Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What we need is more "lakes" in the not so wild west

There is quite an eerie duality between the lakes of the "wild" west-flowing rivers (in general they flow to wards Lake Eyre) and the "tamed" west flowing rivers. A series of lakes in the "wild rivers" (eg Lake Yamma Yamma, Diamantina lakes, Coongie lakes, etc.) Considerably slows the flow to the treeless salty pit in the end point (Lake Eyre). On the way, these storages are the lifeblood of both wilderness in these catchments(waterholes, trees, wildlife), and for human resources in those same catchments (mainly sheep/cattle grazing).

If you compare this with the Murray/Darling basin, all the human endeavour that has toiled to tame it has merely expanded on this natural system of floods being trapped. Both for the environment and human uses, it is an amazing extension, as the facts remain that floods and drought are as damaging to the natural environment's inhabitants as they are to human habitation. The remaining floods and droughts in the system are still primarily in the gaps where there is no suitable "lake" to absorb floods and make the water available through some of the following drought. I am estimating that by the end of this La Nina year, as much as all the water capacity of all of the Murray Darling water storages will have flowed out through the barrages of Lake Alexandrina. It is an open question as to whether the floods have nicely "reversed" the whole of the environmental damage done through the 10 or so years of it being a closed system (in drought, as it were). Although climate scientists have deemed the last 10 or 20 years as the new normal - I would suggest that it is a very brave call to BET that there will be similar droughts within our lifetime, as opposed to the usual contrived predictions.

If we could have harnessed even half of that water flowing away to the sea, the floods would have been even more controlled. At least we should have generated some osmotic energy from it at Lake Alexandrina, instead of just talking desalination. In the next few years of relatively plentiful water (even if we have a drought immediately after this La Nina) It makes no economic sense to buy (at a high price) water allocations from farmers who would use it to make a profit, for the environment which doesn't need it at that moment because of the soil storage from this recent series of flood events. Just feel grateful that we have got so much flexibility due to large natural and artificial storages, and perhaps plan some more future bountiful lakes that can be huge long term environmental assets for a relatively small environmental and human adjustment upfront price in drowned valleys.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Disaster for International Diplomacy?

The ability for high level diplomats to say one thing *on the record* to each other, and say completely different things in public or to their citizens has been completely compromised - To put it another way, our governments ability to lie to us has been hampered considerably. Oh, what a terrible world it is where the people who's job it is to lie to us can't do that convincingly anymore. If you look at it closely, it is the same with lawyers as it is with politicians. How can lawyers (and prosecutors) successfully lie anymore if forensics and bugging of their priveleged conversations keep getting better and more common?

After all there is a grain of truth in the saying that a politician (and lawyer) is lying if their lips are moving. It is their job to do that, and the job of the "free" press to believe them (otherwise come election campaign they lose all their advertising revenue)

It really appears to be the unfortunate result of better technologies - and scientific systems that seem to find truth and rule out lies.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

country qld

From article

''I grew up in a Queensland country town, where people spoke their minds bluntly,'' he wrote. ''They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald Inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.''

''These things have stayed with me through the years. WikiLeaks was created around these core values.''

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Cyberwarfare Begins

It appears WWI of cyberwars has begun. It seems to be a fair fight, with weapons of choice being Distributed Denial of service attacks. The main casualties will be financial in nature, but will deeply affect how the world will operate in the future. The expectation of "complete" privacy has been eroding considerably, and can only be considered a transient phenomena (this conversation is secure for now - if I don't record it, it loses usefulness. If I do record it, there is an unknown probability that it may be leaked somewhere in the future - hopefully it won't bite us too hard, and will fall in the hands of our friends and not get exclusively sold to our enemies without our knowledge)

This is also the dillemma I (or anyone) has with their own private and intimate emails to friends. I have got into the habit of self-censorship just as much with my private emails as I do with FB or this Blog. There are still a few things I say and talk about verbally that I would not put into writing.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Julian Assange - Hero or villain?

It seems most reputable sites and countries are trying to cut the information off but,
It's not realistic that the information is going to be stopped

Note from the following linked site that he was born in Townsville and spent a lot of his childhood on Magnetic Island.

The "knowledge" that he has uncovered and disseminated is raw, extensive and does not "take sides" in terms of censorship - It's all there and available for anyone to read and make their own judgement.

He has been successfully demonised, especially by the USA, but I am unwilling to make any judgement at all except for that which I check on specifically.



Saturday, October 16, 2010

Murray River - Not enough water.... or is that too much?

Is it just me, or does anyone else see the contradictions in the news articles in regards to the Murray River? If you google "Murray" in the news you get articles on the one hand about the grandiose plans to reduce water usage by reducing water allocations, and how State leaders and farmers are grandstanding about the disaster this would cause in communities where water buy backs take place.

On the other hand you get articles about this massive flood (the latest in a series of floods to hit the Murray-Darling System over the last year), how storages are starting to reach capacity and overflow and how even with high tech dam gates and good advance warning of floods, this still is a big potential headache and potential whole of system flood once they all actually fill.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Three books I read in 1978

These were - The population bomb - in English, it might have been a 1977 Christmas present from my parents who were in Australia at the time. Then there was Space - a book in italian about space - the solar system, Earth Moon and a quick rundown on Stellar evolution and the Big Bang theory. Then there was a Bible - In Italian, that was given to me by my "Nonna Dafne" (my father's mother) whom I stayed with by myself for a couple of weeks during some school holidays. I remember that I had these books in my hand luggage so that I could read them on the plane, travelling with my brother to Australia from Italy to be reunited with our parents (Arriving 1st April). I also had some tobacco? or something like that for my father.

Now my parents were quite horrified to hear that I had spent time with my very religious catholic grandmother, and that I was reading the scriptures that she had given me and taking it as the Gospel truth as it were. They lectured me about believing things just because someone in authority had written them down. The gist of it was that people write things down for other reasons than to promote the truth, and that you should be equally skeptical of any book (fiction OR non-fiction).

I agreed then and I agree now. I applied this to the other two books I was reading at the time, and ever since, I have had a skeptical view about doomsday predictions in regards to the Earth's population, I am equally skeptical about the Big Bang theory, and I am skeptical about practically all historical detail about the old testament (see, I hadn't even got to the new testament as yet).

How can one live a life not being certain of anything that is written? Should I have even trusted my parents when they lectured me about it in the first place? This explains a lot about my agnosticism and my current attitudes to population debate, and debates that surround theoretical physics.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I do Believe in a Big Australia

I don't necessarily believe in a big China, Europe, America etc. On balance, them shrinking would leave a nice vacuum for us to fill. I have absolutely no doubts about "sustainability" in an Australia specific sense. If there is an upper limit on our population, it would be near the population density of Europe or the US, which means I believe we can sustain a population of 200 Million as easily (or as difficultly) as Europe or The US sustains its current population. Within a couple of decades, there may well be several developed countries with a fairly rapid decline in population. They will not, on average be doing particularly well and citizens of those countries with ambition, will very likely try to move somewhere like Australia.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

FTTH Broadband was the key after all!

It appears that Fibre To The Home was what sold the Labor party plan to the New England independent representative Tony Windsor. I don't know if my blog made any difference to that decision, but I do feel vindicated nonetheless. There are two striking things that I've noticed about similarly balanced (hung) parliaments in other countries - There is a tendency for

1) Policy sclerosis - it is often easier to get a majority opposing a new policy than a majority to be in favour.

2) More deficits than otherwise - It is way easier to push policies through that *spend* more money than ones which *save* or *tax* more money.

3) Balance of power bias - The independents (and greens in the senate) will have a policy say disproportionate to the number of electorates/seats they hold. This will be especially good for environmental programs which also benefit rural Australia, reasonably good for rural policies which don't particularly rile the Greens and policy inertia (unchanged policies) will tend to be the way with practically everything else.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Election and the NBN

I have been following the progress on the Governments negotiations with Telstra and the other powers that be over the new plan for Fibre to the home. All along, if they'd bothered to follow Marconomic principles they'd know full well that the idea is to separate infrastructure elements from the applications, data plans, and the selling of the information itself. The infrastructure would then be owned by the federal government and the rest would be allowed to have market forces at play and essentially be privately run. It appears that the Labor Government had finally achieved this with the go ahead, budgeting and rollout starting - The NBN would be a government run company that would own the new fibre. Private organisations, including Telstra would then pay for capacity on these to sell plans to consumers and to run new applications on etc. This, once built would fix the constant conflict of interest of Telstra owning infrastructure that competitors need to compete with Telstra. There is just no way of making it fair without separating infrastructure from the marketable aspects of the capacity of the infrastructure.

What the Labor Government had come up with should have always been bipartisan. This would have neutralised the issue in voters such as me. Having seen the alternative plan of the Liberals, which although vague in specific ownership details, gives the impression that government investment will be more wasteful than private investment, regardless of whether it is long term or short term investment.

Telstra and land developers can not be trusted to have appropriate cabling in place even in new suburbs. So often (our suburb included) developers have opted for the cheapest possible cabling because to them it is a cost without any visible gain in land prices. Concern that the whole suburb has to be inefficiently dug up again to upgrade the lines down the track is not on their radar or their balance sheet.

It is less efficient to regulate standards of cable (fibre) speed that has to be laid, then for the Government to own it in the first place, and their shouldn't be the pressure on geting a short term return on the investment either. As it is with roads, power cables, railways, airports and sewerage pipes it should be with data transmission - the Government should own the infrastructure - pure and simple.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Top ten reasons why I (we) are having six children.

1) We has done some naughty stuff and deserve to get punished.

2) 6 is a perfect number (ie. the sum of its factors other than itself {1,2,3} add up to itself). The next one after 6 is 28.

3) With all these boat people coming in, we have to even the odds by having as many home grown children ourselves- to try our best to balance the numbers.

4) We need to have children in the age group to bridge the gap between our children and future grandchildren - so there will be always slightly older children to help one, and slightly younger children to help down the track.

5) We are going to keep having children until we get one that we like.

6) We wanted to make complete a grand experiment to see whether it is better to raise children early (20's) later (30's) or really later (40's)

7) We want a play mate for our 5th quite close in age.

8) We are sick of having a family with a respectable number of children.

9) The couple who gets to menopause with the greatest number of well-adjusted children wins!

10) They are soooo... cute!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Let me introduce myself

Hi, My name is Marco - I have five children, three dogs, a worm farm and a pregnant wife - And I've just turned forty. So much is happening in my day to day life that is interesting, but I have absolutely no time to reflect. I am quite tempted to switch to posting updates to facebook, because Ironically, when I post to my blog that can be accessed globally by anyone... no-one reads it, but when little odd tidbits get posted on facebook, many strangers as well as most of my friends find out one way or another.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why my chidren have ended up at a private school

As promised I would like to explain that I don't perceive "brands" of schools and my way of valuing schools to send my children to has, if anything, an anti-brand bias. Having gone to public schools most of my life, and having found them adequate, but variable, I had no reason to suppose that I would pay more money to send my children to a private school. Annandale was a new public school when it first opened, was the closest public primary school, and had a "catchment area" that was quite well off. All factors that made for an easy choice of school for my first three children - a total of 18 child years. The closest public High school had been ruled out for consistent word of mouth criticism for lack of a suitable bullying policy. Not content with hearsay associated with these kind of criticisms, I counted as most reliable data points students and parents that I knew, that had direct experience. All of the data pointed to the principal being the key to the issue. Had the principal left before our eldest had finished grade 5 or 6 - we could well have changed our mind.

From that point, the primary motivation became a fear of our kids being zoned into an unacceptable school, or being in limbo on a waiting list not knowing until too close to the starting date. A second motivation came in the form of our 4th, who was due to start prep the year after our first moved to high school. We were scrambling to see which school had better programs for autistic children. A third motivation was the struggle of doing pickups and drop-offs to geographically distant schools. A fourth was being able to get our children into instrumental programs, which were free but oversubscribed in Annandale.

Private schools, especially Catholic ones, have early enrolment deadlines, which means early acceptance of a place there. Informal surveys of all the special needs childrens' parents that we knew noted that Annandale was not catering well for special needs children. Ryan Catholic has a large primary and high school close together which made pickups/dropoffs easier. Instrumental programs at Ryan were also a lot more accessible, although more expensive. A clinching factor for doing the entire switch was the catering for large families. Fees for four children at the school was less than double what it would be for a single child (which makes it about one fifth the price of the Grammar/Cathedral brands) AND the large catholic population of the school doesn't give you stares if you have any more than a couple of children.

So although we are spending a little more money than we would with public schools, the difference is much smaller than most people imagine.

I had a line-ball decision after grade eight and grade nine because my oldest wanted to change to Pimlico. The clincher was that the motivation was primarily to be with friends than any particular academic or otherwise benefit. I am really not sure if the decision was right, but the balance of various risks was better to stick with the school she had been in.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Actually, six is a perfect number

I am traditionally coy about revealing intentions on increasing my family size. Don't feel bad - it's just a Parigi tradition. I figure I've left it long enough now, and I'm really chuffed at having a baby (due Dec 24th 2010) in the same year as two of my blogosphere friends. As usual, my family has given their traditionally negative perspective - so, in your comments, if you don't berate me in an argumentative fashion, I will not consider you family :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Miners aren't as important as they think they are

Bring on the mining tax! I can't believe the amount of traction miners are getting with their campaign against the super profits tax. Australia is not strong because of mining - the economy is flexible enough to take advantage of whatever boom is going. I have to give credit for the Government "socialising the gains" in this way. It is even a safety net for the miners if conditions go sour, the reduced tax if profits disappear is really a safety net - that is how progressive taxation works.

On the flip side of the coin, on our second biggest earner (correct me if I'm wrong) - higher education, the government has slammed on the brakes for foreign student intakes. I still can't comprehend why we are paranoid enough to think that young immigrants paying through the nose to get into our country, but still being subject to long term assessment should be slowed. When I compare the amount of money the Government "invest" in my children to get them through until they are employable, and compare it to how much they spend on a foreign student immigrant (negative money) - there is no question. Other countries are making the investment, we are getting their taxes. Once the governments in India and China realise this, it is they who will put up the barriers.

I'm having my six children before the government realises that imports are cheaper.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


I am so proud of my 7 year old son. He is learning about space at the moment and, jokingly, his teacher aide has been threatening to send him on a rocket to Pluto if he doesn't do his work. He sniggers every time she makes this threat for several times until she begs to know what he is sniggering about. Then he tells her that Pluto isn't even a real planet (it's a dwarf planet, don't you know) which makes her threat quite silly.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


There is no way around it - Facebook is a poor substitute for just saying what I want to say about whatever is on my mind (without distraction).

- Water - I feel somewhat vindicated in my thought that reduced allocations, water buybacks, desalination plants, compulsory water tanks were not going to "fix" the Murray-Darling: All we needed was just a good sequence of floods, which incidentally make some or most of those fixes look foolish in hindsight. However, trading of water, infrastructure for transmission and efficiency, and even dams/water storages help both in drought and to manage the bounty of floods.

As far as the Lake Eyre basin is concerned, There is such an inland sea of evaporative ponds (lake Yamma-Yamma, Coongie Lakes, Bulloo lakes, lake hope, Goyder's lagoon, Warburton Lakes, Diamantina lakes, lake Blanche, Lake frome, as well ase now Lake Eyre South and North) that in the medium term, it should be considered that it would generate "coastal showers" for the inland basins of Australia, hopefully extending a run of higher runoffs.See: Lake Eyre Status and

Latest satellite images for images and data on water in the deserts.

Friday, April 23, 2010

After an epic trip... lack of focus

For probably months now, our family-Easter-Tasmania road trip (+band contest) has been my main focus. It culminated in trying to squeeze a few tourist stops on the grand journey back, cold and fatigue becoming greater factors. I would really like to draw all our stops on a map, but I'll just leave that as an excercise to the reader, and perhaps just list the dates and stopover points.

27/3 - Rockhampton
28/3 - Coonabarabran
29/3 - Seymour
30/3 - Spirit of Tasmania II overnight, Bass Strait
31/3 to 9/4 - Hobart
10/4 - Spirit of Tasmania II overnight, Bass Strait
11/4 - Cooma
12/4 - Canberra
13/4 - Canberra
14/4 - Kempsey
15/4 - Rockhampton

A few times during our trip, strangers would tell us how crazy we were, but it was quite amazing to have an adventure and be able to share it with the whole family. I would like to say that we will do it again, but I think it will take another few years to save up for it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More than a month without posting - yikes

Things that I wanted to post about but haven't found the time:

- I have been following with interest where the water ends up from the major floods of the interior of Australia.

- I have made a connection between the emigration of non-trivial numbers of young, rich intelligent Indians to Australia (brain drain), and the hysteria in the Indian media over the relatively small risk of attack by racists in Australia on their students.

- How great Wii fit software is - addictive in a good way. Our whole family lines up to have a go at the game - keeping us more active.

- The paper-less post office. I have been noticing a dramatic decline in the number of physical letters being sent around.

- Insights into the future -

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Send us your young..... rich.... intelligent....

I have thought about this long and hard, but the development that the Higher education system (including private universities) is being transformed into a vehicle for "filtered" immigration (see previous entry is one which we should be finding positives for. It has not happened by design, but I couldn't have thought of a better way to both have a large immigration intake and have it roughly filtered - by youth, finances and intelligence. If we take a holistic approach to the higher education system, rather than pigeonholing on what form a "good" university should take, the advantages of encouraging and utilising this trend should be obvious - especially to someone with a commitment to open borders.

I feel that there is only a few tweaks required, and the Higher education system can be a model of how immigration can be regulated such that it is fully funded, reasonably inclusive of the different source nations, and allows a good amount of time for the would be immigrant to be "tested" - with University exams and the whole Australian experience being a test as to whether they really want to stay here, and whether their peers who help them with their red tape etc. really want them to stay here.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Out-back-yard Water Fight

SA: Hey; Nice flood, Newy*. Can we have some of that?

NSW: Get your beady eyes off it Southa**. That's OUR flood. Get your own flood! We saw it first; We had to suffer the damage and inconvenience. Now we get to store it up for our next drought.

SA: OK here you go. Ten million bucks. Will that cover it?

NSW: HAHAHAHAHAHA... Do you think this is about money?

Penny Wong: Do I get a say in this?

SA & NSW in unison: SHUT UP.

* Newy = NSW

** Southa = SA