Melancholy and the infinite gratefulness
ANZAC Day, today, the 25th of April, encourages Australians and New Zealanders to remember those who sacrificed their lives for their country. The date is significant because we commemorate the landing of soldiers on the shores of Gallipoli, Turkey, and indeed in a few hours time, there will be a joint service held in Gallipoli to honour those that fought and died.
This, along with Remembrance Sunday that commemorates the ending of the First World War on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, always makes provokes a genuine sorrow and yet hopefulness. I have never fought in a war, and can barely say that even including childhood I've ever been in a fight, and profess that I doubt I'd be much good at it. Millions before me have probably said the same and one imagines that until you're put into the situation, until you've actually been dropped into living hell with bullets and screams and blood and death, you don't know whether you're the type that will flourish or founder.
North Africa and El Alamein
This year commemorates the battle of El Alamein which took place 75 years ago in Egypt where my grandfather fought. The famed site itself was only a railway stop on the coast heading east towards Alexandria, Cairo and most importantly, the supply route of the Suez Canal. In North Africa the Germans Panzerarmee Afrika were led by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, “The Desert Fox”, whilst the Allies British Army were led by General Claude Auchinleck, composed of British, Australian, New Zealand, South African, and Indian troops. With the loss of Suez and Cairo a real possibility, the Allied regrouped, managed to stave off ceaseless assaults and launched several counter attacks. With more reinforcements and Rommel's army suffering from their supply lines being cut by the Allied Navy, the British brought in the infamous General Bernard Montgomery. Battling endless sand flies, yellow jaundice, blistering desert heat and Stuka dive bombers, my granddad helped turn the war, firing his 25 pounder (11kg shell) with his unit, at one stage for two hours in succession causing the paint to burn off the barrel. My granddad, Tom File, was rewarded with then being sent to Italy and then Arnhem, and amazingly survived those encounters as well. As a veteran of 22 at the end of the war, he'd served for five years after having joined at 17 (and yes, lied about his age so that he could appear 18).
Next year will make the 100th year since the ending of the First World War, a needless war of blood, guts and very little glory on any side. Whilst politicians wage wars and send others to find fight them, I have always thought that Europe has had enough of war - I can't see them at odds ever again despite the occasional rise of a right-wing bastard. Let's hope the North Korean turmoil can find resolution without resorting to international warfare.
Cars and Drones
I have spent the last several months searching for a vehicle of a particular make, model, type and year. Occasionally one will pop up for sale, usually at some far flung reaches of Australia - which is tantamount to putting things on the top shelf away from an excited puppy - to which a mad scramble will ensue only to find it's a rusted hulk or not actually the year specified or not available any more.
But thankfully where there is no good news on the vehicle hunt, there is some exceedingly good news on the drone front....for there is nothing so exciting as new! Whilst I yearn for a new Mavic, DJI have been planning something slightly different...
With leaks of the latest DJI drone, The Spark, this has my credit card twtiching in my wallet. Of course in likelihood this wont suit my needs as really I'm still very envious of anyone with a Mavic Pro - its portability, size, camera with RAW photos and pure range capability has me slathering drool from my gaping jaw....and yet I'm holding off purchasing one purely because I'm expecting a Mavic Pro 2 to come out with an upgraded camera and perhaps obstacle avoidance sensors all around. Pretty much like the phantom 5 but into a smaller package. This year I will be searching 'DJI Rumors' about one million times. A day. Every Day. And Night. And twice on Sundays.
The first picture above shows a good size comparison between the The Spark and the legendary, spoke with bated breath, The Mavic.
The Spark though does seem to make The Mavic, a drone that itself made all others seem like a monstrous waste of space and money, look like a flabby Lenny to the more agile and nimble George (Steinbeck reference for you - its not all about drones, its a learning day!). Completely different purposes mind you. The Spark looks like a perfectly cool selfie machine with a rotating camera which will no doubt be able to follow you, yet since its DJI, you never know whats coming next. A company that is at the forefront of drone tech can seemingly do no wrong...other than cocking up the release of the Mavic through numerous delays and some recalls...but its still probably the best compact camera drone you can buy.
The pictures and the story above can be found entirely on techcrunch including a pretty cool video too, but since the great people at TechCrunch launched their info, more and more sites have confirmed. So something is definitely coming, and it flies!! <puppy, top shelf, more drool etc>
LGBTIQ and God
The Uncomfortable Truth
Whilst Stephen shifts uncomfortably at the thought of Ewan not only announcing that gays live and breathe air around us but that Jesus may be upset at the fact, the interviewer swiftly moves on to heroin within Trainspotting 2 and whether Ewan has dabbled in the name of research.
What's so fascinating about the interview is the ease that Stephen discusses life-limiting heroin, a drug that decimates life with temerarious abandon, as opposed to a fictional character's sexual preference. You can visibly discern a Catholic Colbert panicking in the realisation "what are my audience going to think?!"
How this can possibly be when presumably most of Stephen's audience are left-leaning, socialist, pro-LGBTIQ democrats is puzzling to an outsider in Melbourne. Whatever your stance on homosexuality, or indeed any of the LGBTIQ community, there is a incalculable chasm between the rights of human beings and perceptions that, because you're offended, others should be restricted from their freedom. Am yet to see any person of 'different' persuasion attack a heterosexual because they disagree with their preference or orientation. That said, I'm yet to see an atheist physically attack, crusade, shoot or blow up someone of religious fervour.
There is a slight movement within the ranks for atheism attempting to group into a religion, yet by definition it's the absence of religion itself, so attempting to form a broad church seems hypocritical and born of insipience. But it's worth covering the 'ists':
I've always depicted myself as a cynical agnostic but a hopeful deist: I know nothing, like the idea of God and a plan and a unifying theory of everything, I just don't see it, and I certainly don't see it in anything man created from the last 2000 years in a religious subtext. Really, at best, we're all agnostics. I think there is desperate need for a new kind of ist though, one that is grateful for their life and those around them, those that feel interference in other peoples sexual preferences or orientation is not only abhorrent but of an unnatural fascination, and that their list of wants in life include a nice cup of tea and a biscuit on the proviso the new diet allows such treats. I announce the arrival of a be-ist.
Special mention for the passing of Gilbert Baker, the San Francisco-based activist and artist best known for creating the rainbow flag.
Writing and writing...