November 29, 2013

Horse 1572 - "Reasonable Care" or "Don't Lock Your Doors When You Go Out"

By now you've probably seen the NRMA adverts with the guitar player who continues to play on when people's houses and shops are burning, when people are fixing broken things because of accident and where he sits on the bonnet of someone's car.

In the latest installment of these adverts, we read this about Home & Contents Insurance:

"You're covered, even if you forget to lock your door." Really? I'm confused. Immedieately below this, IN THE SAME ADVERT, we find the following caveat:

Let me reread that: "You must take reasonable care to secure your home and contents". Take note of two words in that sentence - reasonable care.

I take note of the definition of reasonable care in Black's Law Dictionary 9th ed (2009):
reasonable care n. the degree of caution and concern for the safety of himself/herself and others an ordinarily prudent and rational person would use in the circumstances. This is a subjective test of determining if a person is negligent, meaning he/she did not exercise reasonable care.

I do realise that people will forget to lock their door but for the purposes on an insurance test, forgetting to lock their door might be seen as an act of negligence, which would prove that reasonable care was not exercised. It is quite reasonable to assume that an ordinarily prudent and rational person would lock their door.
If this is indeed the case, wouldn't an insurance claim be rendered null and void?

I think that this is particular mentioning since the NRMA's very own Product Disclosure Statement  on page 53 says that:
We don't cover loss, damage, injury or death arising from:
you not taking reasonable care to protect your home or contents against loss or damage.

It also points out on page 78 that:
Home is any enclosed building at your site that has walls and a roof and can be locked up which 
you use mainly for domestic purposes.

On my simple and ordinary reading of their PDS, I think that I've come to the conclusion that the NRMA are indulging in a spot of misleading advertising. Just quietly, I think that Fair Trading NSW should look into this.

November 22, 2013

Horse 1571 - The One Day Of The Doctor

Now that we've finally seen England start to tear Australia to shreds on Day One of the First Test in Brisbane, I thought it might be a fine opportunity to look at another great sporting XI - Doctors Who.

The fact that there are eleven Doctors Who can't be a co-incidence can it? Perhaps it's worth looking at the XI and see how they fit together.

I think that it's pretty obvious that the order that they appear in, is by design more than accident. The list from One to Eleven suggests to me a well thought out batting order.

One believed that the art of run making was a science; technique is key. You always want someone at the beginning of the order who can steadily establish the ground work for the others to follow.
On one tour of Skaro he objected to the inferior quality of the lights being used. The Skaro board of control was furious at him and decided to "exterminate" him for his insubordination.

Two who was also an opener, was an imp of a batsman who could drive and glance like no other. Prone to occasional fits on anger, he could lash out if required and play across the line. Most of his shots either came through the areas from Point to Cover or on the other side of the field through Mid-On.

An emphatic driver of the ball, Three was also very adept at chopping it. Sometimes a little wild at slashing the bat at things which weren't really there, he was a bit of a worrier but he could drive.
Once in a match against the Cybermen after hitting thirty-eight singles through the covers, he then pulled a ball extravagantly to Fine Leg and claimed that he was "reversing the polarity of the neutron flow"... whatever that meant.

This flamboyant expansive player had a wide range of shots to choose from and accepted all forms of sledging and abuse in good humour; in fact they only seemed to make him play better. He scored four double hundreds on a tour of Skaro and even accidentally injured Davros who was fielding at Silly Mid-On and neglected to wear a helmet.

It takes a certain amount of confidence to pull off wearing a decorative vegetable; Five has that in abundance. A fairly solid wicket-keeper batsman, Five has saved the Doctors XI from humiliation one more than one occasion.
As a wicket-keeper he contributed to the highest number of dismissals in ODIs, 15,896; though have a career which spans several centuries might be construed as an unfair advantage.

This plucky all-rounder could bowl a bit, bat a bit and in cases of dire emergency, hang around and soak up the strike. Although a bit of a trundler with the ball, he did reasonably well on the softer pitches of Mondas, which was particularly annoying for any Cybermen.
Six's best bowling figures were 7/12 against the Zygons.

The art of deception is useful for a spin bowler. How does one bowl a delivery which appears to spin one one but break another when it pitches? Seven is a brilliant manipulator, bowling leg-spin to rival even the greatest in the galaxy.
Seven once took 9/36 against a Sontaran XI, though that might say more about the ineptitude of the Sontarans with the bat than anything else.

As the third prong in a pace attack, Eight was incredibly enigmatic. Realising that he didn't really have a lot of time to prove himself in the squad, he was able to use a lot of deviation in line to achieve results. His most famed wicket was the so-called "Ball Of The Millennium" which looked like a cutter but hit the pitch and turned into an amazing off-spinner, taking out the on-side bail.

Broody and vengeful, Nine could swing the ball both ways and got quite a lot of deviation off the seam. He once had a run in with the Ood who thought that they could telepathically read his deliveries. He thought of the words "Bad Wolf" and spent that entire Test Series being incredibly confusing.

Ten is manic and unpredictable. A fast bowler with the outlook that everything should be attacked head on. He starts way way down the batting order because that same frantic mindset from which he comes charging in from an end, it the same frantic mindset with which he faces bowling. Ten will either score 3, 30 or 300 with the bat; all without any regard to building an innings or staying around.
Ten tends to do poorly against the Dalek XI, who are single-minded and bowl incredibly consistent line and length. It doesn't really help that Skaro has very hard and lifeless pitches, owing to it being a nuclear wasteland.

On the field, the only to expend so much energy is to take the red leather in hand and send down 22 yards of hellfire. Eleven holds the record for the fastest recorded delivery at 109.8mph against a Slitheen Select XI. Eleven is rather a poor batsman, having a highest test score with the bat at just 15*.
He caused a dispute when he sent a an incredibly dubious not out decision upstairs via the DRS by sticking to that old axiom "Silence will fall when the question is asked".

The question I have is how would a Doctors Who XI do against the Australians? Well they can't very well do any worse than England at the moment who as I type this on Day Two of the First Test at the 'Gabba is are in complete disarray at 126-9.

November 18, 2013

Horse 1570 - Cloudy With A Chance Of Morality

At the weekend, the film "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" was on telly and although it's a film with a relatively simple plot, I think that there's quite a lot in it that could very form the part of a high school English class.
I'm going to pick out just three things which can be explored within this film because inadvertently, Sony Pictures have produced a deceptively useful object lesson.

Classic Tragedy
A tragedy in the classic sense and particularly exemplified by Shakespeare, is a work in which a character suffers a downfall and could have taken steps to avoid this from happening.
In "Cloudy" this most obviously happens with Mayor Shelbourne who deals with twin vices of gluttony and avarice in his quest for power and fame. Quite obviously this takes on the form of the grotesque as by the end of the film, he ends up hideously obese (and having to move about by mobility scooter) but right at the end of the film he ends up in the middle of the ocean, after having eaten his peanut butter and jelly sandwich escape boat; it is only at that point that he admits that his plans were ill thought out.

To some degree the film acts like a morality play in that the vice which is personified is that of gluttony but as I've mentioned, perhaps there is a case to be that avarice also plays a part as Mayor Shelbourne tries to manipulate the media to bring fame to himself on the world's stage.

Quest For Redemption
Inventor Flint Lockwood who invents the machine which makes it rain food from the sky, doesn't really demand fame though he does briefly flirt with it. One major theme in this film is Flint's quest for recognition and acceptance from his father, Tim.
Indeed with Flint is at his lowest point in the film and is literally in the garbage bin, it is his father Tim who lifts him out and sends him on the job that he was made to do.
A parallel could be drawn with God who lifts us up out of the pit and I'm sure that there's a good case to be made that it's kind of interesting to see that close to the end of the film when Tim does finally admit that he is proud of his son, he mentions that he was always proud of his son, even though he found it difficult to express it.

Chevok's Gun
Russian playwright Anton Chekov once asserted that:
"Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."
In Cloudy, Flint invents 'spray-on shoes' at an early age and we see this as a source of derision and mirth by the people whom he went to school with. The point of course in showing us the can of spray-on shoes at the beginning of them film is that that is the plot device by which the food raining machine is finally brought to its end. Spray-on shoes qualifies perfectly as a Chekov Gun.

Of course the film is replete with movie cliches such as the protagonist missing a parent, or the inevitable boy-meets-girl story, or amusing animal side kick, and visual homages to other films but seeing as this is a G rated film, you can't honestly expect a terribly complicated plot like Bleak House or Anna Karenina can you?
All of these themes can be explored by an HSC English class and to that end, it might make good practice before studying something like Hamlet or Troilus and Cressida. It'd certain be more fun than the tripe that our English teachers fed us.

November 16, 2013

Horse 1569 - The Australian Car Industry and Rollo's $1 Offer To Ford

- Stolen from AOL

The final episode of Top Gear for 2013 as the photograph above as the photograph above shows, had a gathering of vehicles currently built in Britain, which overflowed The Mall in London.
Okay, the soundtrack was deliberately designed to be a flag waver and with Union Flags all the way down both sides, that was more than adequately. However, as an Australian, I feel infuriated and a little sad that this sort of thing, could not be done here.

Suppose that a similar thing were done here. If all the vehicles that are currently built in Australia, then how many would there be? The list is actually more surprising than you'd think. It's probably not a comprehensive list though because I'm sure that there are other garagistas out there.

Holden - Commodore Sedan (4 engines), Wagon (4 engines), Ute (3 engines), Cruze (hatchback)
Toyota - Camry, Aurion, Camry Hybrid
Ford - Falcon (4 engines), Ute (3 engines), Territory (2 engines)
Volgren - NGS, CR228-SW, CR228-LW, CR228 Artic
Bustech - VST, SBV, SBM, MDi, XDi, CDi, ADi
General Dynamics - ASLAV Light Armoured Vehicle, M1A1 Battle Tank
Elfim - MS8 Streamliner, MS8 Clubman
Bolwell - Nagari
Minetti - SS-V1
Victa - 10 Models of Ride-On Mowers

I've counted 51 variants of motor vehicles produced in Australia. Whilst that sounds like a lot, if they were parked in the same place as the cars in the episode of Top Gear, they would probably stretch only a quarter of the way down the road.
In general, manufacturing as a sector amounts to less than 10% of Australia's GDP. Whilst it is true that I do know people who work in trades, the only person I can say that I know who works in an industry which actually makes produce , works for a bread factory... a bread factory of all things.

We currently have a Industry Minister in Ian Macfarlane who told ABC Local Radio that "There's a possibility that the industry is not able to be saved in terms of the level of support it might require" and that "The truth is that Australia is just not very good at making cars". I would have provided a link, but I have as yet found one.

Now I don't know if the latter is true but I do know that every single car manufacturing facility in the world is at least bailed out or subsidised in some capacity by their government, a truth even admitted by Ian Macfarlane to the Australian Financial Review¹. 
With the news that Holden is seeking to pay its workers the bare minimum that it possibly can, Toyota looking for extra concessions before 2015 and Ford announcing that it will cease manufacturing operations entirely in 2016, the future is incredibly bleak indeed.
Yet I ask myself a simple question. Why is it that Great Britain which as to import all of its steel from elsewhere, is still able to produce so many cars? Is it purely a matter of taxation concessions? Admittedly the standard rate of Corporation Tax in the UK is only 23% as opposed to our 30% but when motor manufacturers deliberately set out to create writable tax losses, this is a little academic.

I wonder about the Mr Macfarlane's statement that Australia isn't good at building cars. The truth itself is that was Holden who developed the Cruze and not Chevrolet or Daewoo, they developed the Zeta platform upon which the Commodore sits as does the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Australia developed the Ikon and then Figo for India and the Bantam bakkie for South Africa as well as the next model Ranger.
If Australia isn't good at building cars then why are both the Camry and Commodore which are built here exported? To be totally frank, Australian built and developed cars are usually better built and better lasting than most other cars built elsewhere in the world.
There is an argument to be made that the Commodore isn't as refined as say a Mercedes-Benz but all cars are built to a price point and to that end, there isn't really a logical reason why Holden shouldn't be able to produce all of the Cadillacs in the world except that Detroit won't let them. 
If cars like the Falcon and Commodore are on the slide in terms of sales, them it would make sense to change production and build something else. Ford openly refused to let Geelong or Broadmeadows build the Focus and Fiesta and GM don't want to let Holden build terribly many more Cruzes. Therein lies a problem.

The big problem that we have in Australia when it comes to the motor industry, has nothing to do with government policy here but the control which exists from Detroit. If the government really wanted to save the motor industry here, then it could do what France did and just take some of it over.
As it is, 2016 probably marks the death of the car industry in Australia for two reasons:
1. We have a government who honestly doesn't believe in manufacturing in Australia because the voters and backers of political parties choose to make money through other means like property investments.
2. Australia's car industry is and always was controlled from overseas.

The awful truth is that there never really was an "Australian" car industry. None of Ford, Holden or Toyota are listed on the ASX and Australians don't usually own shares in them.

So then, what's the solution?
I've said this before and I'll say it again... but this time to Ford.

If Ford wishes to cease production of cars in Australia, then I'm willing to offer $1 in exchange for the Australian Operations and I'm laying it on the table now. There's your offer. I know that I could have Australia's biggest car company in five years for the simple reason that Australian workers building cars for Australian conditions do a better job, and I think that the general public appreciates this.

¹AFR 1st Nov, 2013:

November 12, 2013

Horse 1568 - Why The So-Called "Commission of Audit" Is Not Anything Of The Sort

The so-called "National Commission of Audit" announced by Treasurer Joe Hockey formally opened today. I say "so-called" specifically because this is a direct lie from the Federal Government on only the first day that Parliament has resumed.

Never mind the fact that the 'budget emergency' has never shown its face and the fact that Mr Hockey when comparing his first Budget next May for the 2014/15 year will instantly look $8.8 billion better off thanks to him 'spending' that money by giving it to the Reserve Bank as part of its reserve fund¹. That $8.8 billion will never enter the economy, doesn't change aggregate demand in the same way that building a railway, motorway or other piece of infrastructure would; not does it affect real inflation because the money never enters physical circulation. It does however count as expenditure in the budget which affects the bottom line, making it look worse, which is the intended aim. Start out with a worse figure, do nothing and improve without having actually achieved anything. Top marks for that.

So then, that as an aside, why do I suggest that the National Commission of Audit is a direct lie. That depends on your definition of 'Audit'.

Being a word vulture I looked up the definition of 'Audit' in the OED3 and came up with this:

audit n. & v.
1. an official examination of accounts
2. a systematic review (as in a safety audit etc.)

One of the first things we learn as part of any basic Law 101 class is that a word in a piece of legislation should either be read according to the normal definition of the word or the word as it is used in context.
The OED3 definition here makes perfect sense to me because as an accountant, both definitions 1 and 2 are done when we send off accounts to be audited. They are examined, spot tested and reviewed according to a set of standards. It would make sense to me then, if a National Commission of Audit was a comprehensive view of the budget of the Commonwealth according to a set of well defined standards.

This is where the game gets a little tricky. Auditing government accounts might not be done in the same way as say the audit for a major corporation or a proprietary company because ostensibly the government isn't a for-profit organisation, though the way that Abbott and Hockey keep on yammering about surpluses as though any government which didn't achieve them, has failed (excluding themselves of course).

So then, I thought I'd visit the Australian Accounting Standards Board to find an appropriate definition. Guess what? There isn't one².

The third place I checked was the Corporations Act 2001. Okay, yes I admit that the government is not a corporation, though it is a body corporate and it makes sense to me that seeing as though it has an elected executive, that in many respects it acts like a corporation; so subjecting the government to the definitions contained in the act, seems logical to me. (If there is a parallel act, please message me in the comment doobly-doo below)

From Section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001:
"audit" means an audit conducted for the purposes of this Act and includes a review of a financial report for a financial year or a half-year conducted for the purposes of this Act.

"Audit" means an audit? That sounds daft until you realise that as I have mentioned that reading a word in a word in a piece of legislation means that it should be read according to the normal definition of the word or the word as it is used in context. Again I repeat myself here - sorry about that.

Section 307 is far more stringent about what it expects to see in an audit. Basically it looks for "an opinion about whether the financial report is in accordance with this Act", if it provides a "true and fair view", if "the inclusion of that additional information was necessary to give the true and fair view" and "whether the auditor has been given all information, explanation and assistance necessary for the conduct of the audit"

Now all of that seems perfectly self-explanatory to me. Reading the Act in plain English suggests to me that the Auditor must be satisfied that the accounts are in order and that proper information was used to produce the accounts. Basically an auditor wants to check and see if the accounts are true and that they haven't been Graham Gumbied-Up.

Now that we've got an idea of what an audit should look like, why do I think that the National Commission of Audit is straight out lying to us? Because I don't think that it's an audit.

If we look at their website:
The National Commission of Audit was announced by the Treasurer, the Hon Joe Hockey MP, and the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, on 22 October 2013.
The Commission has been established by the Australian Government as an independent body to review and report on the performance, functions and roles of the Commonwealth government.

This fails under the first OED definition because no-one has suggested at looking at the accounts. But does it fail under the second OED definition? To see that we need to look at the Terms of Reference:
The Commission should also be guided in its work by the principles that: 
 – government should have respect for taxpayers in the care with which it spends 
every dollar of revenue; 
– government should do for people what they cannot do, or cannot do efficiently, for 
themselves, but no more; and 
– government should live within its means. 

Efficiency and effectiveness of government expenditure 
The Commission is asked to report on efficiencies and savings to improve the effectiveness of, and value-for-money from, all Commonwealth expenditure across the forward estimates and in the medium term, including: 

Is this a a systematic review? NO.

Not once does the Terms of Reference suggest looking at government receipts, improving the efficiencies of collection of those receipts; nor does it suggest looking at the accuracy of the existing accounts, the reliability of the reporting systems which produced the accounts; it also I think quite categorically rules out the possibility that government could be spending more if current regimes are inadequate.
The Terms of Reference make it blatantly obvious that this is a review to look into how expenditure can be reduced; with the possibility of selling of assets and infrastructure.

That is NOT an audit.
It fails the OED3 test, and it fails a standard test laid out in what could be a parallel piece of legislation.
This National Commission of "Audit" is completely impartial in the same way as railway trains are impartial. Once you lay down the guidelines for them to run on, then that's the way they go.

Day one of the new Parliament and we've already been lied to. Well done.

Relevant links:

¹See the ABC link from 23rd October:

²Australian Accounting Standards Board - Glossary of Defined Terms

³ Sections 9 and 307 of the Corporations Act 2001

November 10, 2013

Horse 1567 - The Gillette Safety Razor and The End Of Beards And Moustaches (A Lament)

Wave of Beards
One of the most romantic aspects of the Elizabethan age was the wave of beards which suddenly swept across History and settled upon all the great men of the period. The most memorable of these beards was the cause of the outstanding event of the reign, which occurred in the following way.

The Great Armadillo
The Spaniards complained that Captain F. Drake, the memorable bowlsman, had singed the King of Spain's beard (or Spanish Mane, as it was called) one day when it was in Cadiz Harbour. Drake replied that he was in his hammock at the time and a thousand miles away. The King of Spain, however, insisted that the beard had been spoilt and sent the Great Spanish Armadillo to ravish the shores of England.
- W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman, 1066 and All That (1930).

All your dreams are made,
When you're chained to the mirror and the razor blade.
- Morning Glory, Oasis (1995).

There was a question posed on a motorsport forum which I frequent about the last time that people with either moustaches or beards had occupied all three places on the podium in a Formula One race. It happened at the Canadian GP this year when Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton finished in that order. Though to be fair, Sebastian's beard is kind of a bit wispy and sad, Fernando Alonso's face foliage has in recent races looked far more established and Lewis Hamilton appears to be going for some sort of 1950's do-wop chinstrap beard thing.
The weird thing is that although I could find World Champions like Nigel Mansell (1992), Keke Rosberg (1982), Graham Hill (1962, 1968) who had proper moustaches, finding three in any given race was a difficult task and I failed miserably - there might be some though. The most obvious explanation for this is that the so-called modern era of Formula One starts in 1950 which is well after Mr Gillette patented his safety razor.

King Camp Gillette whose name would be lent to the company which bore his name, had his patent accepted for the Saftey Razor in 1904. The company then achieved massive amounts of success when it won a contract to supply the US Army with 3.5 million razors and 32 million replacement blades during the First World War.

This might seem a little trivial but the last time that the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia all had mustachioed leaders was the year 1909 when Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, William Howard Taft and Alfred Deakin all led their respective countries. Admittedly this was before the First World War had even been thought of but it says something if before the war, finding beardy leaders was commonplace but after, not quite so much.
Gillette's contract to supply Doughboys during the First World War was more than likely the trigger which stroked beards and moustaches off of mens' faces and into the bathroom sink of history.

If we look at old photographs from the First World War, quite often the ranks of normal fighting men who were only 18-25 weren't old enough to grow proper beards and moustaches but the officer class, still had quite fine facial hair; Lord Kitchener immediately springs to mind as he points outwards from those recruitment posters. Though by the Second World War, the percentage of officers with facial hair also seems to have declined.
Certainly Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt and John Curtin never sported facial fuzz but that doesn't seem to have affected their leadership at all. All three however had other distinctive trademarks: Churchill is famous for his cigars but was almost never seen at official engagements without a silken polka-dot bow-tie, the first a gift from Clemmy; Curtin deliberately chose his severe round spectacles because it distinguished him from other MPs and Roosevelt is perhaps more famous for the manner in which he delivered his 'fireside chats' rather than anything else (except polio).

Of course people like the fictional Dr. Fu Manchu and the very real dictators like Stalin and Hitler and seem to have ruined certain moustaches for everyone. Charlie Chaplin couldn't overcome the stigma that the real 'Great Dictator' had created for his toothbrush 'tache and he got rid of it. Not even comedian Richard Herring in his BBC Radio 4 series could successfully 'reclaim' the Toothbrush Moustache in the name of giving it back to Chaplin.

It has now been more than 100 years since Gillette's invention and there doesn't appear to be any signs that we'll see another wave of beards and moustaches in the near future. I don't for instance see another great beard like James A. Garfield's or Henry Parkes' making a comeback in a hurry.
It's a little sad that the last Prime Minister that Australia had with a moustache was Billy Hughes; in the UK it was Clement Atlee and in the United States, their last President with a moustache was William Howard Taft.
Even royalty succumbed in abandoning beards as George V was the last monarch to have a beard and neither Edward VIII, George VI grew them and the future kings Charles III, William V or George VII have not shown any inklings that they might grow one (though given that George is less than six months old that might be a bit difficult).

I don't know if Gillette's invention has necessarily made the world a happier place but I do suspect that when it comes to the way that we view history, the leaders of especially the last 50 yards who don't sport any facial hair, don't give the impression that they have the same level of authority that leaders of old did. I bet that if you saw Hughes, Atlee or Taft walking down the street, that you'd think just a little that 'hey there, that looks like someone'.
At the moment, Abbott, Cameron and Obama who hold exactly the same positions, just don't look to have the same perceived level of statesmanship that people who went before them did and I'm willing to bet that something as simple as growing a moustache, might be enough to change peoples' perceptions. Abbott and Cameron both present as kind of mousey and Obama is seen as a relatively weak leader, though a lot of that is because of the way in which the American political system works.

Okay, I completely concede that having more leaders with beards and moustaches won't change the world radically but at least we would get nicer portraits and it would make life a little easier for political cartoonists.

November 09, 2013

Horse 1566 - Just a Small Thing

- Crash Course Chemistry #37, The History of Atomic Chemistry

Hank Green explains very early in this video, the idea that the ancient Greeks; specifically Leucippus and Democritus came up with the idea that it you keep on cutting things in half, eventually you'll find a particle which is uncuttable. Indeed the word 'atom' itself comes from the two Greek words 'a' meaning 'not' and 'temnō' for 'I cut'.
Now whilst the rest of the video is interesting and does a very good job at explaining Atomic Chemistry, I think that it's worth revisiting the thought experiment. Just how far can you cut something?  Whilst Atoms can be broken into Protons, Electrons and Neutrons, they themselves can be broken into things like Bosons, Leptons, Quarks and Mesons. How far can those be cut? Just how far can you keep on smashing things into ever smaller spaces until they cease to be matter?

Or is something else going on here? Is matter itself like some sort of fractal thing? If we were to keep on zooming in on the infinitesimally small, would we just keep on finding infinitely smaller particles? That brings into question the existence of particles smaller than we can measure and indeed smaller than current models of matter and indeed mathematics itself can handle.
Of course the existence of an infinite God in all of this wouldn't cause any problems at all, because if God is infinite in the scale of the very big, then He'd easily be able to handle the infinitesimally small as well.

If there genuinely is an actual uncuttable 'atom' which would be more like Leucippus and Democritus actually suggested  instead of what we call an atom, which would be wrongly named, then why pray tell would it have such properties.
Again I turn to mathematics here and the incredibly strange properties of the number 1. 1 one is the identity for multiplication and is therefore as a result, its own square, its own cube its own nth root in every direction. 1 is its own factorial as well. 1 is also the empty product as any given number multiplied by 1 will give that given number. Actually come to think of it, log base 1 is a stupid concept since 1 raised to the anything equals 1 and therefore can not really have an inverse.

Just how small does a thing have to be before its uncuttable? Is it some form of energy popping in and out of existence like virtual particles? Are there things so small that they float between the realms of reality and not reality? Did Mr Schrodinger and his poor cat happen to hit on something?
It should be obvious to all and sundry by now that I do not possess the ability to answer any of these questions; I don't know even how to frame most of them. I do know though that it's possible that maybe  Leucippus and Democritus idea of an actual atom, one that is uncuttable is entirely possible.

Maybe the whole universe itself is merely an idea. If it could be created out of nothing (and no, Quantum Mechanics predict that matter can be created and destroyed from nothing; so sorry to those people who think that the 'law' of conservation of mass/energy is a hard and fast rule) then maybe the smallest true atom is really nothing more than an idea. Maybe the idea of a universe being created from a word isn't so stupid after all.

November 03, 2013

Horse 1565 - Infinite Zaccheus

In church this morning, before communion we looked at a passage in Luke and Zacchaeus the Tax Collector. There are all sorts of lessons that can be learnt here such as who is redeemable, the sort of attitudes that happen once we meet Christ and Christ's willingness to meet people irrespective of their place or reputation in life.
This passage can be found in Luke 19 - Link:

Really the thing that most people remember about Zacchaeus isn't the efforts he took to meet Christ or his generosity but the fact that he was short and could not see over the crowd.
Invariably there are jokes which can be made about who the shortest person in the bible was. Was it Zacchaeus or Nehemiah (knee-high-miah) or one of Job's mates, Bildad the Shuhite?
What would happen though if we took Zacchaeus, Nehemiah,  Bildad the Shuhite and placed them on top of each other?

The total height of them would be 1 + 1/3 + 1/9 + 1/27... + 1/3^infinite.
Surely if the fractions on the end are 1/3^(n+1) where n is the nth term, then this series must have a limit.

If we assume that ratio r is amount required to go from term n to term n+1 then, r = n/n-1 I think that works for any two consecutive terms. Take the first two:
r = (1/3)/1 = 1/3

or maybe the 9th and 10th:
r = (1/19683) / (1/59409) = 1/3

the sum of the first terms is going to be defined by:
S = 1 - r^(n+1) / 1 - r

S = 1 - (1+ 1/59409) / 1 - 1/3
S = 1.499974751301808

if n is infinite then r^(n+1) will tend towards zero.

S = 1 - 0 / 1 - 1/3
S = 1 / 1/3
S = 3/2

So placing Zacchaeus, Nehemiah,  Bildad the Shuhite and an infinite number of increasing short people in the ratio of 1/3 on top of each other means that the top of the very top most person can not be any more than 1.5 times the height of Zacchaeus.
If Zacchaeus was a head shorter than an average person today, they he'd be about 5'4" tall and as such, this tower of people would only be about 8ft tall. Mind you, even if there was such an 8ft tower of an infinitive number of increasingly smaller people, Zacchaeus would have still been at the bottom of it all and would have still been to short to see anything.

November 01, 2013

Horse 1564 - Attack Is The Best Defence

Western Sydney Wanderers 2 - Adelaide United 1
Carrusca 54'
Jurić 61'
Jurić 80'

Sometimes I will often speak about how a solid defence is a good way to win a football match. Adelaide United have now had two disappointing away trips to the Central Coast and now to Western Sydney which show that but whilst it is fair to say that they've met with probably the best set of defenses in the A-League, tonight they were beaten by more optimistic football.

Adelaide went into this match trying to play a new system of 4-5-1. Western Sydney on the other hand were far more positive with a 4-3-3. Carrusca's goal before the hour mark was basically proof that whilst it is possible to eek out a goal by a patient build-up, Western Sydney had vastly different ideas.
Even if you just plot the two basic formations on a piece of paper, you can see that Adelaide's 4-5-1 is wider and more expansive. This is all good and well if you happen to be playing on a nice expansive pitch like Hindmarsh Stadium which is 120yds x 87yds but at Parramatta Stadium which is 120yds x 75yds, it suits a more compact formation.
Adelaide like to swing the ball out before arcing it back to the centre; this was in stark contrast to Western Sydney who through a mid and front section with only 3 in the line, play a punchier and more abrupt style of football. To be honest that lesson should have been learnt last season at this very venue when Western Sydney ripped them apart 6-1.

Jurić's two goals, the first which was a low level rocket and the second which was off a brilliantly timed header, were both scored within the 18 yard box. Again, if you were arranging a set of defences to deal with that, 5 in the back might have been better to cope with Western Sydney who can strike with 6 players all playing very high up the line.
Western Sydney's danger and this was apparent a fair bit, was that particularly Aaron Mooy would be caught out by trying to be too eager and running into an offside position; even when there was no trap being set.

I will say this though, this was the first time that I have seen Awer Mabil on the park and he is as fluid and natural a player as you are ever likely to see. Even before his first touch, he is in position and is playing the ball off the chest and head like he's playing in a World Cup Final.
The 18-year-old Adelaide United attacker needs the official paperwork to appease FIFA's international status regulations.
"I don't know about the situation,'' Mabil said.
"They (Australian authorities) haven't rang me yet so I hope they're in the process of doing it.
"I hope so because I want to go to the next Young Socceroos camp.
- The Adelaide Advertiser, 23rd Oct 2013

In all seriousness, I hope that he isn't picked up by the Young Socceroos, I hope that Ange Postecoglou picks him up immediately for full Socceroos' duty. If he doesn't, I suspect that Awer won't be playing in the A-League for much longer but be picked up by a European club. Ange needs to make sure that Awer's ticket to Rio next year is sorted and sorted quickly, he's simply that good.

The downside to Western Sydney's game tonight is that they were clumsy. Too many two-footed sliding tackles resulted in five yellow cards. Whilst there's a place for enthusiasm, being sent off doesn't help one's cause.

Western Sydney were worth their 2-1 win tonight and they've achieved something new. Unless I'm very much mistaken, I think that that's the first match that they have ever won after going a goal down. Admittedly they've only been around for one season and so there weren't that many stats for me to check but I think I'm right with that one.
At least for the moment, there'll be dancing on the streets of Pirtek tonight (yes, Pirtek have paid for the naming rights to the suburb; I'm sure that Pirtek City Council will be happy about that) as this win puts them for the moment at the top of the league... how I hate it so very much*

*I'm sky blue.