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Monthly Archives: July 2008

I am becoming increasingly sure that my History teacher’s goal in life is to establish his own Democratic People’s Republic. How do I come to a crazy conclusion like this, you ask? One thing: “re-education classes”. After school, every afternoon, for those year 11 History students who aren’t “good citizens”.

It all began on Tuesday, when we were given a wonderful assignment. In pairs (“like on Sesame Street”), we were to research and formulate a ten-minute presentation on a topic which would be assigned to us. It could take any form so long as we got the information across “in a coherent format understandable to the populace at large”, was “pretty”, and used primary sources and more than one viewpoint. It was then that one of my classmates, Terence, noticed the unusual heading at the bottom of the page — “Why are we doing this?” Read More »

Most electricity in Australia is generated by burning coal. This leads to a few problems, most notably global warming — coal is roughly 80% carbon — but Australia swears by its coal anyway. We have to have electricity, and electricity is produced by burning coal. Therefore, Australia must burn coal. We’ll shame people into using less electricity, so less coal will have to be burned. We’ll up prices to force them to use less electricity, too. We’ll insist on the existence of “clean coal”, a truly mythical form of coal that will not contribute to global warming.

All of this really pisses me off. Why? Because coal is completely extraneous to electricity generation. Electricity is generated by the movement of metal parts. All coal is used for is boiling water such that the steam may move the metal parts. People waving these parts around would generate electricity. You could make bikes with the parts attached to the pedals, and when ridden they would generate electricity. You could stick the parts in the ocean and the tides would generate electricity. You could get some wind to blow the parts around, and you would generate electricity. The only reason we use coal is because thousands of miners would be put out of work otherwise. Well, that and coal generates electricity faster, but that could easily be compensated for with extra generators. The main reason is the miners. Read More »

I heard on the radio this morning that Cadel Evans is now in the lead in the Tour de France. I don’t really care that he’s in the lead, but I still thought this was amazing. How do you fall off your bike, get covered in cuts and bruises, spend the day being tended to by a doctor, and emerge at the end of the next day in the lead of the Tour de France?

I mean, this strategy has never once worked for me! As I reminisced about the past, I found myself overcome by jealousy. When I had a bike, I always fell off it less than ten seconds after deciding to ride. (Usually in less than five.) My arms are different lengths, and it was impossible for me to steer the damn thing. I usually crashed into my own leg and collapsed in a jumbled mess. My dad always insisted that I could ride, but that I just wouldn’t practise enough. Determined to prove him wrong, I spent three hours practising one day. I emerged so bruised and battered that he had to give up on his dream of having a daughter who could ride. (He still teases me about not trying, though.) And you know what? Not once did I get a yellow jersey out of the deal! If falling off = yellow jersey, where’s mine? I felt so ripped off.

After spending an hour or two getting over my disappointment, though, I began to understand the basic difference between myself and Cadel Evans. He’s a skilled cyclist who fell off his bike once. I’m a committed pedestrian who has fallen off my bike so many times that staying on would be a surprise. I’d say that’s a pretty fundamental difference right there. After remembering that little fact, I was instantly over my jealousy, and would like to congratulate Evans for succeeding where I failed.