Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Funny joke

Ever since I have realised Australia has, adjusting for wages, about the cheapest petrol in the world and that such a situation is ecologically absurd given the impact of each litre of petrol is unusually large in Australia, I have always said things like:

- "petrol is never too expensive"
-- one of my most vivid memories of Melbourne University is when an ice cream salesman to whom I said this replied by saying I was "a spy for the oil companies"! When I denied this, he said "a spy for the greenies", which my parents found absurd. (With hindsight, it is because greenies are concentrated right inside Melbourne University).
--- the man, who was quite rude in speech, then said "I had shares" (in the oil companies, of course)!
--- When I denied that, he said "I had shares in Mobil" and that I was "hanging around BP"!

- "petrol is never expensive, only less cheap"
-- This is a more recent one, and was based on someone saying "petrol is never cheap, only less expensive". I find my idea much closer to the truth, especially in Australia which should logically, on environmental grounds, have the least cheap petrol in the world.
-- my brother, after hearing "less cheap", said I should stop it.
--- I replied by checking to see if "less cheap" was grammatical. All forms of Microsoft Word said "less cheap" was OK.
--- However, "more expensive" is on Google about 25 times more common than "less cheap". In reality the difference is much greater because "less cheap" on Google also encompasses sentences like:

less. Cheap

The full stop cannot be searched in Google, which is odd since punctuation marks I often find like alphabetic letters in their function within written language.

Birthday today

Today was my birthday - seen by my relatives as very special thirtieth birthday. I had a party with half sister Jo on Saturday to celebrate it, and will go with her and Ruth on Monday to get a present.

As a collector of old county cricket, I was naturally pleased at my 1927 Wisden. It offers an interesting look at England’s regaining of the Ashes in a damp summer and saw Lancashire regain the County championship despite Yorkshire being unbeaten. The role of attacking bowlers like McDonald and Freeman (after whom I name myself on many websites!) can be seen in Lancashire and Kent both winning more games than Yorkshire while conceding a higher average of runs per wicket. Both McDonald and Freeman could win games simply through enterprise.

Backed up by the fact that Yorkshire’s batting even with the utterly incomparable Herbert Sutcliffe (how on earth did Sutcliffe not get one vote in the 1999 Wisden Cricketer of the Century poll?!) was often unenterprising and that county’s loss of many days to the weather, the Championship changed hand for the first time since 1921.

Apart from 1926 to 1930 when Lancashire reigned supreme, Yorkshire won eleven of thirteen County Championships between 1922 and 1939 (they were denied 1936 by a similar situation to 1926 and 1934 by Ashes calls). This era, though is in many ways the greatest age of cricket, with a probably unrivalled number of remarkable players, many of whom can be seen in the 1927 Wisden. It was a pity Roger Page did not have a 1926 edition, which I would have found still more valuable with:
  • five bowlers taking 200 wickets - a feat last achieve by “One” Tony Lock in 1957 (I put the “One” because of James Freud's 1999 song “One Tony Lockett”. Given the terrible standard of spin in England since Underwood declined, I have always felt Freud could have deleted the “ett” and redone the verses.)
  • England’s driest month of the twentieth century in June (believe it or not, many parts of England were completely rainless that month)
  • a graphic illustration of how seventeen counties fairly well-matched in bowling could produce a very uneven competition through disparity in batting strength which ranged from Test strength with sides like Yorkshire, Surrey, Lancashire or Middlesex to Minor Counties with sides like Glamorgan, Northamptonshire, Worcestershire and Derbyshire.
The down side of my birthday was losing a library book I had borrowed from Monash University’s Matheson Library, titled Sappho: A New Translation. The loss happened in a strange manner. Whilst walking from my mother's school at Park Street, Moonee Ponds to the junction, I found a loose trolley and wanted to take it back to Safeway - largely for the coin inside. I placed my bag inside the trolley but left the 1927 Wisden and Sappho: A New Translation inside. This turned out to be foolish because, though I was able to carry the trolley without loss up Buckley Street, when I was in Puckle Street close to Safeway, Sappho: A New Translation turned vertical and fell out the back of the trolley without me being able to trace it down.

At least I contacted both Monash University (who told me I would have to pay double the price of the book for a replacement or $125 if it were lost for good) and the Moonee Ponds police about it - and what's more, my mother said she would pay for a replacement copy, which should arrive soon.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Finished my work

I finished my work yesterday - a day late. My previous essay was even more overdue - I finished it on Monday when it should have been in on Friday 19 October.

Although I had done very well on my previous assignments, I will be honest that I did not work as hard on these two. I do hope I will be able not to fail them so badly that I fail the subjects after doing very well in three earlier assignment. My brother says my skill as a writer has grown greatly over recent years and my results for essays certainly seem to back him up.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

A favourite parody and a laughable reply

Ever since I first heard Mothership Connection after the brilliant Joe S. Harrington placed it as the sixth best album of all time, because of what I was reading from Sandra Bloodworth, Tess Lee Ack and other "fighters", I have parodied the opening song "P Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)" as "make our war the class war/we want no capitalism/make our war the class war/we want the system smashed".

My brother's initial response was to rename "Parliament" as "Worker's Council". I did not mind this, and we still have a few laughs about that one when I play "P Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)".

However, today, when I sang that line again, he said he would call the band "Politburo"! If you read Sandra Bloodworth et al, you will see the absurdity of a band being called "Politburo". Student radicals, even if I now know they are far too selfish to be able to make desperately overdue changes to society - like ending road building, cutting road capacity and destroying wasteful freeways - would never support any Politburo. Nor would they have back in the days of Mothership Connection, I hope.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

The PIG to the Bible

I read the newest Politically Incorrect Guide, to the Bible (my brother laughably and ridiculously calls it “Bilby Bilbe” whenever I mention it or topics related to churches) recently.

It seems not unreasonable in its general tone, though the one criticism I saw on amazon is equally reasonable.

The worst thing about it though is that the boxes with a cute pig reading a book are quite ludicruously titled A Book Atheists Want to Burn. The title is laughable: the most atheistic societies of Europe, I know from personality theory, are simply too logical and unemotional to ever think of burning books. Indeed, their lack of feeling (honestly, too much) is the primary cause of their atheism.

Previous Politically Incorrect Guides has instead A Book You’re Not Supposed to Read. This actually says no more than that the “politically correct” academics would merely ignore the book. Some of the books listed under A Book You’re Not Supposed to Read I had actually read before any Politically Incorrect Guides had ever been written, notably Dore Gold's impressive Hatred’s Kingdom, about Saudi Arabia.

[Oddly, the first Book Atheists Want to Burn is one I am very familiar with after reading reviews on amazon.com, namely The Black Book of Communism, which I have always regarded as interesting even if it fails to challenge core assumptions of the most radical socialists; i.e. the Sandra Bloodworths and Tess Lee Acks. I used to call it ‘guójiā zīběn de hēishū’ in Chinese or ‘Schwarzbuch des Staatskapitalismus’ in German. Both of these actually mean ‘State Capitalism’s Black Book’ – “state capitalism” being what people like Sandra Bloodworth and Tess Lee Ack view the Soviet bloc as having been throughout its existence.]

Saturday, 13 October 2007

I still am not working as I should - even though my results have been excellent so far, there is still a major test to come with my work on the RMIT blogs and journals for reading.

The newest Politically Incorrect Guide, to the Bible (my brother crazily says "Bilby Bilb" every time its mentioned!) really does, as I see it, show some of the dangers of going so far with extremism. Proveious P.I.G.s had the reasonable A Book You're Not Supposed To Read in each chapter with a pig reading a book. The books listed were interesting. I myself had read a number of the books before I even knew about the P.I.G.s - indeed before P.I.G.s existed - and found them much more broadminded and just as firm.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible, however, has the same pig reading a book with A Book Atheists Want To Burn instead of A Book You're Not Supposed To Read.

The very heading A Book Atheists Want To Burn is ridiculous. Most extremely secular cultures do not engage in book burning, and as Arthur Brooks and personality psychology says, extremely (excessively, to be really precise) thinking-oriented cultures like Scandinavia that despise deep emotion or warmth cannot develop the emotions that would allow book burning.

A Book You're Not Supposed To Read actually implies merely that liberal professors would not recommend it.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Last few weeks

I am now havong a big holiday and the weather has stayed terribly dry - so much so that even the ultraconservative Bureau of Meteorology admits forecasts based on historical records are of no use at all. Yet, it is utterly gagged still from the pro-active role that our scientific bodies should have been taking for years - towards destroying the road lobby and making sure every cent of government transport funding is to public transport.

To try to calm myself amidst a climate that will soon be as dry as Lake Eyre has historically been, I have spend recent weeks reading at the opposite end of the political spectrum: the P.I.G.s, or Politically Incorrect Guides.

I actually frequently accost people about whether they know what "P.I.G." stands for. Because Australia is too traditional to have the "Sixties" politics that runs Europe, Blue America and Canada, P.I.G.s are quite unnecessary here and nobody ever guesses the answer or has read any of the book. I know, though, that P.I.G.s would be adored by most of Australia's politicians and especially by the mining bosses who keep transport policy on the shortest of leashes towards the most wasteful form - road building, which should have been outlawed constitutionally as soon as the threat of global warming became known in 1981.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Finding Professor Cullen

My deep concern for Australia's environment and motivation to understand why Australia has a meek and socially ultraconservative population even amidst runaway, even catastrophic climate change has led me to realise that it is due to Australia having (almost) the lowest costs of living in the world.

My experience in environmental science suffices to show this quite untenable. Countries which are ecologically the cheapest to live in - the Netherlands and Scandinavia - actually have the highest costs of living.

Now that I understand the reasons for this unacceptable situation - land costs and mineral resources or lack thereof due to glaciation - I realise what is needed to change it. This is why I am drawn to the idea of paying farmers to move off the land.

It was a move suggested by Professor Cullen last year, but with rainfall lower than ever it is time (well it was time in the 1980s in southwestern Australia) to realise that Australia is in a terrible predicament. If we do nothing Australia's low land costs and flat terrain will encourage farming on land becoming more and more marginal. Most likely, it will lead to farming via by desalination or pipelines from the north as the winter rainfall zone disappears (which George Monbiot said would happen at 450ppmv carbon dioxide).

The solution, clearly, is more than merely paying farmers to move off the land. It is to abandon - at the very least - all farming of low value crops in Australia and to allow native vegetation designed for Australia's poor soils and vulnerable climate to re-establish. We should ideally see a complete end to agriculture in Australia - as Australia produce 4% of the world's food this is hardly a catastrophe for food security. Replacing it would be limited hunting (mainly of pests) and returning farmland to Aborigines who have shown themselves able to manage it much more sustainably.

I really would like to meets Peter Cullen - or at least set up communication with him by mail or e-mail about this issue - because I suspect he does not go far enough about the ecological and even social benefits that would be brought about from having native vegetation re-established on Australia's farmland.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The recent week at RMIT

There was a little rain, but I realise I cannot keep looking at the forecasts even though I know where Melbourne's climate is headed given Australia's meek and passive population that won't fight the corporate polluters - and there's no way change can be achieved any other way.

I have tried to work as hard as possible but it is grateful to realise how sympathetic people at RMIT are to my problems with concentration. I'm thinking I should say to them that, quite strictly, I work best when I can do one task at a time and focus as much as possible on it. It is hard for me when I have had two assignments to do so quickly - even though I know it's unfair to other that I am allowed more time.

My parents and others seem to have mixed emotions about my recently handed-in essay. At first they were pleased, but tonight I was told that I had overlooked (by accident, contrary to what my mum says) a message about class distinctions being involved in the dress of 1960s Australian children's novels I have been reading.

My work has also been affected by a fire outside my home - I know if we had proper rainfall this would never have happened - on Wednesday night. My recycling bin blew up and I was told I should ask the council for one.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Record rainless spell coming

Over the last twelve days of August, Melbourne has had no rain - and none is forecast this week. It is likely, despite the 28 Day Rainfall Oulooks saying otherwise, that Melbourne will break its record 40 day rainless spell - which would mean no rain by 29 September.

With the city headed for its driest year on record after ten straight years with rainfall below the 1885 to 1996 average, I am awfully angered that people do not realise we are already in runaway climate change mode and that within a few years rainless spells of months will be the rule in Melbourne.

As I imagine it, once the winter westerlies disappear for good - which models suggest they will very, very soon, Melbourne will be the driest place in all of Australia with a rainfall of around 10% averages from 1885 to 1996.

It is this, together with Australia's unacceptable greenhouse emissions record - it should be decades ahead of any country in Europe and internationally required to achieve zero emissions long before now - that has made me prone to violent temper outbursts which my mother calls “ranting”. By ranting she means loud, fast, angry speech - which I had used long before climate change set in over Australia.

I know very well ranting is unpersuasive, but it is difficult to dissociate the radical changes in the attitude of Australia's meek, merciful population to start a plan to radically reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions from my own behaviour.

I actually feel that being more angry and less happy would help Australians greatly because they would be more able to see what power they have through collective action to challenge those responsible for Australia's exceptionally high greenhouse emissions - from measures to combat climate change to radically changing laws to fit the fragility of our environment - this would mean all those who had contributed to any carbon dioxide emissions would be prosecuted - I often imagine the car company executives working on destroying the (in my opinion) wasteful freeways their power has created.