Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I owe I owe it's off to work i go.

A day of celebration in Australia today as Shane “Warnie” Warne took his 700th test wicket, the ashes are ours after a long 12 months, and Australia is now at 150%….

Yes that’s right we have finally, after years of trying, hit ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY percent. Retailers are celebrating nation wide like a drunken bowler with a cricket stump, as our debt to income ratio sits happily at 150%. Making us the highest debt to income ratio in the world…

Before you go “oh no finance and numbers post”, I am going to keep it simple.. Put bluntly for every 10 dollars that you earn, you are borrowing 15 dollars.. The “Aussie” dream of owning your own home, as shown in the Castle. Is quickly becoming the Aussie nightmare as personal debt spirals out of control.. On average Australians have 4 (up to 12 maxed is not that uncommon) credit cards and will regularly payout one card with another transferring the debt across…. To see the state of Australian Debt do a search on seek for debt collection positions, 333 current vacancies. Adds constantly for consolidation we are in trouble to say the least.. Working with debt has opened my eyes, seeing up to 20000 dollars revolved at 25 % interest but they still try to borrow more..

What is creating this cycle of debt? Why are we driven to consume? What do we get from it? Is it our culture?

“There are so many things we need so desperately and the TV preaches that we cant live with out them” –TV - Chris Hall – Stabbing Westward. Very true though, every day we are shown images of people happier than us, they look like us, but they have product X , the logical inference is that Product X is causing the opiate release. Maybe it is status, like the magpie, hording many coloured objects to show our wealth and attract a mate… Many objects = great success = better to sleep with.

Finance is available for those incapable of saving, interest free terms buy now pay nothing for 12 months, only 20% of consumers pay this off the rest revolve at 27- 30%… with no real idea of what they are getting into. Gimmicks and marketing hide the truth that it is DEBT! Which in my opinion is not a good idea. Should they read the fine print, yes, should it be intentionally misleading, No.

Government? The Australian Government has actively encouraged debt to fight rising inflation, similar to that of America in the 60s and 70s (a major contribution to third world debt). Australian Government in the face of insane inflation began the home buyers grants 10,000 dollars to buy the first home, marketed as the Aussie dream huge debt was generated and the inflation dropped. In response to falling inflation interest rate goes up. The dream falls apart.

Irresponsible lending? Credit cards, personal loans, store cards all available at the click of a button confirming the most basic of financial details. Income and out going, age and outstanding debt (only on cards). No details to see if someone could really afford it. How about IQ and personality test? Are they smart enough to use a credit card? Will you understand a credit contract? Are you a shop-a-holic? Are you genetically predisposed to spending? Statements are misleading asking for minimum monthly payments, the way to avoid interest and get out of debt is hidden. The money is shown to be your own, “your available credit is” its your card, personalised cards. The terms and conditions are long and drawn out, we think of it as our card. Somehow they convinced us that debt was cool. My suggestion is that terms and conditions need to be as bright and colour full as the adds for the card.. Make people interested in what it means to have a card, how it all works, how interest is applied.

Where do you draw the line between corporate, government and personal responsibility? Are smokers responsible for their cancer, when the dangers of smoking were hidden for so long? Are consumers responsible if they are forced into a toxic environment?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ho Ho Homophobia

My sincerest apologies for the lack of posts of late, but the weight of the holiday season is upon us and with it old fears and anxieties raise their heads. It is with great fear and trepidation that I write this post baring my soul and fears most dark to the world. The illusion of the fearless blogger in search of truth; who laughs in the face of danger, who tweaks the nose of terror, has been shattered. I have handled snakes, jumped from helicopters, been in rooms with no oxygen pumped full of noxious gases, I have seen death in all its forms. Nothing of the afore mentioned has filled me with the terrors most foul of the December months…..

I talk of course of Santa Claus… As early as I can remember I have always been scared of Santa, my earliest photos of myself crying in horror as I am forced to endure the endless questioning of my wants and desires until my parents snatched me from his vile clutches. Even now as I approach my 25th year upon the earth the image of the jolly fat man still fills my soul with fear of unimaginable terror.

What is it about the fat man with the midget fetish that I find most horrifying? I believe it comes from the song entitled "Santa Claus is coming to town" and I quote…
"he sees you when your sleeping, he knows when your awake" – Surely I am not the only sensible being to find this sentiment creepy. If it was anyone else you would take out a restraining order. In addition the song indicates a general air of menace. "He knows if you have been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake" as the penalty is so horrible it is omitted from the lyrics.

I remember as a young fellow setting traps for Santa involving an elaborate series of trip wires placed around the fireplace, coupled with an alarm made of falling marbles into an echoing tin can. But despite my best efforts the beast eluded me, however I did manage to cause significant bruising to my mothers shins with one of the wires that had less give than I thought it did.

To combat this phobia I was forced to face my fears at 17 years of age, my parents made me dress as Santa and lure small children with candy to various forms of Christmas marketing… I believe I still hold the record for the skinniest Santa ever.
As explained by my father
"due to recent medical complications Santa has had to lose weight, the triple by-pass has led to a dramatic decrease in the cookie intake of Santa's diet. " but this was to no avail, I continued to avoid Santa in all shopping centres.

As we approach the 25th preparations are being made: roof to reindeer missiles are being installed, the chimney has been blocked to prevent the annual break and enter in the name of generosity, and we are at elf alert 5 at all sections of the building. Only a few more days remain of avoiding Santa, until we are forced to suffer the easter bunny; that how ever is another tale.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

After lengthy reading of Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid has lead me to also reminisce of my own child hood and the stupid moments in growing up… entitled flight, projectile motion and dislocated shoulders…

Science was always a big part of growing up: how did things work, could I reproduce similar results from experiments and TV shows I had encountered? This lead to the fascination with flight…

What I wanted to happen:

How lift is produced. In hind sight this was the information a child needed to reduce the danger from homemade hang glider injuries.

Lift is produced by an aerofoil. You will notice the odd shape of the aerofoil: it is curved on the top surface and flat on the bottom surface. This is used to exploit a difference in air pressure as follows… Analogy: picture a running track, you are running next to your friend. If the two tracks were the same distance you would have to run at the same speed to arrive at the finish at the same time.

Now we lengthen one track by curving it outwards. Two runners start at the same position and must cross the finish line at the same time… In order for both runners to arrive at the same time the runner with the longer track must run at a faster pace, to cover the longer distance.

Under pressure (also an awesome track by queen). Pressure, in ley terms, is the amount of collisions per molecule per second on a surface. Air pressure is no different if you compress gas molecules you reduce volume and increase the number of collisions with the side of the container. Now if we pass a gas over a surface, very slowly we get a lot of collisions and a lot of pressure or quickly a few glancing blows and a low pressure.

It we apply this to our running track, on the longer track the molecules move faster therefore low pressure (few collisions). On the shorter track air moves slowly, more pressure (More collisions). Put the shorter track to the bottom of the wing. More pressure below than above, net upward movement, and therefore lift is generated.

What actually happened…
Projectile motion:

Throw a ball straight out in front of you, what happens? The ball takes a curved trajectory to the ground.

Now picture a 12 foot high retaining wall with a young man running full pelt (approx 12 km an hour) off the top of it, strapped to his back two large white shopping bags and length of wood, of a 3 meter wing span…
Time for some maths….

We need:
acceleration due to gravity 9.8 ms-2
Initial velocity in ms-1 12km equals 3.3 ms-1
Height in meters 4m (approx)
Ignoring the following
Air resistance
Number of poles from the near by veranda the wings clipped rotating our hero through 720 degrees bringing the shoulder more forward of its previous position.

Over to Newton..

The time to fall 4 meters will be given by the formula…

H= ut +.5aT^2 where h is equal to height (4m), u is the initial downwards velocity 0, a is the acceleration due to gravity 9.8 ms-2 and T is the time taken to fall.

To fall 4m

4=0t +.5(9.8)T^2
t=0.9 seconds
(funny it felt a lot longer)

The distance covered on land will be given by

Ut=d where d is the distance travelled horizontally, u is the initial (unchanging) velocity and t the time taken to do so.

D= 3.3*.9
2.97 meters flight distance, slightly shorter than needed for the Atlantic crossing.

In short, 4 meters down 3 meters horizontal clipped a post on a veranda turned through 720 degrees and nearly popped out my shoulder. Realised that two shopping bags and a plank of wood was not a suitable substitute for a glider. Found, however, that 6 bags and jumping from a tree could act as a parachute as long as I landed on a mate's sister to cushion the landing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

4-[4-(4-chlorophenyl)- 4-hydroxy-1-piperidyl]- N,N-dimethyl- 2,2-diphenyl-butanamide

Loperamide the active ingredient in almost all anti diarrhoea products such as immodium and gastro stop. It is an opioid with reacts in an agonistic fashion within the myentric plexus within the large intestine. On binding it reacts to reduce the amount of intestinal motility via a protein kinase cascade. Reducing the amount of movement in the intestine allows the faecal material to shed large amounts of water and allows the material to solidify reducing the risk of dehydration. reducing movement can also help to stem nausea, reduce vomiting.

This is possibly one of the most useful drugs in human history allowing people all over the world the ability to go to work, get on aircraft and enjoy a honeymoon, without the embarrassment of diarrhoea.

However once your wife passes out on an aircraft on arrival at Singapore, looking pale, there is only one real option. Hospital and cancel the flight.

Ladies, gentlemen and Homo Escapeons, we did not make it to South Africa, a few less baboons got counted. But we managed to salvage what could have been a disaster into a few amazing days in Singapore, enjoying the food (black pepper crab), the people(my brother in-laws gf is a local and played tour guide), the world class zoos (we even saw baboons) and the amazing specials on; well everything (50 Singapore dollars 1 gig memory card).

We are now back home alive and well, and are now playing the happy couple, setting up house buying furniture, cutlery and a new dinner set with all the gift vouchers we received.

My fathers advice to me on the wedding day was...

"Son on the first night you are asked to do dishes as man and wife, drop two of the most expensive dishes you own and you will never be asked to do them again. Never do anything well you do not wish to do again."
I am sure stace over heard this as the new set is nearly an inch think stone ware, but the black and purple looks awesome.. Dad's advice also concerns me as I am also (biological) an only child... hrmmm.