Wednesday, September 27

Sunday, September 24

Mud Glorious Mud

The above pictures are of my neighbour’s mud brick house, a common site where I live here in Eltham, Melbourne, Victoria, home to mud brick building in Australia. ‘Muddies” as that are called became popular in the mid fifties when Eltham was a remote small community and their champion was Alistair Knox.

It is axiomatic that mud bricks will be a fundamental element in the alternative social structure today,'' he wrote.

"The material itself is free. It costs a man his physical labour only, which is the same for both rich and poor. "The making can be a wholly natural activity. It has great therapeutic properties. Watching the earth dry and the varying characteristics of its physical structure, immerse us in poetic deliberations that unite our hearts, heads and hands.

Click here to read his story.

Using mud bricks as building materials is relatively straightforward; homes are generally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Apart from ensuring they have slightly longer eaves, mud brick homes don’t require any special maintenance and will outlast those constructed of more conventional materials.

To day there are small pockets of homes in the older areas where most of the homes are made from mud bricks. If you’re interested in modern designs click here for pictures.

Wednesday, September 20


Rupert McCall, a Queensland poet.wrote this tribute to Steve Irwin...

Endless visions fill my head - this man - as large as life. And instantly my heart mourns for his angels and his wife. Because the way I see Steve Irwin - just put everything aside. It comes back to his family - it comes back to his pride.

His animals inclusive - Crikey - light the place with love! Shine his star with everything he fought to rise above. The crazy-man of Khaki from the day he left the pouch. Living out his dream and in that classic 'Stevo' crouch.

Exploding forth with character and redefining cheek. It's one thing to be honoured as a champion unique. It's one thing to have microphones and spotlight cameras shoved. It's another to be taken in and genuinely loved.

But that was where he had it right - I guess he always knew. From his fathers' modest reptile park and then Australia Zoo. We cringed at times and shook our heads - but true to natures call. There was something very Irwin in the make up of us all.

Yes the more I care to think of it - the more he had it right. If you're going to make a difference - make it big and make it bright!. Yes - he was a lunatic! Yes - he went head first! But he made the world feel happy with his energetic burst.

A world so large and loyal that it's hard to comprehend. I doubt we truly count the warmth until life meets an end .To count it now I say a prayer with words of inspiration. May the spotlight shine forever on his dream for conservation.

…My daughter broke the news to me - my six year old in tears. It was like she'd just turned old enough to show her honest fears. I tried to make some sense of it but whilst her Dad was trying .His little girl explained it best…she said "The crocodiles are crying"

Their best mate's up in heaven now - the crocs up there are smiling! And as sure as flowers, poems and cards and memories are piling. As sure as we'll continue with the trademarks of his spiel. Of all the tributes worthy - he was rough…but he was real.

As sure as 'Crikey!' fills the sky I think we'll miss ya Steve…goodbye

Friday, September 1

Suicide Bombers & Violence

What brings Suicide Bombers to detonate themselves and cause loss of life to innocent bystanders? Is it a religious fervour, the fragrant perfume of promised paradise for martyrdom?

In Islam suicide is forbidden and its incidence is at a lower pro rata rate to population than the West. A taking of a life is only allowed by way of justice with the death penalty for murder, but it is also acknowledged that forgiveness is better. Harming innocent bystanders, even in war, is forbidden under the Qur’an. On a personal level Muslims are generally peaceful, honest, hard working, civic minded people, no different to any other societies. The profile of the Suicide Bombers is not as you would expect. About 50% have a university degree; the majority are aged 18-23 and indistinuisble from the general populace. The largest share doesn’t come from Bush's proclaimed axis of evil, but from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The crux of the matter and what brings fear to the mind is the term Jihad, which is to exert utmost effort, to strive, to struggle. Jihad has many different meanings, but it is simplistically attributed in non Islamic cultures to a “Religious War”. It has the same negative connotation in the West as “Crusade” has in the Islamic world, an association there with the Christen Crusaders who fought the Muslims for control of the Holy Land. The Link to a religious fervour as a precursor to violence is indeed a tenuous one. You might say Islamic fundamentalism is an enabler, rather than a motivator for theses acts of Terror. Violence and conflict in the region is largely a secular struggle, unconnected to religion. For example when Israel withdrew from 70% of it occupation of Gaza, captured mostly in the 7day war 40 years earlier, the number of suicide attacks by Hamas reduced by 90%. This type of example in the region is duplicated in every conflict. Dr Robert Pape from the University of Chicago sums up the position very well in my opinion: What nearly all suicide terrorist attacks actually have in common is specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.

Religion is often used as a tool by terrorist organisations in recruiting and in seeking aid from abroad, but it is rarely the root cause.The general pattern in data supports these conclusions.
First, nearly all suicide terrorist attacks –301 of the 315 I studied –took place as part of organised political or military campaigns.

Second democracies are uniquely vulnerable to suicide terrorists: America, France, and India. Israel, Russia. Sri Lanka and Turkey have been the targets of almost every suicide attack of the past two decade.
Third suicide terrorist campaigns are directed toward a strategic objective from Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya. The sponsors of every campaign-18 organisations in all-are seeking to maintain political self determination.Before Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 there was no Hezbollah suicide terrorist campaign against Israel; indeed Hezbollah came into existence only after this event. Before the Sri Lankan military began moving into Tamil homelands of the Island in 1987, the Tamil Tigers did not use suicide attacks. Before the increase in the Jewish settlers on the West bank in the 1980”s Palestinian groups did not use suicide terrorist, and true to form, there has never been documented suicide attack in Iraq until the American Invasion in 2003

It is essential America stage a planned withdrawal from Iraq. In fact I believe this is already occurring to a mild degree, despite recent rhetoric to the contrary, as there are currently 3 less brigades in operation.

I am quite sure If America had understood better the nature of the true conflicts in the region, factions kept at bay by a brutal Dictator, it would not have invaded Iraq ion the first place. I also think behind the scenes in Washington there is a growing realisation the US must get out of Iraq in a staged manner. Keep your eyes on the numbers of brigades not the rhetoric in the months ahead.

I laso think ther idea being advanced by the US that if we don’t fight theses Terrorists in Iraq, they will come after you in the USA and elsewhere is a fanciful notion.

We all know the weapons of mass destruction were a complete furphy; and I think history will judge the decision to invade Iraq one of the worst ill conceived wars in modern day times. It will take along time for America to recover from is loss of credibility in the world stage, to be respected as genuine peacekeeper who is able to help make the world a better a place.