Kiss my Yasi

Meet Cyclone Yasi:

This is the cyclone superimposed on continental USA:

It’s a big mother fucker of a storm. It’s due to hit the mainland between Cairns and Townsville in the next few hours. Wind gusts of 320 km/h are expected.

All this is coming after much of Queensland was under a flood the size of Germany and France last week:

I have friends over there who have packed up what they can and evacuated south to Sydney or Melbourne. I’ve also seen people on TV who think they can ride it out. They have no idea what winds that fast can do. This is Darwin after Cyclone Tracy (Category 4) Christmas Eve 1974:

Yasi is Category 5. Here’s another comparison graphic:

Flood tax? Why can’t the government pay for it instead of me?

The news that there’s backlash against a proposed “Flood Tax” saddens and disappoints me. Here’s the deal: Julia Gillard, our illustrious Prime Minister, yesterday announced a $5.6 billion flood recovery package, made up of a one-off $1.8 billion levy and $3.8 billion worth of funding cuts and deferrals.

It exempts anyone earning less than $50 grand

It is calculated at half a percent for anything you earn over $50 grand, and one percent of anything you earn over $100 grand.

And obviously it exempts flood victims.

In real terms this means that those getting by on a $150K wage will pay up about $750 over the year but on average wage earners are going to pay around $80 next financial year to help get the state of Queensland back on its feet. This is the cost of a couple cartons of beer or a night out at the movies for the family.

Me, I’m willing to pay this levy and I can understand there might be some opposition from those who’ve already willingly donated  money to the cause, but it’s not like it’s going to break anyone’s bank. I’m not exactly living large on six figures but I don’t think I’ll miss that money.

10 Geeky laws that should exist, but don’t

Geeks are for lifeThere are many, many laws having nothing to do with government that are useful to know because they tell you something about how the universe works. There are Newton’s laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics, Boyle’s Law, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, among many. Most of these laws have been known for a long time, but it wasn’t until a mere 19 years ago that Godwin’s Law was written.
If you’ve ever been involved in a discussion on Usenet, or have been following politics in the past decade or so, you’ve probably encountered Godwin’s Law. While Godwin’s Law is, alas, as true today as it was then, it seems unfortunate that there aren’t more widely accepted axioms to help us geeks define the characteristics of our world.
To that end, then, here are 10 geeky laws (axioms) that should exist, but don’t … at least, they didn’t until now:
  1. Munroe’s Law: A person in a geeky argument who can quote xkcd to support his position automatically wins the argument. This law supersedes Godwin, so that even if the quote is about Hitler, the quoter still wins.
  2. Lucas’s Law: There is no movie so beloved that a “special edition,” prequel or sequel cannot trample and forever stain its memory.
  3. Tolkien and Rowling’s Law: No reasonably faithful movie adaptation of a book will ever be quite as good as the book it adapts. Thus great movie adaptations can only be made out of truly amazing books.
  4. Somers and McCarthy’s Law: There is no dangerous unscientific theory so preposterous that no celebrity will espouse and advocate it.
  5. Jobs’s Law: No matter how well last year’s cool tech gadget still works, it will seem utterly inadequate the moment the new version comes out.
  6. Savage and Hyneman’s Law: Blowing stuff up is fun. Blowing stuff up in the name of science is AWESOME.
  7. Starbucks’ and Peet’s Law: C8H10N4O2, better known as caffeine, is the most wonderful chemical compound known to humankind. If the field of chemistry had never identified or produced a single other useful compound, caffeine alone would be justification enough for its existence.
  8. Wilbur’s Law: Bacon makes everything better.
  9. Comic Book Guy’s Law: There is no detail of a movie too brief or inconsequential to become the subject of an hours-long diatribe.
  10. The Unified Geek Theory: At present, the President of the United States, the wealthiest person in the United States, and the most trusted newscaster in the United States are all geeks. At the same time, movies based on comic book characters are routinely taking in hundreds of millions of dollars. The only reasonable conclusion is: We’ve won!

Via Geek Dad

BP: screw you, America

Yeah, so BP has little chance of ever doing business in America again on any large scale. All the PR spin and hand wringing  in the world isn’t going to salvage anything out of the current mess so they should probably cut their losses and fire a few parting shots across the bows before burning all their bridges and pulling out for good.

BP should tell the American hypocrites to DIAF. Sure, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the largest man-made disasters in recent years, but America is the largest consumer of oil in the world, with an insatiable demand. And yet they’re refused to do anything about global climate change of which their use of oil is a direct result, and is an ongoing man-made disaster. To keep up with the demand, the oil companies need to drill in ever more dangerous and sensitive places. There are consequences to be addicted to cheap oil. This is one of them.

BP should’t worry about it’s image by hiring PR consultants and advertising agencies to dream up ads about making love to dolphins in rain forests. It’s not going to work. They should just hire armies of lawyers to doggedly fight every claim against them and protect their shareholders. BP can easily do business with the rest of the world.

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched?

Big Brother is Watching YOUNow if this isn’t the creepiest, most blatantly Orwelian TV ad I have ever seen… A bunch of almost unblinking citizens telling us how to watch our neighbourhood and report suspicious behaviour or activity that relates to terrorism. It’s described as “neighbourhood watch for the city”.  If you see, hear or smell something suspicious, report it using the phone or a convenient web site.

“I watch my America”. We have our own version of this here in Australia but this one from the LAPD is just so blatantly creepy that it hurts. I say it is ungood, and might even go so far as to say double plus ungood.

Thawte Web of Trust is no more

I’m saddened by this news from Thawte:

Over the past several years, security compliance requirements have become more restrictive, while the technology infrastructure necessary to meet these requirements has expanded greatly. Despite our strong desire to continue providing the Thawte Personal E-mail Certificate and Web of Trust services, the ever-expanding standards and technology requirements will outpace our ability to maintain these services at the high level of quality we require. As a result, Thawte Personal E-Mail Certificates and the Web of Trust will be discontinued on November 16, 2009 and will no longer be available after that date.

I was a Web of Trust Notary since before I stopped working at iiNet, maybe even 1998. I got to make a few assertions on certificates, and it also inspired me to study and understand how PKI security works. I’ve always had a valid email certificate since then, even though most people I regularly email never caught on. Oh well, I’ll have to stick with PGP now. Go behind the cut to see my public key.

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Tiananmen Square massacre, 20 years on

tianasquare So it’s the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre today. I remember when this happened, back when I was living with my head up my arse. I was at Curtin University and the next morning I wondered why all these Asian people had banners and signs and various displays up around the place out the front of the library and bookstore. I’d heard of Chinese student protests a couple years earlier and thought this might be another one so I dismissed it and got on with shoving my head further up my colon. It took me a couple days to actually work out what had happened: thousands of Chinese students had been killed by PLA soldiers for protesting. To this day, I am not exactly sure what they were protesting about. The Wikipedia article mentions mourning a pro-market, pro-democracy, anti-corruption official. At least, that’s how it started out. It ended with 3000 people dead, and many thousands more wounded.

My memory of it is best summed up by the vision of the “Tank Man”, who stood in front of a line of tanks thereby bringing them to a halt. When the lead tank tried to drive around him he moved in front it. He climbed up onto the turret and spoke with the driver. He was later taken away by police and likely executed as his identity has never been disclosed and nobody has ever claimed to be that man. Whoever he was, he had balls of hardened steel. It makes me reflect and wonder what I would be willing to stand in front of a column of tanks to defend should I ever be called to do so.