Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Yes, build it up higher! (the Burdekin dam that is)

The one minor consolation that I got from the sad news that no hydro station was being built up in the rainforest mountains up north, was that the environmental groups acceded that the Burdekin Dam stage two should be used for hydro instead. There apparently is less ecologically important land to be flooded. The only thing was that the extra storage capacity entailed was way overkill, and even the storage as it is was a resource waiting for possible extra uses. It has been handy for water security here in Townsville of course. It seems that with the talk of South East Queensland wanting a pipeline for their water security, stage 2 is becoming much more likely. Of course, the Burdekin is a river where siltation is a big long term problem compared to the rainforest areas, but by the time the pipeline is built, hydro will almost certainly be part of the deal anyway (to power the pumps?) together with all its carbon credits and peak loading power supply advantages. The possible problems with this vision? Pipeline cost may be in the billions of dollars.

Monday, July 24, 2006


The Iranian government, after supplying, bankrolling and otherwise funding Hezbollah, isn't exactly bravely entering the conflict in its own right. Instead, it offers safe haven for its leaders (and presumably other Iranians who might be in Lebanon), a steady flow of money and arms when they are required, and trained and ready suicide bombers or access to terrorist training.
Like-wise Israel, knowing full well that the real problem lies over the border in Syria and Iran, is mercilessly targeting Lebanon, even letting its own citizens think that it is hitting at the root cause of their problem. Attacks that might engage enemy states don't even seem to be on the table. Even an accidental foray or an empty threat to those countries would more effectively engage them. Fear (or cowardice) seems to make this a path they won't take.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Is it good for the democratic pincer movement?

Looking back st my Januarydemocracy in palestine post, my model would dictate that an economically destitute Lebanon would be bad for its democracy in the medium term. This would entrench the non-democratic regimes of sponsoring neighbours for a while, making a greater satan, little satan steamroller more effective than constant democratic pressure from their own citizens for regime change.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine

I feel it would be remiss of me not to revisit my opinions on the middle-east given recent escalation.

1) There was a point in time with quite a bit of optimism on three fronts - Democracy in Palestine and Iraq, Syria pulling troops out of Lebanon, and Australia and Japan working together in Iraq. Well as I expected, democratic palestine is as hopeless as totalitarian palestine, Syria pulling out of Lebanon was almost completely useless without a disarming of Hezbollah, and Japan took the opportunity to pull out at about the time we were harrassing them about the Whales (I don't believe in co-incidences). However, the current blood-thirst and chaos in Lebanon is making Iraq look stable, secure and connected to the outside world in comparison, as well as democratic.

2) This Israeli escalation is not indicative of an overall escalation, as Arab forces that were to attack in Iraq will be diverted to attack in Israel and surrounds.

3) Syria and Iran may become more vulnerable to attack, and the diplomatic cost of doing so seems to have lessened.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


A recent decline and death of a very old relative has again got me asking questions about the morality and details of euthanasia. Some careful but private observations about this particular case has answered some for me.
1. If you were a doctor in a similar position to make decisions, would you make the same decisions? Yes, I probably would.
2. Do you consider the treatments completely legal? Yes. Everything was done by the book for palliative care.
3. Do you consider the treatment observed of very ill elderly patients as moral? No. It seems to me that most decisions were most likely to hasten decline rather than extend a comfortable but bed-ridden life. If these decisions were made on a much younger patient with the same ailments, at the minimum the doctors would be guilty of gross negligence, if not murder.

The real question is why I am satisfied at a system that gives the doctors power over life and death like this? This is basically because of limited resources and priority to use them. Also there are diminishing returns with the very elderly. Hastening death in declining patients leaves more beds and resources for patients with better long term prospects, like people my age. This is why I will refuse to go to hospital when I am old.