Yesterday I started using a Continuous Blood Glucose Meter (a Dexcom G4 Platinum).
I'll blog again once I've got more experience in day to day use. I've got good reason to believe it will make an astonishing difference to my diabetes management in terms of my daily life and my clinical outcomes.
First up, however, I'm going to blog about their cost.
- There's more than one Continuous Blood Glucose Metering System (CGMS) available, and there are differences in cost.
- There are two ways of getting one in Australia: persuade someone (eg a Diabetes Education Centre) to loan you one, or buy one yourself.
- Medicare won't pay for your CGMS or its supplies
- The National Diabetes Supply Scheme won't pay for your CGMS or its supplies
- Private Health Insurance won't pay for your CGMS or its supplies
There's not a lot to love about the way that access to health care is organised in the US, but this is a rare case where I'd be better off as an employee covered by a good US Health Insurance scheme, because there would be a good chance my CGMS costs would get covered in the US. I think there is a very strong case for subsidising CGMS in Australia, but it's a very hard ask.
In my case there are two pieces of hardware (prices are likely to vary as temporary price offers are introduced or expire):
- the Receiver: AU$810. In theory this can last forever.
- a Transmitter: AU $595. In theory this will last at least 6 months, but I expect longer.
- Sensors: AU$396 (currently for 5, but list price that's the cost of 4). In theory each sensor lasts 7 days.
Justifying the cost
I'm glad the cost of the Receiver/Transmitter has come down from the cost of previous generations of these devices (many thousands), because I can cope with the upfront cost. The Sensors will have an eye-watering effect on the family budget. I justified it as follows: Running this system is roughly comparable to supporting a smoking habit of about a packet of cigarettes per day. People on all sorts of income levels manage to pay to support a habit that destroys their health.
Surely I can pay a similar amount for something that will improve my health?
When we discussed using CGMS my endocrinologist said "If it didn't cost anything, we'd have every type 1 diabetic on CGMS".
Standard blood glucose monitoring (using fingerpricks) was expensive when it arrived in the early 1980s: $600 for a meter and about a dollar per test strip. These days the meters are about a hundred dollars (and often given away) and the strips are $0.06 per strip without a subsidy and less than two cents per strip with the subsidy. (People do anything from four to 14 tests per day.) Following the adoption of standard blood glucose monitoring, the health outcomes for people with diabetes have been steadily improving.
There is a measurable improvement in diabetes control with CGMS. The easiest measurement is the HbA1c level - an 'average' of your control over a period of 3 months. It's a rough measure of control, but the easiest one to get. It appears clear that CGMS improves HbA1c levels. See this article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Epidemiologists and Health Economists will probably decide for a while to come that the size of the HbA1c benefits are not sufficient to justify a large new subsidy under the National Diabetes Supply Scheme.
There's another measure that is of interest: Glycemic Variability. How much does a person's blood glucose levels fluctuate? I have an excellent "average" (HbA1c) level, but I know from my own records (numbers copied into spreadsheets!) that I only spend about 50% of my time in a normal glucose range. Averages can be very deceptive! Until CGMS arrived, it was hard to measure people's Glycemic Variability because most people don't do fingerprick blood glucose tests often enough to be statistically useful. So there aren't many large scale studies on how important it is for long term survival and avoiding complications. The evidence is starting to suggest that it is important. See this study. When these studies multiply (and maybe costs come down), CGMS might justify a subsidy.
The other factor that OUGHT to be considered is the degree to which CGMS improves daily life. It's too early for me to speak from my own experience, but I have reason to expect the following benefits:
- A protection against Hypo (low blood sugar) unawareness (I only sometimes feel symptoms when my blood sugar drops to dangerous levels)
- ... (remembering of course, that from time to time people with diabetes die from acutely low or high blood glucose levels)
- a reduction in the number of times I feel "tired" (and unproductive) as my blood glucose goes up or down - improved quality of life (and, for the economists: economic productivity!)
Anthony Holmes May 10th, 2013 09:17:22
I've got a few photographs. OK. I've got a lot. Scanned film, digital and video - the film photos go back to 1973. All in all there are about 5 Terabytes of photos (many are in two formats: JPG and Raw.)
My Network Attached Storage (RAID with dual disk redundancy) was getting kind of full. One disk died. I replaced it. Another disk died. I replaced it. But it was time to separate my photos from my other stuff, so I bought a new RAID NAS and copied my photos over.
- Shock number 1: some files wouldn't copy.
I captured a list of these files so I could get them from backups.
- Shock number 2: many of the files that copied successfully were actually damaged. Somewhere along the way, 'disk rot' had set in.
Disk Rot: a photograph that still exists as a file, but with most of its contents corrupted.
This was a concern.
- Shock number 3: the 3TB backup drive I expected to find in my offsite storage wasn't there.
All was not lost: For all photographs from 1973 - 2009, I have (duplicate) DVD backups. I haven't counted them, but there must be something approaching 1000 DVDs. My mind was quivering at the thought of restoring photographs from DVDs. This was made worse by the fact that (apart from looking at each photograph individually), I don't know of a good way of working out which photos are corrupt. I also had a range of hard disks with different sub-sets of photos, which looked as though I might cover everything from 2010 to present.
Also: my cloud backup (Crashplan) has been running long enough to have backed up about 15-20% of the collection. The order in which it is backing things up looks random to me: different pictures from different years have been backed up. Currently it's a bit of a lottery what has been backed up. The cloud backup was only ever intended to be a last resort solution.
Tonight I had a Hallelujah moment:
- I discovered the backup drive that ought to have been in storage sitting in a corner of my office. It has got good (uncorrupted) copies of all photos from 2000 to June 2012.
A lot is dependent upon that drive for the next ten or so hours while I copy it. The drive isn't the only copy of my photos, but it's the only entirely clean, consolidated version of them. Spin little disk, spin until you've copied every bit of goodness on your platters!
- I repeatedly back up, and have those backups in four different locations. While multiplying the backups (older smaller hard disks with only some of the pictures, DVDs of others) is good - it's important to ensuring I've got usable consolidated backups that can reasonably be restored in a single action rather than by loading hundreds of DVDs and many hard disks,
- And this is the one I've ignored until now: I'm going to need to come up with a way of ensuring my pictures haven't corrupted.
I know that you can calculate hash values for files that confirm their contents haven't changed. This, however, is going to be an intimidating task to do for hundreds of thousands of photographs.
Anthony Holmes March 9th, 2013 21:53:13
Back in 1975 I bought a gadget: a portable cassette recorder. Its impact on my savings was enormous: the $29.95 price was probably equivalent to the impact on my income (today) of buying a modest new car. (Interestingly, similar models are still sold, for only $10 more.)
(It was probably my fourth 'gadget': 1) a transistor radio 2) an instamatic camera and 3) a wind up watch. Except for the watch, these were all gifts. I think I might have co-funded the watch.) I was never very happy with the cassette recorder: it produced more tape hiss than sound.
Recently I realised that we were on the verge of no longer having a cassette recorder in the house. And, worse, they are barely being sold any more. Any professionally recorded music tapes can be bought online or on CD with much better quality, so they aren't a concern. But I have a collection of more than 30 old cassettes that aren't professionally recorded music: a collection of a couple of School Projects, a number of school concerts (when I was in the Concert Band), quite a number of school and University debates and the speeches at my 21st birthday party.
There are a large number of doomsayers on the web talking about the fragility of old formats. They claim that CDs/DVDs might only last about five years (which is mostly not true - but sometimes is). Chatter (and research) on the web suggests 10, 20 or 30 year life spans for cassette tapes: which is a worry for me since my oldest tapes are heading towards being 40 years old. So, (apart from throwing them out), what to do?
I considered running a cable from my last remaining cassette player. But I had many bad experiences trying to copy tapes via cables back in olden days. Even with a computer on one end I expected this would lead to a pretty ordinary result. There are some cheap and cheerful looking cassette digitisers available. Looking at these I worried that they would be reasonably poor quality: and I feared they would be likely to chew up my fragile - often cheap - old tapes. So I decided that I'd buy a reasonably sophisticated Tascam CC-222SL MkII Cassette to CD recorder. It looks as though it has been constructed with all the features and quality of the good Cassette Decks that used to be hooked up to amplifiers and speakers in the 1980s. The fact that it dubs to CDs provides a simple intermediary stage that can (for the next few years) be easily digitised to a computer.
I've been stunned by the quality. So far (after digitising a dozen tapes) all have survived. My 1976 Social Studies Project was recorded on my first primitive cassette recorder. It has some of the noise of the cassette player itself humming gently in the background, but my voice comes out more clearly and has less hiss than any time I ever listened to it on any cassette player. Later recordings were done on better cassette recorders, sometimes with better microphones, and a few of these are hard to pick as being cassette recordings.
** Side Note: My Waverley History project (pictured above) was made about two weeks after I was diagnosed with diabetes. Looking at my handwriting on the cover and listening to my young voice brings home just how long I have had diabetes.
Anthony Holmes September 15th, 2012 21:09:11
This is an blog posting that's "just too late to be useful". The polls for the Melbourne District Byelection are closing. (This means I don't need to worry about whether to comply with election comment laws and post my name and address.)
Since I had to vote today, and since I don't tend to slavishly follow tickets, I decided I needed to have a summary view of where each candidate stood. There are 16 people standing, so there's no way I will instinctively recognise them all.
Almost all the candidates have produced how to vote cards that rank the other 15 candidates in their preferred order. I figure there is a good graphic way of showing the interrelationships. Here's my first attempt.
I've used IBM's ManyEyes software to generate a visualisation.
Click here to see the full sized visualisation.
I've listed each candidate's top three preferences (2, 3, 4 on their ticket). A nomination in either direction creates a line. So, for example, O'Connor (Socialist Equality Party) gave no preference, so he's linked to "none". But one of Borland (Public Housing's) top three preferences went to O'Connor.
The two top "Networked" candidates are Ahmed and Collyer (Australian Democrats). In a sense these are candidates that are generally liked by other candidates.
Green candidate Oke gets quite a bit of love from some of the minor left parties. A lot of the pre-election commentary said that Kanis (ALP) had done a better job of gaining preferences from other candidates. That isn't especially obvious in this picture, so either she didn't do as well as it was reported, or, more likely, my diagram doesn't show this - if she was fifth preference for a minor candidate, but everyone from 1 - 4 has been eliminated, then she might pick up a preference ahead of the Greens Candidate Oke.
All will be revealed when counting starts in a few minutes!
Rolling Commentary on results (Press F5 or Refresh to see updates during the evening.)
The Victorian Electoral Commission kindly makes progressive results available on its Tally Room web site using a special standard for election results.
At 6:12pm the first results have been posted.
... each candidate has received 0 votes. It's too close to call. :-)
.... waiting for the next set of results to be posted.
As I wait for some meaningful results to be posted, I'm thinking about how to improve my preferences diagram in the future. It works OK for 'clumping' like minded candidates together (the FF, DLP, Aus Christian cluster), but doesn't help in deciding which of the likely candidates will pick up preferences. Maybe for each Candidate I ought to show the order in which they preference the top three likely candidates (in this case, ALP, The Greens and either Mayne or Nolte) - whether they are at 2, 3, 4 or maybe 6, 9, 12... or whatever.
While I sit here waiting for some results to be posted, I've been contemplating the campaign and the four opinion poll surveys I received (and answered) during the campaign, including the "push poll" that tried to persuade me that, amongst other things, The Greens wanted to close down Melbourne Zoo. There was also a lot of commentary which suggested it was important to send votes to the ALP to send a message re Baillieu or Gillard. The implication (from the left and the right) is that if the ALP vote is down, it is either a failure to show an opinion against Baillieu's government and/or a comment against the Gillard government. I don't think that's a reasonable comment. If there were a Liberal Candidate, confidence in the Baillieu government would be shown mostly through that candidate's primary vote. In the absence of that, I think it can best be seen by the number of first preferences given to the "right" bunch of candidates in my diagram (probably Schorell-Hjavka belongs in that group too.) The fourth of my opinion polls, The Australian's Reachtel poll, indicated that the ALP vote is unaffected by thoughts about the Federal Gillard government.
I sing to myself: "Why are we waiting..." No results from the VEC so far. There's a tweet that says that the Greens won the RMIT booth by 300 to 489. But what does that mean? Is it a first preference vote? If so, how many people voted in that booth? (Have the Greens reached 50%? And I guess you'd expect them to do well near RMIT.) Twitter seems to be using the #melbvotes hashtag.
Ah: They've posted some results.
The Greens 40%
I need to think about whether this is strictly (mathematically) accurate, but I think that this means that if The Greens pick up only 1/3 of preferences and 2/3 go to ALP, they would win. Could end up being fairly tight.
The results came from 2 booths. There are 14 in total.
After ALP and The Greens, three of the four highest candidates (Patten, Ahmed and Nolte) all preference the ALP. Mayne goes to The Greens.
8:23pm Woo Hoo! More results.
ALP and The Greens are now closer: 32% to 39%.
The Greens need to rise 11%, the ALP needs to pick up 18%. A whole bunch of Liberal voters will presumably send their votes towards the ALP, so it's not necessarily going to be easy for The Greens to reach 50%. Unless, of course, the 9% of informal votes are overwhelmingly from Liberal voters?
Pollbludger is doing good things in adjusting preferences to predict the way the votes have been seen to be going. At 8:38pm, the Pollbludger prediction is for a line ball result.
Based on the 8:31 results, the only booth where the ALP got more first preference votes than the Greens is East Melbourne. (ALP 466, The Greens 436).
Oh: And Hotham Hill: ALP 375, The Greens 213.
More results posted. ALP 32% Greens 38%.
At the risk of being a bit premature: it looks like the ALP might come from behind and cross the finishing line ahead of The Greens. (But I wish I had a spreadsheet like Pollbludger's so I make predictions based on something sounder than a bunch of observations and gut feelings.)
(On the other hand: Pollbludger's spreadsheet just crashed. Oops!)
It looks like it's too close to call tonight.
The VEC snuck in another set of results at 11pm. Early votes went slightly towards The Greens. Postal Votes went strongly to the ALP (presumably as a result of their experience in this area).
The VEC says there are about another 1000 Postal Votes to come. Based on the current party split seen with Postal Votes, it's looking pretty certain that the ALP has won the Melbourne District Byelection.
Anthony Holmes July 21st, 2012 17:31:55
2012 kicked off dramatically (and not just because of the fireworks).
As we watched Melbourne's New Year's Eve fireworks from the apartment of friends in nearby Flinders Street we were treated to the sight of Melbourne's Arts Centre Spire catching fire.
It wasn't especially apparent during the fireworks, but the fires started very soon after midnight. At two places near the top of the Spire something caught alight and started burning. Large balls of flame plummeted onto the Arts Centre roof below. It wasn't clear whether or not there was going to be a major disaster: the flames in the Spire burnt for a long time (so we were wondering about the stability of the tower), and the fire down on the roof also went on for a long time.
From our vantage point we caught glimpses of the surreal scene of a fire truck trying to make its way across Princes Bridge: the same bridge that had been turned into a "no stopping" pedestrian only zone during the New Year celebrations. (I wasn't able to film that.) One of the newspapers reported that a 'small army' of police ushered the truck across the crowded bridge. (Fire trucks from the south of the city got to the Arts Centre much more quickly, but even they had to battle crowds.)
Here's a 1 minute 44 second video I put together. Watch out for the balls of fire plummeting from the Spire and the flames licking on the roof of the Centre. At the end you see firefighters hosing down the roof.
Anthony Holmes January 2nd, 2012 13:05:58
As part of our journey through the Pyrenees we have been passing across many Cols: saddles between the mountains. Today it was Dennis's turn to drive. As we climbed the Col d'Aspin there were many (unfenced) cows nearby. Dennis commented on two especially precariously perched cows beside the road: "What would happen if one of those cows fell onto the road?"
Barely had those words left his lips when a third cow decided to show us what would happen by striding out onto the road in front of us. Emergency breaking is all that stopped us from having to deal with a dead or dying cow and a very crumpled hire car. I took this photo less than 30 seconds later. (Apologies for the windscreen degrading the quality of the photograph, but that's the whole point of this picture, it was taken just after a tremedously shocking moment - for us. The cow seemed compeletely unconcerned.)
Dennis drove much more slowly after the cow incident.
Anthony Holmes October 15th, 2011 07:49:09
Smoked Salmon and butter: Your thoughts?
On this trip to France I have eaten many more restaurant meals than on past trips. It has been a fascinating experience. Tonight presented one of the dilemmas that sometimes confronts you. We were eating the 22 Euro "Menu" and the second course was smoked salmon. There was nothing unique about smoked salmon: I was more looking forward to the following course with its "Coers de Canard" (ducks hearts). However: the smoked salmon was presented together with a lemon (understandable) and a large curl of butter.
What was I supposed to do with the butter? Was it purely a garnish? Perhaps they had no parsley but there was a large piece of butter handy, so they gave me a curl? Dennis also got a large curl of button with his slices of ham.
I assume it was probably a garnish, used in a country with so many cows they need to invent superfluous things to do with the output. But experimentally I put a little bit onto my smoked salmon, and it didn't taste too bad at all. I could imagine the two going together. For example, it works much better than another common food combination: vinegar with lettuce. I've no idea why vinegar is used as a dressing for lettuce instead of (to pick something at random) cayenne pepper. But we eat it because a) it's what we do and b) admittedly it does liven up the taste of the lettuce.
Anthony Holmes October 13th, 2011 06:58:02
The Savoie region has a diet that consumes vast quantities of cheese. A cheese that was presented at almost every meal was le Tome. It came with a number of slight variations (linguistic and cheesic):
La Tome (the generic name)
La Tomme (getting more specific, but not yet tied down to a variety)
La Tomme de Savoie (the whole region's 'emblematic' cheese)
La Tome des Bauges (a local appelation AOC/AOP: Side note: if your "Tome de Bauges" doesn't weigh between 1,1 and 1,4kg, it loses its name and gets downgraded to being a simple Tome.)
La Toma (the Savoyard dialect name for la Tome des Bauges)
A delightfully ad hoc part of our Savouring Savoie tour was a day when we were out walking up a mountain and we came across a young man working with some farm machinery outside the Alpage where he makes Tome cheese. He invited us in and gave us a detailed description of how he makes it.
The delightful Marie-Hélène - one of the leaders of our Savoie tour - at one stage introduced us Anglo-Saxons to a French saying: "Ne coupez pas le nez du fromage!". It means that you should always slice an entire wedge from a circular piece of cheese: if you slice a little bit off an outside edge you are being rude because it means the next person gets more rind. So please remember that advice the next time that you are cutting some cheese.
If I'm present, I'll be watching you.
Anthony Holmes September 29th, 2011 07:20:33
We're sitting on a TER train travelling between Chambéry and Lyon. (It's travelling at a leisurely 160km/h, well below the TGV's top of 300+km/hr.)
Thanks to my obsessive reading of how French Trains work, I was able to guide ourselves through the correct process: buying tickets from the machine that used a big green wheel with a bullseye button to navigate, validating the ticket as you entered the platform (using the yellow validators, keeping it well to the left, etc..)
Once we sat down there were various announcements in French, including several telling you that if you had been unfortunate enough to be unable to validate your tickets as you passed by the six validation machines at the entrance, could you please kindly draw this to the attention of your conductor so that he could validate your ticket without penalty.
None of this seemed to be possible for the woman sitting in the seat near to us.
Here's the conversation she had with the conductor thirty minutes into the journey:
C: Your ticket hasn't been validated.
W: Sorry, I didn't have time.
C: So why didn't you tell me?
W: I thought I should wait until you asked.
C: I walked past you as I came up and down the carriage, maybe ten times.
(Here does a little dance to simulate walking up and down, with a big smile on his face). That's when you were supposed to tell me.
C: And this is a ticket for a TGV, not a TER.
C: And it's a ticket for yesterday, not today
C: Oh well, I'll validate it for you without a penalty.
C: But really, you'll need to move down from first class to second, since it isn't a first class ticket.
W: Oh, is this first class?
C: (He gives her a funny look, but he's still very relaxed.)
W: (She leaves. She doesn't try to return. I think she realises that there is a limit to the conductor's good humour.)
At the expense of having one (or two?) conductors on the train, this process is much more civilised than Melbourne's packs of ticket inspectors. Had you dashed onto the train - ticketless - with ten seconds to go, the SNCF would have quite happily sold you a ticket after you boarded the train (at a slightly higher price.) These people want you to travel by train. They don't want to turn you into criminals.
Point of information one: These trains leave at the start of their scheduled minute. A train scheduled for 11:00am will depart close to 11:00:00. If you get to the platform at 11:00:59, you're probably too late.
Point of information two: The difference between first class and second on TER seems minor, except the seats are covered in soft fabric instead of plastic, and you get to see women in tracksuit pants being kicked out. There are also some power points.
Point of information three: Our carriage has a little picture of a sleepy phone. Before we started we were told that we should avoid phone calls except in cases of extreme urgency. A gentleman near us has stepped outside of the compartment each time he has received a phone call. Very civilised.
Point of information four: Internal doors on French Trains make a pshhhh noise, just like those on the Starship Heart of Gold. Thankfully they're not made by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, so they don't try to chat with you.
Anthony Holmes September 29th, 2011 06:47:11
On 18th September 2011 we visited the Fiore de la Compôte en Bauges: an annual fair in a small village in the Haute Savoie. We wandered around looking at sheep being rounded up, local knitwears, donkeys and local dancing. We joined the popular vote to choose the best of six local types of honey (numbers 2 and 6 were considered to be pretty good).
I came across a stall which was lobbying to correct an ancient international injustice that I'd never heard about. The Savoie Libre group is fighting the scandalous incorporation of Savoie into the Republic of France in 1860.
I heard a long account (in French) of a series of events involving the Kingdom of Sardinia, a war with Austria, the involvement of one of the Napoleons and a rigged plebiscite that managed to vote more than 99% in favour of the region being incorporated into France.
Evidence in support of the vote being unfair was very firmly based upon the special correspondent of the Times of London. He said that the vote was "la plus grande farce jamais jouée dans l'histoire des nations".
Who could possibly doubt the words of the Times of London?
(The flag of Savoie is a white cross on a red background. If they ever go to war with Switzerland, they can keep track of who is who by the fact that the Swiss flag's white cross doesn't go to the edges.)
English Wikipedia article on Savoy
French Wikipedia article on the annexation of Savoie
Pour La Savoire
Anthony Holmes September 29th, 2011 06:17:00
The tobacco companies' arguments against plain packaging laws were (are?) so incoherent as to be laughable. Except for the fact that they expected (hoped?) that they would convince people.
"Generic packaging would make it harder to prevent smuggled and counterfeit products entering a market"
But the plain packaging (apart from the bits that are coloured pond scum green) contain very distinctive high colour photographs of the damage that smoking does to you. Are the smugglers and counterfeiters going to go to the effort to reproduce those photographs?
"Competition could drive down prices, and consumption levels could increase as smokers switch to cheaper and/or counterfeit cigarettes."
Umm: but if you are forced to drive down your prices, wouldn't the attraction of counterfeit cigarettes drop?
"No alcohol, confectionary or fast food company would allow the Government to take away their brand identity. Where do you draw the line?"
Umm: I don't know where you'd draw the line, but a good place to start would be any product that gets is highly addictive, has no safe level of consumption, causes serious health problems for those who haven't chosen to consume the product, and causes lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, cancer of the larynx, pancreatic cancer, peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, susceptibility to infectious diseases, impotence, female infertility, brain shrinkage, etcetera. The slippery slope argument is no argument against doing something that is a good idea.
The final argument is a corker: "there is no proof that plain tobacco packaging will have any effect on smoking uptake". So these millions of dollars being spent by the tobacco companies are all intended to stop people shifting from Dunhill to cheaper brands? Give me a break!
The Liberal Party today announced that they would allow the plain packaging legislation to pass. Which is great news for common sense.
It's hard to credit that the tobacco companies thought they could run these internally contradictory arguments and succeed. Fortunately the media managed to run a moderately negative campaign based on the weight of sensible evidence and commentary.
But there are too many cases where the media and political discourse in this country let nonsensical scare campaigns succeed. We need to get better at pointing the finger at - and throwing scorn upon - nonsensical political campaigns.
Global Warming Denial and Direct Action on Climate Change: I'm especially looking at you.
Anthony Holmes June 1st, 2011 19:26:25
So: Tonight I got crank call number 20 or so from "Windows Support Service". They asked if I was Anthony Holmes and spent 15 minutes trying to show me how they had detected faults on my computer. I told them I couldn't find any Start button on the left hand side of my screen and I couldn't see a Windows key on my keyboard, which made it hard for them to open Windows logs to scare me with me non-serious Windows errors. Eventually they sought a face saving way to get out of the call: they said they needed to check they had called the correct customer. They asked me if I was Mike Holmes. I REALLY threw them when I agreed that my name was Mike. And I agreed my address was the spurious address they offered: 16 Moray Street. It takes a lot to persuade these people to hang up, but that did it.
During these calls I generally keep doing whatever I was doing before they phoned, and every so often answer their questions (slow responses don't make them hang up). At least while they are talking to me they're not calling someone more gullible or less IT literate. I once got them to the point where they gave me a logmein code to remote access my PC. I reported that to logmein who said they regarded reports of misuse very seriously. I hope it caused problems for "Windows Support Service", but I doubt it.
Now I'll just have to work out my strategy for the next time they call. (Because I've learnt that no matter how much I waste their time, they never put me on a blacklist.)
Anthony Holmes May 31st, 2011 19:11:15
Press Refresh/F5 to see updates to this blog as the NSW election unfolds
5:52pm: Eight minutes until the NSW polls close. I'll be posting the occasional entry as the count proceeds. I'll be watching the NSW Electoral Commission site and listening to ABC News Radio.
I'm hoping that the NSW Electoral Commission will be posting results using Election Markup Language... a standard used for Australian and Victorian elections. If they are, it will be worth my while developing a system for displaying results in future elections.
6:00pm Polls close (I presume. I'm not even in NSW, so I'm just taking it for granted that the polls have closed on time. I'm guessing there are still a couple of people scribbling on ballot papers at this moment.)
6:02pm ABC News Radio had developed an echo: like it's broadcasting in a large room. Surely they aren't reading the news from within the ABC's Tally Room? (I might switch to the TV coverage.)
6:09pm No results yet. :-) So: Will the ALP get a cricket team? 11 members? Or will they get as many as 22? Will the Greens win any seats? And how completely with the far right be able to control the Legislative Council?
6:25pm Multiple reports that few voters were taking How to Vote cards. Those comments, together with the fact that the polls didn't vary during the campaign suggests to me that very soon after the last election the NSW electorate made up its mind that it was time for the NSW ALP to be thrown out.
6:30pm Kerry O'Brien "Trying to summarise their [the ALP's] various crises would take too long."
Antony Green suggests a 14-16% swing.
6:34pm From the Department of Ridiculous Early Results: The National Party has 92.8% of the votes counted in Burrinjuck. Based on a count of 69 votes.
6:36pm Even the ALP panelist (MLC Luke Foley) on the ABC TV Coverage admits the ALP won one term too many.
6:38pm When an election result is a foregone conclusion, the point of interest becomes: Who gets the greatest swing against them, and who manages to resist the swing most successfully? That will show you who the best and worst campaigners are (and the effect of local issues).
6:42pm ALP Computer tries to make a prediction (ALP Hold) on Monaro based on a bit more than 100 votes. (!) Antony Green concedes that's a bit too eager. Overall a massive swing of 16% Statewide".
6:44pm Kerry O'Brien "I guess we called [this election result] from the outset". So I guess that's a record: the ABC reckons it called the result in the first minute, at 6pm.
6:45pm A point of trivia: Antony Green has long wanted to run Election coverage from ABC Studios, but various Election Commissions have continued running Tally Rooms. AG got frustrated when the network connection dropped out during the Victorian Election in 2010. No such problems tonight: they're broadcasting from the ABC studios in Ultimo. They're calling it the "Election Centre".
6:55pm Sadly I can't find any evidence of EML results being posted in the NSW election. Hopefully they'll be doing it by 2015.
6:58pm The NSW State Election iPhone App is useful but annoying. Even though the polls have closed and I'm looking for results, it keeps telling me "Polling Place Warning - Sorry there is no polling place near your location". Yes, that's because I'm in Melbourne. But it's hardly relevant, since I'm using the application to look at results.
7:21pm The perils of automated computer systems: NSW Electoral Commission wrongly predicted that the fight in Newcastle would be between Libs and an independent, but the independent isn't doing well. Antony Green needs to force his new election system to not follow the NSWEC's lead.
7:24pm Luke Foley: You'll forgive me for getting excited by seats with swings of less than 10%.
7:28pm The ABC traditionally sends cameras out to the electorates of a number of candidates to get them to give comments on winning or losing. Clearly they can't get to every candidate... they can pop around to a fair number of city candidates, but presumably they need to pick and choose between country seats. (Remember how they had trouble getting all three of the country independents during the last Federal Election?) Presumably candidate input will become a lot more dynamic when everybody has easy access to a high definition camera and good network connectivity: such as what an NBN and/or 4G would provide?
7:33pm ABC projection is currently 11 - a cricket team... but there are 19 still in doubt, so they may yet be able to field an Aussie Rules team.
7:37pm Strathfield 8% of the vote counted, with a 29.9% swing to Liberals. (I wonder how typical the booths that have been counted are of the electorate?)
7:44pm Antony Green: "It would just be breathtaking [for the Liberals to win Newcastle]".
7:46pm There are 11 seats where the ALP vote is under 10%. It has always been true that there are a few polling booths where 9 out of 10 people vote one way: but for those proportions to hold up across an entire electorate of almost 50,000 people... 11 electorates, is astonishing.
8:00pm "They [the right] haven't won Newcastle since the late 1890s". A swing of 23-27%.
8:03pm Trivia: John Howard's first tilt at Parliament was in Drummoyne.. in 1968, but it took until 2011 for it to fall to the Liberals. John Sidoti, "When the member switches off" the voters turn hostile.
John Sidoti, successful Liberal Candidate for Drummoyne with what may be the quotation of the night: "I've run out of clothes door knocking so many houses". What was he doing at those houses he was visiting?!
8:13pm Presumably the use of Optional Preferential Voting in New South Wales magnifies a swing when the existing government is on the nose. There must be a bunch of people who decided to vote for Greens and Independents - leftwards - rather than supporting the ALP who would have directed second (or later) preferences to the ALP in preference rather than going - rightwards- to the Lib/Nationals. With Optional Preferential Voting, their vote disappears if their Green/Independent candidate doesn't get up.
8:21pm Green results still up in the air: they might win 2 seats and be considered to have done well, or they might end up with 0 and be considered to have done badly. All based on a few thousand votes one way or the other.
8:28pm Luke Foley "It's grimmer than grim. The Liberal camp couldn't believe their eyes [and so played down their expectations how many seats they would win". Gladys Berejiklian (Liberal) "That's true".
8:35pm A big night for fisher-folk. Shooters and Fishers Party 6.45% in the Legislative Council and The Fishing Party 1.43%.
8:37pm Monaro "an absolute line ball" - which is interesting, because seats with much wider margins have easily fallen to the ALP.
8:42pm The polls slightly underestimated the ALP vote (but that's not much consolation for them, as their number of members has halved). ABC Computer predicting 22 ALP seats: so that's an Aussie rules team with a full set of four reserves.
8:51pm Greens unlikely to win in Marrickville. So it's either 1 or 0 seats for the Greens. This goes to show the importance to the Greens of getting as many Liberal votes as possible. The Liberals didn't direct any preferences in Marrickville, and the Greens candidate is likely to pick up fewer preferences from the Libs based on her participation in a Council vote to ban products from Israel.
If the Greens don't find a way to win over conservative voters (think "Doctor's Wives" and "Liberals for Forests") they're going to have trouble becoming more mainstream.
9:00pm Quentin Dempster doesn't quite ask the right follow up question. "How green are you?" he asks the Liberal Candidate in Balmain. "I'm Liberal to the core" the candidate doesn't answer. But given that the Liberals are split down the middle between Climate Deniers and people who rationally accept the reality of Climate Change but disagree on how to address it... he should have been asked where he stood: Denier or not?.
9:03pm Kristina Keneally "People of NSW didn't leave us, we left them".
9:09pm A confusing small cheer when Kristina Keneally said she would not remain as leader. Rude? or were they just expecting her to say something else? I'm not sure: out of a team of only 22 members, how many better candidates do they have for leader?
9:31pm Big swings: Riverstone 31.2%; Bathurst 36.8%... I wonder what the ALP candidates were like in those seats?
It sounds bizarre that Parramatta has fallen to the Liberals. ABC TV Panelist Gladys Berejiklian (Liberal) says there was a dirty campaign from the ALP in Parramatta. (If true that satisfies my obsession that people who run dirty campaigns deserve to do badly.)
9:35pm Antony Green "Everything from the Hawkesbury to the Hunter has fallen"... a long swathe of the Central Coast (where I was born). This is, of course, the area where the Iguana Joes farce happened.
9:50pm Monaro nobly manages to remain a seat of the centre: instead of getting a 20+% swing it has only a 7% swing that leaves it 51.1% to the Nationals.
10:00pm Barry O'Farrell Victory Speech.
10:11pm Ok: it's all over bar the rest of the counting: will there be any Greens in the Legislative Assembly (probably no?) and what will the Legislative Council look like (it's hard to tell this soon). The swing is shown as 16.7% based on 66.7% counted.
End of NSW Election Blog entries. Goodnight!
Anthony Holmes March 26th, 2011 17:48:41
Just in time for our Christmas Road Trip, the Melway mApp arrives for iPad, iPhone and iTouch.
See the Ausway announcement here.
Find it listed under Melway mApps in the Apple App Store.
The following products exist:
The Melway Quik mApp (free, with sample maps)
The Melway mApp (currently AUD $19.99, with all maps)
So: why would you hand out $20 for the mApp?
Of course, it also competes against Google Maps: and "free" has got to seem very tempting compared with $20. At this point I refer you to my earlier posting: Google Maps: #Fail.
It's delightful to see the full detail of Ausway maps on an iPad. Compare any two locations between Google Maps and the Melway/Ausway mApp equivalent and you'll immediately spot dozens of places where the Melway version is better: bike tracks, paths, accurate depiction of streets etc.. Don't get me wrong: Google Maps has its strengths: Street & Satellite views. But for accuracy and for well presented, detailed information, start with the Melway/Ausway map. (And then switch to Google Street View if you need to see what a building looked like on the day that Google drove past it.)
The mApp interface works nicely: you can swish around maps and pinch to zoom in easily. The mApp shows is physical map heritage: you need to go to the Map List and choose the "Swy" (Sydway) and "Bwy" (Brisway) maps etc. if you want Sydney, Brisbane or other maps. (You only get a selection of non-Melbourne maps.) The detailed maps of a city (all the "blue" pages) are joined together as a single map that you can swish from edge to edge. But at the border of your city you need to switch to the regional scale maps. As far as I can tell, every map published in any Ausway directory is included in this app. The "Find Place" option lets you search for anything that would be in a directory index: so you can search for schools, parks, major buildings etc. using Street Search. (But you can't zero in on a street number.)
This app isn't a direct equivalent to a GPS map unit. If you want left/right directions, they'll work better. To work out where you are, the mApp will use GPS to pinpoint your current location, and you can add Waypoints so you can immediately jump to a location. You won't get turn by turn directions. Think of a GPS map as being for point to point work, and think of the mApp as a way of working out better routes, or giving you a much better understanding of any area that you are looking at.
Here's the mApp version of central Melbourne (click to enlarge):
Google Maps' latest attempt at a Melbourne map (click to enlarge):
Don't try and have a drink at the Riverland Bar: you'll get rather cold and the trains running nearby will be noisy. And nobody will serve you a drink, because you won't actually be at Riverland. You'll be standing forlornly in the multi-storey car park that Google hasn't noticed.
Are there trams in St Kilda Road? Which route numbers? I see that it possible to drive down the City Square between Collins and Flinders Lane. That's useful. (No, it's not. Don't try it, you'll get arrested.)
By the way: Somebody seems to have replaced the Art Centre Spire with an office block. Must I go on?...
Anthony Holmes December 19th, 2010 12:47:06
There's an interesting question arising out of the 2010 Victorian State Election: Has it now been shown that The Greens will be forever blocked from lower house representation, or is this just a hiccough along the way?
The Australian Democrats once decided that their path to permanence involved winning House of Representative seats. Their biggest effort to do this was to run high profile Janine Haines for the seat of Kingston in 1990. The two major parties (ALP and Liberal) preferenced against her, and she lost.
In 2010, Adam Bandt won the federal seat of Melbourne because the Liberals gave preferences to The Greens ahead of the ALP.
In the 2010 State Election, the Liberals directed their preferences to the ALP. You can see the big difference that this made in the charts below. Even though The Greens candidate for the State election, Brian Walters won a greater percentage of the votes than Adam Bandt there was still no doubt that the ALP would win with the Liberals preferences.
(Note: the State figures used below are still incomplete because counting continues.)
The only way for The Greens to win a seat like Melbourne is to raise their Primary vote well above their current 36-8%, to somewhere close to 50%. Or, they've got to pick up Liberal preferences. About one third of Liberal Voters in the State election preferenced The Greens despite the Liberal How to Vote cards. Even that much "initiative" (rebellion) by Liberal Voters wasn't enough to elect The Greens. With preferences splitting at that ratio, they need to raise their Primary vote to about 43%.
That will be hard.
Anthony Holmes November 28th, 2010 13:01:36
Election day thoughts.... a semi-live blog posting on the election as it unfolds.
2:30pm Saturday 27th November 2010
At lunch today with a number of people that I knew (and some that I hadn't met before), the sense of a swing was on. It wasn't their predictions of the result that mattered, it was how they said they had voted. People were saying odd things like "I voted first for The Greens, and then the Liberals". Or "I voted for Clem (Newton-Brown, Liberal, Prahran)". People who wouldn't have voted Liberal in a pink fit over the last decade. It's certainly not a representative sample, but it fits the poll indications of a swing.
My predictions (which may prove disastrously wrong!):
The Greens won't get anybody elected in the Legislative Assembly. There will be enough a swing to the Liberals in the inner city seats to keep them out.
Look at my chart of marginal seats in yesterday's posting, and I'll predict as follows:
- The Libs will win a large majority of the ten most marginal seats at risk of falling to the Liberals from Mount Waverley to Ripon (0-4% margin): 8-10 seats to the Liberals
- From Bendigo East to Carrum (in the 5-6% range) they'll some to many of those eight seats: say 2-6 seats to the Liberals
- From Yan Yean to Narre Warren North (five seats in the 7-9% range) they may win a couple: say 0-4 seats
This leaves the range of seats falling as 8-19, with 14-16 seats being a good middle range: which would be enough to elect a coalition government.
My friend Janet Kaylock, who is fifth on the ALP's ticket for South Eastern Metropolitan will (sadly) fail to get elected. But she'll take her loss well. She'll get between 60 - 180 first preference votes.
Poll Bludger reports:
"6.13pm. It seems the Auspoll [exit poll] figures are a straight result from the 18 seats targeted, and that this included the four Labor-versus-Greens contests. The upshot of this is that the swing is 8 per cent, putting the Coalition on track for over 50 seats."
A total of 50 seats would be a gain of 18 seats: just greater than the 14-16 seat "good middle" range I predicted earlier today, and within the wider 8-19 range I mentioned. No meaningful results yet..
Antony Green announced a 5% swing, which (if even) would lead to the ALP retaining government. About ten minutes earlier he was talking about 6-7%, so it's still fluctuating.
Antony Green thinks there might be some big swings in Cranbourne, Eltham, and smaller swings elsewhere including regional Victoria. Which raises the question: where do the "middle" city marginals end up?
Antony Green says "If I was brave I'd predict a coalition victory, but I'm not brave"
Liberals are ahead in Melbourne based on less than 3% of the vote. It makes it look bad for The Greens.
Unannounced, the VEC is posting XML (EML) result files on their web site... allowing me, in future, in theory, to directly analyse results as they come. Woo Hoo!
Antony almost calls it for the Coalition. ABC can count 10 seats lost.
Antony thinks ALP doing better in country seats, bad in Melbourne. ALP thinks they will keep Barwon.
Antony counts 45 seats for the coalition which is a majority, but he hasn't called it yet.
Gavin Jennings (ALP) effectively concedes..
On 15.6%, Melbourne is:
ALP 2263 votes
LIB 1941 votes
GRE 2191 votes
This is an improvement on earlier voting which had the Liberals well ahead of The Greens.
ABC computer prediction:
Based on the even three way split (with the ALP ahead), and Liberal preferences mostly going to the ALP, I think it can safely be said that The Greens will not be winning Melbourne.
ALP think they are doing comparatively well in Bentleigh, and that it will go down to the wire. If the ALP were to resurrect themselves, they'd need a series of 'skin of their teeth' successes like that.
Helen Kroger (Lib Senator) - perhaps correctly - says that the decision to not preference The Greens was a defining moment in the campaign. I've got a bit of sympathy for that view: putting your preferences in accordance with your views rather than your perception of the most cunning plan is a legitimate approach.
5.3% swing statewide swing, or possibly 6.3%. The loss in Labor primary vote went directly to Lib/Nats rather than going to The Greens.
Antony thinks 48 seats to Coalition. "It would be remarkable for the ALP to win now" "It certainly looks like a Coalition government".
Preliminary Legislative Council Votes.... this indicates that the Country Alliance will be as powerful as The Greens. A majority to the Coalition... However, I wonder whether a lot more counting is required before these numbers are final.
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Greg Barber, The Greens claims one third of Liberals preferenced The Greens, which is a large number of people not following the Liberal's preferences.
They claim only half the votes have been counted in some of their seats.
Antony Green predicting:
Wooo Hoo! my pre-election prediction is looking spot on.
The ALP had 55 seats. If they end up with 40 that is a loss of 15. My prediction was "This leaves the range of seats falling as 8-19, with 14-16 seats being a good middle range: which would be enough to elect a coalition government." 15 seats is right on the money! (I bet it doesn't end up on exactly 15.)
ALP still claiming that a hung parliament (44 seats) is still a possible outcome.
Antony Green's computer wasn't expecting the Country Alliance to come second to the Nationals in Shepparton.
In the early part of the election coverage, there was some talk that Justin Madden (ALP Planning Minister) might be in trouble in Essendon. As it turns out, he's safely retained his seat with 54% two party (but only 37% primary vote).
Rob Hulls (ALP) announcing that it is too close to call. It looks like there will be no concession speech tonight.
"Only Henry Bolte [has achieved four terms] in the modern era".
He concedes Carrum, formerly held my by my friend Jenny Lindell.
He thinks a hung parliament is the most likely result.
Antony Green: "The turnout is incredibly low"... Antony: that's because LOTS of people voted early. I've heard many people saying that's what they were doing. Some of them think that this is a good thing. Their theory it should be encouraged because it makes it easy to vote. I think it is a bad thing because many people voted before all the policies were launched. But maybe I'm an old fashioned fuddy duddy.
Most times when the ABC does a live cross to a candidate, there is a 'hissing' noise in the background. It sounds like static. It's caused by rain/water on the roads.
ALP (Daniel Andrews) claims low turnout means the ABC computer's projections can't be trusted.
Ian Henderson (ABC) says it took him an hour to vote today. I wonder how much of this was due to the use of Netbooks to tick people off the rolls instead of printed voter lists. There were only three desks handing out ballot papers to voters in the seat of Melbourne at the Victoria University (Flinders Street) polling station.
ALP 39 (possibly 40)
LIB 35 (including Bentleigh) (possibly 38)
Given my earlier prediction, I should have bet on the Coalition winning and won a substantial amount of money. Better odds than Tattslotto.
We're in that nervous time when no one knows: who will speak first, Brumby or Baillieu?
The number of red lollies that Antony Green is allowed to consume during election broadcasts is restricted. Who knows what might happen if he had too many.
David Davis (Lib) thinks 44 seats secure with 3-4 opportunities.
John Brumby speaks.
"Most likely result is a hung parliament".
Perhaps it's time for the ALP to study How to Succeed in a Hung Parliament, an article in Quadrant about a hung parliament in NSW in 1911. It's an interesting (and amusing) story.
Brumby claims his current Chief of Staff is "up there with the best of them"... (Julia Gillard was one of his earlier Chiefs of Staff, so it would be dangerous for him to claim the current one is the best he's had.)
550,000 pre-poll votes still to be counted (out of a total electorate of 3.6 million). Brumby says his government will be the Caretaker Government. And somehow "the work starts tomorrow"... well... I would have thought Caretaker conventions would limit that somewhat.
It sounds rather like a campaign launch speech.
If it is 44 members each way, how would parliament operate?... ahh, there'd be a good reason for avoiding even numbers of members in a parliament.
Peter Ryan. "Unlikely result is that it will be a hung parliament. The likely result is that we will form government."
Brumby's speech a "Denial of reality".
Ted Baillieu on the stage.. with wife and daughters.
"The final outcome may still be uncertain" (lots of laughs). "But what is clear is that there has been a huge swing against the Labor government".
"I thank the volunteers of all parties who stood in the rain today and felt the refreshing rain of renewal"
"The election's not over. The count goes on. We're ready to govern."
So: Both Brumby and Baillieu say they are ready to govern. If it is split 44/44, maybe the only solution will be to have a "Grand Unity" government (of 88 people to nil).
On that most improbable note, I think I'll sign off for the night! Comments (3)
Anthony Holmes November 27th, 2010 14:33:27
Well, what's an amateur psephologist to do?
I'll stand by the comment I made to a very very small number of people at the start of the election: it will be much closer than anybody expects. And so it has turned out...
The day before the 2010 Victorian State Election and Friday's two polls show it as neck and neck.
The final Galaxy poll had it at 50/50. The final Morgan poll has it 51/49 in favour of the Coalition. But even though the Morgan poll had a large enough sample of 990 voters, it has a concentration on inner city voters, so its margin for error is 3.5 to 4%. (See Poll Bludger's comments.) The betting markets are still confident that the ALP will win. Once upon a time, people betting real money seemed to be the best predictor of elections, but recently their accuracy seems to be dropping.
The hint from the poll trends is that there a swing on. Labor will take as much comfort as they can that 25% of people voted ahead of time. People: this is an annoying thing to do. Stop doing it (unless you're sick or infirm.) You're voting before all the policies have been launched and - worse - your votes don't get counted until the Monday after the election, which spoils election nights.
So if the election turns out to be close, which are the seats to watch?
The current state of the Assembly is:
- 55 seats to the ALP
- 32 seats to the Coalition
- 1 independent (Craig Ingram)
A total of 88 seats. If the ALP loses 12 seats to the Coalition, it is either an evenly split ALP/independent vs Coalition parliament or - if independent Craig Ingram so chooses - a one seat Coalition/Independent majority. Here are the seats at risk according to their margin.
The four seats coloured green won't go towards a coalition win. There's some chance the Melbourne will fall from the ALP to The Greens, and a smaller chance of Richmond, Brunswick and a tiny chance that Northcote will do the same.
If the swing were even, the loss of every seat up to and including Eltham would be a definite Coalition victory.
That's a 6.7% swing since the 2006 election.
Because swings are never even, some seats with a margin of less than 6.7% may stay with the ALP, while some seats needing larger swings (perhaps Bellarine, Yan Yean) might come into play.
You can play this game yourself by using Antony Green's Amazing 2010 Victorian Election Calculator.
By this time (8:30pm) Saturday evening it may all be clear. Or we may still be waiting in 17 days time. Comments (0)
Anthony Holmes November 26th, 2010 20:30:12
I get that cartoonists should stir the pot.
I get that cartoonists will present points of view that I disagree with.
But I don't think this is legitimate...
The Age cartoonist, John Spooner has a habit of veering away from political satire towards making anti-intellectual claims about global warming. These are "University of East Bumcrack" claims. The University of East Bumcrack was first identified as existing when Annabel Crabb revealed on Insiders that this is the place from which Andrew Bolt cherry picks random factoids as "evidence" that the world is cooling.
There's a Flat Earth Society. It's not a joke. Its members genuinely believe the earth is flat and not a globe.
If John Spooner produced an ongoing series of cartoons commenting on political issues but with spurious pseudo-scientific "facts" seriously supporting a Flat Earth, then he'd be seen as a crank and nobody would bother publishing his Flat Earth cartoons. (See an example of Flat Earth reasoning here.) If you try to counter a Flat Earther's beliefs (perhaps by asking about how the South Magnetic Pole seems to exist), you'll enter "Yes, but..." territory where they jump to a different, unrelated "fact". This is a sure sign that you've entered the University of East Bumcrack's world of random "evidence". Spooner's "facts" about climate change (plants consume carbon dioxide and a self-selected internet poll showed many people have climate change scepticism) are no more credible - and no more relevant - than the Flat Earth arguments about parallel lines proving ships don't disappear over the horizon.
Now, if some people believe that the "sun is about 3000 miles high and 32 miles across", I'll sigh and feel sorry for them. Maybe they can be the subject of a gentle joke from time to time. I don't want them producing navigation systems for jet airliners. I don't want them being given equal time whenever The Age produces an article on overseas travel. A cartoonist might present a clever cartoon pretending that some politician is a Flat Earther.
But The Age shouldn't carry a cartoon arguing that the earth really IS flat. Ditto Mr Spooner on climate change.
In 2009 we were walking at Wilson's Prom when the weather suddenly turned colder. Perhaps I should have reported this change in the weather to the UofEB?
Anthony Holmes November 20th, 2010 19:50:11
I assume that what I'm about to claim here is public knowledge and not likely to get me locked up for any reason. And it may be my imagination: a claim with no truth at all.
Anyhow: Over the last few hours I've noticed a mini circular rainstorm (almost a cyclone) stuck exactly on Laverton airport. There's a tiny space with no rain and a scattering of rain that is white or the lightest blue colour. In theory it just extends to the Melbourne CBD, but I haven't seen a drop of rain, and the centre of the storm hasn't moved a centimetre in all the time I've been watching it.
It might be a fault in the radar. Or it might be an unusual form of natural interference with the radar. But it occurs to me that it might also be part of the mechanisms used to protect valuable VIP aircraft being used by high profile US politicians against missile attacks etc.. Which is why I've named it Cyclone Hillary. We'll see if the storm leaves when she leaves.
(The biggest problem with my theory is that The Age reported that she touched down at Tullamarine, not Laverton.)
UPDATE: 8 Nov 2010 11:50am
I've reflected on this overnight, and unless chaff is being shot into the air in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne, I can't think of a way that radar could be interfered with. So I'm guessing there isn't some super secret way of mucking up Melbourne's weather radar while a plane sits on the ground. Occam's razor tends to suggest there is something wrong with the Laverton weather radar. The circular "Cyclone Hillary" pattern extended for much of the night but has been fading today. You can now only see a faint impression of yesterday's unmoving rain storm:
Anthony Holmes November 8th, 2010 00:51:50
When I was young I selected books based on the topic they covered. Then I started following certain authors. More recently I've started following boutique publishers. I regard most books published by Black Inc. as worthy of serious consideration. I'm now starting to pay attention to Arcade Publications, the publishers of Melbourne Remade by Seamus O'Hanlon.
Arcade Publications describe themselves as publishing "short reads about Australia's past", "always inexpensive, usually irrelevant... comprehensive but idiosyncratic". That taps into my interest in Melbourne history.
Melbourne Remade is a tiny (A6) and cheap ($20) book. I almost overlooked it, assuming it was going to be one of those little books published from time to time with a list of places to buy handicrafts (handmade shoes, pottery, macrame etc.) from little stores scattered around and about. Instead it's a long form essay (... ok, with six chapters) about the change of Melbourne from being an industrial city to its current form.
Its starting point is a couple of photographs taken in 1973 from the top of the newly completed MMBW Building at 120 Spencer Street and the top of the Mobil Building looking down on the factories that inhabited the place that would become Southgate/Southbank. It covers a range of building booms and busts, the emptying out of factories, the fear that Melbourne would become a city with permanently high unemployment filled with empty and decaying buildings. Detroit on the Yarra. Along the way we get descriptions of the arrival of the City Square, Collins Place ("state of the art [when it was planned] in 1971, by the time it was finished it was passé", the Rialto, Southgate, the revitalisation of the Yarra, warehouse conversions, the opening up of laneways and a whole lot more.
It's interesting to reflect on what a different place Melbourne was in the 1970s. In 1971 there were 16 people working in manufacturing for every person who worked for "cultural and recreational services". Since then, the number of people working for museums, performing arts, sporting venues etc. has grown by 300 percent: four percent of all jobs in the inner city.
Something else of interest is the extent to which so many features of modern Melbourne (laneway cafes, small alcohol venues, major events and cultural and sporting infrastructure) were started by the Cain/Kirner government and then continued by the Kennett government. These days the Kennett government gets a lot of credit for those changes, but there was more continuity between the opposite sides of parliament than we often suppose.
Anthony Holmes November 2nd, 2010 14:36:10