Thursday, January 30

How the World now sees Australia

An excerpt from The Bugle Podcast ( talking about Tony Abbott and the Australian populace.  

I'm posting this because I was so disgusted by the successive elections of John Howard that I left to New Zealand and haven't looked back, but with the recent election of Tony Abbott my disdain for the country has been well and truly cemented.  I cannot relate to the majority of Australians based on who they have voted for (and keep voting for) and as a result I have not been proud to call myself an Australian.  

In fact, I've since become a New Zealand citizen, so I'm officially not an Aussie anymore.  
Good riddance, you pack of dickheads.

Wednesday, January 1

A new strategy to save the Maui dolphins is needed

Green MP, Gareth Hughes, says we can save the last of the Maui dolphins in his blogpost.  It is a hopeful message and optimistic in spite of the dire statistics surrounding the issue.  Here is my response:

There is no immediate political solution to the Maui's plight.  Take John Key's comments as a perfect example:

At 8:15 of John Key's interview with The Edge FM interview:

Question: Ask [Mr Key] why he is killing the remaining 55 Maui dolphins?

PM John Key: I’m not, but what would kill them? Send them off to a Labour party conference and they’d die of boredom.  (Studio laughs)  Anyway, there’s not 55. I drained the sea recently and added them up.  There’s 56.

(Studio reacts with awkward laughter).

For John Key to even make that joke should tell you everything.

I remember writing to (then) Conservation Minister, Kate Wilkinson, about the Maui dolphin issue, and she wrote back:

"As Minster of Conservation, I can assure you that protecting these dolphins is a high priority for the Government... [but] to use the 100-metre depth contour not tenable, and would have the effect of closing down much of the New Zealand inshore fin-fish fishery".

So essentially she is saying: We are aware that these dolphins are going extinct, but to save them would mean to upset the fishing industry of that area.

At this point I struggle to know where to place blame.

Do we blame the politicians for not reining in business for the sake of precious life, or do we blame the fishing industry for exploiting unsustainable limits in the same environment they are earning income from- simply because the laws allow for it?  In short, the politicians don't want to stop the fishing industry, and the fishing industry cannot stop themselves.

Both sides of this problem exacerbate the other, creating a vicious circle these dolphins are trapped within.

What can one do when the dolphin numbers are dropping to genetically impossible levels to continue, as the politicians sit on their hands, the fisherman carry on regardless, and everyone watches a species go extinct. Right. In. Front. Of. Us.

It's so incredibly frustrating!

I won't ever give up, that's not an option, but I also don't know what to do to change the situation. How about we try a different strategy?... Let's target the fishing industry around that area? Let's shame them. Let's shame the ACTUAL FISHERMAN that are doing this. Let's link the names of the companies they work for.

How do we begin that fight?...

Someone help me start this.

Friday, November 1

Deep Sea Oil Drilling infographic

And in case you missed it, this is John Key's love letter to the oil industry:

Sources: - Do The Math
Greenpeace - The future is here report
The Oil Drum
TEDx Talk: Climate Change explained
Crude Solution: BP's Corexit on 60 Minutes

Wednesday, January 2

The Educated Idiot and the Psychological Black Hole

I want to draw your attention to the concept of an "Educated Idiot".

It sounds contradictory, but Educated Idiots do exist. Like the racist psychology professor Philippe Rushton or (up until recently) the Climate Change-Denier, physicist and professor, Richard Muller. People with the right kind of education to know better can still get things completely wrong (particularly economists) because they subscribe to a dogmatic point of view and can't (or won't) think beyond it.

I call it a lack of critical thinking, but whatever it is people can, and will, put psychological black holes over certain issues that even their good education can't help them escape from. It can apply to just about anything as well, from the important to the mundane, however the biggest of these psychological black holes hangs over the tragic events of September-11 itself. Even people who understand physics and champion the scientific method can get 9-11 wrong.

Here's a simple physics test for all of you Champions of Science out there. Ready?...

Question: If the top 12 storeys of a 110-storey skyscraper collapsed down on to the 98-storey structure below it (due to a plane hitting the building at the 99th floor), given that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, how many storeys of the 98-storey structure would be left standing?

Option A: None of it. It would collapse at near free-fall speed to the ground without any resistance.

Option B: Approx 86 storeys would remain, because the 98 storey building underneath would use an equal amount of energy in its resistance to the falling 12 storeys above it. (98 storeys minus 12 storeys = 86 storeys still standing).

If you answered A, then chances are you don't know physics, and that's okay. Most people who don't know physics answer A. If you do know physics and still answered A, then you may be the unwitting owner of a psychological black hole. But if you actually do have a proper education in physics and still answered A, then I'm sorry to tell you this, but you are, by the very definition of the term, an Educated Idiot.
The correct answer was B.

(Don't worry if you got it wrong though. This question gets even more difficult to answer when you remove the scenario of a plane hitting the building and yet it still collapses to the ground in a perfectly symmetrical free fall. See WTC7)

The question though, as to exactly "how" and "why" the WTC buildings fell that day, is not a physics question, but a moral question.