Sunday, 29 December 2013

Guidebooks v the field: the case of female fairywrens

In the numerous guidebooks to Australian birds, I have always felt they are clear enough to allow quite easy identification of quite similar species after one reads carefully.

The classic case of this is the female Petroica species, which are identified largely by whether or not there is white in the tail or wing:
  1. Petroica rodinogaster has no white in the wing or tail
  2. Petroica rosea has white in the tail but not the wing
  3. Petroica phoenica has white in both the tail and wing
  4. Female Petroica boodang has a faintly scarlet patch on her breast, like the blue of female Malurus amabilis.
  5. Female Petroica goodenovii has a distinct red patch above her bill
When I had a look at the other female Malurus from a total of four guidebooks to birds of Australia, it seems as if one can generally identify the superficially similar dull-brown female (“jenny”) fairywrens by looking closely:
  1. Female Malurus melanocephalus and Malurus leucopterus are pale in colour,  yellowish-grey with no eye-ring. They can be distinguished because:
    • leucopterus has (a very pale) blue in the tail
    • melanocephalus has no blue in that tail
  2. Female Malurus lamberti and Malurus elegans are a greyish-blue above and have a dark greyish-blue tail. They can be distinguished because:
    • lamberti has an orange-chestnut-coloured bill
    • elegans has a black bill like male fairywrens
  3. Female Malurus pulcherrimus has duller greyish-blue upperparts, a bright blue tail and dark brown bill, lores and eye-ring of the same colour with no faintly white eye-ring.
  4. Female Malurus coronatus has a grey-blue head with a black bill and a deep chestnut patch next to that bill
  5. Female Malurus cyaneus and Malurus splendens are entirely brown with no bluish tinge, with a chestnut bill and lore. They can be distinguishedbecause:
    • cyaneus has a basically brown tail like Malurus melanocephalus
    • splendens has a blue tail, similar in colour to Malurus melanocephalus and Malurus leucopterus.
Female Purple-Crowned Fairywren (Malurus coronatus)
However, what these pictures show is that the recognition features that are show clearly in most guidebooks are of little field use in the heathlands where fairywrens are found. Most especially, the difference in colour between Malurus leucopterus and the other fairywren species found in Western Australia is not actually of that much value: if you look, the Malurus leucopterus appears equally grey vis-à-vis the other fairywrens. Also, the greyish-blue upperparts seen in Malurus elegans, pulcherrimus and lamberti from the guidebooks do not appear any different from the brown colour of splendens (which indeed is just as grey)! The easist to grasp from this is in fact female lamberti, because the bill and lores are so different in colour, though not to the same extent as in female Malurus coronatus, which is very distinctive with its faint purple cap, chestnut cheek and black bill.

The pictures shown for species found near Perth, and those at BirdLife (‘Fifty Shades of Brown’) are actually clearer in the field than guidebooks, or at least those guidebooks where fairywrens are not shown in real habitat. In fact, these pictures make one treat guidebooks with caution, though I have known to do this for some time despite their great value.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

The shrinkage problem for the Enriched World

This morning, there is an interesting article about an emerging and natural problem for an “industrial” Enriched World: that of urban shrinkage due to lowest-low fertility and/or large-scale out-migration.

These problems are inherent in a postindustrial Enriched World (at least practically) due to the combination of:
  1. extreme comparative disadvantage in non-mobile resources (agriculture, mining, forestry)
  2. limited flat land supply for maintaining replacement-level fertility
  3. high taxes demanded by the working classes since their formation and eventually enforced on governments after World War II further reduce the money available to form families
  4. inherent (at least in practice) large welfare states further reduce the incentives for women to have children
Despite this, there has generally been very little discussion of how the real Enriched (and Tropical) World will actually respond to urban shrinkage from lowest-low fertility or limited job opportunities.

In this context, although I was not able to read the full article, ‘How does(n’t) Urban Shrinkage get onto the Agenda? Experiences from Leipzig, Liverpool, Genoa and Bytom’ is a fascinating article to look at. It considers four European cities that in recent years have lost large proportions of their populations to these features and argues that policymakers do not take this into account.

However, I have not seen evidence of different attitudes by the real “policymakers” of the Enriched World – the working and welfare-recipient classes.

Urban shrinkage is no doubt easily accepted by locals who feel they can gain more space without losing the personal luxury items that are not obtainable in the more sparsely populated Australian suburbs where music listening and reading habits are comparatively exceedingly standardised.  The extremely materialistic character of welfare recipients will make them think population shrinkage is a good thing, because fewer people could theoretically spread the same wealth more widely.

However, each Enriched nation’s product of least comparative disadvantage does not remain such permanently. This is in severe contrast to Australia, Africa and Arabia where comparative advantage remains in the same specialisation – primary products – at all stages of development. It is difficult to see whether Enriched World governments will forever be able to cope with tax revenue loss from either departing industrial corporations or fewer working people. Personal luxury items which serve to define each individual in Enriched World cities are unlikely to provide the tax base people in these cities generally desire, and Enriched World politicians have enough dilemmas trying to maintain profitability and reduce debts without becoming vulnerable to an overthrow from the highly politicised – though outwardly peaceful – masses on which they depend. These masses fear that if regulations were dismantled and taxes reduced, they would lose job security, because secondary and especially tertiary industries are much more mobile than those sectors where Enriched World comparative disadvantage is greatest – agriculture and mining. This is made worse by their desire to spend so much on their favourite specialised consumer goods, rather than save for difficult periods.

Declining populations in many Enriched World cities have little hope to improve allocation of land, partly because the decline will mean more and more single-person households, but also because demand for high living standard will make people reluctant to ease development laws to permit more efficient use of land. In their book The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution, Barry Asmus and Wayne Grudem say:
“Just as environmental policies that are too lax [as in Australia and Africa today] allow for the careless destruction of the environment, so environmental policies that are too strict [as throughout Eurasia and the Americas today] prohibit wise use of the environment, as these restrictions also hinder economic growth”
These strict laws create problems for development of the large areas of steep land in Europe which surround cities built on tiny areas of flat land. If they were removed, it would be interesting to see if this steep land would be able to be used for anything other than recreation or wildlife habitat?? Most free-market urban planners (e.g. Wendell Cox) say nothing about whether urban housing can be built economically on slopes too steep to farm: if they can, there is, even allowing for erosion and other hazards, potential for dealing with the land shortage the Enriched World faces in a small way at least. Then, if the land shortage can be eased, so might lowest-low fertility, unaffordable welfare states, and a radically “selfist” culture – changes whose benefits I have noted before.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A special Christmas

This past few days have been wonderful for me inasmuch as my mother and brother have been together with me for the first time in four years. My brother during this period has lived in Singapore, Frankfurt am Main and Norman, Oklahoma working at various universities in subjects such as Asian Studies.

My brother had been home for ten days – after I had a terrible lockout which cost me $165 to get a locksmith and tired me out severely in a manner that is not good when the hot weather is coming – before Mummy came home and she said – rightly – that I was not nearly enthusiastic enough about seeing her return from Xī‘ān, but I forgave her for this swiftly.

I was very, very late in getting Mummy the bike, but experience buying my own bike a couple of months ago compensated for this delay quite well and consequently I was able to make a good decision. Once I had decided,  I called Mummy who was very excited, and even more so yesterday when I bought the bicycle home for her to see – though minus lock and helmet, which my brother bought soon after as we settled at home.
This is my mother’s new bicycle. It is the most expensive gift I have ever bought at $850 including helmet, panniers and lock, but it is one I had promised Mummy before Christmas and though about for a long time.

Today, we had a lovely Christmas dimmer – stuffed chicken, pork, beans and roast potato, along with a potato salad. I previously disliked potato salad, but seriously enjoyed this one totally. then there was a rally good Christmas cake and ice cream, which is very bad for my mass which has ballooned to over 130 kilograms or 20 stone on the old scale, but has made me feel much more “full” than I have in past years.

Comapred to recent Christmases, most of which have been spent in Singapore’s awful climate, this is the best I have had for a long time and Mummy talked at dinner about memories of which I – despite having a very good memory for most things – could not recall a thing about.

Monday, 23 December 2013

How Australia’s suburbs became a refuge from militant libertinism

The fact that during the Bush Senior Era Australia’s suburbs developed into a refuge from the militant atheism, radical individualism and radical egalitarianism that uniformly rule the Enriched World and most of the Tropical World is something that has grown obvious to me as I read and reflect upon what goes on globally today.

Still, seeing exactly how this happened and how long the political ultraconservatism of Australia’s suburbs has been a defining feature thereof is something quite independent of understanding why they became what they are.

Two articles I found studying The West Australian as part of a Wikipedia project I began in August to document WAFL seasons from as far back as possible provide more clues on this critical question than I had ever found before.

The earlier, ‘Penalise polluters, say Libs’, written in 1974 (I do not remember the precise date) is extremely revealing. Written to my ignorance by State Liberal divisions and severely criticised by Environment Minister “Moss” Cass, it said that – at a time when there might have been some opportunity to actually stop the severe environmental damage caused by Australia’s transport policies to Western Australia’s climate – that the government should cooperate with the States to conserve Australia’s resources, invest in beautification and foster public awareness of these problems.

Despite the fact that the policy of the Coalition was far more dreadful even in 1974 than I thought on first read, if it’s local branches were pushing for something less bad, it suggests that Australia’s masses might have been more concerned about their environmental impacts than they are now. Whether this reflects greater observation of ecological problems from tariff-supported local manufacturing or less concern about high interest rates, unemployment and housing unaffordability is not perfectly clear. My thesis is that, owing to the nineteenth-century rail systems still serving the current mortgage belt, they were not isolated from academic cultures as they are today and this may be a significant factor in mere demand for better environmental policy bilaterally.
The later article, ‘Most reject special land rights: survey’, dates from the twelfth of July, 1993 and a change in the perspectives of the majority of suburban Australians is clearly evident. The fact that “96 percent said Australia should develop its natural resources and minerals”, irrespective of the uniquely high environmental costs history has shown to be inherent in doing so, clearly shows that at this time, after punk, metal and rap had almost washed clean the values of the Enriched World, suburban Australia had become  a kind of cloister from “the world” – the extremely present-oriented and hedonistic music that swept over the Enriched World during my childhood. Natural growth of suburbs beyond a public transport system that extensive road construction rendered unprofitable isolated them from outsiders’ view, as seen in a Melbourne tourist guide which said clearly and calmly
“generally, there isn’t much that will attract you to the suburbs”.
Whilst a large number of people certainly found the values of the Boomers’ Enriched World highly reasonable, just, logical and sustainable, another potentially even larger number found them exceedingly difficult from an emotional perspective. The focus on science rather than people, the tendency to look at the abstract rather than practical and the consequent lack of usefulness of what many academics (myself included!) did at university, is something these people do no want.

They are quite different from my 1990s-era image of “working-class ‘Tories’” who swept Jeff Kennett to power in 1992 and 1996, being not macho and aggressive and loving motor racing and other violent entertainment. They are actually very selfless, charitable and the principle audience for the pop and country music that dominated stations like 3MP and the BAY back in the 1990s. Their dependence on low taxes and interest rates makes it very tough for them in the land- and lithophile-depleted Enriched World, where housing space is unaffordable for all but but the very rich and is severely restricted owing to powerful feeling of class envy towards that group.

This “community culture”, concerned with economics and the community rather than abstract ideas, made its home during the 1980s and 1990s in suburban Australia, and made its presence felt in Australian politics in two “waves” – the first in the 1990s and the second as I write.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A rare meal together with my brother

Although my mother has been in Xī‘ān over the past week, there has been the surprise of seeing my brother for the first time in a long while as a result of him working in Oklahoma and wishing to gain a prestigious job in Oslo. It has been wonderful to see my brother, though he still is extremely busy and the familiar tendency to sleep all morning is still apparent, although he says it is jet lag and that he has to get up every day to do much more serious work than I have ever had to.

As a result, though to my benefit after having to spend a whopping $165 to get back into the house after locking myself out through wrongly taking Mummy’s car keys without realising that she had taken away her own house key! it was terribly tiring for someone who was getting back into a better rhythm before this event, and it still effects me today even as I plan for a lot of Wikipedia work with very limited funds.

However, this Saturday, with the weather in Melbourne becoming much worse than its been (read “hotter” for “worse” if you do not believe me), I decided I should cook dinner for Jonathan for once and I was surprised at how much of a success I made of cooking some terribly old vegetables into a chicken stew. Jonathan really liked it - and in fact he helped whist I bought some new chicken stock so the stew could actually be made. I have a rare picture of it which I will show to see what you think:


Monday, 18 November 2013

Why Australia must be “sued into sutainability”

The elimination of the woefully inadequate carbon tax by the Abbott Government is depressing. Knowing as much as I do about the extremely low productivity, age and infertility of the Australian continent those with serious ecological knowledge would hope for better.

Nonetheless, is there a point in crying over something scientists can do nothing about??

The answer is no - we must look to alternative causes to see why Australia lags further and further behind the rest of the world in greenhouse emissions reductions, when its infertile soils, hot climate and high species diversity suggest firmly it needs to be moving further and further ahead. It is pointless arguing the toss: Australia will move away from sustainability as the rest of the world moves toward it.
This map, taken from the FAO site “http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/nr/images/resources/images/Maps/geonetwork/terrslope.png”, shows just why Australia has such a poor sustainability record: it has little incentive to be efficient with land and energy use due to its continuous and abundant very flat land.
The map above is based on the FAO’s map of median terrain slope, with the modification of cutting off cryospheric land as if it was above about 9˚ slope. Although my rendition is not perfect, it is striking how vast the areas of extremely low slope are in most of Australia, and how even the relatively steep areas of the east coast, the Kimberley and central Australian ranges are not highly “dissected”. The vast supply of continuous flat land northwest from the Main Divide is rivalled - and barely - only in the Amazon and Sahara under climates equally or more inhospitable, and there the flat land is far more broken and less economic for farming or housing.

This is why “feeling” types, strongly interested in other people and deep romantic relationships, are attracted to Australia’s suburbs, whereas “thinking” types who are interested in things and ideas more than people gravitate to Eurasia and the Americas, where dense populations and lack of space allow for intensive discussions but little room for nurturing families.

Countering the natural tendency for exploitation in Australia and conservation in the northern and western hemispheres requires a completely different line of attack.

The most likely method is to demonstrate why Australia is responsible for global warming even though its emissions are not yet a large proportion of the global total (though they certainly will be in the future). Per capita emissions, especially given the relative ecological energy consumption of Australian vis-à-vis Enriched World ecosystems, are enough reason to give Australia an exceptional responsibility for man-made global warming.

With time the power of the Enriched World to demand Australia pay its fair (large) share for the costs of man-made global warming abroad will decline. This makes the Kyōtō Protocol more of a failure than its sceptics think, and makes a complete rethink of policies all the more urgent. If Australia was made to pay or sued for demonstrable damages, it would completely alter its ultraconservative, pro-mining and pro-freeway politics at a stroke. The effect would be immense compared to the changes made of late in Eurasia and the Americas!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Why people compain about the weather - reversing the popular myth

I have for a long time thought it odd that people in places blessed with comfortably cool climates - even if they are gloomier than could be desired - complain so much about the weather. England and Seattle are the most prominent places where people are supposed to complain a lot about the weather, but Europe throughout is known for this type of talk. One person on the web whom I will not name says:
“if your country has better weather than England you’re not allowed to complain about it”
This statement is based on the assumption that most of the world has much better weather than England. Whilst this a common perspective, I would dearly wish people to think about it logically. England does have a rather gloomy climate with a large number of rainy days, but it does not have:
  1. extreme winds and heavy rainfall as is found in the tropical cyclone belts of Australia, Asia and the Caribbean
  2. extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous humidity as occurs in the summer or year-round in southern and eastern Asia, eastern North America, eastern South America, West Africa and most of Australia
  3. unpredictable and extreme droughts and resultant dust storms and stock losses as found in Australia and southern and Eastern Africa
    • nor does England have the huge flood flows that occur in wet years in Australia, where the Burdekin River, with a VMAD of around 330m3/s, can reach a flow equal to that of the Congo.
  4. extremely hot and dry weather with dangerous sun conditions, as found in the hot deserts on the eastern side of subtropical anticyclones
  5. extremely heavy snowfalls as found in northeastern North America and northern Japan
  6. extremely cold conditions as found in northern North America, Siberia, Manchuria, Mongolia, Central Asia and Antarctica
If one factors in all these conditions, it becomes apparent that the vast majority of planet Earth as we know it must have worse weather than England!

More than that, some of those other places known for complaint about the weather, such as Seattle, also have unusually clement weather with mild summers and damp, cool winters. Seattle is quite a bit sunnier than England at about 5.2 hours of sun per day, and is very dry and sunny in the summer with 10 hours of sunshine and only 17mm of rainfall in July: in fact Seattle’s longest rainless spell is over fifty days, quite a bit longer than here in Melbourne.

What this clearly implies is that people in England complain about the weather so much because they are, relatively speaking, spoiled by having it so good compared to most of the world. As I see it, between 80 and 90 percent of the world must have worse weather than England. When the weather becomes a little uncomfortable or what they do not wish for, Europeans are easily upset, in contrast to Asia, Africa and most of Australia or the Americas where people accept dreadful weather very willingly as they acclimatise to it and tolerate it. It certainly takes a lot to cope with an average annual top of 36˚C as in Wyndham, or with -20˚C winters and humid 25˚C summers as in Harbin, but those used to them will see them in ways that make them less awful then they are. For instance, the extreme seasonal contrasts of Manchuria - which can be life different planets in summer and winter - no doubt becomes extremely interesting to those who live there, as would the extreme fluctuations of drought and flooding cyclones in the Pilbara.

With this sort of variety, horrible climates become something other than subjects of complaint, whereas comfortable climates generally cannot be thus transformed.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

NME’s Top 500: A “repeat” of ‘Rolling Stone’ in 2003

Today, in the Bailleau Library, I had a look at “best albums” lists on a special scholarly site and saw that British magazine New Musical Express had only a few months ago written their own “Top 500”. The identity of its top album, which I have seen strongly praised and aggressively criticised (citing the Warlock Pinchers “Morrissey Rides a ****Horse” in the latter case), was enough to make me have a look, and here is the full list, with albums I own highlighted in pink.
#AlbumArtistHarrington’s
List
Keenan’s
List
1The Queen Is DeadThe SmithsNY
2RevolverThe BeatlesNN(Y)
3Hunky DoryDavid BowieN(Y)N
4Is This ItThe StrokesNN
5The Velvet Underground and NicoThe Velvet UndergroundYY
6Different ClassPulpNN
7The Stone RosesThe Stone RosesNN
8DoolittlePixiesNN
9The BeatlesThe BeatlesNY
10Definitely MaybeOasisNN
11NevermindNirvanaN(Y)N
12HorsesPatti SmithYN(Y)
13FuneralArcade Fire
14LowDavid BowieN(Y)N
15Let England ShakePJ HarveyNN
16CloserJoy DivisionYN
17It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us BackPublic EnemyYN(Y)
18LovelessMy Bloody ValentineNN
19Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m NotArctic Monkeys
20OK ComputerRadioheadNN
21My Beautiful Dark Twisted FantasyKanye West
22ParklifeBlurNN
23The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from MarsDavid BowieN(Y)N
24Exile on Main StreetThe Rolling StonesN(Y)N(Y)
25What’s Going OnMarvin GayeNN
26Pet SoundsThe Beach BoysYN(Y)
27ScreamadelicaPrimal ScreamNN
28Back to BlackAmy Winehouse
29Marquee MoonTelevisionYN(Y)
30Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)Wu-Tang ClanNN
31Dog Man StarSuedeNN
32Paul’s BoutiqueBeastie BoysNN
33Modern Life Is RubbishBlurNN
34Abbey RoadThe BeatlesNN(Y)
35In UteroNirvanaN(Y)N
36Blood on the TracksBob DylanNN(Y)
37Forever ChangesLoveYN
38Never Mind the Bollocks… Here’s the Sex PistolsSex PistolsYN
39London CallingThe ClashN(Y)N
40Unknown PleasureJoy DivisionN(Y)N
41Daydream NationSonic YouthYN(Y)
42InnervisionsStevie WonderNN
43Rubber SoulThe BeatlesNN(Y)
44The Holy BibleManic Street PreachersNN
45Parallel LinesBlondieNN
46DebutBjörkNN
47Strangeways, Here We ComeThe SmithsNN(Y)
48Hounds of LoveKate BushNY
49Sound of SilverLCD Soundsystem
50Dusty in MemphisDusty SpringfieldNY
51RumoursFleetwood MacNN
52Let It BleedThe Rolling StonesN(Y)N(Y)
53Station to StationDavid BowieN(Y)N
54Remain in LightTalking HeadsNN
55Sticky FingersThe Rolling StonesN(Y)N(Y)
56After the Gold RushNeil YoungN(Y)N(Y)
57The Man MachineKraftwerkNN
58Surfer RosaPixiesNN
59In RainbowsRadioheadNN
60Blue LinesMassive AttackNN
61The ClashThe ClashYN
62Blonde on BlondeBob DylanNN(Y)
63BlueJoni MitchellNN
64Highway 61 RevisitedBob DylanNN(Y)
65Automatic For the PeopleR.E.M.NN(Y)
66The BendsRadioheadNN
67(What’s the Story) Morning GloryOasisNN
68Astral WeeksVan MorrisonNY
69MurmurR.E.M.NN(Y)
70Up the BracketThe LibertinesNN
71HarvestNeil YoungN(Y)N(Y)
72TransformerLou ReedNN(Y)
73Bringing It All Back HomeBob DylanNN(Y)
74IllmaticNasNN
75DookieGreen DayNN
76DiscoveryDaft PunkNN
77White Blood CellsThe White Stripes
78SuedeSuedeNN
79Kind of BlueMiles DavisN(Y)Y
80Raw PowerIggy and the StoogesN(Y)N(Y)
81Trans-Europe ExpressKraftwerkNN
82TapestryCarole KingNN
83The BandThe BandNN(Y)
84Live Through ThisHoleNN
85Born to RunBruce SpringsteenNN(Y)
86GraceJeff BuckleyNN
87Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club BandThe BeatlesNN(Y)
88For Your PleasureRoxy MusicN(Y)N
89The Miseducation of Lauryn HillLauryn HillNN
90A Grand Don’t Come For FreeThe Streets
91Purple RainPrince and the RevolutionNN
92RadiatorSuper Furry AnimalsNN
93Songs for the DeafQueens of the Stone AgeNN
94Beggars BanquetThe Rolling StonesYN(Y)
95Spirit of EdenTalk TalkNN
96Fear of a Black PlanetPublic EnemyN(Y)Y
97The SmithsThe SmithsNN(Y)
98In the Aeroplane Over the SeaNeutral Milk HotelNN
99The LibertinesThe LibertinesNN
100Hatful of HollowThe SmithsNN(Y)
101Computer WorldKraftwerkNN
102The Soft BulletinThe Flaming LipsNN
103Electric LadylandThe Jimi Hendrix ExperienceN(Y)N(Y)
104FunhouseThe StoogesYY
105Rain DogsTom WaitsNN
106IVLed ZeppelinNY
107Rage Against the MachineRage Against the MachineNN
108PinkertonWeezerNN
109Darkness on the Edge of TownBruce SpringsteenNN(Y)
110Liege and LiefFairport ConventionNY
111DareThe Human LeagueNN
112Liquid SwordsGZA
113If You’re Feeling SinisterBelle and SebastianNY
114Kid ARadioheadNN
115BandwagonesqueTeenage FanclubNN
116ElephantThe White StripesNN
117The Lexicon of LoveABCNN
118Searching for the Young Soul RebelsDexys Midnight RunnersNN
119His‘N’HersPulpNN
1203 Feet High and RisingDe La SoulNN
121Selected Ambient Works 85-92Aphex TwinNN
122TechniqueNew OrderNN
12313BlurNN
124GracelandPaul SimonNN
125Live at the ApolloJames BrownNY
126Ill CommunicationBeastie BoysNN
127RamonesRamonesYY
128Urban HymnsThe VerveNN
129On the BeachNeil YoungN(Y)N(Y)
130Turn on the Bright LightsInterpol
131ThrillerMichael JacksonNN
132Dark Side of the MoonPink FloydNN
133John Lennon/Plastic Ono BandJohn Lennon/Plastic Ono BandNN
134Stories from the City, Stories from the SeaPJ HarveyNN
135The Marshall Mathers LPEminemNN
136Fever to TellYeah Yeah YeahsNN
137BlurBlurNN
138IllinoisSufjan Stevens
139DisintegrationThe CureNN
140Bryter LayterNick DrakeNN
141Natty DreadBob Marley and the WailersNN
142Histoire de Melody NelsonSerge GainsbourgNN
143DesireBob DylanNN(Y)
144Are You ExperiencedThe Jimi Hendrix ExperienceYN(Y)
145Odessey and OracleThe ZombiesNY
146Relationship of CommandAt the Drive-In
147Channel OrangeFrank Ocean
148NebraskaBruce SpringsteenNY
149Either/OrElliot SmithNN
150Original Pirate MaterialThe Streets
151DryPJ HarveyNN
152Deserter’s SongsMercury RevNN
153The La’sThe La’sNN
154To Bring You My LovePJ HarveyNN
155Music for the Jilted GenerationThe ProdigyNN
156Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in SpaceSpiritualizedNN
157PsychocandyThe Jesus and Mary ChainNN
158Two DancersWild Beasts
159Entertainment!Gang of FourNN
160XTRMTRPrimal ScreamNN
161The SuburbsArcade Fire

162The BoxerThe National
163Neu ‘75!Neu!NY
164At Folsom PrisonJohnny CashNN(Y)
165Let Love InNick Cave and the Bad SeedsNN(Y)
166This is HardcorePulpNN
167Lady SoulAretha FranklinNN
168DummyPortisheadNN
169Don’t Stand Me DownDexys Midnight RunnersNN
170Siamese DreamSmashing PumpkinsNN
171Fear of MusicTalking HeadsNN
172Songs in the Key of LifeStevie WonderNN
173IIILed ZeppelinNN(Y)
174I’m Wide Awake, It’s MorningBright Eyes
175Young AmericansDavid BowieN(Y)N
176Want OneRufus WainwrightNN
177Young TeamMogwaiNN
178The CoralThe Coral
179Miss E…So AddictiveMissy ElliottNN
180Germ Free AdolescentsX-Ray SpexNN
181Music Has the Right to ChildrenBoards of CanadaNN
182Everything Must GoManic Street PreachersNN
183Speakerboxxx/The Love BelowOutKastNN
184KalaMIA
185Paid in FullEric B and RakimNN
186The BlueprintJay-ZNN
187Isn’t AnythingMy Bloody ValentineNN
188A Love SupremeJohn ColtraneN(Y)Y
189A Wizard, A True StarTodd RundgrenNN
190Piper at the Gates of DawnPink FloydNN
191ElasticaElasticaNN
192Franz FerdinandFranz FerdinandNN
193GoldRyan AdamsNN
194Appetite for DestructionGuns‘N’RosesNN
195A Hard Day’s NightThe BeatlesNN(Y)
196Rattus NorvegicusThe StranglersNN
197Back in BlackAC/DCN(Y)Y
198Sign of the TimesPrinceNN
199Giant StepsThe Boo Radleys
200Last SplashThe BreedersNN
201Hex Enduction HourThe FallNN
202MaxinquayeTrickyNN
203Teen DreamBeach House
204BadMichael JacksonNN
205Straight Outta ComptonNWANY
206Slanted and EnchantedPavementNN
207PearlJanis JoplinNN
208RisqueChicNN
209The Kick InsideKate BushNN(Y)
21069 Love SongsThe Magnetic FieldsNN
211NightclubbingGrace JonesNN
212Youth and Young ManhoodKings of Leon
213One Nation under a GrooveFunkadelicN(Y)N(Y)
214Moon SafariAirNN
215MezzanineMassive AttackNN
216Power, Corrruption and LiesNew OrderNN
217Lust for LifeIggy PopNN
218Primary ColoursThe Horrors
219All Mod ConsThe JamNN
220AlligatorThe National
221Broken EnglishMarianne FaithfulNN
222Fever RayFever Ray
223Neon BibleArcade Fire
224Heaven Up HereEcho and the BunnymenNN
225Electric WarriorT. RexNN
226The DoorsThe DoorsNN
227ImagineJohn LennonNN
228Brighten the CornersPavementNN
229Metal BoxPublic Image LtdNN
230Aladdin SaneDavid BowieN(Y)N
231The ChronicDr. DreNN
232Songs of Leonard CohenLeonard CohenNN(Y)
233Down in AlbionBabyshambles
234BehaviourPet Shop BoysNN
235Murder BalladsNick Cave and the Bad SeedsNN(Y)
236SuicideSuicideNY
237The xxThe xx
238Show Your BonesYeah Yeah Yeahs
239Boy in Da CornerDizzee Rascal
240New Boots and Panties!!Ian DuryNN
241Ray of LightMadonna
242Off the WallMichael JacksonNN
243The Hissing of Summer LawnsJoni MitchellNN
244SmotherWild Beasts
245Fuzzy LogicSuper Furry Animals
246MTV Unplugged in New YorkNirvanaN(Y)N
247GlasvegasGlasvegas
248The Slim Shady LPEminemNN
249The Fat of the LandProdigyNN
250WeezerWeezerNN
251Surf’s UpThe Beach BoysN(Y)Y
252VisionsGrimes
253Exile on Main StreetPussy Galore
254Meat is MurderThe SmithsNN(Y)
255The English RivieraMetronomy
256This Year’s ModelElvis Costello and the AttractionsYN
257The Boatman’s CallNick Cave and the Bad SeedsNY
258Five Leaves LeftNick DrakeNN
259Yo! Bum Rush the ShowPublic EnemyN(Y)N(Y)
260The SpecialsThe SpecialsNN
261Live!Bob Marley and the WailersNN
262Criminal MindedBoogie Down ProductionsNN
263I Speak Because I CanLaura Marling
264Please Please MeThe BeatlesNN(Y)
265Celebrity SkinHoleNN
266A Rush of Blood to the HeadColdplay
267StupidityDr. FeelgoodNN
268ToddTodd RundgrenNN
269SkyingThe HorrorsNN
270The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation SocietyThe KinksNY
271LoadedThe Velvet UndergroundN(Y)N(Y)
272ParachutesColdplay
273The College DropoutKanye West
274GreenR.E.M.NY
275QuadropheniaThe WhoN(Y)N(Y)
276Ocean RainEcho and the BunnymenNN
277Reading, Writing and ArithmeticThe SundaysNN
278CutThe SlitsNN
279Trout Mask ReplicaCaptain Beefheart and his Magic BandYY
280DrukqsAphex TwinNN
281My Aim is TrueElvis CostelloN(Y)N
282Grand PrixTeenage FanclubNN
283Roxy MusicRoxy MusicYN
28413 SongsFugaziNN
285Midnight LoveMarvin GayeNN
286DustScreaming TreesNN
287Reign in BloodSlayerNN
288Music of My MindStevie WonderNN
289The Modern LoversThe Modern LoversYN
290Expecting to FlyThe Bluetones
291Younger than YesterdayThe ByrdsN(Y)N(Y)
292The New FellasThe Cribs
293High Land, Hard RainAztec CameraNN
294Myths of the Near FutureKlaxons

295DoggystyleSnoop Doggy DoggNN
296Let’s DanceDavid BowieN(Y)N
297Ege BamyasiCanYN(Y)
298Malcom McLarenMalcolm McLaren NN
29916 Lovers LaneThe Go-BetweensNN
300The Who By NumbersThe WhoN(Y)N(Y)
301World of EchoArthur RussellNN
302HomeworkDaft PunkNN
303Mingus Ah UmCharles MingusN(Y)N(Y)
304UFOrbThe OrbNN
305Every Picture Tells a StoryRod StewartNN
306The Freewheeling Bob DylanBob DylanNN(Y)
307Midnight VulturesBeckNN
308It’s a Shame About RayLemonheadsNN
309MetallicaMetallicaNN
310Countdown to EcstasySteely DanN(Y)N
311GuerillaSuper Furry Animals
N
312TreasureCocteau TwinsNN
313Frank’s Wild YearsTom WaitsNN
314SpiderlandSlintNN
315Cheap ThrillsBig Brother and the Holding CompanyNN
316Imperial BedroomElvis Costello and the AttractionsN(Y)N
317Grievous AngelGram ParsonsNN
318OG Original GangsterIce-TNN
319Who’s NextThe WhoN(Y)N(Y)
320SwordfishtrombonesTom WaitsNN
321Lost SoulsDoves
322This is HappeningLCD Soundsystem
323Bitches BrewMiles DavisN(Y)N(Y)
324Life’s Rich PageantR.E.M.NN(Y)
325Sea ChangeBeckNN
326I Can Hear the Heart Beating As OneYo La TengoNN
327MutationsBeckNN
328Yoshimi Battles the Pink RobotsThe Flaming LipsNN
329HeroesDavid BowieN(Y)N
330ThirdPortishead
331Kick out the JamsMC5N(Y)N(Y)
332HMS FableShack
333Band on the RunPaul McCartney and WingsNN
334Since I Left YouThe Avalanches
335…Like ClockworkQueens of the Stone AgeNN
336Raw Like SushiNeneh CherryNN
337The Grey AlbumDanger Mouse
338Ready to DieNotorious BIGNN
339TenPearl JamNN
340We Are FamilySister SledgeNN
341Closing TimeTom WaitsNN
342Lazer Guided MelodiesSpritualizedNN
343John Wesley HardingBob DylanNN(Y)
344Beautiful FreakEelsNN
345Punch the ClockElvis CostelloN(Y)N
346Low LifeNew OrderNN
347DirtySonic YouthN(Y)N(Y)
348WhitneyWhitney HoustonNN
349An Awesome WaveAlt-J
350BRMCBlack Rebel Motorcycle ClubNN
351Sweetheart of the RodeoThe ByrdsN(Y)N(Y)
352White Light/White HeatThe Velvet UndergroundYN(Y)
353Mclusky Do DallasMclusky
354Hot Buttered SoulIsaac HayesYN
355New York DollsNew York DollsYN
356BossanovaPixiesNN
357Copper BlueSugarNN
358Rock BottomRobert WyattNN
359We’re Only in It for the MoneyThe Mothers of InventionN(Y)N
360Room on FireThe Strokes
361A Nod is as Good as a Wink The FacesNN
362Hello NastyBeastie BoysNN
363DamagedBlack FlagYN
364For Emma, Forever AgoBon Iver
365Fresh Fruit for Rotting VegatablesDead KennedysNN
366Songs of Love and HateLeonard CohenNY
367Nights OutMetronomy
368Hail to the ThiefRadiohead
369Strange MercySt. Vincent
370Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, WhateverThe Cribs
371OdelayBeckNN
372AtomizerBig BlackNN
373There’s No Place Like America TodayCurtis MayfieldNN
374In the Wee Small HoursFrank SinatraNN
375Vauxhall and IMorrisseyNN
376Live at the Harlem Square ClubSam CookeNN
377StormcockRoy HarperNN
378Pink FlagWireYN
379The Boy with the Arab StrapBelle and SebastianNN(Y)
380Silent AlarmBloc PartyNN
381Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)David BowieYN
382Bridge over Troubled WaterSimon and GarfunkelNN
383Someone To Drive You HomeThe Long Blondes
384Elvis PresleyElvis PresleyYY
385Get Behind Me SatanThe White Stripes
386RevivalGillian WelchNN
387Combat RockThe ClashN(Y)N
388Happy SadTim BuckleyN(Y)N(Y)
389Le TigreLe TigreNN
390A Northern SoulThe VerveNN
391BurialBurial
392Beauty and the BeatEdan
393Dirty MindPrinceNN
394Chairs MissingWireN(Y)N
395De StijlThe White StripesNN
396L.A.M.F.HeartbreakersYN
397Reasonable DoubtJay-ZNN
398Everybody Knows This Is NowhereNeil YoungN(Y)N(Y)
399The Lyre of Orpheus/Abattoir BluesNick Cave and the Bad SeedsNN(Y)
400This Nation’s Saving GraceThe FallNN
40120 Jazz Funk GreatsThrobbing GristleNN(Y)
402Twenty OneMystery Jets
403VespertineBjörkNN
404No OtherGene ClarkNN
405Otis BlueOtis ReddingNN
406Rated RQueens of the Stone AgeNN
407Going Blank AgainRideNN
408Crooked Rain, Crooked RainPavementNN
409Tago MagoCanN(Y)N(Y)
410AnticsInterpolNN
411MadvillainyMadvillain
412Endtroducing…DJ ShadowNN
413Pills N Thrills and BellyachesHappy MondaysNN
414Dig Your Own HoleThe Chemical BrothersNN
415Chet Baker SingsChet Baker
416Merriweather Post PavillionAnimal Collective
4171977AshNN
418Electro-Shock BluesEels
419Let It Come DownSpiritualizedNN
420People’s Instinctive Travels…A Tribe Called QuestNN
421Radio CityBig StarYN(Y)
422Too-Rye-AyDexys Midnight RunnersNN
423Live at LeedsThe WhoN(Y)N(Y)
424The Joshua TreeU2NN
425Nancy and LeeNancy Sinatra and Lee HazelwoodNN
426GooSonic YouthN(Y)N(Y)
427Here Come the Warm JetsBrian EnoNN(Y)
428Born in the USABruce SpringsteenNN(Y)
429Bleed AmericaJimmy Eat World
430Scott 4Scott WalkerNN(Y)
431BadmotorfingerSoundgardenNN
432TindersticksTindersticksNN
4332001Dr. DreNN
434Steve McQueenPrefab SproutNN
435EasterPatti SmithN(Y)N(Y)
436MirroredBattles

437Dear ScienceTV on the Radio

438Aha Shake HeartbreakKings of Leon
439The FutureheadsThe FutureheadsNN
440Life’s a Riot with Spy vs. SpyBilly BraggNN
441ArrivalABBANN
442Al Green is LoveAl GreenNN
443Sometimes I Wish We Were an EagleBill Callahan

444ViolatorDepeche ModeNN
445TuskFleetwood MacNN
446The WarningHot Chip

447Diamond DogsDavid BowieN(Y)N
448Sci-Fi LullabiesSuedeNN
449AMArctic Monkeys
450Rid of MePJ HarveyNN
451Third/Sister LoversBig StarN(Y)Y
452The B-52sThe B-52sNN
453The House of LoveThe House of LoveNN
454The Writing on the WallDestiny’s ChildNN
455Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend
456September of My YearsFrank SinatraNN
457Black CherryGoldfrapp
458Yankee Hotel FoxtrotWilcoNN
459The Black AlbumJay-ZNN
460BleachNirvanaYN
461Generation TerroristsManic Street PreachersNN
462Master of PuppetsMetallicaNN
463PodThe BreedersNN
464Because of the TimesKings of Leon
465High VioletThe National
466The WWu-Tang ClanNN
467The IdiotIggy PopNN
468Chutes Too NarrowThe ShinsNN
469HollandThe Beach BoysN(Y)N(Y)
470GraduationKanye West
471Oracular SpectacularMGMT
472Mellon Collie and the Infinite SadnessSmashing PumpkinsNN
473A Storm in HeavenThe VerveNN
474Tarot SportFuck ButtonsNN
475Smoke Ring for My HaloKurt Vile
476Foo FightersFoo FightersNN
477Crystal CastlesCrystal Castles
478Trouble Will Find MeThe National
479The Real RamonaThrowing MusesNN
480I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love YouAretha FranklinNN
481SmileBrian Wilson
482Lady in SatinBillie HolidayN
483Blood and ChocolateElvis Costello and the AttractionsNN
484The RiverBruce SpringsteenNN(Y)
485Good Kid, M.A.A.D CityKendrick Lamar
486HomogenicBjörkNN
487Sound AffectsThe JamNN
488I’m Your ManLeonard CohenNN(Y)
489George BestThe Wedding PresentNN
490Back in the USAMC5YY
491ActuallyPet Shop BoysNN
492HiddenThese New Puritans
493BloodThis Mortal CoilNN
494The Head on the DoorThe CureNN
495Hot FussThe Killers
496AlbumGirls
497Random Access MemoriesDaft Punk
498BerlinLou ReedNN(Y)
499StarBellyNN
500StankoniaOutKastNN

What struck me when I compared this list with Joe S. Harrington’s from 2001 on Blastitude and the Rolling Stone list from 2003 is that the number of albums from Harrington’s list in this New Musical Express list is only one less than in Rolling Stone’s list (I haven’t checked agreement).

What this suggests to me is that New Musical Express, regarded in the past as less of a promoter of “popular” rock than Rolling Stone or Spin, is today no different from them. Writers like “janitor-x” have said that such magazines should ignore music that does not resemble 1960s music, like 1980s Metallica, Slayer, the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag, but this is hardly in evidence.

More than this, and probably more than with the Rolling Stone list, there is little consistency of any sort in the New Musical Express list, noted from when the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was at #87 instead of being at #1.

The treatment of the most famous “popular” singers and bands since the “punk revolution” is not consistent either: if Whitney Houston gets one album, should not all the popular “easy listening” singers since then do so??

More than that, those who have studied music for as long as I have – which dates back to my discovery of Harrington’s list by an accident on Google in 2001 – are so aware of the large number of omitted artists that I have decided to compile a list below of twenty omitted artists from the writings of Harrington, David Keenan and Piero Scaruffi. Whilst I am in no way certain that these are the twenty most deserving omitted artists, they would certainly change the list quite dramatically if added.
A Representative Album by Twenty Artists Recommended by Two or More of Scaruffi, Harrington and/or Keenan and not on NME list
AlbumArtistNotes
Free JazzOrnette ColemanAside from Davis, Coltrane and Mingus, these three were the giants of avant-garde and free jazz during the period it was the underground music
Spiritual UnityAlbert Ayler
AtlantisSun Ra
The Hangman’s Beautiful DaughterThe Incredible String BandEither adored or hated by most; NME omission understandable given the magazine’s history as a promoter of punk music.
Live DeadThe Grateful Dead
Easter EverywhereThirteenth Floor Elevators
The Parable of Arable LandThe Red KrayolaRegarded by some as more experimental and eccentric than Beefheart; have heard but cannot agree fully.
In the Court of the Crimson KingKing CrimsonRegarded frequently as the first and best progressive rock album; though progressive rock is generally disliked at NME.
The Marble IndexNico
Master of RealityBlack SabbathOriginally reviled, latterly revered and amazingly ignored by NME.
Faust IVFaust
Tyranny and MutationBlue Öyster CultArguable the first pop metal band, often ignored by critics.
The Dictators Go Girl CrazyThe Dictators
Wild GiftXCritically revered post-punk band
Ace of SpadesMotörheadCited as the precursor to Metallica by that band, yet ignored by NME and many others.
Minor ThreatMinor Threat
Double Nickels on the DimeThe MinutemenAmong most critically beloved bands of 1980s, but never dented Billboard Top 200
Charmed LifeHalf Japanese
Twin InfinitivesRoyal TruxAcclaimed avant-garde band of 1990s
Slow, Deep and HardType O NegativeFrontman Pete Steele died in 2010; band known for its gothic metal style with humorous but dark themes

Friday, 8 November 2013

Insulting as a child, but with hindsight funny

A few days ago, without seeing it in the post, I saw that my mother had found a letter to me from Front Porch Republic:
It amazed me that the writers mistook me for a woman with “Dear Ms. Benney”!

As a boy, I was often called a “girl” and many children at PEGS said loudly “Julien’s sex is a female” and that insulted me enough that I said “My sex is a male”/“My sex is a male” and the teasing boy replied “fe” when I said it. I felt that whoever was teasing me really needed severe punishment so they would never, ever think of doing it again; however none of my schools did a thing to stop kids teasing me, to the point that I felt physical fighting was the only way I could hurt them enough, although I knew myself as much weaker than the bullies.

With age, I feel as though it’s not nearly so insulting to be called a female as it seemed in the manly world of Bush Senior Era youth, brought up on bands like AC/DC or Guns’n’Roses who (implicitly) had an ideal of a world without women. This world, which approximates what the masses in the Enriched World want today, clearly is not sustainable given the large government debts universal in Eurasia, the Americas and New Zealand and the absence of natural resources with which to pay for them. Being depicted as feminine and soft is in that sense inherently countercultural in the Enriched World, and for this reason I have not responded to what Front Porch Republic did as I would have in school.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

‘Time’ is right

Today, Time is coming to a conclusion that I have done for a long time, although I do so in a very different manner from conventional wisdom. The magazine cites data from the science journal Nature that does a though experiment in which people were asked to invest money into a “climate account” whereby of they gave half their money to climate change advertisements, they were considered successful and were given more money.

What Time found, not to their own surprise, was that
“the more delayed the payout was, the less likely the experimental groups would put enough money away to meet the goal to stop climate change”
This certainly suggests people, even in those nations with the best environmental record (which corresponds practically perfectly to nations with least need therefor) are not willing to accept the short-term costs necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In countries like Australia and Southern Africa, such is obvious: dealing with climate change has serious costs for ordinary families:
  1. higher housing costs are an inevitable result of a rigid target for a carbon-neutral Australia
  2. privacy loss from having to make every journey on a crowded or semi-crowded bus instead of the privacy of a 4x4
  3. not having the choice to use the cheapest, but most polluting forms of energy or even of building materials for housing
  4. having to pay higher taxes to completely reverse eighty-five years of car-based transport policies
  5. having to revegetate farmland to return carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would mean higher food prices owing to the exceptional comparative advantage Australia has in agriculture (despite its extreme un-sustainability)
One might think the sacrifices required in energy- and land-poor nations of Eurasia, North and South America, New Zealand and most small islands would be much less. This, however, is misleading.

In the scheme of combatting climate change, the role of these nations (where in a free market energy consumption is restricted by the necessity for high-density and low-energy development) is not to develop renewable energy, but to enforce its development on Australia and Southern Africa. These latter nations have much higher per-capita greenhouse gas emissions, yet exceptionally fragile ecosystems due to their exceedingly ancient soils and low rainfall. It is extremely plausible that transition to a carbon-neutral economy in Eurasia and the Americas will be offset completely by increased Australian and South African emissions, and the environmental cost will be unquestionably greater than the same emissions from the Enriched World.

The job of the Enriched and Tropical Worlds is to stop the Unenriched World from exporting carbon emissions and pollution. Doing this will mean recognising how the Unenriched World, with its mineral wealth and comparative advantage in agriculture, has in the long term an unrivalled ability to pay for these costs – not to mention responsibility. Doing this will take away a large proportion of already-stressed government budgets from the Enriched and Tropical Worlds, which would mean:
  1. much less if any public welfare
  2. lower wages without wage regulations (which cost money)
  3. few or no goods from the Unenriched World (as it has to clean up its act on greenhouse emissions)
  4. more expensive finished goods as the Unenriched World’s raw materials are less available
  5. harder work for many people without welfare
However, a concerted plan to attack the source of the global climate crisis – the “Deep South” of Australia, Southern Africa and perhaps the Middle Eastern oil states – is the only way out. The absence of natural internal regulations in the Unenriched World means external regulation by demanding that external costs be paid 100 percent is the only way long-term global improvement can be made.

Friday, 11 October 2013

An unexpected shock from the cheap and nasty land

Although I had worried from my trip to Braeside described in an earlier post from a couple of weeks ago, the last three days have been traumatic beyond my belief.

The fact that I had carried my bike up a creek whose cleanliness I always doubted was a worry to me from the time I found the exit to Boundary Road. I was worried that the mechanisms had dirt but cleaned only the panniers (which were so dirty I had to clean them fully twice for improvement) and rode the bike as it was for some time. However, after a while noise in the rear wheel became so bad as to worry me severely, so that a week ago, thinking it was merely loss of lubricant, I decided to lubricate it to see if the noise would go. From the time I sprayed the oil, I knew something was wrong, but I never suspected just how bad. On Sunday, I decided I would take the bike to BSC Bikes to see what was wrong. I thought it would be a minor repair, but at first I found it would have to be new ball bearings on the pedal which would cost ninety dollars, then an oil change in the rear gear system for sixty dollars.

When I came in on Wednesday with clean panniers, I was expecting a finished bike but suffered one of the rudest shocks of my life. I was told that the rear gear system had rusted beyond repair, and on my request I was shown how badly it was damaged. I was amazed to still see the water in the gear train three weeks afterwards! I was told that there was an option of an eight-speed replacement wheel could be installed because the original seven-speed one was out of stock for four hundred and thirty dollars. I hesitated about accepting because the braking mechanism worried me: it involved pushing back to brake rather than the handle brake on my previous bikes. Consequently, I spoke to my mother about and looked for a new bicycle, though I live in fear I will make a similar mistake again and ruin bicycle after bicycle.

Two days spent - at least in the afternoons - in bike stores have clouded the problem even more. Even a little experience with a back-pedalling brake did not allieviate my fears at a time when I am desperate to have a bike at a cheap cost. It is a pity that I cannot either test it thoroughly to be sure it can work on my present bike, and a bike shop further south down Brunswick Street was really stern that there is no way I could make the necessary test at any store, and that a rental so I could have a bike whilst waiting the three months BSC Bikes had said a replacement gear train would take is virtually impossible. Moreover, I have no wish to live three months without a bike although I could save thousands of dollars compared to a new bike, which is almost certain to develop the same problems. The trouble is that Australia has such poor service that one often does not know when the item will come, whereas I imagine in Eurasia and the Americas this “three-month” wait would be so fast the replacement geartrain would have come to me today if it had been ordered on Wednesday!

Although I have found a few possible bikes at the upper end of my price limit, I am still worried about spending the money and realise decent service would eliminate the need. More than that, proper warranty I have always dreamed would ensure immediate replacement even when - as in this case - the damage is one hundred percent my own fault for never servicing the bike. Still, maybe even routine service would be in the long term far cheaper than the “shoestring” maintenance policy I have stuck to over the past two years! On the other hand, I always imagine superlative quality would ensure that this damage could be withstood with perfect ease, as well as that Australia’s apolitical, ultraconservative populace ensures shoddy quality is the order of every day.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Two fallacious plans

Over the past week, I found a plan that set about what is required to "halve" global greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, comparing a number of scenarios for various regions of the globe. Today, I found another, more critical plan that aimed to achieve the same goal regarding the aversion of global warming.

Of the two, the first is greatly more detailed and easier to commend because it focuses on a wider range of nations than the second, which looks only at China, India, the United States and Russia. However, the reality is that those nations are an extremely limited threat compared to Australia, for reasons I will tabulate below:
Country Area of non-cryospheric
land under 11˚ slope
Population Density CO2 emissions per capita Median virgin soil available P Median coastal
animal plankton density
Species richness (vascular plants) Species endemism (plants and vertebrates)
China 700,000 km2 1,200,000,000 1,714 7,200 kg 0.015% 1,000 mgm-3 31,000 25%
India 2,200,000 km2 1,050,000,000 477.5 1,610 kg 0.0075% 750 mgm-3 20,000 30%
USA 2,000,000 km2 300,000,000 150.0 14,000 kg 0.0075% 500 mgm-3 18,000 10%
Russia 2,000,000 km2 131,000,000 65.5 9,000 kg 0.01% 750 mgm-3 10,000 under 5%
Australia 7,400,000 km2 22,000,000 2.9 28,000 kg 0.0003 % 75 mgm-3 15,000 80%
Note: All values are approximate but should give an idea of how radically different ecological standards in Australia need to be
The table above should show very clearly the problems a focus on China, Russia, India and the United States is.

Firstly, their supply of land relative to population is small (Russia) to tiny (China), which creates incentives for efficiency in land use. Efficiency in land use via high-density development encourages low emissions since public transport can be more viable economically due to the high cost of road space.

Secondly, this limited supply of land makes it possible for a free market to effectively conserve resources, since most of the land in China, Russia, India and the United States is too steep or too icy to be used for farming or housing. This creates a natural system of conservation reserves without government interference. It is potentially superior to government-based systems, since governments may have a short-term focus on extracting resources from wildlife areas (e.g. timber, animal products) that a private owner would not.

Thirdly, the very high fertility of their soils and oceans means environmental destruction is repairable, because soil replenishment is continuous and vegetation grows relatively rapidly.

In Australia, by comparison, the last soil replenishment was 300 million years ago, so that if the fragile soil structure is destroyed by cropping it cannot replace itself. Australia’s vegetation also cannot grow rapidly on soils with negligible concentrations of P and chalcophile nutrients. Nonetheless, the extremely abundant land supply in Australia encourages exactly those land uses most likely to cause soil loss. Even with low yields, the supply of land is such that mechanised farmers can make profits unattainable in countries with expensive land. As input level increases, the ratio of yield from the Unenriched to that from the Enriched World increases, so the benefit of higher yields in the latter declines to insignificance. The next step in a free market - a step not taken because of its non-acceptance by the Enriched World’s masses - would be for farmers from the Enriched World to abandon farming and have the land converted to housing which would logically cause even more expansion of non-renewable farmland in Australia and Africa, with consequences that are likely to be severe because of the inherent unsuitability of their soils for exotic crops.

Also, for both economic and political reasons, there is no incentive in Australia to be energy-efficient. Rather, the incentive is to find the lowest-cost living possible, which tend to be exceedingly backward in energy-efficient practices (such as with the frequent use of 4x4s, expansion of coal-fired power, and extremely poor housing insulation leading to very high use of energy-guzzling air conditioners).

Lastly, of course is fertility and population growth. Whereas Russia, China and India are affected by lowest-low fertility, Australia has near-replacement fertility and Liberal policies are likely to increase it, especially if they “take the plunge” with welfare cuts that in the Enriched World would have them overthrown by revolution.

For all these reasons, along with the results of September’s election, there is no doubt that focusing only on the four “major” emitters is equivalent to a do-nothing policy. Australia must be a key part of all greenhouse negotiations and singled out for its extremely high per capita emissions if any hope of progress is to come.