Thursday, 31 January 2013


Walmart sets limits on ammunition
sales after demand surges
By Jessica Wohl
(Reuters) - Walmart has started to limit sales of ammunition to three boxes per customer per day due to limited supplies, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
Sales of guns and ammunition have risen across the United States since the December 14 shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school . . . .
Walmart's policy change was reported earlier by The City Wire, an Arkansas news outlet. (

Peter’s Piece

Please, Walmart, don’t just limit sales of ammunition. Stop selling it completely.

Every time there is a mass murder shooting more Americans jump aboard the self-defense treadmill and the killing rate simply increases again.

Carrying a gun may not even reduce the likelihood of assault, but it will certainly increase the likelihood of being murdered.

Here are the lyrics of a popular Johnny Cash song that I sang recently at Hauraki Country Music Club in New Zealand. It has a message for gun-happy folk:

Don't Take Your Guns To Town

A young cowboy named Billy Joe grew restless on the farm,
A boy filled with wanderlust, who really meant no harm.
He changed his clothes and shined his boots and combed his dark hair down.
And his mother cried as he walked out,
"Don't take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."

He laughed and kissed his mom and said, "your Billy Joe's a man.
I can shoot as quick and straight as  anybody can
But I wouldn't shoot without a cause, I'd gun nobody down."
But she cried again as he rode away. She said,
"Don't take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."

He sang a song as on he rode, his guns hung at his hips.
He rode into a cattle town, a smile upon his lips.
He stopped and walked into a bar and laid his money down.
And his mother's words echoed again:
"Don't take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."

He drank his first strong liquor then, to calm his shaking hand,
And tried to tell himself at last he had become a man.
A dusty cowpoke at his side began to laugh him down.
And he heard again his mother's words:
"Don't take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."

Filled with rage then Billy Joe reached for his gun to draw
But the stranger drew his gun and fired before he even saw.
As Billy Joe fell to the floor the crowd all gathered 'round
And wondered at his final words:
"Don't take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."

Americans who rush to buy guns for protection must still be cowboys at heart. But, like Billy Joe, they run a grave danger of dying in the dust.

When guns were law in old Australia

Available from: Peter Blakeborough's Books


‘A Great Aviation Geek
Is No Longer Here’
Matthew Molnar

For years Matthew Molnar earned a living as a Web producer for magazines like Popular Mechanics. Yet for long before that, his truest passions involved airplanes.

Mr. Molnar, who died on Thursday at 33, was fascinated by the concept of modern flight. He traveled to obscure spots near New York’s airports to get the best possible view of passing aircraft. He frequently discussed the ups and downs of the volatile aviation industry with friends. And he marveled at the slow, stately beauty of a 400-ton airliner gliding through the nighttime sky.
Eventually, Mr. Molnar turned his interest into an occupation. About four years ago, he stopped working at magazines and joined a Web site,, that had been started by a friend, Phil Derner Jr. Mr. Molnar assumed the title of editor and director of technology, Mr. Derner said, and led a transformation of the Web site from an online newsletter for “local nerds who enjoy airplanes” to a respected publication that sometimes broke aviation news and was cited by mainstream news organizations.
Mr. Molnar died on Thursday evening of cardiac arrest brought on by . . . .
Full Story: NY Times

Peter’s Piece

Rest in peace Matthew Molnar. Plane spotting won’t be the same without you.

The NYCAviation website has directions for plane spotters for many airports other than New York’s.

Below are directions for spotters at two of many observation points near Los Angeles International:

Views: Runway 24R arrivals.
Directions: On the corner of S Sepulveda Blvd and Lincoln Blvd, aka Route 1/Pacific Coast Highway.
Security: In-N-Out is private property, but there is a public park just a few steps away. There are also nice views from the grassy area on Sepulveda just southeast of In-N-Out, landmarked by a giant LAX sculpture/sign, but it is a very busy road which can lead to worried citizens and a talking-to from the LAPD.
Photography: Planes are low enough for lenses 50mm and up.

Views: Arrivals and departures on runways 25R and 25L, nice overview of cargo terminals and freight ops.
Directions: From Sepulveda, travel west on W Imperial Highway, then make a left on Main Street and an immediate left onto East Imperial Ave. A few blocks down you’ll see an observation area on your left, between Cypress and Sheldon Streets.
Security: To our knowledge, there have been very few, if any, encounters with law enforcement at this location. As always, carry your ID.
Photography: A 300-400mm lens is recommended here. Anything smaller will probably not give you a fully framed photo. The planes go right to left and offer you a decent side view. Zoom in on the planes once they pass for that engine/nose shot. The light is good in the afternoon until sunset.

But plane spotting was just a small part of the NYCAviation focus. It is a major source of aviation news and event worldwide.

Here is a sample post from the NYCAviation website:

Boeing to Boost 737 Production

Some much needed good news was delivered by Boeing, yesterday, as they announced that the rate of production of the 737 has been increased to 38 airplanes per month. Over the past two years, the Next-Generation 737 has seen its production increased by more than 20 percent, from just over 31 per month, to the [...]

Visit the NYCAviation website:

Spot the planes in these books

Both now available as eBooks from:

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


A racist email with false facts.
This one arrived in the inbox this morning and I just had to share it with readers because it is so typical of how racism can be spread like a nasty disease by nasty people with nothing better to do.
Here it is:
67  years later!
What  happened to the radiation that lasts thousands of  years?

We  all know that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed in  August 1945 after the explosion of atomic  bombs.  However, we know little about the progress  made by the people of that land during  the past 65 years.


City  of Playford/Salisbury -  S. Australia - 67 YEARS AFTER  HIROSHIMA

What  has caused more long term  destruction - the  A-bomb, or
Government  welfare programs created to buy the
votes of those  who want someone to take care of  them?
Japan  does not have a welfare system.
Work  for it or do  without.    
And  I don’t think there has ever been a better explanation  of  the  importance of incentive than this  example
These  are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all  applicable to this:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by  legislating 
the  wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working  for, another 
person  must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to  anybody anything that the 
government  does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth  by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do  not have 
to work  because the other half is going to take care of them, 
and when  the other half gets the idea that it does no good to 
work  because somebody else is going to get what they work for, 
that is  the beginning of the end of any nation.
Can you think of a reason for  not sharing this?

Peter’s Piece

The first thing that hate emailers should understand is that it makes no difference how many exclamation marks are used, punctuation and large bold type cannot turn a lie into a fact. And this email is riddled with lies, half-truths and distorted facts.

The comparison between Australia and Japan is a good one, but not for the reasons put forward in the email.

When Allied forces, led by General Douglas Macarthur, invaded Japan in 1945 they arrived with billions of dollars of aid and spend a million dollars a day (1945 values) on food for the starving population. They introduced democracy to Japan and in 1952 they departed, leaving the Japanese in control.

Compare that with the invasion of Australia in 1788 when the invaders pushed the native people off their land and shot them like dogs whenever they resisted. Furthermore, Australia’s British invaders never left, but remained and continued to break the spirit of the native Australians, to suppress them and deny them their human rights.

The emailer claims that the Japanese economic success since World War II is a little known fact. That is absolute rubbish. The Japanese success is the best know economic miracle of the twentieth century.

The claim that Aboriginals live in poverty because of hand-outs is sick.

The claim that Japan does not have welfare is totally false. Government pension schemes run side-by-side with private and company pensions. There are also government funded health insurance and unemployment benefits. Even foreigners with permanent residence qualify for welfare.

Constitutionally, Japan can only have a limited military or JSDF (Japanese Self-Defense Force) and the limited defense spending has aided economic development.

The mention of Playford, South Australia gives the impression that Playford is a deserted village inhabited only by Aboriginal lay-abouts is totally false.

The City of Playford, in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, is the fasted growing area of South Australia with a population of 20,000, and one has to wonder where the Playford photos were really taken.

The so-called ‘five best sentences you’ll ever read’ are nothing more than a clumsy play with emotive words.

Finally, if one could see right inside the head of the emailer, the conclusion drawn would have to be that he would rather see one of his fellow citizens starve to death than have to pay a little extra tax. How mean is that!

Read about the invasion of Australia

in this eBook

Available now from:

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer

The other morning, I escaped unscathed from a dangerous situation. No, an armed robber didn’t break into my house, nor did I find myself face to face with a mountain lion during my bird walk. What I survived was my daily shower.

You see, falls are a common cause of death in older people like me. (I’m 75.) Among my wife’s and my circle of close friends over the age of 70, one became crippled for life, one broke a shoulder and one broke a leg in falls on the sidewalk. One fell down the stairs, and another may not survive a recent fall.
“Really!” you may object. “What’s my risk of falling in the shower? One in a thousand?” My answer: Perhaps, but that’s not nearly good enough.
Life expectancy for a healthy American man of my age is about 90. (That’s not to be confused with American male life expectancy at birth, only about 78.) If I’m to achieve my statistical quota of 15 more years of life, that means about 15 times 365, or 5,475, more showers. But if I were so careless that my risk of slipping in the shower each time were as high as 1 in 1,000, I’d die or become crippled about five times before reaching my life expectancy. I have to reduce my risk of shower accidents to much, much less than 1 in 5,475.
This calculation illustrates the biggest single lesson that I’ve learned from 50 years of field work on the island of New Guinea: the importance of being attentive to hazards that carry a low risk each time but are encountered frequently.
I first became aware of the New Guineans’ attitude toward risk on a trip into a forest when I proposed pitching our tents under a tall and beautiful tree. To my surprise, my New Guinea friends absolutely refused. They explained that the tree was dead and might fall on us.
Yes, I had to agree, it was indeed dead. But I objected that it was so solid that it would be standing for many years. The New Guineans were unswayed, opting instead to sleep in the open without a tent.
I thought that their fears were greatly exaggerated, verging on paranoia. In the following years, though, I came to realize that every night that I camped in a New Guinea forest, I heard a tree falling. And when I did a frequency/risk calculation, I understood their point of view.
Consider: If you’re a New Guinean living in the forest, and if you adopt the bad habit of sleeping under dead trees whose odds of falling on you that particular night are only 1 in 1,000, you’ll be dead within a few years. In fact, my wife was nearly killed by a falling tree last year, and I’ve survived numerous nearly fatal situations in New Guinea.
I now think of New Guineans’ hypervigilant attitude toward repeated low risks as “constructive paranoia”: a seeming paranoia that actually makes good sense. Now that I’ve adopted that attitude, it exasperates many of my American and European friends. But three of them who practice constructive paranoia themselves — a pilot of small planes, a river-raft guide and a London bobby who patrols the streets unarmed — learned the attitude, as I did, by witnessing the deaths of careless people.
Traditional New Guineans have to think clearly about dangers because they have no doctors, police officers or 911 dispatchers to bail them out. In contrast, Americans’ thinking about dangers is confused. We obsess about the wrong things, and we fail to watch for real dangers.
Studies have compared Americans’ perceived ranking of dangers with the rankings of real dangers, measured either by actual accident figures or by estimated numbers of averted accidents. It turns out that we exaggerate the risks of events that are beyond our control, that cause many deaths at once or that kill in spectacular ways — crazy gunmen, terrorists, plane crashes, nuclear radiation, genetically modified crops. At the same time, we underestimate the risks of events that we can control (“That would never happen to me — I’m careful”) and of events that kill just one person in a mundane way.
Having learned both from those studies and from my New Guinea friends, I’ve become as constructively paranoid about showers, stepladders, staircases and wet or uneven sidewalks as my New Guinea friends are about dead trees. As I drive, I remain alert to my own possible mistakes (especially at night), and to what incautious other drivers might do.
My hypervigilance doesn’t paralyze me or limit my life: I don’t skip my daily shower, I keep driving, and I keep going back to New Guinea. I enjoy all those dangerous things. But I try to think constantly like a New Guinean, and to keep the risks of accidents far below 1 in 1,000 each time.
Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, is the author of the new book “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?”

From: NY Times

Peter’s Piece

My thoughts exactly.

We live in a world that is always fearing or protesting about some lost cause.

When it is not genetically modified food (which the world will need to beat poverty) it’s bird flu, terrorism, or climate change that has people worried. But all of those things combined will not alter the global death rate to any significant degree.

Heart disease, stroke, cancer, commonplace accidents and poverty are still the leading causes of death.


Beware Employees Who
Boast About Multitasking

Those who claim to be best at multitasking are actually the worst at it, a new study says.
If you've ever worked in a large organization, you're probably already familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect even if you don't know the psychological term for the phenomenon. The immortal words of philosopher Bertrand Russell sum it up nicely: "the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

Or, to put it in the modern parlance, idiots don't know they're idiots, and the most skilled are generally also the most self-critical. You've probably observed this effect in many domains (driving and management maybe), but science recently added another entry to the roster of areas where people are often dangerously deluded.

Know that guy who claims to be a multitasking ninja? Yeah, in reality he's probably abysmal at it.

That's the finding of a new University of Utah study that looked into whether those who multitask most are actually better at switching between tasks than the rest of us. Turns out they're not better. They're worse. 

"What is alarming is that people who talk on cells phones while driving tend to be the people least able to multitask well," psychology Professor David Sanbonmatsu, a senior author of the study, commented. "We showed that people who multitask the most are those who appear to be the least capable of multitasking effectively." . . . .

Peter’s Piece

Multi-tasking can be put into two categories – organized multi-tasking and scatter-brain chaos.

A commercial pilot making a single-pilot take-off and departure into instrument conditions in a twin-engine aircraft represents my idea of an excellent, organized multi-tasker.

As he opens the two throttles he will simultaneously monitor the gauges for both engine, while listening for any irregularity in engine noise, checking that the aircraft is tracking down the runway centerline, correcting for cross-wind, looking for hazards, listening to radio traffic and maintaining a mental picture of the location of the traffic, checking his speed and constantly reviewing his emergency options as the runway is used up.

At precisely rotate airspeed he raises the nose to a particular angle of attack and holds it until the wheels lift off, but he must not start the climb until the aircraft reaches the minimum control speed for flying with one engine out of action. When that speed is reached he will raise the nose a little higher and accelerate to best rate of climb speed while correcting again for cross-wind.

In the next 60 seconds he will raise the undercarriage and check the undercarriage warning lights, check all the instruments for both engines, make adjustments with the ailerons/rudder/elevators, trim to fly hands off but still fly it manually, constantly scan the blind-flying instruments (airspeed indicator, altimeter, compass, climb and descent indicator and horizontal situation indicator. At 500 feet he is now in thick cloud and out of sight of the ground and any external reference points), reduce the throttle settings for both engines and adjust the propeller pitch for both engines, adjust the mixture controls for both engines, check the fuel-flow and engine temperature gauges, raise the flaps, switch off auxiliary fuel pumps, make more changes to the stabilizer trim, engage the autopilot, acknowledge air traffic control’s instruction to turn onto a new heading, set that heading on the autopilot, acknowledge an instruction to change to another radio frequency, change the frequency, make contact with the new controller, continue to monitor the instrument panel and the work of the autopilot.

That is a highly organized day’s work in 60 seconds.

Let’s now look at the other kind of multi-tasking.

This is the person who loudly proclaims that only women can multi-task and she is pretty good at it. She has 25 things that she is doing in the house, all at the same time, and when she has finished those she has to meet her friends for coffee, meet the kids from school, do the shopping, go to the gym, go to the part-time job that she works at in the evenings.

But her house is a mess, the part-time job she has only had for a month and about the same time for the one before that. But she is a multi-tasking woman, even though visitors have to step around piles of dirty clothes and wash their own cup if they want coffee at the house.

But she is doing way better than her husband who has never claimed to be a multi-tasker.
He has been in the same job for ten years where he simply follows orders and never has to make any earth-shattering decisions. At the end of the day he goes to the same bar and sits there until closing time and then drives home drunk in his unlicensed car. There’s no doubt about this man. He is definitely not a multi-tasker. For him even one task is a task too many.

But I guess there is one thing that this man can be proud of; he has certainly made a multi-tasker of his wife. 

Monday, 28 January 2013


Teacher arrested at Kennedy Airport

A public school teacher was arrested today at Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, protractor, compass, slide-rule and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement.

He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

'Al-Gebra is a problem for us', the Attorney General said. 'They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.' They use secret code names like "X" and "Y" and refer to themselves as "unknowns" but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philosopher Isosceles used to say, "There are three sides to every triangle."
When asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes." White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President. It is believed that another Nobel Prize will follow.

Peter’s Piece

Peter’s Piece? I would never carry a piece anywhere near that airport. Much better to be a bearer of peace.


Israel's comatose ex-leader Sharon
shows signs of consciousness
By Allyn Fisher-Ilan JERUSALEM

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
 (Reuters) - Seven years after suffering a massive stroke comatose ex- Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has surprised his doctors by displaying "a certain degree of consciousness," an expert who examined him using an MRI scan said on Sunday.
The results of tests conducted by a joint Israeli-American team did not mean the former general and right-wing politician turned peacemaker was about to wake up from the coma he has been in since a January 2006 stroke.
But doctors saw the responses displayed by Sharon, 84, in a two-hour exam on Thursday as "encouraging" that there may some day be a cure for some comas, Alon Friedman, a neurological director at Israel's Soroka Medical Centre in Beersheba, said.
Experts at Soroka, joined by a leading U.S. neurologist, Martin Monti, of the University of California Los Angeles, scanned Sharon's brain to test its function Friedman told Reuters in an interview by telephone.
"The chances of him getting out of bed are very, very slim," Friedman said.
But the machine detected some brain activity, when Sharon was shown photographs of his family and also when asked to imagine his home, he said . . . .
Full story:

Peter’s Piece

New presidents and prime ministers in most countries, Gadaffi and bin Laden dead, terrorism and natural disasters worldwide, if Sharon wakes fully and turns the television on he’ll think he’s having a bad dream.


The Life and Times of Freddie Fuddpucker
A collection of short stories by Peter Blakeborough

Freddie Fuddpucker is a hard-drinking, womanizing, lazy rat-bag with a built-in death wish who stumbles from one disaster to another. You won’t put Fuddpucker down until it’s finished – and then you’ll talk about it, or tell Fuddpucker stories, for years afterwards.
26,000 Words. The print edition has 120 pages with illustrations.
Here is a sample read from The Life and Times of Freddie Fuddpucker:

The Epitaph
Right through school Jimmy Ramsbottom’s best friend was Freddie Fuddpucker. They did everything together and went everywhere together. They were even together when they had their first sexual experience, without realizing that they were having a sexual experience. No, not together like that, but just together like the young school friends that they were as they watched a big Jersey bull and a cow on the Ramsbottom farm. Jimmy was puzzled by the strange antics of the bull. Every time it wanted to look over the hedge to see if the grass was greener on the other side the cow would get in its way and the bull would have to climb over the cow.
‘Why doesn’t it go around the cow?’ Jimmy asked Freddie.
But before Freddie had a chance to answer, Freddie’s cousin Frances Fuddpucker, appeared out of nowhere and answered for him.
‘Perhaps the cow doesn’t want the bull to go around her,’ she said.
The two young boys were really puzzled then.
‘I’ll explain it all to you when you’re both a bit older,’ she said with a wink and a big smile directed at Jimmy. Then she turned and skipped away from them like a carefree butterfly on a summer breeze.
That episode baffled Jimmy Ramsbottom for a long time; first the bull and the cow and then Frances Fuddpucker saying such a strange thing before she flitted away. Jimmy realized that there were some things that he just didn’t understand. He wanted to grow up quickly so that he would understand everything that there was to know in the whole world. What did Frances Fuddpucker really mean? The question was with him every day for at least two years until bit by bit, listening to the older kids at school, he slowly put two and two together and realized what two together can do, and that intrigued him.
Jimmy had just had his fifteenth birthday when he was in the hay barn one afternoon collecting some hen eggs for the next day’s breakfast when Frances appeared – again, out of nowhere. She looked really stunning and Jimmy felt awkward in her presence.
‘Gidday, Jimmy,’ she said with the smile and the mischievous wink that he remembered so well. ‘Do you know now why the bull doesn’t go round the cow?’
‘Ah, I think so,’ he stammered and looked away in embarrassment.
Suddenly she stood right in front of him and lifted his chin so that he had to look into her eyes. She spoke steadily and reached for his free hand.
‘Put the eggs down, Jimmy. We wouldn’t want to break them, would we?’
The next day Jimmy wanted to tell the whole world that he was in love with Frances Fuddpucker but of course he had been sworn to secrecy so he only told a few people. After school he hurried to collect the eggs. Frances was in the barn before him and an hour later he was so smitten with Frances that he went the entire way home before he realized that he’d left the breakfast eggs in the barn. After that whenever Jimmy went to the barn to collect the eggs Frances was there to make sure he didn’t break any by providing him with a soft landing.
But Jimmy was soon disappointed when, like the butterfly that she was, Frances Fuddpucker flitted away to one of Jimmy’s friends on another farm.  A few days later Frances was seen with Paul, then John and Harry and then Paul again, and all the time Jimmy was heart-broken.
He left school and went and got a job in the city. He saved some money and went to Australia. Jimmy Ramsbottom was growing up. He met a lovely girl and after a couple of years they married, put a deposit on a house and had several children. Jimmy was as content as any man could be, and with his lovely wife and beautiful children, they had a good life together. But he never forgot his first love and often wondered what had become of her.
Jimmy worked steadily at his job and advanced in the company and eventually retired at sixty-five. By then the children were all making their own way in the world leaving Jimmy and his wife at home alone. Jimmy was heart-broken, when, a year into their retirement, his wife suddenly died.
Almost fifty years after leaving home Jimmy Ramsbottom returned to New Zealand to look up old friends, visit the farm and the family he had lost contact with. But everything had changed during his long absence. His parents had died and his brothers and sisters had moved away. The farm looked different. The old house had gone and in its place stood a modern brick and tile building. The barn had gone too and he thought again about Frances Fuddpucker and decided to ask around.
The author in a
Boeing simulator
But he couldn’t find anyone who remembered her. It was as though Frances had never existed. He went to the cemetery to visit the graves of his parents and as he walked between the rows, reading the names on the tombstones he stopped suddenly in his tracks. A weathered tombstone almost jumped out at him and the memories flooded back. The epitaph on the tombstone said:-
In memory of Frances Fuddpucker, taken from this life at the age of twenty-five and fondly remembered by George, Eddie, Hamish, Mal, Richard, Bill, Derek, Selwyn, Bruce, Ken, Jason, Gordon and her many other admirers. At last she sleeps alone.

The Life and Times of Freddie Fuddpucker
Is now available as an eBook in the following formats:

Online Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser)
Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps)
Epub (Apple iPad iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps)
PDF (good for reading on PC, or home printing)
RTF (readable on most word processors)
LRF (for older Sony readers)
Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices)
Palm Text (download) (flexible but lacks much formatting)
Plain Text (viewable as a web page)

To buy this humorous eBook now for $0.99 USD, or to read another free sample,
click the link below:

For the illustrated print edition at $19.95 New Zealand Dollars (post free) go to
the author’s website: