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Patrick's Blog and Other Rubbish

Blog Archives

Archive 1


6.00 pm

The Australian Medical Industry (and I indirectly work in what is sort of an offshoot of it, so I'll comment away freely without reservation or accuracy) is currently in a crisis.

The medical litigation insurance companies are in the process of folding, leaving doctors uninsured. This leaves the Doctors with the choice of a forced holiday, or working while exposed to the risk of terrifying litigation risk. The federal government is obviously being forced to step in and solve the problem...somehow.

A lot of people have been using this to criticise the rightwing, libertarian side of things on the grounds that if the free market is so great, let it solve the problem.

But I think that this is exactly the sort of case where the free market does not apply. Not that it doesn't work, IT DOESN'T APPLY. Litigation is not a case of trade. Litigation is the use of force. Someone gets a court win and then just takes money off the other party by force: if the losing party doesn't pay then the cops come around with guns. If that isn't force what is?

The whole point about free trade, is that if you don't like the deal on offer, you don't have to buy it. If you don't like a Ford product, you are free to buy from General Motors. But in the Law, if you don't want to go to court to face a law suit, well too damn bad!

The modern right wing view of things is that deregulation to a user pays type system will produce a better result than extensive government control. But the Law is not a user pays system. It is a LOOSER pays system. When someone sues a shopping centre because they were too fat to fit through the checkout counter, they are not planning on paying for the legal service. They are planning on paying nothing, and getting money back. All the theory about User Pays systems are completey irrelevant, because that is not what is happening. Even if the plaintif ends up paying, they didn't PLAN on it, and so didn't take that into account when they make their decisions.

That is not to say that litigation is always, or even mostly wrong. It is not to say that there is no part for litigation to play in our society. What it says is that litigation is NOT trade, and so claiming that free trade means open slather on litigation is a total nonsequiteur.

Applying free trade ideas to cases where people don't have a choice, where use of force is involved, and where the person who chooses is not the person who pays, is fraught with dangers and is not in keeping with the original idea.

8.45 am

And for those of you (and I'm assuming someone reads this) who follow my other pages, I've finally finished plugging all the boost leaks in my car's intake system.

For some months now, my car has been suffering from a series of annoying boost leaks. You get this when you turn the boost up to three times the factory level I suppose.

The problem manifested itself as hard starting, poor idle, stalling, and loss of boost. It was the loss of boost that gave the game away, because this was associated with an extra hissing noise from under the bonnet. This eventually suggested to me that boost was escaping from somewhere.

So I looked about and eventually found a culprit, the rubber coupling between the turbo and the intake pipe had split, near one end. The air was leaking through the crack. This meant that the car was running too lean at idle, when too much air was getting in, and then at boost, too much air was getting out.

So I cut off the damaged end, and replaced the pipe. This made the problem better, but it was not fixed. Then it deteriorated again. So I took apart the intake system again... to find no problem. This time I went over the whole car, replacing spark plugs, leads, oil, and all those things that are supposed to be replaced sometime this year anyway. Eventually the new culprit was found: the overboost blow off valve.

This valve is designed to open and dump boost in the event that the wastegate is stuck and boost rises to dangerous levels. It is set to open at about 7 psi in a stock car. I had previously increased the spring loading to enable it to remain closed when I was running 10 psi, but now that I had increased boost to 15 psi, it was dumping boost that I wanted to keep.

It was also possible that it was not closing properly once it had opened, thus leading to my starting and idle problems.

So, I increased the spring load even more. Hopefully that will keep it shut.

Once again, the problem got better, but not fixed, and then gradually deteriorated again. Hmmmm.

After going over the whole engine once again, I took the intake tube off the turbo again, and found that the rubber coupling had split again. This time I replaced it with a fibre reinforced section of radiator hose. This was very had to fit, at it was much thicker (hopefully stronger) but using lots of hot water and allowing it to creep into time over a week or so, eventually did the trick.

Once again, the problem got better, but not fixed, and then gradually deteriorated again. Arrrgh!

This time I got a plumbing blanking cap and totally sealled the boost dump valve.

Once again, the problem got better, or at least, the boost leak problem appeared to be fixed! But the idle and poor starting remained. Could it be that I was actually dealing with two separate problems?

I investigated this aspect. The boost leak issue seemed to be solved. However the idle and starting, while better than when there were big hose splits, still needed work. Furthermore, the problem now seemed to be only when the engine was cold, and the colder the engine, the worse the problem.

This was not likely to be another leak. I could not think of a way that there would be a temperature dependent leak, that would not be leaking boost at 15 psi.

Reading the webpages suggested a completely different explanation. The cylinder head temperature sensor has a significant effect on the fuel delivered during cold starts and cold idle. If the sensor is recording too high a resistance, then the engine will idle badly when cold, but be OK when the engine reaches the temperature that it already thinks it is.

This will have to be investigated further. But meanwhile, when the engine is warmed up, it should be running just fine. So why isn't it putting out heaps of power? Or have I just gotten used to it running at 15-10 psi (15psi initially dropping to 10 psi after a few seconds to keep everything safe after the engine has heated up)?

So last night I redid the acceleration test. Times of 5.44 and 5.40 seconds. Sticking this into my formulae gives me an average 108 kW at the wheels, which correlates roughly to 190 kW at the engine.

Still not enough of course. But I have just gotten used to it. It seems slower with 190 kW than it did with 170 kW back at the end of 2000. But the stopwatch says otherwise.


8.35 am

I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer last night. The Series 6 SMASHED episode.

I've come to the conclusion that Buffy must be occupying the same headspace as South Park in the minds of the censors.

They are all sitting there with their eyes shut and their fingers in their ears saying "Of course it's a kids show, it's a cartoon/about magic and stuff. No one would really be making a show in which the male lead punches the female lead around to get her horny. And it works! We must be having a flashback to that snuff movie we reviewed last night. Lesbian witches having oral sex while floating in mid air. This is a children's show. Ha ha ha. Pass the dried frog pills."

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Well not for an adult audience. I wouldn't want my 15 year old kids watching it. If I had any.

But I suppose that's why in Australia it's on at 10.30 at night. In the USA I think it is on a lot earlier, and I don't know how they get away with it.


6.12 pm

Fellow Aussie Blogger links to the Newsday report Oil Fields' Free Refill which should piss off both greenies AND the terrorist supporting Saudis. EXCELLENT!

...Although it sounds too good to be true, increasing evidence from the Gulf of Mexico suggests that some old oil fields are being refilled by petroleum surging up from deep below, scientists report. That may mean that current estimates of oil and gas abundance are far too low....

... It hints that the world may not, in fact, be running out of petroleum...

There's lot's more stuff there, includingin giant 600 year old worms. So go and read.


5.00 pm

I've been watching these ads on TV for some movie called 40 Days and 40 Nights. Only in Hollywood would anyone think that going without sex for 40 days (and 40 nights) would be a big deal.

Of course there may be more to the story than just that. But I wouldn't bet on it.

5.55 pm


Are you sick of writing he/she whenever you talk about some hypothetical person? Me too. I am currently learning Mandarin Chinese and the Mandarin third party personal pronoun is a gender neutral Ta which means he/she/it and is so much what English needs right now.

Soooo......Let's just steal it :> Just start using it in everyday conversation, if someone asks what it means, tell them, and wait to see how long it takes to become common.

Remember, just use ta in place of he/she/it whenever you don't know the sex of the person you are refering to. And if you ever hear anyone else use it, email me.


12.30 pm

Right now the chattering classes are going on and on about some deaf lesbian couple who want a deaf baby. I dismissed this initially as being the sort of thing that the chatterati always waffle on about, lesbians, disabled, whatever. And then someone used the phrase "designer baby".

This made me sit up, because this is something that people have been worried about ever since the word "clone" was invented. That people would use technology to give themselves babies to their own specifications, without the random element that we have had for the last billion years of sexual reproduction.

And I realized, that this is how it was always going to be.

Designer Babys were never going to START with someone wanting to clone Elvis. Or Bin Laden. Or Einstein. No, not in our society. It was always going to be some messy, pitiful case where most people were sympathetic to the parents, where they were already guaranteed some privledged status because of their disability, where people would say "just this once".

And so it begins. After a few deaf couples have designed deaf babies. Then some other group, such as a dwarf couple, will demand a dwarf baby. Because they will be able to relate to a very short child better than a full size one. And then a very tall couple will turn up. And then one that was very tall and athletic (basketballers perhaps). And time and time again, it will just be one little step.

Eventually, it will reach the point where everyone who wants some special treatment will be able to come up with some excuse, and the exceptions will become the rule.

Why? Because at no point is there a clear dividing line. Except one, the first point. This case. The deaf couple. If you accept this case as being OK then there is really no other place to draw the line. Of course if anyone CAN point to an obvious line please email me and I'll post your reply if it makes sense to me. (Not necessarily if I agree, I just have to understand it.)

My view? I never saw the problem with parents wanting the best child they could get in the first place.

And to those who say that deaf people aren't disabled, my response is that if you aren't disabled then you have no right to extra government funding or protection. Either give the money and protection back, or admit you have a problem. Those are the choices. To demand extra while refusing to be classified as disabled means everyone will regard you as a hypocrite.

There is no justification for special treatment if it isn't a disability. I'm not saying the deaf (or short, or lame or whatever) are bad, I have no problem with them recieving help, but to ask for help and take it while still maintaining there is nothing wrong is just illogical.


7.00 pm

I was watching episodes I and IV on TV recently, AND I read David Brin's (Author of Earth) take on the whole series.

Article 1

Article 2


He claims that the only way to make sense of the thing is that if Yoda is actually bad, and Darth Vader is really working to subvert the Empire and help the rebels.

(We'll ignore the point that the entire war is pictured as a fight between one tiny group of magically enhanced royalty versus another group of magically enhanced royalty as to who will lord it over the peasantry, who never realize they are being used.)

Anyway I've been watching the series with that idea, that Yoda is bad and Vader is good. That yoda's urging Luke to never get angry with the evil empire is actually meant to sabotage the resistance (note that he is most sucessful when he ignores Yoda's advice). And that Vader is always capturing the good guys, and then letting them go again after letting them get the secret plans.

Last night for example (ep. IV) Vader interogates Princess Leia for hours, alone, and gets no information and doesn't seem to have hurt her at all. Later he is ordered to kill her, but takes so long to do this that she has time to be rescued. And when he detects ObiWan on board the Millenium Falcon, he turns and walks away without telling the storm troopers so that the rebels can escape. It all makes perfect sense if you just assume he was a rebel spy.

At the end, Vader does the one thing that Obi Wan thinks will make him MORE powerful, in other words, exactly what Obi Wan wants. It all fits. (Not that ObiWan actually does seem more powerful, but that is ObiWan's fault for being wrong, not Vader's fault for helping him.)


OK. After reading all the wonderful blogs that have sprung up about the web, I've found myself composing little blog entries in my head. So I've yielded to temptation and decided to make one of my own. After hearing off all the trouble people have with the blogger software, I'm just going to go ahead and write the HTML directly, as I already write my own web pages. If you haven't yet visited these paragons of the Web art, then the links are at the bottom of this page.

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