An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Kokoda In 24 Hours - Easy



Mentioned last week about the Kokoda 24 hour race, well good news for PNG is that they now have regained the record. Three Papuan New Guinean's broke the 24 hour mark, with the best being done by John Hunt Hiviki in 22 hours, one minute and 14 seconds. This is what I call fit!

Check out the story here.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Laslo

While in Goroka (up and back without issue in the end) found this rhyming verse in the P.J. McCarthy Museum.
Salamaua

A pub surrounded by a small stretch of land,
A couple of houses built on the sand,
Recruiters and miners who in rather tough tunes
Converse with their lazy, black ignorant coons.
Noisy, great air planes, some boats near the shore,
And two brilliant blonde beauties at the Carpenter's store.
In one single street you walk up and down
And find the D.O. at the end of the town.
The people, like elsewhere, have their joy and their pain,
yet the dust of Rabaul is replaced by the rain:
The store of B.P.s has its own private pier
And two bob and sixpence is a bottle of beer.
Between gins and whiskies odd stories are told,
Your hair may be silver, but your dreams are of gold.
Behind the hotel there are no golf-links,
Just a room for the folks who had too many drinks.
At night, noon and morning you're shouting a beer,
O Mexican poet, what doeth thou here?

Pablo Laslo 1933.

Not politically correct, in fact far from it (guess it was the age), but it was published in the Rabaul Times - which I am sure wouldn't have been particularly hard in those days. It piqued my interest because of the location and the author's name. Laslo was a visiting Mexican/Hungarian traveller who just so happens to go by the same name to another Hungarian traveller who was recently passing through these parts. I do know Laslo is fairly common Hungarian name, but I like the connection anyway.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Wet Path?

All this rain could cause me a few headaches (or adventure whichever way you look at it) this afternoon, as I am planning on catching a minivan bus to Goroka. Current word is that the road is bagarup just outside of town (in other words flooded from all the rain), so my little afternoon trip could turn into a bit of a drama.

I have a hunch and a feeling that Lae is only copping the big wet, and once out and onto the open valley it will be, as usual, fairly dry.

Heading in to the market in half an hour to find out which way my path will head.

And in case you're wondering what beckons in Goroka ... well I plan to gate crash the AVI in-country meeting (AVI's supposedly only get to go to one of these freebie bashes in their two year placement, and I had mine last year).

----------

*update* 6pm

Not there yet. Road was cut just outside of town and not cleared until late afternoon. Thinking about still heading up tomorrow morning and coming back Monday.

Here is a pic from about 1 o'clock of the usual stream, between uni and town, being most un-stream like. Normally this could be crossed at knee height. Goes to show how much rain we have had.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rainy Season - A Pictorial

Snapped on the way home tonight on my street and behind the house. What 24 hours of rain here means; weather for ducks and kids.


the start of the street


the street - somewhere under that water


still managed to soak my shoes


in the ditch


one way to cross it - get in it

Academic Drivel

Here is a letter in today's Post Courier from an academic of my university.

PNG academia still has some ways to go.

Don't dress up fancy
AIDS is a major threat to all those who are sexually active. We hear and see from the media about the safety measures to be taken against AIDS.
Use of condom is the safe way to prevent against AIDS. Of course, this is not true because it is like removing upper parts of an unwanted plant in a garden without having to uproot it. The plant will grow again in few weeks time. In the same way, so many condoms are involved in sex but never effectively prevent the transmission of the virus.
Sex is a reproductive process which occurs in every living organism at certain times. In animals, the female is on heat for only three days waiting for a male counter part in order to reproduce. Birds and frogs make sounds to attract male counterparts when ovaries are ready to be fertilised. The similar phenomenon is true for humans. That is to say the females leave some private part of their bodies exposed in their dressing.
When male counterparts see it their eyes receive the message and send it to the brain. The brain receives it, converts it and then sends another message to the male reproductive organs to act accordingly. Thus, produce hormones that stimulates the whole body which leads to unsafe sex, rapes and so on just to satisfy the desire.
Those women neglect their duties as woman and relate themselves as a sex object. I am a biologist and I have a lot more to say on this, but please National AIDS Council, instead of promoting condoms do something about fancy dressing.

No idea what fancy dress he is talking about. Meri blouse without a lap lap? I have never seen a PNGn wearing anything remotely revealing, even in the nightclubs. Makes me wonder what would this guy say if he went to Bondi mid summer??

Take away the anthropologists and bring in the psychologists.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ples Long Lainim Ol Save

How good is Wikipedia! In case informing us about everything from the Hairy ball theorem to Paris Hilton was not enough, it is now doing it in Tok Pisin too.

The language needs some help to kick it along, so if you know your tok ples from your tok pisin, I think you should get on there and create and edit some of the pages (there are only 121 so far .. compared to 700,000 English ones). Besides it is amusing reading about things like the Pope in pidgin ... "Pop i bikpela bos bilong ol Katolik".

Sapos yu no save tok pisin (and my written is pretty bad), have a go on the English version. I personally love it and use it to find all sorts of relevant and irrelevant facts and create some interesting ones as well ... how good is this page about the best town in the world (no prizes for guessing why).

Kokoda Calling

Got a call today from Emanuel, our guide for the Kokoda Track. Not entirely unexpected considering we kept on talking about doing the Black Cat track together sometime around September.

I am still keen and willing - even bought the topographical maps for the area - but I am now running out of available time. The best time to do it is before October/November when the rains will start, unfortunately September seems to booked with other activities that I want to do, and I only have a certain amount of holidays left that can go around.

Emmanuel did have another thing to discuss and that was something we briefly talked about on the track. He is keen, like a few people I have talked to, to get himself a website. He considers himself a qualified guide (and I would agree) and wants others to come and use his service. The only thing is letting others know about him, hence the website. I have told him about things like domain names and web space, I think though it may have gone over his head, but he did understand the on going cost involved for it.

He is still keen though so I am getting him to give me a write up about himself and what he can offer and then that can be looked at converted into a site. In the meantime if anyone wants to privately walk the Kokoda, let me know and I will put you in touch with him. Highly recommended.

For the long term readers of this blog you may remember me harking on about setting up another website for the Morobe Bike Club a while ago, well this seems to have fallen through the floor after my buddy (and former workmate) in the club got the sack. I hardly see him anymore, which is a shame as he also wanted to hike the Black Cat with me.

And speaking of Kokoda, this weekend is the inaugural Super 24 Hour Kokoda Challenge (I can't find a dedicated website for this to link to), for the seriously fit and insane who actually would be brave (stupid) enough to do this. Last year a Queensland madman with the name of Brian Freeman managed to run the track in a record time of 24 hours and 59 minutes. This year the Papuan New Guineans want to take back the record.

After struggling over the thing in seven and half days, and that being one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done, kudos to anyone who can actually run the whole way, let alone in 24 hours. In case it needs to be spelled out, there is a reason why this is a serious challenge. It's not because of the length - 96km is a fair distance, but only twice as long as a marathon, and they get done in less than three hours regularly enough - it's because of the terrain and climate. Mountains, roots, slippery rocks, rivers, creeks, heat, humidity. Respect.

Unfortunately Emanuel also had some sad news to tell me. After completing the track we went and visited his wife and five month old baby son at the Port Moresby General Hospital (what a dreary and squalid place if I have ever seen one. I don't like hospitals at the best of times, especially now after seeing this decrepit place). His son had a heart condition. Poor tyke. The only thing he did when we saw him was cry. Now it seems that he hasn't made it through and passed away sometime later. Who knows if this could have been preventable.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Workcover. What?

Construction site - PNG style. Bare feet, thongs. Exposed reo. Occasional hardhat. Workcover in Australia would have an absolute fit.



This is the new multi-purpose centre building for IT and others. One of 4 new buildings going up at the moment. It is a EU funded project that - like most things here - has taken about 10 years to get off the ground.

This project is good from a development wise aspect, because just about all of the levels of involvment are local enterprises. Unlike some other Aid agencies that like to award contracts to companies owned by their nationals.

The only thing I am not sure about is if the EU would feel duty bound in case a construction worker happen to skewer himself on an exposed piece of reo bar. Probably not.

Want My Job?

... then it is yours.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Campus Life: Part 3 - The Main Gate

Slowing unravelling like that old jumper grandma gave you, the blurred edges of my PNG university are coming into focus. The coffee shop became clear in Part One, the library was dissected in Part Two and now Part Three revels the hidden truth behind that essential element of any campus.

The Main Gate



Spike topped gates, barrels, speed humps, boom gates, signs telling you "slow down" and then "stop here", guards in brown jumpsuits or navy and sky blue uniforms, barbed wire - is this the Berlin Wall or a university?

Entering or exiting the campus can feel like Berlin circa 1970. Checkpoint Charlie revived. At night, after a few drinks in town, my poro with the car will turn off his headlights and switch on the interior light, the guards will peer at us, slowly wander over and open the high metal gate, you drive in and then the boom gate slowly rises and a "PASS THROU!" is yelled - shades of cold war shenanigans.

During the day the process is no less complex, especially if you happen to be in a university vehicle. A complicated procedure involving pass out forms with signatures, mileage, destination, ETAs and the like, needs to be handed over to security at which point a peering inspection will take place before the obligatory "Pass through" and horizontal directing arm are given.

Non uni vehicles don't get away easily either. Power hungry guards love nothing better to have a go at anyone they don't recognise. Friends visiting have complained about over zealous tactics on numerous occasions. Boom gate stays level. Tap, tap on the window. Explanation required. Serious studying. What is this, Fort Knox?

Getting in on foot can be just as difficult. Returning from town on the bus, doesn't cause me many issues - white skin and recognition helps me here - but locals can be in for concerted interrogation if provoked. Students without ID cards are kicked away, which doesn't help out departmental students when starting, they are external and need to enter to be able to get a card.

Sometimes though there is a just cause for all their carry-on. Riots at the gate are not such an unusual occurrence. Just last week there was a commotion caused by students drinking over the road and stirring up trouble with locals who chased them back to the main gate. The students managed to get in but the pissed off locals got locked out. A few rocks and heated words were hurled over the divide.

It is obvious that the guards take their job with as much importance as they deem it worthy. They have their benefits like no other of the guards on campus have. There is of course the little hut complete with the essential kettle. They get to play with boom gate raising and lowering. There are strict rules to enforce. Protocol to adhere to. People to scrutinise. Cars to inspect. Sayings to yell. Directions to give. Batons to twirl - it really is guard heaven.

Benefits for the users though seem a little on the sparse side. A bank of broken telephones in huts is nearby and this seems to be about it. Though of course the facility does give you one very important ability - it allows you to get out of here.

Wet, Wet, Wet



Still in the wet season. After a few relatively dry weeks, the rain is back on in earnest. I usually take a shortcut to the office and cross this ditch and go through some backyards, but when it rains I would need to be Carl Lewis to cross it. The water lying there is over a metre deep.

With the rain is the cold - relatively speaking of course. Usually blankets are not needed in this tropical clime, but at the moment I have been snuggling up under one and remembering that cold nights are not so bad. Certainly beats sweating all night anyway.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Goin' 60

Flat out at the moment. Been crawling around underneath the building, laying conduit, running network cable, drilling holes, crimping connectors, getting dirty, having fun. I like doing this sort of stuff because it means at least I am not in front of a CRT.

The reason for the new run around of networking infrastructure, is because we have yet another new extension. We just keep on getting bigger. I was talking earlier this year about my new office which I moved into, well I am now moving back to the cupboard, but the cupboard has one wall knocked out and three metres and two massive windows installed. Nice.

Then there is the changeover to our network and always associated issues that arise to keep me busy. I am really happy this has now changed, it gives my department its own destiny in part and means that we are now fully independent and not a sub-branch off anyone else.

And aside from that there is the server to set-up. This goes hand in hand with the network to make us leap into the 21st century. The only problem I am having is battling with Redhat Linux 9 on it. Not fully compatible and has a few teething problems (either that or I have no idea what I am doing with it, probably the latter). If anyone does have a copy of Redhat Enterprise 3 or 4 I would like to know about. It is Linux so it should be free after all.

p.s. the title is a reference to a saying here. Givim 60 or mi go 60 means you are going fast. It relates to the old days where cars were in miles per hour and 60mph was rip roaring.

Monday, August 15, 2005

VP Day

Courage, Sacrifice, Endurance and Mateship. The four pillars of the Isurava monument, on the Kokoda Track. On the track I could only imagine the first two, experienced some of the last two, and overall came away with a profound appreciation for all four.

Over the last few years my admiration for these testaments has been steadily growing - mostly due to my travels. Seeing a dawn break at ANZAC cove on the 25th of April, walking through the many headstones of fallen from both great wars in France and now here in Lae and retracing their muddy steps on the Kokoda, you can't help but appreciate what was done.

Looking at the ages on the headstones bring it into focus. Most of them died younger than I am now. And for what? Their country?

I could not conceive how I would react if it was me who was called up and sent off to a completely alien environment - winter in Europe, deserts in Northern Africa, jungles of New Guinea - and then told to fight the enemy, and ohh by the way you will probably be killed or your mates will be anyway.

No doubt I would have been like everyone else and viewed it as an adventure. Luckily I have got to see what the reality would have been. A futile waste of life and tormentor of survivor minds for decades to come. I really hope everyone else comes to that conclusion and those days are well and truly past and lessons learnt.


One of the four - a positive and lasting outcome

Friday, August 12, 2005

2005 AFL International Cup

The PNG Mosquitos are into the final of the AFL International Cup and are ready to draw blood from the NZ Falcons.

In a hard fought deserved win they beat Ireland 5.4.34 to 3.7.25 in the semi-final in a replay of the only other International AFL comp final in 2002. Their reward is a finals berth tomorrow at the MCG before the big Collingwood v Carlton game.

Well done boys, don't get too cold and beat the kiwis.

Book Me Dano

I have been hit up with questions about books and me. So even though they are not really much to do with PNG Life, I will have an attempt at answering anyway. I could stretch the thin line and say that seeing as they are one of the only major forms of entertainment that I have had for the last year and a half, it sort of fits with this blogs theme. So here ya go anyway ...


Total Books Owned:
Owned ... hmm a tricky one to start with. Are books ever really owned? They just come into your possession and will leave it at some point, to be passed on to family members or friends (being philosophical you could of course take this thought further and say nothing you have is really yours, which of course is one way to look at the world and not such a bad one I think). Some books I do keep though and would be upset to part with - there is my high school library copy of The Lord of the Rings (again, should this really be mine), which even though it is missing some of the prologue I would be pissed if I lost it, I even brought it up here, though have yet to re-read.

Total number of books ever owned or currently owned? No idea for the former, for the latter somewhere between 100 and 200.

Last Book I Bought:
I bought? Racking my brain. Ummm ... there was the 50toea copy of Animal Farm that I picked up at a second hand clothes store. I guess that counts.

Last Book(s) I Read:
Currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Before that was the Harry Potter latest which my sister pleasantly surprised me by pre-ordering on Amazon and it turning up in my pigeon hole unexpected (I like the HP novels, they are good escapist fantasy and remind me of books I will mention later). Before HP was The Rotters Club by Jonathon Coe and before that was the Animal Farm second hander.

Books I Like To Read:
I like to read Travel books, something in the vein of Theroux. I admire someone who can make a living out of writing about places he/she has been to. Pick me, I want to have that job.

As to books I would like to read well there would be War and Peace on the list. I view this one as a challenge not unlike trekking Kokoda, but with a lot less sweating. I got halfway through part 1 last year before putting it down and not bothering to return to it. Once you stop it is easy to get confused with who is who again - too many different princes and counts who go by other names. The library has a copy which I will return to before I leave. Aside from that there is the other Russian classic recently acquired, The Gulag Archipelago. And other than that, people around me are talking about the Life of Pi, I will borrow that at some stage.

Then there are also more classics that I feel I should read, not necessarily would like to read. In this category goes Patrick White's Voss which I waded through last year. I read it because I felt that with him being the only Australian to win the Nobel Lit prize, I should at least make an attempt to see why. After reading I can see why, a brilliantly crafted book, which takes brilliance to fully appreciate. I will have to have a crack at some of his others later.

Books That Mean A Lot To Me:
Mean a lot? OK I am going to skip over the books I have read in adulthood because I really am hard pressed to think of any that bring back treasured memories. Instead I will get back to where it all starts - the formative years.

The first book I remember that really hit home was The Magic Faraway Tree. It was read to me and my classmates in Kindergarten in bits and pieces over a number of weeks or months, I can't remember exactly now, but I remember it kept me absolutely enthralled. Which was not unlike the other book(s) that struck a chord at that age, the Narnia series. The Lewis tales were the first major books I remember reading by myself, and what good ones to start with. Magical Narnia filled with Azlan and the rest - I should read them again. I think Harry Potter is no doubt having the same effect on kids today as Narnia had on me when I was a young whipper-snapper.

After the Lion, the Witch and et al, I was enraptured by The Hobbit, ensnared by The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and then enchanted by, of course, The Lord of the Rings, which I polished off three times before I was 14. During high school a couple of books made impressions, firstly we were made to read Of Mice and Men and that really struck a chord. Besides that I read off my own bat what has turned out to be one of my favourite novels, Catch-22. Ahhh the beautiful irony, such a brilliant book.

OK so enough book talk and personal insights, it is time to pass the baton onto Larissa, Islandbaby and Nicole.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Brief Notes From The Field

Globalization hits Madang ... then again maybe not. I can guarantee that this store would not be open till 11 o'clock let alone 24 hours, like its namesake.



Colleague taking the wheel while I control the music. Much better selection this time ... although ABBA seems to have turned into a mainstay on Madang runs.



Beat up copies of books I have been meaning to read for a while were flogged borrowed from my accommodation. I will return ... umm, with the other one I borrowed last year and have, umm, yet returned.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Oout and Aboout

Off to Madang tomorrow for a quick visit. So quick in fact that I am not particularly looking forward to it, which is unusual for me considering the destination. But alas spending 5 hours locked up in a vehicle to get there, just 24 hours in town and another 5 hours to get back is not high on my list of great things to do.

There may be an adventure or two thrown in - buggered up bridge, land slides, the usual - but just as likely is that it will be a boring as all buggery trip. I am going with a colleague and am hoping her taste in music is better than the other work mates I have travelled with, because the iPod will be going as well.

Apart from that, I am thanking my lucky stars that I have got a TV at the moment. How good was the Ashes last night? One of the best finishes I have seen in a long time. I was chewing the fingers, the legs were nervously tap tap tapping, the blood pressure up and all because I was watching a bloody cricket game. Anyway I'm in a sense glad we lost because it means it will make the rest of the series more interesting. Of course it also means we have to pull our finger out and play better. Come on guys!

Need a box?



A common sight driving along the Highlands highway is the "For Sale: Coffin" sign, usually near a pine box sample leaning against a tree.

Of course it is not only the highlands that need these products and while cruising around Port Moresby last month utilising my friends car and with my wantoks in the back, my mate, GP, was excited to see some examples of these signs and had to get a photo. This involved a timed coordinated exercise of a wound down window, pulling off the road, the quick snap and zooming off before the nearby settlement dwellers decided to investigate us.

Unfortunately there was no sample nearby to complete the picture.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Divine Scam

Got to love what some people will do to scam others in this country. If they're not trying to whisk it away on the street they will be posting advertisements in the national newspapers.

During this week there have been ads from an organisation called 'Fruit Farm Labour' who have been placing ads proclaiming "Fruit pickers wanted in Queensland. If you would like to register for work on fruit farms in Far North Queensland, please fill in the form below and post back by 15th August". Unfortunately it makes no mention of how the applicant will get a visa to be able to work.

According to an article yesterday the Australian High Commission has been scrutinising it. They warn people that it is most likely a scam, with the next phase the applicant expected to pay an application fee.

What takes the cake though for me in the scamming department has to be the full two page colour poster sized lift out in today's Post-Courier. On one side of the poster it has a picture of a waterfall with some geezer standing in front of it. It proclaims in lovely typeface "The Magnificent Yaoufo Water Fall".

Next to the waterfall it also has a picture of Jesus and text underneath with an arrow to the waterfall saying "A visible image of Christ looking out from the Water fall". I have squinted at the waterfall and I can say that it looks, yep, like foamy white water falling, in a shape of, umm, a waterfall.

The ad goes on to tell everyone that they are bottling the water, with the pictures to prove it is being bottled, and that they are a genuine organisation called 'Health Reform' who were "established and incorporated in 2005 by the founder and principal reformer Mr Amos Yali". They have even got a certificate to prove how trustworthy they are. A close inspection of the certificate confirms that Health Reform took part in the 10th National Health Expo, something I am sure anyone would be able to join as long you paid your money.

The jist of the whole ad as told on the other side of the poster is that they are bottling the water and selling it as a "proclaimation [sic] of a divine cure through Yaoufo water as divine remedy". I guess that means by drinking the water you will be fixed up real good.

Mr Yali is big faced and staring at you with digitized bottle in hand and telling us underneath that "The water is anointed and has the power to fully revitalize and strengthen the body's immune system to stand against all forms of disease".

My only question is, why can't this country pass laws to prevent this kind of rubbish making it to the newspapers?


Do I look like I am scamming you?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Teleconcerns

It has been worrying reading about the issues with Telikom and its employees lately. The national Telco has recently been having industrial relations problems with its workers as they have been in and out on strike for wage increases and various other political reasons. The problem now is that some rouge elements are also sabotaging the telecommunications infrastructure.

While there is nothing new with the problems with the telecommunications in this country - it was bad enough before when the raskols would rip up the copper wire to hock off or disgruntled land owners would flog solar panels from mountain top repeater stations - but now it is just getting out of hand.

Someone earlier this week cut one of the main fibre optic backbones and brought down the mobile phone network for over a day. And on the front page of the Post-Courier today there are photos showing the wanton vandalism. The finger is being pointed at either disgruntled staff or "politically inspired criminal activity".

My concerns for the telecommunications in this country were already in gloom mode. It is part of the reason why my project here will never be entirely fruitful. I have to look at other methods to circumvent Telikom, mainly satellite technology. But now my views are positively grim, especially for the development of PNG as a whole.

Telecommunications and development are pretty closely linked. Look at any of the recent countries to make great leaps in development - Malaysia, South Korea the other new Asian tigers - and telecoms has played a big part. Unfortunately for PNG in this respect it seems things will never look entirely up.

I have been asked a few times why PNG can't have things like broadband internet and other hi-tech facilities as part of its telecommunications. The reasoning is pretty simple; you need to run fibre optic cables between the cities to act as carrier backbones for this to take effect.

Running fibre optic cables around the country is a fairly major exercise so cost will always be an issue. Then there is the terrain that the cables will need to run over. They can't even get a road through so cables will always be hard pressed. And finally there is the land ownership issue. Anywhere cables are run, they will be passing through customary land, and if the owners are not happy with their level of compensation, a spade through the cable would be an easy way to get noticed.

I will be moving on from PNG at the end of the year, but unfortunately these problems won't be for a long time.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

At a rate I would only expect in PNG, I received my first bank statement today .. 18 months after I opened the account. Admitedly it did contain the last 6 months worth of transactions, but what has happened to the other 12 months?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I've Found God ...

... on the TV.

Yes, Operation Cheapskate was successful. I have managed to get a TV installed in my house for zero cost. Pity though that SBS is not working. I hope they fix it before Thursdays start of the second test or I will be mightily pissed.

Anyway I was flicking through the fourteen channels last night and realised something I should have known before - of course it is something I already knew - most of the channels are crap. Why anyone would pay for the service is beyond me. There is the absolute shite made-for-tv movies on Hallmark, the pass-me-a-bucket news from Fox ("We Report, You Believe"), the bad Bollywood that I can't understand on the Indian channel and worse still are the two Christian channels. Two channels devoted to God out of the 14. That's a ratio you won't find in many places.

So as I was flicking through the selection and constantly skipping over the two, something caught my eye on one particular pass and made me stop. On the 'Hope Channel', there was a guy standing on a stage having a preach - not unusual - but behind him on a overhead projector were the words 'Harry Potter, Wicca and Witchcraft'. Whooa, slow down on the flicking thumb, this looks interesting I think. I love it when something innocent like a popular kids books raises the hackles on a bunch of American Christians.

The blokes arguments were the same as before, the books are bringing children in contact with the occult and they will be more likely to experiment with Wicca and Witchcraft. Give me a break! Kids, unlike what stupid adults think, know the difference between fantasy and reality. I doubt that any kids that read Harry Potter have actually ever heard the term Wicca. You may get a kid break his arm after jumping off the fence with a broomstick, but that will be about that.

What worries me more is the fact these evangelists focus on things like Harry Potter, and they miss completely the fact that by the time a child is 10 they will have watched something like a 1000 killings on TV. And yet they fail to miss the connection when teenagers take assault rifles into schools.

Perhaps if they would just bother to read the books they will realise that one of the main messages behind HP, as clich├ęd as it is, is love conquers over evil. A message I would have thought these Christians would be jumping up and down to spread.

Anyway later on I was flicking again, I had decided by this stage that the other Christian channel EWTV, was well and truly skipping territory. It is the catholic one and instead of the preacher in the slick suit, they deal with wizened old monks giving a talk to bore the crap out of you. Passing over the Hope Channel I decided to have another look at it. The same guy was still there but he had moved on from denouncing kids books and was really getting into realms of controversy.

The topic this time was the Papacy and the Anti-Christ. It seems old Martin Luther kick-started something (among other things) by interpreting a prophecy in the Bible about horns rising out of a lake, or something, and linking that back to Rome and therefore the Papacy being the Anti-Christ. This is more like it, I was thinking. A controversial slag off of another denomination and calling them the anti-Christ to boot.

The slick suit kept explaining that it is a long held Protestant view, that really spread like wildfire in the 19th century. I had never heard of it, but then again we are talking religion here. I flicked back to the Catholic channel just to see if they were hitting back at these allegations. They weren't, so instead my attention was turned to some good old occultist fun on HBO - Bewitched.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Modern Medicine

Trekking Kokoda has taken its strain on poor old me. I got malaria from the exercise - or at least somewhere along the track I got bitten by a malarial mosquito that later developed into the full blown symptoms. I also seemed to have lost weight, which to anyone who knows me, knows is not really ideal - you could say that I am the sort of person who is far from overweight. And I also seemed to twinged my lower back in the wrong way, no doubt from carrying the 15 kilo pack.

The thing needs a good old straighten out. Bending over to touch toes only gets me so far before a twinge, and I can feel the vertebrae out of alignment if I run my fingers up my spine. It is still perfectly usable, just not 100%.

I know what I would do if I was anywhere else other than PNG. I would find the best chiropractor around and check myself into their clinic. I know people like to poo-poo chiropractors these days and frown on their methods, but after visiting a Russian chiropractor in London who spent 90% of the visit working on the surrounding muscles than the click-clacking I have been converted.

Seeing as I don't have the luxury to be picky here, I asked the next best person I knew who I thought I would be able to trust. It was over dinner on Saturday night when I had the chance to have a chat to a volunteer physiotherapist friend who gets all the local cases for bad backs. I thought if anybody would know how to straightening my back out he would know.

Unfortunately his response has failed to enthuse me with much faith in modern medicine. It seems, according to him, that if I am anything short of failing to use my legs, I shouldn't worry about it. Haven't got any pain or numbness, then everything is ok with the spine - no pinched nerves.

So this it seems is what they are teaching physiotherapists these days. From my point of view, surely they should take more than a 'if it aint broke, don't fix it' approach? I mean I don't wait until a computer dies before I fix it. If I can prevent a crash, I will do it beforehand.

I wish I had my Russian healer close by.