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Patrick's Blog and Other Rubbish

doctorpat at bigfoot dot com

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hits on the counter for this page, most of which were probably me adding more entries.


28/05/2002

Another Link!

Here in Australia we have Scott, writing as Simon Templar who blogs about ME among other things. Needless to say this is currently my favourite site.

And don't worry Scott, I've added you to my links page.

Obsessive Compulsive by Proxy

When someone loves cleaning, so that they sweep, dust, vacuum and mop a room every couple of days, whether anyone has even been in there or not, then that is their hobby.

But when they get angry at "having to do all the housework" and insist that everyone else share their obsession, then that is just bloody annoying.

Could this be why many women complain that husbands never do any housework? Most guys do MORE housework when married than single, as far as I can see. But it's still less than the women do.

(Yes, I'm having a flatmate dispute.)

The Current Affair test

First of all we have the story, as reported on Tim Blairthat:

NOT CONTENT with ruining our whole nation already, the brutal conservative regime of John Howard is now forcing - forcing - us to drive inexpensive cars and pay low taxes. The Sydney Morning Herald exposes this outrage:

Running a car has become so cheap under federal tax policies that thousands of people have abandoned public transport, NSW's transport chiefs say.

The trend so alarms them that they are reluctant to seek big rises in fares for buses, trains and ferries - for fear of pushing even more people into cars.

Canberra's petrol excise cuts, the GST and even the fringe benefits tax can be directly linked to the greater use of cars, say the heads of StateRail and State Transit, who are jointly setting up an investigation into the problem.

The SMH thinks affordable personal transport is a "problem". Most people think the opposite. The gulf between newspaper and reader widens by the day.

To which a friend of mine replies:

You just can't trust the government can you....

I have a test now.... I call it the "A Current Affair" test....

Whenever I hear a story (particularly present by a ACA or Today tonight..) I think... could the same show present this same story from the opposite side with the same degree of indignance at the whole thing

If the answer is yes, then the story is a non-issue. It is only somehting that the general population can be swayed into believing, not some thing that has an inherent "correctness" either way.

I am affraid to say - this is an incredible example of something that fails the ACA test.

And so I think of the example that springs to mind is these people filled with rage that the american government had reports warning of Arab activists learning to fly in the months leading up to 9-11, and did nothing. NOTHING!!!!

Now imagine if they had done something. The American govern... the BUSH REGIME has been rounding up innocent student pilots just because they are Racist bastards who hate Arabs! Racisism! Racial Profiling!! Fascism!!!!!

Yep. It works either way. So it's not a real story.

No Invasion of Iraq

So now the American army says it's too busy to invade Iraq. And people are criticising it for not living up to the "Two Wars" doctrine, that the USA should be able to fight two separate wars at the same time. Well it's been a little while since I did any maths at University, but my calculations are as follows:

  1. Afganistan
  2. Iraq
  3. Kashmir

That adds up to three wars to me. Of course the Kashmiri war isn't an American one yet, but would you want to commit your troops to 2 wars when a 3rd, nuclear, one could start up at any stage?

I think I'll agree with the American army on this one.

Tigers Return?

Excellent! Bring back the tigers I say.

They have successfully replicated Tasmanian tiger DNA, resulting in millions of pure copies of undamaged DNA fragments, which they believe can work in a living cell.

Professor Mike Archer, director of the Australian Museum, said in Sydney today he hoped the first cloned Tasmanian tiger pup could be born within a decade.

And then some Moas, have you seen the drumsticks on those things? And then some dinosaurs, anything that tries to eat Jeff Goldblum is worth it in my books.

27/05/2002

Assisted Suicide

I recently mentioned the way I totally disagreed with people demanding assisted suicide when they didn't need help. But I didn't even think that thinks were as messed up as they've turned out to be. Seems the big test case was killed, and then turned out not to have cancer after all. Now it seems to me that this is akin to finding that the death row inmates were innocent. The entire process is proven so unreliable that it can't be trusted with the power of life and death.

Bailz

Bailz takes offense at my suggestion that he may not have been the originator of his Friday Five. I was reading his blog on the weekend, with my dodgy home connection so I thought he was referring to my comment about Robbo, but now that I can see his page properly I understand what it is all about.

So.... I shan't mention http://fridayfive.org/. Which I found searching through Bailz's archives. Though Bailz does turn out to be perfectly able to make up his own questions when the "official" ones don't suit.

I shall NOT refer to him as "Drivelicious" though, not without him saying something nice about me.

Chinese Moon Project

I'm afraid I don't quite agree with Batesy when it comes to the new Chinese plan for a mining expedition to the moon. Other commentators have applauded the idea, with the theory that it might drive the USA to pull its finger out and do something in space rather than just hang around in low orbit maintaining a space station. But I feel the Chinese project should be judged on its own merits, and here I think it has possibilities.

First of all, no sensible person can look at the numbers and expect to mine the moon to sell minerals down here on earth. It has been calculated that if the moon was solid gold, it would not be worth sending an Apollo type project there to bring any of it back. Something like flawless gemstones might work out, but only for one mission or so, then the market price would start to be flooded. To mine the mixed up, concentrated nugget free, soil of the moon, which would require extensive processing to be as good as any reasonable orebody here on earth is just insane. From GreenPeace I would expect this, I have more respect for the Chinese. (Now that is damning by faint praise.)

But nowhere in the Chinese reports that I've read is the statement that they intend selling the things ON EARTH. Which leaves open the possibility of selling it IN ORBIT. (It also leaves open the possibility that I didn't read the reports very well.)

The market price of things is much higher in orbit. To get a kilogram of structural aluminium or titanium into orbit costs thousands of dollars/kilogram. Hence any structural material should sell for thousands/kilogram, providing you can get it into orbit. So all the Chinese have to do is make themselves some basic stuctural material, and get it into orbit and then they can sell it to anyone who wants to make something there.

Materials

So what can they make? Easiest of all is rock. You pick it up, perhaps shape it a bit, and send it off.

Concrete. Moon soil consists of various dehydrated mineral salts, much like cement powder. Add gravel, moondust and water and you have concrete. With water and CO2 available from frozen ice at the poles, this requires very little processing.

Next is ceramics. Press moondust into shape, focus sunlight on it till it sinters into shape, ship it.

Titanium and Aluminium are present in reasonable quantities in moonrock, a processing plant could be set up to refine them, and probably process them into basic shapes like sheet or extruded beams.

There are many meteorites all over the moon, presumably some sort of robot searcher could look about and locate a lot of nickle iron ones. These provided a source of iron here on Earth, no reason it wouldn't work on the moon, and they'd be much easier to find.

Fuel. The one thing that all complex missions have to bring up to space is more fuel. Any factory that say split up water into hydrogen and oxygen, or made concentrated hydrogen peroxide, or any one of a dozen fuels that might turn out to be most convenient, could sell this at a high price to many different customers.

Customers

So who would want it? Well anyone building a space station would have to be crazy to turn down a cheap source of structural parts. So NASA might buy them, depending on their mood. The Russians likewise.

Satelite manufacturers. At present, satelites consist of precision made collections of ultralight components, carefully made from the most expensive materials, but that is because it costs so much to get each component into space. If, say, cheap lumps of preformed concrete became available, then a clever designer could think of all sorts of ways that a very expensive, ultralightweight part could be replaced with a cheap lump of concrete, to be assembled once both parts are in orbit.

For example, at the moment, satelites require careful shielding and hardened (expensive) components to protect them from radiation such as solar flares. But if a 500 kilogram concrete or rock shell was available for say $1000/kilogram, then a much cheaper satelite could be made, launched more cheaply because it was smaller, and them slotted into the shell once it reached orbit.

Likewise, current designs use horribly complicated folding antennae and solar panels, which don't always work. If simple iron beams were available once in orbit, these could be despensed with and the beams used as the framework for supporting components.

Any deep space mission planners, whether a manned expedition to Mars or a probe to Pluto, would give their left arm to be able to buy, once in orbit, tanks of fuel. Manned expeditions would likewise love tanks of water and oxygen. If the tanks are made of concrete or meteorite iron, it doesn't matter, because cheap fuel removes the need for ultra light weight.

Problems

Well you knew there would be problems. If we assume the chinese can actually make the parts and get them into orbit from the moon. (And the last bit is the easy part. Look at the motors required to get the Apollo astronaughts back from the moon, tiny little things that fit into a spaceship the size of a car. You could launch from the moon with a big catapult.) Using the lunar components still requires assembly work to be performed in orbit, even if it is just hiding a satelite inside a radiation shield or stringing an antennae wire along an iron support structure.

The systems I've mentioned could all be easily assembled by an astronaut, but they are very expensive people and would negate most of the cost savings except in the cases of large projects and systems that are manned anyway. So robot assemblers need to be developed. Ones that can work in hard vacuum and the extreme temperatures of space. Other work is required to standardize all the connections, so that mass produced lunar components can slot into any given satellite.

There is also the matter of controlling these mass tonnages of steel or concrete or rock as they come shooting in from the moon. In order to get them to match up with their target they require quite decent control systems, not a problem with an existing spaceships, but hardly something to be mass produced on the moon, so either a bunch of these control modules would have to be shipped to the moon, at enormous cost, or a lunar shuttle would have to be set up, which shipped parts from lunar orbit to earth orbit that was capable of delivering with the required accuracy.

Still, this way it could work, shipping to Earth to compete with Mount Isa Mines and BHP will fail.

24/05/2002

Weekly 5

Bailz has himself 5 questions that he likes people to answer. Now I can't work out if he is responsible for this himself or is just copying off someone else, but frankly, seeing as I REALLY don't want to go downstairs, I'll have a go this time.

(I don't want to walk about because going to the gym before going to Sambo training leaves you with very sore legs the next day. Stairs are to be avoided.

1. What is the most painful experience you've ever had after drinking your own body weight in alcoholic beverages?

Exercise. Every couple of years or so, I get too drunk to go to sleep (because of that room spinning thing when I lie down) so I get bored and decide to do some exercise. Now normally I jog, or lift weights or something until I get sore, but when I'm really pissed I Can't feel pain. So I keep going and run 3 times my normal distance or lift until my puny muscle fibres are on the verge of death. The next day, when I sober up, I can feel pain again...

2. Which "celebrity" are you most attracted to, in a purely stalker-based way? I think it would be Hugh Hefner, not because of himself, but just because of the scenery around him. Maybe Larry Flint, likewise.

3. If you were to shave your head, what number would it be? Well I've been always doing a #4 up until recently, but now that I work in a respectable office environment, I've got a #5.

4. Which do you consider to be the greatest crime to humanity: murder or wearing a visor? Well murder is unjustified killing of another human being right, so that doesn't include killing of a human wearing a visor. But what if a human wearing a visor is attacked, can they clain self defense because the person who was attacking them wasn't going to commit murder right? Errr what was the question again?

5. Any final thoughts? Bailz said Yes, I'm glad you asked. I would like to openly address the people of the inter-web, and speak from the heart. I would like to say that: I LOVE YOU'SE ALL. except the French, whom I hate with every fiber of my being. And Hippies. Oh, don't forget mimes/clowns/entertainers in there as well. Oh, fat chicks as well. Fuck it, include Parker on that list as well... Well ditto the French, Hippies, mimes and I'll throw in Variety entertainment and all who sail in her, but personally I've got a soft spot for women who aren't that skinny, (or should that be a hard spot?)

Euthanasia

Once again Jack Robertson manages to say something that correlates very closely to my own feelings on the matter. To paraphrase Why, if as is claimed, there is already a well known "understanding" about the horrible subject of people who want to die, does it have to be dragged out into the public?

Well I'll go a little further than that as far as the "understanding" is concerned. I'm not a legal expert, but I do talk to a lot of doctors here in Australia, and AFAIK the law is, you are legally allowed all the painkillers required to stop you from suffering. IF that amount is so much that you die, then that is your choice.

So as far as I can see, no-one is legally required to lie in bed, racked with pain. You can always order more morphine.

But the debate gets much worse than that. During the Northern Territory's attempt to legalize assisted suicide, there was a bloke interviewed on TV who drove his car from NSW to NT, got there after the law was changed, and had to drive home again. He was on TV demanding his right to die.

Let me get this straight, he is capable of driving from one side of Australia to the other, but needs help in killing himself? Anyone who can drive can kill themselves. A car is a great big suicide machine if you want it to be.

NOT THAT I SUPPORT SUICIDE, but if you ARE going to kill yourself, what sort of selfish bastard tries to get somebody else involved? I don't care what your moral or religious stance on the matter is, any decent human being is going to be tortured by having to help kill someone. So why would you demand that someone help you when you can do it yourself?



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