Friday, 21 August 2015

North Korea, droughts and cake

Hi everyone,

I started this post last night before SES; I'm taking a break from a spreadsheet to continue it.

Today started with the usual news and media update emails that we get.  One story that caught my eye was a recent lead story in the McIvor Times, a paper that circulates in Heathcote, a town about an hour away from here.  What particularly stood out to me was the forecast of very dry weather ahead:
Dr Bailey said the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) had declared an ‘El Niño’ weather pattern that was expected to bring drier conditions.
“The BoM recently stated that rainfall for July was about a third of average,” Dr Bailey said.
“El Nino generally means a drier spring, too.”
If dry conditions continue, for the 2015-16 irrigation system irrigators may not receive 100 per cent HRWS allocation on the Goulburn and Loddon systems until February 2016.
Under a ‘dry’ scenario, HRWS allocations may only reach 83 per cent on the Murray, 74 per cent on the Campaspe and 53 per cent on the Broken system by February 2016.
“If there continues to be below-average rainfall this season, it will put pressure on all systems for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons,” Dr Bailey said.
“We’re encouraging farmers therefore to consider their options for the following seasons.”
Dr Bailey said despite some above average rainfall in recent years, there was less water available in northern Victoria – by some estimates 20-30 per cent less – than a decade ago.
“We know irrigated agriculture underpins our regional economy,” Dr Bailey said.
“One of the main goals of G-MW’s connections project is to help build resilience for farmers, and therefore our communities, by planning for climate change.
Maybe I've been reading too much seventeenth-century apocalyptica lately, but I was struck by nothing so much as the parallel with Genesis 41:17-31:
... Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Behold, in my dream I stood on the bank of the river. Suddenly seven cows came up out of the river, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and gaunt, such ugliness as I have never seen in all the land of Egypt. And the gaunt and ugly cows ate up the first seven, the fat cows. When they had eaten them up, no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were just as ugly as at the beginning. So I awoke. Also I saw in my dream, and suddenly seven heads came up on one stalk, full and good. Then behold, seven heads, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. And the thin heads devoured the seven good heads.
... Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine. This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land. So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe.
Frankly, it baffles me that a decent whack of the people who take the Scriptures seriously also problems accepting the likelihood of climate change.  The only explanation I can offer is that mixing faith and politics is like mixing vanilla icecream and raw sewage: the resulting combination will taste a lot more like the latter than the former (a phrasing I have shamelessly stolen from the compulsively readable Mark Steyn).
Continuing the biblical theme: Apocalyptic or not (and Michelle Bachmann's views notwithstanding, probably not), it's hard not to be mildly troubled by news that the Hermit Kingdom has gone onto a war footing again when a certain amount of Western attention is focussed on Syria.  It's a well-worn complaint, but one has to be troubled by the thought that great power can be exercised when the consequences of its exercise are impossible to foresee entirely.  Reason #5672 why I love being an emergency worker is that it makes big-picture crises simpler to deal with: Fix what can be fixed; remove danger from people (or vice versa); follow your training; get on with it.

Be all that as it may, yesterday at least offered me a small chance to offer a more smiling version of Catholicism to the world.  August 20th is the feast-day of St Bernard of Clairvaux, a Cisterican saint for whom I have a particular fondness.  On the strength of that I offered to shout my co-workers coffee/hot chocolate/doughnuts from the bakery. 

While I was at the bakery I also picked up a cake to take to last night's SES training, which the Unit seemed to like.

I think that the general reaction could be summed up as "this is a bit odd and kind of quaint, but very nice", which is about the best description of religion generally I can think of!

Today has started off well - there was quite a bit of cloud about this morning and so the air temperature was wonderfully mild.  Lord it feels good not to be trying not to freeze!  There's a severe weather warning for the two neighbouring forecast districts; God willing it'll pass us by.

Michael came up to the farm last night and is doing some work on the house.  I'm glad he's getting to stay part of the family despite breaking up with Little Sister.  As I said before, they're both good people but were never a good match.  When I left he and Dad were talking about shooting down to Flinders today to move some cattle over the creek, returning tonight.

I'd better finish this spreadsheet before I trek off to the blood bank in lunchhour.  More later.  Hope all's well with you good people.

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