Dear Santa, thank you for the dolls and pencils and the fish. It's Easter now, so I hope I didn't wake you but... honest, it is an emergency. There's a crack in my wall. Aunt Sharon says it's just an ordinary crack, but I know its not cause at night there's voices so... please please can you send someone to fix it? Or a policeman, or...
Back in a moment.
Thank you Santa.

Tuesday, December 28


Year of Democracy

It's been an amazing year for elections. Australia, America, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine. Okay, so the elections in Spain didn't go the way I'd like, but they were free and basically fair. (And considering that Spain was a military dictatorship as recently as 1975, that's of no small import.)

I'll leave my borders orange for now, in honor of Viktor Yushchenko and the people of Ukraine.

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Saturday, December 25


Merry Christmas

To all the Munuvians, to my many friends throughout the blogosphere and the broader internet, to my readers and family and friends, Merry Christmas!

I have a big bag of chocolate-coated macadamias here. Anyone interested?

(These are from the same company that makes abalone-flavoured, and indeed wasabi-flavoured, macadamias. I hope like hell that they clean the machinery between batches...)

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Latitude and Lightitude

I was thinking about James Lileks and Michele Catalano's posts about Christmas lights and the difference between coloured-lighters and white-lighters, and reflecting that around here (Sydney) people don't really go in for Christmas lights very much.

And then I thought to myself: Duh!

Mr Lileks lives in Minneapolis. This time of year, the sun rises at 7:50 am and sets at 4:36 pm (#). That's less than 9 hours of daylight. Plenty of dark time for everyone to see your handiwork.

In Sydney today the sun rose at 5:42 am and set at 8:07 pm (#). Not a reverse of Minneapolis, since we are not as latitudinally blessed* as that city, but nearly 14½ hours of daylight. Unless you were out late or up very early, you'd never see the lights.

* Mineappolis is 45° N; Sydney about 34° S. The southernmost city in Australia, Hobart, is only 43° S. Dunedin in New Zealand, at roughly 46° S, is currently blessed with 15¾ hours of daylight.

For my American readers (hi there!) Sydney is about the same distance from the equator as Long Beach, California. And no, it doesn't snow here. Particularly not at Christmas. Except for one occasion, on which subject Google has let me down utterly...

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Friday, December 24


Optics, Aesthetics, and the Transhuman Era

You know, if through genetic engineering or some nanotechnological miracle cure all of humanity is gifted with perfect vision, there won't be any more girls with glasses.

This makes me sad.

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Thursday, December 23


Notable Quotes

Tim Blair has his quotes of the year for 2004: April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December. January through March to follow, I expect.

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Wednesday, December 22


What's In Your Stars For 2005


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Monday, December 20


To The Point

Peace and wealth and effective medicine and a comfortable home with air conditioning...My little aside bagging Noam Chomsky in About the Author, and my choice of Oliver Kamm as my latest Blog of the Day after a long absence, are not some momentary aberration, but rather a return of this blog to its roots.*

After the recent electoral victories of the right people in Australia and America I felt as though a great weight had been lifted - or to use a less cliched phrasing, as though a critical and feared exam had turned out to be, relatively speaking, a walk in the park. And here we are in Graduate School, exams no longer looming on the horizon, but still a huge amount of work to be done.

Because, you have to understand, I'm not a Conservative. Neither George Bush nor John Howard truly represent my views on most subjects. I am pleased by their respective victories primarly because both are fundamentally honest, and I was deeply opposed to John Kerry and Mark Latham primarily because both challengers seemed to me to be deeply, personally, dishonest.

Look, I'm not a child; I don't expect politicians to tell the truth all the time. Sometimes they can't - they have to deal with matters of security that cannot be made public. Sometimes they won't, because, well, politics is like that. But the dishonesty of Kerry and Latham runs much deeper; they are not honest even to themselves.

What I'm really most directly opposed to, and what I've been fighting for years, long before I set up this blog, is not the political Left as such but intellectual dishonesty.

I'm not, technically, a scientist, though I would have been, technically, a scientist had I troubled myself to attend my classes and so ultimately graduated.** That doesn't mean that I can't recognise Science - the process, the method, even more than its vast body of discoveries and achievements - as the single greatest invention of Western Civilisation. (Number two being the limited liability corporation, something that far too many people take for granted.)

My aim is to promote Science and Civilisation, and it's a selfish aim. I want the products of Science and Civilisation for myself: Peace and wealth and effective medicine and a comfortable home with air conditioning and a fancy computer and an interesting and productive job. The people who attack Science and Civilisation are trying to deprive me of all that, and I won't allow it.

The Creationists pushing their fraudulent spin on Evolutionary Theory; the Post-Modernists denying the concept of Objective Truth; the Islamists trying to do both at the same time; the historical revisionists; the Psychics; the "Alternative Health Practitioners"; the academics who see their role being not to teach but to brainwash their students into leftist zombiehood; the "free speech" proponents who want to stamp out speech they don't like; Mysticism and Obscurantism; the spammers and scammers and hackers who are doing their level best to destroy the Internet; the nanny-state idiots and the totalitarian hardliners who try to legislate problems out of existence: These and more are what I truly oppose.

So I shouldn't want for subject matter.

* Not that it has any.
** I was studying Computer Science, hence the "technically". Still, it's better than Sociology...

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