Wearing bicycle helmets increases injuries.

December 2, 2016
Helvi in Amsterdam

Helvi in Amsterdam

It seems a contradiction. But according to some reading, The Netherlands, where just about everyone rides a bicycle, those injured in bicycle accidents are most likely to be those wearing helmets. Surely, when a Dutch head hits the ground it is equally painful? Is the head of a Dutch non helmet-wearer harder? Of course not. However, what the investigators found is that the few that do wear helmets in Holland (less than -.5%) it is because they ride mountain bikes or racing bikes. In other words they engage in some form of competitive bicycle riding, which normal bicycle riders don’t. In Holland the danger to bicycle riders is the motor car not the cycling. This is why both are separated as much as possible.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-02/nsw-govt-backpedals-on-laws-to-force-cyclists-to-carry-id/8086514

I am sorry for giving you this link. (Just be happy I did not publish the full text!) Here in Australia, the issue of bicycling is truly and well in the hands of sport and fashion. The fact the Government is even thinking of imposing identity on bicycle riders seems to indicate that riding bicycles is seen as dangerous enough in case of accidents. And, they are right. It is dangerous because riding bicycles is much more seen as a sport instead as a way to getting from A-B. The way the rider dresses up. Hours are spent to get into artery-tight lycra. I bet the sperm counts count are drastically lower in male bicycle riders, and I am not even a doctor. The shoes alone costs hundreds and have to be multi ribbed for speed and brightly coloured. If the fashion is not expensive enough, has anyone looked at the cost of those bicycles? You can spend thousands.

Most bicycles in Australia are also highly dangerous. They fall mainly in racing bicycles genre.  They are supposed to be ridden with head lower than bum, facing the ground. How dangerous is that? They have very thin tyres. When those tyres are slightly underinflated it doesn’t take much for the steel rim to connect to the road and the inevitable tumble of the rider. Then, we have here, like in America a very aggressive car-riding population. They think nothing of tooting their horn making sure the bicycle rider understands it is the car drivers’ domain. There have been jailing of drivers who were shown to deliberately drive in to bicycle riders.

In Holland it is proven that the car driver is the one who ought to wear helmets. Far more people get head injuries driving cars than riding bicycles.

Here a copy from WWW. “Tree huggers.”

“It’s also Dutch policy not to encourage helmets because overall it is counterproductive; if you could somehow preserve the bicycle use we see today AND also wear helmets, yes, a few deaths would be avoided. But in practice you can’t promote helmets without discouraging cycling – where helmets have been made mandatory, cycling levels drop. That has a public health cost — lack of exercise is far more dangerous than biking without a helmet. The exact value of “far more dangerous” depends on the local risk of cycling – in England the estimate is that per cyclist the risk:reward ratio is about 1:10; here in the US (with our riskier roads) it is about 1:5, but in the Netherlands it is 1:25. That is, for each year of life lost to bicycle crashes in the Netherlands, 25 years are gained from better health because of the exercise.”

WWW.Treehuggers;

“You’re talking about the Netherlands, where helmet use is almost non-existent, bike use is very high, and yet it has the lowest cycling death and injury rate in the world.
If helmets really were effective, the USA would be the safest place to cycle, right?…

the Dutch don’t need bike helmets because cycling is not an intrinsically dangerous activity – it’s the road environment that is dangerous, and the Dutch have created a safe cycling environment.

The majority of head injuries are sustained by car occupants. Perhaps it is motor vehicle drivers and their passengers who should be wearing helmets?

Similarly, from dr2chase:

Because it doesn’t make sense — cycling there is 5 times safer than cycling here in the US. It would make more sense (that is, the risk is higher) to ask you why you don’t wear a helmet when you drive your car. To put it differently – your risk of head injury per trip or per hour is higher if you drive a car in the US, than if you ride a bike in the Netherlands.”

Protesters stand firm on Nauru and Manus refugees cruelty.

November 30, 2016
Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-01/politics-live-december-1/8081808

Politics live: Protesters target Parliament House for second day, abseil down front

By political reporter Stephanie Anderson

Related Story: Question Time protesters should be punished, MP says

Map: Australia

Protesters have again breached security at Parliament House, abseiling down the front of the building to unfurl a banner.

It comes a day after Question Time in the House of Representatives was interrupted by a group rallying against Australia’s offshore detention centres

The need to get drunk in Australia.

November 29, 2016

7659422-3x2-340x227Child detention

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-30/amsterdam’s-‘night-mayor’-criticises-sydney’s-lockout-laws/8074570

Why does it seem so necessary to get pissed so often in Australia? Is life so boring?
And why do politicians feel that closing down venues or restricting alcohol venues will cure a societal problem?

Why do we keep thinking that punishment is the answer? Is Australia not all that it’s cracked up to be? Do we really think that treating young people, as in the above photo is an answer?

So many questions, but at least this night-mayor of Amsterdam seems to give one reasonable answer.

Going to Pedro Almodóvar. Julieta

November 29, 2016

Pedro Almodóvar’s movies are always as good as taking a holiday. It revives the spirit. One leaves the cinema elated. What Hitchcock was for thrillers, Pedro is for passion and guilt. Julieta is again a film where familiar territory is sought by Pedro Almodóvar. The story is mainly filmed in glorious Madrid. A city for which the movie camera seemed to have been invented. It is not for nothing that even the New York City’s Woody Allen has filmed in Spain if not France as well. The lack of hoardings and ugly signage a bonus on its own.

From the very opening till the last I was taken. With padding the years on, I did not think I still had it ‘to be taken’ Cynicism seeks friendships in the old, and it can creep in. But, there you go. It is never too late. The poetry of images in this film doesn’t let up. The story of relationships, family and children and its insane pain and unavoidable losses along life’s wanderings is searing up front. But,it is the way the envelope of this film slowly opens its contents, that makes this film a work of art. Of course, the architecture of Madrid and all things Spanish, gives it the background. Without this it would just not work the same way.

The story involves a daughter deciding not to contact her mother again for many years. Grief stricken, the ageing mother comes to grips with this terrible loss. She seeks answers and as they begin to reveal themselves, she starts to understand the subtleties of where and how children grow up, move away. It is when the daughter too experiences a terrible loss, she seeks and understands the cruelty. Even loving people are capable of causing so much pain on each other. Why is that so?

A great movie.

Fire, fire…

November 27, 2016

 

IMG_0618home

Just when I thought to take a break, we had a big fire in our small town. As we left to go shopping a huge black billowing sky-high tower of smoke was churning upwards. It was darkening the sun and moving rapidly towards us. Helvi thought we should not venture out. ‘It scares me’, she said.

Smoke and fire are to me what for others might be shopping or leafing through fashion magazines. I don’t want to cast aspersions onto the differences between the many sexes. The burning down of someone’s property and taking a delight into this plight can hardly be seen as an endearing quality or an enlightening embodiment of sensitivity. The taking pleasure in shopping or interest in fashion surely has a more noble aspect. No matter what indeterminate sex choses one such delight over the other. ( one has to be careful not to fall into the trap of just referring to male or female only)

If I suffer condemnation for seeking out and watching fires, so be it. It is all too late to change now. ‘I want to look at this fire,’ I announced to my wife. ‘Well, leave me home, I am scared,’ she said firmly. Firmly is what she is all about. In the meantime there were sirens and flashing police-cars adding to my now unstoppable curiosity about the fire. This black smoke, ‘It must be a large rubber depot or something,’ I surmised with an air of an incendiary expert. By now lots of kids were rushing by, mainly boys with some smaller children being accompanied by anxious looking mothers. You could tell the mother’s hearts were not really into the spirit of fire-watching.

By now the smoke was in such fury it formed and looked like a mini tornado. It was too late for me to drop Helvi back. With total selfishness and abandonment of common-sense I drove towards were I thought the fire was. I remembered a tyre outlet at the back of Aldi’s supermarket. We were on our way to Aldi anyway. I thought to combine both. Buy salmon cutlets and watch a good fire.

However, here is where it all came to nothing. The roads towards the fire had been blocked, and police were diverting traffic well away from this great fire. The only way would be to park the car and walk. But, so many cars had already done the same. Parking anywhere near the fire was already taken by those who wanted front-stall position. ‘Why don’t you have a look tomorrow, Helvi offered kindly?’ ‘I am sure the firemen don’t want the public hindering their work.’ ‘I am scared and want to go home, she said again. ‘Perhaps you can watch it on television,’ she added.

The fire turned out to be this tyre outlet. I drove by this morning. The firemen were still raking through the remnants of this building. Aldi survived and I managed to get the salmon cutlets just now.

Pity, I missed out on watching it.

Communion with a Frog.

November 22, 2016
IMG_0688

Milo at peace with the world

 

The event of my friendship with a stingray following me in the water along a stretch of beach at Bendalong was perplexing enough, but yesterday we had a frog visiting us inside our home. How often would a frog end up inside our homes? It would have to be a deliberate choice; surely?

It happened during last evening’s TV hour of Rick Stein’s ‘Venice and Food.’ He seems to be joining several TV cooks combining culture and food, or at least linking food having its origins in making do with whatever was available at earlier less affluent times . Good food is the result of poverty more than wealth. Herbs were added to basic ingredients to make tasty and often nutritious food by peasants. Of course, at least in Venice, the peasants have disappeared or are rich. The real peasants have morphed into hordes of belching tourists.

Last night’s Rick Stein’s tour along Venice’s Grand canals were interspersed with sea-food risottos or pastas dished on mouth-watering steaming plates, all so colourful, with just the right amount of a verdant green sprinkle of parsley, with Venetian sienna accented intonations by a smiling waitress.

When everything was steaming along on TV, I noticed Milo, our much revered Jack-Russell Terrier, carrying something around in his mouth. As it was dark outside I did not think it would be a lizard. During daytime hours, one of the less social acceptable amusements is Milo chasing lizards and performing amputations of their tails. He is totally flabbergasted that there are now two wriggling beings instead of just the previous single one. We don’t encourage him.

I told Milo to drop his pray. He did instantly. On close inspection I thought it might be a young bird. It kept moving about. I lost sight of it in the semi-darkness of our lounge room. We usually spent evenings in subdued lighting. Milo though, all excited, wasn’t about to loose his pray and directed me to this missing little animal hopping about. It had now jumped into our bedroom. I looked and discovered it was a fairly large frog. I tried putting a dish-washer cloth over it. It jumped away before the cloth hit the floor. It had jumped into the bathroom. Perhaps it needed water?

I managed to find it again underneath a rack of towels. This time I covered the frog with a wet towel. I told Helvi about the frog, but she did not seem interested, and kept looking at Venice and listening to Rick Stein’s cooking commentary on the telly. I duly and with some magnanimity carried (proudly) the frog to the other side of the house and to the safety of a tangled Jasmin bush. During the last few years  this jasmin managed to scramble over the paling fence shared by our neighbour. It was also near an outside light which had a crowd of insects buzzing about. I hoped this frog would find a nice morsel as well. It should not just be the domain of Rick Stein. I then took it a small saucer of water.

After the show was over, I urged Helvi to take a look outside at the frog. It was still there and looked happy. As far as it is possible to detect happiness in a frog.

Good boy, Milo. Good boy, for not pulling the tail off a friendly frog.

I shall not hear the Nightingale. Sing on as if in pain.

November 21, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

These words are part of a poem by Christina Rossetti. Last night’s effort in resisting Alzheimer or dementia, was an exercise in trying to remember the last few lines of her beautiful poem. It was harder than I thought. Why try it in the first place? It could well be this looming Christmas whereby I resort to contemplating what might be next in store. Close to another year having dropped its autumn leaves. Another ring around this aging trunk. Of course, here in the Southern world, it is the wilting of spring flowers that heralds the end of the year. A hot Christmas might well be in the offering. The Bogong moths are already trooping, getting ready for their annual migration to the much cooler Snowy mountains.

This photo from Google images.

 

Our first Christmas celebration in Australia was astonishing. I still remember that smell of beer and ripe prawns. The mid-night Mass with the congregation wearing shorts and rubber thongs. The Bogong moths swirling dangerously above my head, yet most people ignored them. The priest himself pleasantly full of the higher spirit that included pre-mass long necked lagers and brown hearty ale.

The moths were tame and just seeking each other out to form a swarm. When large enough a group would get ready for their long journey of hundreds of kilometres. Nature is so amazingly ordered and logical. In earlier times, the aboriginals, the original owners of this land used to feast themselves to a kingdom as well on these fat moths.

Another memory stuck through all those years, and probably getting richer as time passes, was a particular wedding that we went to. Again it was during summer heat. The venue was a golf course club house. A magnificent affair. The bride looked radiant, the groom suitably flustered and suited. The food all spread out on tables and fine linen. Prawns and salads, mignon steak and spinach sauté, flowing Chardonnay well oaked. As it was during those long gone years.

But then the Bogongs joined the party. Hundreds if not thousands of them. All swirling around. The overhead fans offering so treacherously the cooler air they craved for. The fans also slaughtered them. Those poor Bogongs now falling down in a spray of grey, gently landing on the food below as marital dust. No matter, the party was well on its way. Speeches were made and music flared up in between it all. The beverages had worked its magic. It was a great wedding. She was Croatian and he Australian from English background. They are still together as far as we know. A rare event, nowadays. They even had twin boys.

But here is the poem;  Christina Rossetti.

Those Shadows.

I shall not see the shadows.
I shall not feel the rain
I shall not hear the Nightingale.
Sing on as if in pain
And dreaming through the twilight
that doth not rise nor set.
Hapley I may remember
And hapley may forget.

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470095148&sr=8-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

The art of being ‘easy going’ is understood by male kangaroo.

November 16, 2016
The old boy at rest.

The old boy at rest.

We noticed the familiar sight of kangaroo droppings walking around the bush on our way to the beach. They are shaped almost square. The wombat’s dropping too are square shaped. It makes one wonder. Nature is so surprising. I doubt they have square shaped bums but the question does crop up. Both animals are vegetarians so there is nothing unappetising about the droppings of those Australian native animals.

We have different habits of observation. While Helvi scans the tree tops or heavens, my sight is mainly downwards. It often matches my mood. Hence the discovery of animal droppings, if nothing else. In cities it has paid off handsomely by finding money, mainly coins. One of my grandsons has the same gene.

When around six years old or so, Max used to crawl on shop floors to look underneath soft drink or chocolate and chips automat dispensers finding money to supplement his pocket money. I encouraged him as much as possible. He has now progressed in buying bulk six packs of small soft drink cans from Aldi and selling them each at his school at a hundred percent profit. The only draw-back is that his schoolbag is now loaded by soft drinks more than schoolbooks.

As we wandered through this lovely Bendalong national park I nearly stumbled on this large kangaroo. His colouring was so in tune with the surroundings. A perfect camouflage between beast and bush. As you can see, he is large. Like the lorikeets, he seemed at ease with humans. He did not jump up and make a run for it. Kangaroos are normally very alert to humans and leave us well alone. Good reason too. Many a kangaroo has met his end by men fired bullets. The news must have got around that people here are nature bound. Hence the relaxed pose by this huge male kangaroo. One almost expect him to light up a ciggie or perhaps read a good Tolstoy,(Anna Karenina, Book one.)

Another reason for this relaxed pose was the presence of a mob of smaller females a bit further on. A couple of females had the feet of gangly joeys sticking out of their pouches. They were his wives. It is not easy to become a good husband to kangaroos. Males put up fearful fights with other males to win the honour of gaining the love and attention of females. He had obviously won this battle, been very busy, and was now simply having a restorative post-coital nap in the shade of the eucalypts.

It is not easy for males.

The birds understand.

November 15, 2016
Birds always understand

Birds always understand

The cabin that we escaped to was even better than expectations. It was tucked between ocean and bush with a mostly deserted beach in between. It had a very large and wide veranda decked by timber slats and covered overhead by a high cathedral shaped corrugated roof. The ideal retreat from US political turmoil and the night-mare of a Trump-led future. The image of him swaggering around the US, lunging at genitalia, building walls, exporting millions of Mexicans and Muslims became unbearable. We had to go away.

We had just unpacked the car and put milk and the lamb-curry in the fridge, when the first of the birds arrived. You could tell they expected something from us. They looked at us and insisted on making beady-eyed contact. Bird’s eyes are often beady and rather penetrating. When still living in Holland’s The Hague, I kept many pigeons on the veranda two stories up. I started communion with birds rather early.

It is always a good move to try and befriend birds by offerings of food. I broke open a packet of Aldi’s almond meal and marzipan little boat shaped cakes. It is one reason we made a last minute shop to Aldi. It is about the only sweet we sometimes allow to arrive inside our home. Both of us are not fond of sweets. I am much more of a herring man and H.is very keen on any food related to anchovies. We had rented cabins before and then as now, we had taken this marzipan-almond little tarts as a special treat. An Oosterman treat really.

The two coloured birds were getting excited. This is true, but only as far as it is possible to detect excitement in birds. They now moved their eyes to the almond cakes. I broke some off and put it on the railing just a metre or so from the chair. Well, it hit the right note. They immediately gave notice through the tangled jungle. ( in their own language) and all of a sudden all their mates arrived. They share, you see. No building walls, and birds don’t spread discontent or fear.

Just now I remember feeding seagulls in The Hague. A lake opposite, and around the Royal  Palace  was keenly visited by seagulls. All you had to do was to hold a piece of bread, and a friendly seagull in full flight would swoop by and take it from your hand.

A great memory.

The Sting is in the Tail.

November 12, 2016
Stingray

Stingray

The week was difficult enough without the US election. The only light was that the shivers down my spine proved right. Calamitous is a word that got much used. We decided to do a practise run and booked a cabin all secluded. We are fully expecting the possibilities, that once again, town-hall sirens will blare and warn the people of an impending disaster.
People will be urged to seek shelter and safety from the coming of carnage. Again the running and shouting of people on the streets. The thuds of boots finding home on falling bodies

It wasn’t just the Trump tragedy but also Leonard Cohen passing. To mention both in one breath is a bit of an insult to Cohen. Like comparing acrid acid with the tasting of the finest of first-press olive oil. But Cohen is at peace and we are still here!

The three lily- white blondie livery daughters of Trump are primed to fill important roles and he is backing down from undoing Obamacare. His mascara has come off and paleness replaced brashness and red-necked bully-boy. The markets are going wild and gyrating madly opposite of all expectations. The biggest rally for years. All topsy-turvy. Yet, Hillary Clinton all pale and sad. What has America done? Protests on the streets. Cars are burning. People shouting. Contorted faces. Rage is rising.

Our cabin was just a short down-hill clamber from a rocky yet sandy beach, waiting for the tumult of hordes of Christmas crowds to arrive. I decided to check up on an aboriginal midden that I knew existed when Helvi and I used to visit this same spot with our young children so many memorable years ago. It amazed me already then that this sacred site hadn’t been protected. People walked over it, unaware it was a midden and sacred site
https://www.google.com.au/#q=Aboriginal+middens+at+Bendalong

As I was walking along the beach I noticed a dark shape in the water. Getting closer I was amazed to see a large stingray. Steve Irwin, the Australian naturalist was killed by a stingray while swimming above one. The barbed tail whipped up, went through his wet-suit and penetrated his heart. He died almost instantly.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2006/sep/04/broadcasting.travelnews

I had boots on and did not want to get into the water to get a closer look. I did not have to. He came to me. It swam in very shallow water and was just a couple of metres away from the sandy beach on this expanse of the Tasman sea. Its bulbous watery eyes was looking at me as if expecting something. Its eyes seemed sad and carried a reproach. I was astounded. What had I done to receive his attention? Apart from a small packet of peanuts I had nothing to give him. I spoke some kind words but wasn’t sure it could hear under the water. Did he expect me to have a herring on me? I never carry fish on me as I never feed fish in oceans. I felt guilty for not ever having fed fish. Instead, I often I eat them. ( I did not tell the stingray that.)

It was a somewhat helpless situation but I took some more pictures with my IPhone. What else would anyone do? But what followed was remarkable. As I continued my walk, the stingray followed me for some twenty metres or so along the edge of the sea. Had I been accepted as his friend? I again took some pictures.
He then had enough and swam away.

img_0995stingray

The aboriginal midden was still there and in good condition. I suppose all the seashells and cockles are just not worth digging up or scooping away as most people might not even be aware of its significance and aboriginal heritage. For thousands of years this was the site were the original owners of this land would congregate look out over the sea and consume their catch of sea-food.

Sacred aboriginal sites are to be respected and not to be photographed.