Go to


Bottom of Page

Go to

The Motley Expeditions

Views from the Other Side

Strolls in the Bush

Travels round my Family

My Life as an Engineer

Barraba Red Hatters

Go on the Web to

Eco-Camping Australia

The Highway Wanderers Chapter of the CMCA

The Australian Skeptics

My Daughter's Blog

Jul 2008

Another example of the 21st Century Problem

I am still accumulating evidence of "innumeracy" in the press. The latest example is a report in the Australian headlined "Software error cripples NAB". The incident reported was one that caused some of the banks business customers, those using the banks computers to manage their deposits and payments, to fail to pay their employees wages on time. There was no evidence in the article hat NAB operations were affected so why the NAB was "crippled" is a mystery. This is not really a "numeracy" error, it is, I think, really a literacy error but it does illustrate that the journalist didn't understand the quantifiable effects of the problem.

The other aspect of 21st century life that this story illustrates is that reliance on computers with inadequately tested software can have very serious effects on third parties. The story added a counter example, a recent problem at another bank . "Earlier this month, thousands of people received double their salaries due to a technical issue at Westpac."

I will revert to my positive position and suggest that the issue of computer system reliability will be addressed and that we can expect such occurrences to reduce in frequency in the future. I hope I am right.

Posted: sometime in July

Academic "Freedom"

If the religious right in the Louisiana are to avoid being characterised as hypocrites they must insist that atheism be taught in religious instruction classes to encourage students to critically examine the ideas put forward by the mainstream religions.

To suggest that high school teachers should be allowed the freedom to proselytize their religion in science classes is so gobsmackingly shocking that I dread to think what the results will be when their students get to university. Perhaps they will be conditioned to reject anything they are taught in university unless it has the approval of their religious leaders.

A.C.Grayling in his column "Mindfields" in the New Scientist of 12 July 2008 makes this proposition. "The single difference between religion (which may be defined as faith-based credence in the existence of supernatural agencies or entities in the universe) and astrology or tarot divination is that religion has been institutionalized, and as such has been greatly influential in most societies and still retains its hold on many. The evidential base for beliefs in the existence of supernatural agencies is little different from that for astral influences or the effectiveness of divination. Their hold on credence is historical, not empirical; they are not subject to experimental test; and they require the suspension rather than the support of rational consideration". I find this argument convincing.

The excesses of World Youth Day in Sydney this week have been likened to those of the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000. Streets were closed to the inhabitants of the city and visitors were encouraged by the state to worship their chosen "supernatural agency" of their sporting "heros". I take the view that both these events were designed to celebrate features of our society which are claimed to be doing "good" when in fact they are distracting people from the realities of life. Perhaps they are the modern equivalent of Roman Circuses, entertain the masses to keep them subdued.

Posted: 17/7/08 7:59 AM

I Need to Know

The internet seems to be getting more and more dangerous as time goes by. The latest report is that cybercrime is now being "organized" with hierarchical structures. This is reminiscent of organized crime in the 1920s in America. The lack of effective laws and effective law enforcement were probably contributors in that era and are surely the cause of todays problem with the internet.

One solution to the problem of physical crime is to live in a relatively law abiding community. The equivalent today is to avoid any behaviour on line which would expose you to the risks. That's OK but there are things we need to do which are not risk free.

I need to remind myself that driving on the public roads is risky but the risk is very, very small so perhaps all I need to do is avoid Web2.0 and deal with any spam by deleting it before it is read. Perhaps I'll miss out on something but that's always on the cards.

Posted: 16/7/08 9:26 AM

A Great Leap Forward

photo of the new kitchen floor

Today we had the new floor covering laid in the kitchen, laundry, and bathroom. It looks really good and we are both pleased as punch with this latest step in the renovation of Currawinya.

There's still lots to do but we plan to build a shed behind the carport so we can recover the space in the spare room and fit out as a sewing room/office/occasional bedroom.

When I was doing some work in the front yard recently a young chap approached me and offered to do a quotation on repainting the roof. I don't know is it is necessary and will have to wait until the Samins return from their Queensland adventure to get John's advice.

Posted: 8/7/08 5:04 PM

Gloom and Doom

I believe that "speculation" could be the biggest threat to civilization today. The addiction of the "rich" to money may be depriving the majority of the worlds population of the necessities of life.

While global warming is clearly a major threat, there are signs that, maybe, action will be taken by enough of the nations of the world to ameliorate the effects of increased greenhouse gasses.

Sadly, the billions of people who presently live in very marginal conditions and who are threatened by global warming may suffer much more from the speculators who are, for personal gain, driving up the prices of essential commodities such as food and oil.

The Limits to Growth (Meadows et al) predicted a possible global catastrophic decline in population some time in the twenty first century caused by over consumption of non renewable resources but it now seems that the production of renewable resources such as food will not be able to keep up with the increasing demand caused by the growth in world population.

The Malthusian scenario of a dramatic decline in world population due to famine, pestilence or war is becoming ever more likely. We already face water wars but now there seems to be a possibility of food wars as well.

I have broken my covenant to always end such conversations on a positive note because I cannot conceive of any solution to the problems caused by this addiction to money. Those with the money will always call the shots and there seems no real chance that they will realise the consequences of their actions and change their behaviour.

Posted: 6/7/08 7:35 AM

Reading the newspaper often fires up my ire

Several Australian "luminaries" including Federal MP Belinda Neal, Actor Paul Hogan, and ex Qantas Director Trevor Kennedy have made statements which indicated that they believe that the rules the rest of us must obey do not apply to them. Belinda Neal is alleged to have threatened wait staff with the sack because "they didn't know who she was". Paul Hogan believes that he has paid more than enough tax in Australia though the evidence seems to suggest that he has not paid all that he owes. Trevor Kennedy is trying to get the ATO off his back because they have come into the possession of documents "they shouldn't have" and will presumably be able to use them to prove that he has evaded tax. I believe that this cult of "celebrity" is very dangerous and potentially destructive of our democracy.

I read that "The Catholic church will reap millions of dollars from a state government backed deal for land in the Adelaide CBD, securing the church's financial future in South Australia and providing a template for doing business around the country". I would love to set up a money changer's table outside their cathedral and kick it over as their Lord Jesus is said to have done in a Jewish temple. Sadly, the government is about to enact a law which would make this kind of demonstration a crime.

Posted: 5/7/08 10:44 AM

I Feel Another Post Coming On

I've often said that "everything is broken". I read today that ICANN had its own website highjacked by some lower echelon domain name service. If they can't secure their site, who can. I worry that the "wild west" that the internet has become has no effective sheriffs.

I defend myself by retreating to the twentieth century when things were less complex and the risks were not so bad. I even resist the temptation to upgrade from Tiger to Leopard for fear of getting infected with Web2.0.

I know that "everything has gone to hell in a handbasket" is generally a symptom of advanced aging but I can't help my rational responses to what I see as irrational developments.

The Australian Government seems to be vacillating on the policies needed to deal with global warming. Apparently we must avoid any risk to the economy even if the "risk that we don't evaluate - global warming" is real and likely to create a much more dramatic economic problem than those posed by an effective emissions reduction policy.

Posted: 4/7/08 10:59 PM


Mar 2014

Feb 2014

Jan 2014

Dec 2013

Nov 2013

Oct 2013

Sept 2013

Aug 2013

Jul 2013

Jun 2013

May 2013

Apr 2013

Mar 2013

Feb 2013

Jan 2013

Dec 2012

Nov 2012

Oct 2012

Sep 2012

Aug 2012

Jul 2012

Jun 2012

May 2012

Apr 2012

Mar 2012

Feb 2012

Jan 2012

Dec 2011

Nov 2011

Oct 2011

Sep 2011

Aug 2011

Jul 2011

Jun 2011

May 2011

Apr 2011

Mar 2011

Feb 2011

Jan 2011

Dec 2010

Nov 2010

Oct 2010

Sep 2010

Aug 2010

Jul 2010

Jun 2010

May 2010

Apr 2010

Mar 2010

Feb 2010

Jan 2010

Dec 2009

Nov 2009

Oct 2009

Sep 2009

Aug 2009

Jul 2009

Jun 2009

May 2009

Apr 2009

Mar 2009

Feb 2009

Jan 2009

Dec 2008

Nov 2008

Oct 2008

Sep 2008

Aug 2008

Jun 2008

May 2008

Apr 2008

Top of Page - Next Month

Created: 4/07/08 and last revised 30/03/2014
Author: Robin Chalmers - Copyright in all the material on this site is asserted by the author.
Contact the webmaster