Cholera Epidemic Doesn’t Stop Illegal Betelnut Sellers

Posted in Rants and Rages on November 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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If you don’t live in PNG it’s probably escaped your notice that there’s a cholera epidemic ripping through the population – as if HIV/AIDS was not enough! Anybody with an ounce of brains knows that cholera spreads through, uh, . . . well, there’s no polite way to say it – feces.  Okay, I guess that that’s reasonably polite.

So, the powers that be in Madang, in their infinite wisdom, have promulgated many rules to try to stop the spread. The problem is that nobody is out there checking to see if anybody at all is paying attention. These people certainly are not:

Illegal buai sellers in the centre of Madang Town

They have set up an illegal betelnut market (called buai  in Pidgin) not fifty metres from our office. They’ve even put up some scruffy barbed wire to mark it off, heaven knows why. They have not been happy at all with my three visits today, camera in hand:

Illegal buai market in Madang Town

Those faces may look  happy, but let me tell you they are not.  So, what’s so bad about this? Well cholera spreads primarily from poor sanitation. Your best defense from cholera is to stay clean, especially the places that count, drink no water that’s contaminated and do not eat food that might be contaminated. If you fail to follow these rules, you’re very likely to get very sick. The hospital has set up a special ward for cholera patients and it doesn’t look as if it’s going to be big enough.

Illegal buai seller

So what’s this got to do with buai?  Well, think about it. Especially since town water has been only occasionally available for several days, nobody is paying much attention to washing their hands. So, the guy shown above goes to the toilet and, guess what, he doesn’t have any toilet paper and no clean water is in sight. Then he goes back to his little store of death and picks up a buai  nut and hands it to you. You do the usual thing, pop it into your mouth and start to peel back the skin. Hmmmm . . . yummy cholera germs!

So, you’re skeptical, eh? MadDog is off on another of his rants, tasol.  Well, let me show you what I found (by smell) twenty metres from the buai  market. You guessed it – the toilet:

The toilet of the illegal buai market

Uh, that brown blob in the lower centre of the image is exactly what it look like. There was plenty more lurking inches back in the foliage. Lots  more.

If you’ve never had the delight of walking (very carefully) around in a tropical area where people are defecating all over the place, believe me, you can forgo the experience with no great loss.

Okay, now I’m mad. Somebody is going to do  something about this or I’m going to sharpen up my pencil and start jabbing it into people’s ears. There are people that I care about who are at risk from this.

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A 17MPG Lincoln – Well, There’s Your Problem

Posted in Rants and Rages on October 13th, 2009 by MadDog
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In the summer of 1976, back when we had some money, I went out one morning and bought a new Corvette Stingray. It was bright red with white leather interior. I tell you this only to let you know that I am not immune to the “need for speed”. After a year, a couple of speeding tickets and the horror of the first year’s insurance premium, I sold the ‘Vette. I decided that what I needed  was a way to get from Point A to Point B with the minimum of fuss and expense. I bought a new Chevette, a horror of an automobile if there ever was one.

The key word in the paragraph above, for today’s rant, is need.  I do truly believe that we are shortly going to be living in a world based much more on need  than want.  This will be a radical departure for those who have enjoyed the good fortune for generations of living in the rich, industrialised, privileged nations, such as . . . er . . . excuse me, the U S of A.

For instance, who needs  this:

Lincoln Advertisement from The Atlantic magazine

I’m not picking on Lincoln in particular. My fight is with Detroit (Okay, okay, US auto makers and all the hangers-on who prosper by the continuing excesses of the industry). Click on the ad and look at the bottom. After bragging shamelessly about employing relatively ancient technology (it’s been around for a while) to achieve “Cleaner, Faster,  Smarter”, they continue the gloating by announcing that this automobile gets 17 MPG! Is that supposed to impress me? It does, but not the way they want it to.

Note my emphasis on the word faster  in the paragraph above. How fast do we need to go anyway? Passenger cars with engines producing in excess of 300 HP have no place in the rational world today. Who buys these cars and why?

If you’re still with me, it probably means that you don’t own one of these battleships.

By the way, what happened to styling? You used to be able to identify an automobile a block away. Now they all look the same. Oh, sure, there are “styling” differences, but this does not fool me. Cars look pretty much the same today because they are all up against the same physics of streamlining. There is only so much you can do with the shape of an automobile to make it distinctive. If you veer far from the theoretical ideal to achieve a particular look, you’ll loose points for fuel efficiency. Therefore, the more aerodynamically efficient cars become, the more they will look the same.

End of rant. I need to pet my dog now and simmer down:


Isn’t Sheba adorable? She’s nearly three years old now. Sheba’s easily the smartest dog that we’ve had. We’ve put a lot of effort into training her and it has paid off nicely. Usually it only takes a facial expression or a gesture of the hand to let her know what I want her to do. If she can’t see me, she responds very quickly to voice commands. She does occasionally get carried away. In that case, the whistle comes out. She knows that she can’t ignore that without being called a “bad dog”. She really hates that. I’m convinced that mongrels make the best pets. That’s probably because I am such a mongrel myself.

I have a couple of more images for you today.

On the way back from Blueblood on Sunday we were cruising in Mike Cassell’s boat, Felmara.  Our friend Dr. Pascal Michon was doing a little fishing. He needed to blow off a bit of steam, as he had, only a little while earlier, lost his glasses when he dived off of the boat while wearing them:

Fishing Rods against the sky

Here’s an amusing image of a Shimano reel in the late afternoon sun:

Fishing reel in the afternoon.

Pascal caught a three kilo Spanish Mackerel, little consolation for loosing his glasses. We’re going to do a dive there to see if we can find them. I did manage to find Amanda Watson’s prescription sunglasses for her when she did the same thing. It’s all up to luck.

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I’m Not the Only Complainer About the Decline of Madang

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Rants and Rages on September 10th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m not alone. It’s a comforting thought. This is the kind of image that makes me very sad for my beautiful home, Madang:

The Big Ditch is getting bigger

Others feel the same and some are getting angry. Read this from Tuesday’s 8 September letter in The National: (click to enlarge)

Complaint from Silent Observer in Tuesday's The National

There is a very good question buried in there. Where IS the K35,000 (make that K35,000,000 – thanks for pointing out the mistake, Phil Manley) that was promised to begin to renew Madang to its former beauty and functionality. This is a matter of importance to every resident of Madang. Not a single person would fail to be benefited in some way if Madang could be restored. Not a single person will escape the coming disaster if it is not.

By the way, where IS Buka Malai, the man who was elected by the people of Madang to represent them? I don’t know. I’ve never seen him. It seems nobody else has either since he escaped rotting Madang for the sweet life in Moresby. The foregoing is rumour, I admit. However it has taken on the sheen of an urban legend here in Madang. It’s a rumour that won’t die until he shows his face here and stands responsible before the electorate.

I’ve gotten a few comments lately testily proclaiming that if I wanted to complain, then I should go back to where I came from. Most of these are so poorly written or full of foul language that I do not allow them to appear as comments. Nearly all give false email addresses, so I can only assume that the writers are too cowardly to confront me publicly. I have one thing to say about this matter. If you want to tell me that I have no right to speak on these issues, then save your breath, because you are wrong, wrong, wrong! Wether I am a citizen or not – whether I was born here or not, if I am to be a responsible member of this culture then it is my duty to observe the good and the bad. My journal is full of praise for the blessed paradise in which I’m privileged to live. Nevertheless, I would not be a good member of this society if I simply overlooked the things that obviously need to be fixed. I will continue to speak when I feel the need to do so. If others want to stick their heads in the sand while Madang goes down the “third world” path because of mismanagement, theft, and laziness, the let them. I will not stand idly by and watch the place that I love go to hell.

Even in Paradise, someone has to do the wash:

Even in Paradise, someone has to do the wash

Now, just to show you that I’m not grumpy today, let me show you our dear Anna, a young Catalonian who is the cutest pregnant lady on the planet:

Our sweet Catalonian, Anna. The cutest pregnant lady that you'll ever see.

Anna’s baby is due in early January. They may possibly have a New Year’s baby! You’ve seen a bit of Anna before on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi. Aside from having a very cute belly, she has one of the finest tribal tattoos that I’ve seen. The tattooed elbow in the image belongs to Albert, her partner. They are lovely people who grace Faded Glory often with their friendship.

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Madang Town Government – Identify a Problem; Make It Worse!

Posted in Rants and Rages on August 31st, 2009 by MadDog
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It rained cats and dogs last night. Moderate by Madang standards. It sometimes rains crocodiles and pilot whales.

When we arrived at the office this morning we discovered that Lake Madang had returned. It was, of course, exactly what we expected after observing the work, or rather the lack thereof, over the last few weeks. I moaned about this back in July, showing you Lake Madang and The Big Hole in which it lives. Nearly six weeks later, the problem is simply worse. I’ll show you the “progress”.

Lake Madang

Really, it all starts here:

The drain to the sea - dig it all out!

This is the drain that is supposed to take all of the rainwater from the area and dump it without ceremony into the sea. We’ve been complaining, along with everybody else, to the deaf ears of the town management that it is plugged up. This goes back twenty years! The water should disappear into here:

Whoops, someone forgot to see if it goes all the way through

Whoops, it’s going nowhere! A few weeks ago I saw a huge character standing out in the street bossing a bunch of skinny kids with buckets and shovels. He said he had been “awarded the contract” to dig out the drain so that the lake would go away. He left all of the mud there for weeks. Finally, the mud was taken away from the sides of the drain. In our foolishness, we supposed that it was actually open. Ah, the folly of the bleeding-heart trusting liberal. Is there no end to it?

However, as you can plainly see, Madang River has no outlet to the sea, so Lake Madang just keeps getting bigger and digging its big hole deeper:

Nowhere for the water to go

At the other end of the road, we have yet another tragicomedy in the making. Yes, folks, this is how we fix the roads in Madang:

I guess THIS is how you fix it. Yes, it is finished.

First we tear everything up really thoroughly (the lids for the drain laying scattered about on the right making nice big ditches for the pedestrians to fall into). Then we dump huge piles of gravel anywhere the truck happens to stop. There, see.  It’s all fixed. It’s been fixed for about three weeks now and nobody has bothered to call the town managers to thank them. We’re such ungrateful wretches.

No, NONE of it is fixed! They just made it worse.

If it weren’t for the entertainment value, we’d be getting very tired of this silliness. The huge gap in the road that I described in Insect Authority is still there also, along with thousands of new axle-bending potholes in all of our streets. The Insect Authority ditch is now about a half-metre deep.

I don’t know if those responsible for our decaying town, once one of the most beautiful in the South Pacific, are incompetents, fools, crooks, lazy do-nothings, or all of the above.

Me – I just play the fool. The rest is too complicated.


Quizzes for Numbskulls

Posted in Humor, Rants and Rages on August 27th, 2009 by MadDog
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If you don’t use Facebook and you don’t think that I’m funny, then move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.

If you are a Facebook user, you probably fall into one of four categories:

1. You think quizzes are cool and you take every one that comes along.
2. You don’t care much about quizzes, but they don’t bother you. You might do one if it seems fun.
3. You dislike quizzes, do not take them on principle, and would dearly love to never see one again.
4. You despise them with a furious passion and have discovered how to heartlessly bludgeon them into submission. (That’s me!) *

First, a little background on Facebook quizzes. This is the goon who started the plague – patient zero – Thaddius Fuddsucker. You may notice the striking resemblance to Alfred E. Neuman. They are distant cousins. Thad started writing Facebook quizzes after his hospital recuperation from injuries sustained in a bar fight. He went back to his trailer and cried on the lap of his thirteen year-old bride until he had the inspiration to write the first and most famous of the Facebook quizzes, What Kind of BadA** Are You?  (Note my clever use of ** to obscure the word a**.)  The rest is history, folks.

A typical quiz writer

Note that Thad is a little squinty from brain damage and his left ear is a prosthetic.

My first and only foray into the underbelly of Facebook was when I took the quintessential What Kind of BadA** Are You?  quiz myself. I was delighted to find that I was Barrack Obama! I decided never to do another quiz, since the outcome could never be as good.

So, now we know that type of people who produce these scatological tidbits,  but who consumes them? Huh?

Well, I did a scientific survey of all of humankind to determine those who are most likely to succumb to the temptation to narcissistically force down other peoples’ throats information such as, what colour am I, what kind of underwear would I be, or if I were a root vegetable, what variety would I be? This turns out to be the grade between morons and idiots, commonly known as imbeciles:

Scientific chart showing the most likely group to take quizzes

This is, of course, right up my alley, so to speak. I come from a long line of inbred trailer-trash. Two of my close family, in fact, are feeble minded imbeciles and take Facebook quizzes at every opportunity. I’ve pointed them out here in a candid snap taken after a recent drunken brawl following a family discussion of the implications of the correlation between phases of the moon and the number of containers that fall off of ships. We’re going to have to choose our topics with more prudence. That one generated a lot of heat:

The two quiz takers in the Messersmith family

As you can see, we are all a little agitated. There was still a lot of hooting going on.

I know that someone is going to ask, so I’m the one behind my sister, Agnes, staring fixedly at a horse fly which landed on the lampshade. Honestly, it was the most beautiful thing that I ever laid eyes upon.

While we’re at it, I’d like to congratulate Uncle Fred on his recent diploma in Applied Sewerage Science from the Indianapolis Junior Technical Institution for The Twelve Fingered.

Now, of course, I can’t let this go before I tell you the quizzes that I would like to see. I don’t want to take them, I just want to see how many fuzzy numbskulls out there do.

(1) If you were a pair 501 jeans, how many buttons would you have on your fly?

(2) If Genghis Khan called you a sissy boo-boo nuggi-nuggi, who would you tell him to go and make love to?

(3) If you were a pair of pliers, what would you want to squeeze most?

(4) If your pyjamas were on fire, who would you most like to put them out?

(5) If you were a heartless dictator with the blood of millions on your hands, which one would you be?

and (my personal favourite)

(6) If Albert Einstein pooh-poohed you for believing in quantum entanglement, saying it was hogwash and represented “spooky action at a distance”, where, exactly, would you punch him?

Happily, not all of my family is so backward and stuffy. The younger generation is open-minded, politically aware, free-spirited, and each has a consciousness which has been expanded to the approximate size of Tasmania. They are “The Young Ones” and we love them all.

My politically active nieces and nephews

They are far too stoned to take quizzes.

Could this be a good  thing?

* Find the Facebook One-Click Quiz Blocker on the web and try it. You’ll see each quiz ONCE. Then you bludgeon it to death with one click of the mouse (powerful stuff!) and you will never see that quiz again.

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A Dog in a Red Dress – TELIKOM

Posted in Rants and Rages on June 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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Well, I’m as sick as a dog and stuck at home. This is going to be short, because I can’t stay on line with the decades-old copper wires that Telikom laughingly calls a phone system.

Telikom is a Dog in a Red Dress:
Telikom - the DOG in a red dress
Don’t ask mye why this strikes my as funny. My head feels as if it is stuffed with wet cotton (may be, for all I know), and I’m doped up on enough decongestants and antihistamines that I can’t actually tell where my fingers end and the keyboard begins. It’s like some kind of weird direct connection. Maybe that’s why I’m typing so fast. Man, I can’t ever remember typing this fast.

Anyway, back to the blood-sucking beast that we call Telikom. They keep telling me how much they are improving. Okay, they gave us some fancy little (cheap) desktop wireless phones that are supposed to connect us to the internet also. Guess what. The drivers won’t install. The local manager Mike Yandt (yes, I’m naming manes) told me on Monday morning that he would have my phone at home fixed the next morning. I asked him if he was sure. No worries was the answer. It’s now Thursday and still no phone that will stay connected. What kind of progress are they talking about . . . precisely?

I’ve given up on the normal means of trying to get things done. I’m going to start writing to anybody who will print what I send them. The Post Courier, The National, radio, tv, I don’t care. I’m going to raise as big a stink as I possibly can. Those of you who know me understand that I can stink mightily.

I’ve been trying to get a decent phone here in DCA for twenty years. Telikom can’t (read won’t) do it.

Okay, if that’s the way it’s going to be, then the gloves are off.