Ethanol: Don’t put that tiger in your tank
Wednesday September 28th 2005, 8:58 pm

It's not as green as you think! (image: Andy Singer)Ethanol is a type of alcohol distilled from fermented biomass materials like sugar cane or maize. It’s the same stuff you find in beer, wine and distilled spirits. It makes a reasonably good motor fuel as long as there are no rubber or plastic parts in the vehicle’s fuel system. Burns much cleaner than petrol and is technically a renewable fuel.

However, ethanol will dissolve or degrade rubber and plastic parts in a fuel delivery system which was designed for petrol. This can be extraordinarily dangerous as under bonnet or under car fuel leaks can cause fires that will engulf a vehicle in seconds.

John HoWARd has a mate in the the ethanol industry who would like to mix as much ethanol as possible into fuel labelled ‘petrol’ and doesn’t want to tell you about it. Perhaps he’ll tell your next of kin!

There’s a few other caveats about ethanol that HoWARd and Manildra probably don’t want you to know. Ethanol only produces about 50-65% of the thermal output per litre as petrol. Even if your vehicle’s fuel system is designed to handle ethanol safely, you have to burn about double the number of litres of it to go the same number of kilometres as you would use if burning petrol!

If HoWARd gets his way and mandates 20% ethanol content in your petrol, you’ll only be getting 90% of the thermal output you would get from a normal litre of petrol, meaning your car will have to burn 10% MORE fuel to go the same distance you would go on a litre of normal petrol.

Ethanol production also requires the use of fossil fuels like LPG in the distillation process as well as diesel for the farming operations. In fact, it requires more energy (1.34:1) to produce a litre of ethanol than you will get back when you burn it, meaning that it has a negative net energy balance.

Australia has some of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, which is used to make LPG. Many cars in Australia are converted to burn LPG, notably taxicabs. Due to a taxation relief scheme, LPG costs around 45 cents per litre, when petrol is about $1.30 per litre. LPG produces about 85% of the thermal output of petrol and burns even cleaner than ethanol. It’s easily possible for a car to be equipped to burn either petrol or LPG.

Australia is a net exporter of LPG. Around 66% of Australia’s LPG production is currently exported, while unleaded petrol used in Australia is produced overseas and imported.

If John HoWARd was serious about reducing Australia’s dependence on imported motor fuels and not lining his mates’ pockets, drink it, don't drive it!he’d mandate that all new cars sold in Australia be capable of burning domestically produced LPG, instead of using that LPG to produce ethanol.

Better yet, HoWARd should subsidise UNSW‘s already advanced fuel cell technology which will power hybrid electric cars in the near future.

Ethanol is much better in a frosty beer than in your petrol tank. Write HoWARd and tell him to use some good sense in Australia’s energy strategy by promoting the use of LPG as a motor fuel and increasing government funding into fuel cell research and development.


Revoking civil liberties in the face of a threat to civil liberties
Tuesday September 27th 2005, 10:07 pm

keeping the government safe... from criticism

Prepare to be Parkinised.

For the next 10 years, the Australian government now reserves the right to quash dissent by deporting you for no reason at all or by jailing you for 14 days while under no obligation to tell anyone about it, including your family. Neither can you tell anyone you have been jailed, nor do you have a right to contact legal counsel. There is no reasonable check against this freewheeling government power to detain.

What do you think the government wants to do while they habeas your corpus incommunicado for two weeks? It ain’t to play tiddly-winks, that’s for sure.

I’m waiting for the next step- redefining Australian citizenship which has been acquired by naturalisation. Since 1958, Australian citizenship acquired by naturalisation has been equivalent to that acquired by descent from at least one parent who is a citizen. At present, only if the naturalised citizen committed fraud in the course of the application can that citizenship be revoked. I’m anticipating HoWARd will put some new caveats in place to be more easily able to remove ‘threats to national security,’ like peaceniks and civil rights activists.

If you are presently a permanent resident of Australia, you are well warned to keep out of protest marches or other forms of peaceful civil disobedience. Your liberty or your ability to continue to live in Australia is in grave danger if you don’t shut your yap.

Chalk one up for the terrorists. Osama is surely howling with laughter in his cave.


Suki Has An Opinion on mgk
Saturday September 24th 2005, 3:47 pm

Suki.... in a rare moment with eyes shutOur dear Suki finally got sick of all the nonsense involved in publishing on Blogger, like frequently losing several hours work when the Blogger FTP system fails. She’s set up a WordPress blog and has moved shop to her new home on There’s still a fair bit of free space left on my Gig in Texas.

When I moved off of Blogger, I didn’t mind leaving the old material on their system. Suki bravely has attempted importing her Blogger material to her new WordPress digs and found the process fraught with problems. If you’ve been able to move a year’s worth of material and comments smoothly from Blogger to WordPress, do let us in on the secrets.  

If you haven’t read Suki before, you’re missing one of the best women’s issues bloggers in Australia.  Suki is a mental health professional and thus has unique insights to politics and particularly to politicians.

Usually short & sweet in her posts, you can count on Suki to do the deeper analysis and to cut to the quick with her wry wit. When she does write longer essays, read carefully- she’s got something to say.

Hypocrites beware- Suki bites!

Welcome aboard, Suki. 


Students demand Flying Spaghetti Monsterism be taught
Wednesday September 21st 2005, 1:48 pm

Brer Brendan of Semolina met some dedicated Pastafarians at a recent knees-up.

 arrrrrr, matey, don't be takin' our VSU

Arrr, matey! Monsterism now!


Nazi punks hunted human prey: the movie
Monday September 19th 2005, 12:22 am

A couple of sick, sad and sociopathic teenies in NZ went on a drive-by pedestrian shooting spree with an air rifle.


Even stoopider, Molloy is back on the air, threatening us with his "manly aryan love."

Don’t miss this blockbuster, brought to you by Sweatshop Productions, WeezilCo Heavy Industries and ZOG International Films.  


I was pissweak, now I’m PRESIDENT- thanks to Deepends™!
Saturday September 17th 2005, 12:27 am

I was a pissweak dope from Texas.

Ish zis Ripple or Boone's Farm? (Reuters) 

It got rilly embarrassing when I had to ask Aunt Condi to take me out to wee wee all the time. I was always making tinkle when important stuff was going on, like when I was sposed ta talk about bombs and guns and gas and stuff.

Bush needs to go... NOW! (Reuters) 


Deepends™ turned me into a gen-u-wine statesman! Now I can suck plonk with the best of ’em and talk about them behind their backs when they’re off drainin’ the lizard.

fillin' muh drawers- with confidence!

Thanks to Deepends™, now I kin fill muh drawers- with confidence!


Parkin: When peace is a threat to national security
Thursday September 15th 2005, 10:44 pm

Scott Parkin (image: ABC TV via SMH)Scott Parkin was deported on a flight from Melbourne to LA, which departed this morning at 10:25am.

For once, I’m at a loss for words.

This is what the readers of the Sydney Morning Herald had to say about it:

War on terrorism morphs into a war on dissent

There are security concerns about Scott Parkin, such that it takes six immigration officers to nab him mid-cappuccino in a Melbourne cafe ("Outcry over plan to deport activist as a security threat", Herald, September 12).

A history teacher from Houston, Texas, is involved in non-violent action like street theatre (dressing up as Halliburton executives with their snouts in troughs). What is his weaponry? Artline markers on butcher’s paper hanging on a wall, filled with ideas of engagement and dialogue. He has given workshops on non-violent methods of suggesting there might be moral dimensions to the behaviour of governments and corporations.

Against him the US Government (and then, naturally, our own) invoke security so they don’t have to explain anything to us. This is how they use the powers they have now, and yet Howard and Ruddock ask us to trust them to give them more.

The war on terrorism has extended to a war on dissent.

Paul Wilson Annandale

When an American peace activist who speaks out against George Bush’s policies is detained for being a "threat to national security" we can see just how the new terrorism legislation will work.

Pip Denton Guildford

So non-violence is now a threat to national security in this war on terrorism. Even Orwell would be impressed by that one.

Justin Whelan Petersham

The arrest of American peace activist Scott Parkin has set my alarm bells ringing. I’ve voted Liberal all my life, but now I think I’m going to have to vote for someone else. Although the Libs are good for the economy, I’d rather have less prosperity than live in a police state.

No amount of prosperity can compensate for the democratic freedoms that the Liberals are taking away. This is the beginning of a very nasty downhill slide. This is the sort of thing that doesn’t happen in Western democracies. This is the sort of thing that only happens in morally and politically corrupt Third World countries. And now it’s happening here.

Look out, Mr Howard, we Australians love our freedom, and when you start taking it away from us we’ll remove you from government.

Lau Guerreiro Oxford Falls

How much lower can this Government sink? Seeking to deport a bloke for promoting peace!

Jim Iveson Hornsby Heights

The continuing wisdom of the Howard Government never ceases to amaze. With the impending deportation of Scott Parkin, it appears to have identified a greater threat to Australia than terrorism: peace.

Margaret Van Heekeren Bathurst

Think about it. Three months ago Scott Parkin was given a visa. Now it seems he is such a threat to our national security that he has been picked up by John Howard’s storm-troopers, who usually nab kids from primary school, and interned. If Parkin was a terrorist he would have had enough time to wreak havoc and leave. This is real "keystone cops" stuff.

Any Howard Government acquiescence to the US in this matter would be the biggest threat to our national security. For ASIO’s benefit, John Howard lives at Kirribilli.

Greg Loder Springwood

In reply to G. Borthwick (Letters, September 12), should there be a terrorism attack in Australia, I shall certainly blame Mr Howard; not for doing too little, but for doing too much to invite terrorism.

Lisa Penlington Artarmon

The plight of Scott Parkin should serve as a warning. If the Howard Government’s enhanced counter-terrorism proposals become law, anyone imprudent enough to have a letter published in the Herald commenting on John Howard’s integrity deficiency, or George Bush’s military pursuit of America’s oil supply on Halliburton’s behalf, could reasonably expect a visit by the boys from ASIO.

Richard Keyes Enfield

First they came for the peace activists and I did not speak out because I was not a peace activist.

Andrew Worssam Bondi

How ironic. The gagging of peace activist Scott Parkin effectively silences any robust debate, which is a fundamental tenet of democracy. The Federal Government has succumbed to those tactics abhorrent to the notion of freedom.

Diane Dennis Hazelbrook

"Blessed are the peacemakers" for they shall be deported … even with a valid visa.

Denise Woods Forbes

It’s reassuring to see peace activists are to be deported. Next I propose vegetarians, blondes, Volvo drivers and anyone with garlic on their breath.

Bruce Spence Balmain

Being a dual US/Aus citizen has its ups and downs. I’m a lot more accustomed to the sensation of being embarrassed by the actions of the US government.

The deportation of Parkin for protesting against Halliburton is an embarrassment and shame all Australians will bear.


UPDATE: Parkin receives $11,700 bill for his incarceration and unexplained deportation.

Punishing the Disabled
Wednesday September 14th 2005, 11:05 am

Back to work, you lazy disabled sods! (image: to a drink driver who ran a red light in front of me and dashed me off a motorcycle some years ago, my legs don’t work too well. I will never be able to move around well enough to work the number of hours necessary to keep a roof overhead. Thus, I collect a Disability Support Pension. Despite what some particularly thoughtless people may have told you in the past, nobody gets rich on the $244.45 per week DSP payment. It takes a fair old bit of MacGyverism to make every cent of that benefit stretch to fill the gaps.

What I’m trying to figure out is why John HoWARd and Kevin Andrews figure I need to be poorer than I am.  Did some disabled person run over their toes with a wheelchair? During pregnancy, were their mothers frightened by a disabled war veteran, perhaps? I just don’t get this villification of disabled people. Anyone who goes down this path is either not disabled or knows no one who is so.

I’m really clutching at straws to work out what it is that causes HoWARd and his cronies to hate the disabled so much that they would force them to do things they themselves would never do, like work for $2.27/hour. Even if I could work 15 hours per week, with the current price of petrol ($1.40/l), if I had to drive more than 20km each way to a minimum wage job every day, that arrangement would be a net loss for me. That’s how close the budgeting has to be to survive on a DSP.

I am not bedridden, though. I can manage a few blog posts per week and I can do a bit of metalcraft in my garage. It’s true that when you lose the function of part of your body, other parts tend to take up the slack. My legs won’t hold me up for long, but my upper body strength is considerable. I can still bend the odd chunk of steel and MIG/TIG weld the stuff.

 Honda powered motor bicycle - 100km/litre

click for larger image 

This motor bicycle is my own craft. It speaks to my desire to ride a bicycle despite my disability and provides neighbourhood transport- at 100km per litre of petrol. Really cuts down the bite petrol takes out of a DSP, too.

To put some of my craftier skills to greater use, I volunteer for an outfit called Technical Aid to the Disabled, or TAD. I’m as well qualified to be a recipient of TAD services as I am to be a volunteer. Many TAD vols are retired engineers and welders. TAD’s Custom Designed Aids section creates specialised adaptive aid devices for disabled people. TAD also regularly offer a bicycle modification clinic where standard bikes can be altered to suit any particular need.

If you are disabled or know someone who is, you may be interested in TAD’s computer and printer loan service. For less than $2.00 per week, persons with a need can borrow a computer or purchase them at very low prices. If you work in I/T and are aware of computing equipment which will be retired, please keep TAD in mind. They’d very much like to have your old (Pentium III or later) gear for refurbishment. Contact the Computer Loan Service on (02) 9808 2022 if you have spare equipment you’d like to donate.

If Kevin Andrews were serious about helping disabled people work in an economically productive manner instead of idly bashing us as ‘welfare bludgers,’ he’d look into helping us earn income from home based business.  The model of TAD employs the considerable strengths of retired and disabled people to provide a service. No reason why such a model could not be the basis for a profitable biz.

Think bigger, Kevin… and think about what disabled people can offer to our communities instead of what a drain we are upon them.


Yep, they’re only after the towelheads
Monday September 12th 2005, 12:36 pm

US peace activist Scott Parkin - image: ABC TV via old mate Philip Ruddock, the renowned lying sack of shit, will not comment on why a US citizen in Australia on a 6 month visitor’s visa has been detained.

Scott Parkin was granted a visitor’s visa back in June, at which time his character would have been assessed by ASIO. Clearly, there were no concerns at the time which would have contraindicated a visitor’s visa grant to Parkin, yet his visa was revoked by DIMIA on the improbably vague basis that he represents a threat to national security.

In the 6 weeks since Parkin has been in Australia, he has participated in a non-violent protest against the war on Iraq (specifically at an anti-Halliburton protest in Sydney, at which no arrests were made) and has also been conducting classes in non-violent civil disobedience in Melbourne.

Parkin was arrested last Saturday at a Melbourne cafe by Australian Federal Police on orders of DIMIA, which will not comment upon the actual reasons why Parkin has been detained. Parkin is being held in solitary confinement at the Melbourne Custody Centre and is being charged about $130 per day for the pleasure.

The SMH reports:

"Greens leader Bob Brown says Mr Parkin may have been arrested for political reasons on orders from Washington, because of the American’s history of activism against US military contractor Halliburton, which has close ties to US Vice President Dick Cheney."

High profile refugee advocate Julian Burnside, QC says that Parkin’s detention may well be an abuse of power, but that as a result of the application of anti-terrorism laws, the government may be under no obligation to actually state why Parkin has been detained.

HoWARd and the lying sack of shit want you to believe that their outrageous ‘anti-terrorism‘ laws are indeed directed at those scary brown people, when in fact, they want to use these laws to suppress peaceful political dissent in Australia, not to keep Australia safe from terrorism.


Well, Mr HoWARd and Mr Ruddock, take this message loud and clear: I am a dissenter. I am implacably opposed to American and Australian military involvement in Iraq-  and I am an American in Australia.

Come and get me, you bastards. Being arrested in a purportedly free society for one’s peacefully expressed political beliefs is a badge of honour one can take to the grave with pride.



Happy September 11th
Sunday September 11th 2005, 4:19 pm

What Dubya wants you to believe

 Lalo Alcaraz

 image: Lalo Alcaraz


What really happens

 Don Wright

 image: Don Wright for the Palm Beach Post