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
[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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.