Posted by: jkirkby8712 | January 11, 2012

Tuesday, 10th January 2012 – what I’m reading at present!

A couple of brief quotations from books I am reading at the present time.

From ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen:-   ‘”I think, Harriet, since your acquaintance with us, you have been repeatedly in the company of some, such very real gentlemen, that you must yourself be struck with the difference in Mr Martin. At Hartfield, you have had very good specimens of well educated, well bred men. I should be surprised, if, after seeing them, you could be in company with Mr Martin again without perceiving him to be a very inferior creature – and rather wondering at yourself for ever having thought him at all agreeable before. Do not you begin to feel that now? Were not you struck?  I am sure you must have been struck by his awkward look and abrupt manner – and the uncouthness of a voice, which I heard to be wholly unmodulated as I stood here.”’ [from p.32, Folio Society edition]  ………………….. a quotation which I think gives some clear idea of the social ‘personality’ of the subject of this particular Jane Austin novel  –    a novel, first published in December 1815,  about the perils of misconstrued romance.  As in her other novels, Austen explores the concerns and difficulties of genteel women living in Georgian-Regency England; she also creates a lively ‘comedy of manners’ among her characters.

From ‘Tobruk’ by Peter Fitzsimons’ [pub in 2006]:- ‘ From London, Churchill was so alarmed at the fall of El Agheila that he cabled Wavell: “I presume you are only waiting for the tortoise to stick his head out far enough before chopping it off. It seems extremely important to give them an early taste of our quality’. At this point, Wavell might well have been forgiven for sending a blistering reply back to Churchill, but ever the correct military man, he did no such thing. Nevertheless, he did have some cause for complaint. It had been specifically at Churchill’s behest that Wavell had sent, from North Africa to Greece over the previous two months, more than 58,000 experienced soldiers and 8,000 vehicles. And now Churchill was asking him to stop the [German] advance and chop the tortoise’s head off?  With what?  And to what ‘quality’ did Churchill refer?” [p188-189]

From ‘ART” – Architecture-Painting-Sculpture-Graphics-Technics:-  ’40,000  years ago, during the last ice age, the continents were still connected by land bridges. ‘Modern’ humans [Homo sapiens] had long before left their home in Africa and set out to populate the world. They reached Australia over the Torres Strait; the settlement of the Americas would first occur tens of thousands of years later. At about this time, an artist in what is today southern Germany carved a mammoth, while another carved a lion-headed man. The artifacts found in the Vogelherd Cave are the oldest known works of art. Presumably, other ‘first’ works that did not survive the ravages of time were created elsewhere’ [p7]

Those quotations I have included today simply as an indication [and a reminder to myself] of the variety of reading material I find myself  involved with from time, and readers to these pages over a period of months [even years] will have gain the impression that my reading matter at any particular time often is dependant on  my frame of mind or mood, whether I want something light and quick & easy to read, or whether I’m prepared to spend, sometimes up to months, reading a more serious piece of literature.  I guess that if I read all that I would like to, there would be nothing else of consequence happening in my life – a desirable practicality of course!!

Meanwhile, reading our daily papers today we see the resurrection of increases in petrol prices again, with claims that Melbourne petrol prices could get to their highest ever weekly average of $1.64 per litre, recorded in 2008, with the blame being placed on an expected surge in global oil costs, over concerns that escalating violence in the Middle East could curb supplies!  So motorists are confused and frustrated at the pricing mechanisms that determine these things, while motoring authorities, continue to criticise the lack of competition in the industry which allows such variations. Interesting that we blame the Middle East – perhaps indirectly that is correct – however, I understand that Australia’s regional market for petrol in particular, is Singapore, and the price of unleaded petrol in that country is the key petrol. Pricing benchmark for Australia. To meet Australian fuel demand, about 20% of petrol is imported [mainly from Singapore], which is the regional refining and distribution centre.  Where then, does the rest come from? Australian wholesale prices of petrol and diesel, are closely linked to the Singapore prices of petrol and diesel, not to crude oil prices [the Middle East affect I guess?].  So I believe that the Singapore price of petrol plus shipping costs and Australian taxes represents almost the entire wholesale price of petrol – about 95%. The balance is accounted for by insurance, a quality premium for Australian fuel standards, local wharfage and terminal costs, and some element of a wholesale marketing margin. The time difference between changes in Singapore prices is about 1-2 weeks.  These ‘statistics’ [or broad facts] are provided by Australian Institute of Petroleum, but I don’t really think they help the average Australian furl consumer to really understand, why we have to pay so much for our fuel. Of course, if Iran goes ahead with it’s current threats to ‘close’ the supply lines for fuel from those Middle East areas, then the argument that the situation in that part of the world affects what we pay is valid. Obviously, there is a lot more to understanding the whole fuel supply situation than these brief and somewhat vague intimations!

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