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TimC [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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(no subject) [Apr. 14th, 2013|10:47 am]
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Oh well, if The Age aren't going to publish my Thatcher rant, I will:

Jan White (Letters, 11 Apr) is heavily misguided if she believes that Thatcher was one of Britain's greatest leaders. For whom? By any metric 70% of Brits cared about, she was one of the worst. Any harmony, strength of character and respect Brits may be missing now would be due to her having nearly destroyed everything about British society with her Thatchernomics. Her funeral should be privatised and definitely not funded by the state as it is going to be. Instead, it could be funded by the long queue of people who want to dance on her grave.
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Breaking windows [Jan. 14th, 2012|11:35 am]

Another letter in The Age today. Unedited text below:

Ian Porter (Without car manufacturing, we are on the road to ruin, The Age, 13 Jan) believes that the government needs to keep throwing money at the car industry in order to support other industry in Australia. I'm surprised as an industry analyst, he hasn't heard of the broken window fallacy.

Throwing good money after a bad unsustainable industry that can't adapt is just a waste. It's exactly identical to sending soldiers to dig holes only to fill them back up again just to keep them employed and off the streets. The money could be better spent on doing useful things that will remain useful into the future. Yes, paying people to break windows and then paying the glazier to repair them will keep people employed, but couldn't the glazier be better employed building things that then keep other people employed into the future?

Why don't we do something useful with the money instead? Like built modern intra- and inter-city rail infrastructure? This won't become stranded assets when cheap oil becomes unavailable. We won't be left with vast tracts of useless motorways - we will continue to be able to use the rail infrastructure well past these boom times.
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Police a bit rich [Oct. 27th, 2011|11:12 pm]

Hrrrfm. The Age didn't publish my letter:

I find it a bit rich that the police union are upset that information
alongside a photograph was distributed about one of their members, without
his consent. I understand that truth is not not considered a defence to
libel in Australia, so it was perhaps unwise to distribute such a photo.
But it is common police practice to photograph protesters without our
consent, and to store these photos with profiles in national databases
without a right of appeal or review. I probably find myself on some
watchlist now just for attending some of last night's Occupy Melbourne
general assembly.

Maybe there would be no need for a photograph to be distributed if police
correctly wore their own name badges (and if the name badges weren't
deliberately too small to read). Or if there was some accountability, as
opposed to the protectionism that police have demonstrated in the past
with the likes of their disgusting behaviour at the APEC protests.
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We do things differently, here [Aug. 31st, 2011|06:51 pm]

Another slightly edited letter published in The Age today. Maybe I should become a media mogul. Original here:

I've just come back from a tour of Europe. Wind farms are everywhere. Near tourist attractions, and along roads where it is particularly windy. Anywhere appropriate, and especially near townships and individual houses, because that's where the consumers of electricity are. No one seems to have a problem with them. People there don't suffer from increased rates of cancer or bogus self-imagined inflictions. They don't ban building windmills within 2km of towns. They don't ban the building along a windy stretch of road because tourists happen to drive along there.

They also don't develop in green wedges, allow cattle to graze in their national parks, or try to make it easier to log old growth forest and make it harder to protect such lands.

Europeans seem to have no problem accepting that, despite their per-capita emissions being way below ours, that something has to change. It's a pity we are not lead by leaders. The best I can manage out of my local member, Ted Baillieu, is a form letter in reply to my concerns, uttering vague niceties about planning and the economy, and attacking the opposition.
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Failed and now discarded Victorian cycling strategy [Aug. 20th, 2011|12:19 pm]
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I've always been a crazy cat man who sends letters to the editor and his local parliamentary representitatives. Except that I have no cat. Anyway, a shortened version of this letter was published in The Age today.

Dear Sir/Madam (CCed my State local member, and The Age letters),

The auditor general's report into the Victorian government cycling strategy said "the Department of Transport and VicRoads had not ... addressed conflicts and delays where cyclists crossed busy roads, and where cyclists and pedestrians shared paths." ("No way to spin it, the wheels are off", The Age, Aug 18). It's not just busy crossings that cause unnecessary delays to people not in the precious car.

A trip along Southbank is usually hampered by 2 traffic light controlled crossings where up to 100 pedestrians and riders are waiting at the lights with an average waiting time of around 5 minutes between them. That's 10 minutes per return trip wasted. We wait for just an occasional car (each with just one person in them) and empty tram to pass. The cars are frequent enough to make running ("jaywalking") across the road a little unsafe, but not frequent enough that the road is anywhere near capacity and that adding more frequent red lights for the car traffic is going to harm the flow into and out of the city at all. And it will help the 100 waiting pedestrians.

In the land where cycling is taken seriously, Holland, they want cyclists to have to wait no more than 15 seconds. And they're experimenting with microwave sensors to extend the green cycle to let cyclists cross safely. Here, the Southbank story is repeated across the city. Outside Swinburne University, a pedestrian light regularly sees several dozens of students wait several minutes at lunchtime to cross while a small handful of cars (each with just one person in them) cross just frequently enough to make a quick dash across the road down from the lights, impossible. The vehicle sensor loops at Camberwell Junction have, for years, been tuned to not even be sensitive enough to detect cyclists, so you can wait at 11pm for 2 cycles of the lights to completely bypass turning green on the road you're travelling on, while no cars cross the other legs of the junction at all before you give up and cross illegally (completely safely, because there's no traffic at all at that time of night and you can see for miles).

Given that you can't continue to keep encouraging people to get in their cars because it's been conclusively proven over the last 40 years that you can't build your way out of car congestion, perhaps it time to promote other forms of travel?
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The wrong politic [Feb. 21st, 2011|07:34 pm]
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It seems that Senator Carr didn't like the frank and fearless advice his public servants were offering him, and the Chief Scientist's position became untenable. Sure, you're not meant to offer that frank and fearless advice through the media, but what's the point of a having a chief scientist or indeed any publicly paid scientist if they're only allowed to tow the party line, and not allowed to tell the public what they need to know? We see this time and again. CSIRO researchers have been completely barred from making any public comments without going through the central media office. What's the use of public funding if the public research isn't allowed to be told?

Tony Rabbit wanted to remove the Chief Scientist's office because it was too political (I did read this in the SMH a few months ago, but can't find the cite). Senator Carr wanted to remove the officer because she was the wrong politic and was telling too much truth.
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Why I don't donate to natural disasters in Australia anymore [Jan. 21st, 2011|06:01 pm]
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I donated towards the Black Saturday fires, and then the donation policy of Red Cross became "we'll forward donations to people with insurance and people with holiday homes that got burned down". I wanted my money to go to people who can't afford to pay for insurance, and certainly to people who can't afford holiday and investment homes. Insurance will cover those who can afford it. The rest truly deserve a break. The Qld flood donations are going to people who simply won't need it.

And as to who would pay for it, and whether Australia should postpone bringing ourselves back into budget surplus: If we didn't dump the mining rent resources tax, we'd be fine. Not only would the annual amount generated by the tax neatly match the amount that needs to be spent repairing Qld, but if it was framed ideally (ie, applied to all mining companies) it would come from companies that were largely responsible for the worsening of these severe storms. I.e., they wouldn't be able to externalise their costs onto the rest of society so much anymore - those that actually consume more would end up paying for the damage it does, which would then partly fund the mitigation costs we all endure. Actually, it should come partly from farmers too. What did you expect would happen when you clear the land of its natural ability to regulate water flow?

The guy who texted into JJJ talkback that we should just drop the National Broadband scheme instead, on the basis that it would be obsolete by the time it was built, made me laugh. Yes sure, if we don't build something, then the next thing we can't build would be even better!
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Reqium for a species [Dec. 26th, 2010|09:47 pm]
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Yikes. I'm reading Clive Hamilton's "Requiem for a species. Why we resist the truth about Climate Change". (all tyops are mine)

To date, governments have shunned geoengineering for fear of being accused of wanting to avoid their responsibilities with science fiction solutions. The topic is not mentioned in the Stern report and receives only one page in Australia's Garnaut report. As a sign of its continuing political sensitivity, when in April 2009 it was reported that President Obama's new science adviser John Holdren had said that geoengineering is being vigorously discussed as an emergency option in the White House, he immediately felt the need to issue a "clarification" claiming that he was only expressing his personal views. Holdren is one of the sharpest minds in the business and would not be entertaining what is now known as 'Plan B'— engineering the planet to head off catastrophic warming — unless he was fairly sure Plan A would fail.

It is far easier, on the face of it (and certainly, politically), to perform geoengineering than to slow down the generation of CO2. So cheap that one country can afford it, instead of it being such a huge (political) task that not even all of the worlds countries acting cooperatively will be able to pull it off. So great, lets go servo the eco-system. Control Systems are easy, right? They never break into unwanted oscillations while you're still learning their response function.

The implications are sobering. In August 1883 the painter Edvard Munch witnessed an unusual blood-red sunset over Oslo. He was shaken by it, writing that he 'felt a great, unending scream piercing through nature'. The incident inspired him to create his famous work, The Scream. The sunset he saw that evening followed the eruption of Krakatoa off the coast of Java. The explosion, one of the most violent in recorded history, sent a massive plume of ash into the stratosphere, causing the Earth to cool by more than one degree and disrupting weather patterns for several years. More vivid sunsets would be one of the consequences of using sulphate aerosols to engineer the climate; but a more disturbing effect of enhanced dimming would be the permanent whitening of daytime skies. A washed-out sky would become the norm. If the nations of the world resort to climate engineering as an expedient response to global heating, and in doing so relieve pressure to cut carbon emissions, then as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continued to rise so would the latent warming that must be suppressed. It would then become impossible to stop sulphur injections into the stratosphere, even for a year or two, without an immediate jump in temperature. It's estimated that, if we did stop, the backup of greenhouse gases could see warming rebound at a rate 10-20 times faster than in the recent past, a phenomenon referred to, apparently without irony, as the "termination problem". Once we start manipulating the atmosphere we could be trapped, forever dependent on a program of sulphur injections into the stratosphere. In that case, human beings would never see a blue sky again.

Please read his book. The book goes down many paths -- human pyschology, politics, science. It's bloody depressing, but people need to understand why we not going down a better route.
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Conga line of suckholes [Dec. 11th, 2010|09:56 pm]
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I've got a higher respect for ex-leader of the ALP, Mark Latham than I currently do have for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Attorney-General Robert McClelland.

Conga line of suckholes indeed.
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Climate Change==Earth tilt [Jun. 27th, 2010|02:43 pm]
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I was given a new explanation for climate change yesterday. A couple of guys had heard from the old timers (read, senile old fools) that the sun used to set in a different location when they were kids living in the same house, so the Earth must be tilting. When I explained that astronomers can pick up unexpected changes at the level of about 1/1000 of 1/3600 of a 1 degree, and we haven't picked up any such changes over the last few decades, they explained that astronomers must just be in cahoots with the climate scientists.

I love small country towns.

In unrelated news, everyone here is expressing surprise that the latest poll has Labor moving ahead again, possibly in response to Julia Gillard being sworn in. "No one I knows will ever vote for her!".

Dammit, I wish I didn't live in a safe Nationals seat.
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