Old people talk about the “Good old days”. They weren’t.

There was a post on my newsfeed recently with the usual bullshit from people about my age (I’m 77) bemoaning young people nowadays and talking about how much fun they had in the playgrounds when they were young. I’m not doubting that they did have fun. But, from my experience it was pretty limited and there were lots of downsides and lots of boredom in the 1940s and 1950s.

They posted lots of pictures of the playgrounds from the 1940s and 1950s some of which I remembered well.

The idea was big kids would get this moving at a speed that would send small kids flying off
This was standard equipment in most New Zealand schools and the source of many broken bones

The child hanging off the end of the swing falls off and on the return carry, the swing smashes her face

We had one of these in our backyard when our kids were growing up. One of the kids down the road got his leg very badly broken by one of the foot rests when the swing was travelling at speed.

Any failure to hold on tightly would have disastrous consequences.

All of the comments on the photos (made by the 70 year olds) bemoaned the fact that nowadays children didn’t know how to have fun like they did wayback when. Playgrounds nowadays had been ruined by the Occupational Health & Safety people.

Yet, with almost every photograph was a story of someone who had broken an arm or a leg or cracked their skull using this equipment or who had been thrown off the roundabout and been caught underneath it. No stories of the lasting damage done to young bodies.

One child had drunk water out out of a disused hose at the playground and was dead within15 minutes.

There is no doubt that great friendships were built during these times and that children can have fun in whatever environment they find themselves in.

But the modern playground is an immense improvement on what we had in the 1950s, a richer and more stimulating environment.

And they are safer

So what else was good about the old days?

They were a time when medical science had not yet developed vaccines for many of the diseases which killed many young children.

My grandchildren has now been inoculated against the diseases that I had as a child.

I remember having whooping cough, chickenpox, mumps, measles, diphtheria and influenza. All of which were very unpleasant experiences

Fortunately I didn’t get polio.

Winton knows much more than did at his age. He is fortunate. I didn’t have grandparents like his. His grandparents are a product of the wonderful education revolution of the 1960s when education was free.

Like most seven year olds, my grandson knows a lot about dinosaurs and what caused their extinction. He understands asteroids, the nature of black holes in the cosmos. He is an independent reader and is becoming increasingly adept at manipulating the Internet.

For all the problems of these times, I am glad that he doesn’t live in the good old days.

It is a truth universally acknowledged in systems thinking that many policies have a completely counterintuitive impact.

It is now completely obvious that his has been the case with the policies of the New South Wales, Victoria, and Federal Governments to abandon all attempts to control the Omicron variant of Covid.

The first attempts to control variants were based on a fairly simple model of containment.

In Victoria everybody endured a long period of lockdown and isolation after which the restrictions could be eased and life could return to normal. The economy began to pick up.

Then the omicron variant arrived and Prime Minister Morrison and freshly minted Premier of New South Wales Dominic Perrottet decided to reverse all previous policy. In the absence of any clear leadership, Victoria followed suit. Everybody hoped that letting what appeared to be a milder form of the virus run its course would let the economy open up faster than previously.

It proved to be a disastrous decision because of differences in dynamics came into play.

What has happened, in effect, is that a good proportion of population went into voluntary lockdown concerned about the unknown impact of the new variant and distrustful of the two crazy people in charge of the Federal and New South Wales governments. Instead of opening up the economy, they have effectively almost ground to a halt.

Seeking a way forward together

As omicron spread at a frightening rate, a large proportion of the workforce was immobilised with a virus which proved to be far more virulent than expected. This group of people has had a negative reinforcing effect on the downward spiral of fuel economy particularly in relation to the logistic chains relating to supermarkets and food supply.

National case numbers are now running at around 100,000 a day and the health systems began showing signs of collapse with covid cases being moved out of hospitals and into hotels.

With 350,000 cases a week in Victoria, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to work out how long it will be before vital infrastructure such as hospitals, transport systems, ambulance systems, supermarkets and schools will not have staff to run them.

Did no one think of this before they decided to let a highly contagious virus loose in the community?

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

The Australian Government takes a high risk line of attack on Djokovic claiming he is a potential risk to public order.

From THE AGE: Novak Djokovic faces a three year ban from Australia after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his personal power to cancel the Serbian tennis star’s visa, as his lawyers last night challenged the decision in court.

Djokovic’s lawyers claim Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke based his decision to cancel the Serbian star’s visa on the basis his presence in Australia would stoke antivax sentiment.

But Djokovic’s lawyer, Nicholas Wood, SC, said Mr Hawke had chosen to “remove a man of good standing” from Australia and “impair” his career over comments Djokovic had made in 2020.

In effect, what the government is saying that Djokovic’s reputation as high profile advocate and anti-vaxxer in Australia has the potential to incite demonstrably violent elements of the anti-vac protest movement in the Australia.

It is easy to see the logic of this argument. Whether the Federal court sees the logic as pertinent is another question.

Nonetheless, Scott Morrison has a lot riding on this decision. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

If he let the tennis superstar stay, he would be seen as weak and not standing by his “rules are rules” dictum.

Having decided to cancel the visa, he must now demonstrate that his government is least able to exert some level of control over what is clearly shambolic immigration policy.

With Djokovic’s visa being cancelled, shares in Beef’s Aussie Humble Pie Company have soared in anticipation of the tennis star’s appeal against his deportation being successful and a large amount of humble pie being required.

Andrew to sell his $30m Swiss ski chalet to fund his legal fees. Poor darling.

The Royal Family removed Prince Andrew’s military links and royal patronages on Thursday and said he will no longer be known as “His Royal Highness”, as the son of Queen Elizabeth fights a US lawsuit in which he is accused of sex abuse. His honorary military titles included Honorary air commodore of RAF Lossiemouth. Colonel-in-chief of the Royal Irish Regiment. Colonel-in-chief of the Small Arms School Corps. Colonel-in-chief of The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeth’s Own)

Clearly not amused by Randy Andy’s antics

The queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan quit royal duties to forge new careers in Los Angeles, later accusing the royal household of racism.

They, too, were stripped of all their patronages, the ‘His and Her Royal Highness’ titles, and Harry also lost his prized military roles. Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington in Suffolk, Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command, and Captain-General of the Royal Marines,

These are called royal patronages. The Queen gives them to her sons and grandchildren for no reason other than they are her sons and grandchildren and they are worth millions allowing these pampered children to live lifestyles well beyond their talents and abilities.

They have also enabled Andrew to live the indulgent lifestyle that is now coming to light. It has done immense reputational damage to the royal family and which would not have been possible without the resources that Andrew had bestowed on him by his indulgent mother.

Matilda reinterprets Winton’s drawing of Harry Potter

Winton bears a credible likeness to his hero, Harry Potter.

He spent a considerable amount of time drawing a portrait of Harry.

He did detailed step by step set of instructions for Matilda on how she could draw her own Harry Potter portrait.

And finally, a chart Indicating where the colours should go for the finished product.

I think for a seven-year-old this a pretty thorough effort.

This is what Matilda drew which is wonderful interpretation of instructions

Matilda’s description ” Love Heart Face with Planets going around it”

Novak Djokovic has won the first round in the Federal Court but the Minister of Immigration can cancel his Visa and it will be very difficult to appeal that decision

The reason Novak got his Visa back was that he wasn’t given enough time to prepare his case. Apparently it was a matter of procedural justice rather than anything to do with the validity of his claim for a medical exemption.

The former chair of Australia’s top vaccination body, Professor Allen Cheng, whose advice underpins Djokovic’s bid to play in the Australian Open – says prior COVID-19 infection has never been a valid reason to enter Australia as an unvaccinated person.

Apparently, the boys in blue are currently waiting outside Novak’s lawyer’s office. The Minister for Immigration may have withdrawn his visa something he has the discretionary power to do.

Novak could be on the next plane out of town

While Victorian politicians ignore the advice of CMO Brett Sutton, it appears that the Transport Minister Ben Carroll is currently in charge. What could possibly go wrong?

This

On New Year’s Day, Transport Minister Ben Carroll defended the government’s decision not to implement of Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s recommendations to constrain the spread of the Omicron variant and keep daily cases under 25,000. Mr Carroll said he did not believe the state would reach that mark.

“From what I’m aware of that, that was very much a worst-case scenario, and it’s not expected that we reach those figures,” he said, saying Victoria would not follow the NSW trajectory because of Victoria’s prior use of lockdowns, mask requirements indoors and spacing measures on public transport.

Brett Sutton has extensive experience and clinical expertise in public health and communicable diseases, gained through emergency medicine and field-based international work, including in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste.

Must be finding it being ignored by someone many might regard as the work experience kid

Ben Carroll, by comparison, has spent eight years as a sales assistant and a few years as a political advisor and now he is second-guessing Brett Sutton.

It’s no wonder that people are losing confidence in politicians. Dan Andrews should be very concerned that his political capital, so carefully accumulated during 2020 -21 is being squandered.

The Victorian pandemic legislation shifted responsibility to the Minister from the Chief Medical Officer. Minister Martin Foley is now ignoring the CMO’s advice.

It was only a couple of minor matters. Social distancing on dance floors and mask wearing. Nonetheless, Foley decided to ignore the advice of someone much better qualified than him on a matter of public health.

This comes when case numbers are hitting new records every day. To be sure, case numbers are going up and hospital numbers are remaining relatively low. But there is no sign that the case numbers have peaked and is no indication when the pressure on hospital numbers will ease

But Foley’s actions foreshadow things to come. Foley can ignore the CMO’s advice whenever he pleases and there is no indication that there is any plan in Victoria to:

1 Deal with omicron in even the short term

2 Roll out of the vaccination for schoolchildren

3 Roll out of booster shots

4 Supply rapid androgen tests for the population

When there is, Foley is under no obligation to seek or take the CMO’s advice.

It’s a question of politics taking precedent over medical advice and this is is an evitable outcome of the legislation that the independent members of the Upper House in Victoria supported.

The argument was that the politicians would be more responsive to popular opinion than the bureaucrats. I’m not necessarily convinced that is a good thing. I have more confidence in Brett Sutton than in Martin Foley.

Don’t Look Up is a great film and well worth watching

It has all the ingredients that make a great film. It has a wonderful plot written by Adam McKay who also produced and directed the film. The story is pretty straightforward. Scientists discover a comet heading towards earth and attempt to warn politicians and the media. They fail and the world is destroyed. Along the way, there are some interesting subplots and some wonderful marvellous satire and dark humour.

The film also has an outstanding cast.

The two scientists are played by Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy an astronomy professor

and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky, a doctoral candidate 

Their initial attempts to have their findings shown on television are disastrous as they are ridiculed by the TV hosts, one of these Brie Evantee is played by Cate Blanchett 

What makes this film so entertaining is the subplots that wind around the story of the approaching comet. One of these is Mindy’s affair with Evantee which is one of her numerous forms relaxation.

Mindy and Dibiasky get an interview with Janie Orlean, President of the United States played by Meryl Streep who must have had a ball playing this part. But they realise that a lifetime of research and hard data is not going to capture the attention of a president whose current priority is covering up her affair with her Supreme Court nominee.

Everyone who comments on Don’t Look Up draws the parallel between this character and Donald Trump. Of course, this is the point of satire: to ridicule real-life people by creating caricatures of them. This film does this superbly well with the President and character of Peter Isherwell, tech billionaire CEO of BASH and one of Orlean’s top donors played by Mark Rylance.

Isherwell, who seems slightly insane, is developing space technology, most of which blows up. Most commentators see him as a compilation of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. But then, good satire allows you to join your own dots.

There are also numerous complications of international rivalries and doubts about the existence of comets.

This is a parable for our times. It is a parable of the difficulty that science has in making its voice heard in the world of competing and powerful interests.

It is a warning that saying “The world is going to end” may not be enough to gain the attention of the most powerful person in the world.

With 5000 Covid cases a day, where is Dan the Man with a Plan.

During the last Covid crisis, the Victorian public was treated, some would say to the point of boredom, to daily lectures by Premier Dan Andrews about the state of the play of the lockdown. Cases reached 800.

They have now reached 5000, a mixture of Delta and Omicron, with no sign that the exponential growth has peaked.

Health and epidemiological experts are reassuring us that the Omicron variant, while more infectious, is less severe than Delta.

The problem is that the health system, both infrastructure and human, has reached the point of collapse and will soon not be able to meet the normal demands of the population.

Testing stations are overwhelmed and closing shortly after opening, people are unable to get booster shots. Rapid antigen test may not be freely available until the end of January.

So where is Dan and what is the Plan.

In THE AGE Tony Blakely, an epidemiologist and public health medicine specialist, is a professor at the University of Melbourne wrote an article Passing 10,000 Omicron cases in a day is a warning to hit the brakes in which he explained what the public policy response to this situation should be.

It should be compulsory reading for Premier Andrews.