Archive Page 2

16
Feb
09

Myth-busting: Victoria’s bushfires caused by global warming?

Historian, Jonathon King, writing for The Age, hysterically suggests that Victoria has a “new world order” (repeated four times!) for bushfires that is caused by climate change.

If you have time, read the department’s quick history of bushfires in Victoria.

Some interesting historical points:

  • 1851 – 6 February ‘Black Thursday’ – Fires cover a quarter of what is now Victoria (approximately 5 million hectares). Temperatures of 47 degrees alleged but Bureau of Meteorology not formed until 8 years later.
  • 1939 – 13 January ‘Black Friday’ – Fires burnt 1.5 to 2 million hectares. The fires destroyed the township of Narbethong. The fires affected almost every section of Victoria. Temperatures reached 45.6 °C in Melbourne. “Black Friday was the culmination of a long, dry and hot summer that followed a drought that had lasted several years.”
  • 2009 – 7th February ‘Black Saturday’ – 450,000 hectares – Temperature reached 46.4 degrees in Melbourne.

Severe bushfires occur  here. The time between major catastrophes seems to be long enough so that we can’t test and ratify our fire plans. We also have enough time to become complacent.

Even the heatwave was not the worst on record. Melbourne’s most sustained heatwave occurred in January 1908 when temperatures reached 39.9 (15th January), 42.8 (16th), 44.2 (17th), 40.0 (18th), 41.1 (19th) and 42.7 (20th). This year we had 43.4 followed by 44.3 follwed by 45.1 degrees – hotter, but not as long.

Were Victoria’s 2009 bushfires and extreme weather days caused, even partially, by global warming? Absolutely no proof.

Busted!

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23
Dec
08

Net filter

Ars technica says it best:

“So, in summary, it appears that the government is trying to make up for the failure of an earlier PC-based filtering program by rolling out an alternative, ISP-level filtering program that they know won’t fully prevent access to illegal material. They promise not to state what sites are being blocked, even as they promise only illegal content will be. To prepare for the roll out, they’re doing live testing of equipment and protocols they haven’t used in the lab, and not telling the ISPs when the program will be ready. It sounds like all of the worst clichés about government incarnated in a single program.”

15
Jul
08

I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo….

This seems to have slipped through “Can Naked Kids be Art?” fiasco without notice.

Associate Professor Robert Nelson (Monash University) has sold out middle-aged men: “This was a photo taken not by a middle-aged man but the mother of the child. It seemed quite a responsible thing to do.”

He could be just reflecting social norms though. Qantas, British Airways or Air New Zealand have a policy of not seating adult male passengers next to unaccompanied children.

Boris Johnson, writing for The Telegraph, sums it up better than I could.

A few years back a male friend almost landed an assistant position at a kindergarten. The position was withdrawn at the 11th hour when several parents complained.

10
Jun
08

Bluetooth Beard

A mentally disturbed, possibly homeless man walked by me this morning chattering noisily to himself. I fantasised that he was talking on the phone to his executive coach using the latest in bluetooth beard technology. I need a holiday.

01
May
08

Whatever happened to globalisation?

The protesters, the politicians, the corporations, the sweat shops, the headlines. Where did they all go? The products of globalisation are still with us, but the term has faded.

It came up in conversation tonight with a former colleague. My take on globalisation had been mostly indifference, as long as individuals could have the same benefits as multinational companies.

We pondered why Australian mortgage holders couldn’t transfer their debt to the US where interest rates are lower?

I recanted a story I’d read once of a US software developer who outsourced his tasks to India and kept pocketing his wage. (Google for it, I don’t want to dob the bugger in!)

There was interesting case recently in Australian Federal Court. The issue was whether genuine Ralph Lauren clothing purchased in the US could be ‘parallel import’-ed legally into Australia and sold here. Polo/Lauren claimed that its copyright had been infringed. However, the proceedings were dismissed with costs. My take is that if clothing producers can swan off to the cheapest place for production, why can’t consumers, or importers on their behalf, swan off to the cheapest place to buy the goods?

I picked up this book five or so years ago: The Collapse of Globalism: And the Reinvention of the World” by John Ralston Saul. I literally picked it up off the bookstore shelf, just because I found the title cheeky and confronting, but I didn’t buy it. The word “globalisation” was everywhere at the time. The title seemed fanciful. Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself flicking through it again, and found myself agreeing with its tenets. I bought it.

Today national interests are to the fore. The US is at war. China and India are ascending. There are oil and food shortages and there is no common and binding economic consensus…. yet!

17
Mar
08

Don’t Panic!!!

Throughout life, as you develop – or degenerate – things sometimes return for a second visit and you appreciate them differently, depending on current circumstances. In Douglas Adams’ classic comedy, “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, I never quite understood why the book which the book is about had the words “Don’t Panic” inscribed in “large friendly letters” on its cover.

As a teenager I thought it strange, quirky and humorous: odd.

As an adult man, with a mortgage, working in a cyclic industry, thinking about starting a family, who reads widely about sub-prime meltdowns and global environmental breakdown, who gets nervous flying – I understand differently now…. great advice for being an adult.

Don’t Panic!

13
Feb
08

Suicide at Glenferrie station?

Passengers on Lilydale, Belgrave and Alamein train lines had to find a different way home last night.

Announcements at Flinders St Station described an “accident” at Glenferrie station. The Connex web site described an “incident”. Parliament station advised a “girl” being “struck by a train”.

The two Melbourne newspapers (online versions) have no articles I can find with the words “glenferrie”, “lilydale”, “station” or “passenger”.

So we guess that someone committed suicide at Glenferrie station.

Either it is not reported because the reporting may encourage copy-cats, or it is not reported because suicides on train lines aren’t newsworthy. Maybe both…

Update: Read comments section for further information from people who were closer to the incident.

Update 2: More information at http://www.railpage.com.au/f-p1006685.htm

Update 3: Not entirely comfortable with this. I blogged because there was nothing in mainstream press. I must have been up in the google searches so people have posted some comments here which I think are appropriate and suitable – to my standards anyway. Please let me know if you think any part of this blog distasteful or unsuitable.

Update 4: There’s a thread here speculating on the deceased, and possible motivations, if you are interested.




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