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Royal wedding

For several hours tonight I watched on TV the lead-up to and then the marriage between Prince William and Catherine Middleton in London. I enjoyed it immensely – the pageantry, ceremony and good vibes. As an avowed atheist I even (hypocritically) enjoyed the religious ceremony accompanying the wedding. Some media commentators claim 2 billion people […]

Administratium: a New Element

Investigators at a major research institution recently discovered the heaviest element known to science and have tentatively named it Administratium. Administratium has no protons or electrons, thus having an atomic number of 0. It has, however, 1 neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of […]

Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1985

Sometimes you cellar wines of claimed renown only to find that, with extended cellaring, they have lost their fruit leaving only harsh tannins and oak. I bought this 26 -year old cabernet as a special at Nick the Wine Merchants I think in the early 1990s for around I think $14-99. As a young wine […]

Australia & the environmental performance index

From Nicholas Gruen at Troppo I became aware of the Yale Environmental Performance Index. The 2010 EPI ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across 10 policy categories covering both environmental public health (50%) and ecosystem vitality (50%). These indicators provide a gauge at a national level of how close countries are to “established […]

Googol, googolplex & Google

Someone asked me the other day where the word “google” came from and I responded that I thought it was a corrupted version of the word “googol” which Stephen Krasner in his book “Mathematics and the Imagination” attributed to his (then) 9-year old nephew. A googol is 10 raised to the 100th power. Krasner’s nephew […]

Easter break

I’ve found that I now have at least 5 days straight without formal work requirements. I’ve been playing golf and learning to use my new iMac home computer. The latter has probably been more productive than the former. I treated myself to an iMac 27″ 2.93GHz i7. It has 16GB of RAM, a 1TB hard […]

Paying & educating to dispel lies

The mining industry lies about the real neutrality of mining tax reforms, cigarette advertisers lie about the ineffectiveness of plain packaging of cigarettes (if this is ineffective why should the industry worry?) and the gambling industry are screaming like stuck pigs as they accumulate profits from the gambling of those whose lives are destroyed by […]

Polls negative for Gillard & Abbott

The Coalition would enjoy a landslide electoral victory according to today’s polls in a shift against Labor that seems partly motivated by a fear campaign over the proposed carbon tax. The two-party preferred runs 56% to 44% in favour of the Coalition. Interestingly much of the negative views on Labor seem to stem from dissatisfaction […]


While I was in China last year a colleague told me with great enthusiasm about the Dropbox software. It is software that keeps files of all sorts synchronised across computers using the web. This synchronisation can include co-workers you might wish to share files with. Free for limited transfers and very easy to use – […]

Dynamic parking policies

Sounds like an interesting experiment in San Francisco. Parking charges adjusted to clear the market for parking spots dynamically – a single vacant spot at all times in any location. Hence zero search costs.

HT to PH

On the right anti-smoking track

The decision of BAT (British American Tobacco) to challenge the Federal Government’s “plain packaging” legislation is wonderful news. This seller of highly carcinogenic products will only take this action – and risk a huge volume of adverse publicity – if it believes these measures will cut heavily into its sales and profitability. Moreover, firms such […]

Unskilled Australia?

Sinclair Davidson at Catallaxy points out an article in The Australian claiming that up to 8 million Australian workers don’t have the literacy and numeracy skills to enter a trade or a professional occupation. I wonder.

Last time I looked the Australian workforce was 11.5 million so this analysis says almost 70% have basic literacy […]

Dying to avoid old age

This woman choose assisted suicide because she decided she did not wish to die of old age.. It’s a twist on the usual motivation for euthanasia but one that seems to be reasonable if the case for voluntary assisted euthanasia can be justified on the grounds of severe I’ll health or chronic pain.

Birds in backyards

I don’t get as much time as I used to enjoy my hobby of bird-watching although I do keep a watch-out and maintain a checklist for the grounds (and air-space) around my house. I live in the middle of suburban Ivanhoe at least 2 kilometers from any bush land but my garden has quite a […]

Paul Johnson – how many gongs?

It only seems like yesterday (November 2006) that I farewelled Michael Osborne as VC & President from LTU. Now I learn that his replacement, Paul Johnson, will resign In December 2011. He is going to UWA.

It took a year to secure Paul’s services so, on my count, his time at LTU will be a […]

Politics of Australian climate policy

I spent Thursday at an enjoyable ANU Workshop, Australia’s Climate Policy Options at the Crawford School where I presented some theory and empirical results on carbon leakages. There were plenty of distinguished presenters (Ross Garnaut, John Quiggin among many others) and an enthusiastic (and very well-informed) audience of civil servants from the Department of Climate […]