Wednesday, 8 November 2017

100 years ago

Having been in the market for old Wisdens a lot lately – though only to improve issues where my extant copy is poor – it has long occurred to me that today marks the centenary of a critical death in the cricket world:
Colin Blythe, who died 100 years ago in World War I, was one of the greatest of spin bowlers and a great matchwinner and turnstile asset for Kent
Just as repetitive (or perhaps more accurately well-remembered and recited by myself) as the false rhyme “Mold bowled” (he actually threw) was in Wisdens from 1890 to 1902 is the phrase “Blythe bowled superbly” in Wisdens from 1901 to 1915. Colin Blythe’s left-arm spin bowling took over 2,500 wickets between 1899 and 1914, making him the twelfth-highest first-class wicket-taker, and his 70 ten wicket match returns is the fifth most of any bowler. Blythe’s vicious spin made him deadly on sticky or crumbled wickets, but with his deceptive flight and variations of pace he was in the 1900s frequently very effective on firm turf, especially with Arthur Fielder’s pace providing a sharp contrast at the other end. His resourcefulness was such that he enjoyed bowling to hard-hitting batsmen.

Blythe was over his decade opposed to Jack Hobbs probably that batsman’s greatest foe over his whole career. Hobbs averaged only 32.63 in innings opposed to Blythe, nineteen runs less than for his whole first-class career. In seventeen of thirty-six innings, Blythe got Hobbs out, and he made Hobbs watchful on the best of pitches.

On 1 June, 1907, Blythe achieved the best ever County Championship bowling analysis, when in less than three hours actual play he took seventeen wickets for forty-eight runs against Northamptonshire. However, the merits of this performance are easily called into question since the pitch was extremely slow and took extremely rapid spin quite unlike anything seen on today’s covered pitches. Moreover, Northamptonshire that year:
  1. averaged just 13.62 runs per wicket over twenty-one matches
    • to be exact the figures were 4,836 runs scored for 355 wickets lost
  2. never totalled over 264 in one innings
  3. never had any batsman play an individual innings higher than 81
  4. were dismissed on a sticky wicket by George Dennett for twelve runs all out ten days later
Nonetheless, I will give the full score of the game to just demonstrate what happened. Not a ball was bowled on the scheduled second day of May 31, and half the play was lost due to rain and wet ground on scheduled opening day May 30:

Kent:

F.E. Woolley b Driffield................26
H.T.W. Hardinge c Cox b East............73
James Seymour b Wells...................37
Mr. K.L. Hutchings b Driffield..........52
Mr. A.P. Day c Kingston b East..........23
*Mr. E.W. Dillon b East................. 4
E. Humphreys c Pool b Driffield......... 0
†F.H. Huish not out.....................19
W.J. Fairservice b East................. 9
C. Blythe c Vials b Driffield........... 6
A. Fielder b East....................... 1
Byes 2, leg-byes 1, no-balls 1.......... 4
TOTAL..................................254


Bowling: G.J. Thompson 15—1—76—0; East 33.2—6—77—5; Wells 6—1—34—1; Driffield 22—9—50—4; Cox 5—1—13—0

Northamptonshire:

†W.A. Buswell st Huish b Blythe......... 0 — c Woolley b Blythe............ 7
M. Cox st Huish b Blythe................ 0 — st Huish b Blythe.............12
Mr. C.J.T. Pool c Fielder b Blythe...... 0 — st Huish b Blythe............. 5
Mr. W.H. Kingston lbw, b Blythe......... 2 — lbw, b Blythe................. 0
G.J. Thompson b Blythe.................. 0 — c Hardinge b Blythe........... 1
W. East c Huish b Blythe................ 0 — c Huish b Fairservice......... 0
Mr. E.M. Crosse c Fairservice b Blythe.. 0 — c Hardinge b Blythe........... 2
Mr. A.R. Thompson c Seymour b Blythe....10 — c Humphreys b Blythe.......... 7
*Mr. G.A.T. Vials not out...............33 — b Fairservice................. 1
W. Wells c Humphreys b Blythe........... 0 — b Humphreys................... 0
Mr. L.T. Driffield b Blythe.............12 — not out....................... 1
Byes 1, leg-byes 2...................... 3 — Byes.......................... 3
TOTAL...................................60TOTAL.........................39


Bowling: First Innings — Blythe 16—7—30—10; Fairservice 12—5—17—0; Fielder 3—0—10—0 Second Innings — Blythe 15.1—7—18—7; Fairservice 9—3—15—2; Humphreys 6—3—3—1
That same year, Blythe took fifteen for 99 against South Africa on a wet pitch at Headingley – given the difference in batting strength likely a greater feat than his Northampton record from fifty days previously. It was 1908 and 1909, however, that saw Blythe at his absolute peak – he took 412 wickets in those two seasons, and carried a substantial burden on hard pitches with Fielder frequently unsound. In the 1910s, Blythe was not so good as before on dry pitches – the fast ball became more difficult with age – but so deadly was he on the many rain-damaged pitches that he headed the averages every year from 1912 to 1914.

In these early 1910s, Blythe was also almost certainly a critical factor in making Kent one of the few counties able to return profits year after year. For contrast, but for wartime cost reductions and the postwar boom Northamptonshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire – and very likely other counties like Derbyshire and Somerset – would have folded before the 1910s ended.

Whilst other factors like:
  1. Kent’s proximity to:
    1. London industrial patronage that allowed Kent – unlike most counties in southwest England – to maintain a significant professional staff
    2. a large body of cricket supporters in a very densely populated countryside
    3. a large body of wealthy businessmen and professionals who under the existing low-tax regime could afford time to develop the skills for top-class cricket and play it
  2. less rainy, hotter and sunnier summer weather than the wealthy northern counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire
certainly contributed, the presence of so resourceful and attacking a spin bowler was most probably a major spectator asset, and a larger asset than could be perceived from popularity with Kent supporters. The clearest conclusion from studying first-class cricket crowd figures is that attacking spin bowlingnot attacking batting – constitutes the essential requirement for first-class cricket to pay its way without subsidies from limited-overs forms of the game, or from wealthy patrons.

Class war of the world’s many

One comment today about last Sunday’s Texas school shooting by former Presidential running mate Paul Ryan said:
“What they need is meaningful gun control. Your prayers to the made up invisible being in the sky aren’t helping stop these repeated massacres.”
There may be scientifically a need for better laws or policies to deal with mass shootings, and prayers without action do do nothing. However, if one looks at the quote above, it becomes impossible to think they really care about shootings and only about having their own way – even if they earnestly and logically believe this selfish demand will reduce shootings, something evidenced in Europe and East Asia.

Nevertheless, this claim does not excuse the selfishness – underlying if not always or even normally explicit – in most atheist criticism of Christianity. By contrast, during the interwar period, belief that the secular working and academic classes were utterly and totally self-interested was throughout Europe a basic criticism of workers by the religious landowning and political classes. Today, in contrast, there is little belief in the United States that the growing, increasingly secular Millennial Generation is anything other than idealistic, nor that it is fighting a class war. Class war of the many is inherently opposed to hierarchical religion like traditional Christianity. A cosmology of equality before the law requires not that the worker have the tiniest political influence – indeed it regards workers’ lack of political power as divinely ordained because rulers are given power by God. Rather, it focuses on the moral obligations of rulers to ensure moral laws are in force, and more crucially, that the rulers themselves follow these laws. It is – I make no bones about this – fair to say that with urbanisation it became increasingly difficult for monarchs to be believed to be remotely satisfying these requirements. Even in medieval Europe the continent’s naturally intense class war was revealed via numerous peasant revolts. At that time, illiterate peasants could not understand philosophy – nor did the ruling classes allow them to – but no doubt envy was very widespread.

Nonetheless, one should not confuse cause for equality with selflessness. In fact, the two stand hostile to one another, because the masses demanding equality do not do so because they want sacrifices from the super-rich, but because they want to eliminate their own sacrifices. This drive is inherent in all class war, and no doubt has been a very important part of non-human animal social evolution within the Enriched World, where in many taxa there has been a strong trend from cooperative family group living to pair or solitary living with increased density of animal protein.

How to actually make the super-rich less selfish is another issue – as is whether the super-rich are inherently so selfish as the Left and Centre wish them to appear.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Forty years of my life

Photos collected by my mother of myself over my first forty years. Most are from my childhood when I was much slimmer and more red-headed
Today, as promised by my mother, there was a special fortieth birthday party for me – complete with a rebound original 1890 Wisden as a special present. Normally I could not be given so expensive a present as this $500 Wisden, but my mother agreed to for this occasion since she says forty years is the midpoint of my life.
The 1890 Wisden bought for my birthday. A pity that the image is blurred!
The 1890 Wisden is not only the oldest original Wisden I have ever received, but makes continuous my collection of peacetime Wisdens from 1881 to 1992. The 1889 season covered by it is notable for the debut of “the rhyme that lies”, a reference to Arthur Mold and the phrase “Mold bowled”, repetitive in the thirteen Wisdens from 1890 to 1902. Mold debuted to devastating effect in 1889 on a series of fiery or crumbled pitches, but he was considered by most neutral observers to be extremely lucky to bowl twelve seasons before being no-balled for throwing. Mold took over fifteen hundred first-class wickets and his speed and off-break made him unplayable when pitches crumbled or were sticky. It’s probable that the exceptional strength of English bowling in the middle 1890s – a strength rivalled only in the middle 1950s since – and his weakness with the bat helped Mold to get away with an unfair delivery for so long.
The original 1904 Wisden I bought myself. It contains the full book inside – I couldn’t show the pictures as the fingers are not mine!
Aside from the 1890 Wisden, I also received an original 1904 Wisden of exceptional quality and price. I did have a Willows 1904 Wisden, but receiving so good an original at such a price (it was discounted because of numerous blank pages at the rear which I find ridiculous).

The birthday was highlighted by a remarkable abundance of good food, as my brother came from Monash for both lunch and dinner. The lunch was a familiar supermarket roast chicken with stuffing, but I ate it up enough that I did not realise there was a little more chicken in the bag. There was a remarkable amount of cake – one older mandarin and almond cake, one lime cake and one pear and chocolate moose cake which was bought for the birthday of myself and my brother. All three cakes were delicious, the mandarin and almond cake made to test a new cake tin especially so.

We walked to the city after this, and I was bought a pair of very good sunglasses, after being laughed at for the sunglasses I had suggested earlier. Although I squint very badly in glary sunshine, I possess no experience buying sunglasses, but the pair I was given is certainly very good and fits me better than the pairs I was criticised for trying. I was by then quite tired, and after we went to Chemist Warehouse, we travelled home by tram.

The last part of the birthday was another highlight. We went to a small French restaurant in Rathdowne Street that – despite walking or cycling down the street countless times since moving to our present address nineteen years ago – I had never so much as seen! We were the only people in the restaurant, and although the food was very expensive the duck and orange sauce I had were utterly delicious! I have seldom eaten such tender and sweet food in my forty years!

During our time in the restaurant it was commented that I became nervous when others spoke consistently about topics not of interest to me – something highly perceptive because I know instinctively that it is very hard for me to listen to conversations on such topics! This was true even with subjects like the death of non-Mandarin Chinese dialects, or modern cricket, where I would have some hope of speaking with some knowledge. The restauranteur had had an unusual history, having lived in Singapore and England before moving to Melbourne.

The last stage of the trip before my brother left to go home was a gelati at a place in Lygon Street opposite the main shopping centre where I have done most grocery shopping for many years. I forget the name but enjoyed the mango and strawberry gelati very much.

All in all, this was a great fortieth birthday and I appreciate why we cannot have this every year. I also appreciate the problems I have had with my behaviour, which still do not go away despite my mother saying I am always improving.

Friday, 27 October 2017

John Farndon’s “fifty greatest ideas”

  1. The Internet
  2. Writing
  3. Contraception
  4. Music
  5. Use of Fire
  6. Abolition of Slavery
  7. Evolution by Natural Selection
  8. The Scientific Method
  9. Sewerage
  10. Computer Programming
  11. Hope
  12. Logic
  13. The Wheel
  14. Democracy
  15. The Zero
  16. The Telephone
  17. Vaccination
  18. Bread
  19. Feminism
  20. Printing
  21. Quantum Theory
  22. Electricity Grids
  23. The Self
  24. Arable Farming
  25. Calculus
  26. Government
  27. Marxism
  28. Refrigeration
  29. Simplified Chinese Characters
  30. Universities
  31. Laws of Motion
  32. Mass Production
  33. Romance
  34. Wine
  35. Coffee and Tea
  36. Pottery
  37. The Steam Engine
  38. Banking
  39. Copper and Iron
  40. The Sail
  41. The Welfare State
  42. Capitalism
  43. Qi
  44. Epic Poetry
  45. Honour
  46. Monotheism
  47. The Aerofoil
  48. The Stirrup
  49. Weaving and Spinning
  50. Marriage
This list, to me, is very much flawed. Even Farndon himself in writing The World’s Greatest Idea admits the flaws behind even sacrosanct ideas such as democracy, although he does not go nearly so far as Hans Hoppe or anti-democratic critics since the fourth-century Simon the Theologian have, or even mention them. It would logically be very valuable to distinguish good form harmful ideas in such a list.

There is also many things underrated or unmentioned in the list. #47 (the aerofoil, which permitted the airplane) should have been much, much higher given the direct and indirect impacts of aviation. The speed at which people can travel would be utterly impossible without aviation unless high speed rail could be developed or – as the PIGs often suggest – pay-as-you-go roads could be made to allow the speeds modern cars are capable of to be safely driven. #17 (Vaccination) and #27 (Refrigeration) should also have been much higher. Both affected the distribution of human settlement to an extreme extent and helped permit major social changes by allowing longer periods of individual development. #9 (Sewerage) falls into this category too.

#23 (The Self) and #20 (Printing) were inventions that allowed the growth of modern philosophy and of the European global empires, and thus I would certainly agree with them as potentially higher.

Fertilisers – which have meant that Australia has not only superabundant minerals but unlike the Gulf States also the ability to use hyperabundant flat land that is extremely deficient in essential thiophile elements evaporated by fire over tens of millions of years – are another omission. Modern fertilisers allowing land previously far beyond the “productive soil margin” to be cultivated have not only saved many lands from regular famine, but have also:
  • allowed the democratisation of numerous nations where large landowners were previously too powerful obstacles due to their fear of taxation, including:
    • post-Stalinist Eastern Europe (except Czechoslovakia)
    • all of Southern Europe
    • almost all of Latin America
    • Japan, Taiwan and South Korea
  • been a primary cause of the rapid decline of Christianity in these nations as the highly secular urban working and academic classes were not longer faced with economically viable political opponents
  • much more destructively had severe impacts on the ancient, slowly-speciating biological hotspot of Southwest Western Australia, where dirt-cheap land has been and continues to be opened for unsustainable farming with severe global climate impacts
  • had lesser but also severe impacts on sub-Saharan Africa, where it has increased comparative advantage in agriculture and retarded alternative economic developments that are undoubtedly more environmentally critical than in the Enriched World, Asia or Latin America
Fertilisers ought certainly in my opinion to have been in the top five. Even when Farndon talks about arable farming he does not recognise how a transformation from cultivating naturally hypereutrophic soils to geologically less unrepresentative oligotrophic ones is certainly so crucial as the invention of arable farming itself.

Film is another invention that should have been on there, as could its related invention Television. The influence of film on humanity since its invention cannot be denied. Apart from film and television as entertainment in themselves:
  • film has allowed the exposure of parts of the world that cannot be visited due to climate or politics
  • film has allowed the exposure to the public of scandals and secrets that in previous generations were never known. Whilst this may have made people more suspicious of authority and weakened communities, it has certainly made deadly corruption less likely
  • many sports (e.g. basketball and volleyball) would be very specialised interests without the aid of television owing to the specialised body types required
Organic pesticides – even if banned due to their persistence in the environment – were a major improvement on using un-selective and toxic toads to eat pests, or un-selectively poisonous and naturally extremely scarce lead and arsenic compounds to kill them. These pesticides were critical to the “Green Revolution” discussed in the previous paragraph and briefly hinted at in #24 of the book; however, the radical change they were to agricultural practices cannot be overlooked.

Electrolysis – which via its ability to isolate metals with powerful bonds to oxygen transformed Australia from a non-arable wasteland of uniquely low fertility into the planet’s richest nation – should have been in the top ten but was not mentioned at all. Electrolysis and the resultant ability to exploit metals more reactive than iron had an incomparably greater effect on the world than iron metallurgy. Without the ability to use metals more reactive than iron the Earth’s resources would have been exhausted at almost the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

I could probably think of a lot more omissions than these if I looked harder; however, I am not in the mood with so much to think about at present.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Reconciling ‘Time’’s contradictory impulses means recognising the planet as different worlds

Quite recently, Time magazine demonstrated that whatever the claims of vegetarians and vegans, humans are not naturally vegetarian. This is especially true outside of Australia and Africa, where human evolution to IQs capable of evolving to develop civilisation and advanced science was certainly dependent upon the availability of meat. With vegetarian or vegan diets, brains could have never grown larger than a gorilla’s.

Now, in an incomparably less original post but one I felt I should bog for the sake of fairness Time has shown that if the globe was to go vegetarian or vegan, then as many as eight million lives would be saved by completely eliminating meat from the global diet – and many more from ameliorating resultant climate change through reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

There is one trouble – how significant I do not know – with this familiar argument. This is that shifting to a vegetarian diet would further shift irreplaceable economic advantages towards less fertile nations – mainly in Australia and Africa. Even if they were only producing plant foods, the gains would be vastly less than theoretical. Either:
  1. the globe would need to adopt protein-deficient diets with health costs thereof or
  2. the densely-populated “fertile” Tropical World (tropical Asia, Mesoamerica, Andean South America) would have to become the protein bowl, which the free market clearly shows as exceedingly inefficient economically except at the lowest labour costs:
    • Tropical Asia, Mesoamerica and Andean South America are extremely short of land relative to population, even compared to Europe, North Asia and the temperate Americas – let alone to Australia and Africa
    • the resultant exceptionally large comparative disadvantage in agriculture of the more-developed and densely populated (sub)tropical East Asian nations
    • one recent study suggests this comparative disadvantage will spread with development to the rest of Monsoon Asia
  3. technology would have to be radically improved to allow first-class plant protein on ancient, poor soils.
    • it’s highly possible that inability to produce adequate plant protein even for small brains prevented indigenous farming developing in Aboriginal Australia.
Plant foods cannot be economically produced under the very high land prices of Europe, East Asia, Southern Cone South America, or the east and west coasts of North America. Moreover, in North Asia and most of North America, plant food production is uneconomic because of very short frost-free seasons and more often than not steep terrain. Whilst one might predict that global warming would improve the position of these lands in agriculture, in practice excessive regulation makes rebuilding (as farmland) the large areas of wasteland created by demographic decline in the Enriched World very difficult. Excessive regulation on land devoid of endemic species is likely demanded by “quality of life”-demanding Enriched World populations removed from the drudgery of farming or manufacturing.

Regulation of the environment is also related to the Enriched World’s powerful inherent egalitarianism (Cornwallis et. al., 2017; Kahan et. al., 2007) possibly because the natural glacial/interglacial climatic changes disrupt the maintenance of such social structures (Cornwallis et. al., 2017).

Because most of Europe’s and all of Canada’s flora and fauna is only 8,000 to 10,000 years old and sourced respectively from the Mediterranean and American South, conservation of these regions has no ecological value whatsoever: all species conserved there will become extinct with the next glaciation! Moreover, as Weir and Schulter (2007) have shown, sister species in North America and the Southern Cone are two orders of magnitude younger than similarly related sister species in the humid tropics. Given the concentration of primitive taxa such as marsupials and basal passerines in Australia and Africa, and the concentration there of highly social cooperative breeders – whom Cockburn (2003) shows to speciate exceptionally slowly if at all – it would be expected that sister species in the subtropical arid zones of the Eastern Hemisphere are still older than those in the humid tropics. Although the Western Hemisphere is radically different from the Eastern in – except the erratically arid sertão – entirely lacking ancient, flat and dry regions, Weir (2007) still failed to examine sister species in the young arid zones of North America in his study of diversity evolution. Mittelbach et. al. (2007), in contrast, suggest that speciation rates are not higher in the Enriched World; however, he does suggest fast extinction rates explain the low or zero Enriched World endemism and low species diversity.

In order to deal with this issue, people today need to realise that production of animal protein is natural only in the Enriched World. Before the development of water-intensive irrigation and fertilisers animal-based diets were natural in human populations only poleward of 40˚ to 45˚ from the equator, where these high protein diets limited fertility and birth rates. It’s plausible that with restrictions on land and water use in low latitudes were stringent enough, and wages in the high latitudes less hiked by minimum wage laws that limit employment, there would be opportunities for more efficient use of hunting or seasonal grazing to give a more nutritious diet on land where even exploitative use has negligible long-term impacts due to extreme youth. In fact, such was done extensively in teh Alps and elsewhere, but has decayed due to the opening up of the Unenriched World where land is cheaper but less sustainable.

Indeed – though quantification has not been attempted – it is highly plausible that at least in Australia, the oldest and most fragile extant continent, the ecological gains from importing all animal foods from the Enriched World and revegetating the continent would exceed pollution and greenhouse costs from transportation were there a concerted national high-speed rail plan to cover all long-distance travel. In other Unenriched landmasses, the gains would be smaller but still potentially substantial.

As a matter of fact, it is my view that – except for species demonstrably “Endangered” – protection is superfluous in most of the Enriched World owing to the macroregion’s exceedingly high natural secondary productivity, rapid species turnover, and absence of species younger than the last glaciation except in the lowest latitude parts. Utilising very high-latitude protein source is no doubt more expensive than the Unenriched World, but also vastly more sustainable because we are losing only a splintering of geological history vis-à-vis a substantial part or even majority of the Phaeronozoic.

References:

  • Cockburn, Andrew; ‘Cooperative Breeding in Oscine Passerines: Does Sociality Inhibit Speciation?’; Proceedings of the Royal Society; Volume 270, No. 1530 (November 7, 2003), pp. 2207-2214
  • Cornwallis, Charlie K.; Botero, Carlos A.; Rubenstein, Dustin R.; Downing, Philip A., West, Stuart A. and Griffin, Ashleigh S. (2017); ‘Cooperation facilitates the colonization of harsh environments’; Nature, Ecology and Evolution, volume 1, pp. 1-10
  • Kahan, Dan M.; Braman, Donald; Slović, Paul; Gastil; John and Cohen, Geoffrey L.; ‘ The Second National Risk and Culture Study: Making Sense of – and Making Progress In – The American Culture War of Fact’; (October 3, 2007). GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 370 and GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 370.
  • Mittelbach, Gary G.; Schemske, Douglas W.; Cornell, Howard V.; Allen, Andrew P.; Brown, Jonathan M.; Bush, Mark B.; Harrison, Susan P.; Hurlbert, Allen H.; Knowlton, Nancy; Lessios, Harilaos A.; McCain, Christy M.; McCune, Amy R.; McDade, Lucinda A.; Mark A. McPeek, Near, Thomas J.; Trevor D. Price, Ricklefs, Robert E. Roy, Kaustuv; Sax, Dov F.; Schluter, Dolph; Sobel, James M. and Turelli, Michael; ‘Evolution and the latitudinal diversity gradient: speciation, extinction and biogeography’; Ecology Letters 10 (2007); pp. 315–331
  • Weir, Jason T.; (2007 thesis) ‘Evolution of the latitudinal species diversity gradient of New World birds and mammals’
  • Weir, Jason T. and Schulter, Dolph (2007); ‘The Latitudinal Gradient in Recent Speciation and Extinction Rates of Birds and Mammals’; Science, 315 (5818); pp. 1574-1576

Sunday, 22 October 2017

European toad versus cane toad: a study in contrasting research

Rivalled by only the rabbit and red fox as worst and most dangerous introduced species in Australia is the cane toad (Rhinella marina; historically and familiarly Bufo marinus).
Adult female cane toad with human hand for comparison
The toad is absolutely lethal to the unique marsupials of the genus Dasyurus (quolls) which have evolved for 150,000,000 years with zero exposure to toad toxins, and demonstrably cannot coexist with bufonids anywhere.  This is seen in the fact that toad invasion has throughout the monsoonal tropics caused 97 percent declines in Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) populations within a couple of years without any later recoveries. Bufonids also extremely dangerous to a number of predatory reptiles, such as goannas (Varanus) and elapid snakes, though unlike quolls these species can undergo behavioral or morphological changes to permit them to avoid eating toads.
Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) – went from “Least Concern” to Endangered in a decade due to the spread of cane toads
It is well known that the cane toad was introduced into Australia to control a number of species of native “cane beetles” that were killing sugarcane by feeding on the plant’s sweet roots. It is also well known that, besides extirpating quolls and goannas, the cane toad did not reduce the numbers of cane beetles. In fact, the year 1946 saw the worst outbreak on record although toads had been released a decade beforehand!

However, it is almost unknown that at the very time the cane toad was released into Queensland, the CSIR was experimenting with the European Common Toad (then Bufo vulgaris; now Bufo bufo) as a pest control agent for Oncoptera grass grubs that were eating pastures in southern Australia. Proposals to import Bufo vulgaris (as I will call it for the rest of this post) and also the natterjack toad Bufo calamita date back to Western Australia in 1897. They were never executed in the first third of the twentieth century, but with increasing pest problems in the 1930s, the CSIR imported several specimens of Bufo vulgaris for a thorough test as a biological control agent against various Oncoptera. The CSIR found that Bufo vulgaris devoured all stages of Oncoptera (except, perhaps, the eggs) but that it could not dig down to reach them in their burrows. Consequently, the CSIR did not release Bufo vulgaris into southern Australia.
European common toad (Bufo vulgaris; now Bufo bufo)
If Bufo vulgaris (or the natterjack toad) had been released, it would have been likely more disastrous than the cane toad. This is because those few Australian species able to handle toad poison are almost all (Podargus frogmouths being a possible exception) immigrants from west of Wallacea – a group of islands with neither toads nor those predators (e.g. quolls) most affected by bufonid poison. Such species stand less likely to migrate into the Eyrean and Bassian faunal regions of central and southern Australia.
Eastern Quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) now extinct on the mainland due to cane toads, and “Endangered” even in toad-free Tasmania due to rapid anthropogenic climate change
Were either Bufo vulgaris or the natterjack released it is practically certain that the spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) and eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) would have been extirpated extremely quickly except – perhaps – from small islands where the toads might not have been released. Most likely those two species would have gone “Extinct” before the middle 1970s when the first studies of the cane toad’s impact on native fauna was published by Mick Archer and snake specialist Jeanette Covacevich. Even the Western Quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii) could quite possibly have been extirpated by toads before 1974 – although the drastic (87 percent around Perth) enhanced greenhouse gases decline in streamflow over southwestern Australia since then might ironically have protected it from introduced Bufo vulgaris. I have also imagined that poison in Bufo vulgaris eggs and/or tadpoles would have been a threat to the iconic platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) which hunts purely by touch and possesses as little exposure in its evolution to toad toxins as Dasyurus.
Spotted-tailed quoll Dasyurus maculatus – the largest Dasyurus. The CSIR’s prudence in not releasing Bufo vulgaris has so far saved this species from either extinction or being “Critically Endangered” and confined to small islands
In contrast to the CSIR’s serious study of Bufo vulgaris – although it quite naturally failed to test the toad’s toxicity toward those species probably saved thereby – Bufo marinus was released into Queensland with absolutely zero testing on the cane beetles it was supposed to control! Rather, the release of Bufo marinus was done as an act of faith that it would eat the beetles consuming sugar cane – a method used to sell toads to farmers and gardeners for several centuries before 1935.

Belief in the magical power of toads to control pests was dogma among the globe’s closely-knit sugar growing fraternity in the 1930s. It is highly plausible that this fraternity feared science for the same reason that large landowners in Catholic Europe did – that it would undermine their political power by providing justification for wealth redistribution from them. While the large landowners of Catholic Europe turned to stigmata stories and Marian apparitions as their means of countering class war, sugar planters held firmly onto beliefs about certain predators as effective pest control agents whether they worked or not. Thus, when the release of Bufo marinus in Puerto Rico coincided with reduced grub density and Raquel Dexter’s dissections showed Bufo marinus to eat beetles, it became dogma among the global sugar fraternity that toads would control beetles everywhere they be introduced. However, as demonstrated by Nigel Turvey in his Cane Toads: A Tale of Sugar, Politics and Flawed Science, the actual reason for the (temporary) decline in grubs in Puerto Rico was due to unusually wet rainy seasons pinching breeding by waterlogging soils.

The cost of this false belief to Australia’s unique native wildlife has been qualitatively different from other landmasses without native bufonids. Oceanic island predators – even when living on a landmass without toads – were chiefly predatory raptors that evolved on continents with toads. Thus, unlike quolls or Pseudechis snakes, other landmasses where Bufo marinus was introduced had predators who could effectively regulate its numbers – not to mention merely one-thousandth to one-hundredth the space to expand. Thus even with uniquely bad soils, uniquely low secondary productivity and uniquely unreliable runoff toads in Australia can reach higher densities than anywhere else in the world – further condemning those who introduced the cane toad based purely upon dogma.

Friday, 20 October 2017

“Karoshi” and hardest-working US cities

Although – despite their overall strong similarities in environment vis-à-vis the Tropical and/or Unenriched Worlds – I have long known that Europe and Japan have different cultures re work and employment.

However, these two studies done in recent days by Australia’s Business Insider suggest that cultural effects have caused Europe and Japan to deviate much more than mere environmental differences would suggest. Chris Weller has found that many Japanese workers, facing the problem of long-term employment security, have suffered “karoshi” (a Japanese term for death by overwork). In July 2013, a thirty-one-year-old journalist called Miwa Sado died of heart failure after reportedly lagging one hundred and fifty-nine hours of overtime. More than twenty percent of Japanese workers work over forty-nine hours a week, vis-à-vis only sixteen percent even in the US (and a much smaller proportion no doubt in Europe, New Zealand, Canada and Australia).

Weller says Japan has not been successful at ending karoshi via relatively conventional means involving improving leave for workers and encouraging women to work. This suggest something more radical is needed – or that a culture of fatalism means people feel they have a duty to work as hard as possible because they cannot improve their status by less other means. Unlike hierarchism or individuoegalitarianism, fatalism is not based on abstract ideals of equality before the law (hierarchism) or equality of result as in individuoegalitarianism.

In contrast, as I noted in a previous paragraph, people in Europe (according to WalletHub) work only four-fifths of the hours of American workers. WalletHub’s Nicholas Bode has listed the following as the hardest-working American cities:
  1. Anchorage, Alaska 
  2. Plano, Texas
  3. Cheyenne, Wyoming
  4. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  5. Irving, Texas
  6. Scottsdale, Arizona
  7. San Francisco, California
  8. Corpus Christi, Texas
  9. Washington, DC
  10. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  11. Denver, Colorado
  12. Dallas, Texas
  13. Charlotte, North Carolina
  14. Gilbertt, Arizona
  15. Jersey City, New Jersey
This list is perhaps the first time I have seen a list without anything in common at all – and that includes (most if not all of) the major music lists I used to read fifteen years ago. The one thing lacking appears to be small, remote cities – a fact that reflects the cheapness of land and reduced requirement for hard work under such conditions. However, the list does not include only infamously expensive cities like those of coastal California or the Northeast – several of these cities are in hotter and cheaper southern regions, where one would expect hard work to be more difficult in high temperatures. It’s probable that low taxes and reduced welfare encourages hard work, but the list leaves almost everything unanswered.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

150 Worst Albums Made by Men by National Public Radio

Pink indicates own album, whilst pink on artist indicated I own other albums by that artist.

According to National Public Radio, the point of the list was to:

“shift “the assumption that a male perspective can stand for all perspectives,” and to recenter women as a vital, dynamic part of the musical canon without reverting back to that perspective.”
Whilst with some reservations I do agree with that perspective, the problems with the individuoegalitarian culture of today’s Enriched World are undeniable, particularly from a demographic perspective but also from an ecological one in that it encourages people and economics to locate in the most expensive low-latitude locations. Rod Dreher, as noted here, has shown that today’s younger generation has trouble interacting – a view I can certainly sympathise with even though I will admit it is my own flaw.

I will list the albums below and then make comments:

150 Worst Albums Made by Men:

150. Pearl Jam, No Code
149. Skinny Puppy, Too Dark Park
148. Mother Love Bone, Apple
147. Chris Brown, Graffiti
146. Ace Frehley, Ace Frehley
145. Dave Matthews Band, Before These Crowded Streets
144. Morrissey, Years of Refusal
143. Jay-Z and Linkin Park, Collision Course
142. Good Charlotte, Cardiology
141. Kanye West, 808s and Heartbreaks
140. Stevie Wonder, Characters
139. Big Sean, Finally Famous
138. Jay-Z and R. Kelly, Unfinished Business
137. Guns N Roses, Chinese Democracy
136. Diplo, Decent Work for Decent Pay
135. Dr. Dre, Dr. Dre Presents… The Aftermath
134. Tool, Ænima
133. Chief Keef, Finally Rich
132. Drake, Views
131. Phish, Lawn Boy
130. David Guetta, Listen
129. Jamie Foxx, Best Night of My Life
128. Slint, Spiderland
127. Pat Boone, The Greatest Story Ever Told
126. Flo-Rida, Wild Ones
125. Dee Dee Ramone, Dee Dee King
124. The National, Boxer
123. Snoop Lion, Reincarnated
122. Julio Iglesias, 1100 Bel Air Place
121. Daniel Powter, Daniel Powter
120. Yung Lean, Unknown Memory
119. Eamon, I Don’t Want You Back
118. Usher, Raymond v. Raymond
117. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Pig Lib
116. Warrant, Cherry Pie
115. Prince, The Rainbow Children
114. The Crystal Method, Tweekend
113. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
112. Soulja Boy, iSouljaBoyTellEm
111. Duran Duran, Thank You
110. Gene Simmons, Gene Simmons
109. Neil Young, Are You Passionate?
108. Michael Bolton, Soul Provider
107. Hoobastank, Every Man for Himself
106. Kula Shaker, Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts
105. The Weeknd, Kiss Land
104. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
103. Vanilla Ice, Bi-Polar
102. Russell Crowe and The Ordinary Fear of God, My Hand, My Heart
101. Bo Bice, 3
100. Muse, Drones
99. Lifehouse, No Name Face
98. Bobby Brown, The Masterpiece
97. The Cure, Wild Mood Swings
96. The Shins, Oh, Inverted World
95. Philly’s Most Wanted, Get Down or Lay Down
94. Action Bronson, Mr. Wonderful
93. AC/DC, Fly on the Wall
92. U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
91. Bee Gees, Living Eyes
90. Ray J, Raydiation
89. Jack White, Blunderbuss
88. Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface
87. The-Dream, IV Play
86. Swedish House Mafia, Until Now
85. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
84. Moby, Destroyed
83. Jet, Get Born
82. Jason Mraz, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things.
81. Gavin DeGraw, Gavin DeGraw
80. Deadmau5, Random Album Title
79. Radiohead, Kid A
78. Fun, Some Nights
77. One Direction, Four
76. Korn, Korn
75. Coldplay, Ghost Stories
74. Papa Roach, Infest
73. Elvis Presley, Today
72. Robbie Williams, Swing When You’re Winning
71. Giorgio Moroder, Déja-Vu
70. Weezer, Make Believe
69. Ed Sheeran, +
68. Daughtry, Leave This Town
67. Calvin Harris, I Created Disco
66. Maroon 5, Hands All Over
65. Metallica, Death Magnetic
64. Steve Miller Band, The Joker
63. Lil Wayne, Rebirth
62. Mötley Crüe, Generation Swine
61. Timbaland, Shock Value
60. Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
59. The Rolling Stones, Dirty Work
58. Borgore, #NEWGOREORDER
57. Sting, Ten Summoner’s Tales
56. Chingy, Hate It or Love It
55. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
54. Toby Keith, Shock’n Y’all
53. Uncle Kracker, No Stranger to Shame
52. Plain White T’s, All That We Needed
51. Imagine Dragons, Smoke + Mirrors
50. Staind, Break the Cycle
49. Miles Davis, Doo Bop
48. Cee Lo Green, Heart Branch
47. 98 Degrees, Revelation
46. Ted Nugent, Cat Scratch Fever
45. Oasis, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants
44. Brad Paisley, Wheelhouse
43. Savage Garden, Savage Garden
42. Josh Groban, Closer
41. Nelly, 5.0
40. Sting, Sacred Love
39. Belle and Sebastian, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
38. Orgy, Punk Statik Paranoia
37. The Black Eyed Peas, Elephunk
36. Jack Johnson, In Between Dreams
35. Magic!, Primary Colours
34. Charlie Puth, Nine Track Mind
33. The Strokes, Comedown Machine
32. Enrique Iglesias, Sex and Love
31. Placebo, Placebo
30. Nickelback, Silver Side Up
29. Rapeman, Two Nuns and a Pack Mule
28. Limp Bizkit, Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water
27. Lou Reed, Metal Machine Music
26. The Doors, Strange Days
25. James Blunt, Back to Bedlam
24. 311, 311
23. Jay-Z, Kingdom Come
22. Barenaked Ladies, Stunt
21. Matchbox Twenty, Mad Season
20. Robin Thicke, Paula
19. Trapt, Amalgamation
18. Methods of Mayhem, A Public Disservice Announcement
17. Train, Bulletproof Picasso
16. James Taylor, Greatest Hits
15. Justin Timberlake, 20/20 Part II
14. Creed, Human Clay
13. U2, Songs of Innocence
12. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
11. Joe Scarborough Band, Mystified
10. Maná, Drama y Luz
9. Eminem, Relapse
8. Bruce Willis, The Return of Bruno
7. Bob Dylan, Christmas in the Heart
6. Kevin Federline, Playing With Fire
5. Toby Keith, 35 MPH Town
4. Chainsmokers, Memories... Do Not Open
3. Lou Reed and Metallica, Lulu
2. Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Last Rebel
1. Kid Rock, Rock N Roll Jesus

Like so many lists, there exists an element of predictability here. Many of these albums have been favourites for critical bashing ever since I read writers like Robert Christgau, Joe S. Harrington and David Keenan now over a decade and a half ago.

Spiderland – which is a brilliant work highlighted by ‘Don, Aman’ – was no doubt included as an effort to be hip for no reason. Tool’s Ænima, which although I have not heard it seems from what I have read to have a similar emotional perspective to the utter, solitary desolation of Spiderland, could be similar since Tool do have some critical credibility.

Wilco may be the sort of effort I read from one amateur named “janitor-x” a decade and a half ago, whereby metal and hardcore are emphasised over anything new from other genres. Sgt. Pepper’s is much more emphatically this – when Rolling Stone listed it as the best album of all time this “janitor-x” wrote a one-star review titled “‘Sgt. Pepper’ Grows Cold and Smells Bad”. The Nation and Kanye West are also potentially of the same school as “janitor-x” – indeed there are a few hints of what he would have said in 2003 and 2004.

Nonetheless, there is little to recommend this list, at least in the absence of well-argued reviews which I do not imagine as present.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The silliest and simplest quiz ever

Although I admit I laugh for too much at the silly debates between soccer and gridiron fans over the word “football”, the quiz approximately painted to the left and originally found at BuzzFeed is just so simple as to be ludicrous.

I will note there that there are a few differences from the original BuzzFeed post:
  1. Spacing could not be done perfectly even due to memory issues
  2. Seashore did not provide enough space (maximum 8000 pixels vertically) to be sure of putting everything in, so I have not included the answer to the last question
  3. I could not join the pictures in the fourth question together perfectly, so a grey line is retained
  4. In the last one, an effort to colour properly the .tiff file led to one of the answers that was originally grey going white (8)
As with so many “real football” people, “football” is rigidly defined to mean soccer and contrasted exclusively to gridiron. No mention of other football codes – rugby, Australian Rules, Gaelic Football – is ever given. Only in the answer to the third question (where gridiron is called “handegg”) is gridiron given any name. This is rather strange if the writer wants to define football rigidly as soccer and insist that the word “football” not be used even as part of the name for any other sport. It would be more logical to explain it in the first answer rather than only in the third.

Alternatively, if the questionnaire had not the smallest intention of conveying so much as knowledge about gridiron or any other non-soccer sport called “football” by its fans, it might have been correct to not show “handegg” as the name for gridiron at any point in the list. By this means at least the taint of being pejorative – which means in practice being unable to defend one’s preferred sport against any other – would have been avoided. However, there is no effort to show why soccer is a better sport that gridiron (let alone other “football” codes like Australian Rules) at any point in the questionnaire. BuzzFeed’s questionnaire is one hundred percent about identification of “football”, which in turn is rigidly identified as what most Australians, and almost all Americans, Canadians and New Zealanders call “soccer”. Once one can get the first question correct, the rest is so easy as to be ludicrous.

At the end, the quiz says that the reader will never call football “soccer” again – and is presumably expected to call gridiron “handegg”. However, I am in no way fooled that the quiz is utterly ludicrous and serves no purpose but the doctrine that “football” must be used to refer exclusively to “soccer”.

The means used to make the questions could serve no other purpose but indoctrination: to make the reader into someone who wants soccer renamed football in the US, Canada and New Zealand, and wishes for the NFL – and presumably the AFL and the GAA – to become obliged to rename their own codes of football in order to meet demands from soccer to exclusive title to the word “football”. This is called a copyright on “football” by another advocate of this policy. Renaming would be troublesome for fans of those sports, and would no doubt be severely challenged by the NFL and the AFL if soccer forced it on them – with terrible costs for the sporting industry as a whole.

The ultimate goal of such a silly quiz is not clear. No person used to viewing “football” as gridiron would change their minds – indeed they would see it as jealousy on the part of soccer fans towards a sport that is more entertaining and demanding than gridiron fans believe soccer to be. For soccer fans, it could only deepen existing prejudices.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Hot, dry northerly winds in Melbourne

Last Thursday, as I had a now-fortnightly day of “galloping” around on buses (something everybody concerned about global warming should do to see a key cause in Australia’s dreadful pro-freeway transport policies) I was always expecting heavy rain from the seemingly dense grey clouds as I rode the 901 bus from Dandenong to Greensborough. However, very little rain fell – most of it on a return-home 250 bus trip. Then, Saturday saw warnings from high winds and showers – yet, again no rain fell.

Whilst the rapid poleward spread totalling about 800 kilometres (seven-and-a-but degrees of latitude) in the past fifty years of the winter Hadley cell is a key factor – and remember it is known that at Mesozoic and Paleegene CO2 levels of around 2,000 ppm there was no winter Ferrel Cell and hence no winter “storms” whatsoever – most of Victoria this May and July has not been so dry as Melbourne.
March 2017 rainfall percentages
Here, for March 2017, is a pattern not far removed from some super-monsoon months in the past where storms interact with weak fronts to produce rain over South Australia and western Victoria. This was seen as early as 1903 after the driest calendar year in Australia’s history.
April 2017 rainfall percentages
Like March, this is not inconsistent with super-monsoon months with heavy rainfall in western Victoria. Vis-à-vis past wet Aprils like 1932, 1935 and 1974, there was fewer than half as many fewer actual rainy days – which should have been more of a warning about runaway, largely Australian-caused (both directly through actual emissions and indirectly through selling coal and hugely CO2-intensive lithophile metals) global warming continuing.
May 2017 rainfall percentages
Here is something rather different. One can see that southeastern and central Victoria were very dry, yet the Wimmera, Western Plains and Tasmania (except the south and Derwent Valley) were wetter than average. So was the south coast of New South Wales, although the north and central coasts (not shown) were dry.

This is very different from May 2003 (below) whereby – although there were some similarities within Victoria – the north and central coasts of New South Wales were wet and northwestern Tassie much drier:
May 2003 rainfall percentages. Note the different patterns in Tasmania from last May.
May 2003, like May 2001, reflected depressions much further north than in last May, as reflected by wet conditions on the edge of the Western Australian Wheatbelt. In that sense it is quite similar to a month like June 1963, during a period when the Hadley cell ended at Carnarvon or more northerly (as in that winter which was one of the wettest rainy seasons on record in southwestern Australia) rather than nearer Bunbury:
June 1963 rainfall deciles (most precise figures to avoid the massive influence of Australian greenhouse gas emissions)
One can see the maximum all along the New South Wales coast rather than just on the south coast from one storm on 20 May this year. In June 1963 there was a long run of low pressure systems for the first ten days between Perth and Sydney, bringing essentially continuous rain. The diagrams below illustrate just how profound the shifts in pressure systems have been due to Australian freeway building and consequent greenhouse gas emissions:
Comparative synoptic positions for this year’s May and June vis-à-vis pre-AGW June 1 to 10 1963. Note how the subtropical ridge has shifted ten degrees poleward all through the southern hemisphere in the lower chart. Note also the Tasmanian block in June 1963 
Australian rainfall figures for June 2017 itself are a graphic illustration of the changes in climate due to the Lonie Report and other efforts to fund roads rather than constitutional amendments to ensure every solitary cent of Australian public and private money be spent on more greenhouse-efficient rail rather than on road or air transport:
June 2017 rainfall percentages
In accordance with theories making Australian transport and energy policies the primary and most essential culprit for observed climate changes, the extreme dryness over so wide an area as shown on the June 2017 composite chart is quite unrivalled. Perth, Canberra and Hobart were especially dry, but only the coast of New South Wales directly in the Trade Winds received substantial rain.

The daytime weather in Melbourne was a delightful 15˚C for the opening two weeks of June before we left for hot and humid Taipei – which I did not enjoy at all – but the nights were so cold as to virtually freeze my right hand in our poorly insulated plasterboard home when I sat at the computer until 01:00.

July 2017 rainfall percentages
The map above is apart from the eastern coast of Tasmania and the southern coast of New South wales very like May. It’s striking how dry those areas with a southerly aspect are vis-à-vis the Wimmera and even those areas on the opposite side of the Divide from Melbourne – which are by no means so wet as they would be if such obscene projects as CityLink, EastLink and other freeways and highways had had their funding redirected wholesale in 1980 to mass public transit.

The map is very much drier than remotely similar maps from before the Lonie Report. The famously windy September 1941 – probably the windiest month ever in most of southeastern Australia – is a good illustration:
September 1941 rainfall deciles. These are a bit like last month shifted 800 to 900 kilometres (by removing Australian greenhouse gas emissions) equatorward
Notice that the basic pattern is not that different if one realises that vis-à-vis today’s climate largely controlled from the headquarters of Australia’s largest coal and mining companies – and their allies in VicRoads – the Hadley Cell’s limit lay about eight degrees closer to the equator. That is roughly the distance from Melbourne to Walgett, or from Northcliffe to Shark Bay, or from Adelaide to Coober Pedy!

So, if we place Melbourne near Bourke, one can almost imagine the dry, hot westerly winds New South Wales had in September 1941. These dry winds seen here in Melbourne would still be around Bourke if Australia had had a sane transport and energy policy for the past four decades!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Insecurity as the root of books like ‘Foot Ball’

Picken’s ‘Foot Ball’ may just be the worst book I have ever glanced
Although I do feel that they are more frequent than my mother and brother say, such pejoratives as:
  1. “American handegg”
  2. “American fatball”
  3. “American egg throwing”
  4. “dumball”
  5. “screwball”
used by soccer fans for gridiron, and
  1. “poverty ball” or “povertyball”
  2. “poverty futbol”
  3. “divegrass” or “diveball”
  4. “fairyball”
used by gridiron fans for soccer,

may well be more common than my relatives generally presume. I often feel that most fans of soccer or gridiron who call their sport “real football” would be willing to use pejorative names for a rival football code. Moreover, even that is not a requirement: R. Picken’s awful book Foot Ball, which is about deriding for no reason bar popularity and name not only other football codes, but almost every other sport wiht local popularity of a high level, simply calls soccer “football” and demands no other sport should be so called.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with my mother, who knows better than I do that abusive behaviour by soccer fans is very rarely directed against rival sports like gridiron or rugby (“thugby“), but almost always against rival CLUBS. My mother said the same thing about Collingwood Football Club fans – whose abusive behaviour she and many of her former school’s students have no doubt experienced in real life. I have never heard a Collingwood fan – though I do have minor recollections of some quite nasty ones – use “divegrass”, “poverty ball” or any similar word.

A couple of days ago, when I mentioned “handegg” – clearly the most common pejorative, very occasionally used for rugby and (Australian rules) football as well as much more commonly for gridiron – my mother said that the anger and misbehaviour in soccer fans relates to the frustration inherent in a sport with fewer than three scores per match (vis-à-vis about ten in rugby and over fifty in football). It is true, though, that people watch soccer for excitement and (Australian rules) football for much calmer entertainment because so often football games’ outcomes are predictable from a very early stage. Today, my mother said that anger and violence by soccer fans reflects not just frustration but emotional insecurity – soccer fans fear losing to rival clubs with affect their status, so one gets the soccer hooliganism feared in many parts of Europe.

That insecurity is the root of violent rivalries in most team sports – and of the use of pejorative names for rival sports – makes sense. If a soccer fan (or of any other sport) be insecure that he is doing the right thing supporting his team or his sport, debasing rival teams or sports is a justification. Soccer hooligans and the book Foot Ball are just extreme results.

Occasionally I have trouble with this when I buy a record and either take too long to like it or only like it in the short term. However, I never lash out at a record I have grown to not like or find frustrating – I tend to keep my instant feelings on such issues totally silent even on the web.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

V-Line’s complaint shows why ZRB is forty years overdue

According to this post, twenty-two Victorian councils have written to Premier Daniel Andrews demanding that something be done to allow railways to operate at above 33˚C (91.4˚F).

These councils say Victoria has “far more freight than it can move”.

The issue of these regulations is that greenhouse-intensive road and air transport have, owing to the almost absolute power of the mining and road interests over transportation in Australia combined with lack of public pressure, taken essentially all the public transportation budget. This is an unsustainable and untenable state of affairs on two grounds. The first is that road and air transportation are much more greenhouse- and energy-intensive than rail – in a nation whose soils dictate lower energy consumption by native animals than those any other in the world! The second is that, for the mass freight which Australia’s super-flat terrain is suited to producing, road and air are both very inefficient vis-à-vis rail, and would be more so were fuel less cheap.

Thus, we have yet one more case whereby the need to transfer en masse money spent widening freeways and highways to improving Australia’s antiquated rail system is revealed. The question is how to do it given the silent, unchallenged power of the road lobby and the unwillingness of Australia’s suburban majority to sacrifice completely their rights to unrestricted (indeed, in environmental terms, any) private car use.

I have always believed rigid constitutional amendments to put an absolute end to new highways and require the transfer of all money thus earmarked to rail as the best way, because of its simplicity and lack of compromise with the severe low-energy-consumption dictates of Australia’s ecology. The problem is how to convey to the suburban masses why they must sacrifice their lifestyle based on spacious roads, dirt-cheap fuel and unlimited private cars to avoid not only an ecological catastrophe, but major transportation problems too.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Top 25 Misheard Lyrics by Nick and Jesse

Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae)
When I was googling for an old misheard lyric from my childhood, I found this old list of a top twenty-five misheard lyrics. Merely because the list existed only cached, I thought I should put the list up in full. Moreover, when I did have a look at the cached page, I thought the misheards were funny and interesting enough to be worth blogging.

The list below originally came from two young me (in their picture) who give their names only as “Nick” and “Jesse”.

25) Beyonce – ‘Single Ladies’
  • “I’m missing a leg Sue”
24) Green Day – ‘21 Guns’
  • “twenty wine gums”
23) UB40 – ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’
  • “peas on toast”
  • (instead of “please don’t go”)
22) Australian Crawl – ‘Boys Light Up’
  • “when the boys line up”
  • I always heard it that way as a child, along with “I was heading for my Mukden home” at the song’s beginning.
    • Mukden is an old Manchu name for the Chinese city of Shěnyáng, and I always knew it made no sense after the line following
21) Robbie Williams – ‘Candy’
  • “liberate your sons and daughters the bush is high and in the hole is water”
20) The Corrs – ‘Breathless’
  • “make me breakfast”
  • Nick and Jesse’s listener’s daughter requested this song every morning
19) Rod Stewart – ‘You’re In My Heart’
  • “you’re in my breath, pure alcohol”
18) Red Hot Chilli Peppers – ‘Californication’
  • “feel my fanny for an occassion”
17) National Anthem
  • “in the bones of love we meat”
16) Adele – ‘Set Fire To The Rain’
  • “set fire to Lorraine”
15) George Michael – ‘Faith’
  • “Got to have fanta, fanta, fanta”
14) Elton John – ‘Bennie And The Jets’
  • “She’s got magic boobs, her mum’s got them too”
13) The Commitments – ‘Mustang Sally’
  • “mustard and salad”
  • Shelly said a colleague thought “Mustang Sally” was “Mustard and salad”. She was singing it once and I cracked up and had to correct her
 12) The Police – ‘Every Breath You Take’
  • “My poo hole aches”
  • “When I was little (about five) instead of saying my poor heart aches, I thought it said.... Omg... how embarassing!”
11) Beyonce – ‘Single Ladies’
  • “I'm a singlet”
10) One Direction – ‘One Thing’
  • “Shout meow to the sky, you’re in my crib tonight. You keep making me reek, yeah frozen in Cadbury”
9) Split Enz – ‘Poor Boy’
  • “What more could a morepork do”
  • as opposed to “What More Could A Poor Boy Do”
8) Rihanna – ‘Diamonds’
  • “She ain’t white like a diamond”
7) Village People – ‘In The Navy’
  • “Swing the lady”
6) Sandi Thom – ‘I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker’
  • “I wish I was a prawn cracker!”
5) Bob Sinclar – ‘Love Generation’
  • “Feed and hug little Asians”
4) Robbie Williams – ‘Angels’
  • “I need protection to cover my erection”
  • instead of something about love and protection
3) Gin Wigmore – ‘Black Sheep’
  • “I’m a trash heap”
  • Miss five-year-old not interpreting “I'm a black sheep” correctly?
2) Bruno Mars – ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’
  • “Yeah your sex tapes made in paradise”
1) ACDC – ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’
  • “Dirty deeds done to sheep”
Although I have no recollections of hearing them as those words given above, the misheard lyrics of ‘Faith’ and ‘In the Navy’ do sound a little like the real thing. The one of ‘Boys Light Up’ has extremely solid memories within my childhood, whilst the one of ‘You’re in My Heart’ (as I have noted earlier actually about Rod Stewart’s love of soccer) can easily be made sense of from the rhythm. I do wonder if anybody who realise the song is about soccer would think soccer is “pure alcohol” and/or that because of low scoring and ties it is dozy or some similar adjective?

Some of the lyrics were listed by Nick and Jesse as “Warning – naughty” – I have chosen to include them minus such notes. The one of ‘Every Breath You Take’ is a little funny and understandable, though everybody should know the proper word “anus” from younger than I did. I often have aches in my bowel due to a diet too heavy in sugar and I tend to accept them, but whether I would have accepted bad anus pains as a child I doubt gravely!

Friday, 17 March 2017

AbeBooks Most In-Demand Out-of-print Books for 2016

Today AbeBooks, where I get most of my reading material, published its annual list of the “Most In-Demand Out-of-Print Books”. I have vague recollections of such a list form previous years, but after having had other things to besides post here I decided to do my familiar thing and post the list:
  1. Westworld by Michael Crichton
  2. Sex by Madonna
  3. Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison
  4. Unintended Consequences by John Ross
  5. Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman
  6. Finding the Winning Edge by Bill Walsh
  7. Mastering Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolor by Joseph Zbukvic
  8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe
  9. Margin of Risk: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor by Seth Klarman.
  10. Alla Prima: Everything I Know about Painting by Richard Schmid
  11. Rage by Richard Bachman/Stephen King
  12. The Vision and Beyond, Prophecies Fulfilled and Still to Come by David Wilkerson
  13. Sled Driver: Flying the World’s Fastest Jet by Brian Shul
  14. Bandit Country: The IRA and South Armagh by Toby Harnden
  15. Snake by Ken Stabler
  16. Halloween by Curtis Richards
  17. Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life by Tom Holmes
  18. Promise Me Tomorrow by Nora Roberts
  19. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell
  20. Down Through the Years by Jean Shepard
  21. The Sisters: Babe Mortimer Paley, Betsy Roosevelt Whitney, Minnie Astor Fosburgh: The Lives and Times of the Fabulous Cushing Sisters by David Grafton
  22. Me and My Likker by Popcorn Sutton
  23. Monte Walsh by Jack Schaefer
  24. Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by James Lovell
  25. The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry
  26. The Last Course: The Desserts of the Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming
  27. A Life Worth Living by Lady Colin Campbell
  28. The Essential Woodworker: Skills, Tools and Methods by Robert Wearing
  29. Women and Men by Joseph McElroy
  30. The Art of Holly Hobbie by Holly Hobbie
Most if not all of these books are books of no interest to me. Many are sexually explicit or so violent their authors do not want them in print, for example Sex and Rage. My main interest in out-of-print books are in old hardback poetry titles, which a mere glance will show as never listed, or in old, specialised books on sport.