Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sudden Blog reactivation - Flying around Australia

My cat is ill. He is in hospital, on a drip, and needs xrays and an ultrasound to identify whats wrong with him. I am petrified with anxiety & fear.

So to try to think about something else, I am suddenly going to fly around Australia in FSX. By any plane that takes my fancy. The rules are - daylight, mostly, so I can take pretty screen shots. Only change planes at major airports. I can wander where I want. I fly real-time, no acceleration.

So here goes - its Sunday. 15th December, 6.05pm. It's cloudy, so I want to stay low. I flew to Taree earlier today, and at 11,500ft I was above the clouds and it was boring, boring, boring. So I will fly below the clouds, and I choose a Tiger Moth. Destination - points south. Glancing at Plan-G I'll aim for a private strip near Bowral. Being a Tiger moth, no GPS, no VOR - eyeball. Let's go.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Get digging


A Microserf had an entry on his blog where he realised that our whole economy is now driven by something other than gold. Not quite true, not quite false. Here's my take, based on simple stuff learned in Ted Trainer's elective 'Ecosystems and Human Habitation' in second year at UNSW. In 1990; it's not like science is hiding this information from anyone. People like John Winston Howard should be made to study, and pass, this course. At gunpoint. With me holding the gun.

Read on, and try not to get too depressed:

Money, and wealth, still comes from digging stuff out of the ground. It has since prehistory; it doesn't look like it will stop anytime soon.

Up until recently, that stuff was gold, by and large, or any other metals. It probably still is a large component on a global scale. My guess is that by far the largest component of diggable stuff is oil.

Despite all the claims of paper or digital economies, we still base all economic calculations back to three things - the value of the US$, the value of a barrel of oil, the value of an ounce of gold. There is no 'value of a Gb of data' yet, despite a Gb being worth a lot, say for pr0n (no, really, think about it!) or a movie (and the DRM); a Gb of spam is actually worth a negative value. This would be the main reason why data is not a tradable commodity, and likely never will be - 99.999% of it is crap.

Think about what events would really cause economic collapse: running out of oil and / or metals.

Running out of oil is really no big problem - there are other sources of energy. Running out of metals is a big problem though: we can still get energy from trees / sunlight / animals, but without metals we have no transport, communications or weaponry (to defend ourselves from any animals who might see us as a source of energy). Put simply: Stone Age and the resultant minor economic downturn ;-)

Running out of oil might happen in our lifetime; running out of metals will take longer but will happen. Earth's resources are large, but not infinite. Eventually, we will reach a point where there won't be enough metals to allow us to find new sources of metals - asteroids, the Moon, Mercury. For some metals (especially non-radioactive steel) we are close to that point already. Non-radioactive steel currently allows us to build airliners and spacecraft; without it we can't make accurate radiation counters - vital to the maintenance and manufacture of airliners and spacecraft.

Ponder that for a moment - there will come a time, and soon, where we won't be able to make airliners or spacecraft anymore. We'll be stuck, here, on Earth. Using up all the oil, then all the metals, and then... we won't have to worry about economics anymore; only about whether our flint knife will protect us from that grizzly bear runing towards us.

Economics will always be about digging stuff up. Data won't save you from a bear, or from peak oil.

Good luck, have a nice life.


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Suddenly Serious

David Hicks has been imprisoned, and likely tortured for about 5 years now.

Thanks to the policies and wisdom of Our Glorious Protector and Father The Right Deplorable Git John "Little Johnnie" Howard, David isn't going to get a fair trial inder Australian law, he isn't even going to get a fair trial under US law, or indeed the law of ANY country.

It's likely he'll die there, eventually, as it's pretty clear that the US & Australian governments are shitting their pants over what he'll say if released, and the likely backlash.

Amnesty is trying to do something about it, and you can too. Remember to be polite, because polite is the only language smarmy gits like Howard understand. It's quite OK for them to use torture, keep people in cages, wage unjust wars, but we actually can't call them 'little Hitlers who aren't worth spitting on as it would be a waste of good spit' to their faces, because they think that kind of behaviour is rude.


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Monday, December 18, 2006

Dream job: Custom-made Planet Designer

I've always though my dream career was hard to define, and for good reason: I've just discovered it doesn't exist, except in the fiction of Douglas Adams.

I want Slartibartfast's job.


This is my first little test output from the latest version of Terragen, a marvelous terrain & atmosphere rendering program. It has little in the way of bells and whistles - an austere interface, suitably technical variables, sparse (at present) documentation, and drop-dead gorgeous output! The galleries on the Terragen website, particularly the v2.0 galleries, have some images which defy belief. Can a digital image look that good? Yep.

I've always loved a great landscape photo - as much as Missaisle loves her macro lens - and the more clouds, mist and crepuscular rays the better.

Asuming I don't spend my entire summer break in the delightful company of Missaisle, I might get a chance to have a play with Terragen 2.0 a bit more...

Now how much was an AthlonX2-939 +4800 again? Or should I wait for post-Vista performance & prices to stabilise, and the Athon Quads to appear? Decisions, decisions!

For those who were expecting a rant about architectural education: it got shoved into draft. I might finish it. Maybe.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lunchtime deepness

Sometimes I get the urge to bite the hand the feeds me; Architecture. It really pisses me off quite a bit of the time, which is a pity because it's my apparently chosen career.

Reading Syn's blog entry, and the article it links to, was a bit scary - the article was written in 1963.

In a minute or two, I'd worked out you need to be both cow and bull simultaneously to both study and practice architecture; I didn't do terribly well at design until I learned to be a 'bull'; but that was the point that I lost almost all respect for my lecturers and professors! I also almost quit architecture at that point to do something else - I still sort of wish I had at that point - living at home I had the financial means to do it.

As of 2006 I don't think many universities, and in particular architecture faculties would appear to have learned anything at all since 1963, assuming that they even read this article!

I got my first HD (arch. equivalent of an A) in Arch. Theory when I simply made up my essay & presentation. I deliberately picked the most complex-sounding words I could find in the texts and strung them together in a semi-random fashion. Semi-random as I thought it important that it sounded melodical when read aloud. Or as monotonically droning as possible. When I read it aloud not only did I get an HD; I also received thoughful nods from professors and more importantly, instant academic street-cred.

It was at this point, I think, that I lost all shreds of respect for almost the entire architecture faculty staff. There were one or two professors I still respected, and for good reason (they encouraged me to think for myself), but the majority of them were, quite frankly, fools who were quite easy to fool most of the time. I walked away from uni with Honours, and a deep-seated feeling that I never wanted to go back.
That is changing a bit these days, as I am beginning to think Architecture, as a career, is a bit of a dead end. I'm currently earning as much as it is possible to earn without being a director or business owner; neither of which I have a desire for. The thought of working for myself scares me stupid.

Here's why: Architects study for about the same time as most decent surgeons, and have a similar work-experience period to become accredited. The complexity of our work approaches that of surgery - it requires a firm grasp of a massive gestalt that makes up a project, combined with a requirement to care which direction the timber grain goes on the back steps - attention to the most subtle and fiddly detail. The advantage a surgeon has is that his work is largely performed real-time with highly-trained professional backup staff, who themeselves are capable of a modicum of independant thought. Architecture is not like that. Imagine open-heart surgery performed remotely by a surgeon, who is only allowed to communicate in writing. Oh, and the 'thing' performing the actual operation is a yobb who can't read, and must be reminded to wash his hands and don his surgical mask every single time he enters the operating theatre. That pretty much is how architecture is carried out, certainly in Australia.

Architecture is soul-destroying on many levels. It utterly sucks the life out of you when you practice it; and despite our massive training and now legal requirements for buildings to be architect designed, the vast majority of the urban environment is complete crap.




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Monday, December 11, 2006

Expect the unexpected

Don't expect any sense out of me for a while.
I'm in love.

We met online a whole 2 weeks ago, and met in RealLife(tm) on the weekend. We get on rather well.


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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

On the morning train

I caught the inter-city express today; it occasionally stops at Meadowbank, so it's fun to get a comfy seat and air conditioning for the 30-min ride to the Big City.

I sat on the western side of the carriage, listening to Enya's 'Amarantine'. Looking out the window the sky seemed a brighter blue than normal, with big happy-looking clouds. Facing west, of course means facing where she lives, and I got to sit and wonder if she could see that cloud too.

As the train goes south past Rhodes and Concord, there's a section with a clear view all the way up to the mountains, and I coud see they were shrouded in clouds and mist. That's her favourite weather, and I could see it! So exciting! I had to repeat the song 'It's in the rain' for that!

I could see the clouds she was wrapped up in, and I think I was almost jealous of those clouds; but it also meant that I could see the clouds that she could see at the same time! I never knew such little things as simply knowing that it is possible for her to see the same cloud as me could be so much fun, and make me want blush, grin, laugh and cry all at the same time. I've been like that a fair bit this week.

I feel like the past week has been a dream; one I don't want to ever end.


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