The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Disaster

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The US Department of Agriculture may have some usefulness. Projecting future prices isn’t one of them. In 2005, it looked five years ahead and saw a bushel of wheat selling for $3.50. Last week, the price rose to more than twice that much.

Why? God himself is to blame. Not since 1880 has Russia been so dry. And not since Napoleon’s invasion has Moscow suffered so much soot. The government banned wheat exports and prices shot up to their highest point in 51 years. In the curious way that one thing lead to another, Napoleon’s Russian Campaign grew out of the French Revolution like a forest fire out of a careless barbecue. The revolution stirred up enemies on all France’s frontiers. When Napoleon had finished with them all, he had to reach farther – all the way to the banks of the Moskva River – to get his fingers burnt.

But the Revolution may never have happened without the summer of 1789. That was God’s work too. That summer was the opposite of the Russian summer of 2010. Europe was cold and rain-soaked, believed to be the result of the explosion of the volcano Laki in Iceland. The price of bread in Paris rose 67% in 1789. The average laborer only made about 20 sous a day, barely enough to buy a loaf of bread. The intellectuals may have been stirred by the Enlightenment. But it was high bread prices that gave the mob an appetite for revolution.

One of the awake observers of this period was a young Anglican clergyman named Thomas Malthus. While the rest of the intelligentsia imagined a world of industrial and social progress, Mr. Malthus peered down to the bottom of a dark well. Ten years after the French Revolution, he published his Essay on the Principle of Population. His point was simple, obvious and modest: populations can grow faster than food production. This led to the idea of a “surplus” of humanity, which was practically a Christian heresy. It presumes that God is a jackass, something that occurs to the average man about once a day, but which is a rare thought for a member of the clergy. Everything in nature is bounded by limits and hounded by failure. Trees don’t grow to the sky. Bull markets don’t last forever. And every step people take in life brings them closer to the grave. God told man to be fruitful and multiply. Was he just setting him up for catastrophe?

But the Malthusian limits keep getting pushed back. Even after nearly two centuries and 6 billion more people added to the human population, most people can still multiply without worrying about mass starvation.

Paul Ehrlich published his Population Bomb, in 1968. But his prediction was as big a bomb as Malthus’s. Populations didn’t outrun food supplies. Instead, output per acre doubled in the ‘green revolution’ that followed – rising faster than the number of people. If people starved, it wasn’t God’s fault. And now, Le Monde reports that obesity may be a bigger health threat to the poor than starvation.

Forty years ago, experts said the world was running out of oil, too, with only 40 years’ worth of reserves. They predicted disaster. But huge new discoveries of deep reserves have been made since then. Four decades later and the world still has 40 years’ of reserves. The only a disaster was for those who were counting on buying it at $10 a barrel.

And now, the alarmists are on to other worries. Water, for example. Not that there isn’t plenty. The seas and rivers are full of it. But getting the right kind of water to the right place is going to be expensive.

Peak water…peak oil…peak food…peak this, peak that. After so many alarms with so few fires, many people think they can put away the fire extinguishers. Higher prices draw forth more supply…and substitutes. The limits seem to recede forever.

But the threat of disaster hasn’t disappeared; it is just retreating in good order like the Tsar’s troops…waiting for the worst possible moment to strike. There is only so much arable land. There is only so much water. There is only so much energy to move food and water. Man has been growing food for 12,000 years. Surely, he’s reached capacity, no? Experts see disaster coming again. The undeveloped world is still multiplying – and with much larger numbers. The population of the earth is expected to add nearly 3 billion people by the middle of this century. On that basis alone we’d need another “green revolution” to keep up with it. But since the mid-90s there’s been little improvement in farm output. In fact, people have eaten more than they’ve produced for most of the last decade. And as people get richer, thy change their eating habits. Grain is fed to the cows and pigs; people want meat. China’s consumption of pork, for example, increased 45% between ’93 and 2005. The need for grain multiplies 5 times faster than the people they are meant to support; a calorie from grains takes only about 20% of the inputs needed to produce a calorie from meat.

Is the world running out of wheat? No. There will be plenty of wheat available. But probably not at $3.50 a bushel.

But every half-empty glass is also half-full. The summer of 1789 was a disaster for plants in Europe. But with so much volcanic ash in the air, the sunsets were uncommonly pretty.

Bill Bonner,
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
Bill Bonner

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Comments

  1. Good article. The US gets cocky because its got the fix in and it works until it doesn’t for a while after a big event. When it doesn’t commodity prices move up at light speed. The fix on wheat is that the US industrial farmers want the market share and volume on world markets. They’ve got guaranteed profit on any volume that moves. They get the guaranteed subsidised price when the world price is low too. Their profit is equal to the difference between the subsidy developed for the US small block farmer to just survive, and the lower production price they can achieve using their bigger scale and more eficient use of capital (even if the US banks take their cut too by push lending into higher land prices – same as Aussie banks into houses – and building fatter bank balance sheets to lend elsewhere) The COB even sign off on the grain elevators charging variable storage pricing to force small farmers to bring grain to market when it gets too high. The US ships aid cargo of wheat to the developing world when drought forces prices higher at destination and the producers might otherwise build capital to get globally competitive out of the local profit surge (if they can get through EU/US barriers and low subsidised prices). There is excess production capability on lands & water equal to those of the US midwest out there globally but it just needs the capital and the fix to be pulled from the rigged market. The cronies will get the price back down by hook or by crook though even though the finger in the dyke still gets occasionally broken by act of God in Russia/Ukraine/China. America Inc might need to come down before the dyke will break. When that happen the French Revolution is going to look like a picnic compared to what explodes within their borders

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  2. Bill, Malthus’ limits have not been abolished – just postponed. And it only takes one essential resource to ‘peak’ to bring the whole production line to a grinding halt. What do you think the market will substitute for water? Australian cities have decided to substitute with electricity to drive desal plants. Probably not a long term solution given the growing consensus on greenhouse gasses. What will China substitute for coal when it chokes on the limits? Given China’s current growth rate , and the lock-step of economic growth and energy use, i would predict that we will see a very stressed dragon in the next couple of years. What will US citizens substitute for health care, teachers, paved roads, jobs and state governance ….all seem to have become unaffordable in these testing times. It seems that the resource most under pressure is money… consumers don’t have enough to buy stuff, governments don’t have enough to pay their debts….I think that we will all run out of money.

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  3. Must ask an American mate of mine if she reckons her people are likely to revolt – My thought is that they’d only do that if their government and media couldn’t find them an alternative scapegoat?

    Although as Biker seems to suggest, a big reality check on their part could save us all some grief???

    A general question: How does some mob that has 24% of the world’s GDP and 4% of it’s population go broke? Are their production costs too high?? Do they spend too much??? What really is their storey? (OK – I lied – That’s 4 questions – I’m practising to become a Oz pollie … :) )

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  4. I’m torn – Should I work on growing a longer nose and dyeing my hair red? Or on continuing to let my head hair fall out whilst cultivating that on my chest? Damn it, this is Oz, we’re middle of the road, and have the loot to burn – I think I’ll do them all!!! :)

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  5. “I think that we will all run out of money” … Yes John, I’m slowly getting my shed filled up with seashells and stones with holes in the middle of them. I reckon I’ll be alright! :)

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  6. I see Dr Karl is recommending bullet trains on today’s Sunrise, Ned! ;)
    The Brains Trust also promoted the premise that with renewable energy adequately financed to 2020, we could be 100% self sufficient by 2020.
    After that maintenance of equipment would be the only cost… .

    Hard on that news comes a claim that our Liberal state government has conned purchasers of solar electricity panels. The price touted per unit was 47c.
    It now appears that the true price may be 40c. Bound to be a state election issue with so many homes now erecting solar electricity systems!

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  7. The late economist Julian Simon had an answer for peak oil/water/population etc: he was generally optimistic about the benefits humans bring to the planet and about man’s prospects for the future. He felt that overpopulation wasn’t something that we had to worry about; his future outlook was that “…first, humanity’s condition will improve in just about every material way. Second, humans will continue to sit around complaining about everything getting worse.” How true.

    Simon’s central premise was that people are the ultimate resource, “…human beings are not just more mouths to feed, but are productive and inventive minds that help find creative solutions to man’s problems, thus leaving us better off over the long run.” He argued that mankind would rise to any challenges and problems by devising new technologies to not only cope, but thrive. “Whatever the rate of population growth is, historically it has been that the food supply increases at least as fast, if not faster.”

    To solve these ‘problems’, we need to take a leaf from Simon’s work and unleash the ingenuity of mankind – through the mechanism that is the unfettered free market – and enjoy the marvels of human achievement in their fullest.

    Unfortunately politically scaring people is a much better way to get elected and receive additional funds. Here’s a length quote from Simon’s book “The Ultimate Resource,” if anyone is interested:

    “A conceptual quantity is not finite or infinite in itself. Rather, it is finite or infinite if you make it so–by your own definitions. If you define the subject of discussion suitably, and sufficiently closely so that it can be counted, then it is finite–for example, the money in your wallet or the socks in your top drawer. But without sufficient definition the subject is not finite–for example, the thoughts in your head, the strength of your wish to go to Turkey, your dog’s love for you, the number of points in a one-inch line. You can, of course, develop definitions that will make these quantities finite, which shows that the finiteness inheres in you and your definitions rather than in the money, love or one-inch line themselves. There is no necessity either in logic or in historical trends to state that the supply of any given resource is “finite,” and to do so leads to error.

    Someone coined the label “cornucopians” for those who believe that the natural resources are available in practically limitless abundance, to contrast with “doomsters.” But the stream of thought that I represent here is not cornucopian. I do not suggest that nature is limitlessly bountiful. Rather, I suggest that the possibilities in the world are sufficiently great so that with the present state of knowledge–even without the additional knowledge that human imagination and human enterprise will surely develop in the future–we and our descendants can manipulate the elements in such fashion that we can have all the raw materials that we desire at prices ever smaller relative to other goods and to our total incomes. In short, our cornucopia is the human mind and heart, and not a Santa Claus natural environment. So has it been throughout history, and therefore so is it likely to be in the future.”

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  8. I can’t agree with you here Justin re un-ending progress and abundance as challenges are met by advances in technology. That guy Simon is exactly what he says he isn’t:-cornucopian.
    What about WW1 and WW2? Or highly civilised societies like UK and USA doing the most barberous things in the current conflicts.
    The idea of progress, economic expansion is dead. The human mund has become so narcissistic and crazy that there is no viable alternative or antidote to despair. You can attempt to help yourself and your family and friends, that’s about it. It is going to end very badly I’m afraid, but out of this a new society will hopefully emerge.

    bearamundi
    August 17, 2010
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  9. Justin
    The welfare state actually encourages the wrong type of population growth. Taking money from the mid to upper level earners and allocating it to unemployment breeders means that over time the populace gets dumber overall. There are plenty of educated working people who have trouble affording children, whereas if you are unemployment you actually get paid more for producing more kids. I read an article from the UK a while back where a family had about 8 kids, and both parents stayed at home on benefits of about GBP75k a year….now what sort of environment is that to raise children in. They are born into a world of free living and shown that doing the wrong thing pays!

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  10. “UK and USA doing the most barberous things in the current conflicts”

    Agreed. Saw some dreadful haircuts last year…

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  11. Come on Bear. You’ve just finitisized Justins completely infinite concept before finally conceding it is infinite in your final sentence.
    Fair dinkum Bear ;)

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  12. “The human mund has become so narcissistic and crazy that there is no viable alternative or antidote to despair.”

    Nah!~ Cheer up, Bear. Ditch your sad tag, which is bringin’ ya down, son.
    I suggest bullonfridai. Break out of hibernation, greet each day with a smile and a fresh coffee and embrace the possibility that technology may inexorably extract us from the excreta. It’s always darkest before the dawn, every cloud has a golden lining and like the feeenix we’ll rise from the one day series*.

    Outa cliches. :(

    * Or is that the Ashes?!~

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  13. You fella’s still got some hope eh? Okay, I did get a bit down today and maybe things did get on top of me. Saw a terrific film tonight with some mates. “Boy”. A kiwi film, multi-dimensional masterwork. Still thinking about the sh*t-sandwich but heaps better. Thanks dudes…:)

    bearamundi
    August 17, 2010
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  14. I thought brandy with beer chasers worked for you Bear? :)

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  15. Hardcore, Ned!! :D

    bearamundi
    August 18, 2010
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  16. The Floydians understood that.

    “There is no pain, you are receding
    As distant ship’s smoke on the horizon
    You are only coming through in waves
    Your lips move but I cant hear what your saying
    … yada yadda….dum de dum de dum
    The dream is gone
    I….. Have become comfortably numb”

    Bear, let us laugh in the face of GFC doom :) :) …and consume alcohol, if we must ;)

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  17. Ned, they can’t go broke unless the USD loses the global reserve currency status. Technically no state with a printing press can either but Weimar tells you otherwise in practice, so don’t listen to the stories about governments getting first use out of what comes out of the printing press (it makes no difference on the ground), except in the peculiar case of the US that can export the inflation on its notes (and build asset bubbles for their bankster cronies and that allows them to clip the ticket of prices rising elsewhere in the world).

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  18. Hanging on in quiet desperation is the aussie way…

    Massive burn by David Gilmour… :)

    Ag’s still hanging around and if inflation starts coming….

    I think those ideas of progress arose out of the tremendous economic expansion following WW2. People were less confident after WW1.

    Bearamundi
    August 18, 2010
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  19. Yes, the Filoydians were Filosophers of merit, but the Stonesians also got it right: “You can’t always get what you want…. but you just might get what you need… ”

    I see housing got a mention this morning, Ned:

    Joe: No bubble.

    Wayne: No bubble.

    Bet on: No change.

    Bear, your diet may be responsible for these lows. Try a change of reading material. Williams’ ‘the-greatest-depression-is-here’ perspective is just a _little_ too pessimistic. If this is the greatest depression I’ll experience in my lifetime, it feels pretty good. :D

    My other issue with Williams is his Obama-obsession. While it’s true that Obama hasn’t done much to fix the immense financial snafu he inherited, its causes go right back through the presidencies to Carter, whose naive idealism was utterly perverted by the banks.

    Back to the Stones. We don’t need to paint every red door black. ;)

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  20. Oh Dear. So now you’re reduced to quoting Joe and Wayne. Sleep on Biker, everything’s just Dandy!! :D

    bearamundi
    August 18, 2010
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  21. You definitely need that caffeine, Bear.
    I know it’s winter, but your hibernation has to end some day!~ ;)

    Great to see you’re smiling today, anyway… . :D

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  22. This’l perk you up Bear.

    http://www.caseyresearch.com/displayCdd.php?id=509

    Check out “The Best Gold Interview of 2010”. Some good points about silver in there for you.

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  23. Very interesting article, Lachlan. While it starts out referencing the gold _supply,_ a much stronger point is its focus on increasing _demand._

    I’ve no idea where gold will go, but there’s no question that demand is increasing.

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  24. Good read Lachlan, thanks. Appreciating an up-beat Biker too. :)

    Bearamundi
    August 18, 2010
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  25. HaHaHaHa!~

    I’m sure you’d prefer a beat-up Biker, Bear! :D

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  26. If you have a nice secure job you should be OK regardless of most nasties that could come is my hunch. Maybe not as well off as you had hoped – But pretty OK regardless. As for the interest rates might go to 20% pa and/or house prices might crash 50% yarns – Well, maybe they’re possible??? – But no bank will be foreclosing on your mortgage in such circumstances – So you’ll have a roof over your head to boot. And even if things got a bit sticky then my gut feeling is that Oz would still be looking way better than most other places for lots of reasons.

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  27. “The population of the earth is expected to add nearly 3 billion people by the middle of this century.”.. and according to UN predictions, taper off after that. the richer people get, and the more social security they are afforded from the surpluses of the Great Machine (thats the one where machines to the work of a thousand manual laborors), the less children they have. women have more choices, people dont need to expect their children to work the farm (turning it into desert by subdividing for all the kids )and they dont overproduce to allow for infant mortality (half the kids used to die before 10 in the good old days 100 years ago in the west).

    Ross sais “the French Revolution is going to look like a picnic” .. ahh, is that what those wicker baskets were below la guillotine, for picnics.hehe At this stage I would say that the US forces are managing fake opposition (tea party, no taxes nirvana dreaming etc) quite well. how can people see through the smoke and mirrors? when the electricity is cut off and they meet in groups on the streets again to talk reality (or scapegoats) perhaps.

    on another note, the Parisians kicked off mandatory sewerage (government intervention yegads), because of the cholera of the poor and septic dumps having some impact on the ‘gated community’ elites.

    kind of like comparing Labor’s mandatory Fibre Optic NBN to the coaliations ‘choice’ alternative. if it were up to the individuals, the sewerage would have at best been connected to only some of the houses in the streets that had mains put into them, at greater cost to them. and the shit would still have kept hitting the fans.

    then again the Railway Barons in the US had similar powers of coercion, so I guess our ‘free market’ corporate monopolists of capital and political leverege can push and push through over petty resistance to progress (another French quote.. for us (the elite), everything, for them (the poor), the law).

    note: not plugging Labor here, that NBN will be censored to dialup speeds if they have their way.

    cheers , regulars

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  28. “The welfare state actually encourages the wrong type of population growth” – I must admit that I DO agree with you Macca! – Problem is if we looked at it logically we may well decide that there isn’t much to be said for Aussies breeding fullstop? … Because in most cases we presumably could get way better quality product cheaper from overseas – Providing we are choosy of course. And, according to lots of smarties, there’s plenty of people in the world already anyway – So it doesn’t seem logical [to me?] to make more when we can just relocate the ones we’ve got. Not everything is always about being 100% logical I guess.

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  29. I reckon it’s all those Sydneysiders and Melburnians who’ve buggered up Oz house prices myself? – It simply isn’t fair that because I was born in the boondocks and bought housing here that all those do nothing wasters from down south can come up north and retire with all their spare cash after selling off their highly valued properties in the big smoke – I’m cranky – How’s this for an idea – All 1 bedroom properties in Oz are worth $100K, 2 BRs $200K, 3 BRs $300K – Regardless of where they are! And if you own a ‘bigger one’ than that … We’ll shoot you and chop ‘it’ in half!!! Because you’re a BAD GREEDY person! :) :) :)

    It is such fun to see people squabbling over the oxymoron that just could be called the ‘morality of money’? (No answers here of course – But I do remain a VERY interested observer! :) )

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  30. “they can’t go broke unless the USD loses the global reserve currency status” – They’re broke Ross. Even I know that.

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  31. “Buying an asset that’s over-priced never ends well,”

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  32. Then please buy one in your preferred US state by all means.

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  33. Bill: “It was loony to think you could finance your retirement out of the increases in your house’s value. Who were you going to sell the house to? Boomers were the biggest buyers of houses. When they turned into the biggest sellers, it was sure to cause trouble.”

    Timing, or is Australia different? Friends just sold their family home for three times its purchase price 15 years ago… and rolled the tax-free gain straight into Super. They needed to do that… caught out in $hares AND $uper, both still down around 30%.

    Ned is right, Steven. Instead of Steve’s Weakly Whinge, you need to hop aboard the very next US flight and snap up a cheap stucco mansion in Miami, or a palace in Nevada: http://www.mountainsedge-nevada.com/
    No Aussie wages, of course, but plenty of work* for a young fella with a cheerful personality and the right attitude… . :)

    * Nope, not much work at all, actually… .
    Bit of a problem there, mate!~

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  34. Is DRA falling down on the job – Or have I just gotten bored enough with reading ALL the prognosications of doom I’ve bypassed some of theirs? (as I’m sure I do) – A. The Chinese have $1 t effectively hiding in ‘black money’ – ‘under their matresses’ – Sneaky little devils! (Doom for whom?) And B. China’s population policy has resulted in it having 100 m young males it doesn’t especially need – Yoo Hoo – Want to Bang Heads Boys? :)

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  35. What exactly SHOULD a bloke tell his family in a developing country??? – Nah, don’t hurry over here – As poor little Stevie hasn’t bought his house yet – ‘Cause he’s waiting for the crash! Ha Ha Ha! Ho Ho Ho! You really DO make me laugh mate … :)

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  36. Ned, when I was a kid, our high school had a handy man, mainly fixing and restoring desks and that sort of thing. He’d been there decades and was in his late 80’s I think when I was about 15. He was just called ‘Pop’. He had this cave of a lock up with no natural light. The lights were those caged one’s and the corridor was like on that 70’s TV show called Callan with Edward Woodward that was popular at the time. And his one pleasure in life was having a cup of tea with biscuits, and he shared them with a few of us who were interested in his story. With us, for a long time in teh first couple of years I knew him, he only did bits and pieces of stories about his having knocked around a bit. We knew had been in France in WWI. But then he came up to the class and talked about the trenches. I spent alot of time asking him about that afterward.

    Anyway, the things that stuck with me the most were the ambiguities and his ability to describes the smells and the terrible soddenness and the routiness of getting up each day in that environment. But the most noatble thing for me was probably how he described the boredom even when he was waiting for orders that would have blokes wet themselves or the next barrage that had blokes start talking to themselves and even breaking out of the trench and running in any direction. Boredom or “waiting for something to happen”. Is that the sort you might have?

    To get past mine I’m writing a book. Pop isn’t one of my characters, but I’ve just done a ratter which was interesting. Warms the blood a bit writing, perfect antidote. After that (I’m only at 33,000 words right now) there’s also a website I’m interested in. One of my granfathers was a soldier settler and maybe I can pull something together for them.

    http://soldiersettlement.records.nsw.gov.au/index.php/about/

    Meanwhile, I saw a poem from Lachlan recently and I needed a verse to put into the mouth of my Uncle Bill who was a bush poet of sorts. So I borrowed his theme and came up with this one for my book. It might be titled “Taking a mob the long way around” as I was thinking of a time that he had his mob on the road for a year or more during a 70’s drought when his property was out of water. He might have found some comfort from some of the wives of the very cockies that were none too welcoming of his mob feeding on the road outside their gates.

    There’s the pain in leaving receding,
    floating out along the Milky Way.
    Like blue gum smoke off on the horizon,
    her delight wafts back to my smell in waves.
    Out toward Orion we’ll be making tomorrow,
    its a long day to water …
    Now your lips are touching my sleep.
    And when the dream is comfortably gone,
    I’ll still be here and there abouts.

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  37. “Now your lips are touching my sleep….

    …and every morning my mind
    rolls over you… and out of bed… .”

    I think there’s a book in every one of us, Ross.
    Look forward to buying yours one day.

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  38. JEEZ, I didn’t mean _you_, Steve!!~ :)

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  39. Ross I’m sure you’ll write a a fine book…. judging on your description of Pop anyhow. Actually I enjoy observing how the regulars here express themselves in writing. Also how some mingling of expressive forms has taken place over time. Possibly adapting so as to communicate more efficiently within the group. Hmm an evolution of group speak/language.
    Anyhow Ross I must inform you that my poem was actually not mine but an extract from the song “Comfortably Numb” by the band Pink Floyd (the Floydians)…just clowning around with boys back there …..about the use of intoxicants to escape sad realities/perceptions of reality….or is that perceptions of realty, ha ha :) …errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…ok I’m going away now.

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  40. Lachlan, where was Ross when the Floyd ruled?
    “There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark”
    Appreciating a gay Biker. :)

    bearamundi
    August 19, 2010
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  41. Bear, I just heard Dark Side of the Moon the other day. Sorry I’m not as good with the recall on the lyric. cheers all

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  42. …you were probably reading the History of Civilisation at the time :D

    I was into Van (the Man) Morrison, being an auditory type. I still have my $30,000+ (most pieces are second hand too and it still cost this much) stereo although I never get to play it much with young kids, and a wife who says it sounds “good”.

    I said, oh, common one, my illuminated one.
    Oh my high in the art of sufferin’ one.
    Take a walk with me
    Take a walk with me down by Avalon
    Oh, my common one with the coat so old
    And the light in her head.
    And the sufferin’ so fine
    Take a walk with me down by Avalon
    And I will show you
    It ain’t why, why, why
    It just is.

    Somehow I have to get me a Darkvoice Headphone Amplifier and a pair of Sennheiser HD650 cans…got..to..get…past..the…wife :D

    bearamundi
    August 19, 2010
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  43. “Appreciating a gay Biker. :)”

    I had figured _you_ would, Bear. ;)
    Sorry to disappoint you, son.

    You’ll have to “…get…past..the…wife :D…” with someone else, Bear…

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  44. Bear, when I was being reflective I was more bent toward Richard Clapton “Sitting out on the Palm Beach Road, I’m so drunk and the car won’t go”, probably sitting with some girl from Max Merritt’s “Slipping Away” at the time.

    Horn bands, and soul, and even Rose Tattoo at the Manzil Room in the Cross in the late late hours might be for more regular mahem. There was this girl with yellow lipstick there once ….. I had mainly local tastes after getting through a Mark Bolan phase.

    And reading came after sport, boozing and girls in that order.

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  45. Wonder whatever happened to Stewie, Max’s drummer? He was at least my age now, when I was a kid… :)

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  46. Not sure Biker, he might have been playing the last time I saw Max. It was at a show at the Sydney Entertainment Centre where Max was the support for Ray Charles. It was just before Ray died in 2004. Big night!

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  47. “Boredom or “waiting for something to happen”.” – Very accurate call Ross. Exacerbated by thoughts like should something happen, it mightn’t be nice. Which means there’s an underlying tension to the waiting. And frustration over things like some of the problems seem pretty obvious but no-one in the mainstream seems at all keen to even acknowledge them let alone start thinking and chatting about how they might be fixed. Albeit longterm even. And the almost certain thought that even if the best possible solutions could be found, then lots of us are going to scream Not good enough! Interesting times indeed. :)

    The book is a great idea. My equivalent will be building a granny flat perhaps.

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  48. Hi Ross. I’m a big fan of Richard Clapton too, his not so popular stuff is great. I always wondered why he wasn’t more esteemed, can’t fault the guy. Just having you an about reading, you seem to know so much about what is really going on so I concluded you must have read a huge amount.

    bearamundi
    August 20, 2010
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  49. Eric Bogle is ‘da man’ Bear – It’s been my preferred music to slit my wrists by for decades now! ;) Then when the soul needs some soothing Noirin Ni Riain’s not bad. Plus Russkie pop is great when I want to boogey!!! Never really got into some of the Asian stuff though – All those discordant bangs ‘n bells can be offputting? But then what do I know – I actually even like didge ‘n clapsticks??? … :)

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  50. “It was just before Ray died in 2004. Big night!”

    Last time I saw them was the early nineties at a Murray Street (Perth) pub.
    A lot of their tracks are still available online, Ross. It sure takes me back!~ :D

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  51. Ive got varied tastes in music Ned although only recently started to revisit my interest in music and guitar..John Williamson, Paul Kelly, John Denver, Eric Clapton to Guns n Roses and heaps of others but Neil Young is possibly my most enduring favourite. Crosby Stills Nash and Young recorded a song you might like (considering your views) ..anyhow its called “Ohio”. It was contentious at the time because it was so confronting to Nixon (about the Kent State Massacre).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs6aaaJBAvO

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  52. So all fired up to register your vote and make Oz a better place tamarra mate? Seems like a lost cause to me – Tony has one ball and is dragging it to the left; And Julia has the other and is dragging it to the lefter; And the Greens have the bit in the middle and are dragging it to the leftist!!! :)

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  53. Thanks Lachlan – I’ll see if I can find the lyrics of “Ohio” online. (I actually even like some American stuff – But wouldn’t like to ever have to confess to that in public! :) )

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  54. your secrets safe with me Ned ;)

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  55. Always reckoned ya blood was worth bottlin’ Lahlan! :D

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  56. Just checked – A bit deep for a superficial old bloke like me maybe? – Stuff like Rolf Harris’ “Two Little Boys” and the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy” is probably about as complex as my brain can decipher. Although Yeh, Wilfred Owen did decent work on some some trench warefare stuff I gather Ross?

    Funny yarn … As a kid I lived next door to an old bloke who fought against the Turks – They’d stick one loaf of bread on a bayonet and poke it up above head height to show they had plenty of tucker – And the Aussies would put two loaves on a bayonet and reciprocate!

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  57. Sorry Ned, it seems the last digit was supposed to be a zero not an O. No not plugging labour either which is where the last link took you..a pollie commercial. I wont be begging for a resource tax and carbon tax either although I’m not going to believe anyone re surplus in 4years or whatever they both claim.

    Heres Neil. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs6aaaJBAv0

    Catch ya later Ned :)

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  58. Oops I mean Labor

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  59. Tuff enough remembering the correct spelling of words without having to remember the incorrect spelling of them we’ve come up with over all the years in attempts to assure our mates of our global alligiences to them hey Lachlan? :) Yep – Copyalater as at least one of my somewhat politically incorrect friends says!

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  60. Comment by Lachlan on 20 August 2010:

    Oops I mean Labor

    I think “Labour” is fitting though… seem to have to work more when ever they are in ;)

    Stillgotshoeson
    August 20, 2010
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  61. As a native speaker of the lingo I would have said either “seem to have to work more [than] ever [when] they are in” or “seem to have to work more [whenever] they are in” maybe Shoes? But concur regardless – As I reckon I can figure out what you mean! :)

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  62. “varied tastes in music” – The flash word is ‘eclectic’ I gather Lachlan? – Which basically boils down to there’s lots of noise I enjoy but other noise that I don’t??? :)

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  63. There was a Cream tribute night on at The Basement in Sydney tonight Lachlan. My mate was crazy about 60’s music and Cream in the late 70’s. Pity neither of us could get there tonight.

    http://www.moshtix.com.au/Event.aspx?id=38801&pLock=&vip=&skin=&ref=moshtix

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  64. Suspect I may have heard this storey before fellahs? As I recall the yarn went along the lines that the humble Jap plasterer who worked diligently putting plaster up on on his betters walls for 20 years ended up owning his house outright and they didn’t?

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  65. Yeah Ross there just isnt ever enough time…need another three of me I reckon. One life just wont cover everything we want to do. For mine it doesn’t help that Im being a scrooge and saving every cent…oh well its not all bad I have planned some holidays this year. Gonna hit da the beach man ;) No clubs and music with little takkas in tow but. Just surf etc. hard work but. Might need another holiday to get over it :)

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  66. Lachlan, a little tackers first wave comes only once. Well after nearly being knocked over and nearly drowning and hating you forever anyway. In what seems like a blurry flash they’ll be joining environmental committees and hectoring you …

    Bear, no problems mate, a guy who is reading Medieval Foundations of the Western Intellectual Tradition 400-1400ad by Marcia L. Colish out of the series The Yale Intellectual History of the West, well he can’t complain too much about people thinking he’s a useless smartarse :) And Brian Cadd is another one … he was just playing recently at The Basement with Russell Morris on the same card too. Brian wrote Laying on Arkansas Grass, do you know if you tell an American that they start threatening to nuke you. Same as when they hear Johnny O’Keefe singing the Wild One and finding out he’s Australian.

    Ned, don’t mind Eric Bogle at all mate, I have an LP of his in the stack I think… and it’s The Long Tall Woman in the Black Dress for mine of the Hollies stuff.

    I just went 1 to 84 below the line for the senate … let the AEC suck on that!

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  67. Heres one for ya Ned. Thought this was rather creative. First saw this on another heretic web site (ZH) a few weeks back. Maybe you’ve seen it Ross. Love the way the Maiden guitar solo captures the increased bombing intensity at the end of the depiction.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCK8oSFFpgc

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  68. Ross, after a night of bliss on the vodka I reckon you’ve ranked drinking too low on your list of priorities mate !! ;)
    It has got to be better than sport :D

    bearamundi
    August 21, 2010
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  69. Lachlan, the great Neil Young – does it get any better? I saw a rip-off world map recently. Over Canada it had “Bears and crappy music”, and over Australia it had “racists”. Seem to remember “porn” over one country and “really bad porn” over Thailand I think….
    Neil, two of his kids have some difficult abnormality I remember, but he’s still married to the same woman. “The Old Laughing Lady” is a favourite. I’m a big fan of Emmylou Harris as well, similar to Neil in some ways, ie _sincere_.

    bearamundi
    August 21, 2010
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  70. Neil Young: “The Old Laughing Lady” is a favourite.”

    I’d thought it might have been: “Why Do I?”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7ZkQC0riwc
    Nah, just pressing your button, Bear… . Seriously, the lyrics pretty much sum up Young’s relationship issues with a number of great bands over the years.

    The ‘hymn’ “When God Made Me” may be the most controversial marching song of atheism or simply a list of questions to refocus Christianity. It’s right up there with ‘Imagine’ anyway… .

    Australia’s future: What we needed was some leadership.
    What the hell did we get… ? Will _any_ party ever be able to make a decision… and see it implemented… again? ;)

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  71. “…the Maiden guitar solo captures the increased bombing intensity…”

    Yes, it’s nice work, all right.

    Reminiscent of the B-52 bombing sequence in ‘Star Spangled Banner’ achieved by Hendrix back in the g.o.d. of original Strats-played-upside-down. :D

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  72. bear, bottle of shiraz, late chivas and water, cognac at the death. head hurts, no sport for me today …

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  73. “Will _any_ party ever be able to make a decision… and see it implemented… again?”:

    Given the quality of our leadership, that might be a good thing. Maybe we’ve reached the pinnacle of our ability to improve? And the punters have rightly and wisely said “Enough! Just stop fiddling with things for three years. Longer even if we like the result … We’ll let you know when we’ve seen how that works.” ;)

    Couldn’t have been the grog Ross – I reckon it was doing that 1 to 84 thing?

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  74. It would be great if the independents forced one of the parties to get rid of the tax rort of negative gearing to get their support hahahahaha

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  75. What music do you enjoy Steve – Or are you happy to just hear the screech of any old record that’s stuck in the same groove? :)

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  76. Comment by Ned S on 22 August 2010:

    What music do you enjoy Steve – Or are you happy to just hear the screech of any old record that’s stuck in the same groove? :)

    Don’t know about Steve.. me though, I can and do listen to everything from Abba to ZZ Top.. not to fond of the techno doof doof music that some of the younger ones play however will admit some of it is quite good too.

    Stillgotshoeson
    August 22, 2010
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  77. Yes, I like bagpipes and all sorts of strange stuff Shoes – How could anyone not be moved by hearing the lone piper play Amazing Grace on the battlements at the end of the Military Tattoo? – Although I’m sure lots aren’t!!! :) Then Tina Turner did a pretty decent job on that ‘Simply the Best’ thing. And ‘Up There Cazaly’ might be OK too if one actually knew where that Cazaly place was I guess? ;) Geez, I’m even a sucker for stuff like ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Mother Mary’! Definitely way easier to find a song that has something to recommend it than an investment perhaps? :)

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  78. Steve’s favourite lyrics? J.J. Cale’s “Mama Don’t Allow”; George Thorogood’s “The Houseman Blues”; and that classic from Madness, “Our House”.

    I’m afraid these are the Good Old Daze, Steven. In fifteen years or so, you’ll tell your kids about the bargains you could have picked up back in twenty-ten. If they believe you, they’ll kick yer butt for sleeping through the plateau…. . ;)

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  79. You are one BAD dude Biker! ;) – Which made me think of Creedence Clearwater’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’ for some reason??? :)

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  80. “You are one BAD dude Biker! ;) ”

    Well, my ma never thought so, Ned. Left home at 16 and put myself thru’ uni until I was forty. (Slow learner… !!~ :D )

    But I did have a lot of fun in Perth bands for a couple of decades. Still have some mint US Fenders from that period… and a couple of vintage valve amps.

    Some interesting stats from the N Y Times, here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/business/22invest.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

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  81. Yes Biker when they are paying 20 times their yearly income for a house,
    I will be sure to tell them just how good I had it when I was able to snap up a bargain and buy one for 10 times my yearly income

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  82. Lighten up Steve – Your Ma ‘n Pa are gunna die one day and leave you with their debts! :)

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  83. Happy days ahead … :) :) :)

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  84. Re that last link: Yes, you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time BUT! … As my ole Dad was wont to say hey Biker? :)

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