Merry Christmas, Australia
December 24, 2019 8:41 PM   Subscribe

Oz is just first. Your neck fo the woods could well be next. Good luck, Aussies.
posted by ocschwar at 8:51 PM on December 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Digital Earth Australia Hotspots map for those wishing to be better informed than the PM.
posted by flabdablet at 9:01 PM on December 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oz is just first.

Yeah. Cali is not going to be pretty this summer.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:14 PM on December 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

My local conflagration is clearly visible from space.

We've been super lucky with weather conditions for a week and fire crews have been doing sterling work on backburning that's kept it away from us so far, but towns not far to our north are looking very iffy and we're in for a run of stinkers this coming weekend: the Bureau is predicting 39°, 37° and 44° in Bairnsdale (102, 99 and 111 respectively, for those still in dungarees Frankenstein) and we're generally a few degrees hotter than Bairnsdale for being a tiny bit further from the coast.

I have been here for twenty years and have never seen temperatures like this in December. February, sure, but not December.

The pool is full and the pump is tested. Fingers crossed.
posted by flabdablet at 9:25 PM on December 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

Ah, how good are the Chats, eh Scott?

And how fucking dry is my beautiful little acreage in the Hunter. Thirty years I've lived here since leaving Melbourne and there have been dry spells but nothing like this. The ground is carpeted with bark and leaves shed from the gums, the grasses are fried yellow, the weeds crispy brown. Hadda buy water this weekend as the tank (a huge bastard) was empty. No fire close enough to be a threat so far, all credit to the local firies. Soon as there is I'm out of here. It's a tinderbox.

Good luck flabdablet, and many thanks for the song.
posted by valetta at 9:36 PM on December 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

Given where the fireground is, I'm not super excited about the coming weekend's hot northwesterlies.

Best case, the fact that so much country to our northwest has already been burnt out, and the fact that the fireys will have done their usual great job at blacking out the edges of their backburns, will be somewhat protective. Worst case, second-round fires rip through the toasted dried tree crowns in places where mainly undergrowth has burnt until now, hurling spot fires tens of kilometres in unpredictable directions.

But as long as little ms. flabdablet isn't feeling needless climate anxiety I'm sure we'll be fine.

Good luck to you too, valetta. Keep smiling.
posted by flabdablet at 9:45 PM on December 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

The song says that the whole country's counting on Scott Morrison, which is clearly false. Morrison, and the Libs, and Australia's governments generally have a lot of responsibility here, but the PM having a holiday probably the most trivial complaint imaginable.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:53 PM on December 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

He's on smoko, so leave him alone.
posted by flabdablet at 9:57 PM on December 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

The song says that the whole country's counting on Scott Morrison, which is clearly false. Morrison, and the Libs, and Australia's governments generally have a lot of responsibility here, but the PM having a holiday probably the most trivial complaint imaginable.

The problem is not that he's having a holiday, it's that his holiday finally made clear that he's not acting like a leader in the face of a national disaster. His party isn't willing to do even the most token gesture because they don't actually care if half the country burns down.
posted by Merus at 12:51 AM on December 25, 2019 [10 favorites]

the PM having a holiday probably the most trivial complaint imaginable.

I'm sorry but when the country is in crisis the country looks to its leaders for leadership not "fuck off, not my problem". Thanks to Murdoch, the right in Australia always seems to get a pass on being a pack of fucking crooks, on being uninspirational turds not fit for higher office, and being shitty economic managers.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:01 AM on December 25, 2019 [11 favorites]

To be fair, since the Mad Monk first gave the unprincipled shapeshifting prick the job of being The Hard Man In Charge Of Refusing To Talk About On Water Matters, Scott from Marketing has never given anybody any reason to expect anything beyond formulaic platitudes to emerge from his smarmy lying grinning useless head. Actual leadership is just not a capability you develop when your entire career has been predicated on doing whatever plays best with the focus group of the day.

Scott Morrison is going to do fuck all to better this country, not because he doesn't care - he's a dad, somewhere in that blob of rancid lard he calls a brain there has to be something resembling concern for his kids - but because when it comes right down to it he has no fucking skills other than relentless glad-handing self-promotion.

And that's what makes the Hawaii holiday misstep all the more astonishing. It's almost as if, having now gained the top spot in Australian politics, he has so little idea what to do with it that he can't even be arsed running shit by his focus groups any more.

His only way to weasel out of this one will be to go cap in hand yet again to Lord Moloch for another handout of heavy-duty distraction. Expect a ramping-up of confected outrage on the utterly spurious religious freedom front of the never ending culture war over the next few weeks.
posted by flabdablet at 1:45 AM on December 25, 2019 [10 favorites]

In other words: How good is Scott Morrison?

Not fucking good enough, that's how good.
posted by flabdablet at 1:50 AM on December 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

You are all being very unfair on Smirko. He did say when he won the election that he would "burn for the Australian people every single day", and he kept his promise

I reckon he's a deadset fucking legend burner. Nobody burns Aussies like Scrotty.
posted by Pouteria at 3:33 AM on December 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

At least the Mad Monk, for all he's a fucking prick and heartless human being, has been fighting bushfires for nearly two decades with the volunteer fire service. At not champagne unit bullshit either, he's been on the front line.

Sadly, he's just doing his conservative bullshit. Stick your neck out for your immediate community because morality, citizenship, personal responsibility blah blah blah but fuck actually fixing the root of the problem because too many self-important people might lose money.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:22 AM on December 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Thanks to Murdoch, the right in Australia always seems to get a pass on being a pack of fucking crooks, on being uninspirational turds not fit for higher office, and being shitty economic managers.

Not just in Australia, mate.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:19 AM on December 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

So just checking in a few days later - everything looks that much worse. Good luck y'all.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:27 PM on December 30, 2019

Yes, things are pretty bad. Entire coastal towns have had to evacuate to the beach. I don't know what inland ones will do. Things are pretty unpredictable. It turns out that when fires get sufficiently bad they create their own weather, and you get weird things like this:

Volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul died when 'fire tornado' overturned 10-tonne truck

So who knows what's going to happen.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:14 PM on December 30, 2019

Bruthen is still here, though loads of nearby neighbouring towns have had the shit burnt out of them and plenty more remain under severe threat even under today's far milder conditions. It's like a one-level fractal zoom out from the thing where that one house in the street stays weirdly up while the rest of it burns.

My family had decamped to Sale well before shit got bad here, taking the kittens and the dog and leaving me here with the horses and the old cat and the chooks and my rather spiffy new fuel-powered fire pump.

Plenty of toasted ex-bush bits have been falling from the sky. As far as I could tell, none of it was burning as it fell on us, but even so I was glad to own that pump when the power went out as Sarsfield burned last night. Comms went out some hours later as the tower batteries died. Mad props to the line crews from AusNet who got the town back online late this afternoon.

Just this minute, the emergency services have officially downrated Bruthen from Shit Fuck Hide Indoors level to Watch and Act, which I now propose to go outside and continue to do.

Any word from the Hunter, valetta?
posted by flabdablet at 12:52 AM on December 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

New Year greetings flabdablet, glad you, the family and the animals are safe. Filthy 40-sumthin smoky day here, a day of Watch but thankfully no need for Act.
posted by valetta at 5:15 AM on December 31, 2019

Speaking of New Year, normally at midnight I would get out on the back verandah, ring this old brass school bell I have and call "Happy New Year!" to the paddocks and houses beyond. Didn't though, decided in the current circumstance bell-ringing might alarm people.
posted by valetta at 5:24 AM on December 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Stay safe, folks. It's not bad here in WA, but we're thinking of you all over east.
posted by harriet vane at 5:57 AM on December 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

So the evac warning just came in for Bruthen. I'm staying all the same; I think my house is eminently defensible. My next door neighbour, an actual local (I've only been here for twenty years), is staying too. Rest of the street has chosen the more sensible option.

Also I just heard on the radio that our Emergency Management Commissioner's name is Andrew Crisp. Looks like 2020 has the same lazy writers' room as 2019 did.
posted by flabdablet at 12:56 AM on January 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

My friends evacuating via Smoko, also on the Great Alpine Road, must have had a similar reaction.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:29 AM on January 3, 2020

I live in Canberra but I’ve been with family in Perth for a couple of weeks. Seeing it from afar while family and friends are defending their properties or evacuating is really weird. Canberra itself maybe choking on smoke but it’s less on fire than some other places.

The next couple of days fill me with dread. Good luck everyone.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:20 AM on January 3, 2020

The odious Morrison still has no idea just how much social capital he burnt with that holiday. He spent yesterday being filmed "offering comfort".

It's not gone well.

Scott Morrison forces handshake and Murdoch media edits video to make victims look bad

Turns out there are people who don't like being glad-handed. Who'd have thought?
posted by flabdablet at 9:35 AM on January 3, 2020

This is such a terrible time for all of you. As an atheist, I have no prayers to give, but I've been thinking of you all day. Good luck, with the real challenges of now, and the future challenge of changing Australian politics.
posted by mumimor at 3:01 PM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

ABC News Live Blog
posted by valetta at 3:25 PM on January 3, 2020

Above-mentioned ABC blog just had a post quoting the Bruthen firey captain. I'd link but can't. Anyway, this tickled me:

“If we're to put these fires out we need a good 100mm [of rain] and that's not going to break the drought out here but it's going to definitely give us a good chance to douse what's out there in the bush, especially in those areas you physically can't get to. It's billy goat country and I don't think even some of the billy goats even really like it."
posted by valetta at 4:08 PM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nicko is a character. Very Army.
posted by flabdablet at 5:51 PM on January 3, 2020

So Bruthen is a bit of a ghost town right now, most people having taken the emergency services' advice and left while the leaving was good. I stayed because I didn't rate the risk at my place as high enough to be worth avoiding; so did two of my neighbours. So far we've had no actual defending to do. I'm surprised by that, but obviously pleased too.

Couple of fuckhead looters got citizens arrested and then properly arrested in neighbouring Wiseleigh last night. Such an arsehole response to these fires.

Fuckers deserve to be locked in a damp underground room with Scott from Marketing and nothing to eat except stale white bread sandwiches with a little too much vegemite, having the error of their ways interminably explained to them in a blokey jokey All Us Aussies Together sort of fashion laced with blindingly obvious advice and folksy anecdotes and that bizarre face he makes instead of smiling, until they're so totally ground down that they lose even the ability to wish it would stop.
posted by flabdablet at 6:53 PM on January 3, 2020 [7 favorites]

Flabdablet, I understand that's what Cabinet meetings are like, except you left out the bit where there's nothing to drink except instant tea or coffee, made with hot water from the tap.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:55 AM on January 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

flabdablet, my thoughts are with you. Hope the blaze stays well clear of you and yours.
posted by eirias at 9:12 AM on January 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the kind words, but this particular town is pretty much fine at present and my best guess is that it's likely to remain so. All the suffering is currently elsewhere.

Anyone with a few spare thoughts and prayers lying about might care to drop some on Goongerah. Good people live there.
posted by flabdablet at 3:07 PM on January 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Watching this unfold over the Christmas holidays has broken me in more ways than I thought I had left, and I'm in the suburbs of Brisbane, well away from the hellscapes. I can't even imagine what it must be like for those of you who are in the guts of it.

I was in Sydney at the end of October - it was smothered in smoke even then.

It isn't much but...I will be joining the local march on Friday 10 January. Less to help with the bodies and shouting (though sure, I'll do a bit of that), but more to find connections for greater organisation and ongoing praxis. You can too.

If you are overseas and want to help the victims of this, human and nonhuman alike, here are some donation links.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service

Victorian Country Fire Association

Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland

(Queensland is less impacted at this stage but RFBAQ personnel are fighting in the other states anyway, and need equipment and support just as much.)

SAFE LINK with a beautiful possum - Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service

Red Cross, SVDP, Salvos, etc. etc. are all running their own operations as well, but easy to track down depending on who you prefer.

A more comprehensive link to ways to help is here but CONTENT WARNING for images of distressed and injured native animals.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:07 PM on January 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

More donation links:
Victorian Bushfire Appeal (partnership between the Victorian Government, the Bendigo Bank and the Salvos)
Wildlife Victoria
Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery

Just noting that at this point, giving money is actually a better way to help than donating clothing, food, blankets etc. Relief agencies have a lot of donations of material goods already and it reaches a point where it become more time-consuming and resource-intensive to sort and transport the goods than to just spend money on what's needed where it's needed. I mean, most of you reading this are probably overseas anyway, but it's a good thing to bear in mind whenever there's a disaster and you want to help.

Please also be aware that there are scumbuckets around who are scamming donations through doorknocking and phone calls. Go with the reputable organisations, they've been at this for a while.

In other news, the smoke haze is pretty bad in Melbourne today and Bunnings, Officeworks etc have apparently sold out of smoke masks. It seems petty to complain about it in the circumstances, but if you have respiratory issues knowing others have it worse is small comfort. Everyone please look after your health and stay safe.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:48 PM on January 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

I made a thing
posted by flabdablet at 11:38 PM on January 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Hi flabdablet that's an amazing thing - will you be able to recover the lost section?

I'm happy you came through unscathed I spent too much of the 1st punching F5 on Himawari. The day here got gradually darker until maybe 1pm to the point where some cars had headlights on. Was smoky enough to induce coughing.

Meanwhile we're having what feels like the wettest, coldest summer, except for extreme days when temp races up from 9C to high 20's. We did a big planting in spring and were worried it'd die in a dry summer; some plants have actually drowned.
posted by unearthed at 4:50 PM on January 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

will you be able to recover the lost section?

I doubt it. I haven't found an online archive of that imagery, which is why I've been archiving it myself.

I've been doing that since 2017 with the raw zoom level 4 image tiles from the BoM satellite viewer. What I posted on YouTube dates from the beginning of a lightly cooked archive based on zoom level 6 tiles which is detailed enough to make 2160p video when I get hold of enough RAM to do that.

After the power came back on, I occupied myself between rounds of checking the skies for embers by acquiring a cheap VPS in an ex bomb shelter in Moldovia and getting a parallel archiving job going on that. I doubt that both my house and the bunker will go down at the same time, so I will certainly have an uninterrupted view of whatever comes next.
posted by flabdablet at 3:35 AM on January 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

The day here got gradually darker until maybe 1pm to the point where some cars had headlights on

The view from below in Auckland
posted by flabdablet at 3:56 AM on January 7, 2020

Krugman has an opinion on this: Australia Shows Us the Road to Hell
posted by mumimor at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Inside the huge Mallacoota evacuation. With some help from sort-of-local boat owners and a couple of nearby resupply vessels serving Esso's gas exploration program (ironic! But thanks.) These photos of the evacuees' dogs will cheer you up.
posted by Coaticass at 6:06 PM on January 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

James Bradley in the Guardian: Terror, hope, anger, kindness: the complexity of life as we face the new normal
posted by Coaticass at 9:43 PM on January 10, 2020

Ah there you are flabdablet. What time of night do you call this? I've been worried sick ... no, wait, that's not what I meant to type, my inner grandma took over for a sec.

Anyhow. Did wonder how you were faring in that little semicircle semi-surrounded by fire on the Vic map. My RFS map reckons I'm okay, little blazes here and there and round about but nothing the local firies haven't handled, bless 'em. Yesterday was vile, too very much torporific hot, today is heavenly wet and cardigan cold. No wonder I'm confused.
posted by valetta at 2:16 AM on January 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

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