A cold snap, firewood and a short history of chimney sweeps

Almost on schedule, a cold snap arrived, coinciding nicely with our completely running out of firewood. Oh you too, eh? I thought as much, queuing up on Saturday at the fill-your-own-boot firewood supplier. It took a while. Chatting to a friend on the same mission, I mentioned that the fire was not drawing very well. He then told me about an organic solvent you could buy from the hardware store. “You just get a good…

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Global Insights On Neglected Political Issues

There have been issues aplenty for people to mull over ahead of tomorrow’s Federal election, not all of them as obvious as climate change, refugees or the Murray Darling. Chair of Australia21, Paul Barratt, named those issues as his top three in a contribution to John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations newsletter. But he also added 10 neglected political issues. They include inequality, reversing the cuts to research and development, early childhood education and a world-class…

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Three (Political) Billboards Outside Caboolture, Queensland

A week before Easter, I was driving back from Bribie Island when my travelling companion pointed out the first of three political billboards. The first read: “Don’t Vote Labor”. A little further down the road: “If Shorten wins, you lose.” The third billboard featured the face of a minor party leader known for her dubious skill in empathising with those in the community who have a morbid fear of ethnic minorities. “I’ve got the guts…

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A Few Observations About Ice and Glaciers

One Thursday night while watching rugby league, I went to the freezer, extracted some ice cubes and wrapped them in a tea towel. The aim was to encase my throbbing thumb in an icy blanket of numbness. It’s just arthritis, the doctor said, examining the swelling of the thumb joint. Gardening, playing guitar and driving tends to bring on the pain and swelling. Importantly, the doctor did not recommend ice, instead suggesting anti-inflammatories (tablets or…

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