Ultimate Freestyle Swimming

Although I’ve always been pretty good at breaststroke swimming, the crawl, or freestyle has always eluded me.  Up until few years ago swimming 2 or 3 lengths freestyle was a major challenge. Attempting to fix this by employing a private coach was even more depressing as he ended-up effectively telling me to go away and come back when I was able to swim 10 lengths. Hopeless!  That is until I came across a method called ‘Total Immersion (TI)’, which in the words of snake oil advertisements ‘changed my life’.  In this case though it is true!

The TI method was founded by Terry Laughlin, an accomplished American coach.  It is a ‘fishlike’ style of swimming that emphasises ‘slippery’ body lines instead of muscling the water with arms and legs. The most important characteristic is balance in the water so that almost no leg movement is needed, no kicking to stay afloat.  Propulsion is achieved by ‘twisting’ the body core through the water. Strength from twisting the body core, rather from muscles of the arms and legs, is also a key martial arts principle.   Another characteristic of the TI approach is to keep the body as a ‘boat’ as long as possible, which is how naval architects design boats to go faster, the longer a boat the faster it will be able to go for the same power output.

To learn the TI method you start out on your back, then go through a series of practice steps to train the body balance and muscle memory until you are achieving effortless front crawl (freestyle stroke).  Having mastered that I found myself quickly able swim almost indefinitely, or at least being able cover several kilometres non stop, particularly once the breathing becomes comfortable.

It is an incredibly relaxed style of swimming, moving through the water elegantly with hardly a ripple, particularly as reducing turbulence reduces the amount of energy needed for propulsion. The legs do what’s called a ‘flutter kick’, which is just a couple of kicks for each twist of the body.  None of the mad, energy sapping kicking that we learnt at school.

The TI method was based on a careful analysis of why some of the fastest swimmers in the world actually use less strokes per distance. For me though it isn’t about speed at all. In fact I’m quite a slow swimmer, but is more about sustained, relaxed exercise. Wonderful for open water swimming, non stop for an hour listening to music from a waterproof ipod!


Somebody asked me the other day whether I always vote National (Conservative, Republican etc). The answer is yes … and no.  Yes because the historical evidence says so, no because for me voting is mostly about keeping socialist parties out rather than because National is a party that I’m keen to support.

Socialism is widely proven to be the economic death knell of a country.  The equality that socialism attempts to force by government controlling interventions and taxation, is contrary to the natural drivers for successful evolution.  That is not so much evolution in an anatomical sense but evolution of mankind’s capabilities and ability to thrive.  A rough proxy for this is economic success, which is also a necessary precursor to adequately fund defence, law and order, infrastructure (including transportation, housing, power, water etc), education, health and social services in general.

The socialist way to economic destruction comes about by biasing the playing field to artificially favour the less able,  by decision making by committee, diminishing the importance of individual brilliance, enforcing group think, and by government by intuition rather than logic.  Also because socialist politicians tend to have little experience of and aren’t motivated by entrepreneurial success that is so essential to economic success.  Indeed, many of the more extreme socialists have an anti-economic death wish (bring down the ‘establishment’), which these days is often progressed as ‘saving the environment’ (and the planet).

Israeli one state solution.

There was a question on Quora, ‘What do you think of the Israeli one state solution of Caroline Glick?’

Well I’ve not read Caroline Glick’s book yet but in any case have reproduced in full below, a reply from Chaim Handler, which is a straight forward, straight talking analysis that filters out the noise. Also reflecting much of my own thoughts on this subject such as they are:

‘I’ve been a fan of Caroline Glick for decades. I haven’t read her book but I enjoy reading her columns because they cut through the B.S.

I’ve written a few posts in my “space” detailing my opinions on this topic. Quite frankly I think people have consistently been overthinking the whole situation. I have come to the realization that the reality is far simpler than people would like to admit.

The simple fact is that sovereignty over the Ottoman territories in the Middle East were legally transferred by treaty from the Turks to the League of Nations, who legally divided those territories into mandates, and thence transferred sovereignty to the States that were proclaimed in each of those mandates. The fact that the opportunity to declare a State was given to the Palestinian Arabs, was only relevant at the specific point in time that sovereignty left the hands of the Mandatory power and was passed on to the single solitary State that was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, Israel.

It wasn’t an opportunity they simply missed. It was a calculated choice to disregard the legal process of the transfer of sovereignty, and to attempt to militarily overthrow Israeli sovereignty, replacing it with their own. It could have succeeded, in which case seventy years later the world would not still be trying to negate the sovereignty of the Arab State of Palestine as it is trying to do to the Jewish State. The world community would never expect it to be possible to “shame” Arabs into renouncing sovereignty and bestowing it upon their adversary, as they seem to expect the Jews to do.

In fact they have been demonstrating this contempt for Israeli sovereignty as early as December 1948, when the UN passed resolution 194 demanding that Jerusalem be “internationalized”. That was while Israel was still fighting to survive, months before the armistice that gave Transjordan temporary control over the Eastern half of the city.

Could anyone imagine any sovereign country agreeing to relinquish sovereignty over any part of their territory, much less the city recognized as integral to the nation’s historical heritage? Needless to say Israel did not and will never voluntarily acquiesce to international pressure to relinquish its sovereignty. But for some reason there seems to be a false impression that Jews can be suckered or bullied to do things no other nations would agree to.

I’ve always believed that what everyone refers to as the “occupied territories” are in fact Israeli territory. How could they not be? What legal claim did Jordan have to the West Bank? They themselves renounced the claim that was never recognized as legitimate. The Egyptians never even claimed the Gaza Strip belonged to them. If the Palestinian Arabs had any legitimate claim it would be to all of what was designated to them in resolution 181. But the fact remains that they refused to consummate the deal and declare a State. On the contrary, they used military aggression to try to seize what was designated to the Jews. They gambled. They lost.

Then, not long ago, I was made aware of the legal principle of Uti Possidetis Juris, and it was no longer simply a question of logic. By this law, at the moment sovereignty is transferred from a sovereign power to a newly proclaimed State, that State (or those States) gain sovereignty over the entire territory that was controlled by the former sovereign power. By refusing to proclaim an Arab State on May 14, 1948 the Palestinian Arabs ensured Israeli sovereignty over the entire territory that was formerly Mandatory Palestine. When Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraqi forces crossed the border and invaded on May 15, 1948 the were invading territory that was already legally Israeli sovereign territory. That is the simple fact that no one wants to acknowledge.

When Jordanian and Egyptian forces withdrew from the territories they had occupied for 19 years as a result of their aggression in 1948 against Israel, those territories were liberated and reverted to the Israeli sovereignty that was in effect at the time of their military occupation by foreign forces. That is the simple fact, and no court has ever presented a reasonable argument explaining how it can be illegal for Israel to exert sovereignty within the territories in question. The international community can make proclamations and condemnations to their hearts’ content. Saying Israel’s is illegally occupying these territories is meaningless without it being proven in a court of law.

And even then, sovereignty is, by definition, a matter of who ultimately possesses control over territory. I highly doubt that if the Palestinians has succeeded in seizing control in 1948 there would be any question as to Palestinian sovereignty over all of what was Mandatory Palestine, despite the fact that they would have gained their sovereignty through military aggression. The only reason anyone questions Israel’s sovereignty today is because there are Israelis who openly question our own right to sovereignty. As I said, people overthink what is in actuality perfectly simple. There are no “Israeli occupied territories”. They legal borders of the sovereign State of Israel is and have been since May 14, 1948, identical to the borders of the former Mandatory Palestine.

I wrote about this, including my understanding of the government of Israel’s motivations for failing to acknowledge and assert its sovereignty, perpetuating the false belief that the territories are occupied, in my post: Uti Possidetis Juris or the Misnomer of Occupation – Chaim Handler’s Posts

What all this means is that there is nothing for Israel to “annex”. All Israel needs to do is acknowledge that the territories under its control are indeed sovereign Israeli land. Which raises the question of the status of the residents of what has been considered, falsely, Israeli occupied territories. Like Caroline, I had also believed that there would be no alternative other than granting citizenship to all who desire it, and permanent residence status to those who do not, with the hope that doing so will not transform Israel from the Jewish State into a bi-national or Arab State. But again I have recently become aware that this too is our overthinking what is a far simpler matter.

Strangely, nearly all of the countries of the world who assert the Palestinians’ right to self-determination are themselves hosts to a surprising number of self-governing autonomous regions (see: “List of autonomous areas by country – Wikipedia). Even among the western Europeans who are the most liberal supporters of Palestinian rights have promoted the solution of self-governing autonomies within sovereign States (see: “Positive experiences of autonomous regions as a source of inspiration for conflict resolution in Europe”).

In short, I don’t believe Israel needs to annex the occupied territories, it merely needs to assert its sovereignty over the territories liberated in 1967 that have always legally been Israeli territory. And Israel does not need to grant full Israeli citizenship to the population of the territories that have been referred to as the Palestinian Autonomy since the Oslo accords of 1993. The Palestinian Autonomy can continue to exist within Sovereign Israel just as Puerto Rico exists under US sovereignty and the Basque region under Spanish sovereignty and Kurdistan under Iraqi sovereignty and Corsica under French sovereignty and on and on. Even after Israel asserts its sovereignty options exist for integrating the residents of the Palestinian Autonomy and granting full citizenship, or creating a federation of Israel and a Palestinian State. But the only genuine obstacle to Israel asserting its sovereignty over all of what was formerly Mandatory Palestine is the leadership and initiative to do so.

More about autonomy and the demographic issue can be found in my post: The Demographic Strawman in Chaim Handler’s Posts.’

Further comment:-

Question from Shane Gericke:




McDonald’s is not our mate, or our cobber, it isn’t our buddy or our chum, nor our homie or our pal, or even our cuz.  ‘We don’t need no stinkin nickname’ (to the tune of ‘another brick in the wall’).

Nicknames are a kind of acceptance into our everyday lives. A sad fact that this and other fat food parlours have become so familiar to so many Kiwis. 


Primary school started with a nightmare. A boy there constantly bullied me, physically, at play time. Being so young such casual aggression directed towards me was completely alien. Without strategies or methods to deal with the situation school was an unhappy place.  Eventually I cried to my parents about the boy at school who was making my life a misery.

My father took me to one side and said next time the boy has a go at you, make a fist like this and punch him hard in the nose. We practised that for a bit.  Later at school in the playground the boy began to bully me. Although not naturally aggressive, following my father’s instructions I punched him straight in the nose.  Although the blow probably wasn’t that hard, he didn’t pick on me again.  Most likely the shock of unexpected retaliation more than physical hurt. In any case the concept of ‘fighting back’ was a revelation.

A few years later the boy who lived over the road (whose family were a bit of an unruly bunch) started pushing me around. Every time I went out to play when he was there he picked on me.  Eventually I told my mother what was happening.  She simply put a big stick in my hands and said next time he has a go at you, pick up the stick and chase him away.   So that’s exactly what I did, and Colin ran away. Strangely perhaps, shortly after that we became lifelong friends!

Those were important lessons in life, that there are bullies in this world and how to deal with them. Later at a more senior school boys school, being Jewish, I was perhaps exposed to potential abuse more than most.  One boy I remember in particular, repeatedly abused my cultural heritage.  For a time I kept my redish headed temper in check but eventually decided to let it off its leash, whacking him hard on the nose.  Following which we became friends! A strange phenomenon how sudden respect can change relationships and outlooks.

However I’m certainly not squeaky clean myself.  There was a boy in senior school, Jeremy, who was a little over weight and whose father was a member of parliament (although neither of these have anything much to do with the story).  Many of the boys used to pick on him, he was that type of boy who ‘invited’ being picked-on for some reason, and I can remember joining-in one day, sticking pins in his bottom!  Not proud of that but it changed over time, with many of the culprits, including myself eventually spending quite a bit of time over at Jeremy’s house doing stuff together.  So yes, boys will be boys, not always particularly kind, but usually it will resolve, similar to any pack of young animals.

Anyway, perhaps the main point to the above is that everybody has the capability within themselves to deal with bullies. I was not a large boy. It has nothing much to do with physical prowess, rather is 95% mental. Dealing successfully with bullies is an important lesson in life. However it isn’t going to be learnt if parents, as so often seems to be the case these days, step in and complain. Don’t do it!  Don’t give a man a fish, give him the means to fish. Give your child the tools to deal with the real world themselves and if needs be a chance to practice using those tools.

Bullying in the workplace might not often be physical but usually can and I believe should be handled similarly, by giving back as much, or preferably more than the bully. A short, sharp shock of some sort is usually effective.  However I’m talking about real bullying, not just being told off by the boss because you’ve done something wrong.   On that score it seems that there is a trend by an increasing number of people to label any kind of direct personal criticism or confrontational behaviour that they don’t like as bullying (a bit of push and shove at school is not bullying, it is part of natural social dynamics).  Confrontational behaviour doesn’t necessarily constitute bullying, whether from a colleague or a boss.  Disrespect or abuse however needs to be dealt with quickly and decisively by the recipient, which can avoid it turning into bullying.  Don’t be a soft target!  Run away and you become prey. Bullies generally exist because the victims haven’t learnt or been allowed the opportunities to learn how to deal with them.

Some definitions

Lefty liberal – Those that believe there are unjustified inequalities (typically perceiving themselves as being or siding with the downtrodden) that need to be eliminated, whilst also being anti-authoritarian (except when imposing their own ideals). Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-libertarianism

Greenie – An extreme environmentalist, where ‘environment’ doesn’t necessarily include human beings.  Often applicable to those pursuing political ideals under a cloak of green righteousness.

Namby Pamby or Lovie – Essentially the opposite of the tough, self-sufficient, practical, straightforward, pioneering character. These people shy away from direct confrontation ( but are often quick to complain anonymously to authority), are risk averse, wrap their children (and themselves) in cotton wool, cultivate a veneer of social caring, fear anything mentally or physically challenging, are easily swayed by social consensus of the moment.

Is Christchurch the next Cape Canaveral?

Rocket Lab is an amazing and inspiring New Zealand company (albeit setup by a USA sister company).  It has developed and continues to develop some incredibly innovative, aerospace technology, to be successfully launching rockets (currently the ‘electron’) delivering satellites into space on a commercial basis. The company is working on a new rocket, the ‘photon’, which will deliver payloads to the moon and beyond.

Here comes my rant!

The current Government is all over Rocket Labs’ success, as if it was anything much to do with them.  We now have a government ‘space agency’, which although very grand sounding, really just grants licenses and permits to launch stuff from and over New Zealand.  The ‘space minister’ is Phil Twyford, the failed Kiwibuild minister.

Recently a ‘number of government departments’ commissioned the accounting firm Deloitte to provide a strategic plan to create an aerospace sector in Christchurch city by 2025: https://bit.ly/2PLpMYy

So why would Christchurch suddenly become a centre for aerospace (or space really as we’re talking about rockets rather than aircraft) in New Zealand?  Deloitte’s answer seems to boil down to because Christchurch has got a university and some good potential launch sites.  Beneath the glossy presentation the reporting firm is clearly scrabbling to somehow make a stupid idea sound positive.  Indeed you have to wonder about the integrity of a company that would even take on such a ridiculous assignment.

The only way that Christchurch could have a chance of becoming a space centre is if Rocket Lab setup there. So instead of commissioning  a no doubt costly report, the Government simply needed to ask Rocket Lab, would you setup in Christchurch if the incentives were right? Or similar.  Then get busy to make even a half positive response happen.  But who is the minister responsible for space, oh oh, Mr failed Kiwibuild!

Although there are some world beating high tech companies operating in New Zealand, you do have to wonder whether Government here will ever be up to the task of presiding over a country that does more than just grow cows.

Why NZ Labour/Greens Can’t Get Things Done

It seems to me that there are certain kinds of people whose minds seem to operate with an understanding that getting something done is not as important as the perception by others of getting something done. A characteristic of the ‘socialist mind’ perhaps, in the sense of living firmly in the world that people create amongst themselves, whilst being relatively detached from the  physical world where logic prevails.  Politicians and particularly the kind of politicians in our current leftist/greenie government in New Zealand, it seems are of that ilk.

The current government really do seem to be unable to distinguish the Politician’s syllogism from reality:

  1. To improve things, things must change
  2. We are changing things
  3. Therefore, we are improving things.

Though its more like:

  1. To improve things, things must change
  2. We have created a working party and are spending money therefore we must be changing things
  3. Therefore, we are improving things.

So by promising to build 20,000 houses in 3 years, putting a minister in charge and calling it Kiwibuild we are improving things.

Similar to the ‘gun buyback scheme’, which was a knee jerk reaction to the Christchurch mosque massacre. We’re doing something, therefore we are improving the situation.

There’s an associated idea that ‘improving the situation’ is good enough. No need to solve the actual problem.

The same applies to ‘climate change’ related legislation and taxation.   Never mind that those don’t in reality achieve anything (apart from damaging the economy), as long as we’re perceived as being engaged in dealing with the ‘climate emergency’.

No doubt most of those politicians really do believe this it is a reasonable goal to be seen to be doing something as a useful goal in its own right, almost irrespective of reality. Social momentum (that translates into votes) is enough reality. 

So almost everything is about token gestures, virtue signalling, and immediate perception, as long as it can be achieved by banning, taxing, or in some cases liberalising … thinking about the impending referendum to legalise cannabis.  However anything that requires planned systemic change, setting the vision and an organised plan to get there, is beyond their interests and experiences it seems (no ex military generals here). 

Also though, the people on the ground doing the work, the public servants, particularly more senior ones, are equally, overly concerned with ‘look and feel’.  A low paid public service does not attract top performers of the sort needed to tackle the challenges involved in successfully achieving substantial change.

Current Government’s socialist psyche together with too many incompetent ministries appears to be a perfect storm of non achievement.

How to Get Rid of Fossil Fuels!

Everything is just energy and information (and possibly just information, depending on your school of physics).
We need to crack the current energy constraint big time. Which will happen in a few more years with thermonuclear fusion generation.
All the rest, renewables, climate, carbon, Gretta, Attenborough, blah blah blah, is just annoying background noise pending that.

The future has got to be virtually unlimited, incredibly low cost, clean electricity, made from sea water, using the same generation method as the sun and every star in the universe … and it will be beautiful!

We can hardly imagine how much nuclear fusion generation will change the world. No need to insulate or conserve. The cost of making aluminium, steel and other materials will be ridiculously low. Electricity needed to produce hydrogen (for example) to power vehicles will be virtually free.  Food production, for instance by vertical farming, will be revolutionised with almost unlimited power.  Mankind will at last have powered away from the energy shackles of stone age fire.

There are several significant projects working on viable production of fusion energy, however it will take tens of years to get there.  A report by a panel of distinguished scientists from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to the DOE, USA, concluded that a $200 million annual investment in the technology for the next several decades could lead to a commercially viable reactor before 2050! There are several relatively small, agile initiatives, funded privately, which could get there a lot quicker.

Seems pretty clear that the best chance we have of moving away from burning fossil fuels is to create practical fusion plants. To achieve that, the money currently being spent on solar, wind, and all other costly, inefficient methods that capture relatively feeble amounts of second hand energy from our Sun, as well as those funds being wasted on climate research, carbon taxation and similar, all need to be invested in development of practical nuclear fusion. With fusion power if we want to ‘fix’ the planet, all the energy needed will be available to create and run machines that can do that; sequestrate carbon dioxide or whatever.

Attempting to beat major Governments about the head with bleats of ‘climate crisis’, will not stop the burning of fossil fuels to generate essential power.  Particularly given the massive benefits to mankind that have accrued as a result. Including abundant harvests with increasing CO2 plant food.  Poverty, sickness, starvation, and even deaths from natural disasters have all significantly reduced over recent years.  Never have we had it so good.  Ceasing burning fossil fuels will only happen either when they run out or are replaced by  (relatively safe) hugely sustainable power at much less cost, i.e. fusion energy.

Frankly, the greenies should be out there with their placards screaming ‘fusion emergency’ if they’re serious about saving the planet!