Donald, how would you know?

Harrison Ford was at Sydney Opera House yesterday, attending a fan event promoting his new film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

While in Sydney, Ford took a shot at Donald Trump.

The New York Times reported last week that Trump had said that he enjoyed movies with heroic presidents — singling out Air Force One, the 1997 films in which Ford plays a president who has to fight off a group of Russian terrorists when they hijack the presidential plane.

“My favourite was Harrison Ford on the plane,” Trump said. “He stood up for America.”

When asked by Channel Ten’s Angela Bishop what he thought of Trump’s remarks, Ford replied: “It’s a movie.”

“Donald, it was a movie,” he continued, while looking into the camera and shaking his head. “It’s not like this in real life, but how would you know?”

Source: The Age

Vale Pete Seeger

“Pete Seeger was a messenger of universal love and peace. He was my first inspiration to write songs and share music in my own way. God bless,” tweeted Neil Diamond on January 28.

The grand old man of the protest movement died in New York, aged 94, earlier this week. It seems like he had been around for ever, and that his influence in music and activism spread far and wide and inspired many people in all walks of life. He was a member of the Almanac Singers (1940s) and the Weavers (1950s), but also performed as a solo artist and with various friends and colleagues. He counted some of the most famous folk singers among his friends, including the great Woody Guthrie.

During his career Pete recorded prolifically and his discography includes fifty-two studio albums, twenty-three compilation albums, ten live albums, and five singles. Little Boxes, written by his friend Malvina Reynolds and recorded as a single was a hit for him in 1963.

His compositions include Where Have All the Flowers Gone? (with contributions from Joe Hickerson and the children at Camp Woodland), If I Had a Hammer (co-written with Lee Hays of The Weavers), Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (also with Lee Hays), and Turn! Turn! Turn! (lyrics adapted from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). His songs have been sung and recorded by some of the best-known names in the music world – among them Bruce Springsteen, The Byrds, Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio, Marlene Dietrich, Johnny Rivers, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Trini Lopez.

I discovered Pete Seeger in the early 1970s. If I remember correctly I was ambivalent about his political views and his social action agenda, but I fell in love with his music, and in 1971 I bought a CBS LP, Pete Seeger’s Greatest Hits. Pete himself wrote the cover notes. He began with, ‘These are my “hits”? CBS Records picked the title of this album, not me. Now read the truth: Some of them were hits by the Weavers. Some songs were made hits by Peter, Paul and Mary, The Byrds, the Kingston Trio, Marlene Dietrich, Trini Lopez, and others. But none of them by me. My own records were collectors’ items – no one but collectors ever bought them.’ I think he was being rather modest, because the first song on the album is Little Boxes, which really was a hit, whichever way you look at it. The rest were a mix of his own compositions, protest songs, songs adapted from folk songs from various traditions, and songs which started life as poetry. Pete Seeger’s Greatest Hits became one of my favourite albums. I still have the original vinyl LP, but now I also have it in MP3 format and it plays regularly on my computer. It’s still one of my favourites, and I long ago gave up that ambivalence.

Many tributes have been written since Pete Seeger’s death. I liked:
Pete Seeger, songwriter and champion of folk music, dies at 94 – New York Times.
Pete Seeger: 10 great songs – The Telegraph (UK).
Watch Bruce Springsteen’s Moving Birthday Tribute to Pete Seeger – Rolling Stone.

Pete Seeger at Wikipedia.


Ethan Schlussler has been building a tree house. It’s nine meters (thirty feet) from the ground – quite a long climb by ladder. Ethan decided there had to be a better way, and built a lift using an old bicycle. It reminds me of the lift I built to get to my treehouse when I was about eleven years old. Mine wasn’t as sophisticated, nor did it need to climb so high, but it worked quite well.

The full story on Ethan and his lift is here.

Watch Ethan’s own video of the lift in use:


According to a news report, Dmitry Argarkov of Voronezh, Russia, received a letter offering him a credit card. He didn’t like the bank’s terms, so he scanned the application into his computer and made a few alterations, then sent it off to the bank. In due course he received back a copy of the contract – signed by the bank – and a shiny new credit card.

The bank later tried to close the account because payment was overdue. It sued Mr Argarkov for 45,000 roubles of fees and charges.

Unfortunately for the bank, apparently no one actually read Mr Argarkov’s altered version of the contract before they signed it. The new terms were definitely not in the bank’s, er… interest:

  • a zero per cent interest rate
  • no fees
  • no credit limit
  • every time the bank failed to comply with the rules, he would fine them 3 million roubles ($A100,000)
  • if the bank tried to cancel the contract, it would have to pay him 6 million roubles

This week a Russian court found in Mr Argarkov’s favour, and ordered him to pay only the outstanding amount due on his account.

“The Bank confirmed its agreement to the client’s terms and sent him a credit card and a copy of the approved application form,” his lawyer, Dmitry Mikhalevich, said. “They signed the documents without looking. They said what usually their borrowers say in court: ‘We have not read it’.” Mr Argarkov is now suing the bank for 24 million roubles for breaking the agreement and not honouring the contract.

The bank has launched its own legal action, accusing Mr Argarkov of fraud. I’m sure the bank would argue mea culpa (“my mistake”) if Mr Argarkov had signed an agreement without reading it. They’d be quick to deny liability for the customer’s mistake.

But I guess that’s different.