Monday Message Board

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

100 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @Fran Barlow Motorcycles make more sense than 1 tonne behemoths for the vast majority of trips. I was quite happy carless in the city, but need personal transport now in the sticks. My motorbike gets 3.5l/100km, nearly matched by a Prius, but uses an amount of material more reasonably to scale for transporting one person. Of course it’s not as comfortable as a car, but I migrated to Australia too late in life to have become deeply infected with its self-petting comfort obsession.

  2. I forgot to mention the main problem with hydrogen. It’s not an energy resource on planet earth. There is little to no natural free hydrogen in the biosphere. First, the free hydrogen has to be made before it can be used. This results in initial energy losses of up to 30% just in the conversion of some other form of energy to free hydrogen (representing chemical potential energy). For this reason alone, I believe hydrogen fuel will remain of limited application.

  3. Ikonoclast :
    I forgot to mention the main problem with hydrogen. It’s not an energy resource on planet earth. There is little to no natural free hydrogen in the biosphere. First, the free hydrogen has to be made before it can be used. This results in initial energy losses of up to 30% just in the conversion of some other form of energy to free hydrogen (representing chemical potential energy). For this reason alone, I believe hydrogen fuel will remain of limited application.

    What has improved a lot over the recent years is the energy efficiency of electrolysis which by itself represents manageable losses. However, there’s still the issue of packing the hydrogen into a reasonably dense form for it to be practical as a automotive fuel substitute and that process requires energy too. IIRC cooling it to liquid hydrogen temperatures will add an additional 30% of its available energy output and then you have to keep it cool.

  4. @Crispin Bennett

    Motorcycles make more sense than 1 tonne behemoths for the vast majority of trips.

    Doubtless, but as an ex-motorcycle rider who knew she was at the mercy of others’ attention spans far more so than in a car, and suffered a broken clavicle and torn knee ligaments as two examples of that, I would never return to this mode of transport.

  5. @Ikonoclast

    This is my concern, especially if one must use FHC to produce them. However, if one can use surplus renewable energy to do the electrolysis, storage and delivery, then the EROEI isn’t a decisive objection. A home that collects 10kWh on the foof and uses 6.5 of them to run the house and the balance to produce H2 from water, and supplies this either as fuel to low temperature fuel cell for an EV or to run the household supply after the sun goes down shouldn’t be bothered by the RTE. That surplus energy might well have had to be dumped, or sold for some other low value task. Essentially, it’s a kind of battery, and thus should be compared with the life cycle ecosystem costs of batteries.

    The thing about the Zeppelin though dramatic to watch, is not really relevant toH2 use operation in motor vehicles, where leaks would be slow and the gas would dissipate very quickly and where access to flammable material would be limited.

  6. Fran Barlow,
    “Doubtless, but as an ex-motorcycle rider who knew she was at the mercy of others’ attention spans far more so than in a car, and suffered a broken clavicle and torn knee ligaments as two examples of that, I would never return to this mode of transport”

    A friend showed me a European two person car last year which was a bit like a scooter with a protective exterior. Possibly these sort of vehicles will become more common in the future, in combination with electrified public transport and more active transport. Such vehicles being smaller and more vulnerable would hopefully change road culture, and could work with a move to streets for people like Jan Gehl recommends shared with some limited bicycle and small vehicle use.

    In an urban planning assignment last year our group turned a large part of Alexandra Parade near the old gas and fuel site near Clifton Hill to parkland increasing the urban canopy and daylighting some of the old wetlands, and narrowing Alexandra Parade to two lanes. This sort of urban planning thinking is likely to become more prominent due to needing to cool cities to adapt to climate change, as well as change transportation habits to mitigate climate change.

  7. John Quiggin,

    I think you’ve written you have worked extensively on water policy and the Murray/Dhungalla – would you happen to know much about the legal aspects in that policy?

    I know you’re working on something to do with ownership theories re: your Uncle Tom’s Cabin post and other posts. In other colonial jurisdictions like New Zealand and Hawaii there have been intersections with public trust law and native title as well as private ownership in river jurisprudence.

    Would you happen to know if this has been broached at all in the policy making for the Murray/Dhunghalla river in Australia? And if so where in the policy works it might be found?

  8. Fran Barlow :
    Doubtless, but as an ex-motorcycle rider who knew she was at the mercy of others’ attention spans far more so than in a car, and suffered a broken clavicle and torn knee ligaments as two examples of that, I would never return to this mode of transport.

    I for one will feel safer as self-driving cars take over. Riding a motorcycle makes one very aware that a large proportion of drivers are not remotely capable of responsibly handling the vehicles their licences permit them to control. I would be dead roughly once a week if I couldn’t anticipate others’ errors. And once more for acts of aggression.

  9. @Crispin Bennett

    Yes,but even with quite defensive riding, a quite minor concentration lapse followed by a trivial road event can get you permanently incapacitated. I was riding down Victoria Rd Rozelle once and saw a station-wagon brake in the wet and 360 across two adjacent lanes. I was 100 metres back but had I been beside the vehicle I could not have avoided a collision.

    Both my other accidents were in circumstances where there was no evasive action available.

  10. A copy of this article with extra links can be found here on my own website.

    Alfred Venison on May 15th, 2015 at 08:10 | #73

    Thank you for your interest and support.

    The history of Syria in the last years is, on one level, a vast tragedy, and on another level it gives hope and inspiration to the rest of humanity.

    What other country, which has lost more than 220,000 lives out of a population of 17,952,000, that is 1.2% of the population, caused by an invasion of terrorist jihadists from almost every corner of the globe – armed and paid for by the United States, Saudi Arabia and their allies – since March 2011, could have not only endured, but maintained a vibrant cultural life? Check out the pages of the English language version of the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) to see what I mean.

    Unlike the ‘leaders’ of Australia, the United States, Britain, France, Israel and their allies, President Bashar al-Assad, so demonised in the lying mainstream Australian newsmedia, runs a truly popular and transparent government. He was elected by an overwhelming majority in elections on 4 June 2014. The validity of these elections was testified to by international observers at a United Nations press conference on 19 June 2014.

    His government supplies more than what the Whitlam Labor government succeeded in giving by 1975. Every Syrian has the right to free education all the way up to tertiary level if they wish and medical care and other social services are provided free by the government.

    On numerous occasions, President al-Assad has granted lengthy interviews even to journalists who are clearly not sympathetic to him and his government, including, for example 60 Minutes in January 2015. (Sixty Minutes only showed a fraction of that interview. You can find the link to the full unedited version of that interview here.) If only a fraction of the lies peddled about him were true, you would expect him to have been cut to ribbons in such interviews, but he never is. In every interview I have watched he has refuted the allegations made against his government with evidence and logic and put his government’s case convincingly.

    If Abbott, Bishop, Obama, Kerry, Hollande, Merkel, Poroshenko or Cameron allowed themselves to be subjected to such close scrutiny, they would be torn to shreds.

  11. I note that Wikipedia and Amnesty International both characterise the Syrian regime as authoritarian and Bashar al-Assad as guilty of crimes against humanity including atrocities and war crimes. I see no reason to doubt these sources. The history of his father and of the Baathist Party in Syria is clear. They were and are guilty of many crimes against humanity.

    In saying this, I do not exonerate the other side. The situation is clearly one where two atrocious sets of thugs fight each other and the “cops” on the beat (Saudi Arabia, USA, Britain etc.) are also corrupt. There are no good guys in this fight.

    I wonder why people always assume that every conflict is a good guy vs. bad guy conflict? Actually, that is rare. Most conflicts are bad guy vs. bad guy conflicts. This illustrates why, in the great majority of cases, neutrality in the best stance particularly in relation to other people’s civil wars. For sure, give humanitarian and refugee aid where possible to innocents (mainly women, children and non-combatants fleeing) but provide no fighting men, no war materiel and no propaganda assistance to any side.

    People would be wise to remember these principles and not feed war.

  12. @Ikonoclast

    The people of Iraq, Libya and Syria were undoubtedly better off before each of those countries got their recent wars than they are now.

    In each case the US and friends started the war, armed, funded and propagandized both locally and internationally in favour of violence.

    Not feeding was is the key.

  13. @Megan

    Yes, that certainly is the case. That doesn’t mean that anyone can credibly hold up Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad as exemplars of humanity and democracy. Those regimes were/are a nightmare for some of their people. However, it’s simply none of our business. Particularly when we go in and just make things worse. We don’t understand the region or the people and we don’t understand how to fix their problems. That much is patently clear.

    Of course, it is all about great power politics: power, arms and oil. We are never going to change it. We have no power. Or perhaps I should just talk of myself. I have no power, no influence. Nothing I do or say will make one jot of difference to any of this.

  14. Part of the reason for the civil wars in the Middle East is climate change due to the drought before the Arab Spring which limited imports of food and increased the price of food

  15. The contribution below has already been posted to my own web site. Other links to sources cited can be found there.

    Yet another baseless claim of Syrian government crimes against humanity

    Ikonoklast wrote on May 16th, 2015 at 07:32 :

    I note that Wikipedia and Amnesty International both I note that Wikipedia and Amnesty International both characterise the Syrian regime as authoritarian …

    I could not find where Wikipedia[1] “characterise[d] the Syrian regime as authoritarian and Bashar al-Assad as guilty of crimes against humanity including atrocities and war crimes.” Could you please show where this claim was made?

    Ikonoklast continued:

    I see no reason to doubt these sources.

    Amnesty’s record on impartiality suffered a fatal blow when they stated in 1991 that Iraqi soldiers had torn babies from their incubators in Kuwait and left them to die on the floor of the hospital’s neo-natal unit. Arguably this sealed the 1991 onslaught on Iraq. The story that the Kuwaiti government rewarded Amnesty with $500,000 for endorsing this pack of lies has not gone away – and as far as I am aware, to date, has not been denied.[2]

    As a consequence of the fraudulent “incubator babies” story, sanctions were imposed on Iraq for nearly two decades and Iraq was bombed extensively in 1991 and invaded in 2003. According to former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clarke as many as 3.3 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children died.[3]

    Ikonoclast wrote:

    I wonder why people always assume that every conflict is a good guy vs. bad guy conflict? Actually, that is rare. Most conflicts are bad guy vs. bad guy conflicts. …

    I could ask: Why do ostensible humanitarians, rather than addressing the evidence presented to them, so often resort to the tired old “curse on both your houses” refrain?

    As I have shown above, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has, on a number of occasions, subjected himself to close scrutiny by critical journalists, some who were openly unsympathetic. Show me where in any one of those interviews, even one of the allegations against him has not been refuted?

    Bashar al-Jaafari, the current Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations, has on a number of occasions, held lengthy press conferences at the United Nations in recent years. Show me where, even once, the claims made by the mainstream and ‘alternate’ newsmedia of Syrian government crimes against humanity have ever even been put to him by journalists from the those same media outlets at those press conferences?

    Footnotes

    [1] incidentally, in its Syrian Demographics section, Wikipedia states :

    According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Syria hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 1,852,300. The vast majority of this population was from Iraq (1,300,000), …

    As one participant in those illegal wars and sanctions against Iraq from which all those Iraqis fled, Australia clearly owes Syria many millions of dollars in compensation for the trouble and expense that Syria has been put to as a consequence.

    [2] Amnesty International: An Instrument of War Propaganda? (8/8/15) by Felicity Arbuthnot- Global Research.

    [3] Former US Attorney General: US (and Australian) sanctions against Iraq are genocidal (8/8/15) by Felicity Arbuthnot- Candobetter.net, Breaking the Set YouTube Channel.

  16. @James

    “The form of government Assad presides over is an authoritarian regime.[4] The Assad regime has described itself as secular,[5] while experts have contended that the regime exploits ethnic and sectarian tensions in the country to remain in power.[6][7][8] The regime’s narrow sectarian base relying upon the Alawite minority has also been noted.[9]” – Wikipedia article on Bashar al_Assad, second paragraph.

    I do not blindly accept propaganda from the US, Russian and Chinese regimes (to give some examples.) Nor do I blindly accept propaganda from or about the Syrian regime.

  17. Ikonoklast (at May 16th, 2015 at 13:44 | #93).

    Could you provide me a link to the page which you have quoted from?

    I am unable to find any of what you have posted on the Wikipedia Syria page.

  18. James, this seems to be the Wikipedia page in question.

    The source for footnote [4] – “authoritarian regime” – is a book (“Middle East Authoritarianisms: Governance, Contestation, and Regime Resilience in Syria and Iran”) whose authors advocated ending negotiations and formally arming the FSA rebels.

    But, I would say “authoritarian” is probably an apt description.

    The Wikipedia entry goes on to say:

    Initially seen by the domestic and international community as a potential reformer, this expectation ceased when Assad ordered mass crackdowns and military sieges on Arab Spring protesters, leading to the Syrian Civil War.

    So we come back to “cause and effect”, or more simply “Who started it?” Starting wars is always a bad idea. Most recent wars have been started directly or indirectly by the US.

  19. @Fran Barlow
    My point wasn’t that defensive riding can make a rider entirely safe, nor that people reasonably scared off by personal experience should ride. It was that the answer to killer motorists is to prevent them, not the people they kill, from controlling motor vehicles. Hence autonomous cars.

  20. Megan wrote:

    But, I would say “authoritarian” is probably an apt description.

    The government of any country faced with an invasion by tens of thousands of sociopathic islamist ‘converts’ from every corner of the globe, armed and paid for by the medieval kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the dictatorship of Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, France, the United States and other allies, would have to resort to fairly harsh measures to defend its people, so I would not wish to quibble at length about whether or not the Syrian government should be labelled ‘authoritarian’.

    The critical point is whether or not the Syrian government represents the Syrian people and enjoys their support.

    All the evidence of which I am aware, some of which I have posted above, shows that the Syrian government enjoys the overwhelming support of Syrians. This includes the article Syria’s press conference the United Nations doesn’t want you to see? It is about the UN Press conference of observers at the Syrian elections on 19 June last year?

    Megan, could I suggest that you read that article and watch the embedded video? If you were find anything that you believe to be untrue in that article, certainly feel welcome to let me know here (or there – anyone is welcome to post to my site).

    The war in Syria is not just a war against the Syrian government, it is a genocidal war against the Syrian people, including Christian Arabs, Armenians, a small minority of Judaic Syrians and Syrians of the Islamic faith, be they Alawite, Shiite or Sunni.

  21. @James

    To be clear: when I wrote “Who started it?” that was rhetorical.

    The US started it. The US is a genocidal killing machine.

  22. Megan on May 17th, 2015 at 00:29 | #99

    The following was accidentally omitted from my last post :

    Thank you for drawing to our attention the dubious value of one source for that Wikipedia page. Given the complete failure of that Wikipedia article to even mention the Syrian Presidential elections held only last year on 4 June 2014, as I mentioned above, how could anyone consider anything from that Wikipedia page as authoritative?

    Megan wrote:

    To be clear: when I wrote “Who started it?” that was rhetorical.

    The US started it. The US is a genocidal killing machine.

    I can see we are in agreement here. In recent years a number of people who label themselves ‘progressive’ or ‘socialist’ have supported the NATO invasion of Libya and now the US proxy war against Syria.

    You may find of interest the YouTube video My identity is Syria (5/10/12)

    Note the huge crowds of Syrians waving Syrian flags and holding up photos of President Bashar al-Assad. Could you imagine such large crowds cheering Tony Abbott or even Bill Shorten?

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