Thursday, October 28, 2021

Vaccinated, fully

Just had my second AZ vaccination for COVID.   Had my first on 5 August - the 3 month wait seems really long compared to the 3 weeks for Pfizer.

But I presume that in 6 month's time, I'll be getting a Pfizer or Moderna booster.

On the topic of COVID more generally, my early observation that that no one understands yet properly why the waves of infection come and go still seems accurate.     

Seems to me no one knows why Sydney and Florida numbers dropped away so rapidly, while Melbourne continues to struggle.   Singapore is having its own problems with getting back to "normal":

Singapore is looking into an "unusual surge" of 5,324 new infections of COVID-19, the city-state's health ministry said, its highest such figure since the beginning of the pandemic, as beds in intensive care units fill up.

Ten new deaths on Wednesday carried the toll to 349, after 3,277 infections the previous day, while the ICU utilisation rate is nearing 80%, despite a population that is 84% fully vaccinated, with 14% receiving booster doses.

Russia and Eastern Europe are having big problems, but with low vaccination rates, at least it is more understandable:

Russia on Monday reported 37,930 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, its highest in a single day since the start of the pandemic, as well as 1,069 deaths related to the virus. read more

Frustrated by the slow take-up of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine by its own population, authorities are introducing stricter measures this week to try to curb the spread of the pandemic.

I predict: there will be more somewhat puzzling rises and falls in COVID numbers in pretty fully vaccinated locations.


Max Boot is right

As Max writes:

“The Daily Show’s” Jordan Klepper did a horrifying and hilarious series of interviews with the Trump groupies who lined up on Oct. 9, amid Confederate flags and pictures of their hero riding a velociraptor and firing a machine gun, to hear former president Donald Trump speak in Iowa.

A woman in the MAGA hat and U.S. flag overalls denied that Trump supporters are a “cult” while saying, “I feel like whatever he spews out of his mouth, I just love it.” A guy denounced Democrats for “trying to divide [us]” while wearing a T-shirt showing Trump giving the middle finger to President Biden and Vice President Harris. An old-timer in a QAnon shirt insisted that Trump is still president and still in control of the military but denied that he should be blamed for what happened in Afghanistan.

This is appalling and insane. But there has always been a lunatic fringe in U.S. politics. In the 1950s and ’60s, the John Birch Society believed that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a communist agent and that the fluoridation of water was a communist conspiracy.

It’s true that, thanks to Facebook and Fox “News” Channel, nutty views spread faster and further than in the days when conspiracy theorists had to rely on mailing mimeographed manifestos. But the biggest difference between now and then isn’t the Republican grass roots. It’s the Republican leadership, or lack thereof. In the past, Republican leaders stood up to the zealots in their midst. Today, they stoke the flames of extremism — and wonder why they keep getting burned.


Oh look, a new Catholic disgrace

From Slate:

Last weekend, the leading voices of the QAnon camp gathered in Las Vegas to discuss the state of the world and the future of their movement. The prominent names in attendance at the convention included Jim and Ron Watkins, a father-and-son pair accused of inventing the conspiracy theory.

But the speech that ultimately garnered the most attention was by the actor Jim Caviezel, who is best known—at least among the conservative Christian crowd—for playing Jesus in Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ. Caviezel’s speech, which amounted to a literal call to arms against the liberal worldview, concluded with the proclamation that “the Storm is upon us”—a direct invocation of QAnon’s central conspiracy theory.

On Monday, Caviezel’s speech was quoted approvingly by a Catholic bishop. “All need to listen to this speech,” wrote Joseph Strickland, the bishop of Tyler, Texas.

While Strickland didn’t directly reference QAnon in his tweet, his critics weren’t surprised that he agreed with the sentiment. Strickland, who is 62, rose to prominence in the Texas Church while blogging about his daily jogs, priestly duties, parish goings-on, and his eventual elevation from priest to bishop under Pope Benedict in 2012. He has maintained his online presence since then, and while he is just one of some 250 bishops in the U.S., he has leveraged his platform to become one of the leading voices of the Catholic right....

Strickland has supported a nutty right wing reactionary priest:

As the Bishop of Tyler I endorse Fr Altman’s statement in this video,” Strickland wrote on Twitter in response. “My shame is that it has taken me so long. Thank you Fr Altman for your COURAGE. If you love Jesus & His Church & this nation…pleases HEED THIS MESSAGE.”

In subsequent videos, Altman said both climate change and COVID were hoaxes, made homophobic, misogynistic, and antisemitic comments, blasted Black Lives Matter and “cancel culture,” blamed Breanna Taylor’s death on her choice of boyfriends, urged Catholics to avoid the COVID vaccine, called the Jan. 6 insurrection a “false flag operation,” and accused Pope Francis of “betray[ing God] like Judas.” Strickland has only doubled down on his support for Altman, tweeting that the priest was only “in trouble for speaking the truth.” For a while, onlookers speculated that Altman would try to transfer to Strickland’s diocese for shelter.



Quarterly profits noted

Just a reminder about how much the tech giants make:

Google's parent company Alphabet announced profits Tuesday that jumped to $18.9 billion, even as the online colossus faces increased regulatory pressure and shifting of the lockdown lifestyles that have so benefited Big Tech. 

(That's a quarterly figure, by the way.)

And how do the other giants compare?:

Google's results came the same day that Microsoft announced a quarterly earnings surge fueled by cloud computing demand, saying it made a profit of $20.5 billion in the recently ended quarter. Revenue jumped 22 percent from the last quarter last year to $43.5 billion.

And a day earlier, Facebook announced that its profit in the third quarter grew to $9.2 billion—a 17 percent increase—and its ranks of users increased to 2.91 billion.

The strong financial figures came as the leading social network battles a fresh crisis since former employee Frances Haugen leaked reams of internal studies showing executives knew of their sites' potential for harm.

Twitter however on Tuesday posted a $537 million net loss in the quarter after settling a lawsuit alleging investors were misled about slowing user growth.

Despite revenue rising sharply with the help of robust ad sales, Twitter still posted an operating loss of $743 million, fueled by the more than $800 million settlement.

Just a reminder:  NASA annual budget - now about $23 billion.

The tech giants should really be building cities on the Moon by now.   Or at least a cave to keep Peter Thiel in.


A disgusting situation

The idiot supporters of Trump in Australia like to pretend that this doesn't happen - a cultist fascist American mob threatening violence against both Democrat and Republican figures who don't buy into their fantasy conspiracies that Trump won the election.  But it is obvious from reading extracts from their "free speech" forums (like Gab or Parler) that such threats would be being made continuously.

And how much effort is Republican leadership putting into dousing this fire?   None.

Idiots don't see the threat of fascism when its staring them in the face.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Still that big a deal?

The Guardian makes a big headline out of something that I thought was not meant to be such a big deal anymore:

A-League midfielder Josh Cavallo has come out as gay, making the Young Socceroo the only known current male top-flight professional footballer in the world to be out.

The 21-year-old announced the news in a lengthy and heartfelt social media post, which accompanied a personal video shared by his club Adelaide United, writing that he was “ready to speak about something personal that I’m finally comfortable to talk about in my life”.

I feel a little disappointed that it is no doubt inappropriate now to make the joke that I (as a person completely uninterested in the sport) assumed that they (soccer players) were all gay anyway.   [Sorry, but I still think that is a little bit funny when applied to the code full of the most overly dramatic acting seen on the sporting field.]  

But really, given that Ian Roberts came out as gay in [Googles the subject] 1995 (!) in the very blokey world of Rugby League, it seems a bit ridiculous that there is still that much attention being given to a guy not even born then who has grown up in the world of youth who are extremely accepting of gay relationships coming out as gay.

Or is it a case that I don't understand how unpleasantly macho the world of soccer really is?   

Don't know.

Update:  I just watched the social media video.  It's extremely slick and obviously professionally made, with dramatic looks thrown in despite it being clear he has had no problem with coming out.   It's hard to tell what younger people who are into "influencer" videos might think of it - maybe they won't mind that it's a media construct.  But I reckon some people (OK, like me) may think it's a bit too much, and would have thought more of it if it looked like something thrown together with the same message, but without the professional gloss.        


A wee space problem

Found this at, but I presume it'll be in the popular press soon enough:

SpaceX is taming some toilet troubles in its Dragon capsules before launching four more astronauts.  

The company and NASA want to make sure any toilet leaks won't compromise the capsule launching early Sunday from Kennedy Space Center or another one that's been parked at the International Space Station since April.

During SpaceX's first private flight last month, a tube came unglued, spilling urine onto fans and beneath the floor, said William Gerstenmaier, a SpaceX vice president who used to work for NASA. The same problem was recently discovered inside the Dragon capsule at the space station, he told reporters Monday night.

As a permanent fix, SpaceX has welded on the urine-flushing tube that's inside the company's newest capsule, named Endurance by its U.S.-German crew. NASA isn't quite finished reviewing the last-minute fix.

NASA astronaut Raja Chari, the spacecraft commander, said Tuesday that he has "complete confidence" in the repairs. SpaceX jumped quickly on the issue, he noted, with hundreds of people working on it to ensure the crew's safety.

As for the Dragon capsule in orbit, less urine pooled beneath the floor panels than the one that carried a billionaire and three others on a three-day flight, Gerstenmaier said. That's because the NASA-led crew only spent a day living in it before arriving at the space station.

More tweets of note on China, trade, etc


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Cosmetic surgery takedown

What a stunning piece of journalism on last night's Four Corners, hey?

You know what the shambolic surgery of that "celebrity" cosmetic "surgeon" kept reminding me of?   The gruesome eyeball replacement scene from Minority Report, admittedly on somewhat smaller scale.  

And, as usual, when I see great investigative journalism like that on the ABC, I keep thinking "how stupid are Sinclair Davidson and Chris Berg for running a vendetta against what's  now practically the only network that does great work like this.  It's like they want people to stay stupid and unaware." 

Personal mystery solved, nearly 30 years later

Way back in about 1993, I lived for a couple of years in a townhouse at Sunshine Beach, just behind Noosa Heads, a stunning part of the world.  

What became not so pleasant, however, were many of the summer months during which, at the very earliest start of a brightening sky, (around 4.20 am, due to no daylight saving - I just looked it up to make sure I wasn't mistaken), a single bird would sit in a neighbour's tree to the rear of my courtyard and make a loud call for about 30 minutes, continuously.  Then stop.

My bedroom was on the upper floor and faced the tree.  

It drove me nuts.  It was impossible to sleep through, and after being awake for 30 minutes at that time of morning, it's pretty impossible to go back to sleep again.  To get even 7 hours of sleep at night, you would have to be asleep by 9.30pm, which would mean no TV after, say, 9pm, which adults generally like to watch later than that.   And it went on for months.  I reckon it routinely cut down my sleep to less than 6 hours, so  I was just constantly sleep deprived in the summer.

Not only that, I couldn't even see the bird, and although I did try throwing something into the tree one morning (I don't recall what, but it wasn't anything dangerous to the neighbour), it was not to be dissuaded.

I asked at work if anyone knew what type of bird it was, not that that would have helped.  No one did.  And this was pre-internet, so going on line to see if anyone else was going nuts with a local avian loudmouth was impossible.   The only hope would be to ring a naturist on talk back radio, or something.

Anyway, fast forward to now, and my CNA subscription on Youtube throws up a story from Singapore about a bird that many people find particularly annoying for its early call:


And yes, that is it! That is the aggravating call from Noosa, nearly 30 years ago.

Do koels exist in South East Queensland?  Yes, they do:

Usually arriving in September, the Common Koel is a large migratory cuckoo which flies to Australia from New Guinea, Indonesia and possibly the Philippines. It breeds in northern and eastern Australia, mostly in Queensland and NSW, south at least to Sydney, where they are common in the suburbs. A few venture into eastern Victoria, and vagrants have occurred as far afield as Melbourne, the Murray River and Adelaide. They remain until March or April, when they return to their non-breeding grounds.

So not only had that bird ruined my sleep, it had probably travelled hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres to do so!

I hate them even more.

Maybe many other people know what this bird sounds like, but I never thought to go searching for it online since the internet made it possible.

But now I know.   The wonders of the modern age, etc.


Monday, October 25, 2021

I hope this holds

We really, really, need to let Labor run the Federal government again:

The Australian reports the latest Newspoll has Labor leading 54-46, out from 53-47 three weeks ago, from primary votes of Coalition 35% (down two), Labor 38% (up one), Greens 11% (steady) and One Nation 3% (up one). Scott Morrison is down two on approval to 46% and up one on disapproval to 50%, while Anthony Albanese is steady on approval at 37% and down one on disapproval to 46%. Morrison leads 48-34 as preferred prime minister, out marginally from 47-34. More to follow.

Update:  I mean, seriously, the government is a complete shambles:





Words of wisdom from the rabbit man


Saturday, October 23, 2021

Much ado about Mahler

So, I ended up going to a concert at the Queensland Conservatorium last night which featured Mahler's 5th Symphony.

I'm here to tell you:   I officially do not care for this composer's work.   I've heard something of his once before at a concert, but I forget what.  I think this is the first time I sat through a whole symphony, though.

I take it from the notes on the program that he was into creating innovative work that might not be understood for another 50 years.  Well, we've gone 120 years and I still don't get it.   

From what I can gather (and I am speaking a music illiterate who just goes to concerts and "knows what he likes," and then tries to justify his gut reaction later), the fourth movement (a string-y romantic love poem for his much younger wife) is famous, sort of conventional, and much admired.  It seems to have escaped my attention entirely until last night, but I thought it entirely underwhelming.   Why is it popular?

Out of the 5 movements, I thought the 3rd was the most interesting and pleasing.   As for the 5th and final movement - talk about a composition in search of a final climax!  There were so many points where it seemed to be building to an end, only to flitter away again.  I know, I have felt this about other classical pieces at times, but for this one it felt particularly acute.

The basic problem I have with the whole piece is the sense of a lack of direction, or structure, or ...something? There are portions that are good and pleasing enough (and pretty loud - if you like it when an orchestra gets dramatically loud [and I do] - there are some good bits), but the thing just doesn't seem to hang together in any pleasing way.  I think that some orchestral players may like the way he does give every part of the orchestra a big role at different times - the students playing last night seemed really happy at the end - but that's not enough to satisfy me, in the audience.

Happily, the internet being the internet, Google searching the topic "I find Mahler completely overrated" shows me that I am not alone - even people who don't understand why that 4th movement is considered good:

it feels like his music sounded better on paper than in reality.For example, the legendary Adagietto from Symphony no. 5 didn't move me that much - in fact, sounded kind of cliché to my ears.

(Actually, it didn't move me at all.)   

It would seem that Reddit contains a fair bit of pro- and anti- (or at least, not getting) Mahler argument, both sides saying they don't understand the other.   But it's good to find people much more familiar with music than me sharing what was just my gut reaction:

Often when I listen to something by him for the first time I have a hard time making much of it. There often doesn't seem to be an obvious sense of direction or a clear emotional implication at any given moment like you would find in Beethoven/Mozart etc.

Or this:

Also, I feel like a lot of Mahler's music doesn't have much of a sense of momentum. Yea, he might make this part faster or louder than that part, but music by composers like Bach, Beethoven, or Brahms, seem to have an intrinsic sense of momentum and development. Brahms never has to force the music to go from here to there, it just happens naturally. Something about Mahler's music feels forced to me.

Yes, exactly.

As for Mahler as a person, here he is, looking stern, as I guess all classical composers usually do:

 Curious things Wiki tells me about him:  

*   his parents had 14 children (!), a lot even in those days, surely;

*   he was big on German philosophy:

Mahler developed interests in German philosophy, and was introduced by his friend Siegfried Lipiner to the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gustav Fechner and Hermann Lotze. These thinkers continued to influence Mahler and his music long after his student days were over. Mahler's biographer Jonathan Carr says that the composer's head was "not only full of the sound of Bohemian bands, trumpet calls and marches, Bruckner chorales and Schubert sonatas. It was also throbbing with the problems of philosophy and metaphysics he had thrashed out, above all, with Lipiner."[18]

 (Maybe I can blame a fondness for Nietzsche as ruining his music...heh.)

*  What a surprise, he could be a jerk:

In spite of numerous theatrical triumphs, Mahler's Vienna years were rarely smooth; his battles with singers and the house administration continued on and off for the whole of his tenure. While Mahler's methods improved standards, his histrionic and dictatorial conducting style was resented by orchestra members and singers alike.[67] In December 1903 Mahler faced a revolt by stagehands, whose demands for better conditions he rejected in the belief that extremists were manipulating his staff.[68]

*  He did face a lot of anti-Semitism though, so he sometimes had reason to be cranky.

*  This was mentioned last night - he married a woman 19 years younger than him who was already a pianist and composer of some talent (they did some of her songs last night, as it happens), but as part of the marriage deal was that he insisted she stop composing.  As Wiki explained:

Alma soon became resentful because of Mahler's insistence that there could only be one composer in the family and that she had given up her music studies to accommodate him. "The role of composer, the worker's role, falls to me, yours is that of a loving companion and understanding partner ... I'm asking a very great deal – and I can and may do so because I know what I have to give and will give in exchange."[91] She wrote in her diary: "How hard it is to be so mercilessly deprived of ... things closest to one's heart."[92]

Anyway, that's it for my amateur take on a classic.   Maybe the Ring cycle ruined him a bit for me - classical music that was, more or less, going somewhere, even it if was 15 hours!  I see that in fact Mahler was big on Wagner:

Along with many music students of his generation, Mahler fell under the spell of Richard Wagner, though his chief interest was the sound of the music rather than the staging. It is not known whether he saw any of Wagner's operas during his student years.[14]

It says he became a leading interpreter of Wagner.  Did they ever meet?   Not exactly:

 It was on 02-03-1876 at a performance of Lohengrin in the Vienna State Opera. ... Mahler saw Wagner in the wardrobe, but as a young student (aged 16) and admirer he did not have the courage to talk to him. It was the second time Wagner conducted his Lohengrin.

Wait!   I was about to end this now meandering post, when I find that even his wife didn't think much of his work, and was very upset that he demanded she stop composing:

On her part, Alma moderately appreciated Mahler’s music: she wrote in her journal “As a composer, I do not believe in him very much”. When she received Mahler’s letter on Friday, the 20th of December 1901, her heart froze “Surrender my music? Give up the reason I have lived for until now? My first reaction was to refuse. I cried, I couldn’t help it, because I had just realized I loved him”. Alma finally said yes and agreed to give up her vocation – she would however keep a grudge against her husband her entire life.

Also - he once had a long consultation with Freud:

In 1910, he was shaken by an uncontrollable burst of depression when he discovered his wife Alma was having an affair with Walter Gropius. Divorce was out of the question. Mahler thus looked for help with Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. The treatment was too brief though (a sole four-hour discussion-walk) to show results.
Ah, just another typically dramatic life for a temperamental artistic type.   I mean, how many of them ever have a life that was simple and pretty straight forward?   "Met his wife at age 20, married and remained devoted to each other until his death at the age of 75, enjoying good health, financial success and the company of his family until then".  


Friday, October 22, 2021

A happy face

I'm lacking inspiration for a post, so....

Thursday, October 21, 2021

More on China

Agree with this, and note again how the Catholic Church is also on side with globalisation for poverty reduction.  Conservatives who think countries (and their people) should be left to rot because it might hurt Western economic prosperity do not follow Catholic social teaching.   

This is a test of Queensland luck, if ever there was

It's kind of incredible that Brisbane, and Queensland, have avoided extensive COVID outbreaks this long into the pandemic.

Given our charmed run, I wonder if this will break it, or if we will continue to have a semi-mysterious ability to avoid it, despite relatively slow vaccination rates...

Space based manufactured patriotism

As regular readers (all 4 of you!) know, I recommend people look at videos on China's propaganda news  network CGTN to get an idea of what the nation is thinking - or perhaps more accurately, what the government wants the nation to think.   (Or is it what the government wants other governments to think the nation is thinking? Who knows?)

Anyway, the advent of the recent semi-built space station is being used for what looks to Western eyes like some extremely corny and old fashioned manufactured patriotism.  Have a look at all the saluting and reverence at this press event where the latest three taikonauts were introduced: 


And then the send off ceremony when the blasted off a few days ago:


The thing is, it's hard to know whether the Chinese public is also cynically aware of how intensely media manufactured this looks, or are they genuinely swept up in this space based patriotism.  

I also am always amused at how they are obviously pretty good at this space stuff now,  except for an apparent inability to design sleek and futuristic uniforms and spacesuits.   These always look to me to pretty baggy and daggy to me - like they are still being designed with a left over Mao era vibe.

If ever they have a death on a mission (and surely they are bound to eventually), I hate to imagine the media dramatics that would be around the funerals.

The incremental future gets overlooked

I agree with the sentiment of this tweet by a science fiction author (who I don't particularly care for, but his tweet account is OK.)

I think it's the incrementalism of the change in technology that sort of blinds us to how different things are.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Too much information

I'm not entirely sure why this is important to physics, but still, here's the abstract of a study trying to estimate all of the information capacity of the visible universe:

The information capacity of the universe has been a topic of great debate since the 1970s and continues to stimulate multiple branches of physics research. Here, we used Shannon’s information theory to estimate the amount of encoded information in all the visible matter in the universe. We achieved this by deriving a detailed formula estimating the total number of particles in the observable universe, known as the Eddington number, and by estimating the amount of information stored by each particle about itself. We determined that each particle in the observable universe contains 1.509 bits of information and there are ∼6 × 1080 bits of information stored in all the matter particles of the observable universe.
But but - this doesn't include the information possible by how you arrange the elementary particles, does it?  It's all a bit confusing...


Against nuclear

I find it hard to fault the arguments in Greg Jericho's recent piece about why nuclear power is not the saviour for Australia.

I do tend to wish, however, that governments everywhere were trying to come up with very specific and concrete proposals as to how they are going to swap to all renewable energy in a relatively short space of time.   Making targets alone is not really enough.

Good grief


I do enjoy a good Allahpundit rip into Trump

This is about Trump's classless (to put it mildly) press release on the death of Colin Powell.   

It’s gratuitous since he wasn’t obliged to say anything about Powell’s passing. It’s narcissistic, turning Powell’s death into a complaint about Trump’s critics. It’s petty in that it’s unwilling to honor Powell’s accomplishments, of which there were many. It’s obsessed with media coverage, particularly how other figures are covered relative to how Trump himself is. And it’s dishonest inasmuch as Trump doesn’t actually care about the Iraq WMD debacle or Powell’s role in it. That was the low point of Powell’s public service and so it’s cited here opportunistically, to bolster Trump’s case against Powell to the reader. To 45, there’s only one test of a man’s value: Was he pro-Trump or anti-Trump?

If Powell had supported him, Iraq would have been forgotten and Trump would have celebrated his career.


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

We're dealing with idiots (or at least, fools), part whatever

The increased role of roof top solar

There was an article at Forbes recently that summarised a study which argued that the world could make significant inroads in clean energy by vastly expanding the amount of roof top solar panels - particularly in the densely populated parts of India and China, they argue.

I still say it should be a compulsory part of the building code in most of Australia, along with a minimum amount of home battery storage.   An extra $20,000 or so on your average build (which is around $300,000) isn't going to kill anyone, especially when you get the savings on electricity and gas costs.

Japan and zoning laws

Here's the video you always knew you wanted to see - explaining the loose Japanese zoning laws that allow for a very highly mixed use of land in very small spaces:


This guy's videos are always good and interesting.   He does make the interesting point at the end that the Japanese system seems both very capitalistic (allowing lots of freedom within a certain moderate set of restraints) but also sort of socialistic in the living spaces it develops (cars are not king; shops and facilities within walking distance - and neighbours living very close by - giving a sense of community).  

I think the key thing he perhaps misses here is that Japanese communitarian cultural values came first; its not as if the zoning laws created them.   And the Japanese are perhaps also inclined to just put up with certain inconveniences because of those values - such as people in apartments and houses living with loud talking drunks coming out of the pub or restaurant downstairs at 11.30pm every night to catch the last train. 

So, it's probably a mistake to think that such zoning would work as well in Western countries.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Well, duh

Today's life advice: wet your pods first

I like using laundry detergent in pod form.   They are convenient and not at all messy to use (well, subject to what I am about to say); it's easy to take a couple if you are going away for a few days and might need to wash clothes during the break; and they don't run any risk of gunking up pipes in the way the usual method of getting the detergent into a front load washing machine apparently can.    They're also very clear in terms of working out value, as there is a simple and direct cost per wash on the price ticket on the supermarket, given they have to show unit price.   (And by the way, they are a product on which supermarkets do this rotating specials thing continually - there always seems to be one brand which is on special for about 32 cent per pod, whereas the full price of the more expensive brands is close to $1.  I only buy them on the cheaper pricing.)

But, I have found with the new front loading washer in my house that they can sometimes get squished against the window/door and fall into the rubber seal crease at the bottom, and take too long to get properly dissolved.  This is because the way to use them in a front loader is said to be to put them in the drum and then load clothes on top of them.  But, front loaders add water slowly, so they can be stuck spinning around for a while before everything gets wet enough for it to burst, and in the meantime can they move into the worst location for water contact.

My life hint, after trying worse methods (such as cutting them with scissors, or squeezing them with a cloth in the machine 'til they burst) is to briefly rinse the pod you are about to use under cold water and then put it in the machine.  This seems to give the dissolving process a head start, and I have noticed that the detergent seems to be released quite quickly this way.  

I do actually like watching the start of the cycle in our front loading machine to tell when the detergent seems to be released.   Family members do think it rather odd when I do this, but we all have our special interests.  :)

You can thank me for this important life advice, and I look forward to being the new Jordan Peterson.

Update:  it didn't work this morning. :(

Further investigation required.

A very odd commentator

I only noticed this commentator because someone I more or less trust (I forget who now!) linked to one of his tweets, which sounded sensible. But man, I don't think I follow anyone else who swings so wildly between sounding more or less sensible, to just ridiculous. 

He is, I gather, a small government libertarian type, and as such takes a "a pox upon both your houses" attitude towards the political parties in the US. But (I am reminded very much of Jason Soon) the thing that really seems to agitate him the most is Left wing identity politics. Which, as I have been saying for years, is a bit nuts in terms of how to prioritise serious problems. 

Anyway, to illustrate my point of how wildly he swings, have a look at these examples. Is he always serious? I think so, but it's hard to tell. I would pretty much bet a $1,000 that he is single, though!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A self explanatory link

Update:  ok, here's a click-able link.  

Friday, October 15, 2021

Very naughty

Remember the early, quite funny, "Uncle Roger" video in which he took orders at a well regarded Singaporean food takeaway cafe at a market in London run by a young, blond, part Asian woman?   I didn't remember her name, but it's Elizabeth Haigh, and her reputation has just taken a serious nosedive after a cookbook she published has some pretty extensive plagiarism from another Asian woman's cookbook from 2012.

A long post giving examples is here.

It really does appear very blatant - and I would guess that the only way she could retain some credibility would be if it turns out it was largely ghost written, and the ghost writer is the one who did the copying.  I mean, that's not good, when you claim to telling personal anecdote;  but it's still a bit better than being the person doing the cutting and pasting with full knowledge.

Dog detective problem

I hadn't heard about this before:  the important role cadaver smell detecting dogs (and one dog in particular) have played in some American murder convictions - yet based on some very dubious science.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Modern parents and violence

A Sydney primary school has asked parents to make sure their children do not watch the popular Netflix series Squid Game, which depicts “extreme violence and gore”, because students are mimicking the games in the playground.
On what should I blame the modern parental de-sensitisation to violence being viewed by kids?   The parents themselves being de-sensitised by ever increasing violence in movies, TV and video games, I expect.

As someone who remembers as a child in the 1960's seeing some relatively B grade movie in the cinema (I forget what it was now) which featured a guy getting shot with a harpoon in his stomach, and feeling that was really kind of disturbingly violent, it is completely surprising to me that parents do not think that kids can imagine the effect of violence to a more visceral degree than adults.      

I haven't watched Squid Games.   I saw some of the violent first game while my daughter was watching it and thought it didn't look like my sort of thing.   I have seen commentary saying that it is worth watching even if it makes you uncomfortable, but I am not so sure.  I have never been one for the dystopia "games played to the death" scenarios.  Always seemed a bit silly to me.   Unless we're talking gladiator era stories, I guess.  

Billionaire has worries

 I do hope Gina is feeling isolated though.  I would expect she's been on the phone to Barnaby a lot lately.  He is giving the impression of feeling under pressure - and as I said in my last post, is this just because the government is being told bluntly by its top public servants that it just has to start being credible on the issue?   

Sounds plausible

I also assume, though, that part of the government's problem may be that there are absolutely no public servant heads prepared to advise them there is any plausible way to deny climate change is real and that Australia can go it alone in ignoring it.   Mind you, that has probably been the gist of the advice for years, but are they at the point of saying "Look, pretending to do something effective has become untenable"?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Some good guys winning news

Clive Palmer has lost his High Court battle with Western Australia in a challenge to a law which prevents him suing the state for up to $30 billion.


It was a colourful and unusual High Court hearing involving the mining magnate, running over several days instead of the usual one.

Mr Palmer's companies were represented by senior barristers but he represented himself, breaking down as he told the court he'd been personally targeted as a Queenslander.

The case harks back to decisions made by an earlier Liberal government about Mr Palmers's Pilbara Balmoral South iron ore project.

The project has never gained the necessary approvals, despite mediation.

And in news sure to cause claims of woe at the IPA and the assorted, sordid Catallaxy blogs, "contrarian" reef scientist remains sacked and uncompensated for his sacking:

Controversial Queensland academic Peter Ridd has lost a High Court battle over his sacking for disparaging remarks about colleagues working on the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Apart from anything else...

...why isn't anyone commenting on how the comic book artwork in that panel looks...bad:

I mean, what's with that jawline and cheek on the left?  Looks like it's made of metal instead of flesh.  

Anyway, Allahpundit explains that Josh Mandel, who sees the End of America because of a comic book only a handful of adult fanboys will read, is a Republican Ohio Senate primary candidate.  

Allahpundit goes onto explain that the conservative performative uproar is due to Superman being the ideal American (or alien identifying as American), and:

He’s great because he’s good, the personification of our idealized past. It’s no wonder then that Mandel and other nationalists would take special offense to the character now displaying a trait that was forbidden in the era when Superman became an icon. It’s a cultural affront insofar as it signals that the America of today is fundamentally different from the America of the “glory days” of the mid-20th century. That core grievance is the whole reason Trump and Trumpism became a thing, notwithstanding Trump’s own tolerant views of gays.

True, except its overlooking somewhat that the character is Superman's son, not Superman himself.  

Having a normal one in Aussie wingnut land (climate change and energy edition)

This comment appears at one of the offspring blogs of dead Catallaxy after a fairly ordinary (that is, by Rafe standards) post whinging about renewable energy:

Meanwhile, the rest of us are agog at how the Murdoch press has turned on a dime, no doubt confusing/dismaying its rusted on readers:


I haven't seen much on Twitter about how Sky News is covering this, only this, also from Kevin:

So, Murdoch is trying the tactic of populist anti-climate change advocacy on Sky News, while trying to convince readers in the most populist titles of print that its real and the government just has to act.  

How's that meant to make sense?   When can we expect the Sky News hosts to start attacking the editorial line taken by their companies print editors?    

And as for the government line, Katherine Murphy was nice and scathing on the weekend:

Keith Pitt, the resources minister, made headlines this week when he opened the boondoggle bidding on net zero. Pitt told Phil Coorey at the Australian Financial Review if Scott Morrison wanted agreement from the Nationals on a net zero target ahead of the Glasgow climate conference, he should put $250bn on the table.

Yes, that’s “b” for billion.

According to Pitt, if this transition was actually on, Australians taxpayers should bear the risks. Pitt floated a cartoonishly bad idea where taxpayers would underwrite the financing and insurance of fossil fuels – including for overseas-owned companies – all because naughty Australian banks weren’t inclined to make bad bets.

If you’ve missed Pitt’s parable of the bad banks, let’s recap that quickly: bad banks are now more interested in virtue signalling to their obnoxiously woke inner-city clientele than backing salt-of-the-earth fossil fuel projects in the regions.....

But before anyone could say Venezuela, Pitt’s Queensland Nationals colleague Matt Canavan – a former Productivity Commission economist now apparently estranged from capitalism – was out and about with a different parable.

Canavan told a mildly startled Kieran Gilbert on Sky News that Australians should be prepared to pay higher interest rates in order to stare down international financiers managing carbon risk in global markets. Canavan’s Big Idea™ was actually wilder than Pitt’s, but it attracted significantly less attention.