Archive for the ‘Motoring’ Category

What Will They Think Of Next?

Hot off the Facebook Presses from the UK where car thieving is at the cutting edge and they are forever coming up with new ways to be nasty:

On Wednesday, I approached my car from the passenger side to place my computer bag on the front passenger seat.
As I reached to open the door I noticed there was a hole right under my door handle.
My first thought was, “Someone has shot the car !”
I began to think about it and inspect it a little closer and the “light” slowly began to dawn.
I phoned a friend who owns a body shop, and asked if he had any vehicles with damage to the doors that looked like a bullet hole.
“Yes, I see it all the time. Thieves have a punch and place it right under the door handle, knock a hole through, reach in and unlock it, just as if they have a key. No alarms, broken glass, or anything.”
I then placed a call to my insurance agent and explained it to him. I was puzzled that they left my GPS and all other belongings.
Here is where it gets scary !
“Oh no, he said, they want the break-in to be so subtle that you don’t even realize it. They look at your GPS to see where “home” is. Or check your address from Insurance and Registration documants in your glove box. Now they know what you drive, go to your home, and if your vehicle isn’t there they assume you aren’t, and break into your home.”
He said they will even leave a purse or wallet and only take one or two credit cards. By the time you realize there has been a theft, they may have already had a couple of days or more to use them. (I didn’t realize my situation for two full days!) They even give you the courtesy of re-locking your doors for you.
Periodically, walk around your car, especially after you park in a shopping centre or other large parking area.
Report thefts immediately….your bank w/missing cheque numbers, your credit card agencies, police, and insurance companies, etc.
Below is picture of what the hole looks like.
One would have to look pretty darn close to notice a hole like that. If the hole was on the passenger side I would never see it.

Lynda Poulter

Car Boot Sale Carnage

This morning the wife and I were at the Blacktown Drive-In car boot sale markets. We were two stalls away when a car suddenly accelerated from where it was parked, tore across the crowd milling around the stall and drove through the stall and into a parked van. At first we thought there was a woman trapped underneath but fortunately it was only a shoe from the items on sale, spread on the ground in front of the van.

The driver was in shock and so too the man he had hit and the little boy, bleeding from a cut to his temple. It was a close run thing that could have ended in a tragic fatality or two. I administered first aid to the boy, sitting in his father’s arms and determined he was not concussed or otherwise seriously injured. I was more concerned for his father who kept saying how it happened so fast and he was only able to pull one of his two boys to safety. He was distraught that he couldn’t stop the car from hitting his other son. I empathised with him completely, I have five children and would have been in a worse situation. He didn’t have time to decide which lad to save, it was all instinctive reaction, yet no doubt he will suffer over this incident and feel he failed his son and his family in some way.

With all the casualties being monitored by someone and the young stall holder doing an admirable job in keeping the roadway clear I moved off to a where I was able to direct the first police officers arriving on foot to the scene, then the first ambulance. Both arrived within five to ten minutes which is pretty good considering we were at the farthest boundary of the drive-in. I could hear sirens from other emergency vehicles and moved up to the exit gate where I was able to intercept the fire rescue truck and send them straight down the exit road to the scene, saving them having to wend their way through the crowded car park from the entry gate.

By now there were several police units, four ambulances and three fire rescue teams on the scene and as I didn’t actually witness the crash, I had just heard it and the screams of those who did witness the accident, I felt there was nothing to gain by adding to the crowd and we left. In hindsight I could perhaps have taken a more active role, marshalling the crowd, organising a triage for the injured and segregating witnesses and those involved from the rubber neckers… but I didn’t. I chose not to ‘take control’ of the scene for several reasons, one of which is that I wanted to observe what happened next rather than make it happen.

I didn’t think anyone was in immediate peril or had sufficient life threatening injuries that weren’t being given appropriate immediate assistance. The writer in me took over and I wanted to document the event in my head, yet when I saw the 8 year old boy bleeding and cradled in his father’s arms with his family crowding around and nobody seeming to know what to do next I just instinctively stepped in to help and away it went from there. The old Military Police training kicked in and I couldn’t help myself.

Should I have done more from the beginning? What duty do we have to involve ourselves in such incidents? Is it right to think well there are plenty of other people around and as I was not directly involved, why me? It wasn’t my car, my stall, my family or anyone I knew from a bar of soap. But what if it had been my family? Different story then. Very different story. I am only glad my kids were safe at home and my wife was beside me at the time.

The Rich And The Rest Of Us 1

In Florida a rich man has adopted his 42 year old girlfriend to avoid losing his inherited fortune in a court case. The case was brought against him by the parents of a young man he caused the death of due to driving under the influence. Basically a court had previously ruled that the part of his fortune willed to his two biological children could not be touched by anyone sueing him or his estate. So now he has made his girlfriend just seven years his junior his adopted daughter. In most jurisdictions adopted children are considered to have the same legal standing as naturally born children. Surely such abuse of the law could only happen in America? In Australia it is rare that adoption is approved for non-minors as it is considered unnecessary for the good of the child. But this is America and it is about the good of the rich man and how he has the clout to flout the law and common decency, let alone morality.

So no doubt he has continued a sexual relationship with his girlfriend/daughter. Surely that is incest? This is a deliberate abuse of the law, the spirit if not the letter, to deny another party their due compensation or to avoid punitive action. But then what’s new? The rich are not like the rest of us, as F.Scott Fitzgerald pointed out to Ernest Hemingway many years ago. They are indeed different and they think differently and they think of us as being here to make their lives easier. We are still serfs in their minds.

I would be so bold as to say I think this rich bloke drove drunk because he arrogantly believed the law doesn’t apply to his class. He took a life or caused the loss of one and he will use his money and power to avoid paying for his mistakes. If you or I had done this we would be in jail still, and probably staying there.

What galls me the most about this is not that he has deliberately abused the laws of adoption to serve his own ends but that he probably has no inkling of how wrong this is. It will never occur to him that what he did was wrong just as no doubt his only regret about the death of the man he caused is because of all the bother it has put him and his lawyers too. I mean, why can’t these peasants just go away and be grateful we are no longer made to wear pigtails or hand over our brides on our wedding night to the lord of the manor.

Is A Military Knife Sharper?

If there is one thing that really twists my Wa it is ignorant bleeding civilians who haven’t a clue about anything military except the rubbish they get off the glass toilet. Media types loosely calling themselves journalists are the worst. I despise them when they call every sword or long knife used to scare or skin, a ‘samurai sword,’ as if it is the only sword ever made. Most idiots who wield swords nowadays don’t use ‘samurai’ swords, or even anything remotely Japanese, but who cares when ‘samurai’ and ‘ninja’ are so emotive?

The same for AK47 assault rifles. The Kalashnikov AK47 hasn’t been made for decades, not since AKMs and AK74s and a whole range of other newer models hit the streets. Worse is when they call it an M47 or an AK16 and mix it with the US weapon, derived from the Armalite AR15 (and now called an M4, a derivative of the M16A2). It gets worse with AFVs, or armoured fighting vehicles. If it has tracks it is a tank. If it is big and armoured it is a tank. Not an armoured car or an APC, armoured personnel carrier, tracked load carrier, self propelled gun or any one of a plethora of AFVs. No, it is a tank.

Even more ludicrous is the slant the media seem to give a story by using the word ‘military’. When they relate how something happened with ‘military precision’ it is obvious they were never in the military. I was and believe me, most of the time things got cocked up and we had to muddle through as best we could, regardless. This story made me cringe, too. For some reason a ‘military knife’ is sharper and far more deadly than the 8 inch cook’s knife most commonly used to murder and maim. Following that, cheap Stanley knives (razor knives) and screwdrivers tend to get used far more often than purpose designed ‘fighting knives’. But really, they used a ‘military knife’? So what? The victim shouldn’t have gotten out of the car and as there were two coming at him, why didn’t the driver get out sooner? We can second guess this incident to death but the fact remains, the type of knife is irrelevant compared to the fact the knifer had the intent to use it, and use it he did, repeatedly.

I mean what are we supposed to infer from this? That because they use the words ‘military style’, the knife was more dangerous? That the user was more determined? What? I had three knives issued to me when I was in the army. The biggest was a machete. Then there was my bayonet and the edge on that would barely part butter, as in there wasn’t one and if you tried to put one on it you would be charged for damaging government property. The other knife was a ‘Knife, Pocket Clasp, with lanyard’. It had a deer foot blade (meaning not pointy at all), a vicious tin/bottle opener and a marlin spike for getting young Diggers out of the tracks of APCs and it was on a lanyard so you wouldn’t lose it. Fight with it? Not while I had any ammo left for my L1A1 SLR (Google it). Failing that, if it came down to fighting with a military knife I think using the rifle’s butt or an entrenching tool would have been more effective, I was in the Engineers and later the Military Police, not the bloody Gurkhas!

The thing is, the type of weapon (or the lack of one) is irrelevant. Deadly is deadly. It makes no difference that the inland taipan can kill 40,000 mice with one dose of venom and the coastal taipan can barely manage 20,000 mice. That is still a lot of dead rodents and dead is dead, afterall. What counts every time is the intent. The intent of the attacker to drive home their attack and the intent of the victim to defend themselves or not. Usually the most aggressive person wins. If that person is bigger, more numerous and or armed, then the odds are in their favour even more. Intent is everything, believe me. I should know, I used to have a military knife, remember?

The Simple Things In Life…

The simple things in life are often the best, so the slogan for a cereal brand used to go. The old K.I.S.S. or ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ theory does hold water. When things get complicated there is more chance some part will fail and the whole thing will fall apart. The old ‘for want of a nail…’ thing. I have just watched a video clip, allegedly from a car park security camera, of a clever yet simple way to steal someone’s car without breaking in and with the key in the ignition. Given how sophisticated car security is becoming today, this is a good method for anyone not willing to step over the line and physically threaten the owner or harm them. In fact, it has the benefit of most likely never even being seen by the owner and risking identification.

The thief ties three or four tin cans to the back of the car and lurks nearby. The owner returns, gets in and drives off. The scraping of the tin cans alerts them to a possible problem, so they stop the car and get out to investigate. Most people will leave the car running and the door open. As they walk to the rear of the car, the thief jumps in and drives off. In the video clip I saw, the driver was a woman who had placed her handbag int he car and of course that went with the vehicle. The thief has her purse, her car, her keys, her cellphone, her wallet, everything. The could check if anyone is home by calling via her cellphone (most of us have our home phone in there somewhere) then drive there after getting the address from her license in her purse. He has the keys to the place, can load up her car with some valuables and be away, probably before she has had time to find a phone and call the police.

Currently, the police require you to attend the station and fill out a report, get a crime number for your insurance and so on. I doubt they would attend the empty carpark and no doubt very upset car owner. Unless there was a spate of these carjackings not much effort would be put in if only because the owner has no description of the thief, they were at the back of their car looking at a couple of tin cans tied to their bumper bar when the thief struck. They saw nothing. What have the police to go on as the car is no longer there?

it is not a perfect crime but it is a clever one and a simple one. It reminds us all how easily we can be distracted and off guard in everyday circumstances. Who would think to take the key with you when just checking for the source of the noise? Or to lock the door? Yet it is these split second decisions and moments of unguarded reaction that give the thief a chance. When he sets up the opportunity it is even easier but there are still plenty out there always on the look out for opportunities. opportunities such as when you fill your car with petrol, then leave it at the pump and walk in to pay. How many people leave it open and begging to be stolen or your possessions redistributed?

It only takes a second to lock the car. If I have my kids with me,  I drive away from the pump and park close to the shop. That way someone else can use the pump, my kids are not left trapped next to a potential bomb and I figure I have deterred most thieves simply because they see I have made it more difficult for them. Most of us refuel our cars at least once a week, but we park them and walk away more than once a day. Sometimes it might pay to walk around the car if you have left it for the day and gone into work. Do a quick visual check just like pilots do of their aircraft before they take off.

Yesterday when I finished my regular swim session I noticed the tail lights on my car were on. I must have accidentally switched on the headlights when I got out.  looked at the front of the car and yes, the headlights were on. Hoping the battery wasn’t too flat to start the car, I reached for the door lock with the key and wondered who put that back rest thing on my driver’s seat? Then it dawned on me this was not my car. Two spaces further up was my car. Same make, model, colour and all, just without the lights on. My point is, if I had been thinking more about the approach to my car and drive off, rather than the swim session and new lap record I had set for myself, I would have noticed there were two cars like mine parked pretty close together and not made the mistake of thinking one was mine when it wasn’t. No harm done this time but who knows for next time?

You can’t be on Code Red 100% of the time and there is no reason to be. But it does make sense to be a little switched on and taking account of what’s going on around you at all times.

Suicide By Ambulance?

In the US they have a name for those people who take a gun and menace the public hoping the police will be forced to shoot them: Suicide By Cop. I wonder if the recent tragic accident in Sydney of a woman stepping into the path of an ambulance is a new phenomena, Suicide By Ambo?

One wonders if she were deaf, blind, drugged, drunk or just unlucky and not paying attention? Or did she do it on purpose? I know train drivers are often on stress leave because people deliberately leap in front of their trains. It is a fairly sure way of getting the job done although nothing is certain nowadays (as the man who jumped off the 39th floor of a building in New York found out).

I have always felt suicide to be selfish, not painless as the theme to M.A.S.H. claims. But as the song says, the choice is up to you, take it or leave it.

Some suicides go to great lengths to make sure they don’t leave a mess for others to clean up. Too many simply don’t care and they have no thought for the trauma they will cause loved ones, emergency service workers, whoever finds their corpse or the drivers of trains, buses and trucks. And now ambulances.

If it were a suicide, we have to wonder why? Why do so many of our citizens feel the need to opt out well before their time? Teen suicide is a major problem, particularly in the rural areas of our country.  Experts say suicide is really a cry for help and usually not the first time the victim has attempted it. Our poor record of treating the mentally ill, more as criminals than patients, often is a factor in suicide. Suicides are not reported in the media except for murder-suicides where the murderer takes their own life, all too often after killing their own family members.

I was told the reason for the media blackout is to prevent copy-cat suicides or encouraging others to kill themselves after reading about it in the newspapers or hearing it on the radio. I have news for the media, it is not making any difference, is it? People still do it just as they still smoke cigarettes even without cigarettes being advertised on television since 1976 and in other media for more than a decade. Nowadays you can’t even see a pack on the shelf yet it hasn’t stopped smokers, nor has the massive tax hikes to the price. Nor does keeping quiet stop people committing suicide.

I think we need to report each and every suicide. We need to give the reasons as best we can find them and do so in words that discourage rather than encourage. We could show others feeling depressed enough to want to die that there are options, people they can talk to, light at the end of the tunnel.

On the other hand, surely the right to die is the last human right ‘They’ can take from us. It is already illegal, I’m surprised they don;t make it a capital offence. We refuse the terminally ill the right to die with dignity and insist they suffer on, I won’t call it living. I think we have it all wrong. We need to help those who want to die to do so with dignity and free of pain. Anyone who wants to suicide can go through the process and in doing so I am sure we would provide a safety net that would catch so many of those who currently fall through societies cracks. We would assist the terminally ill to pass on peacefully and everyone involved, from staff to patients to relatives would be better off.

Of course to do that we need a radical rethink of our attitudes to death, euthanasia and life. Maybe one day.

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide…. I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying)….” Albert Camus, “The Myth Of Sisyphus” 1942, Libraire Gallimard, Paris.

If you or someone you know seems cut off, alone, desperate and suicidal, PLEASE talk to some one. Get help.

Lifeline  13 11 14

A Woman’s Worst (Motoring) Nightmare

A 49 year old woman in Queensland was raped by a passing motorist after her car broke down, leaving her stranded by the roadside. While waiting for help she was dragged into the rapist’s white van, punched in the face, threatened with a knife and raped. How could this have been avoided?

I think we too often feel we are being paranoid if we were to lock our doors and windows and remain in the vehicle, refusing help from anyone but the police or road service crew (NRMA, AAA, RACQ etc). I would certainly understand if a woman, especially at midnight, didn’t want me to help her, better safe than sorry and no offence taken.

In this day and age everyone should have a mobile phone they can call for help on and most places are within coverage. Having said that my 73 year old mother still goes once a month to a friend’s restaurant in the country and helps with the cooking. She returns in daylight the next day but only a few years ago she would make the trip at night. A lot of the steep, winding rural road has poor cell phone coverage. On one trip, on a Sunday afternoon, she was stopped by three indigenous persons blocking the road. As two remained in the middle of the road, one climbed in followed by the other two and told her to give them a lift to town. She complied and was terrified the whole way but fortunately this time, they just wanted a ride. Lesson? Lock your doors and keep windows up, use the aircon.

How safety conscious  do you have to be nowadays before common sense precautions becomes paranoia? Some experts speak of being in Code Yellow, then going to Code Orange and finally Code Red as things escalate and when there  is no risk they are at Code Green. But what if you are colour blind or simply can’t be bothered living your life by a colour chart? All too complicated really, either you are at risk or you aren’t.

Vehicle breakdown? You are at risk. After dark? At risk. By yourself? At risk.  It might be hard to overcome one’s natural predilection to believing most people are good and intend no harm (and that is true) but sadly the few who are not are opportunistic predators. They will be forever alert to the chance to make you their prey.

And to the woman who fell victim to this slime… You are not at fault, ever. You survived which means you did everything right. There are no hard and fast rules as every situation, every predator, is different and while there are some commonalities, if you escape with your life then you did the right thing, even if that was to not resist.  While that might seem to contradict an earlier post of mine, it doesn’t. As I said every situation is different and in this case the man had the element of surprise, a weapon and no hesitation in striking the woman to gain some compliance. I repeat, she did nothing wrong, it was not her fault, yet all too often victims suffer for years afterwards feeling they were the one that caused the crime.  Let’s hope this predator is caught and punished.

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