The Nobel Peace Prize


The person, whom within MY lifetime, has done more for Peace and the preservation of good Literature in my lounge room, is the inventor of the MUTE BUTTON.

Eugene Polley of the Zenith Radio Corporation is credited with creating the first wireless TV remote that could turn off the sound. The marvellous invention came into being in 1995. Yes, that recently, only 22 years ago.

He did receive the Technology & Engineering Emmy Award (1997); IEEE Consumer Electronics Award (2009).

Unfortunately, this genius passed away in 2012 at the age of 96. This makes him ineligible as the prohibition of posthumous awards fails to recognise achievements by an individual who dies before the prize is awarded.

So, next best thing to do is to confer a Saint Hood, as this is an obvious miracle, witnessed by and of benefit to billions around the world.

FC Mickey Benefiel

Looking Back

Looking back from 20 years in the future

You are only 5 minutes late, don't get so bothered about a little delay.

I can remember when people had to line up for hours just to get on one of those big cramped, noisy aeroplanes in order to go from Hobart to Sydney. Then it took well over an hour to get there!

No Quick Cabs in those days. Everything was sub-sonic. Of course they used petrol driven jet engines back then and they had severe limitations on speed and weight, so they just crammed all the people they could into a plane and only went from one airfield to another. Oh, how I hated waiting for the suitcase to come off the plane and out on the conveyor belt, before I could even get out of the airport.

No door to door at all ! You had to take a cab or a rent a car to get to where you actually wanted to go. Now when I want to visit my son in Helensburgh, they put me down on the footpath right in front of the house, and my luggage as well.

And of course the high speed underwater ferries didn't even exist! I don't think anyone had even thought of such things back then. Hydrogen powered locomotion and aqua dynamics engineering have made a huge difference to all forms of transport, but especially getting back and forth to England or Canada. It took Jet aircraft 12 hours just to get from Perth to Cape town! Can you imagine, sitting in a chair for 12 hours!

Back then just about everyone drove cars. There were just as many idiots in the world then, so you can imagine how dangerous it was. Now when you call for a pickup to go visiting or for an outing, it may take a few minutes for the transporter to arrive; but they have progressed tremendously since they got the trucks off the transways. Used to call them roads in the old days, before they put everything underground.

So settle down in the recliner there and have a cold beer. Fortunately, some things never change.

Mickey Benefiel

Where the Wind Comes From

A storey for Fia

A little girl named Fia sat watching the leaves being swirled in the air by a Dust Devil when her Grandfather came and sat beside her. "you look very thoughtful, what are you thinking about?", asked the old man.

"Where does the wind come from, grandpa?" said the girl, squinting to keep the dust from his eyes. "And why does it make such a mess?", she continued.

"Mother Nature owns the wind, but she doesn't always do a good job of making it behave. Some days it just gets out of hand and runs wild."

Pointing to the sky Fia asked, "Does it blow the clouds around too?" They watched the thin layer of scratchy cloud, strung out in long streamers across the horizon.

"Sometimes it does, other times the clouds and the wind are just playing chasings."

"Does the wind make it rain?"

"Oh no. The clouds own the rain, and the wind is jealous about that. Sometimes they don't get on very well at all, the wind and the clouds. The wind will make the clouds angry and that's when they get all dark and cover the sun. If the wind gets too pushy the clouds throw rain and roar with thunder and lightning to try and scare it off, but the wind just keeps on blowing and that's when we get bad storms."

Fia frowned. “The wind is always bad!”

No, wind makes peoples windmills work and sailors are always needing the wind to make their yachts go. Sometimes the wind cools the land after a real hot day, but that's when it just puffs up a breeze. It dries the washing on the clothes lines and helps you fly your kite. The wind can be really good when it wants to. It just doesn’t try very often."

They sat in silence for while, thinking about the wind and clouds, then Fia looked very seriously at her grandfather and said "when I act bad mum makes me stay in doors and I can't go out and play. I wish I was the wind, then I could do whatever I wanted to, and no body could boss me around."

"Now don't get me wrong dear, the wind doesn't always get it's own way. Mum Nature has her own punishments she hands out. She gets angry and makes the wind spend days out blowing the water into waves. Hard work that. Then another time she gets cranky with the clouds and makes them SO cold, that the rain freezes into ice and snow and the clouds can't hang onto it and they dry out, loose their thunder and lighting and sometimes just turn into fog."

"Wind can be real cold too", said Fia. "Does she cause that as well? Because I don't like it when it gets real cold."

"yes she does, but to make up for that she lets us have the fire place to get warm again. She owns fire too."

Bigger than Life

Everyone has known at least one character larger than life, and I have meet a few, but Hubert Kimberly-Jones was most memorable. (That wasn't his real name, but he used it because it was more impressive than Robert Jones.)

He was one of the foremost adherents of Fad and Fashion. lt was his belief that to be socially popular you had to be in fashion. For him that could translate into what you wore, where you went, how you got there and who you were associated with, and most importantly, what you did for a living. Where you resided probably mattered, but it wasn't something that he could do much about as his means were always quite limited. He made pretty good money, when he was employed. Employment certainly mattered.

"One has an obligation to avoid occupations which could be construed as unsociable. Better off between career opportunities than engaged in something crude or dull." He gave an example once when I questioned him about this attitude. "A financial analyst is currently acceptable, while a common accountant is not. No one wants to know a podiatrist, but orthopaedic surgeons are top of the A list."

To be accepted in society  was important for him to be de jour. He used a lot of French words, frequently out of context with what he was discussing. French terms were always in fashion. Some times Italian was acceptable.

I watched him, from a safe distance, go from Hippie to Share Market Lion to Sloan Square adherent, to artist colony groupie. For awhile he became highly enthusiastic about symphony orchestras, followed shortly after by a fascination with Hip Hop artistry. He topped that off with modern jazz dance lessons.

A classic example was the evening he burst into my modest flat and asked to borrow my world atlas. This was a huge coffee table edition that had belonged to my departed great aunt. I got it because no one else wanted it and it resided behind the bookstand. lt didn't fit on a shelf.

"l'm having a soire at my place tonite and need a conversation starter."

"How's that going to work", I enquired; "And why are you dressed that way?" "Gay is the new fashion." That supposedly explained the ridiculous attire which was an obvious attempt to look like the lead from 'The Boy from Aus'.

He retrieved the metre square tome from it's hiding place and dropped it on the table. This had been done with some difficulty as the very tight pants he had picked up at an opportunity shop didn't lend themselves to much bending.

Waving a limp wrist it the direction of the atlas he outlined the plot. "The book will be open to a map of a remote and suitably exotic locale along with a pad of paper and pencil. On the pad will be jottings about possible departure dates and a travel brochure will be open to the place of interest. Can't fail. Once you get this mob talking they can't be shut up. lt will be a sensational night."

"l didn't know you were sexually oriented in this direction. Gave up on the fashion models did you?"

"As a matter of fact, this has opened doors that were previous locked and barred. I have connected with an absolutely wonderful woman who has a heavenly body and photographic models face. She asked me to her place for dinner when we met at a horrifically gay bar. Said she liked gay men's company because they were sensitive and safe from becoming encumbrances. Her usual companions were lesbians."

"So how does this open doors?"

"l walked in with a bottle of wine, we drank that in about 5 minutes and next thing you know we're in the sack hammering away like deranged teenagers."

"Whatever works for you I suppose. Do you really like these people."

"God NO!, but I have to put up with it for a little while longer. Just until the Judicial Clerks position is secured. Law and courts, legal processes; all of that and criminal justice. lt is the next big thing."

With that he grabbed the atlas and left, not bothering to close the door.

I always wondered if his party goers noticed that the atlas was printed in 1928 and no longer resembled the countries of the world we now live in.

© Mickey Benefiel 2011

Mystery of the LEFT HAND GLOVE

It was no surprise when the policeman knocked on our door. There has been a series of thefts in the neighbourhood, all involving gardening tools. Mostly wheel barrows, power mowers and whipper snipers; but some inconsequential smaller implements.

"Just to eliminate you from our investigations, I would like to have look at your garden shed. Nothing personal, we are asking everyone in the area."

"Certainly", I replied. We entered the shed and there on the potting bench was a box full of used garden gloves.

"All these gloves are for the left hand. What are you, some kind of Michael Jackson Fan?"

"No sir. There is a perfectly rational explanation for my extensive collection of left hand gloves," I replied, remaining unruffled by the bullying inspector that had just accosted me in the most reprehensible manner.

"Each of these gloves has born witness to the labour to the death of it's right hand companion. They have watched and often assisted while the right hand glove undertook tasks both arduous and, at times, dangerous."

" Gloves don't do ANYTHING on their own! You wear them while you do things."

"Not true! These gloves have protected my hands through renovations, stump removals, rubbish dumping trips, and wood cutting, sawing, hammering, drilling.."

"All right, all right. You've made your point. But where are the right hand gloves? Answer that!"

"They have been consigned to waste baskets, rubbish bins. Lost in battle with weeds. Destroyed by toxic paint waste. The finger tips ripped by splinters; torn on rusty guttering; Cuffs caught on protruding nails and screws; and occasionally, NICKED!"

"You mean to say someone would stoop to stealing a right hand glove? "

"Some people cannot cope with the loss of their own right glove, so they compensate by surreptitiously taking a friends. Just a loan, every intention of returning it. But they never do. It is one of the social tragedies of our time."

"So, just how many of these left hand gloves do you have?"

"Thirty two at last count. I do make a conscious effort to keep track of them."

"And how many Right Hand gloves do you currently have?", he growled as he pawed through my collection.

"Three, if you count this one with the hole in the index finger. I'll have to make a trip to the hardware store soon."

He was apparently satisfied with my explanation and said his goodbyes, with a final warning to keep the shed locked.

As he left, I turned to the garden shed cupboard, pressed the concealed latch and pulled open the hidden drawer. There they were. Thirty two pristine right hand gloves. And room for many more. None of them matched of course. My Garden Club friends all buy different brands. I'm very discerning about what I borrow.

© F.C Mickey Benefiel

I Know a Man

He had been sitting there without making a single comment for the best part of an hour. The banal conversations carried on by witless people feeling a need to listen to their own voices was mind-numbing. Worse, the content was universally facile and meaningless. Some of the comments were obviously falsehoods, even if they were declared to be "Gods own truth", as contended by one of the most insistent babblers.

He looked docile enough but in his mind he said, "I'll drop a bomb in a minute and shut the lot of them up for good!"

He waited for the right opportunity to present itself, then lent forward and spoke softly but very distinctly. "I know a man that single-handed captured an illegal immigrant."

The mere act of a man breaking the silence commanded immediate attention. Gasps of "Really?" and "Oh my!" encouraged him to continue.

"He was flying from Beijing to Frankfurt at the time." He then thought 'They may not be bright enough to grasp that' and added out loud, "China to Germany flying Lufthansa."

The chattering group was struck silent by this disclosure and leaned forward, willing, even eager to hear him relate his tale.

"He was sitting in a business class seat close to the entry to the plane and just as the steward was closing the hatch, a large black fly streaked into the cabin and whizzed past his head."

"Heavens!" exclaimed an overdressed matron sitting opposite. Others nodded in sympathy.

There was a dramatic pause while the purveyor of this astonishing information adjusted his seat before continuing. "Now consider the following. In this age of miniaturised electronic engineering, it is conceivable that this was in fact a radio controlled robotic spy, cleverly disguised as a fly. It could have been sent into the aircraft to listen to conversations or even photograph documents being read by one of the passengers. The information could be transmitted back to a command post."

Now the listeners all nodded in unison.

"Or, the fly had been injected with a highly infectious viral strain and placed on the flight with the intention of introducing catastrophic disease into the country of destination."

This resulted in a cackling that would be expected in a hen house at egg-laying time. When the atmosphere was again favourable, he continued in a matter of fact voice, "Of course the fly may simply have been seeking a new home in which opportunities to feed, and potentially breed, were more favourable."

Another pause ensued and one of the listeners attempted to interject but was quickly silenced by, "Such an idea is of course ludicrous. A fly is unlikely to posses the intellectual capacity to consider such alternative life choices."

There was audible agreement to this observation and he decided it was time to bring his tale to a conclusion.

"All of this is meaningless conjecture of course. Said fly landed on his cheese plate during dinner and he crushed it with the In-Flight magazine."

He then rose and without further comment departed, leaving them sitting there, wide-eyed and wondering about the fate of the migrant fly.

© F.C Mickey Benefiel