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31st October 2004
AUSTRALIAN DIARY

- MULESING -

In the USA a major retail chain has placed a ban on Australian wool because of what are said to be "inhumane" practices.  The process referred to is "mulesing" which is the clipping of a strip of skin from the backside of a sheep, which has the effect of removing a fold in the skin, which otherwise provides a handy little home in which maggots live.  The process is no doubt painful, but is probably comparable to the process of removing a wisdom tooth in humans.  This operation is often done to forestall the likelihood of impaction and premature decay.  However in the case of sheep, the operation reduces mortality, (which, so far as I am aware, does not happen if a wisdom tooth is not extracted).  The alternatives are treatment with strong pesticides (The whole flock is brought in, infected parts are shorn, all sheep are "jetted" with powerful insecticide) or genetic selection, where no treatment is offered, and infected sheep die.  Since resistance to flystrike is an inheritable characteristic, those sheep that survive a few generations of selection are resistant to flystrike & need no treatment.

At Barvennon I do not practice mulesing or jetting with chemicals.  This seems to have resulted, over the last decade, (by a process of natural selection,) in a strain of merinos that is less prone to flystrike (maggot infestation).

Anybody who would like to purchase rams producing about 18 microns wool which carry a flystrike resistant geneset (as well as a resistance to most worm varieties) should email me.

- TAFE EDUCATION -

The Federal Government made a promise during the recent campaign to introduce a Federal TAFE system.

I would like to suggest that they take this opportunity to set up a national accreditation scheme.

It could be hoped that this exam should be produced by a separate department, totally independent of the training department.  The Examination Department could be set up along the paradigm of the MICROSOFT for the MSCE or by the NOVEL software systems Engineer examinations.  These examinations are open to anybody to attempt, one just makes application to the certifying authority, pays a fee (about $100) and attends the examining office at a mutually agreed time.  The exams are on a computer, and are multiple choice.  A few minutes after sitting the exam the mark is available.

Such a system has the following advantages.

- THE WORLD -

The US election due next Wednesday is playing as a cliffhanger.  After the debates Kerry was declared (by surveys made by democrat journalists) to be the clear winner on points.  If they had read the Tao, they would beware:

True words are not necessarily fine sounding; fine sounding words are not necessarily true.
The good man does not necessarily prove by argument; and he who proves by argument is not necessarily good.

The above is acknowledgment of the wisdom of the common man.  Those who manufacture fine words have difficulty understanding.

Bin Laden has put out a video that castigates US policy, not contestants.  Yasser Arafat has been taken to a hospital in Paris for medical diagnosis of an unspecified blood complaint.  The price of Oil has reached unconscionable levels, and Buttonwood on the Economist (The parable of the cats) is predicting economic catastrophe in the near future.

The dollar looks in danger of plunging, the price of oil continues to surge, gold is going up and world growth is slowing. Oh, and America is about to hold an election that could create as much uncertainty as it removes. Small wonder that there are a few growls from financial markets. Buttonwood has a nasty feeling that something worse is in store


The Chinese appear to have raised interest rates.  Is this the first crack in the inscrutable facade?  The Chinese have held their currency firm at 8.28 to the dollar for nearly a decade.  I have earlier noted that this is actually benefiting the US, despite some wingeing by US unionists.  The benefit is that US people have access to cheap consumer goods, and that educated US workers are forced to mobilize their skills to create and meet the demand of new enterprises.  It is possible that the Chinese will bite the bullet & revalue soon.  This will mean that the Chinese will sell less goods, and that the cost of Chinese (and many other) goods in the USA will rise, and that a large number of US manufactured goods will become cheaper on world markets.

  Someday in the future the computer will probably be accounted the most influential technology since the heat engine, and the likelihood of its discovery and the speed of it's dissemination across the world was enhanced because of the political system in the USA.  I believe that the benefits of the computer have only begun to be realized.  As Marshall McLuhan might have said, "the heat engine is an extension of muscle power, the computer is an extension of the mind."

- THE CORPORATION -

After many years of studying those people who call themselves "liberals" (those who in Australia are sympathetic to the "Labour" party, in the USA those aligned with the "Democrats") I have finally come to the realization that their strategy is to benefit the few (who are very thankful and appreciative) at the expense of the many (who think "what the hell, it's only a few cents a week cost to me in the scheme of things".

This attitude was starkly illustrated in the film "The Corporation".  The producer was critical of the situation where entrepreneurs who had items (clothes or whatever) manufactured in low wages countries, where the people would work very hard for the price of a meal.  After a few years those workers were no longer in danger of starvation.  At the same time, a new wave of entrepreneurs with products that required a higher level of skill to manufacture were opening factories.  The original low skill workers unionized and demanded higher wages, better working conditions, equal to that given by the new wave of entrepreneurs.  Our liberal director/producer castigated those original  entrepreneurs for moving their production to other desperately needy countries, thus avoiding improving the working conditions of those who were no longer in danger of starvation.

Great Scott.  Those low skill US entrepreneurs had rescued a nation from starvation and delivered it in to poverty.  The people of that rescued nation had gained machine usage skills that were proving valuable to the next wave of entrepreneurs.  Did those US liberals want the entrepreneurs to practice some sort of triage, to not build factories in countries where people were starving?  Did they want them to continue to provide work to those who were no longer in fear of starvation?

Scratch a "liberal" and you will find someone who wants to intervene and enforce a small tax on the many (98%) to benefit the few (2%) who will (as a result of that intervention) be extremely loyal.  Multiply those small loyal groups by twenty six, and our liberal figures that he will have a voting majority.  Eventually, our liberal will find a way to unfairly tax 49% of the population to unfairly benefit the remaining 51%, and will be able to keep in power forever.


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