Hello Cruel World
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Inconstant Blogger
Sorry, haven't been able to get into writing anything much except relating to the elbow-deep drifts of forms & legal documents that needed to be fixed up by this week or a large chunk of the house of cards laughingly known as my life will lose its insubstantial grip on reality, or at least a working facsimile of same.
Some forms still demand a typewriter. I was able to unearth my old Spanish manual (not Manuel) one. With working ribbon. Ha! Bureaucracy foiled again.

Women & Children, et al

If you look at the behaviour and rhetoric of past Christianity and Orthodox Judaism, you'll find very similar attitudes to that of Islam. Orthodox Jewish women must cover their hair, for instance. Of course, all three of these religious traditions are closely connected, having evolved from each other.

Look at the history of repression of the whole population, and women, in Europe over much of the last millennium based on Christianity; extremely harsh punishments, punishments for religious differences or offences such as not attending church, blasphemy, or having an illegitimate child. Women in both Jewish & Christian thought are almost defined by having children.

Even the more militant versions of current Christianity, all you have to do is substitute God for Allah and the inflammatory speeches you hear reported as showing how Islam extreme is will be almost indistinguishable.

I heartily disagree with all of this type of ideology, whatever religious background it comes from.

My working theory is that the ideologues have seen how the progressive developments in Christendom have lowered the power of the church, and, in order to keep power, have decided that the only way is to keep the restrictions on as hard as possible -- see the history of how the Islamic progressive thought and science of some hundreds of years back was quashed. (And before you say that their intentions may very well be honest and good, so were Torquemada's.)

On another, not unrelated, subject [NEED LINK TO SMH ARTICLE]:
Perhaps the "militantly childless" are reacting to all those years of pressured bullying about their child-free status -- see also remarks about repression & reproductive definition of women, above. We definitely need less either less people in Australia or a more sustainable lifestyle, and recognising that women have lives (90 years of them) and interests beyond family support is one way of getting off the vicious cycle of ever-increasing human pressure on the rest of the world -- see recent report on human impact on the environment decreasing our children's' inheritance, excerpted and linked below.

Experts Warn Ecosystem Changes Will Continue to Worsen, Putting Global Development Goals At Risk
Wednesday, March 30, 2005 -- London, UK
A landmark study released today reveals that approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth – such as fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water regulation, and the regulation of regional climate, natural hazards and pests – are being degraded or used unsustainably. Scientists warn that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years

... Ecosystem changes that have contributed substantial net gains in human well-being and economic development have been achieved at growing costs in the form of degradation of other services. Only four ecosystem services have been enhanced in the last 50 years: increases in crop, livestock and aquaculture production, and increased carbon sequestration for global climate regulation. Two services – capture fisheries and fresh water – are now well beyond levels that can sustain current, much less future, demands.

Experts say that these problems will substantially diminish the benefits for future generations

...The MA Synthesis Report also reveals that it is the world’s poorest people who suffer most from ecosystem changes. The regions facing significant problems of ecosystem degradation – sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, some regions in Latin America, and parts of South and Southeast Asia – are also facing the greatest challenges in achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals ...

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment - News and Press Releases page
"Popularized" Version of Synthesis Report

Some Australian Urban Water Use Figures (compare petrol)
Urban Water Use Statistics in Australia

Domestic Water Consumption
The annual water consumption per average household is 250 kilolitres per year (WSAA, 2001) or 350 litres per person per day (Report of the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee, 2002).



Riverina Water County Council - fact sheet 6 "The Real Value of Water"

Water consumption levels vary throughout Australia. Average daily water use ranges from as little as 100 litres per person in some coastal areas to more than 800 litres per person in the dry inland areas. The current average daily water consumption is 340 litres per person, or 900 litres per household. In addition, an average of 150 litres of water per person is used every day in the workplace by industry and commerce, community uses such as watering of public parks and gardens, fire fighting and system leakage.

I haven't had time or energy (g) to work out average petrol use. It would be an interesting comparison, both in quantity and price.

Monday, March 28, 2005
Schiavo Controversy: Inconsistency in "Culture of Life"
These same guys who’re enthusiastic about the death penalty, nonchalant about military and civilian deaths in Iraq, and perfectly ready to cut funding for everything from prenatal care to basic public health and safety infrastructure, invoked an extrajudicial, extraconstitutional “culture of life” to justify their media coverage-oriented meddling in the Schiavo case.

Back in his Texas days, Bush happily signed legislation that made it easier for hospitals to pull the tubes on unresponsive patients, even ones whose known wishes ran contrary to it, whose families were opposed to it, and who might conceivably have had a better-than-zero chance of recovery.

What made the difference? That legislation back then was about money. This legislation now is about votes.

The extra special fun part of Bush's having signed that law in Texas is that it has apparently recently led to a black baby in that state having HIS feeding tube pulled--against the express wishes of the mother.

Baby dies after hospital removes breathing tube
Case is the first in which a judge allowed a hospital to discontinue care
March 16, 2005, 12:10PM

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Sunday, March 27, 2005
The Corpuscle -- The New New World (& Beyond)
The Corpuscle

There Will Be Some Changes
This blog is four months old this week. Lately, I'm not all that happy with the Blog Experience, and so starting today I am making some changes...

The Thing From Beyond the Vom
This is a long post that is, in fact, despite all beginning appearances to the contrary, about America in the world of 2005. It comes out of a number of things I've been thinking about lately, including some of the stuff I've been writing about in the pseudo-series I'm calling "The New New World". Accordingly, I'm subtitling this post "The New New World, Part 5",

The Theater of the Absurd
It is an oversimplification to assume that any age presents a homogeneous pattern. Ours being, more than most others, an age of transition, it displays a bewilderingly stratified picture: medieval beliefs still held and overlaid by eighteenth-century rationalism and mid-nineteenth-century Marxism, rocked by sudden volcanic eruptions of prehistoric fanaticisms and primitive tribal cults. Each of these components of the cultural pattern of the age finds its own artistic expression. The Theater of the Absurd, however, can be seen as the reflection of what seems to be the attitude most genuinely representative of our own time.

The hallmark of this attitude is its sense that the certitudes and unshakable basic assumptions of former ages have been swept away, that they have been tested and found wanting, that they have been discredited as cheap and somewhat childish illusions.

That was written forty-four years ago, describing the world as Esslin saw it in 1961. Has the world changed since then?

Friday, March 25, 2005
Crocheting the Hyberbolic Plane
Cabinet Magazine Online - Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane: An Interview with David Henderson and Daina Taimina
("Crocheted model of pseudosphere (the hyperbolic equiabvalent of a cone) by Daina Taimina. Photo courtesy Steve Rowell/The Institute for Figuring
Until the 19th century, mathematicians knew about only two kinds of geometry: the Euclidean plane and the sphere. It was therefore a deep shock to their community to find that there existed in principle a completely other spatial structure whose existence was discerned only by overturning a 2000-year-old prejudice about 'parallel' lines. The discovery of hyperbolic space in the 1820s and 1830s by the Hungarian mathematician Janos Bolyai and the Russian mathematician Nicholay Lobatchevsky marked a turning point in mathematics and initiated the formal field of non-Euclidean geometry. For more than a century, mathematicians searched in vain for a physical surface with hyperbolic geometry. Starting in the 1950s, they began to suggest possibilities for constructing such surfaces. Eventually, in 1997, Daina Taimina, a mathematician at Cornell University, made the first useable physical model of the hyperbolic "

Sunday, March 20, 2005
Peter Costello & all his fellow high-population growth supporters should be right out in front defending the people of Macquarie Fields.

Jesse Kelly, at the centre of much recent kerfuffle, has, at 20, a 2-year-old child. His grandfather is 53 now, so he became a grandfather at 33, when most of those slackers in the population stakes are only considering having their first child in a few years.

It's obvious the country needs many more Macquarie Fields to reach that 50 million population our businessmen and property developers so much desire. Yes, a country full of fast breeders such as this would be a great contribution to the Australia of the 21st Century, and a grand memorial to the forward-looking governor commemorated in its name.

It was my impression that "tenderhooks" are the smaller-sized young "tenterhooks", which haven't hardened up yet.
Marinaded briefly in white wine with a few herbs and quickly steamed or tossed on the barbecue hotplate, they make a light side dish for summer, whereas the tastier, but tougher, tenterhooks are best slow-cooked at a low temperature in a casserole or winter soup.

The SBS documentary on spy flights on Saturday was both a record of technical advances and an interesting reminder of a part of history often passed over. Testimony showed how both sides in the Cold War could be deceptive & ruthless in pursuit of their beliefs.

The section mentioning the support of the US for "partisans" in Eastern Europe, sabotaging & waging guerilla war on the USSR did strike me rather: would we call them "terrorists" today?

Friday, March 18, 2005
Entrez PubMed
A micro creeping robot for colonoscopy based on the earthworm. (Zuo J, Yan G, Gao Z, Institute of Precision Engineering and Intelligent Microsystem Shanghai JiaoTong University No. 1954 Huashan Road Shanghai 200030, P.R. China.) J Med Eng Technol. 2005 Jan-Feb;29(1):1-7.
pseudopodium.org 2005-03-12 Four Flies on Turbulent Velvet
For me, a still closer analogy is conversation, with its fragmenting veerings of immediate impulse, its easy changes of tone and subject, its relaxed or fraught (but inevitable) drops into silence, its emphasis on voice....

fiona apple
Fiona Apple's 'Extraordinary Machine' songs.
From Mark Morford's column called " Who Will Free Fiona Apple?"

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
How Imanent Will is not all in forming Destiny & History
Mar. 14th, 2005
07:09 pm - that's entertainment
By gum, TV can indeed teach, and occasionally there are the most delicious morsels dropped into the educational mix: night before last I was unable to stop wathcing two successive programs on vulcanology (on the Discovery Channel), one concentrating on the titanic 1815 blast-off of most of an Indonesian volcano called Tambora. One scientist (the world's primier expert on Pompeii) was excavating what turned out to be a carbonized household on the slopes of what's left of Tambora while another, working with the logbooks of the British Navy in the Pacific, constructed a computer model of the recorded impact of the blast on the world's weather (though this was not known at the time). Love the idea of His Majesty's ships, being mostly underemployed, as floating meteorological stations since in their boredom they took temperature, wind, and other sky-and-water type readings every two to four hours and recorded them, along with their exact position on the ocean at the time.

The plum in the pudding, however, was this: because of the sun-blocking effects of so many tons of Tambora being thrown into the upper atmosphere and blown round the globe, the summer of 1816 was the coldest on record in Europe (and New England, where people referred to it as "eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death"), leading to huge crop failures, famine, and, of course, bread riots in France. One of the places hardest hit was Switzerland, where that summer consisted of three solid months of cold, driving rain.

Now, think back: who was vacationing in Switzerland in the summer of 1816? In a rented villa on the shore of Lake Geneva? One of 'em had a club foot, and another was his doctor, and then there was the wife of another poet -- ? YES!! A little party of talented British literatti. Fortunately for us, all their picnics got rained out and their hikes were quenched by chilly temperatures. What did they have to do except go back indoors and, when the parlor games gave out, sit down by the fire and *write*?

Hence, "Frankenstein", and Dr. Polidori's short vampire piece, and I forget what else -- but what else do you need? A vast mountain blows its stack in southeast Asia, creating the largest volcanic death toll in recorded history (they said 117,000 but to that you'd have to add the secondary deaths of all those Swiss farmers who quietly starved in their high, muddy valleys, and similar victims elsewhere); and out of all this catastrophe, however indirectly, comes one of the totemic monsters of modern times, and the seed of his alter-ego the blood-sucking vampire!

Ah, history -- the gradual revelation of its elegant interconnections ranks among the best entertainments in the world.

Comment on
Mar. 14th, 2005
07:09 pm - that's entertainment

"The Year Without a Summer" caused by Tambora naturally also caused
disruptions to crops and the health of both humans and their animals. The
resulting wave of famine and disease in Europe caused rioting there, while
nearly a hundred thousand died from them in Indonesia, and there were
similar problems in the North-East USA and Russia. It's generally accepted
that this also inspired "The Last Man", (1826) by Mary Shelley.


I read this some years back, and one thing that was interesting was that it
was set in the 21st Century, yet much had not changed, e.g. in transport
and communication. It rather made me wonder whether it was Mary's own
mindset, or that the idea of constant, world-overturning change hadn't yet
set in. It also makes you wonder what basic things people looking to the
future now would miss.

See some notes on eruptions in the introduction of the Geophysical Research
Letter, vol 32, in February 2005 at http://star.arm.ac.uk/preprints/437.pdf
. It also mentions the very disruptive, eruption of Laki, in Iceland --
not as explosive, but much longer-lasting, in 1783-84. I wonder if this
may have contributed a few straws more to the French Revolution in 1789?

This poem is also supposed to be partly inspired by that dreary year

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swing blind and blackening in the moonless air
Morn came and went – and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires – and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings – the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gather’d round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face;
Lord Byron (1816)

while the extraordinary sunsets after Krakatoa's eruption are thought to
have helped inspire Edvard Munch's "The Scream", if you read his
description of the scene that had such an impact on him.
(Based on When the Sky Ran Red: The Story Behind "The Scream" by
Donald W. Olson, Russell L. Doescher, and Marilynn S. Olson | Sky &
Telescope | February 2004, p. 28-35 )

Jan. 26th, 2005
10:59 pm -
gigantism in Amerika


Monday, March 14, 2005
Y Not?
You scored 40 Mass, 25 Electronegativity, 64 Metal, and 30 Radioactivity!

Yttrium? Yttrium??? You're messing with me, right? That's not a real
element. Really? If you say so. Okay... how about: You are really a
solitary creature, and you're somewhat set in your ways. You work,
consciously or subconsciously, towards the betterment of society, but I
guess you do this by befriending it's strangest elements. You're kind
of a spaceman/woman, but in the end you're allright. You should try to
be with the benign weirdos of the world because, by goodness, no one
else will. Oh, it says here that you are abundant on the moon.
Interpret as you will.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 28% on Mass
You scored higher than 14% on Electroneg
You scored higher than 85% on Metal
You scored higher than 85% on Radioactivity
Link: The Which Chemical Element Am I Test written by effataigus on Ok Cupid

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Traffic Koan
Xopher ::: March 03, 2005, 05:35 PM
My favorite Zen koan is "When the traffic increases, it becomes nothing; when the traffic decreases, it becomes something."

This is known among the Wise as the Traffic Koan.

Faren Miller ::: March 04, 2005, 11:01 AM

Xopher, re your "zen koan" on traffic, a ways above, here's something from a recent Jon Carroll column on SFGate: "I have a mantra that I say. Perhaps you would like to learn it. 'All the atoms within me were once the atoms of the sun. All the water within me was once part of the great oceans of the world. I am by the universe and of the universe, and I embrace all suffering and transgression, for I am it and it is me and holy mother of God that son of a camel's placenta just cut across four lanes to tailgate an airport shuttle that of course is going 15 miles above the speed limit and oh look here comes a Camaro it's a race pigs pigs pigs may you rot in hell, and I love every creature because I am part of every creature, amen.'"

Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Writing" by Howard Nemerov, from The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov. © University of Chicago Press. Reprinted with permission.


The cursive crawl, the squared-off characters
these by themselves delight, even without
a meaning, in a foreign language, in
Chinese, for instance, or when skaters curve
all day across the lake, scoring their white
records in ice. Being intelligible,
these winding ways with their audacities
and delicate hesitations, they become
miraculous, so intimately, out there
at the pen's point or brush's tip, do world
and spirit wed. The small bones of the wrist
balance against great skeletons of stars
exactly; the blind bat surveys his way
by echo alone. Still, the point of style
is character. The universe induces
a different tremor in every hand, from the
check-forger's to that of the Emperor
Hui Tsung, who called his own calligraphy
the 'Slender Gold.' A nervous man
writes nervously of a nervous world, and so on.

Miraculous. It is as though the world
were a great writing. Having said so much,
let us allow there is more to the world
than writing: continental faults are not
bare convoluted fissures in the brain.
Not only must the skaters soon go home;
also the hard inscription of their skates
is scored across the open water, which long
remembers nothing, neither wind nor wake.


Knitters Without Borders
This page is the home of Tricoteuses Sans Frontières or Knitters Without Borders.
TSF was born as a response to the tsunami disaster on December 26th 2004, but exists to fundraise for Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders.


Monday, March 07, 2005
Stickman fight scene


Pacifica, CA February 27, 2005 -- Jef Raskin, a mathematician, orchestral
soloist and composer, professor, bicycle racer, model airplane designer, and pioneer in the field of human-computer interactions, died peacefully at home in California on February 26th, 2005 surrounded by his family and loved ones. He had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Jef created the Macintosh computer as employee number 31 at Apple in the early 1980s, revolutionizing computer interface design. Jef invented "click and drag" and many other methods now taken for granted by computer users. He named the Macintosh project after his favorite variety of apple, the McIntosh, modifying the spelling for copyright purposes.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Hidden cash stash in secret bank account revealed!
From: Me
Sent: Tuesday, March 01, 2005 7:53 PM
To: Diane
Subject: RE: Hidden cash stash in secret bank account revealed!

Well, you'd definitely NOT want to be a teller or middle management.
They're being squeezed badly.

To get the cream, you need to be in the "upper" levels of management. Then you earn several times the 'average' wage of the usual hard-working 60-hour-a-week stiff, plus getting share options & bonuses that somehow always come through despite poor performance. Then, even if you get sacked for bad work, the contract you've negotiated gives you several years worth of salary. (This has been quite a scandal here over the last few years, where people who've nearly wrecked companies & been forced out have taken 'separation payments' or 'compensation' of up to $13,000,000.)

I've always, personally, put the duties of the company first to your customers, then your (operative) staff, then your shareholders. Legally, however, apparently company directors have to consider their shareholders first, hence my final sentence below. [With the usual cautions; some of our major financial disasters of the 1980s were banks (even State Banks) getting in over their heads following deregulation of what they could do.]

-----Original Message-----
From: Diane
Sent: Tuesday, 1 March 2005 11:37 PM
Subject: RE: Hidden cash stash in secret bank account revealed!

Wow, where do we sign up for a job in banking!

-----Original Message-----
From: Me
Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 8:28 PM
Subject: RE: Hidden cash stash in secret bank account revealed!

A couple of weeks ago, in Chris' mail that is sent on to me as administratrix of the estate, a replacement transaction card for an ANZ account I'd never seen before arrived. I went in on the next business day with my usual batch of paperwork (death certificate, letters of administration, driver's licence, medicare card, rate notice, etc.), to either close it or transfer it to the name of the estate.

After the final $5 monthly service charge was taken out, we mutually decided to close the account. Rather than transfer the remaining balance directly to the estate account at a different bank or make out a bank cheque, the lady at the enquiries desk gave me the funds in cash to deposit into the estate account and told me final closing statement would be sent straight away.

Final Statement
Original Balance on 21/12/1995 = $490.10
Total Interest paid since = $6.17
Total Service Fees since = $494.00 (22 x $4; 41 x $6; 32 x $5)
Closing Balance on 21/2/2005 = $2.27

There were no other deposits or withdrawals.

How good a business is banking?

They haven't sent any mail about this account since 2002 (and possibly earlier), had no fiddly administration of transactions and ended up with not only all the original balance, but also managed to claw back $3.90 of the $6.17 interest, 63% of what they paid out.

Buy shares now.
Revisiting The Limits to Growth: Could The Club of Rome Have Been Correct, After All?

Revisiting The Limits to Growth: Could The Club of Rome Have Been Correct, After All?

An Energy White Paper
by Matthew R. Simmons
October 2000
... After reading The Limits to Growth, I was amazed. Nowhere in the book was there any mention about running out of anything by 2000. Instead, the book's concern was entirely focused on what the world might look like 100 years later. There was not one sentence or even a single word written about an oil shortage, or limit to any specific resource, by the year 2000.
... The group all shared a common concern that mankind faced a future predicament of grave complexity, caused by a series of interrelated problems that traditional institutions and policy would not be able to cope with ... The book then postulated that if a continuation of the exponential growth of the seventies began in the world's population, its industrial output, agricultural and natural resource consumption and the pollution produced by all of the above, would result in severe constraints on all known global resources by 2050 to 2070 ... At the time, the technique of conducting computer based integrated modeling was quite new ...

The book painstakingly acknowledged that the model's work was still "preliminary" ... The decision to publish the results ... was driven by a desire to quickly get the issues into the public domain ... and spark debate ... about the changes needed to avoid the catastrophic elements that the model indicated would occur by 2070, absent any changes.

the book's conclusions were quite simple. The first conclusion was a view that if present growth trends continued unchanged, a limit to the growth that our planet has enjoyed would be reached sometime within the next 100 years. This would then result in a sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.

The second key conclusion was that these growth trends could be altered. Moreover, if proper alterations were made, the world could establish a condition of "ecological stability" that would be sustainable far into the future.

The third conclusion was a view that the world could embark on this second path, but the sooner this effort started, the greater the chance would be of achieving this "ecologically stable" success.

The book is beautifully written. It takes only a few hours to read. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is an interesting mixture of simple, tried and true economic laws, combined with a terrific dose of logic ... essentially lays out an optimistic outlook on how easily these limits to growth can be altered if a real effort to accomplish this is made at an early stage, rather than attempting such changes too late.

The most amazing aspect of the book is how accurate many of the basic trend extrapolation worries ... still are, some 30 years later. In fact, for a work that has been derisively attacked by so many ... there was nothing that I could find in the book which has so far been even vaguely invalidated.

The most profound message which The Club of Rome passionately urged people to consider is the power of ... exponential growth and the danger of the gap that existed between the world's rich and poor. That message is still alive and well ...

Why is this message so mute to so many? Will it take a hasty wake-up call to finally create the meaningful questioning of how this enigma is solved? The Club of Rome got the whole picture right. It was the rest of us who missed the mark!
... all the major conclusions are precisely on track. So far, not a single observed trend has emerged to allay the worries and concerns laid out by the Club of Rome.
Sadly, the dialogue and increased in-depth analysis that The Club of Rome so hoped would begin as a result of their publication never occurred ...

The Club of Rome still exists. It has commissioned more than a dozen other reports, though none ever attracted the widespread attention of The Limits of Growth.

Its most recent report* was published in 1995 and dealt with the world's unemployment dilemma. "Interim" reports on the problems of governability or the lack thereof and on the global warming problem were presented at its last meeting, held in Puerto Rico in 1996.

So the Club is intact, but the passionate concerns spelled out by The Limits to Growth have clearly cooled.
*This was written in late 2000, so things may have changed since.

Powered by Blogger
Feedback by backBlog

 / . Lives in Australia/New South Wales/Sydney, speaks English. Eye color is hazel. I am what my mother calls unique. My interests are photography, reading, natural history/land use, town planning, sustainability.

This is my blogchalk:
Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, English, photography, reading, natural history, land use, town planning, sustainability.