Who needs a Hummer, really?

Photograph of Hummer vehicle

A year-old post HUMMER to WANKER, originally a silly little piece of wordplay, has triggered a fascinating stream of comments today.

Does a suburban family of four — two adults and two children — really need a big vehicle like a Hummer to get around? I recall that as a kid we didn’t. A normal-sized Holden station wagon, which would even be considered small by today’s standards, did just fine for two adults and two kids and the everyday business of running a farm

Even with a farm, we didn’t need 4WD for the car. That’s what we had a tractor for.

If you want to have your two cents’ worth, do feel free to comment over at the original post.

Tanzania hit by global warming

Crikey logo

Tanzania’s climate seems to be shifting dramatically. Reporting from a World Meteorological Organisation meeting, attended by meteorologists and climatologists representing 187 countries, freelance journalist Amanda Gearing writes in Crikey today:

More rainfall seasons have been failing since the 1980s, severely affecting food supplies of people who are mostly subsistence farmers on small farms.

“If (the short rains) fail it means their survival is threatened and this becomes worse when the second rain fails because it means the whole year is a total failure and we’ve had the government intervening more often to give food assistance to the people,” Tanzanian principal agro-meteorologist Deusdedit Kashasha said. “They produce on small farms which may not be enough for a year in a good season so if they don’t even have that small amount produced it becomes pretty dire.”

Australians are meant to know about drought. We’ll see soon enough, I guess.

[Update 26 May 2008: Quite a few commenters have decided to tear this article apart. Some are “the usual suspects”, sure, but others…]

Earth Hour a dud?

My gut impression was that last night’s Earth Hour in Sydney was less about individual involvement this year, more about corporate sponsors ostentatiously turning off lights at head office. Agreed? There was little visible effect to be seen as my train approached the Sydney CBD just after the 8pm start time, and while walking past bars and restaurants in Surry Hills there was little difference apart from a few token candles at some eateries. Oxford Street looked pretty much as usual. Last year I had lengthy thoughts. This year I agree with the usually-irritating Helen Razer when she says A Blaze of Conceit Will Light up the World.

Jason Calacanis and the Evil Cult of the Internet Start-up

[Note: This article is a follow-up to How do you treat your staff? Like 37signals, or like this prick?, written after that piece received a lot of attention. But my views are more complex than simple Good vs Evil, as a look through all Calacanis-related posts will show.]

I’m still chuckling at the seriousness with which some people treat getting onto Techmeme. It’s true, I keep stopping typing to giggle. It’s embarrassing.

I’d never visited Techmeme until this weekend. Even then it was only because someone told me I’d blipped up there. It’s just another feed of what someone thinks is “important” in infotech, yeah? Who cares. It’s not as if it’s Reuters or BBC News.

It’s just more geeks telling geeks what geeks think other geeks should think about stuff that geeks think about.

Photograph of Jason Calacanis

But Jason Calacanis cares.

Jason Calacanis must care very deeply because he “joked” about it on this website, and over at TechCrunch he “joked” about getting pageviews. His fan club speculates that Duncan Riley and me and others are only attacking him to generate our own web traffic. Well, I can’t speak for Duncan, but no, I couldn’t care less about website traffic — especially the low-grade drive-by flamers that usually wash up here after being mentioned on high-traffic fan sites. That’s not why I’m here.

I’m attacking Calacanis because I reckon the business style he describes, the one championed by his defenders, is rotten to the very core.

But first, let’s talk about religion…

Continue reading “Jason Calacanis and the Evil Cult of the Internet Start-up”

The world’s population explosion

Graph showing dates when the world population reached 1 billion, 2 billion etc

Yeah I just said that it’s the wrong sort of day for numerical analysis. However I stumbled across these numbers and had to draw a graph immediately.

The world’s population reached 1 billion people in 1804. The second billion was added by 1927. And so it goes. In 1999 we hit 6 billion, and current estimates are that we’ll hit 7 billion in 2013.

You all know the drill from here…

A small proportion (us Australians, Americans, Europeans, Japanese and some others) chew up the vast majority of the world’s resources and are dumping our shit everywhere. We know we need to stop. But those other billions reckon they’ve had the rough end of the pineapple for too long and now it’s their turn.

And we’re surprised when they get stroppy about it.