The Russian invasion of Ukraine appears to be running out of momentum. With no major victories, Putin may become more desperate.

With the Western media flooded with images of tanks running out of petrol and abandoned by the side of the road, the Russian army’s weaknesses are being badly exposed.

Most particularly its ability to provide sustainable logistic support to a widely dispersed ground force facing prolonged opposition, is becoming obvious.

The Russians were clearly expecting the war to be over very quickly and that their tanks would probably only need to be refuelled a couple of times.

Two photos highlight the Russian’s problem. This tank appears to run off the road. It’s not as difficult terrain.

The video of the Ukrainian driver offering to tow the Russian tank, which had run out of petrol, back to Russia, must have been humiliating for Putin.

Worse still, was the admission from the tank driver that he didn’t know where he was going. Pretty much everyone else in the Western world could have let him know that.

It’s probably fake news. But it’s very damaging in the current climate.

There is also video on the Mirror website of a destroyed Russian supply convoy.

This could have been the result of a fortuitous ambush. It’s more likely to have been the result of a highly well coordinated satellite/drone and missile attack. Someone must be supplying the satellite/drone data. And probably the missiles as well.

The Ukrainians are claiming some remarkable successes Including the shooting down of Russian jets and helicopters and hitting their tanks and convoys on the ground. At the same time, they are arming their brave civilians with rifles and Molotov cocktails. it’s an interesting contrast in technologies.

Media reports indicate that Putin is discussing the nuclear option with his senior advisers. A nuclear attack on Kyiv will expose his troops to nuclear radiation. This will make Kyiv uninhabitable and alienate large sections of the Russian population.

The longer he has to maintain his troops in the field, the narrower Putin’s options become.

One raising the stakes. This is increasingly risky. The other is going back to the negotiating table. This will be very humiliating.

Ukraine appears to be a tougher nut to crack than Putin anticipated

The media reports seem to indicate that there is stiff resistance in Kyiv and that the Russian troops are not simply rolling into the city.

A Ukrainian soldier takes a break while on patrol outside Kharkiv. CREDIT:AP

The Age reports It was unclear in the fog of war how much territory Russian forces have seized. Britain’s Ministry of Defence said “the speed of the Russian advance has temporarily slowed likely as a result of acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance.”

Germany on Saturday approved the delivery of 400 anti-tank weapons from the Netherlands to Ukraine, the defence ministry in Berlin said, confirming a shift in policy after Berlin faced criticism for refusing to send weapons to Kyiv.

It is unclear to what extent NATO countries will be supplying armaments to the Ukrainian army or providing satellite information on Russian troop movements. All of which would be making the Russian army’s task more difficult.

In addition to all of this, there are reports that the Russian supply lines are beginning to become stretched. With nearly 200,000 troops in the field, supply lines will be crucial to maintaining the war effort.

The Russians appear to be fighting on least eight fronts

In contrast, the Ukrainians do not have problems with extended supply lines.

I’m not a military strategist nor a logistics expert, but it would appear from the map above that the Russians have got a massive problem supporting a large fighting force spread out across such a wide area. They appear to be fighting on at least seven different fronts which must be a logistical nightmare requiring seven different supply chains.

The longer the conflict goes on more difficult task of maintaining such a large force will become. The Ukrainian army may ultimately become a guerrilla force rather than a standing army. This will make the Russians tasks all the more difficult as they found, along with every country that has invaded, in Afghanistan.

Suppose Australia sent Peacekeeping Forces into Ukraine.

It’s a hypothetical question. 

At present, Australia is imposing sanctions as part of US/European response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There are reports that Germany is currently supplying arms to the Ukrainian army.

No doubt there is much going on behind the scenes that is not reported in the media.

What would happen if Australia here took unilateral action and sent troops in on a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians.

What would Russia do? Declare war on Australia?

That may be a bridge too far for Vladimir Putin. Logistically, it could be difficult. Apparently, he is having difficulty supplying the troops in Ukraine. Invading Australia would certainly be a game changer.

Symbolically, it would set an Australian response apart from what is seen as a weak and ineffectual response from Europe and the US.

I would be interested in readers leaving comments. 

Concerns and perceptions about Covid have changed rapidly over time

It’s hard to imagine that just four months ago Victoria was in a severe lockdown with just over 2600 daily cases of the Delta variant of Covid . We were only allowed out of our houses for essential shopping, exercise, and very limited travel. Visiting was forbidden. Mask wearing was compulsory everywhere. Schools were closed. Interstate borders were closed. We were “flattening the curve”.

It all seems like a distant memory.

Today, there were 7700 new cases of Omicron and it seems of little concern to politicians or the general public.

The restrictions have now been relaxed. Children have returned to schools. Restaurants and hotels, gyms and swimming pools are open and full. Retail stores are up and running. Interstate travel has resumed and international travellers are returning without the need to quarantine.

Life has returned to normal.

Yet the statistics show a different picture. Life is returning to normal but the Omicron variant, while less severe in its effects, still has much higher number numbers and it is still very much present in our community.

In the past seven days 55,000 people have caught Omicron. Anecdotal evidence is that they get very sick, not fatally and not all hospitalised. Yet there are still media of the hospital system and the staff being near breaking point.

The declining numbers of new cases indicate the success of vaccination program and willingness of the Victorian population to be vaccinated.

With nearly 95% of the adult population receiving two doses, there is every reason to believe that the adult population will receive a third booster shot and that parents will ensure that the school population will receive a double dose.

There are three causes for concern.

The first is that the graph shows the impact of the new variant. In this case, Omicron was a much more infectious one. The daily infection rate jumped from 2500 to 40,000 and jumped much more quickly. This is very much what the epidemiologists predicted.

The second is that the efficacy of the third booster shot, in this case Pfizer following on from the double jab of AstraZeneca, appears to be limited to about 3 to 4 months when it declines to around 60%. Continued round of inoculation may be necessary.

The third is that another variant will emerge. Omicron followed Delta within around three months in Victoria.

Taking photos of my 99-year-old friend made me reflect on the nature of the relationship between photographer and subject.

I’ve taken a lot of photographs of people over the years and they have always been photographs of people I have been close to. Mostly Di and our children and lately my grandchildren. Many of the children I taught. Looking back, the photos were always a reflection of the relationship I had with them.

Is it possible for photographers to remove themselves completely from their relationship with their subjects?

The photographs of Warwick are very much a reflection of the serious discussion I was having with Warwick. I don’t have any photographs of him smiling.

At 99, Warwick is still mentally as he was when I met him when he was 50. We discussed things the same way we did 40 years ago. These photographs are a reflection of that. The photos on shelves, taken by his family, are snapshots. They capture moments the family has spent together.

What I have tried to do is to capture my insights into Warwick. I’m happy with the results. I’m not going back to take any more photos.

I was hoping to get some photos that his family will have to remember him by. His shelves are covered in photographic memories of their times together but no photos that are a serious study of Warwick.

So I thought I would take some photos that were more detached from the normal run of weddings, christenings, birthdays, family outings et cetera. A more formal portrait sitting.

I used my Nikon D7200 with a Nikon AF-S 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR DX lens.

Modern technology allows me to take photos in bursts of 10 in a couple of seconds. I am them able to edit out the duds. The one with closed eyes, the wrong expressions etc.In the bad old days of 35mm films and darkrooms it wasn’t until several days later that you discovered these. Nowadays, I can edit them out on the spot and shoot some more.

When I look at Henri Cartier-Bresson’s brilliant photographs, I often wonder how many he had to take to get the one brilliant “decisive moment”. Probably quite a few. 

The Prime Minister of Australia believes in Divine Intervention. Not only that, it appears he believes he has direct communication with God and that God will intervene in his favour.

So why have things been going so badly for him?

THE AGE reports that Channel 9’s 60 Minutes continues to give Scott Morrison free air time before the next federal election.

Asked by Stefanovic whether he was praying before the upcoming election, the Prime Minister said: “I pray for miracles every day, Karl… I pray particularly for Australians, that they will get through this together.”

Asked by Karl Stefanovic on Channel Nine, Morrison, who is facing a backlash in opinion polls, said he had “worn out the carpet on the side of my bed … on my knees praying and praying” for Australians during the pandemic.

Morrison’s handling of the pandemic must surely have been a textbook example of political and logistical incompetence.

But if he was wearing out the carpet praying for a miracle, it is understandable that he may have believed that divine intervention may have been just around the corner and things would suddenly get better.

If you start every cabinet meeting with a prayer that God will send you a miracle and a proportion of the people in the meeting believe that, it’s likely to have a profound effect on the decision-making processes.

There is clearly a disproportionate number of Pentecostal Christians with a similar worldview to those of Morrison.

As we approach the next federal election, thoughtful Australians need to consider whether this is the kind of thinking is helpful when it comes to running the country.

Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins call on Scott Morrison for action on violence towards women. He tunes his ukulele

The media has been full of commentary on the problems of the current government. Much of it is focused on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It’s easy to criticise. Simply replacing him will not solve much. Fundamental changes to the structure of the Liberal party (and possibly Labor Party role) will need to be made to improve the function of our democracy.

To exceptionally brave young women have highlighted the problems of sexism and misogyny in the Liberal party and the Parliament in general.

Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins both gave impassioned speeches to the National Press Club. During their addresses, they effectively said that the time for talking was over. The time for action was now and the action must start with the Prime Minister. 

Liberal MPs including Jane Hume, Marise Payne, Anne Ruston and Simon Birmingham remained seated as they were given a standing ovation at the National Press Club.

At least they turned up.

It’s not surprising, given that both speakers spent a fair amount of time attacking the (absent) Prime Minister Scott Morrison. You could scarcely have expected them to stood up and clapped.

You can find a summary of the address on the Daily Mail website.

This, and another incident highlights the fundamental problem in dealing with the issues that these two brave young women have drawn the nation’s attention to.

In an interview with Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30, Former deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Julie Bishop, identified a group of Liberal MPs, who called themselves the “big swinging dicks” club.

She said she believed this blocked her ambitions to become Foreign Minister. Morrison denied the group’s existing saying it wasn’t very successful.

 But that is not the point. 

The group name was first outed in 2009 by The Australian’sGlenn Milne. Members reportedly included Christopher Pyne, Steven Ciobo, Greg Hunt, Peter Dutton, Jamie Briggs, Mathias Cormann, Michael Keenan and Morrison.

Naturally, her claims with fervent denials, particularly from Morrison.

Both of these issues are symptomatic of the culture that exists within Parliament and specifically within the Liberal party. The people in this group were cabinet minister. this is the kind of behaviour that define’s and cements bean organisation’s culture. 

The problem is that cultural change difficult in any organisation, particularly within the Parliament and Liberal party. 

Anybody who has endeavoured to bring about cultural change in a large organisation knows how difficult the process is.

Organisational culture is developed over a long period of time and becomes deeply entrenched in the structure of the organisation. For better or worse, it becomes the cement that holds that structure together.

The longer the culture has taken to develop, longer it will take to change it.

What is defined (by some people) as a sexist and misogynistic culture in the Parliamentary Liberal party, is a culture that promotes and protects the power of a privileged group. They are unlikely to implement or support any program that will lead to them giving up power.

Ironically, the senior women in the party, some of whom attended the National Press Club will have been aware of the problems that Tame and Higgins spoke of but will also have the beneficiaries of the processes and structures of the party.

It’s a truism in system theory that structure determines behaviour. Until you change structures, behaviour will never change.

Unfortunately, Scott Morrison cannot fix this problem. But he can play a ukulele.

There are fundamental problems in the conduct of government that Morrison cannot solve. 

The Liberal party structure needs changing in some fundamental ways. The way people get into Parliament is a simple example

It preselects people like Christian Porter and eventually makes him Attorney General His behaviour, going back a long way, has clearly made him unfit for the position.

It preselects Alan Tudge, a man who campaigns on Christian values, and appoints him as Minister of Education while he is having a very public affair with a staff member.

These are problems that selection process in the party should deal with.

Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins call on Scott Morrison for action on violence towards women. He tunes his ukulele

The media has been full of commentary on the problems of the current government. Much of it is focused on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It’s easy to criticise. Simply replacing him will not solve much. Fundamental changes to the structure of the Liberal party (and possibly Labor Party role) will need to be made to improve the function of our democracy.

Two exceptionally brave young women have highlighted the problems of sexism and misogyny in the Liberal party and the Parliament in general.

Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins both gave impassioned speeches to the National Press Club. During their addresses, they effectively said that the time for talking was over. The time for action was now and the action must start with the Prime Minister.

ll

It’s not surprising, given that both speakers spent a fair amount of time attacking the (absent) Prime Minister Scott Morrison. You could scarcely have expected them to stood up and clapped.

Liberal MPs including Jane Hume, Marise Payne, Anne Ruston and Simon Birmingham remained seated as they were given a standing ovation at the National Press Club.

You can find a summary of the address on the Daily Mail website.

At least they turned up.

This, and another incident highlights a the fundamental problem in dealing with the issues that these two brave young women have drawn the nation’s attention to.

In an interview with Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30, Former deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Julie Bishop. identified a group of Liberal MPs, who called themselves the “big swinging dicks” club.

The group name was first outed in 2009 by The Australian’s Glenn Milne. Members reportedly included Christopher Pyne, Steven Ciobo, Greg Hunt, Peter Dutton, Jamie Briggs, Mathias Cormann, Michael Keenan and Morrison.

Naturally, her claims with fervent denials, particularly from Morrison.

Both of these issues are symptomatic of the culture that exists within Parliament and specifically within the Liberal party.

The problem is cultural change difficult in any organisation, particularly within both the Parliament and Liberal party.

Anybody who has endeavoured to bring about cultural change in a large organisation knows how difficult process is.

Organisational culture is developed over a long period of time and becomes deeply entrenched in the structure of the organisation. For better or worse, it becomes a cement that holds that structured together.

The longer the culture has taken to develop, longer it will take to change it.

What is defined (by some) as a sexist and misogynistic culture in the Parliamentary Liberal party, is a culture that promotes and protects the power of a privileged group. They are unlikely to implementing the program that will lead to them giving up power.

Ironically, the senior women in the party, some of whom attended the National Press Club will have been aware of the problems but will also have the beneficiaries of the processes and structures of the party.

It’s a truism in the system series that structure determines behaviour. Until you change structures, behaviour will never change.

Unfortunately, Scott Morrison cannot fix this problem. But he can play a ukulele.

There are fundamental problems in the conduct of government that Morrison cannot solve. We will document.

While the Liberal party structure needs changing in some fundamental ways. The way people get into Parliament is a simple example

It preselects people like Christian Porter and eventually makes him Attorney General Hhs behaviour has clearly made him unfit for the position.

It preselects Alan Tudge, a man who campaigns on Christian values and appoints him as Minister of education while he is having a very public affair with a staff member.

Veteran Liberal says MPs misled Morrison on religious laws

Australia is currently approaching a Federal election. The ruling Coalition government is trailing 56% to 44% in the opinion polls and has had a disastrous week in Parliament with members of its own party voting against it to defeat its legislation.

The Prime Minister has been reduced to photo opportunities of him giving a young woman shampoo in hairdressing salons to boost his popularity. It was an unmitigated disaster.

In Parliament in the last term of parliament, the government tried to steamroll through two major pieces of legislation, on Religious and Sexual Discrimination which Morrison promised three years earlier after the last election in 2018.

It was parliamentary and political disaster with members of his own party defying the Prime Minister to vote against the legislation.

The legislation Is now shelved probably forever.

THE AGE reports Liberal backbencher MP Warren Entsch as saying ” I know he was misled for a fact. I was in the room. The PM asked what their intentions were. He was totally shafted.”

Sound familiar?

This is a picture of Morrison with then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying “This is my Prime Minister I am ambitious for him” just before he shafted him and rolled him in a coup.

Morrison with then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

In times of political uncertainty there is a fair amount of political dishonesty. Particularly in terms of the support that is provided for the current leader. Peter Dutton is currently very strong in his support for Scott Morrison.

The Ides of March are approaching.

Daggers anyone?

How Colour and Structure work in a portrait. WB MCInnes paints Miss Collins

This portrait won the Archibald in 1924 amid controversy. Gladys Collins was not considered distinguished enough by some critics. Beautiful yes, but not distinguished.

The painting is noteworthy in the way McInnes uses colour to structure the portrait. The painting is made up entirely of brown tones. The central focus is the the face and neck of the subject. This effectively anchors the eye of the viewer.

This central focus is surrounded by two ovals of decreasing density. The inner of the two contains the hands of subject which balance the central focus of the subject’s face and neck.

It’s a brilliant composition worthy of its recognition.