Monthly Archives: January 2014

Surface area

microsoft-surface-2I thought I might buy a Microsoft Surface (well, they run real Word and they have a USB port, so that ticks two boxes for me).  They have had a hard time among the Applites, but the reviews of new Surface 2 seemed OK, and my old small laptop is now very long in the tooth.

Sold out in Adelaide. Never mind, I thought, since I was going to be in Brisbane last week for a retreat (see here), and could pick one up there.  Still no joy.  They are apparently sold out throughout Australia, and no new stock is expected for a little while.

Maybe this is a sign Continue reading

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This bicycle not only has pneumatic tyres, but pneumatic everything.


See for a panorama of the whole of Victoria Square the view from my chambers window).

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Diamond Geezer

JDWhen an old and valued friend gave me a copy of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, I have to confess that I initially groaned a little. It was written 20 years ago in support of Jared Diamond’s theory that the comparative success of the peoples of the world has everything to do with the geography of their origin and nothing to do with their human characteristics.  I had not previously read it.

Now, nobody could sensibly deny that an early human population is bound to do better in some environments than others.  It is hardly a surprise that there are early signs of civilisation in the Middle East but not in central Australia. Useful vegetation and animals that can be usefully domesticated are, well, useful.  But Jared Diamond went further than that.  He thought that any suggestion that different populations have different inherent characteristics – genetic characteristics – which affect their success is racist.  He says so several times in the book. And he obviously feels, very strongly, that that is a BAD THING.  Instead, he explains his viewpoint:

The term “geographic determinism” is used by many scholars as a pejorative, to justify the quick dismissal of a proposed geographic interpretation of a human phenomenon.  Continue reading

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A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing


So.  The so-called “Ship of Fools” is firmly stuck in the Antarctic ice. But, charmingly, the advertisment to join the trip called “The Spirit of Mawson” is still up on the internet.  It says:

Join The Trip

For the opportunity of a lifetime, you can book a berth and join us on the amazing Shokalskiy, a true expedition vessel.

Join us on the expedition

We’re offering members of the public an incredible opportunity to join us on the trip. See the wonders of the Southern Ocean, the subantarctics and Antarctica…

There are single, twin and double berths are available. Prices start from $8,050.

douglas_mawsonNow, Sir Douglas Mawson himself was a Yorkshireman, who explored the Antarctic 100 years ago. With his wooden ship, Continue reading

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