Earth Hour:

Chris Dodds writes: Re. “Is Earth Hour about the planet or the plugs?” (Yesterday, item 6). It’s wonderful to see the consistency of understanding of science demonstrated by the climate change sceptics. It is a scientific reality that electricity is difficult to store and so when demand drops so does production just as when demand soars production has to match the increase. It may well be that the reduction in production of electricity and the corresponding increase at the end of earth hour will produce more greenhouse gas than a steady generation on a non earth hour weekend but I doubt it. Keep up the good work Steve Wilson, you manage to confirm my cynical attitude that the sceptics have little or no understanding of science and remain only interested in scoring political points in a lost fight being engaged in by the fossil fuel industry and its cheer squad.

Keith Bales writes: The Earth Hour must be the most ill conceived idea on the planet. What a complete waste of space? At least promote to the great unwashed to turn off lights all year round like HM The Queen does at her homes and has been for years! The energy and money used to promote Earth Hour could and should be used to educate people about regular, all year-round energy savings like turning off lights in rooms that are unused, turn off TV’s that are on standby etc. This would be a far better outcome than promoting a “turn off” for one hour? Idiots!

Clare Richards writes: Further to your story on Earth Hour … Fairfax are giving away Earth Hour promotion T-shirts to staff … imagine what power they could have saved if only they’d spent that money on motion sensors in the meeting rooms to make up for the fact that for the rest of the year the staff really don’t care where the light comes from!

Rob Garnett writes: Re. Steve Wilson (yesterday, comments) who wrote: “Energy companies can’t just turn off their equipment for an hour.” Steve we don’t have to turn it off our equipment we simply turn it down. Gas turbine generators can be run up in less than ten minutes and shut down even quicker. A 2000 MW coal fired station can reduce/increase output 500 MW in ten minutes. Hydro is even quicker. I’ve worked in the industry 30 years so I do have a rough idea.

Simon Nix writes: Apathetic cynicism, it seems, is the only group activity anyone cares about anymore. Base Load coal plants can be “cycled” with demand, and Peaker Stations can be shut down completely. I found this info within five minutes of surfing, and then found that it is already addressed in the Earth Hour FAQ. If Steve couldn’t be bothered with five minutes of research, it’s no great surprise he couldn’t be bothered switching off his lights for an hour.

James McDonald writes: Steve Wilson rightly points out “while there might be less energy consumed, the same amount of energy must still be produced … Energy companies can’t just turn off their equipment for an hour”. Actually, it may be even worse than that. To avoid burning out their generators, energy producers have to impose a load during the drop in consumption, simulating usage even if no one is using it. In general, most of the unused portion of an energy-efficiency ratio gets dispersed into the local environment as heat. Energy that would normally be consumed as light, much of which shines out into space where it’s visible to satellites and the like, never to return. By keeping that energy earthbound, Earth Hour may actually heat up the planet by a small increment.

COAG and the Murray-Darling deal:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Rudd pulls out the chequebook to deliver Murray-Darling deal” (yesterday, item 2). The media coverage of COAG and the apparent water and health deals masks several unpleasant truths. The delays in these agreements has been politically contrived to suit the ALP, which has disadvantaged ordinary people and delayed water reform and health improvements. The same was true of public dental lists, years of Labor state under funding leading to chronic waiting lists. The states are happy because vast amounts of bribes are to flow from the Commonwealth (i.e. taxpayers) to the state treasuries. Victoria for example is getting more money but has to do precious little for it. In the past the Commonwealth made special purpose payments to achieve its policy objectives. The new arrangements appear to provide money to the Labor states with few strings attached. The new federal relationship appears to be more like a funnel with taxpayers pouring money in to prop up state mates (in particular NSW); it does not ensure better services at all.

Ros Marsh writes: The Melbourne addition (on top of their cap one assumes or why would they have been arguing with Howard about it and refusing to sign off unless they got it), I thought 100 gigalitres, requires a $3 billion dollar pipeline. Vics asked Howard for at least $750 million. He said no. Has Rudd agreed to pay that as well as $1 billion and the Vics share of the 10 billion?

The Oz’s and the SS Macklin:

Elizabeth and Roy Farrell write: Re. “The Oz‘s SS Macklin yarn deserves to sink without a trace” (yesterday, item 19). We are tomorrow cancelling our regular order with our newsagent for The Australian. We were distressed to read the article on Jennie Macklin and the MV Pikkuw in The Australian on 26 March — it did appear to be right over the top. We then read Crikey and realised that once again The Australian still haven’t come to terms with Labor winning the recent election. They will print anything true or false as long as it puts any Labor minister in a bad light and creates a head-line. We hoped for an apology today, but NO they attempted to justify. Until we get a truly fair minded National newspaper we will have to look at Nicholson and Leak on-line and stick with only The Age and Financial Review for our news.

Steve Martin writes: Chris Graham wrote: “And from there, The Australian‘s ‘reporting’ simply descends into high farce, with such illuminating facts as: ‘Only two Indigenous people were present at the barbecue, one of whom grew up in Cairns and has spent much of her life in Melbourne.’ Sorry, what’s your point?” I would have thought the point being made by The Oz’s Padraic Murphy was fairly obvious. The Cairns based indigenous person who had spent much of her life in Melbourne was in his eyes in much the same category as the Japanese, who were regarded by the Apartheid government of South Africa as honorary whites. In other words he doesn’t regard her as a proper blackfella.

The last act of Orkopoulos:

Dave Liberts writes: Re. “The last act of Orkopoulos: skewering the Darkinjung” (yesterday, item 4). Thank you Alex Mitchell for the article about the disgraceful Darkinjung situation. As a long-time ALP supporter, I am horrified at the NSW government’s refusal to back down from the last-minute Orkopoulos decision and call on the Federal government to intervene (if possible) or at the very least condemn everything to do with Orkopoulos.

The kids are alright:

John Taylor writes: Re. “Memo PM: the kids aren’t all drunk” (yesterday, item 12). The final paragraph of Kat Muscat’s item says it all. It is not Kevin Rudd’s responsibility to police teenage (or anyone else’s) drinking. Nor is it his responsibility to police obesity in our society; nor poker machine playing; nor whether we hear Gordon Ramsay say rude words on TV. If you don’t get out of our face with these paternalistic ideas, then you can kiss goodbye to Kevin11.

Mortgage stress:

Ross Copeland writes: Re. “Australian economy ‘weathering the storm’: RBA” (yesterday, item 1). Glenn Dyer says “There are around 5.2 million housing mortgages in Australia.” But this is pretty meaningless as an indicator of housing stress. I would expect any mortgages more than 10 years old are likely to be immune from serious stress by now. Even those 5-10 years old will probably cope. Also how many of the 5m mortgages are on investment properties? So tell us how many mortgages are held by owner occupiers with loans less than five years old. This would give us a better indicator of the extent of the arrears rate.

The SMH‘s sub-editors:

Joy Storie writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). As a Sydney Morning Herald subscriber, I was interested to read that recent late deliveries were caused by missed deadlines caused by the curious decision to make all sub-editors generalists. Two Saturdays running, my Herald was not delivered. The newsagent’s phone was engaged all morning, so the first Saturday I went to the newsagent who said there were production problems when I collected my paper. Their Saturday delivery man is employed between certain hours only, presumably because he also has other commitments. The following week when the same thing happened I bought a copy from the corner store, not having time to go to the newsagent. I wonder what Fairfax intends to do if this continues to happen into the future and many subscribers do not receive their papers?

Sydney’s North West metro line:

Ian Farquhar writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). The “Tips and rumours” item on Sydney’s “vaporware” North West Metro line was interesting, and their choice of “celebrity” sponsor indeed quite ironic. However, isn’t it also interesting that the project’s website seems to contain no substantial information on how this pipe-dream is to be funded? Indeed, the discussion paper contains the word “fund” only twice, both times noting it will be “funded by the NSW government”? That’s interesting, because in its former guise as the North West Rail link, the project was to be funded by a surcharge applied to property sales in the North West region. The suggested size of this surcharge was, last time I heard, in the region of $30,000 per property sale. So the area which is already arguably has the poorest public transport in Sydney, is already disproportionately funding NSW anyway, and is now being asked to fund its own infrastructure. I did formally complain about the surcharge proposal when it was originally floated, and received a “sod off” letter from the egregious Sartor in response. I’d very much like the media to look into just how this pie in the sky metro scheme is to be funded, as I’ll be very surprised if the surcharge scheme has been moved off the table.

Green preferences:

Greens electoral analyst, Stephen Luntz, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). The claim, made in “Tips and rumours”, that Green preference recommendations in the Brisbane City Council elections were worth nothing looks credible if you read the stats quoted. However, when you click through to the Electoral Commission’s website you note something the tipper either missed, or chose to ignore. In Morningside the Greens had the top spot on the ballot and the donkey vote flowed against their recommendations. We don’t know exactly how large the donkey vote was in Morningside, but making some reasonable estimations it is clear that the recommendation on the Greens how to vote card was worth just slightly less than whatever the donkey vote was in that ward. This is fairly consistent with other data, all of which shows that Green preference recommendations are worth a lot less than some of the more excitable Green members would like to believe, but not nothing, as some Green haters persist in claiming.

Bull in the air:

Jack Smith writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). In regards to the story claiming that a Virgin 737 was carrying too much fuel to take off from Adelaide for Perth can someone explain how this would be case given that the plane was actually designed to carry the said fuel. The reality is the more people on any plane the more fuel it needs with a full weight, so how can a plane be carrying to much fuel? Sounds like bull to me, but I am happy to be set straight.

Parliamentary superannuation:

Alan Hatfield writes: Marcus Lestrange (yesterday, comments) wrote: “Mark (Latham) receives around $70,000 per year and CPI-indexed from the Parliamentary Superannuation Fund.” Wrongo, Marcus! Only former public servants and military superannuants have to put up with the complete inadequacy of CPI-based indexation. Even age and other pensioners get pensions indexed to a wage-based index. Current Parliamentary superannuants receive pensions indexed to current parliamentary salaries – the ultimate wage-based indexation! Current Commonwealth public service and military superannuants can only dream of such indexation!

Well done Qantas:

Andrew Lees writes: I was a passenger on Monday night from LA to Sydney (QF12) that was forced to abandon its landing at the last moment. Although a serious incident, most people were not shaken up that much. What should be noted and commended on was the professionalism of the Qantas staff. The Captain kept us informed through the whole process, despite having to deal with the airport authorities and the purser (which made a good point) reminded us why it is important to listen and observe the safety instructions from the cabin crew at the start of the trip (when they started yelling enter the brace position, half the people didn’t know what to do!). As soon as we left the plane, they had hotels for everyone to stay in (Hilton and Marriott) and the time from the failed takeoff to be wrapped up in bed was not unreasonable. All passengers seemed accepting of what occurred and I think that is due to the coherent and calm comments made by the crew and the timely manner in which we left the airport. A big vote of confidence in Qantas from me.


Mark Hardcastle writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) has missed the critical point that the USA supported, funded and supplied Saddam Hussein while he was murdering his people in their thousands. The US was supplying Saddam over the time he was gassing Iranians and Kurds. The US supported Saddam while he was at his worst. Years latter, when Saddam no longer fitted with the interest of the US Administration a PR campaign was waged in which the perception of Saddam’s threat was continuously over emphasized. At the same time there was consistent suppression of credible intelligence that showed the claims of WMD were wrong were. In Australia, Andrew Wilkie resigned from the ONA, prior to the invasion in order to publicly voice his concern at the treatment of intelligence on Iraq WMD. Coincidentally, Andrew Bolt somehow acquired a classified government report that he used in a selectively manner via his opinion column to attack Andrew Wilkie.

Greg Wood writes: Tamas Calderwood again fails to demonstrate any sort of empathy, compassion or understanding when it comes to the invasion of Iraq. To argue that “anyone who supported the invasion is immoral or has blood on their hands is absurd’ is in itself absolutely absurd, of course they do. One just has to read a recent article by a certain Mr Blix who is justly right in his condemnation of the illegal occupation of Iraq. Again and again the argument put forth by msr calderwood and co fails to acknowledge the countless Iraqi deaths, the complete breakdown in basic infrastructure & services, the death squads, the private unaccountable mercenaries operating with impunity and the almost forgotten 30,000+ seriously wounded US veterans who are thrown on the scrap heap upon returning to the USA, etc etc. Iraq has been suffering for decades, from the Baathist overthrow orchestrated by the CIA, to the support and arming of Saddam Hussein, to Gulf War 1, the 12 year blockade resulting in the deaths of over half a million children right through to the million plus dead from the current invasion. Yes Tamas, Iraq looked pretty bad before the war but looks absolutely frightening right now thanks to the actions of the country you worship and glorify.

Babcock & Brown:

Kelly Hibbins, Babcock & Brown, writes: Re. “Babcock’s desperate $220m share placement” (yesterday, item 23). Stephen Mayne wrote: “The flurry of activity at Babcock & Brown continues apace with a $220 million share placement overnight plus a substantial renegotiation of debt arrangements with an expanded syndicate of 25 banks. The frenetic recent activity is all laid out in today’s presentation.” Staff could not participate in the placement last night as we do not have a trading window open at the current time. (That fact is actually in the presentation).

Showing your age:

Gabriel McGrath writes: Re. “Ten goes back to the future for new drama” (yesterday, item 22). Glenn Dyer gives his age away on his comments on the ABC TV series Rush….. My googling has failed to come up with Glenn’s date of birth, but I’ll bet it was prior to 1970. Most of Crikey’s Generation X readers would be unfamiliar with Rush, but could rave for hours, on the D-Gen’s p-sstake of it, entitled The Olden Days. Footage from the former, was brilliantly re-edited and overdubbed to create the latter, in the early 90’s. (And it was only recently released on DVD after all those years.) Glenn, I dunno who “Lansdowne” was, but I can tell you all about “Governor Frontbottom” and his adventures.

Crikey! That’s early!:

Jeff Bye writes: Please tell me, Wayne Robinson (yesterday, comments), that you weren’t up at such an ungodly hour (6.52am) just to prove someone wrong with a photo. There should be laws against that. And Crikey, can I suggest you undertake a survey of everyone who has written in the last, say 12 months, promising to cancel their subscriptions if this or that didn’t change and see how many actually cancelled their subs? If you don’t I will consider cancelling mine.

Channel Seven:

Debbie Turner, publicity manager at Channel Seven Brisbane writes: Re. “Media briefs and TV ratings” (yesterday, item 22). Just a correction to your News and CA wrap yesterday where Glenn Dyer said: “News & CA: Seven News won, but only after losing Brisbane and drawing Adelaide with Nine”. Actually Seven News did win in Brisbane last night with an average viewing audience of 263,000 ahead of Nine News with 256,000 av. viewers. Seven News has also won 10 consecutive weeks for this year.

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