Bad News (or Good News) For Partygoers

15:42 Fri, 20 Aug 2010

New Scientist is reporting that we are running out of helium.

The good news is that it is incredibly cheap compared to its long-term economic worth due to an artificial U.S. government supply.

The bad news is that it will become incredibly expensive after 2015.

Read the article for more details, but the short of it is that the U.S. government is force-selling half its strategic reserves, to be completed by 2015. But it has changed how I see helium. I might even start to feel a little guilty when I waste it doing Donald Duck voice impressions. Or not. It will take me a while to use up a billion cubic metres.

[I was surprised at how hard and expensive it is to manufacture. After all, it's the second most abundant element after hydrogen. After thinking about it a little more, it makes sense. Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, but it's not the second most abundant
[continued...]

Categories: economics

China World's Second Biggest Economy

15:21 Mon, 16 Aug 2010

The New York Times is reporting that China has surpassed Japan and is now the world's second biggest economy after the United States.

I guess that's not surprising in itself. Anyone who has bought anything in the consumer goods or electronics area, for example, knows that China has an extraordinary large manufacturing base.

The interesting thing for me is just how big and how dominant is the U.S. where the GDP is twice that of China's.

It is projected to exceed the U.S. by 2030.

Categories: economics

Liberals Will Not Support Internet Censorship

11:27 Fri, 06 Aug 2010

In fantastic news, The Australian reports today that the Liberal Party will not support the Government's proposed internet censorship.

This is great news for two reasons. Since we have a Federal election in two weeks, we don't know who will be in power. However, either way, the filter won't proceed. If the Libs win, they won't implement it; if Labor is re-elected, the Libs will block the legislation in the Senate.

I'm too cynical to be cheering just yet, after all we have seen too many twists and turns and back-tracking on this. But, it does seem as though the issue is done and dusted.

I've written on this previously. Search for "censorship" or click on the "censorship" category.

Categories: censorship, internet

The Sword In The Stone

11:12 Thu, 05 Aug 2010

I saw the Disney movie Sword in the Stone when I was a little kid over 40 years ago; in fact it was the first movie I ever saw and I was taken to see it by my Dad. It must have made a deep impression because I can still remember it fairly clearly. I was quite scared by the pike fish and even now regard pike as something slightly alarming.

I was recently rummaging around in a little browsed corner of my bookshelf and came across an old book without a dust cover. The print on the spine had faded and I couldn't read the title. When I pulled it out and opened it up, it was The Sword in the Stone and it had belonged to my father, bought in the late 50s. Obviously an old favourite for him and no wonder he had taken me to see the movie.

J. K. Rowling says this book was one of her inspirations for the style of the Harry Potter series.

I've written a mini-review of the book.

Categories: general

Qi: Boredom

22:16 Tue, 03 Aug 2010

The latest factoid from Qi: the word "boredom" was invented by Charles Dickins in Bleak House.

That's all. There is no more. Goodnight.

Categories: general