site  contact  subhomenews

Brand new ebike catches fire

November 27, 2023 — BarryK

Poor guy. Going for the first ride on his new US$6,000 ebike:


...the bike starts smoking just past midway through the video.

We are discussing EVs and lithium batteries in the off-topic section of the Puppy Forum (requires login to see):       

Tags: ethos

How to protect yourself in the Australian Outback

November 10, 2023 — BarryK

This applies to anywhere in the world, where you are in a remote region on your own. In the USA, you can carry a gun, which is an equaliser as the other guy is likely to have a gun. A gun will also protect from wolves. Here in Australia though, the citizens are disempowered; we are not allowed to effectively protect ourselves.

I recall a TV ad. from 2006, an Australian TV tourism advertising campaign; a bikini-clad Lara Bingle saying "So where the bl**** he** are you?". The swear words were allowed in Australia as the goverment took the position that they are part of the Australian vernacular; however, the ad. got banned in the UK and Canada. It's on YouTube:

There have been some sendups of that advert., including this one:

...yeah, human predators, the worst kind.

In Australia, getting a license to carry a gun is very difficult. For a long time there was a racket in Western Australia; a landowner could give permission for someone to shoot feral animals on their land and the person could then buy a gun. It was a racket because some enterprising landowners had a nice little income selling these permissions to people who never ever did any actual shooting of feral animals on their land.

Recently there has been a crackdown, all of these permissions have been revoked. Gun owners must reapply and each application will be considered on its merits.

Another way to get a gun license is to join a rifle or pistol club. However, the gun must be kept locked in an approved safe at home and only taken out when going to a club event.

This report shows the benefit of owning a gun in a remote region. Chris, a prospector in the inland-north of Western Australia was attacked by dingoes earlier in 2023:


Chris was fortunate to have a small pistol, but what about most other people?

You could have a knife. The dingo would chew on you a bit before you manage to get the knife into him.

Then there's pepper spray. As I mentioned above, Australians are completely dis-empowered by our governments, Federal and States. WA is the only State that allows ownership of pepper spray; in the rest of the country there is an enormous fine, even prison, if caught with it. Even so, here in WA there are strict guidelines on who can own pepper spray, as explained here:

So, I have that option in WA.

But there is another self-protection option, that probably hardly anyone considers; an ultra-bright flashlight. Most useful at night; it will temporarily blind a dingo or human. But possibly some of them are so bright they would also be an effective deterent in the daytime. I'm thinking of these:

...they are not usually advertised as a security deterent, which I can understand. Up to 150,000 lumens, that is so incredibly bright; needs a heatpipe and dual fans. But look at the prices!!!

There are many cheaper ones on Aliexpress, but beware lots of false advertising. I found one that looks like genuine 45,000 lumens, at AU$150, but it doesn't have active cooling and can only run at full power for a maximum of 20 seconds; when reaches 50 degrees C will automatically drop down to 5,000 lumens.

Another possibility is a prospector pick, which I do own. If have other prospectors equipment and a Miners Right permit, can quite legitimately carry the pick.

There are other options. Awhile back I was reading a forum thread discussing these. There are other spray cans, that are legal to own, and effective if sprayed into an animals eyes. Don't recall any details.        

Tags: ethos

Misinformation and more misinformation

August 25, 2023 — BarryK

I make the occasional political comment in posts in the "ethos" category of this blog. This current post is about misinformation on YouTube. I want to remain as politically neutral as possible, just present the issues that I have recently experienced, and leave it open for the reader to draw conclusions.

I've taken to watching YouTube videos quite a lot recently, often browse looking at interesting topics. Got interested in China; in particular, what is life like inside China, as opposed to the impression we get from Western media.

I started watching some videos, and soon realised the sole purpose of those channels is to bash China. I wondered what their hidden agenda is; I read comments that they are backed by right-wing and religious elements. One China-bashing YouTube channel was mentioned as backed by the Falun Gong, a religious sect banned in China.

One channel that I watched, the guy has 1.37 million subscribers, but some things he said, I thought that doesn't seem quite correct. I began to suspect that facts were being deliberately distorted, pandering to a certain audience. For example, this post claiming BYD and other Chinese car manufacturers were collecting government subsidies to manufacture electric vehicles, but then just dumping them as unable to sell them:

"China is throwing away fields of electric cars - letting them rot!"


"The Electric Viking", an Aussie guy, responded to that, with a contrary viewpoint:

"China and BYD are throwing away fields of electric cars, letting them rot"

Then I stumbled across a post from a foreign guy in China who actually went to the dump-site shown in the above photo:

"Chinese EV graveyards - uncovering the truth in person at one of these controversial sites"

There is a propaganda war going on, not just between the USA and China. It is broader than that. Another example that comes to mind; I watched on the news on TV, a Chinese Navy ship water-bombing the sailors on a Philippines ship (those sailors were trying to deliver supplies to Philippine soldiers based on a sunken ship). So of course we see that and think the Chinese are being the bad guys again. However, I stumbled upon a video that explained the history behind that incident:

"Another dispute in the SCS - here's what is really happening" this completely true? Is there another perspective?

I got interested in finding out what is really going on in China; how is life day-to-day for ordinary citizens? So started watching video channels by foreigners living in China. Most of them are working there, some are tourists, some are teachers -- my guess is that most of the latter are English teachers. Here is a collection of these channels, in no particular order:

This is interesting, as Sabrina is black and a Christian and she attended church in China:

Throwing this one in; another church:

Which reminds me, there was one fascinating video, a guy toured around in Tibet, visited monasteries and saw the daily life of the monks. Can't find that link now.

There are also fascinating videos taken in Muslim regions of China.

These guys are tourists in China. They also visit other countries:

"Jerry's take on China" channel, already mentioned.

Cyrus Janssen is a very interesting guy. He visited China recently, returning after the pandemic, but I think he is currently in the US.

Are any of these people in the pay of the Chinese government? There is one guy who is so over-the-top pro-China that if I had to bet on it, I would say yes. Also, if I had to bet on it, I would say that most of the others are not. But of course, living in China, there are strict rules, things that you cannot criticize.

Another thing that must not be forgotten is that we are able to view these inside-China channels on YouTube; you won't be seeing videos critical of China in the Chinese YouTube-equivalent (YouTube itself is banned).

But these posts do give me a view into daily life within China, and it certainly is very interesting, enlightening even, to see things from the inside perspective.

EDIT 2023-08-26:
Here are more channels of foreigners living in China:

Posts about Muslims in China:

Interesting analysis of the Muslim Uyghur situation:

Posts about Tibet:

That's enough. I make a "political post" every six months to a year, so don't expect another one for at least another six months.         

Tags: ethos

When will the USA be bankrupt?

August 22, 2023 — BarryK

I haven't posted to this blog for a couple of days, so posting some thoughts about this question. Off-topic from my usual posts!

My knowledge of economics is rudimentary, so this post is really just expressing my puzzlement. But then, many economic experts don't seem to know what is going on either.

A couple of years ago, after reading how massive is the US foreign debt, and that it grows bigger every year, with no hope of paying it off, I wondered how is it that the country keeps going? Back then, I did a search and found what looks like the answer: the US Dollar is the international currency, and most of the money that the USA owes to the rest of the world is in US Dollars.

This means that if the US is on the verge of defaulting on repayments, all that it needs to do is devalue the US Dollar, that is, print more money.

That is going to mean US citizens will become poorer; everything is going to cost more. But it also means that the entities that have loaned the money will be getting less back; in other words, the USA is sucking wealth out of the rest of the world.

If the above summary is wrong, or an over-simplification, well, I did say my understanding is rudimentary. Anyway, that is what I have come understand is the current situation.

A little while ago, I ordered a recumbent trike from China, and had to pay in US Dollars. My little situation is repeated scaled up across the globe, and being the international currency is one factor that keeps the US Dollar afloat, or so it seems to me.

So, I was very interested to read of the upcoming BRICS alliance annual meeting in South Africa. History of BRICS is here, and most interesting is the list of countries that have applied this year to join:

What has really jumped out at me while reading about BRICS, is the move to an international currency exchange system, based on the value of gold. Here are some videos that explain more:

So, some countries are selling US bonds and buying gold. But why has the price of gold gone down again? -- I watch the price of gold in the finance section of the news on TV most evenings, and it has been trending down for awhile.

A couple of extra comments. I sometimes watch "The Electric Viking" channel on YouTube, and he has pointed out many times that Japan also is massively in debt, and Toyota, the biggest car manufacturer in the world is the most indebted company in the world.

OK, I have posted some links above, but won't post any more conclusions, as my knowledge is too limited. These guys made some interesting predictions, before the US had exited from Afghanistan:   

Tags: ethos

Legal action against Amazon

June 27, 2023 — BarryK

In late 2022, I posted that I canceled my Amazon account:

I had an awful experience, getting signed up with Prime membership without realizing, and then unable to cancel it. Well, it turns out that I am not the only one experiencing that difficulty with Prime:

In my blog post, I mentioned that I purchased books from Book Depository instead. Then Jon informed me that Book Depository had been purchased by Amazon. It still operated independently though, so I bought from them.

Guess what, Amazon has now, April 2023, closed down Book Depository. Doesn't this seem like a familiar scenario?    

Tags: ethos

The Voice referendum in Australia

June 01, 2023 — BarryK

There will be a national referendum in Australia later this year, for a change to the Australian Constitution, to formerly recognize the prior inhabitants of this land.

They used to be known as Aboriginals, now they are "First Nations" people in the media. The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) is pro-Voice, despite supposing to be impartial, at least that's how they come across to me. The current Australian Federal Government is putting up information that is also pro-Voice, again, that's how it seems to me. Here is the Govt info site:

The Federal Government is supposed to be impartial also, putting up both for and against arguments.

I have been following the news, and amid all the enthusiasm for giving the First Nations people more of a say in our government, there have been doubts in my mind. One of the doubts is this...

Shouldn't we be heading toward equality for all? Why are we permanently enshrining 2% of the population as "special", with more input to the government than the other 98%? Isn't that putting in place a permanent division by race?

I think that doubt is a reasonable one, and it needs to be answered by proponents of the Voice.

Andrew Bolt (Sky News) has raised concerns:

Andrew Bolt is worried about the power that the advisory body will have. He also asks, why do we need a constitutional change to establish a First Nations body that advises government?

I don't like Sky News, but in this case it seems that legitimate concerns have been raised, that need to be answered.

The actual change to the Constitution is here, it looks harmless enough:

...very vague, open-ended. I'm just an ordinary person, have no idea what the legal and governmental ramifications will be. But, I still find myself asking, why do we have to make a change to the Constitution to establish a First Nations advisory group?

And there is still that previous-mentioned doubt; why should we permanently enshrine 2% of the population as special?

Then there is the issue of defining who is, or is not, Aboriginal? There are very few full-blood Aboriginals. Could someone who has a Great-Great-Great-Grandmother who was Aboriginal, suddenly realize their aboriginality and get into that 2%?

I haven't decided which way I'm going to vote yet. Well, if I had to vote tomorrow it would be "No", but will listen to more arguments in favour of "Yes".

I would like to append some personal thoughts to this blog post. Perhaps I am too idealistic, but I would like to see a future for Australia where everyone is equal. When I walk down the street, whoever I see, I see them as equal to me. Just another Aussie citizen, like me.

I don't like the tendency of people toward division. We see it all over the world, some ethnic, cultural or religious group wanting to split off in some way from the country they are in.

As I say, I am perhaps too much of an idealist. It would be nice if countries become more unified internally, but in the news I see all over the world the opposite happening. It depresses me.

If I can be convinced that the Voice is a step toward unity, despite how it currently seems, then great.    

Tags: ethos

Electric vehicle reality check

December 22, 2022 — BarryK

Some of our State Governments in Australia have decreed that all new vehicles sold from 2030-2040 must be battery-powered -- even hybrid vehicles are out. link

I was reading recently, a guy said that owning an electric vehicle without a power-point to plug it into at night, is hell. This situation would cover a lot of people; those who live in apartments with parking bays and no power, and those who have to park in the street.

What those people have to do is try and find a charging station while driving to or from work. If work is a fairly long commute, that could mean recharging every trip or second round-trip.

As electric vehicle uptake increases, it will probably mean a wait in a queue to recharge. Then there are charging stations that are broken, which currently here in Western Australia is depressingly frequent.

Once at the head of the queue, if it is a fast-charger, good, except that every time you fast-charge, the battery range decreases. It decreases more and more, so you have to fast-charge more frequently.

Then there's the running cost. This is touted as one of the advantages of electric vehicles; however, read this article from our local newspaper, "The West Australian", Saturday, December 17, 2022:


As the article points out, one of the charging stations was free, so actually, the electric vehicle cost more for the 1,400km (870 miles) trip.

Then there's the convenience. The Audi did almost the entire trip on one tank of diesel. The Kia required frequent long stops, and the range penalty of fast charging is mentioned.

In the news awhile back, there was a case of an electric vehicle running out of power on a rural road. The car had to be towed to the nearest charging station. Until there are portable charging stations, towing is the only option.

I reckon that as 2030-2040 (whatever the deadline will be in your State) approaches, there will be exceptions to the all-electric law, for those who have to drive in remote rural regions.

Might be a good idea to own a petroleum-powered engine before the deadline, as it's value is likely to go steadily upward afterward -- unless the Govt introduces disincentives to own or drive a non-electric vehicle.    

Tags: ethos