Friday, 27 June 2014

Risky Business

Not the movie starring Tom Cruise, but the realisation by business groups that Climate Change will cost them big, and formation of Risky Business.

As I wrote in Some sceptics make it a habit to be wrong:
Perhaps what is required in the climate change "debate" is for people most directly and immediately affected by rising sea levels to start legal action. The US government may be dismissive of the effect of their contribution to global warming on Bangladesh or Tuvulu, but if Florida or North Carolina were to sue the Federal government, perhaps the situation could change.
In a recent WSJ article—not usually the place to read fair and balanced coverage on Climate Change—entitled 'Risky Business' Report Aims to Frame Climate Change as Economic Issue, Alicia Mundy writes:
The report, which says climate change could cost the country billions of dollars over the next two decades, is the product of a bipartisan group of former cabinet officers, lawmakers, corporate leaders and scientists. In an interview, Mr. Paulson said the goal is to depoliticize the climate-change debate and instead focus on how it poses an economic risk to U.S. businesses. "The whole point was to have a bipartisan group who agreed on the nature of the problem, which is that climate change is a huge economic risk," said Mr. Paulson, who served under President George W. Bush. The study concludes that within the next 15 years, higher sea levels, storm surges and hurricanes could raise the annual price tag for coastal damage along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico to $35 billion. Some Midwestern and Southern agricultural areas could see a decline in yields of more than 10% over the next five to 25 years due to increased drought and flooding, unless farmers adapt their crops, according to the study.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Why the Kouk is plain right?

In Why the Kouk is plain wrong Ergas argues unconvincingly that plain packaging laws are a failure. In particular, he writes that
An econometric analysis by researchers at the University of Zurich is a case in point. Using a broad range of methods, the researchers conclude that plain packaging has not reduced the incidence of teenage smoking in Australia. True, the study was funded by Philip Morris; however, it is methodologically rigorous, and its results are consistent with those of earlier research.
I'll leave it to others to examine the rigorous methodology, but any research funded by big tobacco is unlikely to be objective.

It was interesting and informative to see some of the responses to Ergas—and previous columns The Australian is running—in this beat-up:
The Australian's agenda here is two-fold: Defend big tobacco's right to make money, and individual civil liberty. However, as I wrote in Some sceptics make it a habit to be wrong, these aims are misguided; society as a whole benefits from laws that are enacted to the benefit of the majority of its citizens.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Keys to success?

I see several of the 30 causes of failure listed by Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, in myself and my colleagues, namely:
  • Lack of well defined purpose in life
  • Lack of ambition to rise above mediocrity
  • Insufficient education
  • Lack of self discipline
  • Procrastination
  • Lack of persistence
  • Wrong selection of vocation
  • Lack of concentration of effort 
Those that particularly apply to me are italicised.

I agree with Hill's views that "no man can succeed in a line of endeavor which he does not like" and that "one of the keys to success is therefore identifying your passion and life-career purpose."

Interesting views on Quantum Mechanics

Two interesting articles from 2009:
I have not been able to find anything further about whether Valentini's ideas can be used to explain the lack of large-scale fluctuations seen in the Planck data, which would be very interesting.

My colleague Kevin Judd reviewed a draft of Palmer's paper and wrote to me as follows:
My main criticism is that [Palmer] stresses this hypothesis that reality must live on the invariant set, but I see no reason for requiring this. If phase space volumes are shrinking then any initial state asymptotically approaches the invariant set I. After sufficient time, the evolution and properties of almost all states are essentially indistinguishable from those in I. Unless your observation machines are extremely good, one cannot tell. The characteristics of I would appear to dominate the universe regardless of what the initial condition is. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Seven Wonders of the Kimberley

Some interesting places listed in the Seven Wonders of the Kimberley:
  • The 80m cascade of King George Falls, King Cascade, and the Horizontal Waterfalls
  • The enigmatic Bradshaw or Gwion Gwion art
  • El Questro Wilderness Park includes camping, air-conditioned bungalows, upmarket tented cabins, to the cliff-hanging Chamberlain Suite at the Homestead. Excursions to Zebedee hot springs, Emma Gorge, and the Pentecost River
  • Fly from Kununurra over Lake Argyle, the Ord River and Osmond Range to the Bungle Bungle
  • Cruise between Wyndham and Broome with daily shore excursions to sites such as Mermaid Tree and the water-falls on the Kimberley Quest II
  • Visit Montgomery Reef to see Australia’s largest inshore reef
  • Stay at Berkeley River Lodge, a short helicopter or plane ride from Kununurra

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Untrue and unfair?

In The Australian letters to the editor of June 11, Arthur Sinodinos (senator for NSW) writes
I reject the assertions about me made in the untrue and unfair opinion piece (“AWU a gift not to be wasted”, 7-8/6) commenting on the ICAC inquiry in which I was a witness. Editorialising relies on an author being sure of the facts. In this instance, there’s no sign of that being the case. 
I reaffirm my evidence to the ICAC and my statement to the Senate and look forward to being vindicated when the commission hands down its report
I'm wondering to which evidence he is referring? According to SBS, his responses to ICAC questioning comprised "I don't recollect" and "I don't recall". For variety, perhaps he should have tried the Hans Schultz response to interrogation: "I know nothing" or "I see nothing, I wasn't here, I didn't even wake up this morning!"

Disclosure: ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham is an in-law.