June 27, 2019

Horse 2563 - The Fastest Thing We Ever Made May Or May Not Be Voyager

It came up on Facebook that someone posted a photograph purporting to be from Voyager. The implausibility of it was hilarious but as with so many of these kinds of things, my mind started spinning in ways that would make theoretical physicists start to question their model of sub-atomic particles.
A little knowledge is dangerous and I knew that the visual systems on board both Voyager probes were shut down last century. They had already taken all of the useful photographs that they were ever going to, and were now hurtling through the very dark, cold, void of space with the view changing forever imperceptibly; with everything including the sun, being only points of light set against the darkness.
I sort of feel a wee bit sad for the Voyager probes. Having done their job and being more than five and a half light hours from us, they are among the fastest and furthest bits of rubbish that we as a species have ever made.

In 1977, which was before I was born, two spaceprobes named Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were sent to do the grand tour of the planets because the wheels of coincidence had turned in our favour.
Voyager 1 took the closest photographs of the two big planets, Jupiter and Saturn, before shooting off at right angles to the plane of the ecliptic. Voyager 2 which although was launched weeks before, took longer to get there and took pictures of Jupiter and Saturn, as well as Uranus and Neptune. It visited Neptune in 1989 before the scientists decided to do one last burn of the cameras and out a selfie of the solar system. The earth was famously rendered as nothing more than 'a pale blue dot, suspended in a sunbeam'; before the cameras were shut off and the two spaceprobes continued to hurtle into space at about 60,000mph, seemingly forever. They have both subsequently become interstellar objects, subject to the definition therein.

The reason why a thing with essentially no rocket power and a grand total of 470W of instruments on board, was able to visit the planets is because of a slingshot effect where due to the conservation of momentum, the Voyager probes borrowed a little bit of the kinetic energy of the planets that they went into brief orbit around before repeating the same process at the next one. It is like a kid swinging off of a Hills Hoist clothesline and then letting go, only to catch the arm of the next clothesline.
Still, at 60,000mph, the Voyager probes might not even be the fastest thing that mankind has ever made. That story could very well be as much of a testament to the human condition as the Voyager probes are.

In the 1950s after the Americans got scared after letting a bunch of atomic bombs explode on Pacific islands, potentially poisoning the water and sky, instead of saying "Hey guys, this is stupid; we should stop", they thought "Hey guys, let's not poison the sky anymore; let's let off our stuff underground¹".
It was during one of those tests, in a project called Operation Plumbob, that a steel cap which had been put on top of the blast facility was blown clean off. The actual test called Pascal-B possibly blew the manhole cover off at about 125,000mph. I say possibly because the trail of clues here is so unreliable that I don't trust the scientists' calculations (and that's saying something).

The steel manhole cover was put on top of the shaft to the surface as a safety experiment. It failed. The manhole cover was 4 inches thick but I have no idea how large in diameter. The estimated velocity is supposed to have been as high as 41 miles per second; which is 147,600mph. The manhole cover is apparently photographed in one single frame of film but I honestly couldn't find it in the book I was looking at.
The scientist in question who conducted the test has tried to debunk the theory that this was the fastest man made object but the only original calculations on the subject, have the word 'irrelevant' written on them as the manhole cover was not the subject of the nuclear weapons test. The manhole cover was never recovered.
There is a theory that the steel manhole cover was vapourised on its way through the atmosphere and whilst I concede the fact that a thing doing more than six figures of speed through the atmosphere is going to encounter a metric elephant load of friction, it would pass through really quickly.

At 125,000mph, it is going at more than 34 miles per second. Space is only 62 miles in the direction of up. I don't think there would be enough heat to vapourise a steel plate of the size suggested in two seconds. The most obvious explanation for me is that the reason why it was never recovered was that it was and still is in space. Given that this happened in 1957, before the Russians had even threatened the free democracies of the world with their bleeping ball, Sputnik, the reason I think that the steel manhole cover was never recovered was because it had been ejected off into space in a random direction and there was nothing to track it.

I really like the idea that not only the fastest thing that we've ever made as a species was also the first thing shot into space because it should serve as a warning that messing around with nuclear weapons is really stupid. Hey kids, it's dangerous; don't do it; stay safe.
If the fastest thing we've ever made wasn't sent into space though, then by default that still serves as an object lesson that along with our more basic desires, we also posses a great deal of creativity and something amazing happens when we put that to work to learn about what's going on around us.
If it didn't go into space then there's bits of a leftover manhole cover, which was blasted off the top of a nuclear weapons test facility somewhere on Earth. Perhaps we should try to learn to be a little bit kinder to the spaceship that we live on?

June 26, 2019

Horse 2562 - 30 Binary Dilemmas

1. Mac v PC
PC - I live mostly in a world where I need to get work done on a PC. My favourite video games are on PC. This means that only the incidental things to do with entertainment would be on Mac and I survive quite happily on Android.

2. Coke v Pepsi
Pepsi - I have no good reason for preferring one over the other but I like Pepsi more.

3. Cats v Dogs
Cats - Cats are their own people. You live with cats as though they are individuals with their own independent agency. Dogs are far more dependant on you. Cats will make the active choice to like you. The personalities of both cats and dogs are both bigger than the size of the creatures.

4. Ford v GM
Ford - People generally win despite the ambivalence of Ford; GM has in the past taken a more active role. The Ford equivalent in most market segments is in my opinion a better choice.

5. McDonald's v Burger King
McDonald's - The burgers are definitively better at Hungry Jack's/Burger King but they are also generally more expensive and slightly unwieldy. There is something wonderfully rank about nastiness of a McDonald's multi-stack cheeseburger.

6. City v Country
Country - The serenity of country towns is lovely. People have more time for you and more time to do nothing. When some big thing does happen in a country town there is a greater sense of community because it happens to more people proportionately at once.

7. Summer v Winter
Summer - Both are enjoyable in their own way but summer doesn't come with fingertips that scream at you because of the cold, nor does it come with your face leaking everywhere.

8. Books v Movies
Books - I think that because it takes longer to engage with a book and because it requires more emotional investment, the book will always be better than the film. The only example that I can think of where the film was better than the book was the Lord Of The Rings because Tolkien is tedious.

9. Baseball v Football
Baseball - This is giving away the obvious Americentricity of this set of questions but I think that I like the idea of baseball forming the long soundtrack of summer than I do having to sit and watch a football game.

10. Liberals v Conservatives
Liberals - I don't like the lip service that either side pays in order to co-opt politics into doing bad things. Politics should be about governing well and I think that means looking after the citizenry. Conservatives in an American context are more concerned with looking after the rich. I favour incompetence over cruelty.

11. Fly v Cruise
Fly - Flying puts you in so many more different places than cruising can. Admittedly I have never been on a cruising holiday but the idea of being on a thing which is going to make you seasick, which is like an incubator for the flu, and which has a greater risk of ending up at the bottom of the ocean, doesn't appeal to me.

12. Coffee v Tea
Tea - Coffee is almost always utilitarian and functional. The perfect cup of tea though, is amazing. You can have bad cups of coffee. You can almost never have a bad cup of tea unless it has gone cold.

13. Team Edward v Team Jacob
Team Jacob - I only really have a vague idea about the Twilight franchise and so I care not an iota about the story but the idea of a sparkly daytime vampire defies all of the standard literary rules about vampires. If you are going to play in a fictional made-up universe, then you should at least play according to the accepted fictional made-up rules.

14. Oranges v Apples
Apples - This is literally asking you to compare Apples and Oranges and then make a choice. Apples can be put or made into cider, calvados, pies, cobbler, salad, etc. What do oranges do for you apart from making sure that you don't get scurvy, and indicating that it is half time in a football game?

15. Scrambled Eggs v Fried Eggs
Scrambled Eggs - Deep down, everyone knows that they are classier.

16. Cook v Burn
Burn - Cooking over hot coals is better in every respect than cooking on a hot plate. Even when the flames are burning fiercely and the smoke gets in your eyes, even though the smoke and chemicals that are coming off of whatever you are burning is likely to give you seven different kinds of cancer, there is nothing quite like sausages which are burnt to a crisp on the outside and raw in the middle, burgers that taste like kerosene and chemicals, onions that have caramelised, and standing outside with a set of tongs in your hand which makes you look like an expert (even though that's totally not the case).

17. Video Games v Board Games
Board Games - You get more fun by sitting across the tabel from someone and staring them in the face, than you do from playing video games.

18. Snakes v Badgers
Badger - Badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger mushroom MUSHROOM!

19. Dinner v Dessert
Dessert - You have to stand up for what you believe in. Don't eat dinner at a restaurant - eat three bits of cheescake. Don't fill up on bread - it is designed to make you take less notice of how little dinner there is for the money. Skip both. Get the nice cake.

20. White Bread v Brown Bread
White Bread - It is a worse choice most of the time however, if you want to make a toastie in the sandwich press then brown bread is not up to task. Most of the time white bread is only marginally inferior to brown but you need to be prepared.

21. Black Coffee v Coffee with Cream and Sugar
Black - I am convinced that places like Starbucks deliberately use syrups to hide the fact that their coffee is second rate (see number 12). Do not be deceived. Demand the real thing and judge the coffee for the coffee. Do not trust the mermaids, they are false prophets who pursue false profits. They are like the Sirens in Homer's Odyssey. They will sing a song in order to shipwreck you upon the shoals of bad coffee. Get out of the blue and into the black - they give you this but you pat for that.

22. Organic v Conventional
???? - Not enough context has been provided for the scope of this dichotomy.

23. Salt and Vinegar v Sour Cream and Onion
Salt and Vinegar - So close. Salt and Vinegar is clearly the superior choice here because in the top tier of crisps flavours there is only Plain, Salt and Vinegar, Chicken, Barbecue, and Cheese and Onion.

24. Pork Bacon v Turkey Bacon
Bacon - I take offense to the use of the term "pork bacon" here because by definition Bacon is a type of salt-cured pork. Turkey bacon is a substitute for bacon; usually for religious reasons but it is still only a subsitute. Bacon does not need the qualifier because it is not only the default but the zenith.

25. Mickey Mouse v Dora the Explorer
Mickey Mouse - The Mouse has been polished to the point where he no longer has a personality. He used to be a trickster, in a trio with Donald the hot-head and Goofy the affable klutz. Dora is vacuous and stares into the camera; which gives you the impression of interactivity but there's not not going on behind those cold brown eyes.

26. Facebook v Twitter
Twitter - This is the decision of whether I want to be sad or annoyed. Facebook is replete with people taking photos and it gives you the impression that everyone is having amazing lives but on Twitter, everyone openly wishes that you are disembowled with spears if you stray outside their particular political orthodoxy.

27. East Coast or West Coast
East Coast - WNYC, WBUR, WBEZ, WAMU, WFYI... there are no K's.

28. Dutch Wooden Clogs v Chinese Iron Shoes
Chinese Iron Shoes - I am not sure that these even are a thing but they sound amazing. Just the mere mention of Chinese Iron Shoes is enough to make me think of Isembard Kingdom Brunel in some kind of steampunk Qing dynasty fantasy land. You never know when an unexpected train is going to show up. Brunel needs those Chinese Iron Shoes for his iron football match; which is played by players in suits of armor and kicking an iron football.

29. Telekinesis v Teleportation
Telekinesis - Presumably the ability to move things with your mind, also includes the ability to move yourself with your mind? If so, Telekinesis includes a slower form of Teleportation; which would make it more useful, more of the time. It'd be really useful in that restaurant when you want to move bits of cheesecake.

30. Freeze To Death In Antartica v Burn to Death In The Sahara Desert
Freeze - Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate, To say that for destruction ice, Is also great And would suffice. Freezing to death comes with the cold embrace of eternal silence as opposed to the pain of being on fire.

June 25, 2019

Horse 2561 - I Hate The Idea Of A Bill Of Rights, Because I Believe In Human Rights.

One of the concepts which I occasionally bring up on this blog from time to time is human rights. I will readily admit that I am a rampant hypocrite when it comes to this subject because whilst I will often quote various documents and legislation to prove a case, as the result of being radicalised online (by the weight of legal argument), I have come to the conclusion after many years of deliberation that I am fundamentally opposed to the enumeration of human rights.
I realise that from the outset that this makes me sound like some kind of hideous monster (and maybe I am) but my reason for opposing the enumeration of human rights into legislation, is precisely because I see the whole subject as being more grave and serious than even legislation can conceive. I hate the idea of a Bill of Rights, precisely because I view human rights as simply too valuable.

My problem stems from the fact that most people's idea of what a bill of rights is supposed to do is hideously limited in scope. I also think that it can be proven fairly reliably that when a bill of rights has been enacted into legislation, then that becomes a piece of settled law which sells the people of the future well short.
I am also consistently annoyed at the fact that people do not seem to realise that we already have one Bill Of Rights in operation in Australia¹ (possibly two¹) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is frequently cited in court cases and informs legislation.

Even though Australian law already contains what amounts to three sources of human rights law, most people's conception appears to be limited to the American Bill of Rights which was attached to the US Constitution. It is yet another case where our cultural cringe is still very much in effect and whether by imposition of will, cultural imperialism, or a desire to be Americanised, we look to Uncle Sam and not John Bull.

Let's examine that document critically. The Bill of Rights in American legislation, were tacked on to the end of the US Constitution as ten amendments. Now either that means that the US Constitution was wrong in the first instance (which is itself completely valid and evidenced by the fact that the American system of government has been copied by exactly zero other countries), or that by definition, they are amendments and should always be subject to change as per Jefferson's and Hamilton's original conception of the document.
The US Constitution is not some God-given document which fell out of the sky, "like oh my goodness, where did it come from?" but was argued out by a bunch of exclusively white men in smelly rooms in the middle of the summer. Second to that, it explicitly says in the First Amendment that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
- First Amendment, US Constitution 1791

The obvious question is how they argued out the US Constitution without the Bill of Rights already being in operation. It is an inherently idiotic assumption to make unless the rights contained merely enumerated what they already thought were in existence; which actually makes the Bill of Rights self redundant. It is also worth noting that this amendment limits the Congress, rather than giving rise to a right.
The US Constitution was conceived by men, for men², and owing to the fact that it explicitly counted some people as property and less than men; rather than endowed them with human dignity and literally counted that 'property' as 'three fifths of a person', then citing it as a bastion of human rights is bunk.

The US Constitution exactly encapsulates the basic problem with enumerating people's rights. I think that it is perfectly valid to suggest that people's rights can and should change in the long run of history.
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution which started out by containing provisions which were useful and necessary for me the day, have through interpretation been reduced to the words 'shall not be infringed'. People will fight for that right to the exclusion of any consequences. What was appropriate in 1789 is absolutely in no way appropriate for a modern urban environment and I'm sorry but if you value that right more than the unnamed right to life that people have, then you are an unadulterated moron. Now that the Second Amendment is there, even despite the costs of money and human lives that it wilfully spends, it is impossible to remove.

In theory the most powerful Amendment to the US Constitution should be the Tenth Amendment which says:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
- Tenth Amendment, US Constitution 1791

If you do not have enumerated rights, then the basic assumption at law in a Westminster System is that they already exist. Someone ought to be free to do whatever they like as 'allowed by law' (Section 7, Bill of Rights 1688) or 'unless hedged in by law' (James v Commonwealth 1936). It is simply nonsense to think that the law should give rise to rights which already exist and which ought to exist.

If you have rights which are internally redundant and others which should have expired, and the process for adding new ones is painfully impossible, then what is the point? It would have been better to have normal legislation which can be replaced and repealed or added to as society changes.
The rights which were never stated in the US Constitution, which include the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, quiet enjoyment of one's surroundings, adequate health care, adequate housing, the right to be paid a proper wage, and rights to abortion, marriage and freedom from harassment and discrimination, are all still being contested; where as the right to bear arms which has the consequences of actively destroying people's life, liberty and happiness, is not. That discussion is practically dead, buried and cremated, as indeed are its victims.

Some of those things such as abortion, marriage, euthanasia, and discrimination, are still being contested. We aren't talking about some vague abstract concept here but rather, the very matters of life and death and how the law interacts with them. Herein lies the issue with why I hate the idea of enumerating people's human rights.
Firstly there is often contention as to what those human rights are. Secondly, there is the almost insurmountable fact that once a set of rights has been enumerated, they're almost always made nearly impossible to add to or subtract from. Thirdly, this places the interpretation of the law further into the hands of the judiciary and not the parliament.

The grand question of what we expect rights to do, is in my opinion a secondary question to the broader question of democracy. Democracy is itself a perpetually unfinished process; with the less powerful constantly having to fight. As a perpetually unfinished process, there isn't any final victory and there also isn't any final loss. Enumerating people's rights in a document, freezes that process; if you freeze the process then the things that the people should have as rights, might be easily denied to them.

If you think that the idea of not enumerating human rights is a weak idea, then consider what happened with the national plebescite on same sex marriage. Yes, the whole process was less than stellar but when the country moved, it did so quickly. Society as a thing and the voting polity, is across most western democracies nominally conservative in outlook and I mean that in the proper sense and not some notion of political point scoring (as most 'conservatives' are actually nothing more than people trying to protect the rich).
As society is nominally conservative, it means that it generally doesn't want to move particularly quickly on anything. Time and time again, the rights that society decides to confer upon itself happen at the end of some process and then after having happened, society immediately forgets that the world was any different. If that seems like a bad method of changing human rights as enshrined by law, then why do people who are calling for a charter or new bill of rights, wish to impose that upon the people of the future?

Society itself is conservative enough as it is. My great objection to the enumeration of human rights is that it solidifies one particular conception of human rights at one particular point in time and prevents the future from deciding its own conception.

If we want to look at the best expression in my opinion of why there shouldn't be a bill of rights, then we need look no further than Thomas Jefferson and James Madison who were among the original architects of the US Constitution. The US Constitution didn't even have the bill of rights originally for good reason. Jefferson wrote in a letter to Hamilton:

On similar ground it may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors extinguished then in their natural course with those who gave them being. This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right.
- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 6th Sep 1789.

I would rather see the contestation of rights happen among the living; rather than being imposed upon the future by the dead.

¹The Bill of Rights Act 1688, and the Scottish Claim Of Right 1688. They are identical for all practical purposes.
²Australia with no enumerated Bill of Rights, extended the franchise to women some 20 years before the United States did. That's pretty impressive for a supposedly inferior legal framework.

June 24, 2019

Horse 2560 - Israel Folau v Rugby Australia - The Test Case

Back in May, a three member panel held a hearing into a breach of the Professional Players' Code of Conduct by rugby player Israel Folau, in relation to several controversial social media posts.
Rugby Australia had previously warned Israel Folau to cease and desist, citing that it was against the governing body's interests and that his social media posts, amounted to an attack on the LGBTQI community. Finally, after Mr Folau was issued with a conduct breach notice, which recommended his four-year contract worth $4 million be terminated.
Mr Folau subsequently launched a challenge, resulting in the hearing in May and which will probably result in further court action, which is being funded through a GoFundMe campaign.

There are in fact several issues going on at once here and the courts will need to weigh the various issues against each other.

Folau's Claim:

Quite apart from whether you think that what Israel Folau posted was right or wrong, he is entitled to his opinion. It has also been established in Australian case law (most notably Lange v ABC (1997)), that there is a right to free speech and political communication despite what people advocating for a bill of rights will tell you.
This being true, the question then becomes one of what rights does an employer have to fire their employees because of something that they said on social media. The difference between the Folau case and say a shop assistant, is only a matter of the scale of money at stake. The principle is identical.

If this does go to court (which I assume is the intent of Mr Folau) then that question will be put front and centre of his claim. Essentially, Israel Folau is putting forward a case of wrongful termination of employment under Section 772 of the Fair Work Act 2009 and whether or not this qualifies.

Employment not to be terminated on certain grounds
(1)  An employer must not terminate an employee's employment for one or more of the following reasons, or for reasons including one or more of the following reasons:
(f)  race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer's responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin;
- Section 772, Fair Work Act 2009¹

If Mr Folau loses his case under Section 772 of the Fair Work Act, then potentially everything posted on social media by everyone in this country becomes fair game for termination of employment because the defence ceases to exist.
Is what someone says in a private capacity, fair grounds for an employer to sack them, if the employer happens to disagree with them?

Rugby Australia's Claim:

Rugby Australia's claim is also pretty straightforward. Rugby Australia has a published Code Of Conduct, which contains the following:

Treat everyone equally, fairly and with dignity regardless of gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural or religious background, age or disability. Any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination has no place in Rugby. 
- 1.3, Rugby Australia Code of Conduct (2019)²

Use Social Media appropriately. By all means share your positive experiences of Rugby but do not use Social Media as a means to breach any of the expectations and requirements of you as a player contained in this Code or in any Union, club or competition rules and regulations.
- 1.7, Rugby Australia Code of Conduct (2019)²

Their claim is that under the Code Of Conduct and his employment contract which no doubt will have included specific elements in regards to the nature of this, that Israel Folau posted something which was homophobic. Again the question is one of to what extent does something posted by an individual in a private capacity, relate to a contract which they voluntarily entered into.

It can be argued that Israel Folau by virtue of being a rugby player for the national rugby team, and someone who is paid many hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing so, is a very public figure and has gained a very public platform as a result. My guess is that Rugby Australia will need to show that the only reason that Mr Folau has an audience is because of his high profile sports career and that as an organisation in the public eye, they can show a material connection between the things posted on social media by their employees and their public image.

Considering that in the past there have been very public boycotts from advertisers on radio and television programs, as well as sporting organizations, then Rugby Australia would need to establish that they are worried about a potential loss of revenue as a result of Mr Folau's continued comments. In that respect, Rugby Australia would probably ask the chairman of Qantas, Alan Joyce, to testify on their behalf, as Qantas is the headline sponsor of the national rugby team.

The Dilemma:

Should Israel Folau have said what he said? I personally do not think that there are any absolute rights except for the right to life. Israel Folau has said something repeatedly which he knew would annoy his employer and which has openly violated the Code Of Conduct. My personal view is that he should have had the right to express himself and that he shouldn't have done so. Rugby Australia has through their Code Of Conduct, written what amounts to a gag clause; which itself is actually quite chilling.

I do think that we have a right to freedom of speech, expression, and religion, that the right isn't absolute, and that individuals need to think about the consequences of that same right.
Every single thing ever published as part of someone exercising their right to free speech and expression, also allows people to judge you on the content of that same free speech. Israel Folau knew that he was in the public eye and that this had the potential to hand ammunition to his enemies; yet he continued to publish anyway.

What constitutes free speech and whether or not there is a curtain around the public and the private, has always been a contentious issue. It has in the past landed some people in prison and sent others to the gallows. It is worth remembering that Jesus was crucified for exercising what we would consider to be his right to free speech. Maybe Israel Folau won't actually be sent to prison but he will be metaphorically crucified in the court of public opinion for having an unorthodox opinion which he is prepared to publish.

The Folau case is a valuable lesson for Christians and indeed anyone with any religious convictions. The world in principle never actually moves on. It changes its list of acceptable targets from time to time and where Christianity may have been at the centre of public thought and opinion a century and a half ago, that is no longer true.
There must always be some degree of self censure if anyone is to live in the world and be compatible with it. There are always ongoing imperatives to live within the confines of the law, to try to live as peaceable lives as possible, and even to love people who you happen to disagree with. If you feel that you must shake again the orthodoxy of prevailing acceptable opinion, there will be consquences.
I don't know to what degree Mr Folau has said what he has said because of religious convictions, because he wants to advance what he believes is truth, or to what degree he wants to be a firebrand because he can. There are some old proverbs which are applicable though:

If you want to eat fish, expect bones.

If you want to play with fire, expect to get burnt. 



It appears as though GoFundMe has closed Israel Folau's campaign to raise money for his legal fight against Rugby Australia because it violates its terms of service.
Curiously, its terms of service say that:

This list is not exhaustive and we reserve the right to investigate anyone who, in our sole discretion, violates any of the terms or spirit of these Terms of Service. We further reserve without limitation, the right to remove the offending Content, suspend or terminate the account of such violators, stop payments to any such Campaign, freeze or place a hold on Donations, and report you to law enforcement authorities or otherwise take appropriate legal action including seeking restitution on behalf of ourselves and/or our users. Without limiting the foregoing, you agree not to use the Services to:

8. campaigns we deem, in our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases;
- GoFundMe Terms & Conditions, 2nd Apr 2019³

Legally speaking GoFundMe appears to have unilaterally defined this as a "crime" underneath their terms of service despite this being a employment contract and therefore civil.


June 19, 2019

Horse 2559 - The Missing Link Makes The Northwest Metro Virtually Pointless For 369,000 People

The Northwest Metro has now had a few weeks to bed in and by all accounts, it seems to be a perfectly normal and useful railway line, if you happen to live near it. If you happen to live anywhere beyond 3km of any of the railway stations though, it is for all intents and purposes, completely useless.

I live in Marayong and am serviced by the Richmond Line, which is also perfectly normal and useful, but if I wanted to go to any of the places that are on the Northwest Metro line, there is no way that I'm ever going to consider taking the Northwest Metro to get there. Public transport which fails making you want to use it, fails at the only purpose it was intended for.

The problem is that there are no really useful links to the Northwest Metro. The line stops tantalisingly short of the Richmond Line and the bus links which exist, are so few in frequency that you may as well not bother. If you want to go from either Marayong, Quakers Hill, or Schofields, which are the logical links, then you need to be pretty determined about it.

I must say though, that the actual service of the Northwest Metro is pretty stellar. I have no problem at all with a high frequency train service. The idea of sitting sideways might be foreign to the vast majority of Sydneysiders but is totally normal on the London Underground, New York Subway, Paris Metro, Toyko Metro, and a host of other train networks. If that's the only problem that regular users report, then that's totally fine.
The question then becomes not one of whether or not the trains work and run on time but one of how you are able to use them.

Probably because the stations in the west are all elevated, I think that they remind me of being at Circular Quay. The platform side walls and doors are a neat safety idea but I wonder what they'll be like in forty years' time. Someone has probably done a cost benefit analysis to work out the operational costs of having 'one under' as opposed to the costs of running the doors day and night.

The stations themselves are equally lusciously appointed. I like the ethereal glow in the dark that the coloured lights project. However, distracting me with pretty colours only lasts for so long before function starts yelling far louder than form. The Northwest Metro is not supposed to be a piece of art but a piece of functional infrastructure.

This is where the rubber hits the road... eventually. Boy, do I mean 'eventually'.
Mosman to Chatswood by bus is a pretty easy journey to make. Buses come frequently enough that it is not really a problem at all. Chatswood to Tallawong is also an easy journey to make because I don't know if the Northwest Metro is on a timetable but trains come every 9 minutes; which is almost the equivalent of saturation for an airport. The connections to and from the Northwest Metro are positively rural.
For me to get to work, the time that it takes to get from Tallawong station to Mosman, is less than the time it take to get from my house to Tallawong station. That is a special kind of insanity.

Imagine that you are standing at a bus stop in the rain, it is 6°C (43°F), and you want to travel the 2 and a bit kilometres to the next connection. After 6pm, buses are on a 45 minute service. The bus that I wanted to get from Rouse Hill to Marayong had left 6 minutes before I arrived according to the bus timetable at the stop (which I am convinced is more like a serving suggestion rather than an actual timetable) and I waited for 38 minutes for the next bus to arrive.

I have been accused of being a pessimist online by people when I have made comments about the Northwest Metro but when questioned, every single one of those people doesn't live out here in the west and would only use it for recreational purposes. As a commuter, pessimism has to be the default standpoint. From an engineering standpoint, you test a thing to see how and why a thing fails, so that you can make improvements. As far as I know though, there are no plans to improve that last connection until and only if the airport at Badgery's Creek is built. If Castle Hill station is anything to go by, which was promised by Premier Jack Lang, then I should expect a timeframe of 87 years.

I will admit freely that there are probably not that many people who want to use the Northwest Metro, who also want to change to and from the Richmond Line. By deliberately not completing that last little link, and also not providing any useful connections to and from the Northwest Metro, then that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you are immediately within a 3km catchment zone of each of the new stations, then the Northwest Metro is a breath of fresh air and sunshine. If however, you are someone who lives in the north west of Sydney and who might have wanted to make a connection to it, then the whole thing may as well have been on the moon.

My advice to everyone who lives in the north west of Sydney who wants to get to Rouse Hill Town Center or Castle Hill Towers, is to drive. I know that that runs counter to the spirit of the point of public transport but I am convinced that this by design, supposed to be inconvenient to the people of the north west of Sydney who live in Labor voting areas. Tallawong is just inside a Labor voting area but the people of Kellyville, Cherrybrook, Epping etc. have no need to go to the west; so they aren't connected.
The Northwest Metro conveniently stops within a nominally Liberal voting area and does not connect to the Labor voting areas. I suspect that this was deliberately chosen to keep poor people from riding the train. This philosophy also explains why the only beach in Sydney which is serviced by a train service is Cronulla. There is no eastern extension to the Eastern Suburbs Railway line and there is no Northern Beaches Railway line despite them both being slated by JG Bradfield in his original plan.

The truth is that I can get by perfectly well without the Northwest Metro. I absolutely realise that this is a selfish complaint. However, that's kind of like a hostage excusing their kidnappers; the difference between Stockholm Syndrome and Sydney is that the people of the west are so used to being shafted that even being kidnapped is uninteresting.

June 14, 2019

Horse 2558 - Charity, Superannuation, The Old Age Pension, And Why Relying On Charity Is Rubbish

As the financial year is drawing to a close and the kinds of people who think that there is a magical pot of money which they think that they're entitled to, start asking questions about deductions, I draw the spotlight today to the subject of donations.

Charitable donations are an allowable deduction for income tax purposes. As with any deduction, they reduce the headline value of someone's assessable income and therefore they are in effect a reduction in the amount of tax payable on that last dollar. As we have a set of progressive marginal taxation rates for individuals in Australia, the net taxation benefit is most effective when someone has a higher income. Sort of. When looking at average rates of taxation, because the denominator of that fraction is smaller, charity actually has a greater effect on lowering average rates of tax for people on lower incomes.

Even so, charity as a thing is terrible at actually meeting the needs of people. If that sounds scandalous, I shall now demonstrate why, by just looking at one carrying cost of society - the Old Age Pension.

The Old Age Pension was introduced in Australia in 1911. Admittedly it was brought in in a time when the average life expectancy was only 65 and the statutory retirement age was 55; which meant that as a means of monetary transfer, it wasn't expected to do a lot of heavy lifting. The average life expectancy in 2019 is all the way out to 84 now; which means that if the 1911 rules still applied, then someone might be due to be paid the Old Age Pension for 29 years, which is equivalent to more than three quarters of their active working life.

Some time in the 1970s, the idea of a private superannuation fund was brought in and that was given special treatment in tax law. By 1992 we had made it compulsory and by 2040 we can assume that every single person in Australia will have paid into superannuation for their entire working life.
Here's the rub. It wasn't stated in 1992 but it has been hinted at recently, the superannuation if it wasn't intended to originally, will be intended to replace the Old Age Pension. That in principle sounds fine but in reality is awful.

The amount of capital that someone has in superannuation is entirely dependent on the amount of income that they had during their working life. This means that almost by design, we are very deliberately rigging retirement in favour of people who are already rich. If you happen to be a poorer person, then that will follow you into retirement and since the rewards due to capital are currently greater than wage growth, that inequality continues.

This also falls on to women because in general they select lower paid jobs (even though officially wage discrimination between genders doesn't exist, it totally does in the real world), it doubly falls on women because they are more likely to have a break in employment because they are more likely to stop work to look after small children (to the rate of more than sixty times), and it triply falls on women because they generally live longer.

Superannuation as a completely rational and selfish private expense, was tariffed at 9% of income originally and currently sits at 9.5% and is expected to be pushed out to 12% in the future never never. Employers generally hate superannuation because they hate having to pay employee entitlements.

If we are trapped between compulsory entitlements and the carrying costs of government, then the argument put forward is that if we allowed government to get out of the way, then people will be more charitable. This is generally bunk.

There are some interesting things about charity to consider.
Charity as a proportion of income, generally drops off with higher incomes. Granted, there are some people with fantastic fortunes who give away money by the cartload but across the income spectrum, the bottom four quintiles are more generous as a proportion of income than the top quintile.
Charity as a proportion of income, is marginally higher among people who report to have some kind of religious faith. Depending on what your conception of the tithe is religious people apart from the tithe generally give more money to charity. I suspect that this is because they have a higher degree of civic phileo, and because they already know what community can do, they are more generous in spirit.
Charity as a voluntary mechanism across society, is actually rubbish at paying for the big societal projects. In Australia, charitable giving accounts for about 1.7% of GDP. In the United States where tithes and church donations are an allowable tax deduction, that moves to 2.0% of GDP. The Old Age Pension in Australia costs 5.3%¹; so if all government costs were left to voluntarily charity, then not only would we not be able to fund the Old Age Pension but all other government functions would cease.

Charity is rubbish as a thing to actually pay for societal projects because the heart of the problem is the ingenerosity of people. It is not unreasonable to assume that religious people at best are being charitable to the rate of 12%. Irreligious people who don't have that immediate philial pull on them, will tend to have a slightly lower upper limit.
There are probably only about 10% of genuinely sold out religious people in Australia. If we assume that they are all tithing 10% then the other 90% of people account for just 0.7% of charitable donations as compared with GDP. If that somehow sounds insane that most people are giving 0.007% to charity, then look at your own tax return. 0.007% of $50,000 which is almost a working poor wage and well below AWOTE², is $350. If you genuinely asked most people if they gave $350 to charity in a year, the answer would still be 'no'.

Societally, we are fine with that.
We have the same attitude to charity as we do to paying workers, the way that we treat asylum seekers, and the same attitude to civic institutions generally. There is certainly a degree to which society is becoming more and more belligerent to the vulnerable and this is being manifested in the rise of the economic right, which by definition is the position of ownership of the elements of the economy in private and individuals' hands rather than the government.
Charity ultimately can't work at building massive societal projects because individuals are mostly selfish. I think that it took the cost of more than 100 million lives as blood payment for western societies to realise a kind of national phileo for a while but those generations of people are rapidly dying out.
We are actively engineering a more ingenerous society and expecting charity to meet the needs of future people, is awful because it runs counter to our brutish nature.

- Assuming that GDP is running at $1323bn
²AWOTE for 2018  was $83,740

June 10, 2019

Horse 2557 - Fragments X: La Decima

M2000 - How Is The Millenium Falcon A Thing?

The opening card of Star Wars states:
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.

It is pretty well established that every kind of life except for humanoids and plants is vastly different to what we have on Earth. From Banthas to Porgs, to whatever Yoda and Chewbacca are, nothing is the same.

My question is: What the heck is the Millennium Falcon named after?

Star Wars has already established that no animal is the same; so presumably there aren't any falcons either. We never ever see a falcon in the movie saga, so where did Lando go to see one; much less name his spaceship after one?

Here in Australia, we all know that it was named after a 2000 Ford Falcon AU from the Harrison Ford dealership.


H9 - Impersonal Stereo

The whole point of a personal stereo is that it is personal. I even make a point of wanting in ear canal buds because I like the sound better and because I can feed even less power into them than ear buds or bigger headphones.
As I go to the city of a morning, because everyone knows that any noises are disturbing to a bleary eyed train carriage full of people, we mostly travel in sleep deprived silence.

Something happens in the nighttime though.
Especially teenagers who think that they are the centre of the universe (but also other bogany type people), do not use headphones at all and will play their music from their phones as loudly as possible.

I do not understand why if you are a person who is poor, that you are also likely to drop any semblance of dignity. I might not be of particularly extravagant means but I know that the purpose of manners is to tread lightly in the world. It is also a defence mechanism against people who want to do you harm.
I do not understand why poor people want to play their music as loudly as possible on the train; nor do I understand why they self select music which is openly misogynistic, violent and because it is often made by black rappers from America, needlessly boastful about the wealth they've acquired.
If you are a white bogan in Western Sydney, who is trapped in a cycle of poverty, then the chances are that you do not have a Mercedes-Benz nor a mansion; so why are you playing music which celebrates that on the evening train?

F6 - Sports Cheese!

Coles' Tasty Cheese is like some kind of special sports cheese. Not in the sense that it is going to turn you into a great athlete (Kellogg's Nutri-Grain and Nestlé Milo both purport to do that), but it is mysteriously stretchy when put in a toastie.

Coles' Tasty Cheese, Coles' Economy Bacon, and Coles' Barbecue Sauce, are a magical trio when put inside a toastie. Forget your $22 smashed avocado sandwich and everyone who thinks that rocket is a food needs to be placed on a chair and stared at unapprovingly for a very long time; a cheese and bacon toastie with barbecue sauce, is about as close as you can get to unclassy, sitting in tracky-daks, watching doofus telly, heaven as you can get.


Q23 - Continuing Badness

The thing about the smell on the bus, even despite how wretched it is, is that even though it reminds me of a high school gym change room (and everything that entailed), the longer that I sit on the bus, the more I am used to it.

Humans as pattern seeking machines, have an incredible capacity to normalise every experience that they encounter. I suspect that this is in part a survival mechanism to prevent mass panic at every unpleasant experience but it not only works for badness but moments and things that bring joy.

This phenomenon helps to explain why the joy that comes from purchasing a new thing, will in time fade. Advertising in principle is designed to exploit that basic phenomenon for monetary purposes; which explains why restaurants, confectioners, and fizzy water soft drink companies are constantly exploring new flavours; also why the fast fashion industry is able to sell what amounts to low quality tat on an ever-changing basis. The flavour of the month is literally the flavour of the month.

It also explains why long term happiness is almost completely divorced from the amount of possessions that one can accumulate and/or change over. Rich people are able to buy more stuff but there is a point where having all of your material desires fulfilled can only take you so far. Having said that, moving from abject poverty to having one's basic needs met is an excellent driver of human happiness.
It also explains why people are able to tolerate awful and often inexcusable circumstances. Things like domestic violence, poor health and pain, and the consequences of poverty, are not met with happiness but quite rightly sadness and despair but they are often normalised beyond rational sense. When asked why many women don't just up and leave their partner who is openly abusive, the words "but I love him" often appear even though it might not necessarily be true.


B50 - BPM

There was a question posed on Facebook by someone I follow about what people's heart rate is. There average human probably has a resting heart rate of between 60 to 90 beats per minute. Anything over that indicates that the individual is in serious stress and anything below about 40 beats per minute is usually cause for alarm. As a not very typical human, my heart beats between about 50-55 beats per minute at rest; which means that it is either efficient, well trained through consistent exercise, or suffering some hitherto unknown medical disorder.I hope that it is a combination of the two former, rather than the latter.

If we assume that I am a reasonable lower bound for the number of heart beats a minute, then at 50 beats per minute, my heart has already beat a billion times and I can expect it to beat a billion more. I don't know about you but I find that as an involuntary process, having something happen more than two billion times is absolutely remarkable. Yet it happens without any thought on my part whatsoever.


J5 - Infused

Considering that that company can make practically any flavour they want to, just by adding the basic flavour components together (such as the use of esters and volatiles), then it should be possible for them to make bacon flavoured whiskey.

Whiskey itself is already influenced by the barrel that it comes in and my sister's once famous description that it "tastes like the cupboard", proves that it wouldn't be an unpleasant experience.

Just imagine Johnny Walker Pink Label. It would be like the regular taste of Red Label but with the added flavour of bacon. Bacon already is smoky. It's already not that far away as it is. If Cadbury can make Vegemite flavoured chocolate, Kit Kat in wasabi flavour, Smith's Crisps in hot dog and cheeseburger flavours, then why not? There's loads of daft people in the world and I am one of them. The biggest market for whiskey is already white dudes with daft ideas; so why not tap that market?

June 06, 2019

Horse 2556 - Freedom Of Journalism In Australia (1901 - 2019): Dead, Buried; Cremated.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has executed a search warrant on the Ultimo premises of the ABC today (Wednesday, 5 June 2019) in relation to allegations of publishing classified material, contrary to provisions of the Crimes Act 1914.
The search warrant relates to a referral received on 11 July 2017 from the Chief of the Defence Force and the then-Acting Secretary for Defence.
All AFP search warrants are authorised by a magistrate or an appropriate member of the judiciary. This is the result of supporting documentation or material being presented to the court which provides sufficient suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed.
No arrests are planned today as a result of this activity.
This activity is not linked to a search warrant executed in Canberra yesterday (Tuesday, 4 June 2019).
- Statement, Australian Federal Police, 5th June 2019

I am going to just come out and say this but the Morrison Government has not only laughed in the face of decency but is actively trying to kick democracy in the face. Having secured a win at the polls, which was aided and abetted by its owners of News Corp, it is now actively using the power of the state to smash its enemies. If the raids on the Australian Workers' Union in October 2017 were a foretaste of what was to come, where Michaelia Cash had tipped off News Corp before it had happened (thus making it look like they were highly politically motivated), then the raids on the home of News Corp's own journalist Annika Smethurst as well as the ABC's offices in Utimo were even more politically motivated.

The articles by Annika Smethurst about the powers to spy on Australian citizens which Australian Signals Directorate were being reported to possibly being given by the Departments of Defence and Home Affairs, are absolutely and unquestionably in the public's interest¹. The articles by the ABC about Australian special forces killing unarmed men and children in Afghanistan², are absolutely and unquestionably in the public's interest.

I am sorry but if that's the sort of thing which is being covered up by the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Home Affairs, then I think that as the responsible Minister that they should be before the Crown Prosecutors. If Australian troops are committing war crimes, and there is no accountability and no consequence, then this country is in my opinion a terrible one. This sort of thing is exactly the kind of thing that Erich Mielke as head of the East German Ministry for State Security (Ministerium für Staatsicherheit - the Stasi) was renown for.

The fact that this is not quite two years after a referral from the Chief of Defence, leads me to believe that this is nothing other than politically motivated. The raids on Annika Smethurst's house were probably a neat tactic of poisoning the well of public opinion, so that the raids on the ABC didn't look quite so bad.

Thanks to the provisions laid out by the National Security Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1) 2014, the Australian Federal Police have the power to³:
- copy, access and delete data without warrant
- put journalists in prison
- indemnify ASIO for their actions
- indemnify the AFP for their actions
Also, as AFP search warrants are authorised by a magistrate or an appropriate member of the judiciary, then this is all nice and legal. It nice to know that as we watch democracy get itself bashed in the face, that it is being done by legal authority. I feel better knowing that as we progressively slide into authoritarianism if not actual functional fascism that we will have done there through legal means.

Let's talk about the optics of conducting these raids back to back like this despite the investigations starting an entire year apart. The message that I am getting as an Australian citizen is "don't you dare cross us; don't your dare expose us, or we will get you." Not only will they get you, but they will get you hard. I don't know if the public has that long term of a memory but a whistle-blower at the ATO, Richard Boyle could be sentenced to a maximum prison sentence of 161 years if found guilty. If you are facing a century an a half of gaol time, then what hope is there?

If we pull back the curtain to reveal what is behind the stage in the merry old land of Oz, what we find are people who speaking up about these issues being punished and  marginalised by all of those institutions, before being flung to the far edges of public debate and even prison. We have thugs actively wielding power in this country, and they are openly choosing to use it like this. The bats have left the bell tower; the the victims have been bled; red velvet lines the black box; democracy is dead. The emu has run off into the never never and the kangaroo has all the while been happily bouncing towards a police state and this is the latest hop.

The scary thing is that this is by design. This is a direct result of the National Security Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1) 2014. In a civil society we would expect freedom of the press and a protection of the journalistic veil because exposing these sorts of things is very obviously in the public's interest. This was never about not abusing the power handed to the AFP.
If you do happen to see something corrupt, good luck finding anyone willing to publish it and good luck getting legal representation when you inevitably get prosecuted for your ethics. The only conclusion that I can draw is that the raids on Annika Smethurst's house and the ABC are about finding the identity of the whistleblowers; so that they can prosecute them into the stone age. Just so long as it's nice and legal, then that makes it all right, right?


June 05, 2019

Horse 2555 - It Turns Out, It Actually Did Exist.

I really really like watching motor racing. Although Formula One is the pinnacle of both talent and technical wizardry, I prefer watching the much more humble contests that you get in touring car racing. Of course, living in Australia where we used to build our own cars and where we have one of the greatest race tracks in the world at Bathurst, that's kind of half to be expected.
There is/was something almost a little bit magical about watching cars which you could buy off the showroom floor, being sent into combat against each other. GT Racing, which is kind of what the Supercars has been drifting towards for the last three years or so, just doesn't seem to do it for me. The British Touring Car Championship, which has hatchbacks going against each other is closer to that spirit.

When I were a wee lad, the sport had switched from the home developed Group C category to the international Group A. Ford had stopped selling a V8 Falcon and didn't really have anything that they could play with. Holden found that its Commodore with a big engine, wasn't all that competitive because of the weight penalty imposed on it under the rules and for a while, touring car racing in Australia was being showed up by Volvo, BMW, Nissan and the Ford Sierra which wasn't officially sold in Australia.
Ford Australia had no V8 in their domestic lineup from 1984 to 1990 and so they didn't bother to build a Group A car at all. Holden had their V8 slightly clipped due to the change in the regulations which mandated unleaded petrol in 1986 and so they were left with machinery which was reasonably competent at lasting a thousand kilometres but lacked any kind of outright speed against the cars from overseas, which had in some cases three years of extra development poured into them.

Holden was shown up in its own backyard in 1985, when Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) brought three Jaguar XJ-S to the Bathurst 1000 and won it on their second go. The win in 1986 was something of an anomaly because in 1987, the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth finally fulfilled its potential and wiped the floor with everything.
I think that the 1987 Bathurst 1000 sent shockwaves through Holden, as not only had they been beaten for line honours at Bathurst¹ but they had had a very public spat with their favourite son, Peter Brock, and this meant that during the 1988 touring car season in Australia, Holdens were very much also rans.

At some point during 1988, Holden employed TWR, the very same team which had beaten them in their own backyard, to develop a Group A package for the VL Commodore; they came back with a wild looking thing which very quickly took on the name of Walkinshaw as an eponym.
The development of the VL Group A Commodore happened so late in 1988, that by the time of the Bathurst 1000, there were only three examples in existence. For the race there was the number 10 car which was run almost as a separate team by Perkins Engineering and the number 20 which was the full on TWR car.
And then there was number 40. Or was there?

I have for many years wondered about whether or not this car actually existed.  The chassis was purported to have been campaigned in later seasons by Llynden Reithmuller  but I could never determine whether or not this was either 10 or 20, which had been sold (it turns out, neither).
My assumption for more than three decades was that Holden had put in three entries for the race in order to get more track time but had only two cars that physically existed. My suspicion was that TWR renumbered the 20 car as the 40 car² because number 40 ran only on the Thursday and number 20 ran on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The two cars had never been seen on track together; which is also pretty suspicious. I had also never actually seen a photograph of the 40 car, which made me wonder even harder if it had truly existed at all.

When I saw this photograph, my fragile little mind was blown. Three decades of wonder was now quelled. I can see for myself that the little details such as the badging and alignment of various decals, means that this was in fact a third car.

Given the abysmal results of Holden in 1988 and 1989, the VL program would have turned out to be a complete failure if it wasn't for a surprise win at Bathurst in 1990. The number 20 car bit the wall in the 1988 race and the 10 car... The 1989 Touring Car Championship was virtually a waste of time for Holden, and seeing as the Holden Racing Team was the factory backed team, I further wonder if management was considering pulling the plug on the whole thing.
If I was to play the whole of 1991 and 1992 out in my mind, Holden would have shut down the Holden Racing Team and those people who really wanted to build a General Motors touring car would have opted for the Opel Calibra Turbo 4WD, which would have been a seriously interesting prospect against the Nissan Skyline GTR R-32 had that ever happened.

As it is though, the VL Group A Commodore was an interesting chapter in Australian motorsport history, which looks precarious even now. The mystery of whether or not the number 40 car actually existed has now been settled for me.

¹this was overturned in the courts.
²given that TWR ran the car and had run Jaguars at Le Mans and the Arrows Formula One team, a piece of skullduggery was well within their wheelhouse.