Home' Ausmarine : November 2009 Contents My older brother Russell is a boat builder and a stalwart Labor
Party man, despite being laid off three times in his life during
the Labor regimes of Whitlam, Keating and Rudd. He still
doesn't get it, and my offers to have two rabbis and a priest to
come round and perform an exorcism on him to drive out this
evil spirit have been dismissed as madness.
He is a craftsman at internal boat finishes where you cannot see
joins or screws and the end result is quite delightful.
Me, on the other hand, seeing that this carpentry stuff looks
easy, went out and bought a jigsaw and assorted tools at Bunnings.
I had forgotten that 15 years ago Torvill and Dean made ice skating
look easy and I had ended up badly bruised after attempting
simple stuff on ice with our kids.
My old boat needed some internal refitting and after 30 minutes
of my limited skills with this powerful jigsaw, a hammer and some
nails, the boat needed my older brother and three friends with
about two weeks to rectify it.
The jigsaw now lies dormant in the shed along with other power
tools, as a silent testimony to my non-existent carpentry skills.
I have learnt from years of running a business, that if you are
confronted by a legal matter you need a lawyer. If it is a tax matter
you need an accountant, or a medical matter you need a doctor. I
always recommend to young business people, don't even think
about being your own expert.
It is easy to spot a bluffer, and most professionals are dismissive
of someone "not of their cloth" -- impostors
I am sure others are seeing the rise of bluffers within the
Recently I met with a civil engineer in his mid 20s whose card
read "Marine Manager". So I asked him who he served his seagoing
"Well no, I'm not a seafarer, but I worked on three major wharf
design projects since leaving uni, and the company has made me
the Marine Manager"
Another young lady who I listened to recently, mumbling her
way through a poorly prepared speech, was no less than a State
Government Senior Marine Policy Advisor. At a coffee break
afterwards I couldn't resist finding out her background and of
course it was an Arts degree and three years in the Transport
Department. Her card had lots of letters after her name and I could
only surmise that was the diseases she'd had.
I was totally underwhelmed, not only by her lack of industry
knowledge, but how she got there in the first place. Then finding
out her salary afterwards made my head spin. No wonder the states
don't have money!
During a visit from a Persian Gulf marine regulator last month,
this ex-Master Mariner was telling me of the great number of
impostors on the Consultancy trail that have been parading
through the Gulf states recently. As the Gulf is one of the
few remaining "financially stable regions" the flow of consultants
One young lady, he said, one year out of university, had such
great confidence, an impressive double degree with great legs to
boot, that she could have easily bluffed some administration senior
in Transport. "She talked such crap," he said earnestly, "but with
such great articulation and conviction! Nevertheless, I was awake
to her and terminated her consultancy."
A team of Environmental consultants, with their own
bewildering buzz words and terminology, and the single minded
belief that theirs is the only version of the truth, came under the
axe of the same wise ex-mariner.
This of course sparked some interest from me, and he
elaborated even more on his personal theories about the new
"environmental" graduates. Since this is a new subject, there are
no older and wiser people around that can challenge their
doomsday perception, so who knows if they are talking crap?
At the same time, the much respected UK marine writer Michael
Grey penned an article in Lloyd's List "Are you weary of the
Greens?" -- a damning article about the new cult (Lloyd's List, April
27, 2009). He has since suggested that instead of wasting vast sums
of money at climate gabfests such as Copenhagen next month, we
should offer a huge prize for engineering solutions to carbon
emissions. After all, a princely sum offered 200 years ago to
establish longitude, a seeming impossibility at the time, resulted in
Mr Harrison's chronometer.
In a newspaper article last week I was delighted to read that a
solar expert from NASA, Mr David Hathaway, has this year
recorded a drop in sunspot activity which he predicts will result in
global cooling. Others agree it could be a "mini Maunder", such as
that which occurred in 1645-1715 -- a small version of an Ice Age.
This is very good news indeed!
Our environmental experts will shortly be singing from a
different sheet, insisting we all cook with open fires to increase
carbon emissions. Proclamations will abound that the sea level will
drop again and icecaps will grow, and icebergs will cause havoc in
Small Pacific islands will expand and become big Pacific islands.
Ports will become shallow mud beds with ships no longer able to
access them. Large scale dredging will be mandatory... and St Kilda
will finally win an AFL Premiership.
Stick to your knitting
With STUART BALLANTYNE
THE EDUCATION OF AN
November 2009 AUSMARINE
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