Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Banning plastic bags? Just stupid!!!

It's been announced that Tasmania in joining South Australia and the ACT in banning the sale of the supremely useful plastic bag. I thought Queensland were planning on the ridiculous ban as well, but maybe they had an attack of common sense.

So what effect does the banning of plastic bags have?  Well, in South Australia, they banned them some years ago.  On our last trip, I noticed they seemed to have a lot more blowflies than they used to - they're almost an endangered species in NSW and Victoria, and I think largely because almost all rubbish is in plastic bags, making it too difficult for them to find places to breed.

What environmental benefits does the ban have?  (Aside from encouraging rats and flies.) 

They used to say that plastic bags last 10,000 years or some such nonsense. These days, a plastic bag is lucky to see three uses before falling to bits.  I bought one from Target once, a nice big one, but it dissolved into a million tiny pieces before it could be re-used even once. Useless!

So what are their uses and how much will we miss them? 

1. To line the kitchen bin.  So instead of tipping a mess of filth into a bigger bin and then having to scrub a smelly bin, now we tie off the top, sealing inside the smells and the wettish things, (like chop bones) and dump it in the bigger outside bin.

2. Been swimming? Use a plastic bag to keep the wet swimmers from making everything else wet.

3. Have a dog?  Make sure and take a crumpled plastic bag in your pocket. It takes very little space, and if you need to, you have something to pick up your dog's droppings. A plastic bag is impervious, and you can get rid of it at the next convenient spot. You don't even have to worry about getting your fingers dirty if you take care.

4. For your lunch. Sandwiches go stale when wrapped in paper (no matter what some will pretend.) They stay fresh much longer in a sealed plastic bag.

5. At the beach?  Keep a plastic bag in your pocket in case you see shells that you want to keep.  This applies to all sorts of other things - a plastic bag has the property of folding up small and being there when needed.

6. Doing the washing?  Kids been playing in the mud?  Use a plastic bag to keep dirty, wet things from contaminating the whole wash. 

7. Ants around?  Seal off the leftover crust with honey in a plastic bag, otherwise the ants will find it for sure.

8. Would you like to take some fresh flowers to someone?  Yes, the obvious thing. A plastic bag will keep them in a moist environment so they won't wilt before you get there.

9. Propagating flowers?  Put your cutting in the soil, a few sticks around and a plastic bag over.  (Though a cut-down plastic bottle is more convenient.)

There are numerous other uses. I'm sure you can think of a few yourself. Here are just two more for your consideration.

The most interesting use - It was in a book called 'Vector' by Robin Cook. (good book)
The character used 'impermeable plastic bags' to safely hold the Anthrax spores. 

The most important use, and the one that most definitely benefits the environment.  Note that I said 'benefits.'   Young women's used sanitary pads, old people's used incontinence pants, used baby-wipes and baby nappies, the gross end-product after someone has cleaned their abscessed wound...
We need plastic bags. These things are not suitable to just toss in with the other rubbish. And those hopeful people who say we should simply use newspaper?  Have they never noticed that newspapers get wet and soggy and then fall to bits? 

Plastic bags are supremely useful.  It is just stupid to ban them.

 I cannot actually remember why plastic bags have become the scapegoat for all sorts of environmental problems.  They are an infinitesimal part of the harm that people do, and play a substantial part in minimising the harm that people do.

No.  If  you are concerned for the environment, have two children instead of three, one instead of two, and vey definitely, four instead of fourteen (but preferably two.)  

Over-population is the root cause of almost every environmental problem we have.  It is over-population we need to tackle, not the humble and supremely useful plastic bag.

Just too many people,
not too many plastic bags.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Remember the hole in the Ozone Layer?

We don't hear about it any more.  Why?  I do not remember ever being told that it was a flawed theory, or that the scientists were wrong.  It just quietly dropped out of the news.

When I went looking, I found this very credible article:

Go to:

and please do read it. It is informative.    

Remember the scare in the 70s?  There was to be a new ice age.

This is New Zealand, not a new Ice Age.

Here is a reference:


But never has a climate theory gained the status of a religion as the theory of man-made global warming seems to have done.  Those of us who've seen other doomsday scenarios come and go are reasonably sceptical.  So we are called 'Deniers',  almost as if some fanatical religion had labelled us heretics to be burnt at the stake.

They keep telling us 'The Science' is settled.  But numerous scientists do not agree with the theory.  Numerous scientists may not agree, but have learned that to keep their funding for their work, it is best to keep their mouths shut. 

Politicians dare not say that they are sceptical, in case it leads to loss of votes. 

It is taught in schools - not just that the climate is getting warmer, but that the cause is human activity.  Our own children think us ignorant if we disagree, because, naturally, what the teacher says must be right.

For myself, I have always doubted that human activity could be a cause.  I think the idea comes from the same sort of thinking that places earth at the centre of the universe - purest conceit.

The climate could be changing.  Why not?  It has changed many, many times in the past and will in the future.  Ocean levels have risen and fallen.  It is nothing new.

Be sceptical. We are always being told that something is  'scientifically proven'  and later turns out to be quite incorrect.  But usually, one has to go looking to find out exactly what did happen to that 'scientific proven fact', as each time, the information simply stops being put in front of us.

And just incidentally, there has been no overall warming in the last fifteen years - in spite of the apparent heat shimmer of the picture to the left.

(I just like using pretty pictures.) 



By M. A. McRae,  author of the Shuki Series
and the Penwinnard Stories.

 My books can be found on most online booksellers:


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Aged fifty+? There's a conspiracy against you.

Are you aged fifty or over?  Baby boomer or older?

Do you think you have more trouble than younger people grasping all the new technology?

Have you humbly asked a young person for help, accepting the not-quite-concealed sneer as if you maybe deserve it?

Well, you are not inferior  and certainly not dim. 

Older people have trouble with the new technology because it is designed to exclude them.  Deliberately?  I'm not quite sure.

But look at my new Android tablet.  Just a small black rectangle with a screen. If you peer through your glasses, you find a few irregularities on the side.  No nice clear on/off switch, of course. But if you press for several seconds on a particular portion (that you can't quite see, mind you)  something starts to happen.  And even that delay in response is a potential problem.  Machines are meant to respond instantly, not after several seconds during which time the potential user of the technology has already pressed hard on several other areas of the edge and maybe the screen, trying to make the damn thing do something.

So why have on/off switches become tiny and usually coloured black on black?  Why is nothing labelled on and off,  but in code instead?   Its effect is that sharp-eyed young people (as we all were once)  can see it, and highly intelligent, sophisticated and knowledgeable people are humbled. The designers of these things are young - look at the sort of words they use - they scream juvenile. Google, Yahoo.  Even sillier ones that I can't think of right now.  And 'blog.'  I dislike that word; it is ugly on the ear.  But a young person chose it and now we are stuck with it.

Things are 'intuitive' these days.  Myself, I prefer logic.  I have a washing machine, maybe 10 years old.  It is called 'Fuzzy Logic.'  There is a lot that is fuzzy in the way it performs, but I have yet to find much that is logical.

The VCR that only the kids could work. Maybe because it's on the floor and older knees won't bend so easily to see the miniscule controls.  But only older people have VCRs any more - we are not so quick to throw things away when they still work. The DVD, again with all the tiny symbols black on black - or if you're lucky 'off-black'  for contrast.  Mobile phones.  You just cannot buy a mobile phone that's easy to work. Instead, they'd rather charge a fortune for a gadget that has a multitude of things that are not wanted.

We are older people, fifty and over.  Our hair has gone grey.  If we were gorillas, we'd be 'silverbacks,' respected for our maturity.

Instead, the world likes to denigrate us.

But be proud. Probably all of those grey-haired people in the picture opposite do use computers, most will use smart-phones and a lot will even use tablets and androids and Kindles. 

They may have tried to exclude us from the new technology that surrounds us,

but they have not succeeded.

This silver-back is writing a blog, has manipulated a picture to make it more interesting, and once I've finished here, I'll check,  (online, of course,)  to see how my book sales are going.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Surveys say... Really? Because I don't think so!

Do you question it when some solemn TV presenter proclaims 'surveys say' ?

 Because you should.  More and more nonsense is told to us as fact.  Some even say that the public need to be 'educated,' though very often, what causes this statement is that for once, some of  'the public' are not falling for the latest fashion in pure nonsense.

Try these:

A charity – a million Australians come to us for help every year? 

Yes?  1/20th of the population?    No way, though certainly 2% of the population might go to them for help 10 times in a year.

Blood Bank:  1 in 3 Australians will have a life-saving blood transfusion in their life-times. 
Bunkum.  And just a couple of days later, it was rephrased to: 1 in 3 Australians 'depend on life-saving transfusions.'  
So do around 7 million Australian need regular transfusions to maintain life?  Of course, we don't.  Maybe 1 in 20 will need a litre or two of blood once or twice in a lifetime when we have an operation or accident. A very few of those will need more.  Plus there are a very few people who do need regular transfusions for some condition or other.
Blood donations are needed, but there is no need for lies to get people to give blood.

Cancer:  20% of the populations will get cancer, and 50% of those will die from it.
10% of us do not die from cancer, yet this ridiculous statement was made as fact in a news bulletin.

'One teenager in every classroom has a gambling problem.'

Well, I'd bet my life that they don't!  

The Red Cross with their door-knock appeal - 'One in five children go to school hungry.'

Well, one in five children might be tempted by an extra hot breakfast if offered, but that does not mean that their parents are not providing breakfast.

It is odd that the chief culprits broadcasting these lies are charities, and other 'do-good' agencies.
'Awareness-raising' for every disease under the sun is a prime culprit, so much so that I think it is more to do with empire-building than anything else.

Of course, if you twist definitions enough, you can come up with unexpected statistics.  But then  it's just as easy to make up your own  'statistics.'  If you're a charity, especially, no-one is likely to call you on it.

Well, I am!  Charity or not, doing good or not,  do not tell us lies.

And people, for goodness sake, think about what you are told. Do not unthinkingly accept an untruth just because the liar is a charity or someone purporting to be a medical authority. 

Want more common sense?  See my related post about reining in the health police,  January, 2013.

My books can be found at:

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sharon Robards, 'A Woman Transported.'

Sharon writes:

I met Marj on a writing site a few years ago, and a couple of days ago we sent back and forth a few emails about writing something for each other's blog. I thought oh, dear, why is it so hard sometimes to write? I think it’s that putting yourself out there that I find intimidating. When I first starting writing I was nine, and I always thought and loved the idea that writers were anonymous and mysterious. I felt comfortable with that thought. I was terribly shy back then.
But the world has changed greatly, so here I am, writing something about my book and me.
The seeds of A Woman Transported were planted many years ago when I was eighteen. I fell in love, but not with one man, but two. The story of Willow Creek was born, set in Campbelltown, 30 miles west of Sydney in 1816. Although I never dated both men at the same time, for a two-year period, I didn’t know what I wanted and was hopelessly torn between the two. Willow Creek was a story about a woman caught between the love of two men. I resolved the issue of those two men in my life, by marrying the wrong man and leaving him ten months later.
But Willow Creek became a labour of love over the next sixteen years because I couldn’t decide how to end it, who my heroine was meant to be with.
Then I met my current husband, and the hero in Willow Creek never got the girl. I then married again at thirty, our daughter was born, and I never wrote for about eight years.
We relocated to where we live now, and I started writing again.
Then one day I thought about that old story still sitting in a drawer. Sent it off to a couple of agents, was rejected, then decided to take a real good look at it. I was a little surprised no one loved it. I joined a writing forum and soon realised exactly what was wrong with it. I was writing as they did at the turn of the century and I was an untrained writer, had forgotten much of what I was taught about grammar and punctuation. So began a large learning curve to understand how I might improve as a writer.
During that time I considered rewriting Willow Creek, but it needed so much work it couldn’t have possibly stayed the same story. So I went away and wrote other things, never attempted to get anything published, then when my grandmother passed away I wrote Australian Flavour – Traditional Australian Cuisine, a compilation of old Australian recipes.
Not long after that, I imagined a wealthy English woman travelling in a carriage through the Australian bush on her way to somewhere. I knew what her name was straight off the bat. Isabel. But I wondered where she was going and I thought, oh, she’s on the way to give my hero out of Willow Creek a happy ending. She’s on her way to Willow creek, and this time he might get the girl.
When I started to delve into who Isabel was, where she came from, I discovered she had a past, not a pretty one, and she was not who she appeared to be. What developed then was the story of Light & Shadows, which would become A Woman Transported, set in 1814 in the grimy streets and slums of St Giles in London. I had found out who Isabel was, and I couldn’t help wonder if she was ever going to get to Willow Creek.
 For the next two years, I wrote A Woman Transported. Then spent another couple of years before I arrived at my final draft, the result nothing like I originally anticipated. I had set out to write a fully fledged romance, but Isabel had a mind of her own. The story turned into one with strong romantic elements at moments, a woman living in a man's world with few choices and a bucket load of flaws, but overall I like to think it’s about the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.
 Released in April 24th 2013, it became an Amazon Top 100 bestseller for Historical Fiction in July this year.

Typical reviews for 'A Woman Transported.'

 I love it I couldn't put the book down. A lot of Australian history that I didn't realised happen back then
Always enjoy books about our ancestors, and this one did not disappoint. Hard to believe that the British soldiers and their Officers could treat people like they did.

 The first chapter:  Read it and you will want to read it all.


 Sydney Town, November 1803
ELIZABETH McGUIRE swallowed bile and fought another retch. She squinted, blinded by the day’s brightness. She thought no painter’s palette could capture such brilliance of light reflecting off the ocean or the smirks on the faces of convicts and free standing in the crowds.
Susanna’s arm gripped her around the waist. “Elizabeth, you need to calm down. Take deep breaths. This won’t do you nor Joshua any good. Think about your baby also.”
“How could they send us from a pit of coldness to this place?” Elizabeth leaned against Susanna’s hip. “How can they do this to me boy?”
Sixteen-year-old Joshua, stripped to the waist, stood arms tied to embrace a tree.  Elizabeth glowered at Captain Marcus Linton standing beside the tree, the brass buckles and buttons on his red coat gleaming in the sunlight.
“Marcus should be tied like an animal.”
“You must stay silent,” Susanna said.
“Flaming hell, I will.” Elizabeth flipped her red hair off her shoulders and shoved her way toward Joshua, squeezing between the mostly barefooted crowds, causing some to lose their straw hats.
Reverend Marsden, his beady eyes surrounded by blubber cheeks, stood in front of the crowd, flanked by soldiers. “No need to go any further,” the Reverend said.
“You dare call yourself a man of the Lord. The fires of Hell will engulf you long before any of us. Let me go.”
Two soldiers grabbed her arms. “That’s near enough.”
“You let him loose,” Elizabeth said. “You have no evidence for what you’ve accused him of.”
Marcus stepped toward her, hands on hips, his black curls tied behind his head in a queue. The ribbon holding his hair fluttered in the breeze. Loathing and scorn covered his face. “You’re a convict felon, a prisoner of the Crown. Keep your mouth shut.” He leaned his face close to hers and lowered his voice. “I can ensure the lash rips out your son’s heart and it’s fed to the birds and his flesh to the pigs. If your son tells us where the other pikes are hidden, we’ll let him go.”
Elizabeth shrugged an arm free and wiped her sleeve across her forehead to remove the sweat. “He can’t tell you something he doesn’t know.”
“Mother, say no more,” Joshua shouted.
Marcus glared at her. “You should listen to your son.”
She trembled and lowered her head, and every muscle in her jaw hardened. May God have no mercy on you. I won’t hesitate to slit your neck the first opportunity I get.
Marcus stepped in front of Joshua, cleared his throat and faced the crowd. “Any further whisper of rebellion against the British government will ensure that conspirators will feel the noose cut off all this world has to offer.” He pointed to a young man at the front of the crowd. “Seamus O’Callaghan, step forward.”
“I beg of you, for the love of Mary, I can’t do it.”
“You’ll take the cat o’ nine tails and do it, or you’ll be shot and we’ll find someone else to take your place.”
The soldiers standing around the crowd raised their muskets at Seamus. He lowered his head and stepped forward. A soldier standing near the buckets beside the tree handed him a whip made of nine pieces of cord, each knotted at intervals and ending in a bead of lead bulbs.
Seamus raised the cat above his head and hesitated. “You can’t kill us all.”
“Put your fingers through the lash and bloody strike,” Marcus shouted.
“Pray, I beg of you.” Elizabeth struggled against the guards’ grip on her arms. “Joshua doesn’t know where any pikes are hidden.”
Marcus pointed at Seamus. “The muskets are aimed to fire.”
“Shoot me,” Seamus said.
“If we have to we’ll shoot every one of you disobedient fools.” Marcus smirked and fixed his gaze on Seamus’s wife, Susanna, who stood behind their young son. “Fling the lash or you’ll ensure your whore is left alone in this land of desperate men and your son is placed in the orphanage.”
“Flog the Irish devils,” a man shouted. “They’d be as guilty as each other.”
“Shut your mouth,” Elizabeth screamed.
The darkest fear shaded Susanna’s face. “To the back of the people, go Jeremy.” She pushed her son into the solemn crowd behind her, while the crowd on the other side jeered. Her voice wavered while she pleaded with Seamus, “It’s better to be a coward for a minute than dead the rest of your life.”
Seamus paled, stared at Joshua, and raised the cat. “May the angels protect you.”
The cat whistled toward Joshua’s white back and with the first strike, it was as if lightning struck Elizabeth and an inferno tore through her body. Great scarlet lumps arose and spread on Joshua’s flesh the same instant. The muscles in his arms quivered, his shoulders slumped against the tree, and he gasped between strikes, holding in his pain.
Elizabeth sagged in the soldiers’ arms. She stared at the trees unable to bear the sight of her flesh and blood, her heart, suffering.
A low and distinctive hiccupping chuckle came from a tree. An adult brown and white kookaburra perched on a branch, threw back its head and broke out in raucous, mocking laughter, as if the scenes below were the most humorous sight. Instantaneously, hundreds of birds joined the crowd in a laughing chorus.
“Hold her up,” Marcus barked. “Make sure she watches each lash strike.”
Seamus raised the cat, flung it forward, and looked away. The cat’s tails struck Joshua again. A new stream of bloody welts appeared, glistering against the white of her son’s back. The grip on Elizabeth’s arms tightened.
The cat struck again and again, taking her son apart piece by piece. Flesh and skin flew off the cat and into her face. Sickly lumps caught in her throat and she convulsed, spewing until she couldn’t anymore. “I beg of you,” she gasped, “stop before you kill him.”
She closed her eyes, each strike sounding like it struck raw beef, while half the crowd laughed.
Then the doctor called out. “Halt! Pull down his breeches. The next hits on his buttocks.” The whip cracked again and again. “Now on his thighs.”
When the final count stopped at fifty, she dared not open her eyes. The birds no longer laughed. He’s dead. Elizabeth took several deep breaths. A quivering mesh of blood and skin covered Joshua’s back. Two soldiers raised buckets and threw salt water over Joshua’s back, prompting the most horrendous scream.
Elizabeth tried to struggle away from the soldiers. “Let me go to him, for mercy’s sake.”
“Release her, but shoot her if she goes to him,” Marcus said. “He’ll be taken to the hospital, then placed in irons.”
Seamus threw the dripping cat on the ground and stepped toward the silent side of the crowd and into Susanna’s arms.
The grip on Elizabeth’s arms released. She wiped her tears on the sleeve of her dress.
“Untie him.” Marcus stepped toward her. “If he finds trouble again, it will be the noose, and I’ll ensure you watch every second of your son choke to death in chains.”
She spat in his face. “To hell with you, this land and everything in it.”
Do you need to know what happens next?
 Then you need to buy the book.  It is available on most online book-selling sites, including these:  
This blog post provided by:

And unlike Sharon, I seldom tell anyone much about myself at all.  I write good books though, so if you  want, look for my books on online book-sellers such as Amazon and Smashwords.