Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Turkey Was Hacked!

We were all a bit woozy yesterday, and now I know why, having received a call from our weekend hosts.

Apparently some enterprising wag added a little something extra to the turkey printout! A botched attempt at some recreational pharmaceutical or other, including a brazen addition to the additives list, complete with anonymous contacts! Seems to be a new way of promoting the traditional 'enhancements'

(there are so many these days, including some derivative of funnelweb venom, I hear: terminal buzz or something!) Anyway they got it wrong, so no buzz, just a bad hangover, but we're getting a check-up in case it gave us something more unpleasant.

I thought digisigs were meant to prevent this sort of thing? Nothing can prevent carelessness, I guess.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Grim Reckoning

The party's over, and I'm coming back to earth.

The GEAS report has certainly put a damper on the day/year/decade/whatever.
You know the one I mean, I think. We're all going to be gone by 2042 (give or take a month).

Not the news to be confronted with when you've already got a throbbing headache (does cranberry sauce ferment? It would seem so... or maybe that fab turkey had something extra)

In one sense, Australians are keenly aware of the changes that have been going on in the world in the last few decades. In others, we have been rather isolated from the world as well. ReDS? A minor worry. Food sources? Stretched, but adequate. Refugees? Yes, we've been getting more, but nothing like Europe. Internal displacements are fairly small as well (the Darling basin never having had a high population) Power? We have plenty for our needs. Law and Order?

While GEAS does not mention climate change as an explicit threat, it is clear that it is an underlying driver for most of the specific threats it mentions. So, while it all seems a bit abstract, we do know better, and I will need to see what GEAS has predicted for this part of the world.

The news is still sinking in, of course. In some ways, I'm rather detached from it. After all, in the normal run of things, I'd be slated for extinction due to Anno Domini around that time anyway. I've heard of the sixth wave of extinctions, but never thought of humanity as riding it. (No safety in numbers, it seems: remember passenger pigeons?)

I expect the reaction will come later.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Christmas in July

It's a fairly recent Australian ritual, arising from the observation that traditional Christmas fare is best enjoyed in a cold climate. Traditional *western* Christmas fare, that is! Whether it is all appropriate to have plum pudding and roast turkey in a place like Australia, or whether we'd be better off with bush tomatoes, emu and lilli-pilli berries, is a moot point. Either way, I suppose the change in eating habits is a form of adaptation.

Nevertheless, Christmas in July it is, and here I am, celebrating the occasion (and a belated sixtieth birthday) in style on one of the new airships. Comebacks for these lovely vessels have been tried before but it is only now, with soaring fuel costs and vubble-tech that the economic equation has changed in their favour (the catch-cry being that nothing costs less than helium!). Hopefully, as more get built, they will take the strain off a groaning freight network (for what infrastructure does a balloon need?) Until then, it'll be just revellers like ourselves enjoying the experience free from traffic jams on Eastlink.

Heading East from Melbourne, the Latrobe valley is coming into view. The chimney stacks of the old brown coal power stations can be clearly seen poking through the morning mist. Hazelwood has been de-commissioned, but Loy Yang is still puffing away. Not for much longer, though: for all that Australia's contribution to the CO2 content is small beer compared to more populous states like China, brown coal is a no-no these days and there are examples to be set! But what examples? Somewhere down there are the shells of nuclear power stations newly commissioned, or under construction. There is some sense building them there: the continued emphasis on power generation keeps the community intact. Still, despite the much vaunted improvements in reactor design, they still face fierce resistance in some quarters. Not all of it is from the fear of a few stray neutrons.

So to the menu. The Entree today is an orange compote. Ah, oranges! Always traditional Christmas fare (in the olden days when such things were a treat in Northern Europe). We've been spoilt up until a few years ago, and now the irrigation regions around Mildura which supplied them have been spoilt in turn. Climate change in SE Australia has been a reality for nearly twenty years now. The reduced inland rainfalls mean that the Darling no longer connects to the Murray, and that area is now a salt-sewn, astringent desert, fit only for the solar farms that are springing up in competition to the above mentioned nukes. They have a vocal backing, although I feel that the monolithic slab deployment being practiced is akin to clear felling and does the degraded environment no favours. Far better to co-exist with some sort of fractal strategy?

There's a warning there, too. Many people, dissatisfied with the solutions decreed by big government and big business, have opted to take matters into their own hands and install their own solar. Enough to make a noticeable dent in power revenues. There are signs of push back in the wind: changes in regulations and safety standards that may act to bring the little folk back into the dutiful consumer fold. Fat chance! The DIY genie's out, and a sunshine rebellion is brewing: central vs distributed! It was never just about oil, or even power, but how you can use power to control. Some things never change, only the means...

Which brings us back to the source of the oranges: home grown of course! If you can have home solar, then why not home water recycling? Indeed, many systems operate so as to combine the two! Thus, a few people still manage to get enough water to keep the backyard orange or lemon tree healthy, despite Melbourne's catchments running perilously close to dry last May. I take a sip from my wineglass, and contemplate the irony that *that* industry seems to be surviving well enough without home help!

The main dish today is a bit of an experiment, billed as turkey, we are assured that it will look like turkey, and will even taste like turkey. but, as we see it being prepared layer by layer (having your food printed still seems to be considered a novelty), some of our party wonder if the ingredients will be printed on it as well and what will happen when it's heated?

With technology like this, land intensive animal husbandry is likely to go the way of the thatcher, and I'm sure that the product will be very nice ... with plenty of cranberry sauce!