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The world is awash with opportunities. Especially Lucky Country Australia.

Opportunities I spied on my current Australian travels:

Melbourne car wash. Minimum price $AUD50.


Glossy magazine called “Slow Living.


Favorite ad in Slow Living magazine.


Australian Mother’s Day greeting card:


You don’t want to hear about my travels. The animals we’ve seen, and nearly seen. The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road. Or the great red rock called Ayers Rock or Uluru. The food that’s excellent, but pricey. The friendly people who speak English, sort of.  Nor my photos of fun Australian places. How would I not bore you?Then I found a surprise. This man says it much better than I ever could:

Did you have a good time?

by Robert Dessaix, Australian writer. From the Byron (Bay) Echo

In medieval Europe a knight’s return from pillaging foreign lands was the occasion for swooning and wonderment. He regaled anyone he could buttonhole with tales of derring-do and outlandish local customs. When pilgrims got back from an encounter with the Infinite in Jerusalem, say, or even, more improbably, Wales, the whole village would be agog. Victorian travellers hastened to harangue the Royal Geographical Society about their adventures.

Nowadays when we get back from overseas our friends turn off their phones and pretend they’re not at home. Blessed by the pope in Rome? Who cares? You saw Aida in Salzburg? Snorkelled in Oman? Rode a mule across Bolivia? Their indifference knows no bounds. Unless you’re a television celebrity or Bruce Chatwin. But you’re not.

Travellers these days are visitors rather than knights errant, pilgrims, or explorers. Nobody visits a cathedral any more to sack it, or even to see a relic or marvel at vaulted ceilings, let alone to be transfigured. We visit places because they’re on a list of places to be visited. Here in Hobart, for instance, busloads of tourists zoom past the architecturally bizarre St George’s church, one of the earliest Anglican churches in Tasmania, at a cracking pace every day of the week. The more quick-witted pull out their phones and snap it – what an electrifying conversation starter that will be back in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – but most look blankly straight ahead, contemplating lunch. Marco Polo and Magellan had things to recount when they got home – actually, Polo had things to recount without even going where he said he’d gone (it is now suspected) and Magellan eventually failed to arrive home at all – but these days everything anyone would want to know about anything has already been explained to us by Stephen Fry on QI, and `divine’ is what you call a slice of Stilton, so nobody will give a fig about what you did in Bali.

Should anyone ask if you had a good time when you get back, just say Yes. Who do you think would want the details? Not even your children would want the details. Why would they? Why would they care whether you saw the sun rise over Kanchenjunga or stayed in bed? Why would anyone at all give a brass razoo whether you spent a week with yack herders in Mongolia or went throat-singing in Moldavia? If anyone says they’d love to see your photos, they’re lying. All the photos that need to be taken have long since been taken and posted on the internet.

Travel, as Alain de Botton wrote years ago, is mostly about waiting – for planes and taxis, for the traffic to start moving, for museums to open, the weather to improve, a waiter to serve you, the train strike to end, for something to happen, for God’s sake. And then you go home. For you this eternal waiting is character building, but for everybody else it’s pretty mind-numbing stuff.

Why, then, do we bang on about our travels when we get home? To make them last longer, presumably – at somebody else’s expense. I doubt many genuinely wish to pay the price.

If you can’t keep mum when you arrive home, imagining yourself an antipodean Patrick Leigh Fermor or Paul Theroux, then here are a few ground rules: never imply that your stay-at-home friends’ workaday lives are colourless – they probably are, but so what?

+ Never allude to wisdom you’ve picked up in the Orient – we are not only not curious about your conversion to Taoism, we find the whole notion of `wisdom’ limp-wristed in the age of Wikipedia and Brian Cox.

+ Never affect familiarity with foreign places in an uncalled-for way – don’t, for instance, start calling Florence `Firenze’ or pretend you became one of the locals by catching a bus with a goat on the back seat

+ Never tell us what you’ve been eating – cornflakes, a fricassee of python brains in a coconut sauce, it’s all the same to us. Maeve O’Mara might feign interest in foreign culinary habits, but that’s her job.

Did you have the time of your life? Fantastic. That is quite literally all that matters. Instead of harpooning family members and people you meet at parties with tales of your travels, tell somebody who really does care, somebody whose interest in what you did and where you did it (and with whom) knows no bounds: yourself. Keep a diary; a diary is insatiably curious about everything. Besides, as Oscar Wilde put it, from now on your diary will reliably give you something sensational to read in the train.

This is the image, he illustrated his article with:


But I have a better one, courtesy Instagram:


I re-read this on my iPhone

It’s very good, a little outdated but full of nuggets. I highlighted the nuggets. When I got to my laptop, I found all my nuggets neatly arranged at

Amazon’s highlighting of nuggets is a fantastic feature of its Kindle software. It works whether you read your book on your iPhone, laptop, or your Kindle.

Kindle software is magic.

Give Tobias’ book to your kids. To buy it, click here.

Sleep is the new status symbol.

For years, studies upon studies have shown how bad sleep weakens the immune system, impairs learning and memory, contributes to depression and other mood and mental disorders, as well as obesity, diabetes, cancer and an early death. (Sedated sleep – hello Ambien – has been shown to be as deleterious as poor sleep.)

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls sleeplessness a public health concern. Good sleep helps brain plasticity, studies in mice have shown; poor sleep will make you fat and sad, and then will kill you. It is also expensive: Last year, the RAND Corporation published a study that calculated the business loss of poor sleep in the United States at $411 billion — a gross domestic product loss of 2.28 percent.

“Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body,” Dr. Walker of U.C. Berkeley said. “We have a saying in medicine: What gets measured, gets managed.”

Now there’s major research and major venture capital going into fixing sleep. For more, click here. 

Secrets of long life

World’s oldest woman, Emma Morano, lived 117 years. She credited her longevity to eating three raw eggs a day and her lack of a husband. She died on April 15.

How fake news works. I received this email:

Hi there,

I noticed your site has published a very interesting article, Harry Newton’s In Search of the Perfect Investment. I think a collaboration between us could be of interest to your audience.

I represent a digital marketing agency currently working with a major company who operates in the same marketplace as Business Insider and Business today. We would like to feature a unique piece of content on your site.

For the privilege of being featured on your site, we would be happy to offer you a fee of $75.

The Economist on Bill O’Reilly

He had the top rated show on cable news, with a nightly viewership of over four million.

On October 7th, 1996, on Fox News Channel’s first day of broadcasting, Bill O’Reilly lamented to viewers that television news was “mostly a rehash of what most educated viewers already know.” He promised he would be different.

More than two decades later, Americans can lament that Mr O’Reilly delivered on his promise.

“The O’Reilly Factor” helped usher in an era of television “news” that educated viewers definitely did not know: that al-Qaeda had links with Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war; that the science on climate change was not settled; that white people were more likely to be killed by police than black Americans.

Mr O’Reilly was television’s most successful purveyor of fake news long before there was a name for it.

Harry Newton, who clearly loves Australia where he was born. Everyone here regales you with Australia’s two greatest assets:

+ It’s lucky. Oodles of resources to mine and sell to the Chinese. Australia hasn’t had a recession in over 25 years!

+ It’s insignificant. With just under 25 million people and no army, navy or air force to speak off, no one expects it to solve the North Korea problem… Or any other problem.

She’ll be right, mate.

No worries.

I posted this blog from a place called Port Fairy, Victoria. It’s at the Southern bottom of the Australian mainland. It used to be a whaling town. Now it’s a holiday town, attracting amazing birds.