Posts Tagged ‘technology’

286f2d946e60b55f7a0c7e69bcb3ae14North and Central America was populated by the Native Americans about 13,500 years ago. In that time, they have been a source of much interest and were “first” with a few things you might not know about.

Abstract art

Abstract art was used by nearly all tribes and civilisations.

Native American art was believed to be ‘primitive’ until the 1990s, when it served as inspiration for the modern abstract art movement.

The apartment block

The Anasazi and other tribes which once thrived in the present day South-West of the USA, developed complex multi-story apartment complexes, some of which are still in use today. Indeed, the Native Pueblo communities in present-day New Mexico continue to reside in some of these ancient multi-story apartment complexes which were constructed by their ancestors many centuries ago, even before the first apartments were built in the United States during the 18th century.

peublo-bonitoPueblo Bonito, one of the seminal archaeological sites in America, is a marvellous example of this ancient Native American complex construction technology, originally built during the Anasazi and Hohokom time periods of about roughly a thousand years ago.

The bunk bed

Was invented to squeeze more members of the family into Iroquois longhouses, where they lived communally.

They gave us words you use regularly

A number of Native American words have become a part of the English language. Just a few of these include: barbecue, cannibal, chocolate, hammock, hurricane, potato, skunk, squash and more.

Our personal favourite is the word ‘avocado’ which is from the Nahuatl tribe and actually translates to ‘testicle’.

Technology

Native Americans were actually quite advanced by “hunter-gatherer” standards.

Not unreasonably, their technology was sourced from the world around them.

toothbrush

They would use porcupine hairs to make hairbrushes, and sticks were cut into the right shape and frayed at the edges to make toothbrushes. Their dental decay was much less than their historic equivalents in Europe.

Native Americans in present-day Pennsylvania lit petroleum, which seeped from underground to fire ceremonial fires. In addition, they also used petroleum to cover their bodies against insect bites and as a form or jelly to prevent their skins drying out.

Drugs and Anaesthetics

The Native Americans possessed a huge knowledge of plants and how to to cure ailments with them. They had been using willow tree bark for thousands of years to reduce fever and pain (as were the ancient peoples of Assyria, Sumer, Egypt and Greece).

When chemists analysed willows in the last century, they discovered salicylic acid, the basis of the modern drug aspirin.

Historians have also discovered that they were the first developers of anaesthetics. While European patients were dying of pain during a surgery, Native healers utilised plants in their procedures to help them.

Indigenous people also realised the antibiotic property of peyote and used the extract to treat fevers and enhance the energy in their bodies, and as an anesthetic.

Oral contraception

There are recorded instances of Native Americans who took medicines which prevented pregnancies. Such instances date back to the 18th century, which are centuries earlier from the time modern oral contraceptives were developed by western scientists. The Shoshone tribe used the crushed powder of stone seed as a form of oral contraceptive, while the Potawatomi nation used herb dogbane, which when taken orally would prevent pregnancies.

A Third Sex

Pre-dating current LGBT+ debates by hundreds of years, some Native American tribes recognised a third gender that was separate from male and female. A “two-spirit” was one whose body manifested both masculine and feminine spirits simultaneously. They were often male – and they sometimes married other males – but weren’t seen as homosexual among their tribe.

small_indian-ball-game_catlin

A rich sporting life

Native Americans enjoyed sports and games. All the tribes played some kind of stickball or hand game which was popular and entire villages participated as games weren’t seen as strictly for children. Many of them are akin to games that Europeans would recognise like hockey and lacrosse.

North American Indians also invented the spinning top, used as a toy and made out of wood.

Farming

Among the many items developed by the Native Americans were tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, the domesticated turkey, manioc, peanuts, vanilla, the muscovy duck and cranberries. They were also responsible for a number of breeds of domesticated dogs, including the xochiocoyotl (coyote), xoloitzcuintli (known as xolo or Mexican hairless), chihuahua, the Carolina dog, and the Alaskan malamute.

Tobacco

One of the less wonderful things the Native peoples bequeathed us was tobacco, which was used in the Americas for many centuries prior to the arrival of white Europeans. Consumed in high doses, tobacco can become highly hallucinogenic and was accordingly used by many in the Americas to inspire dreams and dream time. Tobacco was also often consumed as a medicine amongst some tribes, although this was strictly practiced by experienced shamans and medicine men. Eastern tribes in mainland USA also traded tobacco as a trade item in exchange for food, clothing, beads, and salt and would often smoke tobacco during sacred and ritualised ceremonies using pipes. Tobacco was considered to be a gift from the Almighty and it was believed that the exhaled tobacco smoke generated from smoking a pipe would carry one’s thoughts and prayers to the creator up above in the heavens.

Calendars

Were developed by Native Americans throughout North America, Mesoamerica, and South America. They are known to have been in used since 600 BC. American native calendars were so precise that by the 5th century BC they were only 19 minutes off.

Government

Think the Europeans dreamed up democracy and the American republic? Think again.

fig3Indian governments in eastern North America, particularly the League of the Iroquois, served as models of federated representative democracy to the Europeans and the American colonists.

The United States government is based on such a system, whereby power is distributed between a central authority (the federal government) and smaller political units (the states).

Historians have suggested the Iroquois system of government influenced the development of the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. In 1988, the United States Congress passed a resolution to recognise the influence of the Iroquois League upon the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

A close relationship to nature

Like many “uncivilised” peoples – some would argue that should read “more civilised” – the Native Americans believed strongly in nature; they believed that all living things such as humans, plants, animals, and even the rivers and wind were all connected. They believed that these elements of nature were sacred as some of their religious beliefs involved the origins of the world and nature itself. There was no one religion that united all the peoples, but they all had common elements.

As we noted on our recent trip to Vanuatu, we risk losing so much if we let ancient civilisations wither and die.

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Speed-of-Light

Every now and then, a revolutionary technological advance comes along and changes how we live our daily lives.

Li-Fi might just be the next one.

This amazing idea is like Wi-Fi, but much, MUCH, faster.

LI FI

Having just been trialled for the first time in real life, Li-Fi was found to live up to scientists’ claims that it operates up to 100 times faster than Wi-Fi technologies.

And if you picture such genius inventions to have been born of a ‘light-bulb moment’, well this one most certainly was.

Li-Fi is a wireless technology that transmits high-speed data using visible light communication (VLC).

It means, within the next five years, you could be accessing the Internet using the light-bulbs in your home.

This would reportedly be safer from a data security perspective as well, protecting the data being sent, because light cannot pass through walls.

The technology was brought from research labs – where scientists achieved speeds of 224 gigabits per second – to real life by an Estonian start-up company, Velmenni.

Estonia? Yup.

“Currently we have designed a smart lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communication is done through light,” Deepank Solanki, CEO of Velmenni, told IBTimes UK.

In another project, the company has set up a Li-Fi network in an office space to provide Internet access for a private client.

The man who invented Li-Fi, Professor Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, said that current infrastructure is suitable for integration of Li-Fi.

In a Ted talk broadcast in 2011 he demonstrated how, by flickering the light from a single LED, he could transmit far more data than a cellular tower.

“All we need to do is fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device,” Haas said.

If it does all turn out to be that easy, you really could be downloading that favourite movie or TV series of yours in a flash – a flash of light.

Gull

One night about a year ago Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink turned the late night TV shopping channel on.

It was an accidental act, in truth, but we found ourselves taken by the subject matter: to wit, buying a new camera at what looked like an amazingly low price.

NikonIt turned out, of course, that it wasn’t an especially great price, and we could have walked round the corner and bought it at the same price and got some professional advice into the bargain.

But no matter. We had always wanted a nice camera, as opposed to taking snaps using the iPhone, not that the remarkable and ubiquitous little device didn’t actually take nice snaps, but this one seemed very swish and a nice colour, and the front pointy bit went in and out really far, so in we dove.

Anyhow, as a sign for how ludicrously busy all our lives have become, this weekend is almost the first chance we have had to play with the camera, at Smiths Beach on gorgeous Phillip Island, in Victoria, Australia.

Of course, as you will have discovered previously, Dear Reader, the new technological age sits somewhat heavily on our prematurely aging shoulders. Fresh from wrestling with things that go bing, we now found ourselves poking with uncertain, stubby little fingers at a camera for which a high-flying degree in advanced sub-atomic particle physics would be inadequate preparation.

There is not one, not two, but fully three ways to make the telephoto thingy whiz in and out. meaning, of course, that it does so when one least expects it to.

Press the wrong button, and the playback screen turns into a mass of statistics and charts telling you why you have just messed up the last shot taken. Trying to get back to just seeing the photo on its own again without the accompanying science takes fully half an hour of increasingly frantic thumbing through the “destructions” as Mrs W calls all manuals, which as with most things seems to be written in a sort of pig-din Japlish which defies easy translation.

The little diagrams of buttons on the camera would be very helpful if one didn’t need a magnifying glass to see which buttons they refer to, (dagnabbit, knew we left something out of the beach bag), as the whole booklet is clearly written for people with A1 20-20 vision aged 18, which as it emanates from the Land of the Rising Yen is somewhat curious as we never yet met a Nipponese who could see past the end of their nose without glasses as thick as the bottom of a Coke bottle, so quite who the manual is aimed at is something of a mystery.

Meanwhile the little twirly thing on the top offers you fully twenty “shooting modes”, and heaven forbid you should try and photograph a sunny Aussie beach in “Night Portrait” mode, as the seagulls flying by suddenly all look like Ring Wraiths or Dementors come to drive us back into the cottage.

Plumping for “Scenic” seems like a safe option, until you realise the sub-Menu offers you fully fifteen variations of scenic to choose from. Choosing between “Cloudy” and “Dusk” looks tricky to the untrained eye …

Seagull at dusk. Or cloudy. You choose.

Seagull at dusk. Or cloudy. You choose.

Then, when one finishes the hour-long process of turning the damn thing on, one realises that there is actually more to taking a good photo than pointing and pressing. More digital photos (and before them, bazillions of miles of film) must have been taken of waves crashing on rocky seashores than almost any other subject matter you care to name. One very quickly realises that taking a good photo of a wave is clearly nigh-impossible. There is that wildly improbable nexus of the right camera, the right setting, the right moment, and that indefinable “eye” that true photographic geniuses have.

Which we, Dear Reader, do not.

Looking west at Smiths Beach

Luckily, the world is such an intensely beautiful place that it is impossible to entirely stuff up photographing it even with one’s new techno-rich clicky thing. We did, we think, nevertheless manage to make the photos quite big and a suitable format for desktop wallpapers. Feel free to nick any you like.

A Spring day on a beach in rural Victoria is probably the best balm for the soul imaginable. Even when your camera is just another way of reminding you that the world is hurtling ever onward to a place where you no longer really belong.

No, these photographs are not very good.

DSCN0218

Looking East

But the world is. The world rocks.

(Gettit? The world rocks. Oh, never mind …)

Wot he said. Smart guy.

Wot he said. Smart guy.

Everyone in the tech industry is passing around this video of actor/producer Kevin Spacey talking about about how Netflix (and other tech companies) will blow up the traditional TV industry.

In an edited version of Spacey’s speech below, he touches on how Netflix, which has produced a handful of excellent original series this year, has the potential to disrupt the traditional cable and network TV model of forcing content creators to make a pilot before accepting a show.

For example, Spacey says there will be 146 pilots made this year at the cost of $US300-$US400 million. Only 56 of those will actually be made into a series. “That makes our House of Cards deal for two seasons really cost effective,” Spacey says in the speech.

 

Brilliant. He is SO right. “The audience has spoken.” What an impressive individual this man is.

Wonderful to see real creativity – in business, and in the production.

PS LOVED House of Cards.

Loved the original BritisHouse of Cards Casth series, with its camp archiness and wildly implausible plot.

Love the new one, too, which is more multi-layered from a character perspective, and more modern in its techniques.

Every cast member is superb. Very impressed.

Apple Maps Navigation iOS 6 vs iOS

iO6 on the left, iO5 on the right

(From Yahoo and others)

Apple today released iOS 6 through an over-the-air update and Australian users everywhere are getting ready to upgrade their devices.

Apple has updated iOS like clockwork each year, adding marquee new features like iCloud and multitasking. This year, iOS 6 is a relatively modest update. Apple has instead focused on refining the experience, there are a multitude of nips and tucks and the operating system feels faster than ever.

However there are still some key new features, and interestingly a few big ones that have been removed from prior versions. iOS 6 adds Facebook integration, smarter Siri commands and Passbook, a much-touted (and potentially very significant) digital wallet to store your tickets and coupons.

Critically, Apple has removed Google Maps from the operating system and replaced it with their own Apple-built maps application.

They’ve also left out the previously built-in Youtube app.

Let’s take a closer look at how the new features stack up.

Goodbye Google, hello Apple maps.

The most visible change in iOS 6 is unquestionably the banishing of Google maps to make way for Apple’s own revamped mapping service. Apple has now taken control of the location and map experience on their devices, removing their biggest competitor from the platform. But what does that mean for users?

The new maps application adds some great features that were previously missing, the biggest being turn-by-turn navigation coming in an October update for Australian users. It works very similarly to devices from TomTom and Garmin, enter your destination and the app will present different routes for both driving and walking.

Navigation mode displays in a rich 3D view giving a bird’s eye perspective of the road you’re driving on, in typical Apple style the experience is smooth.

You can even enter destinations through Siri, try it by telling Siri “take me home”.

‘Flyover’ is another key feature of the new maps application.

As the name suggests, it literally allows you to fly over cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. It’s an astonishing presentation of satellite imagery, a 3D view of the city allowing you to pan in and around the skyline. It’s currently limited to bigger Australian cities and other cities around the world, expect Apple to keep adding and enhancing this with more satellite data over time.

Not all good news

It’s not (yet) all good news for maps, however.

As this excellent review (including screen caps) discusses, public transport information is one of the casualties, as Apple hasn’t added this data to their application. Instead you’ll need to download third party apps to get this functionality, at least until Apple is ready with their own transit data. Google’s extensive business listings and points-of-interest are also missing, and while Apple has used Yelp and Yellow Pages to add some of this data it’s not as comprehensive as it was in the prior maps application. Presumably Apple will add functionality as they catch up. The new maps certainly look nice, but will that compensate for loss of function, even temporary?

Passbook

Apple has added a new built-in app to digitally store all those tickets, coupons and gift cards you have in your wallet or purse. Instead of fumbling in your email trying to find that movie ticket or digging through app folders to find a coupon code, Passbook aims to simplify the process by storing all these items in one location.

It also utilises the device’s GPS abilities in a convenient way. If you have a coffee card stored in Passbook, when you walk into the associated coffee shop it will send a push notification and pull up the card right on your phone. It’s a futuristic feature however at launch it seems anemic, with few supporting services. Virgin Australia and Event Cinemas have stated they will be supporting it, but we’ll have to patiently wait for more businesses to offer Passbook integration to make it useful. In due course, it may replace all manner of paper and plastic items.

Siri knows more

Apple hailed Siri as the stand-out feature in the iPhone 4S, today Siri has been added to the iPad and has also received some major improvements.

The virtual assistant with attitude can now look up sports scores, local business listings, give directions, post to social networks and open apps. Li’l ol Australia hasn’t received all of Siri’s new features though, for example missing is the ability to book restaurant reservations and pull up movie listings. Grrr.

Still, it’s a solid update and the inclusion of the once missing business and location listings in Australia is a welcome improvement. It’s not quite the virtual assistant as demonstrated in Apple’s ads, but it’s slowly getting there with each iteration. Apple still lists Siri as being in beta, in an apparent attempt to lower expectations.

I ‘like’ this

For all fellow Facebook addicts, Facebook is now baked-in like Twitter was in iOS 5. This means you can sign in to Facebook directly through the settings app, giving users the ability to share photos and other items directly from the device without using another application.

They have also added a convenient Facebook post button directly in the notification panel, allowing to you post and also tweet from any screen.

Apple has added the ability to ‘like’ apps directly in the App Store. When you like an app, it will be shared with your friends and you can also see when your friends have liked an app right in the store.

There are numerous other features and enhancements that make using iOS 6 an improved experience.

Do Not Disturb

‘Do Not Disturb’ is one such feature;  it’s essentially a switch that allows you to stop all incoming notifications such as messages, phone calls or alerts. This is really useful before bed or in a cinema. You can even set exemptions, so if you still want all calls from your partner or colleague/boss to come through you can set that in the settings. Very helpful and practical.

‘Photo streams’ are now shareable, so you can take a few photos and directly share with them a friend or group of friends. This will be useful at parties or for times you don’t necessarily want every photo up on Facebook.

Apple have also added the ability to comment and like photos, a surprising move adding more social networking style features to the Photos app.

The Bottom Line?

Overall it’s a solid update to an already strong mobile operating system loved by many.

Apple have decided to take a more cautious approach with this release, looking to add refinements and improve the overall experience without rocking the boat too much.

It’s significant that Apple have removed key Google features like maps and Youtube, which is a signal that Apple doesn’t want to rely on competitors to provide core features for their platform. It will also be a challenge for Apple to provide a comprehensive mapping service like Google does.

If you already enjoy the iOS experience, then updating to iOS 6 is a no-brainer. If you prefer Android or Windows Phone, this update will not do much to change your view. As a whole, it’s an update that doesn’t rely on one big feature to sell it like in past updates, but iOS 6 still provides an overall more pleasant and useful experience. Seems Apple pretty much can’t miss a trick right now.

iPhone cufflinks

Where can we get these, WHERE? We has to have them, precioussss. Bagginsses has them, we bet. We hate Bagginsses …

Regular readers will know that wellthisiswhatithink is just a teensie-weensie bit obsessed with iPhones. I am neither technically geegy-in-love nor tech-terrified, but I do enjoy the iPhone’s ever-expanding usefulness, its neatness, and the way everything pretty much just works, provided, of course, you’re prepared to work the way Apple want you to. The endless security requirements of iTunes get up my nose a bit, but when a friend reports that he lost thousands of dollars thru fake purchases of music he never made on his iPhone, well, I guess the cyber-security people know what’s best.

And I love the way it takes photos. I am currently enduring a one week self-imposed ban on posting iPhone-taken wallpaper to this blog.

So anyhow, reliable news of forthcoming developments always gets a run in here. These reports are circulating the web right now, and on Yahoo in particular.

Looks like more of a re-design than a re-functionality. Then again, a young fellow in my local Apple store told me I should literally be salivating about the upcoming release of a new operating system, so who knows?

Of course, everyone is waiting for the ultimate iPhone app. The one that perceives when you’re going to text or phone your ex/current/possible future lover while stonkingly drunk, and locks you out of the system until  you’re sober.

There’s an interesting discussion on what Apple might add to the device here http://au.news.yahoo.com/technology/galleries/g/-/9694325/3/iphone-5-most-wanted-features/

What function would you like on your iPhone that isn’t on it yet, eh?

Apple’s next iPhone to feature ‘slimmer screen’

HONG KONG (AFP) – Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone later this year with a slimmer screen thanks to updated touch-screen technology, a report said Tuesday.

The next generation iPhone, referred to by fans as the “iPhone 5”, is being manufactured by Asian component makers, Dow Jones Newswires quoted unnamed sources as saying.

Its panels will use “in-cell technology” integrating touch sensors into the LCD, it said.

That makes a separate touch-screen layer unnecessary and reduces the screen thickness by about half a millimetre, Dow Jones quoted DisplaySearch analyst Hiroshi Hayase as saying.

(I quite like the slightly thicker iPhone 4 over my iPhone 3 – all about personal taste, I guess. Ed.)

The new technology will also boost displayed image quality, and help Apple cut costs as it would no longer have to buy touch panels and LCDs from separate suppliers, the report added.

It said Japanese liquid crystal display makers Sharp and Japan Display Inc as well as South Korea’s LG Display Co were currently mass producing panels for the next iPhone.

Apple is widely expected to launch the device in the third quarter of this year, around 12 months after the release of its hugely popular iPhone 4S — the firm’s first new product following the death of co-founder Steve Jobs.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the report or the next iPhone’s release date when contacted by AFP.

The report came amid heated competition from rivals such as Samsung, whose flagship smartphone the Galaxy S III uses a 4.8-inch (12.2 centimetre) screen that is thinner than the current iPhone.

Apple posted a $11.6 billion profit in the first three months this year, led by record sales of iPad tablet computers and iPhones — the latter surging 88 percent year-on-year.

I am updating and re-publishing this article, because if your computer is ever going to go tits up because of a virus you didn’t even know you had, it’s going to happen on Monday, and if it does, well, you are going to be bloody irritated with yourself that you didn’t check sooner.

For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing vital Internet connections this July.

Unknown to most of them, their problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world.

In a highly unusual response, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for those infected users. But that system is to be shut down.

So the FBI and other law enforcement authorities are encouraging users to visit a website run by the FBI’s security partner, http://www.dcwg.org , that will inform them whether they’re infected and explain how to fix the problem. You must check now: because after July 9, infected users won’t be able to connect to the Internet.

This means you. Maybe.

About 300,000 computers worldwide remain infected, it is estimated, as at this weekend.

Most victims don’t even know their computers have been infected, although the malicious software probably has slowed their web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.

Last November, the FBI and other authorities were preparing to take down a hacker ring that had been running an Internet ad scam on a massive network of infected computers.

“We started to realise that we might have a little bit of a problem on our hands because … if we just pulled the plug on their criminal infrastructure and threw everybody in jail, the victims of this were going to be without Internet service,” said Tom Grasso, an FBI supervisory special agent.

“The average user would open up Internet Explorer and get ‘page not found’ and think the Internet is broken.”

On the night of the arrests, the agency brought in Paul Vixie, chairman and founder of Internet Systems Consortium, to install two Internet servers to take the place of the truckload of impounded rogue servers that infected computers were using.

Federal officials planned to keep their servers online until March, giving everyone opportunity to clean their computers. But it wasn’t enough time. A federal judge in New York extended the deadline until July.

Now, said Grasso, “the full court press is on to get people to address this problem.” And it’s up to computer users to check their PCs.

This is what happened

Hackers infected a network of probably more than 570,000 computers worldwide. They took advantage of vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Windows operating system to install malicious software on the victim computers. This turned off antivirus updates and changed the way the computers reconcile website addresses behind the scenes on the Internet’s domain name system.

The DNS system is a network of servers that translates a web address — such as http://www.ap.org — into the numerical addresses that computers use. Victim computers were reprogrammed to use rogue DNS servers owned by the attackers. This allowed the attackers to redirect computers to fraudulent versions of any website.

The hackers earned profits from advertisements that appeared on websites that victims were tricked into visiting. The scam netted the hackers at least $14 million, according to the FBI. It also made thousands of computers reliant on the rogue servers for their Internet browsing.

When the FBI and others arrested six Estonians last November, the agency replaced the rogue servers with Vixie’s clean ones. Installing and running the two substitute servers for eight months is costing the federal government about $87,000.

The number of victims is hard to pinpoint, but the FBI believes that on the day of the arrests, at least 568,000 unique Internet addresses were using the rogue servers. Five months later, FBI estimates that the number is down to at least 360,000. The US has the most, about 85,000, federal authorities said.

Other countries with more than 20,000 each include Italy, India, England and Germany. Smaller numbers are online in Spain, France, Canada, China and Mexico.

Home users most at risk

Vixie said most of the victims are probably individual home users, rather than corporations that have technology staffs who routinely check the computers.

FBI officials said they organised an unusual system to avoid any appearance of government intrusion into the Internet or private computers. And while this is the first time the FBI used it, it won’t be the last.

“This is the future of what we will be doing,” said Eric Strom, a unit chief in the FBI’s Cyber Division. “Until there is a change in legal systems, both inside and outside the United States, to get up to speed with the cyber problem, we will have to go down these paths, trail-blazing if you will, on these types of investigations.”

Now, he said, every time the agency gets near the end of a cyber case, “we get to the point where we say, how are we going to do this, how are we going to clean the system” without creating a bigger mess than before.

(Thanks to AP, Yahoo and others)

Coal - its a worldwide solution. It's also one very big worldwide problem.

OK, no environmentalist is actually proposing to shut the coal industry down. But is it really that strange or irresponsible or revolutionary that some people should express concern about the largest (and pretty much un-checked) mining investment boom in Australia’s history?

At present Australia digs up around 400 million tonnes of coal every year.

While that raw number means little to most people, consider this: each year Australia digs up enough coal to make a pile one metre deep, and 10 metres wide, by more than 40,000km.

And we are planning to more than double that.

If Clive Palmer’s accurately named ‘China First’ mine goes ahead then Australia’s coal exports will rise by 25 per cent. This one single mine will increase our exports by a quarter. And there are another eight mines of similar scale on the drawing board.

The flood of new Queensland coal will travel on a flotilla of coal ships through the Great Barrier Reef. Indeed, it is estimated that a ship laden with coal will depart every hour of every day by 2020.

Is that the “low carbon economy” you thought the Labor government was talking about?

And what do we do, by the way, when the coal runs out? (Assuming we are all still breathing and haven’t melted or drowned.)

Oh, that’s right, silly me. Nuclear energy.

Unsafe, waste-producing, and hideously expensive, and with only enough uranium on the earth to last maybe another 50 years at current rates of consumption anyway.

So, never mind that our Japanese veggies and fish will glow in the dark for a while yet. What do we do when the uranium runs out?

Um, oil? Gas? No, that’s all going to run out, too.

Er.

Look. What is it going to take for the right wing and the left wing to join hands and actually tackle our need to develop renewable, non-polluting energy sources, including longer-lasting high capacity battery technology to store the electricity thus generated?

The sun’s shining brightly on Melbourne today.  What a shame the Government cut the subsidy for solar panels.

Oh well, let’s dig another hole … and bury our heads in it when we’ve got the coal out of it.

Those interested in coal, whether for or against it at the moment, will find some useful anti coal discussions and resources at the “Coal is Dirty” website in the States. Head to http://www.coal-is-dirty.com/, and you might also like to see the new Greenpeace site, Quit Coal, at http://quitcoal.org/

What is surely clear is that coal is not a long-term option for the world, no matter how big an industry it is now. If you disagree, visit any Chinese city and walk, coughing and wheezing, as I have, down the main street. And it’s not their recent love affair with the car that has caused it. Right across Asia, BILLIONS of people live in a disgusting permanent fog/smog of pollutants, actually unable to see the sky for years on end, if ever. The overhead shroud persists way out into country areas.

That’s wrong. I simply don’t care what some economics professor or government official says. It’s wrong. We are the most innovative and intelligent animals on the planet. We have to be able to dream up a better plan than this.

And incidentally, The Australia Institute will host two events in Queensland in the coming fortnight to discuss the impact of the mining boom on the State’s tourism, manufacturing and agriculture industries. The events will focus on the 99 per cent of Queenslanders who don’t work in mining. To find out more jump to: https://www.tai.org.au/node/449

The new Apple iPhone 4-s

The new Apple iPhone 4s

If this was released as the first in a line of products people would be raving with enthusiasm. As it is, it seems a significant improvement. But not the revolution that people expected. Thanks to Yahoo and CNET for the review.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/technology/mobile-technology/article/-/10400804/apple-announces-iphone-4s/

BFF – Best friend fell.

Middle Aged Texting

And just when you thought you'd conquered the TV remote ...

TTYL – Talk to you louder?

BTW – Bring the wheelchair.

BYOT – Bring your own teeth.

FWIW – Forgot where I was.

GGPBL – Gotta go, pacemaker battery low.

DGHA – Damn, got heartburn again.

IMHO – Is my hearing-aid on?

LMDO – Laughing my dentures out.

OMMR – On my massage recliner.

ROFLACGU – Rolling on floor laughing and can’t get up.

With thanks to Richard Ember