We Are Crazy!
Stop The Boats
Drones In Afghanistan
Syrian Civil War
The Doctor's Dilemma
Our Life Style
Zero-Pwer Air Conditioning
Who Needs Windows?
The Spin Mill Still Grinds
Big Brother is Watching
2013 June Blogs
We Are Crazy!
I see that a consortium of Nations has committed the expenditure of 28 Billion EUROS to build the ITER Project in France. The sustained release of energy by a fusion reaction has already been achieved in an experimental facility, so it is now a reasonable financial risk.
The ITER Project will design and test the component parts which will be required for a large-scale nuclear fusion reactor. ITER is also to be a demonstration facility, which will confirm the commercial viability of safe, non-polluting energy production for large-scale power generation by nuclear fusion. It will be followed by the construction of the first working prototype power station. The commercial deployment of nuclear fusion power generation technology will take place in the second half of this century.
Here, in financially embarrassed Australia, we seem to have committed a somewhat similar sum of money, as unnecessary over-expenditure on the National Broadband Network! Except in regional areas, all commercial users with multi-user networks, such as hospitals, schools, office buildings, factories, etc, can already have fibre-to-the-hub from the existing fibre distribution system. The Coalition's proposal to serve domestic consumers by fibre-to-the-hub at street level makes economic and technical sense - just as in commercial installations, a single fibre has adequate capacity to serve many users at full usable speed. Note also that the most difficult and expensive operation in a communications network is the termination of the optical fibre into the distribution hub - one termination per street is very much cheaper and faster to install than one termination per house.
We may not want to build our own ITER in Australia, but think what we could achieve if we chose the sensible NBN configuration. If you don't believe that we need better health, education, housing or transport services, or don't want lower taxes, then we might even be able to contain our deficit.
Stop The Boats
It has been claimed that Indonesia will not accept the return of boat-loads of illegal immigrants, who seek to enter Australia. Indeed, to solve their own problem of unwanted ex-patriates who are using Indonesia as a transit destination, their officials turn a blind eye or even encourage the organisation of asylum-seeker boats.
We have no difficulty in controlling the legal entry of foreign nationals into Australia. No visa, no entry. No valid reason for entry and no departure ticket, no entry. We actively pursue and ship-out any person who overstays an entry permit. In taking these actions, we do not disadvantage genuine tourists or other legal entrants.
If Indonesia and Malaysia used similar entry processes, there would be no asylum seeker boats.
Drones In Afghanistan
I see that terrorists in Afghanistan are burying up to 100 improvised explosive devices each night. During the day, innocent civilians and defence forces are at serious risk of injury or death.
Impose a night-time curfew. Use infra-red vision equipped drone aircraft to attack terrorists while they are planting their bombs. Stop the slaughter without risk to our military personnel.
Syrian Civil War
Most regional wars seem to be caused by religious differences, are very difficult to prevent by military intervention, and may smoulder for centuries. For example, consider the civil conflicts in mediaeval U.K., Ireland, the Balkans, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Egypt, and now Syria. The internal conflicts between different Muslim sects are particularly vicious.
Armed intervention, or the supply of arms to the combatants, does not stop a civil war. Neither side will accept the intervention of a third party, no matter how well-intended. Keep out of the territory!
We can only bring the opposing sides to a meaningful peace agreement by disarmament. Stop all arms supply (including supplies from Russia) and re-inforcements, to both parties in the conflict. Prevent air attacks on the civilian population, using drones to avoid risk to our own forces, by disabling or destroying attack aircraft. Target rockets and artillery. Blockade all imports, other than food, medical supplies, welfare items, and fuel for power and water supply. Freeze overseas funds.
When the combatants run out of ammunition, they will negotiate a cease-fire agreement.
The Doctor's Dilemma
George Bernard Shaw's play, "The Doctor's Dilemma" considered the quandary of a medical scientist who had produced a vaccine to cure the deadly disease, tuberculosis. He had sufficient vaccine to treat only one patient. However, he had two tuberculosis patients. One was a very talented artist, rich, thoroughly dissolute and totally immoral. The other was a diligent worker, struggling to provide for his wife and children. Who should be chosen to live?
It was a question of the best way to allocate a limited resource. Which leads us to:-
Our Life Style
When I was young, kids walked to and from school, spent a half day each week on the sports field, and played outdoors until bedtime. Mothers worked at home to care for the family. Fathers owned a bicycle for travel to and from work. If a family was able to own their own house, they established a vegetable and flower garden, worked hard to buy household appliances and, if they were very fortunate, they would be able to afford to go to the cinema, and even buy a small car.
These days of course, we have it all. Our kids and adults eat too much junk food, are too busy watching TV or playing with a computer to exercise, so that we face a rising tide of obesity, diabetes, circulatory and other degenerative diseases. We actually pay to attend a gym, to have the exercise which we once had free of charge! Mothers work to pay for child care, private school fees, overseas holidays, expensive restaurants and entertainment. Fathers pay somebody else to mow the lawn, struggle to support the millstone of a luxuriously furnished air-conditioned house with labour-saving appliances and an established garden. They can't do without a gadget-equipped six cylinder all-terrain motor vehicle, and maybe a boat and a caravan.
Once upon a time, we prioritised the expenditure of our national income in the areas of food production, affordable housing, education, health care, and public infrastructure. Now, we force our Government, through public popularity polls, to borrow so that we can fund our feckless life style. We ignore the advice of our most capable scientists, that we should spend effectively and economically.
Will it take national bankruptcy and a recession to return to sanity?
Zero-Power Air Conditioning
I was interested to see a TV interview with a benevolent entrepreneur, who has developed a temperature-controlled sleeping-bag, for the care of premature babies in under-developed countries. The temperature is stabilised by a removable segmented plastic bag, containing a special wax. The wax melts at 37C. Before use, the bag is immersed in hot water, so that it absorbs latent heat and the wax liquefies. The warm bag is then placed in the sleeping-bag, under the baby. The wax slowly solidifies, over a period of 7 or 8 hours, releasing latent heat to maintain a constant temperature for the infant.
The reversible transition between solid and liquid states, with change of energy, is known as a "phase change". We are all familiar with the use of a slowly-melting ice cube, absorbing energy to keep a drink cool.
Not so well known, is the use of eutectic chemical solutions, stored in tanks, to act as "energy accumulators" in passive temperature control systems. During the night, the solution changes phase, from liquid to solid, releasing energy when the chemicals crystallise. During the day, the crystals dissolve, absorbing energy. Telecom Australia (before it was privatised as Telstra) used this physical process to stabilise the temperature of equipment shelters, at remote locations. It was known as "passive air conditioning", because it used no power. I believe that the chemical solution was formulated to crystallise at around 25C.
Suppose that, following the lead of the inventors of the "baby bag", we produce segmented plastic film panels, filled with a eutectic solution, and tastefully decorated. These heat accumulators would look rather like bed-quilts. Mount each heat accumulator on a support of re-cycled rigid, insulaing plastic foam. Glue the panels onto the internal walls of a building. Ventilate the building at night, to crystallise the eutectic solution. Maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the day as the crystals melt. No pumps, no pipes, no power. Thermo-mechanical temperature-controlled actuators, or simple man-power, can open and close the ventilators.
We could really save power, without losing our cool! Any royalties payable for the production of the panels would, of course, be due to the charitable inventors of the "baby-bag", and would presumably be used by them for further aid to under-developed countries.
Who Needs Windows?
To the architect, windows are an undesirable feature of a building. They reduce structural integrity, interfere with building construction, and are expensive. In service, they leak energy, are the usual cause of loss of the building in bushfires, and are the easiest point of entry for burglars. We have windows only because they provide light in daytime, and allow us to see visitors and the outside world.
Most people now want a large screen TV, often hung on the wall for all to see. Do you know, the TV is now cheaper than a double-insulated window, blinds and curtains of the same size? If you're thinking of building a new house (particularly in a bushfire zone), or an additional room, or a hotel, consider replacing at least some of the windows with LED TVs and high-definition security cameras!
The Spin Mill Still Grinds
On October 6th. 2012, I published the following blog:-
The Christian New Testament lists many occasions upon which Jesus' opponents attempted to trick him into breaching Mosaic Law. Most famously, when they tempted him to speak out against the public execution of an adultress, he said "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone!", with the result that the mob hung their heads in shame and walked away.
Recently some, mainly female, parliamentary representatives of the ALP and of the Greens Party have embarked upon a scurrilous gossip campaign to portray Tony Abbott as a brutal misogynist. Clearly he is not a nasty person, in fact his relationships with females appear to be benign, deferential and respectful. This is certainly the personality which is affirmed by his family and associates.
When I was active in business, I learnt that support and respect was earned by positive action. The spiteful denigration of competitors invariably produces undesired results. Be aware that your dogs my turn around to bite you!
The Australian public is heartily sick of political game plays. Get on with your duty, which should be the Responsible Government of the Nation. For starters, stop televising Question Time in Parliament."
Ms. Gillard, if you seriously expect to lead your party to survival at the next election, act positively, and cease this negative back-biting.
Big Brother Is Watching!
As long as we need to guard against clandestine terrorist and criminal activities, we must allow our police and security services to have and to use the best technical facilities to monitor communications traffic. However, if we are to respect individual rights to privacy, the information which is gathered must not be divulged in the public domain. The "whistle blowers", who disregard their sworn security undertakings by publishing privileged information, deserve to be punished for their breach of trust.
I welcome Big Brother. I don't engage in criminal activities. I have no dirty little secrets. I have an effective "firewall" to protect me from unauthorised internet access to my computer system. I regularly run an anti-virus programme, to detect and remove "Trojan horse" and other malware programmes. Only one person, my systems consultant, has remote access to my network.
Personally, I choose not to participate in so-called "social web-sites" such as Facebook, and Twitter because, unlike the Press, they do not regulate the publication of anonymous, scurrilous, defamatory material. Instead, I identify myself in every item of personal correspondence or web publication.
I don't use the "Cloud" - why would I? Even mobile devices, such as mobile telephones, can have more memory storage capacity than I reasonably need, so why use an insecure, unreliable, slow method of data storage? I have a reliable network archival server, with duplicated disk drives in a RAID error-detecting configuration. I am very careful to avoid compromise of my network security.
Since our Government security services have the duty of care and a responsibilty to prosecute criminal activities, I would like to see them make better use of the results of their surveillance by paying more attention to abuse of the internet. Every day, I am subjected to "physhing" scams, in which criminals (or in some cases, fantasising school kids) attempt to learn my passwords and bank account details by posing as discount clearance stores, financial bodies, lending institutions, PayPal, Hotmail, etc. Or, why do we have so many "Nigerian" scams which still defraud Australian suckers of many millions of dollars every year? Why do I continue to receive blatant offers of child pornography, illegal dangerous drugs and counterfeit fashion accessories? Are any of the offers of "work from home" more than money-laundering or criminal emailing "mule" operations?
Any lonely person who engages in serious social contact over the web will probably fall victim to a confidence trick.
Although I have registered an excluded telephone service, I regularly receive unsolicited telephone calls from persons with foreign accents, who advise me that I have a serious problem with my computer. They ask me to logon to their web-site, and to authorise remote access to my computer, so that they may correct the problem. Almost certainly, they wish to attack my security defences. They usually ignore my response, that their telephone call is unauthorised. Now, I also tell them that I'm a feeble old man, who has no computer! They hang-up immediately.