Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The future from two new perspectives

According to Rod Dreher and Walter Russell Mead, these are the most important messages from the current economic meltdown:
  1. “The American Century isn’t over”
  2. “Liberal capitalism works”
  3. “The rogue states are parasites”
  4. “The Old Left is dead”
  5. “Nobody really understands the world economy”
  6. “That goes double for financial markets”
  7. “The Battle of Financial Markets is over; the Battle of State Finance has begun”
  8. “The demographic crunch time is here”
  9. “Culture matters”
  10. “The politicization of economic governance is dangerous business”
The justification given by Mead, I must say, is fairly weak. He does cite that the protests are coming from the conservative Tea Party movement, supported by well-known libertarian Ron Paul, rather than from left-wing groups. However, this may be a reflection of a growing divide, as I have been predicting for a long time, between Australia on one hand and the rest of the developed world (and indeed most developing nations) on the other.

In the case of Australia, I am far from sure that these are the lessons to be learned. Whilst Australia has fared, owing to its monopoly of mineral resources, fairly well, its appalling greenhouse emissions could mean disastrous consequences at least in the long term. Recent research, for instance, clearly shows:
  1. that wet-bulb temperatures above 31˚C never occurred pre-industrially
  2. that warm-blooded animals cannot handle wet-bulb temperatures above 35˚C
  3. that wet-bulb temperatures of 35˚C were widespread during the Paleogene and Mesozoic
  4. that, as the map shows, wet-bulb temperatures above 35˚C would occur over most of the world under a temperature increase of 10˚C (probable with underground coal gasification)
  5. that wet-bulb temperatures above 35˚C could occur regularly in parts of India by 2100 under likely global warming scenarios (especially with the development of underground coal gasification)
  6. that reptiles can handle wet-bulb temperatures as high as 45˚C or 10˚C in excess of normothermic mammals and birds, with the result that they were able to dominate their more-evolved relatives for 150,000,000 years
Under these conditions, what Australia may face in the future needs first of all to be taught to the energy-guzzling suburbs who are the largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

It is time that these findings are printed – even if doing so involves fights with editors - in every local newspaper in growing car-dependent suburbs of Melbourne and Adelaide especially.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A shocking loss of $50

On Tuesday, when I was travelling southwards on the 55 tram in an effort to get from the Debaters Association of Victoria office in Flemington Road to my home in Carlton, I began a talk with another young man on the tram as it went down Peel Street - a road that my mother told me was infamous for its brothels.

Although I knew I would have to leave the tram at Bourke Street to take the 96 tram home, I spoke to the man whilst I had time about the weather. This, unacceptable as it is, is very normal for me whilst travelling on trams. However, when the tram reached around the southern end of Peel Street and moved into William Street, something quite new to me happened.

For a long time I have used a mobile telephone with a break in the front cover due to a temper tantrum. I have rarely thought about replacing it but know that a replacement would be valuable in case the crack should worsen. Thus, when the man I was talking to offered me a mobile phone with such features as a camera for $40, I was only willing to buy it whilst still on the tram.

Though the man promised to sell the phone for $40, I found that he could not give me the $10 back before I had to leave the tram. Because I though I was getting a good deal even knowing I would have to pay for a charger, I accepted anyway.

However, upon trying the telephone for the first time, I was in for a series of rude shocks. When I first placed my SIM card in the phone, it said that it was locked. I told my mother and brother, and they said that I had bought a stolen mobile - though the person I bought it from on the tram said he was merely offering me one he intended to replace.

Because of concern for my finances, I asked first about dealing with the code necessary to use the mobile, and found it would cost $27 - a sum I was by Thursday quite clearly willing to pay to salvage something from what I was worried was a case of me being duped.

I therefore went today to the Telstra shop in the city, and took the phone to pay the $27 to have it unlocked so that a Telstra phone could use a Vodafone card. I checked a number from one of my half-sisters, but several times I found that there were “call restrictions on your Vodafone mobile”. After a while, the phone shop salesman told me that the locking on the phone had been removed and that I had to go to a Vodafone place. Thankfully there was one over the road - indeed I was highly familiar with it - and I told the person there the problem. For the next half-an-hour, I watched them try to unlock the blockages on my Telstra mobile - and saw again and again that there were no blockages on either SIM card. I was told time and time again to switch on and off the phone I had bought - and nothing changed. It always said “please check the call restrictions on your Vodafone mobile phone”. Eventually the people in the Vodafone shop realised the the IMEI number of the mobile I had bought on Tuesday was blocked: thus I went back over the road into the Telstra show to see if they could unblock it.

Unfortunately, unlike SIM card numbers, IMEI numbers cannot be freely unblocked by a shop at a customer’s will. Because I had not record whom I had bought the Telstra phone from on Tuesday, I did not know who controlled access to it.

I therefore realised what my mother and brother suspected all along: that I really had been duped into buying a mobile that was not the seller’s, but had been stolen.

As a child, I did learn that buying stolen goods is regarded as a crime, but it was not until this episode that I realised people generally steal things
  • not because they simply cannot afford them but want them
  • but to make money from dupes like me!
As a result, I went to a familiar city police station to hand in the phone and tell them the story of how I came to buy a stolen mobile. The policewoman, called Marianne, was very helpful even though my mother was upset I waited so long to discuss the issue and to recall what happened when I was duped into buying the stolen mobile. It is a pity I recalled nothing of the appearance of the man from whom I bought the phone - in contrast to the time and place of the incident which I recalled excellently. Although I have little hope that the person who stole the phone and sold it to me can be found, Marianne and I both feel we did the right thing handing the phone in.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Global warming will be worse even that we think

According to this article in Green Left Weekly, the South Australian government is going to support a coal gasification project for the desertified northern agricultural regions of South Australia.

Underground coal gasification is a technique used to create fuels with similar properties to natural gas from large coal seams that are too deep to be profitably mined. It has already been developed in Uzbekistan, but the plan near the town of Orroroo is the first example from a non-Muslim nation.

What Renfrey Clarke does show is that underground coal gasification is extremely greenhouse-intensive and that it is likely to eliminate entirely pressure for improved fuel efficiency in cars in Australia. What is likely to occur is that greenhouse-spewing four-wheel-drive vehicles will become even more the dominant mode of transport for cities that sprawl over even vaster areas of desert than Phoenix or Tucson ever have or will – and quite likely a more arid desert than Arizona, too.

The message Green Left Weekly give is dreadful. One cannot but despair that the nation that should have by an absolute mile the lowest per capita greenhouse emissions in the world has and always will have the highest. Nonetheless, the simple truth is that brains that could develop renewable energy have been drawn like a magnet from Australia because of the surfeit of dirt-cheap fossil fuels and land, whilst tightly-bound families have been driven away from countries ecologically able to support far larger populations by the greater housing space and the same dirt-cheap electricity and (today) car prices.

This is one thing that Green Left Weekly – just as much as the other side of politics exemplified by Human Events and suburban Australia – have no hope of grasping. They (both) are wedded to the cultures in which they develop, and have no experience of the possibilities offered by different ways of doing things. The result is that they – just as much as Human Events do with Europe, Canada and New Zealand – hope for outcomes that are culturally and economically impossible no matter how desirable they would be ecologically.

That the gap between Australian emissions and European or East Asian one will grow and grow there is, with the discovery of underground coal gasification, no doubt at all.

That families will be lured to sprawling desert cities in Australia and away from the more pleasant (even for the migrants themselves) and ecologically more sustainable climates of Europe, Canada and New Zealand there is equally little doubt. What is not grasped by anybody but economists is how the immense majority prefer this low-quality, slow-paced, limited-choice lifestyle to the high-quality, mass transit-based, hectic, “big choice” lifestyle the free market gives to Europe and East Asia. Sensitive feeling types simply cannot handle this fast pace or crowding, so they are drawn to Australia and Red America to escape it in huge numbers. More than that, it shows the intellectual thinking types who support journals like Green Left Weekly as elitist in the extreme and having no knowledge of what Australia’s masses want – or at all events want most.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Recurrent scores in drawn matches

At Rogers Results, there is a short site on drawn games in the V/AFL.

Since I was given a table of all matches won with fewer goals, I have wanted to look at how many of the 143 drawn scorelines are actually unique, which I have done at home with matches won with fewer goals.

A scoreline can be deemed to be unique if and only if each team’s goals, behinds and points is not replicated immediately or by simply swapping the home and away teams. If the scores are equal, the number of goals and behinds by each team or after swapping home and away teams must be the same for a scoreline not to be unique.

In the 143 drawn games, the following set of scores has recurred on four occasions:
Home teamGBPAway teamGBP
Round 9, 1944Fitzroy121183Essendon111783
Round 16, 1950Carlton121183St. Kilda111783
Round 9, 1960Richmond111783Geelong121183
Round 22, 1980North Melbourne111783St. Kilda121183

The following four sets of scores have recurred on three occasions each:

Home teamGBPAway teamGBP
Round 7, 1963Geelong91266Hawthorn91266
Round 3, 1971Essendon91266Collingwood91266
Round 8, 1974Carlton91266Footscray91266
Round 13, 1922St. Kilda101575South Melbourne11975
Round 5, 1929Footscray101575Melbourne11975
Round 2, 1972Collingwood101575Carlton11975
Round 11, 1952Essendon101676Geelong111076
Round 5, 1954Fitzroy101676St. Kilda111076
Round 11, 1999Footscray101676Hawthorn111076
Round 9, 1951Fitzroy121385South Melbourne121385
Round 18, 2007Footscray121385St. Kilda121385
Round 16, 2009Richmond121385North Melbourne121385

The following sixteen sets of scores have recurred twice:
Home teamGBPAway teamGBP
Round 10, 1904Geelong41135Carlton5535
Round 12, 1991Footscray41135Sydney5535
Round 3, 1916Fitzroy7850Collingwood61450
Round 6, 1917Richmond7850Collingwood61450
Round 8, 1973North Melbourne8856Footscray8856
Round 5, 2002St. Kilda8856Sydney8856
Round 1, 1914Geelong81361Essendon81361
Second Semi, 1972Carlton81361Richmond81361
Round 2, 1945Fitzroy81664Essendon91064
Round 6, 2008North Melbourne91064Sydney81664
Round 6, 1932Geelong91569Richmond91569
Round 15, 1947South Melbourne91569Collingwood91569
Round 5, 1921South Melbourne101070Carlton101070
Round 13, 1926Hawthorn101070North Melbourne101070
Round 15, 1919Geelong11975Fitzroy11975
Round 12, 1953Melbourne11975Richmond11975
Round 4, 1939Fitzroy101777Hawthorn111177
Round 1, 1957Geelong111177Footscray101777
Round 15, 1956Hawthorn101878South Melbourne12678
Round 10, 2000Port Adelaide101878Geelong12678
Round 1, 1933North Melbourne111379Fitzroy111379
Round 8, 1961North Melbourne111379Geelong111379
Round 16, 1964Carlton111379Collingwood12779
Round 14, 1994St. Kilda12779Adelaide111379
Round 18, 1961Essendon121688Collingwood131088
Round 8, 1967North Melbourne121688Essendon131088
Round 17, 1988Collingwood14892North Melbourne131492
Round 5, 1992Brisbane14892West Coast131492
Round 1, 1960Carlton141498Richmond141498
Round 7, 1977St. Kilda141498South Melbourne141498
Round 5, 1934Geelong1613109Collingwood1613109
Round 3, 2003North Melbourne1613109Brisbane1613109
That leaves a total of eighty-nine drawn scores that are unique and have occurred only once.

Of these eighty-nine scores:
  • forty-six had the same number of goals and behinds by both sides
  • forty-six had one fewer goal and six more behinds by one side
  • five (two in 1914, one each in 1966, 1968 and 1995) had two fewer goals by one side
  • two (in 1935 and 1948) had three fewer goals by one side (Essendon against Melbourne; Carlton against Footscray)
This confirms to the general pattern of goals score in drawn games. The difference is goals between two sides drawing a game is 0 or 1 with very nearly equal frequency, whilst the nine matches drawn where the difference in goals scored was greater than one stand as very major scoring oddities.