31st October 2004
- 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
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
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 exams would rely on random selection of questions from a
question bank. The reliability & validity of each question
could be statistically determined over time, and the test made relevant.
- The stress of sitting for an exam is reduced. Failure
does not mean waiting six or twelve months for the next test. A
new fee can be paid and the test attempted as soon as the candidate is
- The system is more equitable. Poor but highly
motivated students could study in their own time from the syllabus.
Students who prefer personal instruction can attend training
institutions of choice.
- Because the system is so widespread, it would quickly gain
recognition. It could eventuate that those students who attended
the state TAFE system would take the Federal exams as a way of
confirming their standard of training.
- 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
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
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.