Tales from a volcano

Crikey readers weigh in on airlines and volcanos. Is it so bad that aeroplane transport has stopped? Plus, thoughts on COAG, states and the death of Carl Williams. Oh, and the Pirate Party.

Volcanos, airlines et al: Robert Johnson in Namibia writes: Re. "Adonis, Cobra, Elle? just pass the (volcanic) ash tray and enjoy the sunshine" (yesterday, item 14). I’m sure Rafiq Copeland’s inability to get the Britain’s Next Top Model tapes from Malaysia back to London is widely lamented. Some things have been able to still fly in to Europe, though. Last Friday DHL collected an envelope from my sister in Ballarat. Online tracking shows that, by Saturday it had made it to Singapore and was despatched the next day, arriving on Monday in Germany, where it was promptly placed "on hold".  It’s still on hold now, Tuesday afternoon EST.  Unfortunately, this now makes it unlikely that it will reach my wife in Chennai (it had been due to arrive today) by the weekend when she returns home to Namibia. By Sunday, all the world outside, apparently, the international air courier business was well aware of the European air service shutdown.  But, somehow, DHL still managed to get my envelope into Germany from South-East Asia before sending it to South Asia (not). The rub is that the envelope contains replacement  credit cards, which DHL won’t courier to some countries.  Namibia is one of them, although it was OK last year for it to send them to Eritrea, where I was at the time (I suppose it was pretty safe: a country with no ATMs and only three hotels authorised to accept credit cards). For now, I don’t know whether I’m more puzzled by "why" or by "how" they were sent to Germany, given the European air space closure, let alone the "why" of Singapore-Leipzig-Chennai. Scott Abbot writes: Re. "Richard Farmer's chunky bits" (yesterday, item 10). I found it interesting that Richard Farmer is still so confident in his bet that 2010 will be the warmest on record when recent volcanic eruptions of Pinatubo and El Chichon have been followed by decreased global temperatures. Although the Icelandic volcano has so far spewed many hundreds of times less volcanic debris into the atmosphere than Pinatubo (and apparently it's not being deposited high-enough to cause great effect), if it's already neck-and-neck with 2002. I reckon the airlines won't be the only ones doing their dough on the eruption. Tony Kevin writes: Two points on the unpronounceable volcano in Iceland, and its relevance to climate change policy:
  1. Northern Europe has managed without aeroplane transport for a week now and, hey,  the sky hasn't fallen in yet.
  2. The decision by European governments and air traffic control authorities to put protection of human life ahead of major airline losses and passenger inconvenience is an interesting example of the precautionary principle being soberly applied to a natural event that is affecting human society and economy in unpredictable ways:  we don't know how long the eruption will continue to send dangerous ash clouds over northern Europe.
The volcanic eruption in Iceland isn't a climate change event, but there is an interesting correspondence here. Now, if only governments could apply the same responsible logic to energy decarbonisation policies! Warwick Sauer writes: Re. Yesterday's editorial. The correspondence quoted in your editorial today tells an apocryphal tale. According to Wikipedia, which is usually pretty reliable:
Engines one, two and three were replaced at Jakarta ... After being ferried back to London, engine number four was replaced.
If British Airway's engineers did indeed produce a single piece of paper saying "Replace engines 1, 2, 3, and 4" then surely they would have been replaced simultaneously? COAG: Alan Kennedy writes: Re. "How voters feel about state governments: it's not healthy respect" (yesterday, item 1). Coming from NSW it is hard not to have a jaundiced view of state governments. We all have the baseball bats out waiting for March next year when we beat the living crap out of Keneally and co, with special services being reserved for Joe, Eddie Frank and McDonald. I sometimes wonder  about how placid we are in NSW. Why haven't we set Macquarie Street on  fire? This Labor mob should know they are getting off lightly just being voted out of office. In other less restrained places  they wouldn't be so lucky. But when the dust has cleared and we have put away the bats what will we be left with? Just Barry and a hapless bunch of wombats known as the coalition. Their abilities to run a piss up in a pub are in question. They are a mob of religious zealots, time servers and wannabees. We have  to hope that the old expression better than nothing rings true for them. But nothing would be better. Turn Macquarie Street into a museum, a hotel anything just shut it down. It sucks up huge amounts of taxpayers' dollars with pollies, staff minder,  chauffeur driven cars and everything else for what end? Divide the country into a series of large municipalities, shires whatever  and have them dedicated to just one thing: delivering services. There can be overarching policies on transport, health education the environment which come from Canberra and we can get on with our lives. Of course our lives will be emptier. Bozos like the NSW transport minister, the windswept Kenneally who is  politics' version of a replicant, a plastic spin-driven robot  designed in the bowels of Sussex Street. She should be retired sooner rather than  later. No more  vaudeville shows like Tasmania and South Australia, no seat sniffing treasurers in WA . But I think we can live without these people. I have long had the theory that the talent pool for politicians is a bit like football there are not enough first graders players to go round (just look at Richmond). If we make the pool smaller and have more hopefuls vying for fewer seats the standard will rise. We could even pay them a bit more. Bring on the revolution. Mr Rudd tear down these parliaments. Carl Williams: Paul Johnson writes: Re. "A Carl Williams timeline: Dead at 1pm, liveblog by 4pm" (yesterday, item 4). Your Carl Williams timeline is missing something: I first heard about it on Twitter, must have been a bit after 2.30pm. And for a few hours last night, the tag #CarlWilliams was trending so high on Twitter, American's were asking who he was. Speaking of Twitter, AAP has a twitter feed which is quiet, to say the least. Less than 100 tweets, only one every few days. It's also not mentioned anywhere on their website that I could find. You'd think they'd be tweeting every story... this might explain it. Carbon capture and storage: John Bushell writes: Re. "Minister for coal out of step with climate change action" (yesterday, item 14). In contrast to Minister Martin Ferguson's effusive support for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) expert opinion paints a very different story. In its October 2009 "Strategic Analysis of the Global Status of Carbon Capture and Storage" to the Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, WorleyParsons (along with Schlumberger and Det Norske Veritas -- experts in CCS and risk management respectively),  identified the following caveats regarding CCS:
  • It would not be commercialised before 2030 at the earliest -- too late for any meaningful reduction of greenhouse gasses which needs to start now.
  • It will require very significant government funding AND a carbon price of $US60 to $US112 per tonne of CO2 before companies will consider using it  (a carbon price of around $30 per tonne is mooted initially).
  • There are 17 "Extreme" risks with regard to CCS development and implementation in accordance with  Australia and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4360:2004 (Risk Management).
So why is the Minister so enthusiastic about CCS but the experts very cautious? Could it be that the experts carry pretty heavy Professional Indemnity Insurance and the Minister and his advisors do not? Pirate Party: Verity Pravda writes: Re. "Tips and rumours" (yesterday, item 7). So kind of you to post the link to the Pirate Party presentation to Exit International on how to bypass the Government's web-page blocking proposal.  It gave us the chance to see that they are peddling the misinformation that equates the existing ACMA blacklisting process to the new one -- despite Conroy's consultation on transparency and accountability for the new process. How useful though is it to lecture these folks on how to bypass rather than doing the hard political yards to get information on how to take your own life taken off the Refused Classification list for all media. Surely that would be more useful to the audience. Even more useful would be to be more than a single issue party and actually campaign to legalise euthanasia. That's the position the Democrats and its predecessor the Australia Party has had for at least forty years. The Democrats answer on the censorship issue is also saner -- an end to Refused Classification in any media. The Pirate Party -- what a joke -- just GetUp! in geeks T-shirts. People smuggling: Jeff Ash writes: Re. "Why did the Merak asylum seekers get off their boat?" (yesterday, item 3). I've not read much of Elizabeth Redman's previous work, but I found this passage curious in her article yesterday:
These people paid for their passage and they didn’t get anywhere. They normally pay about $US2000 to get on the boat and then when they reach Australia they have to pay another $US14,000.
There is almost an inference in there that these people have paid good money for the legitimate service of being smuggled to Australia and have been duped. It's like complaining to the police that your cocaine has been cut. Pity there isn't a People Smuggling Ombudsman than can address this shoddy service. Fully sick: Andrew Lewis writes: Re. "How sick? Fully sick." (yesterday, item 16). Yep, Piers Kelly (is that a real name?)  fully appreciates the phrase "fully sick". I remember seeing it around Sydney in the 90’s, specifically in relation to a show, I think by Nick Giannopoulos, which was called "Fully Sick". While Piers analysis is probably closer to the truth, I was immediately struck by the tricky outcome of a double-letter spoonerism, which inevitably leads one to a "Silly F_ck", which I thought was very clever.  As I have never heard anyone mention this in the past, I can only assume that it was more an indication of the way my mind works.  I can’t see "Fully Sick" now without thinking "Silly F_ck". How embarrassment! Memo to ABC Science Online: Stuart Mackenzie writes: Re. "Things are tight at ABC Science Online" "Media briefs: Gold Coast journo not so Smart ... tight times at ABC Science Online ... food beats TV crime in ratings ..." (yesterday, item 18). There are several large buildings scattered around Sydney containing large numbers of books. Some are on university campuses, some are operated by local councils and one big one by the NSW Government. Many people use them to consult books that they cannot afford to buy or only need for a short period of time. They all have catalogues that you can search online. They are called libraries.

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3 thoughts on “Tales from a volcano

  1. Meski

    @Warwick, the interesting thing to find out would be whether they ran engine 4 between Indonesia and London, or just ‘carried’ it.

    @Alan, carrying your football analogy a bit further, some states need to be relegated – to being territories?

    @Verity: Yes, but discrediting Conroy’s filter is a worthwhile achievement. We don’t really want to deal with having to remove things from the ‘refused classification’ list until it becomes absolutely necessary.

    @Andrew: Was a cunning stunt to mention that.

  2. pedro

    Alan Kennedy is a [email protected]#%ing freak.

    A bit of fire and brimstone, eh Al. Sink the boats for Jesus, and all that?

    “Bring on the revolution. Mr Rudd tear down these parliaments.”

    It’s probably no coincidence that some super-aggro conservatives like Alan — who so obviously always vote Liberal regardless — refer to metaphorical baseball bats even though they do not actually play the sport.

    From the bile-spewing vitriol that is his letter it sounds like Al keeps his bat close to the bed at night, and has no problem with the concept of rough justice.

  3. stephen martin

    re: Carbon Capture and Storage; perhaps James Bushell should have a look at New Scientist of April 3 at the reference below –


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