Friday, 30 April 2010

Liberals are closer to reality than Labor – how strange!

On the front cover of today’s Age, there are forecasts that Australia’s population will rise as high as 36 million by 2050. Despite demographic problems in Europe, East Asia, Canada and New Zealand, it is simply impossible as most people carelessly or unknowingly do to apply the same logic to Australia. Tim Flannery argued in The Future Eaters that Australia can sustainably feed only 20 to 30 million people, and that ecologically it – under climatic conditions which I must emphasise as much more favourable than those prevailing now – should be supporting no more than six to twelve million.

What Flannery does not grasp, however, is that whilst Australia’s relative quality of life may decline, most people outside the intellectual community prefer it to the high-quality lifestyles of Europe and Canada. Economists who speak of “inefficiently high quality” are describing exactly the factors that lure so many immigrants to Australia:
How can this be? Isn’t high quality a good thing? Yes, but only if it is worth the cost. Suppose that suppliers spend a lot to make their goods of very high quality, but that this quality is not worth all that much to consumers, who would rather receive the money spent on that quality in the form of a lower price. Then this represents a missed opportunity: suppliers and buyers could make a mutually beneficial deal in which buyers got goods of somewhat lower quality for a much lower price.
Even should, as paleoclimate models predict, Melbourne’s climate become like the Simpson Desert by 2050, people would still prefer to live in cheap suburban housing which offers two to four times the space of flats in the cooler climates of Europe. People, especially those who birth future generations, when seeking low living costs for their families inevitably fail to consider the long distances travelled or untenably poor public transit. Thus, no matter how dusty and barren the environment in southern Australia becomes because of global warming, people will still want to live here for the same reason they moved in the past in huge number to cities with extremely hot climates like Phoenix and Tucson.

The only way in which Australia has any chance of halting its population growth and at the same time helping to diffuse the demographic time bomb in Europe, East Asia, Canada and New Zealand is to raise living costs. The difficulty with this is the surfeit of land for housing Australia has. If we exclude
  1. land covered by glaciers or permafrost where building is impossible or extremely expensive because of structural instability on ice
  2. steep land where building is expensive
Australia has orders of magnitude more space for housing than any European nation or New Zealand, and several times more than Canada. Thus, the non-intellectual majority who cares less about quality than cost is driven in what could be called a “heart drain” to Australia. It has left Europe, East Asia, Canada and New Zealand with a culture that is exceedingly selfish and shallow because its people prefer quality and specialised items sufficiently to possess zero time or space or money for nurturing future generations.

In the context of what I have been saying and The Age’s revelations at the top of the text, it is remarkably surprising to see a devoutly Catholic man like Tony Abbott appearing (at least) to be more rational about this issue than Rudd. Abbott has opposed Rudd allowing for an Australian population of 36 million, saying rightly that such a number is too much. Given his devout religious faith and opposition to birth control, that can only mean Abbott is far closer to reality about immigration.

Whilst we will have to see what Abbott would do for immigration policy, it is a good sign that people are awake to this issue.

Still, as I see it even Tim Flannery is not far enough when he calls for zero net immigration. Australia’s historical cultural similarities with Europe (at least “Germanic Europe”), Canada and New Zealand combine with our current climate crisis to make Australia potentially the best source of immigrants for ameliorating these nations’ demographic crises. For this reason, Australia should aim for net emigration, ie. negative net immigration. It would both solve Australia’s overpopulation and what in Canada and especially New Zealand can almost be described as underpopulation: their economies suffer in innovation and even in efficiency because there are so few people that more efficient systems of transit and electricity use are economically unviable. More than that, there is simply no fundamental difference ecologically that should require (southern) Canada and New Zealand to support lower population densities than Europe, although even in most of southern Canada the climate is admittedly very unpleasant.

On the other hand, it is hard for Australia to support even 3.6 million people - let alone 36 million – without major ecological damage. This creates a “win-for-all” possibility in trying to encourage net emigration from Australia, yet one never considered outside a few ecological circles and rarely even there.

Spin’s Top 125 Albums since 1985

To celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary, the popular rock magazine SPIN has issued a list of the one hundred and twenty-five greatest albums since 1985, when it first was published. teh full list is:

125: Moby; Play (1999)
124: Prince Paul; A Prince Among Thieves (1999)
123: The Hives; Veni Vidi Vicious (2002)
122: LCD Soundsystem; Sound of Silver (2007)
121: Queens of the Stone Age; Rated R (2000)
120: Lil Wayne; Tha Carter III (2008)
119: Green Day; American Idiot (2004)
118: Yeah Yeah Yeahs; It's Blitz! (2009)
117: The Flaming Lips; Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
116: Against Me!; New Wave (2007)
115: OutKast; Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)
114: Animal Collective; Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
113: Danger Mouse; The Grey Album (2004)
112: Interpol; Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)
111: Teenage Fanclub; Bandwagonesque (1991)
110: Spiritualized; Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (1997)
109: The Chills; Submarine Bells (1990)
108: Fugees; The Score (1996)
107: Coldplay; A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
106: Fiona Apple; When the Pawn Hits... (1999)
105: Massive Attack; Mezzanine (1998)
104: The Magnetic Fields; 69 Love Songs (1999)
103: M.I.A.; Arular (2005)
102: Queen Latifah; All Hail the Queen (1989)
101: Blur; Parklife (1994)
100: Kanye West; Late Registration (2005)
99: PJ Harvey; Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000)
98: Johnny Cash; American Recordings (1994)
97: Arcade Fire; Neon Bible (2007)
96: The Roots; Things Fall Apart (1999)
95: Soundgarden; Superunknown (1994)
94: Jane's Addiction; Ritual de lo Habitual (1990)
93: Chemical Brothers; Dig Your Own Hole (1997)
92: Jay-Z; The Black Album (2003)
91: The Smiths; Strangeways, Here We Come (1987)
90: Elliott Smith; XO (1998)
89: Basement Jaxx; Remedy (1999)
88: Jeff Buckley; Grace (1994)
87: The White Stripes; White Blood Cells (2002)
86: TV on the Radio; Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)
85: Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott; Supa Dupa Fly (1997)
84: LL Cool J; Radio (1985)
83: Steve Earle; Guitar Town (1986)
82: Dr. Dre; The Chronic (1992)
81: Wilco; Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
80: The Fall; This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)
79: The Breeders; Last Splash (1993)
78: Lauryn Hill; The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
77: Boogie Down Productions; Criminal Minded (1987)
76: OutKast; Aquemini (1998)
75: Björk; Post (1995)
74: Sleater-Kinney; Dig Me Out (1997)
73: The Pogues; Rum Sodomy & the Lash (1985)
72: Lucinda Williams; Lucinda Williams (1988)
71: Oasis; Definitely Maybe (1994)
70: Pearl Jam; Ten (1991)
69: The Stone Roses; The Stone Roses (1991)
68: Raekwon; Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (1995)
67: Tom Waits; Rain Dogs (1985)
66: Arcade Fire; Funeral (2004)
65: Eminem; The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
64: The Flaming Lips; The Soft Bulletin (1999)
63: R.E.M.; Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)
62: U2; The Joshua Tree (1987)
61: Smashing Pumpkins; Siamese Dream (1993)
60: Fugazi; 13 Songs (1989)
59: Belle and Sebastian; If You're Feeling Sinister (1998)
58: DJ Shadow; Endtroducing (1996)
57: White Stripes; Elephant (2003)
56: Aphex Twin; Selected Ambient Works 1985-1992 (1999)
55: Hole; Live Through This (1994)
54: Dinosaur Jr.; You’re Living All Over Me (1987)
53: The Cure; The Head on the Door (1985)
52: Kanye West; The College Dropout (2004)
51: Rage Against the Machine; The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)
50: Jay-Z; Reasonable Doubt (1996)
49: D'Angelo; Voodoo (2000)
48: Elliott Smith; Either/Or (1997)
47: Portishead; Dummy (1994)
46: N.W.A; Straight Outta Compton (1988)
45: Pixies; Surfer Rosa (1988)
44: Beastie Boys; Licensed to Ill (1986)
43: The Notorious B.I.G.; Ready to Die (1994)
42: Green Day; Dookie (1994)
41: Pulp; Different Class (1995)
40: Tricky; Maxinquaye (1995)
39: Public Enemy; Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
38: Run-DMC; Raising Hell (1986)
37: Liz Phair; Exile in Guyville (1993)
36: The Jesus and Mary Chain; Psychocandy (1985)
35: R.E.M.; Automatic for the People (1992)
34: Beck; Odelay (1996)
33: Björk; Debut (1993)
32: Wu-Tang Clan; Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
31: Massive Attack; Blue Lines (1991)
30: A Tribe Called Quest; The Low End Theory (1991)
29: Pavement; Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)
28: Radiohead; The Bends (1995)
27: Nirvana; In Utero (1993)
26: Guided by Voices; Bee Thousand (1994)
25: Nas; Illmatic (1994)
24: Metallica; Master of Puppets (1986)
23: Daft Punk; Discovery (2001)
22: Eric B. & Rakim; Paid in Full (1987)
21: Oasis; (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)
20: My Bloody Valentine; Loveless (1991)
19: Jay-Z; The Blueprint (2001)
18: The Strokes; Is This It (2001)
17: De La Soul; 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
16: The Pixies; Doolittle (1989)
15: Hüsker Dü; New Day Rising (1985)
14: Beastie Boys; Paul’s Boutique (1989)
13: Sonic Youth; Daydream Nation (1988)
12: OutKast; Stankonia (2000)
11: The Replacements; Tim (1985)
10: Nine Inch Nails; The Downward Spiral (1994)
9: Pavement; Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
8: PJ Harvey; Rid of Me (1993)
7: Guns N' Roses; Appetite for Destruction (1987)
6: Public Enemy; It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
5: Radiohead; OK Computer (1997)
4: Nirvana; Nevermind (1991)
3: The Smiths; The Queen Is Dead (1986)
2: Prince; Sign O’ the Times (1987)
1: U2; Achtung Baby (1991)

All in all, the list seems to me like a slight mess. There are representatives from almost all major genres, and it is difficult to say that SPIN is favouring any one in particular.

In many cases, not favouring a single genre must be seen as a good thing, because it allows readers to recognise that the critic has a reasonably wide knowledge of music. It was this facet that allowed me to give so much praise to Joe S. Harrington and David Keenan at the beginning of the 2000s. The trouble with SPIN’s list is that, in complete contrast to Harrington and Keenan, it appears as if the list has been far too much “cobbled together” so that the magazine’s thinking appears rather dis-united. This is a complete contrast with Harrington or Keenan, both of whom were very good at making hugely diverse music seem united.

If we exclude really obscure music, it is nonetheless not easy to fault most of SPIN’s selections. There are few obvious and popular omissions to be found. With the text added, it is quite a good read if not life-changing like Harrington proved for me over the years.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

History of very low behind tallies

One interesting statistic about footy that I have noticed is the occurrence in recent years of some very low behind tallies. When I first watched footy, behind tallies of 2 and 3 were extremely rare, but since 1994 they have become much more common, with at least one every year since 2006 - as opposed to not one from 1971 to 1986.

It is perhaps odd in this context that there has been no behind tally of just 1 in the period since 1994, when quarters were reduced in length. In fact, over all of V/AFL history there have been:
  1. five tallies of no behinds (most recent by Fitzroy in 1953)
  2. twenty-three tallies of one behind (most recent by Footscray in 1966 and Fitzroy earlier that year)
Behind tallies of zero, one or two were most common in the very early years of the VFL when scoring was low and the pace of matches similarly so. The season with most behind tallies of 0 or 1 was 1899 with five, and 1966 alone of the last 108 seasons has had more than one.

The first VFL season with no behind tally of 0, 1 or 2 was 1910.

The first with no behind tally of 0, 1, 2, or 3 was 1922. Since then, years with no behind tally of 0-3 have been 1923, 1926, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1941, 1950, 1951, 1957, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1998 and 2001.

At the other extreme, it can be noted that, whereas 1969 and 1973 had no goal tally less than six, there has been at least one behind tally of five or less in every V/AFL season. There have been six seasons with no behind tally from 0-4, namely 1926, 1951, 1973, 1978, 1985 and 1988. Of these, 1978 must hold the record, as it had only one tally of five behinds, viz:
Western Oval, May 20, 1978
Footscray7.2 (44)
10.3 (63)
12.5 (77)
14.5 (89)
Collingwood3.1 (19)
4.4 (28)
6.7 (43)
14.9 (93)

In 1976 there was also only one behind tally less than six, but it was the one behind tally of 0-3 between 1973 and 1978. (Both this game and the 1978 one were played on particularly wet days on the same round).
Western Oval, May 22, 1976
Footscray0.0 (0) 3.0 (18) 4.0 (24) 7.3 (45)
North Melbourne
7.3 (45)
8.7 (55)
11.10 (76)
14.11 (95)

During the very high-scoring running game of the 1970s and 1980s, Geelong (1971, 1972), Footscray (above), Melbourne (1979), North Melbourne (1980), Collingwood (1981), St. Kilda (1982) and Richmond (1987) all had scores of 3 behinds but no fewer. The day of Richmond’s 3-behind tally was the first round since Round 13 of 1944 (an amazing day due to the high winds) with multiple tallies of 0-3 behinds. Two scores of two behinds occurred in 1991 - one by Collingwood, one by Footscray against the Magpies.

A notable fact is that Essendon did not score 3 behinds or fewer in a match for sixty-four years or 1,349 matches between the following two games:
July 20, 1935, Junction Oval
St. Kilda 3.4 (22) 8.8 (56) 10.12 (72) 13.15 (93)
Essendon 2.0 (12) 5.1 (31) 8.2 (50) 11.3 (69)
July 31, 1999, Sydney Cricket Ground
Sydney 2.3 (15) 5.5 (35) 8.9 (57) 11.13 (79)
Essendon 6.1 (37) 11.2 (68) 13.2 (80) 15.3 (93)

Melbourne have not scored 2 behinds or less since 1915:
May 1, 1915, Brunswick Street Oval
Fitzroy 2.2 (14) 5.5 (35) 8.12 (60) 14.17 (101)
Melbourne 1.1 (7) 6.2 (38) 8.2 (50) 9.2 (56)

Richmond have not scored 2 behinds since their famous match with North Melbourne in Round 13 of 1944 where they lost scoring three more goals but nineteen fewer behinds. Richmond are also are the only team of the twelve active from 1925 to 1986 who have never scored one or no behinds in a match.

We need an Arbor Day – or a “Shrub Day” – rather than “Earth Day”

Recently, my long time contact Sharon Astyk - who offers a good look at the potential for a major global food crisis in A Nation of Farmers, a book which I bought whilst on holiday in Massachusetts last summer – has written two articles titled Why I Hate Earth Day and Why I Hate Earth Day II.

Astyk’s main focus is on the extreme commercialism inherent in the “Earth Day” programs, and how this offer no incentive to use less, which is the only answer to the ecological crisis we suffer. I do not think myself that extreme commercialism necessarily is the reason people use so much, for Australians – the most lavish and energy-inefficient people in the world – are exposed to much less commercialism than Europeans. The problem is that Australia’s dirt cheap cost of living – especially of electricity and fuel – means that people who are not at all greedy or selfish consume more than Europeans who are extremely so. My experience travelling abroad shows how Australians, who prefer low quality at a low price to more efficient and expensive toilets, showers and stoves, would have great trouble with any of the utterly essential suggestions of Sharon Astyk:
It involves using a lot less of that thing – cutting the amount of shampoo you use in half, and then half again and seeing just how little you can use and still have passably clean hair. It involves thrift shops and mending and creative reuse – and hard work and thought about whether you really need something.
As a frequent user of secondhand bookshops, I understand the value of thrift shops even though most of what they provide is anything but useful. I find that the Internet can be a very useful source of cheap and long-lasting goods – especially books. I also do know that I have over the years – fueled by the cheapness of living in Australia, most especially in suburban Melbourne – consistently used far more of everything than my mother tells me I should. It is too a certainty that I, along with the vast majority of Australians, would use less of everything from electricity to detergents if prices were less cheap.

Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with Astyk about the need for campaigns to use less - most especially in Australia – even more enlightening is Bill Kauffman’s article To Hell with Earth Day: Long Live Arbor Day! Although I have numerous reservations about Kauffman calling for tree planting in areas where, owing to the fertility of the soils, grasses and not woody plants were the natural vegetation, I agree totally with Kauffman that something useful must be done to protect the environment in regions where vegetation clearing has disturbed the ecology. Although clearing is by no means confined to Australia, the difference between Australian soils and all soils in areas from which temperate crops originated is such that its effects:
  1. salinity
  2. changes in hydrological cycles
  3. emissions of CO2
are much greater in Australia.

However, forests are likewise by no means natural in most of Australia. Only in the north and small areas on the east coast in rainfall adequate for forests, and in the north fires rule them out entirely except in a few gorges. Instead, the natural vegetation on the vast bulk of Australia outside of the crescent-shaped arc between Singleton and Birdsville where at least some soils are fairly supplied with phosphate, consists of shrublands with very deep and dense root systems that are extremely efficient at attracting water and nutrients. (In fact native Australian plants cannot thrive on European soils because they are too rich in phosphate.)

For this reason, I think that Australians must campaign for a “Shrub Day” in which participants work in
  1. revegetating degraded farmland and weed-infested land with native flora
  2. educating environmental workers about how Australian soils lead to the typical shrubby vegetation of most of the continent
  3. educating about what will happen as climate zones move poleward at a rate of 0.33˚ per year
  4. planning for at least this rate of climate change and possibly for more
These moves will do much more than the Earth Day celebrations to improve Australia’s environment. Astyk points out that work that has a long-term impact will do much more than a special celebration every day with the following analogies
And that's why I'm a skeptic about Earth Day and Earth Hour and anything that has you be green for a weekend or a day or an hour.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Storm controversy shakes nation

These last two days, I have had the biggest news since my return from the holiday in Europe and America - and probably for longer than that.

Rugby team the Melbourne Storm have been found to be rorting the salary cap through keeping two accounts. This process has allowed the Storm to hide $1,700,000 in excess player payments. These were made in increments of about $15,000 on game days under the guise of hospitality payments, and the club’s owner, John Hartigan, says that he believes the players did not recognise they were obtaining income from two separate sources. In fact, Hartigan says that:
“five people at the club knew what was going on”
As a results of the NRL’s findings, the Storm have received punishments that I find utterly beyond comprehensibility for doing so. They have lost quite literally everything in terms of premierships, and will be deprived of all points for games won this year - something I find extremely harsh given that:
  1. it could according to news I heard yesterday lead the Storm to refuse to play
  2. the loss of a strong-performing club would deprive the NRL of revenue and could serve to reduce crowds and even the audiences who watch on pay television (there is little free-to-air NRL broadcasting)
  3. it could ruin the NRL’s one successful effort to expand beyond the heartland of Australia’s population (Nowra to Bundaberg) and the Wet Tropical Coast
There would be those who even say that the NRL’s finding the Storm are rorting the salary cap is a natural consequence of the very existence of such rules.
The market has a pretty good way of sorting itself out. No thought has had to go into salary cap alternatives (you don’t have to be too creative to think of a few) because it’s now so entrenched – there’s serious doubt, however, that the salary cap would survive a legal challenge.

To say they player payments are not “subjected to an artificial limit” because they “play for a sum which is contractually agreed upon with the club” is simply naïve and does not reflect an understanding of how a free market works. Of course a contractual agreement on a maximum fee payable is an “artificial” limit when negotiated in the context of a salary cap. It’s a form of price fixing which we don’t tolerate anywhere else in the market.
In fact, the NRL has consistently been active in preventing salary cap breaches for a long time: the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs were stripped of a likely premiership for that reason eight years ago after having won nineteen consecutive games. It is easy for me to imagine that the future could produce even more secretive payments by the next power club in the NRL. What would the NRL do if it found out such breaches after more success than the Storm have already garnered?

Although one Julie says that salary cap should be challenged in the courts - and I know very well how the NSWRL’s player draft was struck down in 1991 - I recall reading when the issue of challenging the draft was discussed in the AFL that many believed a salary cap could be legal even if a player draft is not. It is probably for this reason that the Storm do not want to challenge the legality of the salary cap in court - besides fear that it would fail for whatever reason.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Century quarter aggregates

In V/AFL football, there have been 37 quarters during which 100 points have been scored. Such a feat, by any standards, represent exceptionally high scoring.

The first was when South Melbourne kicked 17.4 to nil against St. Kilda, the second in the opening round of 1934 between Essendon (8 goals 2 behinds) and Footscray (8 goals 7 behinds) in the first quarter at Windy Hill. Seven weeks later, Essendon kicked ten goals two to North Melbourne’s six goals two in a match that even The Age noted for its record aggregate score. The next century aggregate for a quarter was in the first quarter of the famous Melbourne/Geelong game of 1940, with the Demons kicking nine goals six and Geelong seven goals two.

With scores declining after 1942, it was 1970 before another century quarter aggregate was reached. It was the first second quarter to reach the century:
Richmond 2.4 (16) 13.7 (85) 16.11 (107) 23.13 (151)
Essendon 2.1 (13) 7.2 (44) 9.5 (59) 11.11 (77)

In 1975, Essendon and Carlton played the first 110-point quarter and the first quarter to exceed South Melbourne’s record team tally, at Windy Hill:
Essendon 5.1 (31) 9.2 (56) 13.3 (81) 15.5 (95)
Carlton 1.4 (10) 15.5 (95) 22.9 (141) 27.13 (175)

The first third quarter to reach the century occurred in Round 15 of 1979:
Melbourne5.3 (33)
9.11 (65)
17.17 (119)
24.23 (167)
South Melbourne
4.5 (29)
10.5 (65)18.8 (116)24.10 (154)

Note that the Demons’ score is the highest by a team leading with fewer goals at three-quarter time - in a year where no match was won by a team scoring fewer goals! The Demons were to have five weeks of quite remarkable scorelines beginning with this match, in the middle of which was their record 190-point loss to Fitzroy.

The first and only quarter to exceed 120 points was in Round 17 of 1983:
Fitzroy2.4 (16)14.10 (94)16.12 (108)20.18 (138)
St. Kilda7.6 (48)14.7 (91)19.14 (128) 22.17 (149)

Notable facts about the thirty-seven century-aggregate quarters are:
  1. The most in one season is four in 1989 and 1991
  2. The only other years with more than one are 1934, 1979, 1982, 1983 (three), 1984, 1988 and 1992
  3. The most recent was in Round 16 of 2007 in the first quarter between Richmond (seven goals four) and Port Adelaide (nine goals three)
  4. The most by one club in a season is three by North Melbourne in 1991. More than that, all were among only eight 110-point aggregate quarters, viz:
    Round 5, 1991, MCG
    Melbourne9.1 (55)15.7 (97)20.12 (132)28.14 (182)
    North Melbourne9.1 (55)12.6 (78)13.7 (85)17.10 (112)
    Round 6, 1991, MCG
    North Melbourne5.7 (37)13.12 (90)19.18 (132)27.26 (188)
    Sydney9.3 (57)19.6 (120)21.8 (134)21.8 (134)
    Round 22, 1991, Princes Park
    Fitzroy7.5 (47)14.9 (93)17.14 (116)22.16 (148)
    North Melbourne4.2 (26)14.6 (90)16.12 (108)21.21 (147)
  5. The club which has played most century-aggregate quarters is North Melbourne with twelve, followed by Carlton, Geelong and Hawthorn with seven each.
  6. Collingwood and Adelaide have played no century-aggregate quarters. Their highest quarter aggregate scores are:
    Round 11, 1983, Moorabbin Oval
    St. Kilda6.6 (42)11.8 (74)19.12 (126)21.18 (144)
    Collingwood5.4 (34)11.9 (75)18.14 (122)24.16 (160)
    Round 21, 1995, MCG
    Melbourne7.1 (43)11.1 (67)14.4 (88) 18.7 (115)
    Adelaide 4.1 (25) 15.4 (94) 22.5 (137) 23.8 (146)
  7. Footscray has played only three century-aggregate quarters; West Coast, Fremantle and Port Adelaide one apiece.
  8. The round on which most century-aggregate quarters have been played is Round 5, with four
  9. Of these four three were played by North Melbourne in four years - in 1988 against Hawthorn, 1989 against Richmond and in 1991 (above)
  10. The Kangaroos also played century-aggregate (third) quarters in Round 11 of both 1983 and 1984
  11. There has never been a century-aggregate quarter in a finals match
  12. Round 2 is the only one of the 22 home-and-away rounds constantly played since 1970 that has seen no quarter produce 100 points or more
  13. Of the 37 quarters with a total of over 100 points scored, five have been first quarters, nine second quarters, eight third quarters, and fifteen final quarters. (This is probably because it becomes easier to score when players are tired and less able to challenge an opponent with the ball)
  14. No round has produced more than one century quarter aggregate, though in Round 11 of 1983, the third quarter of the Melbourne versus North Melbourne game produced 103 points and the same quarter of the St. Kilda v Collingwood match was Collingwood’s highest scoring quarter on record with 99 points (above).
  15. Apart from South’s 1919 game with St. Kilda, the lowest-scoring match where one quarter had an aggregate score of 100 points occurred in Round 3 of 1984:
    Carlton 2.1 (13) 9.3 (57) 12.7 (79) 15.7 (97)
    Geelong 2.3 (15) 11.6 (72) 16.9 (105) 19.12 (126)
  16. Apart from St. Kilda’s failure to score in 1919, the lowest score by a team in a century-aggregate quarter occurred in Round 7 of 1983:
    Sydney7.4 (46)10.6 (66)15.6 (96)18.10 (118)
    Carlton1.3 (9)14.7 (91)15.12 (102) 22.17 (149)
  17. The four century quarter aggregates in 1989 and 1991 occurred on the same quartet of rounds, viz. Rounds 5, 6, 15 and 22
  18. Five of the eight highest (110 points or more) aggregate quarters occurred in Rounds 5, 6 or 7; vis-à-vis eight of the ten highest-scoring home-and-away games. (Most likely this tendency is a natural result of the climate rather than an accident, for even when scores of this magnitude have never occurred the highest aggregates have still occurred at the same time of year. An example is Carlton’s game with Footscray in 1954 where the Blues’ losing score was the sixth-highest of the season)

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Top ten tax cheats

Time magazine recently published a list of the worst tax dodgers, since in Britain it is time now to pay yearly tax reports.
  1. Al Capone
  2. Wesley Snipes
  3. Pete Rose
  4. Willie Nelson
  5. Richard Hatch
  6. Leona Helmsley
  7. Orenthal James Simpson
  8. Dionne Warwick
  9. Sinbad
  10. Walter Anderson
When I think of this list, I know that in Australia there have been allegations of tax evasion on a large scale by wealthy businessmen, but tax resistance - certainly to stop road building that should have ended Australia-wide twenty or thirty years ago - is something I actually vigorously defend and indeed feel could be the only option in certain circumstances.

Still, it is so hard to believe that these people - whatever might be said by extreme free-market economists - really have people's best interests at heart be evading taxes. There is precious little evidence that any of the tax resisters were using their money in a way books like the Politically Incorrect Guides would advocate: to help other people by means of the charities that they view as a necessary and desirable replacement for government handouts. Even Dionne warwick appears to do little more than charity concerts.

Willie Nelson seems to be the only one who might be seen as having any “justice” in his tax evasion. He was willing to repay when caught, and has played at Farm Aid ever since forming it with John Cougar Mellencamp in 1985. Unusually for a country musician, he is not politically right-wing, supporting the almost-radicla Dennis Kucinich in the 2000s.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Alan Cross' Ten Classic Alternative Albums

When I was looking through Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures as I prepare to assess their credentials for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I found that it was on a list of the Ten Classic Alternative Albums by a widely respected Canadian writer called Alan Cross published in fact as far back as 1995. People like “janitor-x” do give the impression that the heyday of alternative music occurred before that time, though.

The list was:
  1. The Velvet Underground and Nico by the Velvet Underground
  2. Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
  3. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie
  4. The Ramones by the Ramones
  5. Talking Heads ‘77 by Talking Heads
  6. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols by the Sex Pistols
  7. This Year’s Model by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
  8. Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division
  9. The B’52s by the B’52s
I cannot find the tenth album, but whilst the book from which it was taken, The Alternative Music Almanac, is one of the better-known music guides, the list does seem to have very little of note in it. Apparently, The Alternative Music Almanac contains a good deal of information about may other important bands that was not used by Cross in making his list.

Some books to read for the environment reader

Although I have never read Bill McKibben, I have long had considerable sympathy with the view he takes in books like Enough, where he argues that technology can have very destructive effects. I certainly know about the experience of farming on Australia’s Paleozoic-age soils even with the most careful technology has led, owing to its immense advantage in labour efficiency, to such destructive effects as the drying up of the Coorong.

Today, McKibben has made a short list of books he recommends for ecological reading. Having been familiar with some of these writers already, I can say that it is a worthwhile list to at least look at. More than that, the emphasis the books have on a sense of community the book have satisfies somebody who knows clearly that the public-based ecological model of techological innovation practiced in Europe is not likely to work. It is a simple fact that Europe’s culture today is quite literally free from any sense of community at all. This individualism means, as Eric Kauffman has shown, that Europe, East Asia, Canada and New Zealand, all of which can probably support population densities 100 times that of Australia for the same ecological impact, will face huge population declines.
  • Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
  • Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
  • Heart and Blood by Richard Nelson
  • Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
  • Plan B by Lester Brown
  • The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A huge day for our house

Today, for the first time in a long while, I, though very tired, was forced to be dressed at a very early hour because the worn deck that had been a pest for our house for the past few years was finally to be demolished.
As you can see from this picture, the wood of which the frame for the balcony was made was already completely rotted as of July 2008. Since then, more of the old, rotted wood has been lost, but before the man came there had been no change from 2008.

When I was dressed, my mother wanted me to make her a cappuccino, but I was, after days and days of getting to bed at 2:00, very tired and I returned to bed with my venetian blinds closed so that the carpenter would not see my unacceptable in-bed behaviour. after a while, I did get up and watched Sydney thrashing Essendon at the SCG from 1987. Whilst I was watching a match that set up some records that do not reflect that the Swans were really masters of touch football – watch how slowly they really were moving the ball – and could never succeed when opposed from in front.

After a while, I decided to seriously watch what the carpenter was doing, and the detail of what he did was very interesting:
  1. placing a pole about the deck to hold it in place
  2. pulling out the washing line so it was not broken by his electric saw. I had not known the washing line could be unfixed like it was: I had never tried to do so in twelve years living in Carlton
  3. removing the dark-timbered (hardwood) decking and placing it on the ground with nails “ajar”, that is, still in the wood but left with their points inside each piece.
  4. easing the rotted wood out of the wall, in the process revealing “natural” holes for nails
  5. placing the rotted wood on the ground, though separate from the dark hardwood
  6. using the pole and a spirit-level to judge when the wood was horizontal, placing the inside pine frame in place
  7. using a “nail driver”, fixing the inside pine frame in place
  8. fixing with the nail driver the outside parts of the pine frame
  9. replacing the hardwood decking with a hammer
  10. clearing up the rotted wood, so that only smaller splinters remain
My mother was extremely impressed at what the carpenter had done, and also that I had talked very little about him, never mentioning issues like the miracles of Thèrése Neumann which have been angering her. I was indeed more impressed at how well he was equipped: I think of myself as a part-time carpenter but have never been able to use anything more than old equipment from my now deceased father.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The paradox of the iPad

According to an article by one Nicholas Carr, the new iPad, which I had heard of during one of my increasingly rare visits to the television, is not so much a step forwards as a step backwards in technology. He argues that the iPad will make it much more difficult for creative people to actually do creating because its structure does not, as a personal computer does, permit easy creation of writing or drawing. This is because the iPad, like the iPhone my brother bought as a result of losing his mobile in Dàlián two years ago, does not allow for easy personal work, which I love (too much I think):
Hell, I still haven't gotten over Apple's removal of analog RCA plugs for audio and video input and output from the back of its Macs.
Cory Doctorow says rightly that the iPad is really like the second coming of the CD-ROMs I used to have in high school, being severely annoyed that I could not write on topics I was at the time obsessed with like old county cricket.

Carr, looking from a Luddite perspective with which I have a fair bit of sympathy despite being an obsessive user of computers, says again:
If Ned Ludd had been a blogger, he would have written a post similar to Doctorow's about those newfangled locked-down mechanical looms that distance the weaver from the machine's workings, requiring the weaver to follow the programs devised by the looms' manufacturer. The design of the mechanical loom, Ned would have told us, exhibits a palpable contempt for the user. It takes the generativity out of weaving.

And Ned would have been right.
I certainyl do not want to have my own work taken out of this. I have had ambitious, and developing, projects of writing fantasy (of a sort) for a long time, and know very well that even when a more-easily-replaced software item like AppleWorks goes out of produciton I have trouble even replacing it, let alone learning how to use the best replacement software available. I imagine adding new software to an iPad will not be by any means so easy as to a computer, even though the space is much larger than on the currently popular iPhone.

My mother is just as bad as my brother!

The fact that my mother and brother are able to say constantly:
“people need food and water”
in an effort to show that inedia as claimed of Thèrése Neumann cannot possibly be possible is something I can actually relate to. She says that evidence from hunger strikes shows that people cannot survive for more than forty days without food and water.

I actually do have a good deal of willingness to accept that it is not biologically possible for a person to live with such minimal nourishment as a wafer for fifty-three years (as is claimed for Marthe Robin) or thirty-six years as claimed for Thèrése.

On the other hand, I feel revulsion at the thought, as was discussed with my mother in the bathroom today, that if inedia were really possible:
  1. famine would be solved completely
  2. there would be no restaurants or food delicacies
  3. there would be no food production
Nobody who seriously think inedia is possible argues that its mere possibility among people who have quite severe illnesses means that inedia could provide a solution to food shortages among healthy people! I am rather stroppy that people don’t recognise the disabilities of every (supposed, if you are insistent) inedic and thus avoid ridiculous claims of how different the world would be if inedia were true. It tickles my imagination to think of a place where inedia is generally seen as possible, and I have never imagined it as so radically different as my mother does.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

A list by a conservative anarchist

Daniel McCarthy, a member of a growing group of "Tory Anarchists" whose views derive largely from early twentieth-century distributism, has here written a quite interesting list of the books that have influenced him the most.

With the exception of Virgil, none of the authors are familiar to me, but I still feel a sense of interest. This is most particularly true of Houellebecq, because I know very well that the best musicians of the post-punk era can teach an aware listener that trying to conform to expectations is rarely or never the best use of one's talent.

I have provided a basic quote from his review of each book to give an idea of why McCarthy thinks as he does, without being an absolute copycat.

  1. Robert Heinlein, Red Planet (1983). "ends with the young protagonist’s Martian friend having to leave his human society and rejoin his own people — something of a cultural particularist theme, perhaps?"
  2. Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1990) "improbably helped to shape his interests in poetry by introducing him to Samuel Taylor Coleridge…a year or two later Coleridge would be important to aimless teenage efforts to attain culture"
  3. Jerome Clark, Unexplained (1993) "great preparation for life on the right, since it fostered a love of weird folklore"
  4. Virgil, The Aeneid (1995)
  5. Romano Guardini, The End of the Modern World (2000) "a spiritual tonic and antidote to paleo-pessimism"
  6. Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles (2001) "a lucid commentary on the technological society, social atomism, and the failure the countercultural revolution - but from a refreshingly bitter lefty perspective rather than a smarmy right-wing one: the literary equivalent of postpunk"
  7. Andrew Bacevich, American Empire (2002). "evokes conservative and republican traditions of anti-militarism that have been long lost (and whose history is sketched in further details in Bill Kauffman’s Ain‘t My America) and the memory of a Midwestern progressivism that was all-American even as it was scathingly critical of U.S. militarism and corporate capitalism"
  8. Auberon Waugh, The Diaries of Auberon Waugh (2002) "Waugh’s capacity to mock anything in the name of judgmental freedom makes this book a bible of the Tory anarchist". The son of Evelyn Waugh, and both in real life and from astrology notably similar to his more famous father
  9. Robert Nisbet, Conservatism: Dream and Reality (2002). "gave a much better sense of how to fit things together and analyze the Right"
  10. Willmoore Kendall, The Conservative Affirmation (2008) "got him to take political theory more seriously and to look at theory and history in a new way"

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Interesting news on captive rhino failure

Today, a major rhino conservation site has stated that the first attempt at breeding the critically endangered Sumatran rhino in captivity has failed, but that this sort of failure is very common among rhinos in the wild - something I never knew or even suspected.