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May 2010

I find that the Cyber World is as badly broken as the Real World

I was trying to read a piece referenced in a blog I was reading and was sent the following message.

Session Cookie Error An error has occurred because we were unable to send a cookie to your web browser Session cookies are commonly used to facilitate improved site navigation. In order to use Wiley InterScience you must have your browser set to accept cookies. Once you have logged in to Wiley InterScience, our Web server uses a temporary cookie to help us manage your visit. This Session Cookie is deleted when you logoff Wiley InterScience, or when you quit your browser. The cookie allows us to quickly determine your access control rights and your personal preferences during your online session. The Session Cookie is set out of necessity and not out of convenience.

I checked the settings of my browser and found that all cookies from the sites I visit except third party cookies were allowed. I tried my other two browsers after checking their settings and got the same response. I guess I will have to put Wiley InterScience on my black list.

The other thing I read was that a class action is proposed against Google because they have been accessing data from open WiFi sites. If people operate their WiFi without any security, why do they think they can sue anybody for reading the data they have made publicly available,

Posted: 30/5/10 7:09 AM

More evidence that truth is largely nonexistent in the public discourse

We were watching Dateline tonight and the public debate about the introduction of Ethics classes into state schools was being reported. A Roman Catholic Bishop was interviewed and claimed that it was against the Constitution to have any other classes at the same time as Religious Instruction classes in schools.

I decided to do a bit of research to find out if his claim had any validity. I searched the Australian Constitution and found two relevant references. Chapter V, Clause 106 states "The Constitution of each State of the Commonwealth shall, subject to this Constitution, continue as at the establishment of the Commonwealth, or as at the admission or establishment of the State, as the case my be, until altered in accordance with the Constitution of the State." Chapter V, Clause 109 states that "Where a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid." The second reference is Chapter V, Clause 116 which states that "The Commonwealth shall not make any laws for the establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for the prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth."

I believe that this makes the statement by the Roman Catholic Bishop untrue. He might of course have been ill-informed but he should not have used such words in the public discourse if they were untrue. Of course, someone representing a group that claims to be true in every regard, is particularly remiss in using untruths in the public discourse.

I do fear that the incidence of untruths in the public discourse, if it continues, will have a very detrimental effect on our society.

Posted: 28/5/10 9:05 PM

More evidence for my 21st century world view

I read this morning a piece about the decisions of the Texas Board of Education.

They tend to dominate education throughout the USA because Texas is so big and the text book publishers tend to fall into line with the Texas Board of Education

They have a Republican majority and recently revised the history curriculum to exclude all reference to non-conservative ideas. It has been suggested that they have an objective of removing "separation of church and state" from the constitution. Presumably they believe that educating a whole generation using their restricted ideas will give rise to an intellectual revolution some time in the future which will bury all liberal views and thus have dramatic effects on the human rights of most US citizens.

As you know, I believe that while everyone has a right to believe what ever they want, they have no right to impose their beliefs on others.

My optimistic view that humanity has always overcome problems such as this before and will do so again assumes that the power exercised by the rich will once again be reduced so that democracy will win out in the end. This, of course, requires that the current ascendancy of money over real values is eliminated from all of our societies.

Posted: 23/5/10 8:14 AM

I had to become a drover and a boundary rider again.

Our next door neighbour was planting out some seedlings and the sheep took a great liking to them and broke through the fence so that they could feed on them.

As soon as I was told what had happened, I got a bucket of pellets and went next door to round up the sheep. They followed me back to our place and tucked into the pellets.

I had to find out how they had got through the fence. On of the sheep had forced their way through the fence, breaking the old rotting wire netting, and the others had followed through the hole. I had to get the wire and the tools out and spent quite a bit of time sealing up the hole and reinforcing the rest of the fence so that they will not, I hope, be able to get out that way again. I guess I will have to buy some new wire netting to cover the old stuff to make sure that this escape route is closed off for good. Another hard task on the white board.

Posted: 22/5/10 4:43 PM

The sheep are really happy

I am amazed at how happy the sheep seem to be. They used to all "baa" very loudly whenever I appeared but now they just wait for me to come down and give them some hay.

This means that the neighbours don't have to put up with lots of loud noise so that's a good thing.

I think that they have a much easier life when eating hay rather that grass because they don't have to search for green shoots and they don't have to chew right down to ground level. They also get a full days food in a short time so they can spend the rest of the day in idleness.

I'm happy to have them back for a few weeks.

Posted: 21/5/10 9:04 AM

The Sheep are back at our place

Mark and Kathy are going way for a three week holiday so the sheep are back in our back paddock.

I secured all the possible escape places. Mark has provided several bales of hay to feed them on because we have no grass in the paddock. Mark has been feeding them hay because he has no grass in his paddock either.

I was fascinated that the sheep followed Mark and Kathy in the station wagon all the way from their place to our place. I had left the gate open so the sheep just walked straight into the paddock before Mark and Kathy got out of the wagon.

It is pleasant to have animals on the property. Every since the sheep went back to Mark's place I have found myself looking into the paddock every time I looked out of the kitchen window.

Posted: 20/5/10 4:22 PM

My various Alter Egos

This morning, after we had had a wedding anniversary celebration breakfast for Sarah and Ian at the Playhouse, I was identified by a lady on the staff as a Richard Attenborough lookalike. When I told her I was Thomas Keneally she smiled.

This is not the first time I have been so recognised. The first time was in Bury St Edmonds in 1994. Since then it has happened several times. I have also been identified as Burl Ives, the Bush Tucker Man, Salman Rushdie, one of the Leyland Brothers, and the Barraba bird man, Russ Watts.

Posted: 19/5/10 8:01 PM

The birds love our bird bath

This morning the birdbath was like a skating rink because of the overnight frost. As I looked out of the kitchen window early I saw a Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) trying desperately to get some water.

A few hours later a group of six or more Red-winged Parrots (Aprosmictus erythropterus) were drinking. One of them was standing on the ice so presumably the surface was beginning to melt so there a thin layer of water to drink.

I also saw two Zebra Finches approach the bird bath but they didn't stop because the parrots were taking up all the room.

We are so lucky to have this attraction outside the kitchen window because we get plenty of close up views of the local birds.

Posted: 16/5/10 10:38 AM

I often claim to be a 20th century person

I have many problems with the changing culture of our society.

One of them concerns the extraordinary expansion of Web 2. My reading shows that the amount of money invested in Web 2 by service providers and by users and the amount of energy used to provide all the internet traffic today seem to be a significant contribution to the very dangerous growth of our economies.

Being a 20th century person, I use my computer to manage and store data and to facilitate the production of documents. The modern trend to use computers to provide entertainment in vast quantities to a huge audience seems to me to be an extraordinary misuse of economic resources. My response to the iPad is to continue to use old fashioned computers and to hope that they will continue to be available way into the future.

Another problem is the rise of equivocation particularly in public life. Todays reading provide a couple of examples. BP claim that the rate of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is only 5,000 barrels a day while a qualified technologist has viewed the video of the leaking pipe and estimates that the flow is 70,000 barrels a day +/- 20%. My assumption is that BP are willfully using a low figure to protect their interest. I might be wrong, but then again, I might be right.

Another example was the failure of the US Federal Mineral Management Service failed to obtain the legally necessary permits before licensing the rig. The commentary suggests that the MMS believe that their prime objective is to protect the oil industry rather than protect the rest of us. I am of the view that this bureaucratic dishonesty is rife in the 21st century world. There are of course many examples of public equivocation in all things one reads about.

I, of course, have to end this piece by restating my belief that all this bad stuff will go away in the future because humanity has always resolved problems like this in the past.

Posted: 15/5/10 6:57 AM

More evidence that my world view is OK

The NY stock market fiasco which saw a very rapid plunge of the Dow Index by 1000 points seems to have been initiated by some finger trouble in a broker's office which gave rise to wildly erroneous information provided to the observers of the market. The report I read in Comp.risks also suggested that the automated trading caused a nearly instantaneous market response which was not noticed by human beings for several minutes. The fact that this human observation gave rise to a correction seems to demonstrate that there is some degree of skepticism in the market but not enough to prevent dramatic market shifts.

The fact that the dramatic drop in the index was reported as generating dramatic losses in peoples assets.

My world view, that the stock market is dominated by gambling based on numbers rather than value seems to be supported by this event. I believe that the numbers which represent the instantaneous share prices reflect on the largely insubstantial nature of the currency. As I have said before, in my day prices were based on underlying value of real product and real services. The fact that share prices can be seen to depend solely on numbers which can be ephemeral and the fact that share prices are seen as the dominant indicator of the performance of the economy leads to a conclusion that money is no longer related to real value and the control of the economy is driven by totally inappropriate considerations.

The downside of this is that the allocation of resources to real production and services is badly affected by the belief in money as having value in its own right rather than being tokens of real value. If this continues into the future, the result will probably the destruction of most of the capacity to produce real value.

All this is, I believe, a result of the dominance of greed in the behaviour of those who have control of most of the money in the economy.

I believe that all this stupidity will be disposed of eventually because humanity has always been able to overcome problems such as this in the past. We have come from hunter gatherer societies to todays technology supported society because of the innovations which have been adopted by us all on the way.

Posted: 10/5/10 8:34 AM

What beautiful days we are having

I previously referred to the present season as winter even though we are still in autumn.

Despite the low overnight temperatures, the days have been really pleasant with blue sky and plenty of sunshine with maximum temperatures mostly above 25 °C.

I am reminded of our first winter in Barraba which was like this and made me happy with our decision to settled in Barraba.

We will probably get a few frosts in the next three months but if our previous experience is repeated, there will only be a few.

Posted: 9/5/10 7:02 AM

Winter has Arrived

This morning the overnight minimum temperature at our place was 1°C. The water pipes didn't freeze but the bird bath did. It was a total thick layer of ice until the sunshine reached it.

I had a number of repair tasks to get into. The kitchen electric column heater had lost its thermostat knob so I had to strip it down and superglue the broken pieces back in place. To ensure that the failure didn't happen again I araldited a metal nut around the broken plastic bits. All this took quite a long time

I also had to trim a lump off the top of the front door which had been causing a little sticking.

Yesterday I stripped the valve out of the toilet cistern to get rid of the calcification which had been stopping the proper action of the total flush button. Sadly, though I had cured the problem, when I replaced the valve I found that the small flush button was now releasing a total flush instead of a small flush. I guess I'll have to strip it out again and try and find out what caused this.

I have to go to Tamworth on Monday to get some spares for the water heater so that I can try and get rid of an ignition unreliability which is casing some very bad annoyances.

Posted: 7/5/10 8:57 PM


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Created: 7/05/10 and last revised 30/03/2014
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