Echoes of Thermopylae

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The war in Europe drags on. Putin appears to have used Adolf Hitler’s program to mould his foreign policy – but now the analogy has come unstuck. When the Wehrmacht finally went into battle, the victories were swift and decisive in Poland, then nine months later in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. That has not been the case in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Russian army has proved to be anything but the modern fighting force we thought it was. And it was up against the most formidable of foes – people fighting for their very existence as a nation.

It’s actually starting to look a bit like the seven thousand Greeks (led by King Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans) holding back Persian king Xerxes and his vast, one hundred and fifty thousand plus, army at the pass at Thermopylae back in 480BCE. Volodomyr Zelensky has emerged as a leader every bit as inspirational as Winston Churchill. In response to his and his people’s defiance, Putin and his generals have resorted to dirty tactics, the latest being the bombing of a maternity hospital. Word is Syrian fighters, accustomed to urban warfare, are being brought in to take the major cities.

But it’s okay. Macdonalds has closed its stores in Russia.

Actually, events such as Macdonalds closing, and the removal of Facebook and Twitter must have some Russians wondering if what they’ve been told about the Russian army liberating Ukraine from a bunch of Nazis might be not quite true.

It’s not going to end the war, though.

Putin won’t stop until he has pulverised this country into oblivion. Ukrainians can avoid the fighting by using the evacuation corridors – into Russia or Belarus, not to the West.

It has to be time to call Putin’s bluff. Send in troops. If he wants to threaten nukes, see him and raise him. Nobody wants a nuclear war but if the West is not prepared to do that, Ukraine’s sacrifice will be in vain. Until next time, when Putin invades Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.

Here in Australia, the Wet continues. Brisbane, Sydney, and surrounding districts have all suffered major flooding. The clean-up is happening and defence force personnel and equipment have been brought in to help. Still, I can’t help but think that too many people are expecting the Government to ‘fix it’. Perhaps that’s what happens when we become too accustomed to governments directing our lives. I don’t remember that mentality during Brisbane’s 2011 floods.

Before we get too critical of government, though, we should remember we’re pretty well provided for here in Oz. An American friend recently had to go for emergency treatment at her local hospital, complaining of shortness of breath. It wasn’t covid. She was admitted to the intensive care unit overnight and subjected to the usual barrage of tests. Seems she had blood clots in her lungs and was given medication to help break them up. She’s recovering. In Oz, none of this would have been an issue. It would have been free under our health care system. But not in America. My friend does have health care insurance, but the desk jockey assessing the claim decided that her insurance didn’t cover her circumstances. Make no mistake. This was a life-threatening condition, ie she could have died. The hospital has taken up the fight with the insurer. But we sure as hell don’t want ot end up with a ‘system’ like that.

Back to the flooding.

Here in Hervey Bay flooding due to a rain event isn’t really an issue. However, I remember very well, a few months after we moved into this house in 2007 we had a major downpour. We live on a slope and when it really rains the water comes down that slope toward our house. That night we spent a few hours out on our back veranda sweeping water away from our back door. After that, Peter started the work to ensure water coming down the block was redirected around the house down to the road. It took a couple of years (the pictures below were from December, 2009). We had to put in channels and agi pipe and move our septic. But after it was done, we’ve had no further problems.

Mind you, our yard is very, very soggy, and very, very green. It’s going to need a few weeks of dry weather for us to be able to trim edges and hedges, pull rampant weeds, and mow the grass.

Floods after drought 2009
Approaching the back veranda
Gutters overflowing, water is rising on the veranda 2009
2013 and see how the water is directed off to the left

On a more positive note, it’s nice to be able to go to the shops without a mask and without having to check in. I’m sure the hospitality industry, in particular, agrees with me. And it might have taken a war and serious floods, but at least covid no longer dominates every news bulletin. We’re finally living with it.

Stay safe, everybody, and hug your loved ones.

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