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.