Wednesday, June 27

River Valley to Silicon Valley

This is the title to the recently published book written by Abhay K which I have had the pleasure of reading. His story is about growing up in India encompassing his life with grandparents, his family, attending Schools, College, University and the preparation to secure his current position as a Diplomat with the Indian Civil Service. It is not a story of heroic deeds or grandiose enlightenment but one which immediately captured my interest. He shares his thoughts about life’s trials and tribulations, the influences of family and mentors and his reverence for life. Ultimately it’s his story of perseverance which triumphs over adversity.

He begins each chapter with an appropriate quotation or verse as if these words shape his life and thought, and indeed they do. The use of footnotes to explain his culture and unfamiliar terms adds to the rich tapestry of his story, lightly sprinkled with the occasional poem. His style is that of the commensurate story teller, non- judgmental and devoid of tiresome regrets or prejudices.

His story may well be an analogy for an emerging India today. Following its bloody partition with its accompanying terrible loss of life, India has embraced its newly found independence to develop rapidly into a significant world democracy capable of achieving sustainable annual growth rates of 8%. It has developed its own unique home spun dynamic intellectual capital arising primarily from its investment in education whilst retaining its history and traditions. It does not rely on foreign investment for its future growth anywhere near the extent that China does and hence I believe it to be more resilient. I think it has the ability to enhance the well-being of its population, to reduce prejudices and to assist those impoverished areas of population dependant on subsistence agriculture.

Abhay dedicates his book: FOR MY GREAT FATHER who inspires me the way he lived till the end. And for the new generation of youth in India who are ready to make a difference.

I think the new generation will make a difference and is already making its mark. So much so that some of my friends and I have come to the conclusion to invest directly in India through our self managed Superannuation Funds.

I would highly recommend River Valley to Silicon Valey as simply a great read or for those who wish to gain further insight into his beloved country.

Sunday, June 24


On Friday last our eldest daughter Vanessa (pictured next above ) gave birth to a second daughter-Chloe pictured with daughters Rachael and Nicla. The picure above is of all 4 grandchildren with their respective fathers.
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Friday, June 15

King Island

We recently holidayed at King Island situated in Bass Strait not far from mainland Tasmania and about 35 minutes flying time south of Melbourne. The island’s history began with maritime explorers, and its first settlers were sealers who were almost responsible for their extinction. The waters of Bass Strait are particularly treacherous and have clamed hundreds of ships and lives lost. The island has sustained more losses than the entire Australian coastline.

Soldier settlement land schemes were set up on the island after the two world wars. Farmers prospered from a regular annual rainfall which supported green pastures ideal for sheep, beef and dairy cows from whose milk I can attest the cheeses are simply stupendous. The Island today has a population of 1700 and has many unique sights and points of interest. It main industries are agriculture, fishing and processing giant kelp which is exported around the world. The kelp is unique to the waters off the Island and is also suitable for crafted ornaments after treatment.

Above are pictures of some unexpected thick pockets of foliage, the giant kelp and the ragged and rocky shoreline.
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Monday, June 4

61st Birthday poem for my wife

Celebrations over of a 60th year passed
Years flash on so unbelievably fast
Another birthday poem for my dear wife
At 61 you’re still the charm of my life

A vine withers, unlike your heart
Pulse still strong, at was at the start
New horizons now my retirement looms
New seasons now to enjoy new blooms

All my best wishes, may I please say
Warm under blankets, or in the cold rain
Wherever we roam or wherever we fly
Blessings to count under a Southern Cross sky

Friday, June 1

Intelligent design

The advent of a winter’s chilly breeze acts as reminder of the advisability to have a flu injection and avoid suffering those severe aches, pains and fever from flu compared to the much milder symptoms of a common cold. Immunisation is a necessity each year as the flu virus drifts into a new strain to the extent last years vaccines become ineffective. Substantial shifts as a consequence of migration into animals can produce particularly potent mutant life threatening strains as is the case with the so called Bird flu.

However most Viruses remain harmless as the vast majority target bacteria, including bacteria currently infecting humans. In fact Researchers are looking for ways to use targeted bacterial killing viruses as a viable alternative to antibiotics which are losing their effectiveness over time.
Viruses are not considered 'living', as they consist of just DNA or RNA wrapped in a shell, without the ability of reproduction as is the case for bacteria. Hence Viruses are unable to survive without first invading a host; as upon entering into the host they hijack the biology of the living cell by replication and then becoming a ‘living’ Virus.

Ultimately with continued replication this process bursts and destroys the original infected cell. Although the viruses can rest on hard surfaces or in the droplets of a contaminated sneeze it remains “lifeless”, and completely dependant for its existence on a host, but hopefully not in yours truly this winter!! Viruses are unlike bacteria, without cell walls or genetic coding for replication, dependant upon the biology of the “host”; but since they also exist independently you cannot also say they are dead! For this reason I think viruses are very interesting; best described as lifeless bodies arising from random evolution but capable of replication and becoming ‘live’ by using the biological coding of their invaded hosts. Think of your personal computer becoming enveloped by a virus, the virus becomes effective (live) when it successfully invades and attaches to prefix code to realise or close down or disrupts your files or operating system; to realise different outcome to what was previously encoded. The original codes can become corrupted and destroyed by the incoming virus, which is incapable of reproduction unless linked to computers code.

Keeping this in mind I find it fascinating to reflect back and imagine the original primeval soup of our fist born Earth following the "Big Bang". So began the many and varied chemical reactions spread out over many billions of years interacted with light and oxygen energy. Although the temperature of our early earth was hostile to life, at 300 degrees Celsius early forms of bacteria have been discovered existing without oxygen in similar conditions within the heart of a volcano. It seems entirely plausible for us to consider the continuous migration that must have occurred amongst uncoded lifeless forms, including viruses which binded together as determined by natural selection. Ultimately what was created from that evolution formed intelligent cells inclusive of the DNA building blocks which make up life today. I would liken it to a form of evolved intelligent design or creation or biological evolution, (whichever term you feel best or most comfortable to describe it) arising effortlessly over many billions of years to our present wondrous life world of to day.

Astrophycist Jesuit George Coyne who has been Director of the Vatican Observatory since 1978 explores these ideas for the universe in a similar way: A theologian already poses the concept of god’s continuous creation with which to explore the implications of modern science for religious belief. God is working with the universe, the universe has a certain vitality of its own like a child does, it has the ability to respond to words of endearment and encouragement.

He also rejects the notions of an omnipotent and omniscient God
The universe is not god and it cannot exist independently of God. Neither pantheism nor naturalism is true. But ,if we confront what we know of our origins scientifically with religious faith in God the Creator –if, that is , we take the results of modern science seriously –it is difficult to believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient in the sense of many of the scholastic philosophers. For the believer, science tells us of a god who must be very much different from a god as seen by them.