The Noosa triathlon was all booked out, but that created an opportunity for innovation with DIY Tri. General idea is to do all three events in the course of the day, but otherwise no rules, no pack drill. I managed 16km run, 800m swim, 30 k cycle. Advantages

* No need to worry about transition – have lunch and do a bit of shopping between legs

* Not nearly as tiring

* Even with long breaks, takes less time than entering the official event (drive to Noosa, register, wait around for hours, do the event, wait to retrieve bike, collapse for a few hours, drive back)

* Guaranteed first place in every category

Rail asset sale to pay for rail liabilities

The Bligh government has announced that a substantial amount of money (about $200 million) derived from the sale of QR’s highly profitable coal business will be used to upgrade heavily subsidised passenger rail services between Brisbane and Cairns, correctly described by the Transport Minister as a “luxury” service. In this case the rhetoric of the Premier and Treasurer, spurious when applied to the income-generating coal freight service, is absolutely correct – every dollar spent on new tilt trains is a dollar that can’t be spent on schools and hospitals.

Hat-tip: David Adamson

Zero-dimensional chess — Crooked Timber

One reason I’m thinking a fair bit about the long term future is that immediate prospects look grim, particularly in the US.

According to this piece from the NY Times on Obama’s post-election plan

After two years of operating at loggerheads with Republicans, Mr. Obama and his aides are planning a post-election agenda for a very different political climate. They see potential for bipartisan cooperation on reducing the deficit, passing stalled free-trade pacts and revamping the education bill known as No Child Left Behind — work that Arne Duncan, Mr. Obama’s education secretary, says could go a long way toward repairing “the current state of anger and animosity.”

Translation: Mr Obama and his aides plan a series of pre-emptive capitulations, after which the Republicans will demand the repeal of the healthcare act (or maybe abolition of Social Security). When/if that is refused, the Repugs will shut down the government, and this time they will hold their nerve until Obama folds.

BTW, the only thing I knew about Arne Duncan before this was that he was a fair country (ie Australian NBL) basketball player. But reading his bio (corporate-style charter school booster, fan of incentives based on standardised tests etc) along with the fact that he’s in close with Obama is indicative of why things have gone so badly in this administration.

The implicit price of carbon

I was too busy to post when it came out, but the Climate Institute has recently issued an important report on the implicit carbon price associated with such measures as renewable energy quotas. The take home message is that major economies, either directly or indirectly, are putting in place carbon prices. China’s current implicit price, for example (in PPP terms), is roughly either times higher than Australia’s and three to four times higher than the USA and Japan.

You can read more here.

An important implication is that concerns about Australia “acting alone” or “getting out in front” are misplaced. We are, as we have been for most of the past decade, at the back of the international pack. One day, this will come home to hurt us.