, not surprising, because the Liberal Party is nothing if not a hand-tooled Louis Vuitton clutch of apologists and pimp daddies for corporate malfeasance. But it has been fun watching them trying to recast their long history of cock-blocking any threat to the banks as somehow leading the peasant revolt which now threatens to turn Martin Place into a mass grave. It’s like they’re standing in front of the whole country, wearing only novelty plastic Viking helmets, and power wanking while singing ‘The Ride Of The Valkyries’… but they’re telling us it’s the best version of Wagner’s Ring Cycle you’ll ever see outside of the legendary 1937 performance at Berlin’s Haus Vaterland featuring the massed Choir of the Waffen-SS with a rare cameo by Hermann Goerring as Wotan.

Good luck with that, lads.

In just one week of what is currently scheduled as a year long investigation, we learned that AMP lied to ASIC the corporate regulator more than twenty times about charging customers for services they never received. The company then ratfucked an independent report into their ratfucking of ASIC. The Commonwealth Bank made millions from the same scam, but found a way to squeeze even more money out of their victims, by charging the accounts of dead customers, in some cases for years. And Westpac’s money managers are industry leaders at managing to turn your life savings into a small, charred pile of ashes and tears.

One week.

AMP’s chief executive, Craig Meller, announced he was stepping down this morning. He was paid $8.3M last year, which is probably less than AMP stole from their customers, so in one sense he was a bargain. The Board will be sorry to see him go, but a generous multi-million dollar severance package will almost certainly ease the pain of parting.

2 Responses to ‘Robbing the Dead’

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted April 20
I (cough) used to work in this (cough) sector. I was hired to help them clean up their act. It would scare the pants off of you how loose rules were around things like investments and super were. And this was for three companies in a row. I gave it up and now live in the country working on a vege patch. I've read these apocalypse books! :)

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Dave W asserts...

Posted April 24
In one of my previous lives I interacted tangentially with a different regulator. Industry pays money to fund the regulator, usually based on a bunch of sliding scales of risk and number of interactions with the regulator.

The major banks thought this was a bit unnecessary and convoluted. So like a bunch of good chaps who knew that good chaps such as themselves could be relied upon to know what's best, they told the regulator that they'd just much prefer to divide the bill by 4 and be done with it. Like splitting the bill down at the local indian, they didn't want to have to worry about who had the starters, and that the other chap drank all the wine. What's a lazy few mill each to avoid such unpleasantness?

The regulator did what they were told and split the bill 4 ways.

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