Showing posts from August, 2018

Mr Grumpy and the Kings new Clothes

This is not another book review although the subject does suggest references to the work of Roger Hargreaves  (Mr Grumpy)...

.. and Hans Christian Anderson (The Kings New Clothes).
That is actually a farmer celebrating getting some rain!

What this is actually going to be covering is the topic of Taxonomy and particularly the use of DNA sequencing in that Dark Art.  The reason I am writing this is because a number of people whose knowledge and views I respect have a rather different perspective on these topics to me, and it behooves me to try and get my ideas straightened out.  Trying to write about them is a good way of doing that.

The view of others is that DNA sequencing enables researchers to examine more clearly how the process of mutation has led to new species developing and the relationships between species.  The value of that knowledge isn't questioned.

In some cases these studies are based upon an assumption that mutation rates are constant over time (which seems intuitive…

Some gardening happens

The weather is slowly improving, in the sense of getting a little warmer.  As usual, as we move towards the equinox it is damn windy but I have been getting into the garden a bit.

In celebration of getting the vegie garden fence finished I have erected a new compost bin.
In the film "Field of Dreams" the catchphrase was "If you build it, they will come."  As a slight variant on this, I could say "If you build it, you'll soon start filling it up with weeds."
One of the early tasks was pruning some blackcurrant bushes which survived the fire.  While a lot of the prunings visited my pile (and subsequently contributed to global warming.I stuck some of the twigs in the ground.  Somewhat to my surprise they have all started to sprout.
The main flowers around the garden are a few hellebores ...
... and snowflakes (like snowdrops, but different).
Daffodils are appearing but not yet flashing their yellow around.
 A Jonquil has however staggered into bloom.

Early August weather stuff

The BoM 64km Radar looks promising at 0930 of the 18th.
This WZ radar clip was taken mid afternoon on the 19th.  We got a very few, very small, flakes of snow out of it but then it dissipated before being registered. There are a few technical issues with this forecast from BoM.  I'll put them under the image: my understanding is informed by a story on the ABC website.
Referring to the red letters:
A shows that they can publish to 1 place of decimals.
B should be interpreted as saying that the is a 30% chance of getting 0.2mm of rain.
C Noting that A shows that they can cite to one decimal place why is this not 0.2 rather than 0? Taken in conjunction with B we have a range of 30% at least 0.2mm and 25% chance of >0.2mm. This parameter is the 50% probability so why isn't it 0.2 rather an zero. It would look 'strange" to have a range from 0.2mm - 0.2mm but I think my understanding is correct.;
D As the "chance of any rain" means the chance of at lea…

Cog does West Hume

28 members and guests gathered at the appointed spot and time.  It was to say the least a little draughty and the prospects for a long list were not great.  The chart has wind gust in Kph as the vertical axis with points on the horizontal axis ranging from 8am to noon (but Excel had difficulty showing them).

The aim was to circle the area, expecting this to cover about 5km (in fact we did 4.74km).
We began by touring some paddocks which produced 5 Australian Pipits (surprisingly the only ones we saw all day) some Red-rumped Parrots and 3 Common Starlings.

The first pond encountered ....
... had 1 Coot, 2 Pacific Black Ducks ...
and 1 Little Pied Cormorant as visible waterfowl.  It is possible that others were lurking in the reeds but such hypothetical birds do not get counted.

Skirting an industrial site we entered a large wooded paddock where Eastern and Crimson Rosellas were added to the list.  The former were closely inspecting a nest hollow.  Common Mynahs and Noisy Miners were bo…

Things to do with a Cold

Basically, reading.  But that seemed a better heading than "Yet more book reviews" even thought tht's what it is.  But only two.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg This is another book book written by a journalist, and in fact a New York Times writer.  
The essential point of the book is that much of the way individuals, organisations and societies operate is driven by habits.  The author presents this as a 3 part process: A cue; which triggers An automatic routine; that generates A reward. The start of the book has a good scientific base using laboratory rats and brain scans to explains how these cycles are set up.  
After a brief foray into damaged individuals, who seemed a bit like refugees from an Oliver Sachs book, he moves into how marketers set up cravings - in effect anticipating the reward on getting the cue.  His first case is Pepsodent which was easy for the advertiser responsible: everyone wants nice teeth.
 Quoting from the book:  Before Pepsodent appeared o…

COG does well on a wintery Sunday

The day started off very wintery with snow at home

 This is a little unusual with snow being seen from underneath.  It is looking up at our skylight!
Heading out to the initial meeting point there was a good serve of snow on the Taliesin Hills ...
 .. and this view of the Brindabellas as I drove down the escarpment into Queanbeyan.
​ After an initial gathering at Spotlight we traveled (hopefully all getting through a speed camera trap with no damage to the wallet) to Mick Sherd Oval in Bungendore to meet the rest of the group, forming a band of 21 members and guests.  It was very pleasing to see a good representation of younger folk.

As David McDonald explained, our itinerary had evolved somewhat as the dam on Lake Rd was dry and a TSR had been leased out and was no longer available for birding.  We began with a walk to Bungendore Common, with a permanent water feature, but little known to people who don't live in Bungendore.  
Only three species of duck (Australian Wood Duck, Pacifi…

Before fire season

Earlier in the week the local Fire Service announced that due to the on going dry conditions the start of the fire season was being brought forward from 1 October to 1 September.  It was very good to get some notice of that change as we have (or, updating slightly, had) a pretty large pile of non-compostable things to get rid of.
 Looking at weather forecast the best day (little wind) appeared to be 10 August. After putting notices on a couple of community social media channels, letterboxing a few people who may have missed those and letting the Fire Service know I was ready to go.

On the afternoon of the 9th I joined up various hoses (giving a total length of 65m ) to assist in keeping things under control.  Of course I omitted step 1 - draining one of the hoses.  This meant that after a low temperature of -2.8oC there was about 45m of ice between the tap and the desired outlet.  So a few buckets of hot water were needed to allow me to go with the flow.

That was all sorted.  We had a…

A bit of fact checking!

In Seymour Hersh's book, reviewed in my previous post, he makes a huge amount of comments about the fact checking to which his work was quite justifiably subjected.

When I read a story on the ABC website about a town called Murrurundi running out of water I got interested and decided to check it out.  The town is located in the Upper Hunter as shown by the orange polygon in this map of the State Suburb of Murrurundi from Census Table Builder.
About the only place in the area I had heard of is Scone, shown in the lower part of the map, adjacent to the big dam at Glenbawn.  From the 2016 Census there are 1037 people, of whom about 20% are aged under 20, resident in  ther State Suburb.  I'd expect that a fair proportion of them live in the town, but there will be a few living on properties in the Hinterland.

Google Maps produces this map of the town
I assume the town dam is the blue blob.  It is probably replenished from the Pages River.  The current river heights from the BoM si…