Tuesday 26 July 2011

Celebrating the new Bikearoo!

Cycles Sirius

Cycles Serious.

When it is all said and done
The Tour de France always was won
By great muscle tone
And testosterone.
And this year, Cadel was the one!

More stories and poems at  Tess's recycling shop.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Anatomy of a Joke 001.

First principle:
      Carefully build a mental picture so the audience forms an image that is totally unrelated to the image you want them to end up with.
·        Then, with the very last word, shatter that image by introducing an obvious absurdity.


Want a skyscraper?
Ask an engineer.

Need cancer removed?
Get a surgeon,

A man on the moon?
Talk to NASA.

Get real about climate change?
Listen to Tony Abbott!

Pfthahagigglesnortbwhahaha…stoppit, you’re killing me!

Pic courtesy Moir

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Cockroaches and digital watches

I don’t often utter the name of Einstein, mathematical genius and social rascal. The most recent time I did was when I ordered a beer in a bar in Munich. There I attempted to ask for a beer in an accent that left the barman wondering and my origins in no doubt.

“Einstein danke!” I said, which apparently means ‘one stone thank you’. But frantic waving of an empty stein in his face did the trick and a ‘bier’ was duly placed in front of me and a huge number of euros changing hands was my penalty.

However, idle minds will wander and so mine did in the early hours of this AM to pose a question that has serious implications for watchmakers and timetables, so dear friends, I share it with you.

I am presuming sea levels will rise because we are too dumb to take climate change more seriously than repayments on our shiny new digital plasma TV’s, so let’s presume it will happen for the sake of the exercise. Put aside for a moment what sea level rise will do to our coastal cities and land, and come with me on a short foray into Einstein’s playground, Academia. Here we can share a bit of irrelevant research.

Most researchers and activists seem hell bent on writing papers on the sulphur crested long toed purple tongued tit or what planting the equally threatened daggy barked acacia in someone else’s back yard will do for the speckled bummed laughing frog, but we are serious. We are about to solve one of the last BIG questions still unanswered. Viz, ‘How much slower will the earth rotate when sea levels rise by one metre (projected to occur between the years 2050 and 2100’)?

Disclaimer: If you can’t follow the math, don’t look to me for erudition. I have no idea what I am doing or even if the premise has merit.

However, here is the raw data:
Diameter of Earth (average) = 12742 km.
Diameter is increased by 1 m sea level rise, but as surface is 2/3 sea, average increased diameter is 1x2/3 m or 0.0067 km (rounded).

The math.
Ratio of amount of change to old diameter: 0.0067/12742 = 5.258201224297598e-7
So to express that in time change per day in seconds, we convert to circular motion by dividing by Pi, then multiplying by 24x60x60 giving us longer days by 0.0144552731838872 seconds.

Now, that might not seem like much, but if you added up a whole year's worth it would come to 5.279788530414806 seconds. It is about how long it takes to exclaim ‘Well! I’ll be damned!’ But if you are serious about being on time, you are probably already on E-Bay looking for a digital watch that automatically adjusts for climate change. Apart from cockroaches, watches are one of the pitifully few things that can.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Magpie's Nest oddities

Thingummies and Hoosits.

I stared at this thing for an hour or three
wondering what it is, what it could be.
Then out of the blue,
the answer came through.
“It’s a Wotsit, that’s what it is, plain as can be!”

Find more probable explanations at Magpie Tales where Tess spends all week dreaming up ways to flummox we lummoxes.
Dictionary: Lummox (E) = Dumb ox (US).

Saturday 16 July 2011

Paying the Piper.

Paul Keating has turned into the classic Grumpy Old Man but like most of us, he occasionally says something notable and he did so this week. Viz, “Abbott’s attitude is that if he isn’t given the job he will wreck the place!” Seems he is right, but read on to understand why he is really hell bent on 'wrecking the place'..

So despite the lowest unemployment and government debt in the world, highest terms of trade and because we still pay less for oil than we did three years ago, our national confidence is way down and support for the Government abysmal.

So what is destroying our self image when we should be feeling confident if not a little smug?

Any reformist government must ride out our inbuilt distrust of change as did the Howard Government when they introduced the GST, in retrospect a positive change. Our current government embarked on an overdue overhaul of policies on several fronts, including Climate Change and was supported by the voters. What they did not expect was the emergence of a new dumbed down style of opposition that started under Malcolm Turnbull and became total warfare, with no regard for destructive side effects under Tony Abbott.

The tactic is simple. In this age of the Celeb, the image of the leader is the image of the party, so they now  ‘play the man’ by continually naming the Prime Minister as incompetent, wasteful, dishonest, and responsible for every negative that happens and if no crisis exists, invent one. Now, before we look back with nostalgia to when Malcolm led the Opposition, remember his carping became so mean and negative he was dubbed by some in the press as the ‘Bishop of Quibley’. His relentless pursuit or Rudd culminated in the attempt to discredit him by using an approval-seeking bureaucrat to spy for him. Then despite Mal’s coaching before the spy appeared before a Senate enquiry, he admitted he had invented it all 'because I thought it was expected', leaving Malcolm with egg on his face. But that was not what brought Malcolm down. His response to Climate Change and his entry into negotiations with Labor so upset his corporate supporters that they demanded he be replaced.

So, he was rolled and replaced by ‘climate change is bunkum’ Tony Abbott, who spends his time now stirring up anger in all ‘polluting’ industries, warning workers (voters) they will all lose their jobs under this 'toxic tax', when what is proposed is an overdue and very modest start towards a clean energy future.

Now, take a side trip to this post from September last year and treat yourself to a little déjà-vu. Keep in mind the vitriol and scare mongering currently coming from Abbott, Labor bashing coming from Newscorp media and this week, Abbott declaring that, after he wins government (now looking likely), he will bring on a double dissolution and a fresh election to gain control of the Senate. Skip the first bit if you like, picking up the exchange between Abbott and Digger Pitt. Here is the link.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Blame the Bug. (See Magpie comments below.)

Warning: This picture of Charles has absolutely nothing to do with this post which just goes to prove I am losing it!

As a baby, I wanted more altitude
As a teen, my demand was for latitude.
But now in my prime
I spend all my time
Avoiding my creeping decrepitude!

Magpie's Beautiful People

The people of Chilmark were fitter
before they had Facebook and Twitter.
At the beach every man
Would work on his tan
And the girls left their kids with the sitter.

More frolicking at Magpie Tales.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Crystal sets and in utero conditioning.

I really can’t afford the time, but I feel the need to do my grumpy old man act on this one.
When I was a kid of maybe twelve, I built myself a crystal set and could lie in bed and listen to the radio through earphones. However, the only clear station was the one that broadcasted Parliament from Canberra so I was exposed to politics and debate earlier than most kids are if ever. I must say debate back then was debate, unlike now when most of it is mindless childish posturing.

However, like pre-born babies who hear certain tunes or voices while in utero I am forever drawn back to listen to the sounds of my early youth. But let me get to the point.

You wouldn’t think it right now, but Australia on the whole has one of the highest per capita incomes on the planet. Our problem however, is that national income is heavy on coal and iron exports and not a lot of that trickles down, but still our living standards are very much higher than Indonesians, our nearest and in some ways our dearest neighbours.
Last time I flew to Timor and Flores was about fifteen years ago, but I doubt much has changed. There I visited a dozen or so homes, one the home of a reasonably highly placed official in Kupang. The house was smaller than houses were here a hundred years ago, about 8 squares, with a dirt floor, maybe three light bulbs and a small TV set.
Here most houses have a refrigerator or two, a freezer, washing machine, dryer, air conditioner, hot water on tap, twenty or more lights, a wide screen TV or two, vacuum cleaner, microwave, toasters, jugs a computer or three plus many more lesser electrical utensils.
I would estimate a per capita electricity use per head of maybe a hundred time that of the average Indonesian.
I stopped to listen as this idiot insisted that Australia need not do anything about climate change because ‘Indonesians are doing less’.

As you all know, my politics favours internationalism over parochialism, cooperation over confrontation and above all, an awareness of the science of Climate Change and a realisation that unless we fix that and pronto, all else will become academic. Chances are that by the time my grandchildren reach adulthood fixing it will be well beyond us.

When we have killed off our ocean ecosystem by allowing acidification to rise way past the ability of corals and krill to survive, made agriculture more difficult and continued to populate way past the ability of the planet to support us, human misery will cause such conflict that we will all be dragged into the most profound adjustment for humans the world has ever seen with the end of the Human Era a prospect, second comings and rapturings notwithstanding.

It is difficult, it is complex, it does require sacrifice and we would all wish it to go away. But as anyone who has built a bridge, developed a vaccine, won an Olympic gold medal or flown to the moon will tell you, none of those things happened by wishing for them. They took a lot of planning, skill, money and hard work over a long time. Wishing, praying and slogans did not lay even the first brick and so it is with our climate change response. Every one of us must commit or we are stuffed. But what are we getting from, our leaders?

As I see it, politics has degenerated into a contest of egos who say whatever polls indicate will get them votes. Unlike in the real world, dumbing down issues and compressing them into three word slogans works. Support for action is waning on the back of a few publicity seekers in media and politics who are saying basically that climate change is nonsense, or God is taking care of it and in any case there is nothing to worry about if you get rid of this government and vote for me.
Wherever you live, does that sound familiar?

Indonesian pic courtesy http://www.travelpod.co.uk/photos/2/Indonesia/Kupang.html
Kid with crystal set is not me. He is far cuter than I ever was.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

All magpies are not black and white.

Today insane, Tomorrow genius.

It was all about colour
wasn’t it Vincent.
Too vivid for your time,
when greyscale minds judged you
and held their purses close!

Thanks Tess, I just love his work. More Van Gough poetry can be found at Magpie Tales.

PS. Blogger is still keeping me from commenting. Wordpress is calling!

Monday 4 July 2011

Absence makes the heart forget eventually.

Just in case you have been wondering what I have been up to that has kept blogs to a minimum (as if you would), I have been rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. My one completed novel has now been read by a few writer friends some of whom were kind enough to offer real criticism.
So, as I am about to embark on the hardest part of the journey, ie, finding an agent, the little computer has been burning up the renewables while chapters were moved around, characters (re)developed and a lot of cuts made (boo hoo). Thanks to all of you and special thanks to Selma who gave me detailed feedback
Meanwhile Tiziana’s bathroom (head) is a mere skeleton to be rebuilt over the next week or two bringing to an end the major works prior to her being slipped and her bottom ‘done’.
Somehow in there I must find time for an x-ray and ultrasound on a shoulder that is still very sore two months after damage incurred in the chain locker, another colonoscopy, IXL’s coming monster auction of a lifetime’s collection of chattels on July 31, back to the dentist for after sales service on a botched root canal job, plus I have started a new series for classroom reading ‘lessons’ called ‘Mouse in the House’ for a school I adopted.
If you teach 5 or 6 year olds, ask and ye shall receive a free advance copy with model lesson plan.
By the way, this material will dramatically boost reading age in any child, but is particularly effective with ‘right brain’ kids and spectacular with ‘ADHD fuelled clowns’ and, it is heaps of fun to do.
Observing teaching lately, I note the widespread use of computer programs for reading. If teachers think stuff on screens, even interactive ones is a big deal to modern kids, they should think again. Every child has been saturated with screens so they might find it refreshing to get their eyes, ears, feet and minds back into the real world where people still live some of the time!