Friday, March 31, 2006

Resume Feedback

This posting is simply a place to accept feedback on my resume.
Just add a comment below. It'll get to me.

Thanks for your time.

Monday, March 27, 2006

United We Stand (Digitally Speaking)

When presidents and philosophers agree, how can mere mortals prevail?
(Looks like we're up Plato Strauss without a doubt ;-)

Torino Scale Downsizing

Refer to the Torino scale that assesses the risk of asteroid collisions.

  • Level 1 (green): Things have been pretty slack for me at work for some time. In fact, while I haven't been completely idle (blogging aside), I don't think I've done any fee earning work for the last two years!
  • level 2(yellow): From the start of the year, a number of other people have been commenting on the level of slackness.
  • level 3(yellow): A couple of weeks ago, the director's update noted the downturn in revenue.
  • level 4(yellow): last thursday, the next director's update was delayed until this morning. All staff were urged to attend.
  • level 5(orange): having had the meeting, we learn that 10-12 people are due to be shown the door. I'm not surprised. Just who has yet been decided but, given my fee earning contributions of late, it's not looking good.
Ah, well. If it does go to level red, it won't be more than an 8: I will only expect local devastation.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Go Go Georgiou III: The Challenge

According to an Age article, John Howard claims he will do nothing to undermine sitting liberal members facing preselection challenges.

Petro Georgiou, the current member for Kooyong, embarrassed Mr Howard last year when he introduced a member's bill to end Mandatory Detention. Mr Howard was forced to back down, something he is not used to doing.

He now faces a preselection challenge from Joshua Frydenberg, Mr Howard's former adviser.

Howard says of Frydenberg: "he is a very able person...and I certainly appreciate his abilities."

Howard also says: "I support all of my sitting members, and I would never do anything in a preselection campaign to undermine a sitting colleague."

In light of the first statement, do we believe this?
It all depends on how the term 'colleague' is defined.
Meanwhile, I never thought I'd side with Jeff Kennett!

A Tale of a Wiki (and a mongoose)

I have just got myself a wiki.

It's at Wiki Tiki Tavi.

Why get a wiki when I've got a blog for occasional mutterings?

The reason has to do with interlinking ideas and concepts. A blog structure is predominantly linear, with posts ordered chronologically. This is fine for jotting down ideas and opinions, and for allowing comment (not that I get many of them!). It is also great for RSS feeds. However, the format does tend to stifle any other directions I care to go.

It also means that older posts tend to get lost in the mists of time (although the dreaming knows: I still get a lot of Google hits for the 'Tools of Mischief', mainly by med students looking for references to H. Pyelori ... which probably means this post will be coming to prominence as well, now!)

I had actually intended to set up my own wiki site using pmwiki but, as the result of an initiative by someone who set up an area to discuss the predictions in David Brin's novel 'Earth', I was introduced to pbwiki (pb = Peanut Butter, as in 'easy as').

Five minutes later, I was wikiing!

I will still keep the blog going. It will be for comment on breaking news, and as a diary. The wiki will be for musings of a more 'timeless' nature.

As for the name? well, run and find out!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Yeah, Right!

Mr Bush is denying Iraq's former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi comments that Iraq is in a state civil war.

George hasn't had a great track record wrt Iraq. On this occasion I'm inclined to agree with him.
Iraq is not in a state of civil war: that requires civilian participation.
Iraq is in a state of anarchy, although I doubt Iraqis caught up in this mess will notice the difference.

Also, on defending his pal Rumsfeld, Bush claims that any war plan looks good on paper until you meet the enemy.

The problem is that this mess arose because Rummy didn't *have* a plan after the actual invasion. And I haven't heard much of one in the last three years.

It's no longer a matter of who's to blame but who's to move forward. Maybe it's time to let someone who does have a clue have a go?

One final snark from that post:
"I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong... No president wants war."

Well, Mr. Bush, all I can say is you're no president and there is no assumption! The Downing Street memos (July 23, 2002) have caught you out here in a blatant lie!...
"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Photos For a Terror Free Zone

Those attending the Commonwealth Games, be welcome!

Enjoy yourselves! Look around! Take photos!

Lots of photos! Of everything, and anything!
It probably won't thwart a terrorist attack, but it might provide the Police with a means of rapidly reconstructing events should one occur.

Sorry to bring such thoughts to the fore. Normal service will now resume...
Those attending the Commonwealth Games, be welcome...

Commonwealth Opening Ceremony

I had a couple of chuckles watching the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games last night.

I suspect these occasions are full of local gags that mean more to the locals than the bemused visitors. The set bits involving Melbourne icons may have registered: continual references to umbrellas were a constant reminder of the notorious weather (you were lucky folks: the rain held off, but only just). Flying trams(?!!) are a great idea to ponder in the next traffic jam, but the duck might have been a little obscure (ducks are a signature image of Michael Leunig, a local cartoonist with a very whimsical streak)

And I don't think many out of towners would have caught the dual significance of the guy carrying the torch who slogged across the Yarra on a slightly too submerged gangway to the bank!
  • Walking on water? It was Ron Barassi: a famous footballer of the seventies: the standing joke of the time being that a newcomer to Heaven was impressed to see 'Aussie Rules' being played, and noting the distinctive 'number 31 guernsey' commented "I see you have Ron Barassi playing!" ... "No." comes the reply. "That's God, but he likes to think he's Ron Barassi!"
  • Walking on water? The Yarra typically carries a lot of tannins and muddy sediment...suffice to say it is not the most pristine of waterways! It is typically referred to as the only river in the world that flows upside down. Another joke asks why Jesus didn't appear in Melbourne?... A: because walking on water would not be considered a miracle! (but it might explain Ron Barassi!)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Something Fishy in Iraq

I was listening to Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk (no relation AFAIK) on the ABC morning show last Monday (March 6). In between music selections and discussing his new book, the possibility of the threat of civil war was discussed. Fisk thought it unlikely, making two points:
  • civil war was *not* being fomented by Iraqis: it isn't in their history, and they are *not* a divided sectarian society. You only have to look at a blog like Baghdad Burning to see this.
  • civil war *is* being fomented via 'death squads' with the backing of someone having connections in the Iraqi government. Just who it is, Fisk didn't know (or wasn't willing to say). He commented that it 'was a very dangerous story'. (I wouldn't argue with that!)
Now, I've just noticed a BBC article: ' US envoy warns of Iraq civil war'. In it he states:
"The US ambassador to Iraq has said that continuing sectarian violence there had the potential to turn into civil war.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Zalmay Khalilzad indicated that the US had little choice but to keep a strong military presence in Iraq. "

Hmm! Using the threat of a (non-existent) sectarian based civil war that is being agitated for by non-iraqis with government connections as an excuse to keep US forces in place?

Who would want to do that?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

India and Uranium, and...

So, why would India need fissile material for its nuclear industry when it has a substantial fraction of the world's Thorium deposits?

Oh.... fissile material! The stuff that you can make go boom! (unlike Thorium)

And, bear in mind the 7-8 reactors India is *not* going to open up to inspectors.

I have a bad feeling about this...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Geek Musings: Mile High x20

The Liftport Group has had another success: a sustained robot climb to a mile high. This has prompted me to lay out a possibly absurd idea that has been bubbling away for a while now. Like most ideas, it won't do much good in the back room. So, here it is, for all to pillage and chortle over...

  • space elevators,
  • the stresses the ribbon has to be able to withstand,
  • how to reduce those stresses.

  • revenue streams.
  • high altitude balloons.
  • supplying those balloons with robots climbing up ribbons.

The irony being that:
  • only the first twenty miles of the ultimate journey is covered.
  • wind shear is likely to be a substantial fraction of the stresses to consider: especially when a category 5 hurricane drops by.
  • all wind shear occurs in the troposphere (ie the first twenty miles).

So, why not:
  • start the real journey *from* twenty miles?
  • place the base station/anchor above the troposhere?
  • suspend it from... balloons?
This gives you:
  • freedom from wind shear stresses
  • freedom to move around

Apart from the kneejerk 'that's a silly idea', I can think of more serious objections, like:
  • that's one big balloon!
  • that's a lot of (expensive) helium!
  • that's a long way to climb!

No problem:
  • a nominal 1000 tonne anchor weighs as much a 1E7 cubic metres of air at that altitude (I estimate pressure to be ~0.1atm). Think a cube of ~200m to a side: about the same dimensions as a city block. Big, but at 20 miles up, who's being crowded? Besides, use several balloons.
  • Yes, even at that altitude, that's a *lot* of expensive helium! So? Why use helium? Why use anything at all?
  • Since there are serious proposals to supply balloons at this altitude with robots climbing up ribbons anyway (or by visits from other balloons), I think this one is solved.
Err... suspending 1000 tonnes with nothing at all?
  • Nope, use a vacuum! You see, it's a matter of bouyancy, and an envelope whose interior pressure is 10% exterior pressure is as bouyant as if it were filled with hydrogen!
  • Pumping down to that pressure is a no-brainer, although the envelope needs to be braced to prevent it from collapsing.
  • The envelope material is the issue. Given that a one atmosphere pressure differential is something like 10 tonnes/m2, it needs to be something non-porous, very strong, and very light. Something like...ribbon cable!
  • One question arises, though: does one still refer to such an envelope as a 'balloon'?
It may not be feasible, it may not be practical. Hell, it may not even be original! (certainly I'm not the only one to have thought of vacuum bouyancy). Still, it's my idea, and it might be worth a short sf story. Just remember you heard it from me on this date*!

My opinions regarding patents was aired a while back so, yes, Liftport folks, if you find this through the wonders of Technorati before I post it to you, you can use it.
So can anyone else for that matter.

OK. Somebody can bring me back down to Earth now.
*Update: Tom Nugent of Liftport has kindly replied to my query. He tells me he's heard it all before, but that the notion has merit. I'm not really surprised it's been thought of before (dare I say: 'it's not rocket science'?...oooh! that one's probably done the rounds as well;-). Still, it's nice to find I'm off with the same load of pixies as a few other people!