Friday, February 11, 2011

People who have annoyed me this morning.

This driving to work and listening to talk radio is definitely interesting, you get to hear all sorts of opinions.  Some of the sorts of total twaddle, tripe and complete bollocks people come up with are quite interesting.


One of the stories in the media this morning is the Coles and Woolies price war over milk.  Now, the Opposition agriculture spokesman John Cobb is suggesting people boycott Coles over the price war to support dairy farmers.

Good luck with that one, John.

What had me boggling though was a discussion between the radio host and John Cobb, where John carefully explained his complete lack of understanding of basic economics.  His argument was that by Coles dropping their prices, they would impose a price drop on milk processors at next contract evaluation, who would then offer lower prices to dairy farmers in turn.

The rather gaping hole here is that dairy producers will simply refuse to supply at prices that don't cover their costs plus a profit, or it's not worth their while to do so.  That sets a minimum price limit that processors can buy at, which transfers to Coles, which transfers to the consumer.  If Coles want to sell at a negative profit as a loss leader to get people in the door so they can flog them overinflated bananas, that's fine - but it doesn't automatically flow back down the supply chain, as our alarmingly misguided politician thinks.


I also saw this little gem in the news this morning. 

Now, I realise that it's necessary to take a few things into account here.

For starters, modern society has a culture of blame at the moment; the first priority when anything goes wrong is the identifty and castigate a culprit.  This usually takes precedence over anything else, including fixing the problem.  Once a scapegoat has been safely blamed for the problem, everyone else can relax in the knowledge they can't be blamed for it, and then they get on with dealing with it.  In this case, with the shooter dead, some other poor sod has to be located for shaftage.

Secondly, this was a crime involving a gun.  Since the liberal right-wing media and most politicians are generally biased against gun owners, there's going to be a bash.  With the judiciary, law enforcement and laws being set by liberal government, the result is pretty much inevitable for the poor gun owner.

Thirdly, and quite curiously in contrast with the first point, in the nanny state nobody's ever to blame for anything they screw up.  It's always that they weren't sufficiently loved as a child, or were bullied at school, or their work environment failed to fully nuture and guide their development.  Heaven forbid anybody actually be required to take responsibility for their own actions, like our dead shooter.  No, we'll blame the father for allowing the snowflake to access the evil, nasty gun, because he couldn't possibly have contemplated such an act unless he was given access to the means to do so.

So the upshot is the father gets convicted of manslaughter, effectively being blamed for the entire event.  At most he should have been done for failure secure the thing.  But that won't happen, because that would require society to collectively accept that yes - the person next to them might just go postal some day and decide to slaughter everyone in the room.  Perish forbid we might have to deal with that, best we remove anything sharp or dangerous in case someone is tempted to not place nicely, eh nanny?


Finally, this is one of the hot topics of the day.  There's lots of hysteria in the media about the evils of level crossings, the transport minister was interviewed on the radio this morning, and some talking head from the RACV was asked the exhume some policy statement that was once wrung from said minister several years ago - at the time the shadow minister.

I was agreed that level crossings should be expunged, and that at least 10 should be earmarked for immediate removal and conversion to something safer.  What I found extraordinary though was that the RACV immediately also said that it would be far too disruptive to convert the crossings to road flyovers, it would be better to convert the rail lines to subsurface.

Hmm, let's examine that one.

Point one.  If you dig a hole, it will fill with water at some point.  This is generally regarded as inconvenient.  It certainly was last week.

Point two.  Rail lines need a maximum slope of around 2-3°.  We can assume that a line recess will need at least 12' or so, for rails, stock, pantograph and caternaries, and road base structure.   That means the angle of repose needs to begin around 300' back - on both side - to acheive this depth, not including the length o f the platform at the bottom.  Given a 6-car Siemens Nexas is around 500' long (including coupling spacing) and 10' wide, then 192,000 cubic feet of overburden would need to be removed alone just to construct the necessary ramps and platform section for a 2-way track - and that's for precisely the width of the train, making zero allowace for walling, clearance, the passenger platforms and access walkways themselves etc.  I reckon you could safely add another 50% to that?  And that's just the dirt you've got to dig out, now you can pay for the construction itself, and if Mr RACV thinks he's going to keep driving across that bit of road while they excavate out underneath it I think he's going to be disappointed.

Mr RACV then admitted that such a program of works would cost in the order of $80-100 million per station.

I've got a better idea, and certainly a cheaper one.  How about people just stop being criminally moronic, and squeezing through the closed gates/driving around barriers etc at level crossings?  Personally I really don't give a damn if you get killed, but it stuffs the traffic up for me.

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