June 24, 2010

Horse 1095 - The Right Hon Julia Gillard PM

Julia Gillard has been elected unopposed to the Labor leadership, seizing power in a bloodless Parliament House coup after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd decided not to contest this morning's leadership ballot.

Wow... just wow.

The Labor right obviously has thought that Rudd wouldn't take Labor through to the next election, so they've dumped him.

I'm not sure if Rudd saw this coming but perhaps the party was beginning to see him as a "lame duck" sort of Prime Minister, after not being able to pass legislation like the ETS and now the Mining Super Profits Tax through the Senate (though given that the Senate is hostile, can he really be blamed for that?)

What does this say about the state of Australian politics? We've have a few State Premiers get the chop whilst in power, the Federal Opposition has changed leaders twice since the last election (thrice if you include Howard being elected out of his seat) and now this.
What sort of confidence can you have in any of the leaders that we have if they're chopping and changing at will? Mind you the reverse is also true, the other extreme is a case like Menzies who was PM for 14 years in his second tilt at the job.

I've also noticed a freaky sort of co-incidence. Margaret Thatcher, Helen Clark and now Julia Gillard all being the first female Prime Ministers of their respective countries are all redheads. What does that say, if anything?

I think that we might expect to hear rather pointed rhetoric over the next few days. Also expect to see caricatures of Gillard as Elizabeth I. As for new politics and a new direction? I don't think that will even move even 1° from the course that it's already heading on.

June 17, 2010

Horse 1094 - BOXWORLD - Obsession or Deranged?

Photo set:

At the Mosman Art Gallery near where I work, there is a display (for want of a better word) of something called Boxworld. A chap called Warren Thomas has spent the last 12 years building a "model city" out of cardboard boxes, bits of rubbish and other sorts of recyclables.

I have seen some elaborate model railways over the years, but the sheer scale of this makes all of them pale into insignificance. As I was walking around the section on display (apparantly the whole thing covers 200m²) I couldn't decide whether this was something which has just got out of hand, or the work of a deranged mind.

Words cannot accurately depict how truly odd this er... thing is.

June 10, 2010

Horse 1093 - E10 Is A Waste Of Time... or...

... Why I No Longer Drive To Work

As at July 1st, normal undiluted 91 Octane petrol will cease to be sold in Australia. Instead, we'll no be forced to buy this E10 rubbish.
Rubbish? Isn't E10 supposedly better? More environmentally friendly? Isn't it supposed to make my car fart flowers?


E10 is a blended petrol made from two broad components.
1. Octane - C8H18, and octane like components.
2. Ethyl-alcohol (or Ethanol) - C2O6H.

Unlike the Octane Rating* which is a measure of burn rates, there actually is a chemical difference between C8H18 (octane) and C2O6H (ethyl-alcohol or ethanol). In general pure ethanol contains 34% less energy than pure octane (which isn't sold at the pump anyway).

Therefore an E10 fuel is going to provide 96.6% of the energy of an E0 (0% ethanol fuel) and only going to give you 96.6% of the mileage at best. At the current discount rate of 4c a litre (or even 3c at crappy stations) E10 petrol is only going to work out cheaper in the long run if the petrol is less than 103.51c/L (as that's the breakeven point). At any price more than that, you'll be doing your dosh because by saving 4c/L you'll be undoing it by only having 96.6% of the energy available on tap.

What's even better about this is that my calculations match up in the real world:
A fuel derived from plants might appear to be a cheap and green alternative but exclusive Drive research proves this is not the case. A fuel-efficiency showdown between the three most-popular types of petrol on the market concludes the ethanol blend will cost you more in the long run and may not even help the environment.

City driving exposed E10's efficiency shortcomings more than highway cruising. Around town, using E10 was almost as expensive as using premium unleaded, despite the huge gap in pump prices.

In the 700 kilometres of city driving, our E10 Camry used almost 10 litres more fuel than our premium-fuel car.
The comparative fuel bills for the three cars were: E10, $105; premium, $105.91 (15c/L more expensive); and regular unleaded, $100.33.
Had we used thirstier six-cylinder cars or less-efficient used cars, the equation would probably have strengthened further in favour of unleaded and premium fuel.

In general ethanol petrol isn't cheaper in the long run. I'm not even a scientist and I could work that out.
There was even another factor in my calculations. The new MyZone2 ticket costs $48, or what would work out to be $5.33 cheaper than the new calculated fuel bill to get to work in my Ka.

In short, E10 is a waste of time and ironically was the thing which put me back on public transport.

*For futher reading on Octane Rating:

June 04, 2010

Horse 1092 - Everyone is Wrong.

By now you would have almost certainly heard about the "humanitarian flotilla" en route to the Gaza Strip, and attacked by the Israelli military. As with all of these fracas and conflicts, the first casualty is often the truth.

We opened the week with condemnation from Turkey, which is where the flotilla started from:
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the incident "murder committed by a state" and said Israel had "lost all legitimacy".

There are of course lots of factors in play here. If in fact the flotilla was purely humanitarian in nature, then this was essentially an act of state terrorism by Israel, if if wasn't then perhaps there's an element of justification for it.

The problem is that the destination of Gaza is controlled by Hamas. Hamas has in as many words as one of its objectives, the destruction of Israel.

On the Destruction of Israel:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

Because of this, you then have to question whether or not this actually was in fact a "humanitarian flotilla". However, that in itself is difficult to determine.
The group which organised it is called the İnsani Yardım Vakfı or in English, The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief. It gets it's short name from its German name Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation, or IHH.

The big problem is of course a question of whether or not the IHH is in fact a legitimate organisation. Even the AP makes mention of this, but only in passing:
The largest flotilla by far, it was dominated not by Free Gaza, which sent only one small passenger boat, but by three ships sent by an Islamic aid group from Turkey, the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief. The group, known by its Turkish acronym IHH, was banned by Israel in 2008 because of alleged ties to Hamas.

However, the IHH itself has been identified has either being a para-terrorist organisation, or at very least having links or being tied to them:
Turkish authorities began their own domestic criminal investigation of IHH as early as December 1997, when sources revealed that leaders of IHH were purchasing automatic weapons from other regional Islamic militant groups.

IHH’s bureau in Istanbul was thoroughly searched, and its local officers were arrested. Security forces uncovered an array of disturbing items, including firearms, explosives, bomb-making instructions, and a “jihad flag.” After analyzing seized IHH documents, Turkish authorities concluded that “detained members of IHH were going to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.”

I'd like to preface this with saying that the following is WMG - "Wild Mass Guessing" on my part:

I'm beginning to suspect that this whole debacle is really in effect, a political message designed to justify the "Islamification" of what is otherwise secularist Turkey.

Remember, the current president of Turkey is none other than Abdullah Gul who was elected back in 2007.
Turkey's military chief warned on Monday that "centres of evil" were trying to undermine the state. Gen Yasar Buyukanit did not name those he said were "trying to corrode the secular nature of the Turkish Republic."
But analysts said the statement was clearly aimed at Mr Gul, a devout Muslim.
Turkey's military and secular establishment suspect he might harbour a secret Islamist agenda.

What better way would there be to justify moves away from secularism, when you can claim victim status in all of this? Plus, it's really easy to demonise Israel when most of the Islamic world already hates them.

Of course the poor people who suffer through all of this are the people of Gaza themselves. I'm sure that a great deal of them are jack of both Israel and Hamas and would rather that everything just stop and they can get on with their lives.

People are after all people. Every single person has been endowed by their creator with dignity and is individually valuable. Whether or not you agree that there is a creator is entirely a separate issue, but the fact remains that throughout all of this, there are real people on the ground who are suffering.
If there is political grandstanding from Turkey, Israel, the world's media, Palestine, Hamas or whoever else has turned this into a farce, it should be stopped. Damn the lot of them!

People are hurting and dying. Put up, shut up, and help them. You are all a cussing disgrace!