Monday, 17 October 2016

Donald Trump is an elephant's arse

Zanny Minton Beddoes from the Economist discusses their article The debasing of American politics on US morning Show The Morning Joe:


 They mention an image from their cover based on the Republican elephant logo. Here it is:

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


Samantha Bee and her writers were always going to deliver after the weekend's Trump news:

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Family portrait

Julidochromis marlieri - Female on left, male on right, and newborn at the very front


A Google search for Australian reggae took me to this cheery tune by the Floating Bridges. The album it's off, Creatures of Leisure, is another current favourite of mine. You can buy the track or, better still, the whole album off iTunes. The above, Jennertools, and Ball of Fire are the standouts.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The fourth at Babinda

I've made some comments in the past about par fours that are simply too short. Anything under 300 metres is suspect. I really wouldn't have imagined thinking of a 245 metre carry par four as one of my favourite holes. Then I went to Babinda.

A few steps off the tee looking toward the green
Nestled alongside a raised cane train track lies a 295 metre par four with a sharp dogleg around a small pond with Alexandra palms. It's definitely tempting to try to take on the trees and pond to go for the green, though I played safe into the generous fairway to the left. From there it's an easy pitch to a slightly raised green with cordylines providing a colourful backdrop. I found myself thinking "Wow! This hole is gorgeous" a few times as I walked up the fairway. A little toughening of the area between the pond and green might be in order, but it would be hard to do without spoiling the view.

Next time I'll try to take on the corner.

Looking back from behind the green
I'll have another post on Babinda soom. It's a nice, fairly easy nine hole course with a few features that set it apart. The greens were a little rough, but fairly good for a small club. When I was there the entire Saturday members competition teed off as a foursome behind me.


I've previously posted about Freedom to Glide's album Rain, which is still a regular listen for me. During my absence from blogging their second full length album, Fall, arrived in my PO Box.

Let's start with criticism. The band decided to drop the sound of a car navigation system over one track's opening for some reason. It seems very out of place and detracts from a good song. Fortunately the download includes a pristine version of the song as a bonus.

And that's all I can think of as criticism. The album is another gem and, after about four weeks of listening, I'm tempted to say even better than Rain. The highlight for me is two tracks that come together nicely on the album, Names in the Stone and Toll. The latter is seems like a predominantly instrumental addendum to the former, and they deserve to be played one after the other seamlessly. Unfortunately YouTube won't let me do that, so here they are separately.

A couple of tracks head into rockier territory, and I wonder if this will further develop on the final album of the planned trilogy. I'm already impatient.

You can buy all Freedom to Glide's music at Bandcamp.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Hatikva 6 - Od Pa'am Pa'am (One more time)

I don't speak Hebrew, so the above music video may be far right Zionist propaganda. It is, however, such a gloriously cheerful and exuberantly joyous tune and video that I refuse to believe that.

One of my recent car rentals had a CDR full of MP3s, with a label suggesting Israeli origin, left behind by an earlier renter. I put it aside and listened to a CD that had just arrived in my PO box a couple of times, but eventually curiosity got the better of me and I slipped the Israeli disc in. Most of the tracks failed to appeal to me but there were a few that I loved, including the above.

On getting home and doing some research I discovered this and a couple of the other highlights were by one band, an Israeli reggae band called Hatikva 6. Hooked, I've since bought a couple of their albums through iTunes, and will surely get more.

For a more traditional reggae oriented sample, here's Simi Li Od Rhum:

Teeing off in Tully

First tee with Tully's custom tee markers
A few weeks ago I had a game at Tully Golf Club, but accidentally deleted most of the photos. One that survived was the above shot of the tee markers the course uses. They're a reference to the Golden Gumboot, a large statue in the town which was created to promote the town as the wettest town in Australia - a title for which it competes with Babinda.

Another recent round at Paradise Palms saw me starting to hit the ball a bit better, and I'm starting to think I may actually be able to start playing to my old 18 handicap. The courses in my near future will likely be Mareeba, Mossman, Babinda and El Arish before venturing a little further afield. I'll be dropping in to Tully again at some point too.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Nice weather for ducks

Radjah shelduck (Tadorna radjah) with ducklings
Earlier this week I noticed a heads up from Oz Cyclone Chasers about a possible "North Australian Rain Event", and was looking forward to some decent rains. Our Wet Season was well below average so the region really needed a good drenching, and the weekend has certainly delivered.

Overnight rains were particularly heavy, with Cairns Airport ending up with 118mm in the 24 hours to 9am this morning. Up in Cooktown the 9am total was a whopping 210mm, while Innisfail received 132mm. Rains eased today with Cairns Airport currently reading 12mm since 9am. The rain is set to stay around until Tuesday, with some heavy periods expected. Another 100+mm would be nice to see.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology website, Lake Morris, the main Cairns water supply, was at 82.3% on 18 May. Hopefully will see a bit of an upward spike in the next couple of days..

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Waiting to die

The bullets that will kill the Great Barrier Reef were fired long ago.

The delay between CO2 emission and its full warming effect is about 40 years. Even a complete elimination of emissions tomorrow will mean we will continue to see warming through to the middle of the century. We are, of course, not going to stop emissions any time soon. We have already committed to continued warming through until the middle of the century.

As the atmosphere warms due to our emissions, other factors will drive variability around that warming trend. While the size of that variation may not increase, the temperatures reached will inexorably rise. That variation will allow people to point at short periods and claim that the warming has stopped or even gone into reverse. They'll be wrong.

We've had the usual idiots writing in to the Cairns Post to argue that the recent high temperatures are just the result of El Nino, but of course they're (willfully?) ignorant on this point. While El Nino is causing a spike, we've given the temperatures reached due to that spike a leg up. A return to neutral or La Nina conditions will see temperatures fall back a bit, but even these will be elevated from what they would otherwise be.

Coral bleaching has struck along the Great Barrier Reef, particularly in the northern section between Cooktown and the Torres Strait. It is less severe the further south you go, but the bleaching extends south past the Great Barrier Reef, with even Sydney Harbour's two species of coral experiencing bleaching. The bleaching also extends around Australia's north to Western Australia.

Footage coming out from Lizard Island is particularly depressing. The above video shows how extensive the bleaching is. The footage of clown anemonefish in their bleached anemone struck me particularly hard. A mix of anger, depression and resignation. The burning of fossil fuels is slowly killing the Reef.

There has been a bit of anger from some quarters about media coverage possibly harming tourism. Some has been poorly worded, especially headlines along the lines of "95% of the Great Barrier Reef is bleached". Metrics are being confused, with reports of the percentage of individual reefs experiencing some degree of bleaching being misunderstood as 95% of the coral is severely bleached or, worse, dead. Things are bad, but not that bad.

A recent report from the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre on the degree of bleaching in the Cairns area of the Reef is being used by some as damage control, though it still makes disturbing reading. They measure percentage of coral cover, and how much of that is unboleached or in four categories of bleaching damage:
1. Upper surface – The least severe bleaching effect where the tips or upper surface of the
corals begin to whiten. Although the whole colony is recorded as bleached, the bleaching is only occurring on the upper surface.

2. Pale/Fluoro – The next most severe category is where the whole colony pales as it begins to lose its photosynthetic zooxanthellae. This will sometimes give the corals a fluorescent appearance. These corals are in a state of stress but still maintain some of their photosynthetic zooxanthellae.

3. Totally white – This is the most severe type of bleaching when the coral polyps will eject their photosynthetic zooxanthellae and the colony will appear totally white. Although the coral polyps are still alive they are in a highly compromised state, unable to produce sufficient energy to maintain normal functions.

4. Recently dead – The coral polyps have died and the remaining calcium carbonate skeleton will become covered with. (sic)
And here's the overview of their findings.

This is the report that some are using to downplay the damage, to put a positive spin on things. While conditions are improving, the event still isn't over. Those black bits on the bars are going to grow larger. The size of those yellow and red segments have me uttering profanities I choose not to use on this blog.

The bars are arranged from southernmost to northernmost, with Agincourt Reefs (center) being about as far as day trippers go out from Cairns. The Ribbon Reefs further north are serviced from Port Douglas and overnight trips. Cairns has escaped comparatively well, with little in the fully bleached and dead categories meaning there's a decent chance of a low mortality rate and some recovery as conditions cool through winter and, one hopes, a return to La Nina or neutral conditions before next summer.

Bleached coral can, when conditions ease, recover in time. The 2002 bleaching event, previously the worst we had had, resulted in about 5% coral mortality. It's too early to say what the mortality rate of the current event will be, but it would be surprising if it's better than it was after 2002.

In the long term the Reef faces further bleaching events. As mentioned above, we are locked in for at least another 40+ years of warming. As that warming continues, the size of an upward spike needed to cause a bleaching event will become smaller and smaller. How many more bleaching events can the Reef survive?

The Reef will change in the years ahead. Heat tolerant species will fill in some of the gaps left by other species dying off. Coral will give way to algae, corallivores will be replaced by herbivores. Some species will be driven extinct, perhaps iconic species like anemonefish. The Reef will survive in some form, but will be greatly impoverished.

If you want to see the Great Barrier Reef, make it soon. The Reef as we know it is waiting to die.

Reef and Rainforest Research Centre and Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (2016) Coral BleachingAssessment on Key Tourism Sites between Lizard Island and Cairns. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, Cairns

To counter the depressing nature of the above post, here's something more light-hearted: