An email sent to 2UE’s George and Paul shortly before I left Petaluma, and scheduled to appear here at the start of their show (9am Canberra time, 2pm California time).
Good morning George & Paul.
I realise that you’re not on-air for another four hours or so, but I’m about to embark on an approximately nine-hour drive from Petaluma (a tad north of San Francisco) to Las Vegas and thus might not have a moment to send this to you, although I will listen online, mobile reception pending.
I thought you might like this story which I heard on US radio this morning from the Portland, Oregon area about a truly bizarre 911 call.
Man calls 911 after wife’s zipper gets stuck
BEAVERTON — Each week, Washington County posts bad examples of 911 calls in its “You called 911 for that?” campaign.
The campaign is designed to draw attention to the dangers of non-emergency calls that tie up 911 lines. This week’s call really lives up to the hype.
OPERATOR: 911, Police Fire and Medical.
CALLER: Yeah we got a problem here. My wife is struggling in her jacket and can’t get it off. I want 911 here immediately.
OPERATOR: Is she not breathing?
CALLER: She’s alright, she just can’t get her [expletive] jacket off.
Just in case you were wondering, the fire department responded, rescued the woman and saved the jacket.
KGW Newschannel 8 also have the audio of the 911 call on their website at the above address if you want a bit of a laugh.
Anyhoo, have a great weekend…this country will get to the weekend eventually but for now I’ll enjoy a long Friday road trip.
I nearly fell off my chair the other night when I heard a radio PSA from the US Government’s Environmental Protection Agency (the massive bureaucratic nightmare that it is) which spent 30 seconds advising listeners that vacuuming the floor of your house is a good idea. Good heavens Uncle Sam’s overbearing cousin…really? I would never have guessed.
But then, when I thought it couldn’t get stranger, Jim Ball brought my attention to this bizarre idea from the gigantic unelected government known as the bureaucrats who seem to wield most of the power in the European Union. They’ve decided to take decisive action on that most pressing issue: overpowered vacuum cleaners.
Under European Commission ‘eco’ rules that will come into force next September, the power of new vacuum cleaners must not exceed 1,600 watts.
That figure will be lowered further to 900 watts by 2017. Current cleaners boast an average of 1,800 watts.
The move angered manufacturers, who say it will do nothing to make cleaners more environmentally friendly and will simply reduce efficiency in the home.
Critics say cleaners satisfying the new rule may use less power, but householders will have to use them for longer so they are likely to use the same amount of electricity in the long run.
So people will either spend double the amount of time cleaning, reducing productivity, or they’ll live in dirtier homes. Maybe the EU will be able to put together a European version of the EPA’s radio spot…at least people will have something to listen to while they spend those extra hours cleaning then.
National guidelines issued late last year by a federal bureaucratic organisation called the National Transport Commission have concluded that being overweight makes you unfit to to a job which requires a lot of sitting down. That sounds silly enough on its own, but the main concern of the National Transport Commission seems not to be that being overweight increases the risk of heart attacks or diabetes (although they are slightly concerned about that, which on the latter point seems pretty silly seeing as the vast majority of diabetics are very good at managing their condition), but rather that being overweight is likely to make someone fall asleep. Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up (unless you’re a federal bureaucrat, it seems).
Under changes to national rail safety standards, all safety-critical CityRail workers – including drivers – will now have to keep their body mass index (BMI) under 40 or face being declared temporarily unfit for work.
Drivers with a BMI over 40 are now required to undergo a sleep study while workers with a BMI between 35 and 40 and who have other risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, will also have to undergo further testing before being allowed to return to the job.
The article goes on to state that being overweight is the leading cause of sleep apnoea…not that there’s a direct connection between the two things, just that there’s an increased chance.
It seems like a pretty flimsy reason to suspend someone from a job which they’ve been doing without a problem. In fact, it sounds like discrimination, and I’d love to see how this policy would stack up against anti-discrimination laws.
At this point you might be thinking I’m making mountains out of molehills and that it’s a sensible idea to ensure that train drivers are able to safely drive trains. When I heard the story, I thought a similar thing but for a different reason. I thought “surely there has to be more to this…surely they wouldn’t suspend drivers just because of their weight, surely there would have to be another factor involved before they would suspend someone”, so I had a closer look at the National Transport Commission’s guidelines, and it turns out that they’re even tougher than the Daily Telegraph article makes them sound.
The presence of the following risk factors should also increase the suspicion of sleep apnoea, even in the absence of self-reported sleepiness:
• a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 40
• a BMI ≥ 35 and either
− diabetes type 2; or
− high blood pressure requiring 2 or more medications for control.
BMI should therefore be calculated routinely as part of the periodic health assessment for Safety Critical Workers (refer to Figure 22). Sleep apnoea may be present without the above features; however, the standard identifies these risk factors as a basis for further investigation and classification as Fit for Duty Subject to Review (refer to Table 17).
Note the phrase “even in the absence of self-reported sleepiness”…effectively what this is saying is that, even if a person shows absolutely no signs of dozing off while working, if they are overweight, they have to be subjected to an entirely unwarranted sleep apnoea risk assessment and suspended from duty until the risk assessment is carried out. Given that NSW rail systems are run by government-owned corporations, this means that taxpayer dollars have to be spent on:
1) The wages of an unnecessarily suspended train driver and the wages of someone covering their shifts
2) The medical people who are engaged to carry out these assessments (which in this case involves keeping a train driver in a medical facility overnight to watch them sleep)
3) The countless bureaucrats who have to administer this whole scheme
All because a train driver is overweight.
If that’s not bad enough, the guidelines continue by declaring that people who are overweight are just as dangerous as:
• those who experience moderate to severe excessive daytime sleepiness (ESS score of 16–24)
• those with a history of frequent self-reported sleepiness while driving or working
• those for whom work performance reports indicate excessive sleepiness
• those who have had a motor vehicle crash or other incident caused by inattention or sleepiness.
Workers with these high-risk features have a significantly increased risk of sleepiness-related incidents.
They should be referred to a sleep disorders specialist to assess if sleep apnoea or another medical condition is causing their excessive daytime sleepiness. These workers should be classed as Temporarily Unfit for Duty until the disorder is investigated, treated effectively and fitness for duty status determined.
I accept that being overweight does make people more likely to have various medical conditions, but I absolutely reject the idea that just because someone is overweight they should be immediately suspected of having all of these conditions until they cane prove that they don’t, or that they should be labelled as being as dangerous as people who actually show some symptoms of a problem.
It bothers me that train drivers are being subjected to this nonsense, and it bothers me that dozens of government bureaucrats who comes up with, and will have to enforce, these silly guidelines.
But what bothers me the most is the next logical step. If train drivers, who drive vehicles which can only travel on very narrow passageways called train tracks and are therefore at a relatively low-risk of maiming or killing members of the general public when compared to other forms of transport which can go virtually anywhere, are subject to these guidelines, how long will it be before these guidelines are expanded to cover drivers of other vehicles, such as cars, which are certainly much more likely to be involved in a serious collision if the driver suffers some sort of medical problem while driving?
First they came for the train drivers…I might not be a train driver, but I won’t stay silent as this is an illogical decision, and it’s very likely that it will have consequences for the rest of the population if people don’t make a noise about it. I shudder to think of the economic impacts if road authorities decide to take overweight drivers off the road until they can prove that they don’t have a medical problem.
This, in my view, is one situation where the presumption of innocence until guilt can be proven is being subverted, and the ramifications could be a serious and unwarranted reduction in freedom and liberty for everyone, not just train drivers.
These pamphlets were dropped in letter boxes all over Braddon today.
Pamphlet in a letterbox on Donaldson St, Braddon
The only problem is that these start with “Dear Gungahlin Residents” and Braddon is nowhere near Gungahlin.
Braddon is a suburb of the inner-north, whereas Gungahlin as a suburb and as a town centre is much further north. Here, from my phone, is a quick map of the distance between the two, with the gap south and east of Mitchell being the approximate dividing line between the two town centres.
It’s rather concerning, but not surprising, that Canberra’s out-of-touch Labor government can’t even figure out where bits of Canberra are any more.
Update 5:42pm: ACT Labor have been in touch on Twitter to advise that they’re investigating what went wrong:
Hi @Samuel_SGS Some newsletters have been incorrectly delivered. Talking now with paid delivers trying to find out how this error occurred.
That will be an interesting discussion, I’m sure. If I was them, I’d be demanding a refund and/or free delivery of the correct material. They might also want to check the deliveries in Reid, as I have since discovered that Reid has received the same “Dear Gungahlin Residents” material.
I have been quietly amused by the name “Greenpeace” for some time now as I rarely ever hear about them doing something peaceful. Yesterday was no exception.
Around 9:30am today (Thursday, 14 July), ACT Policing received a formal request from the CSIRO to investigate the destruction of a wheat crop. It is believed that entry was gained to the premises through a perimeter fence.
As much of the media reported yesterday, the crop in question was an experimental genetically modified crop, and Greenpeace quite proudly posted a video on the Internet of their operatives destroying the crop with whippersnippers. Greenpeace even provided a spokesperson to the media to go on and on about the supposed dangers of these crops if they were to be let loose in the wild, and also some conspiracy theory about a CSIRO plot to use the crops in bread products so that they could test them on humans.
Well I don’t know what this mob were smoking (the crop perhaps?) but there clearly wasn’t much thinking happening.
If the crops are potentially dangerous if released, then they’re not going to do anyone any harm while they’re locked away in a greenhouse. Strike one.
Using whippersnippers on the crop will make some of it airbourne, meaning that the next time the door to the greenhouse is opened (I wonder if they left it open during the destruction) there is a chance that the airbourne bits could escape and do all of that potentially dangerous stuff which Greenpeace are worried about. Strike two.
The experimental crop will be used in bread so that it can be tested on the general population??? Guys, stop smoking whatever it is that you’re smoking, because if you keep going down this path you’ll fine yourselves in padded cells where doctors will be asking you if the television and the radio talk to you. Strike three.
And I thought the CSIRO was Greenpeace’s favourite government body, what with all of the global warming doom that it preaches. Why threaten the friendship? Strike four.
Away from Greenpeace, and I was also disturbed to find out that Shane Rattenbury, one of the Greens MLAs in the ACT Legislative Assembly, got on the local communist ABC station to praise Greenpeace’s actions. Shane, it was an illegal act. Would you like it if somebody found it abhorrent that you grow flowers in your garden and decided to break in to your property and take a whippersnipper to your flowers? It’s the same thing.
Now Shane, I understand that you’re opposed to GM crops. That’s fine…but surely the better thing for you, as an MLA, to do is to introduce legislation banning GM crops rather than condoning illegal activity. I wouldn’t support such a bill, as I think research in to GM crops is a good thing which could, if safe methods can be found and proven, end world hunger, and will can only reach that point through research…but I would at least support your right to try to ban GM research through legislative means rather than anarchic means.
In the meantime, I hope that these Greenpeace loons get the full force of the law thrown at them, especially those lovely provisions about trespassing on Commonwealth property.
Padders over at The Right Aussie, noting an article about anti-nuclear power protests in Japan, makes a few very poignant points about nuclear power.
1. Nuclear reactors did not cause the tsunami on March 11, nor any other tsunami for that matter.
Nor did global warming, but it didn’t stop people from claiming it.
2. Think the March 11 earthquake and tsunami were catastrophic? Well, if all nuclear power plants were immediately shut down, you would need to re-define ‘catastrophic’.
Indeed, however it is the aim of the radical types who are driving this agenda to have us use less power, perhaps even no power, thus sending us back to the stone age. What those of us who are sensible would see as catastrophic, the radical left would see as “good”. This is the battle which we face.
4. More people have been killed from an E. coli outbreak at an organic sprout farm in Germany than from the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
And despite this, nobody on the left has called for the banning of organic sprout farms. Hmmm, funny that.
Read more, including the point that I omitted because it relates exclusively to an article to which I am not linking, over at The Right Aussie.
I first spotted this story this morning on The Drudge Report. Most of the stuff I spot on Drudge turns out to be correct, but this story was just so out there that even I wasn’t sure. Drudge was linking to a Financial Times article, this made me wary as the Financial Times, while filled with interesting stories, is a British newspaper…could this be our royal overlords having fun at our expense I wondered?
Then I noticed that the story is in The Australian this morning, which increased the story’s credibility even though The Oz credits the Financial Times for some of the story, and was noted by Reuters last week. My fears about the story being a hoax were quashed, but my fears about the Australian Government being insane were confirmed.
Details from The Australian’s Graham Lloyd:
A consultation paper issued by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency gives the first insight into how the federal government will decide what will qualify for carbon permits and what will not. Feral pests are firmly in the sights.
A proposal by Northwest Carbon to cull the estimated one million feral camels roaming the outback has made the list. The company’s plan, first revealed in London’s Financial Times newspaper, was based on an agreement with the West Australian Department of Agriculture and Food to develop a market solution to control feral camels.
Large areas of Western Australia are overrun with the camels, which do enormous damage to vegetation and have been known to terrorise townships in their search for water.
In its written proposal to government, Northwest says it would shoot the animals from helicopters or four-wheel-drives, muster them and send them to an abattoir or process them for pet food in the field.
The company has promised to use marksmen trained and accredited in animal welfare.
One camel is estimated to emit about a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, measured as 45kg of methane, and they each eat about a tonne of vegetation.
Camels are bad. We get it. So just go and shoot them and make pet food out of them. Don’t start insisting that you need carbon credits for it, especially when you’re flying around in carbon dioxide emitting helicopters to do it, because once we go down this road of saying that killing animals warrants carbon credits, there is no turning back and the ramifications are massive.
If killing a camel warrants a carbon credit, then it won’t be long before killing cows warrants carbon credits (and more of them than the other plan in the government report of giving cows some sort of medication which makes them belch less), and given the current ruminations about compensating farmers whose cattle isn’t going anywhere, I can see killing off their herds and giving them resettlement funds while the farms get turned in to government-run solar power plants as an option which the government will consider.
Or even worse (if there is such a thing as worse than destroying our agricultural sector), domestic pets. If the government sees camels as polluters (not that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, but you get my point), what about the domestic pets which also emit carbon dioxide? Will the government issue carbon credits for killing these animals…or even humans?
If people want to turn feral animals in to pet food, then good, go for it, make money by doing it like you would have done before the term “carbon credit” existed, but don’t expect the government to reward you for it with a set of carbon credits…the ramifications of such a scheme are alarming at best. The really worrying thing though is that the government is considering it and taking it seriously.
Mark my words. If this gets beyond the “consultation” stage and becomes policy, this country will not be worth living in. Obamacare’s death panels will be quite tame compared to this.
KSFO San Francisco host Brian Sussman went undercover at Earth Day celebrations in Santa Cruz to ask the attendees one simple question “how can we save the planet?”. The results are highly disturbing and just as amusing.
I tend to be a tad too trusting when it comes to picking up hitch-hikers, and am usually happy to pick up a hitch-hiker if they seem OK to me, however if the nutbar in that video who is hitch-hiking across the country happened to somehow slip through my defences and get a lift from me, I can guarantee that I’d be dumping her quick-smart the moment she started spouting that nonsense at me. Either that, or I’d lock the doors and force her to listen to Andrew Bolt and Mark Levin for a while…this would be more satisfying, but probably wouldn’t have any effect on someone as ditzy as her, so probably wouldn’t be worth the hassle.
As for that guy who reckons carbon trading is a good idea…well I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but he should take a look at the Institute of Public Affairs’ Tim Wilson’s piece in The Australian yesterday about how ridiculously convoluted a carbon tax will be if the Gillard government ever manages to introduce one. Tim examines the carbon tax calculation on a birthday cake and discovers that it can’t be thoroughly calculated in a 1,000 word article because of its complexity. You can bet that a carbon trading scheme will be just as crazy.
Tim was interviewed by Alan Jones yesterday morning. I sent Alan an email about that interview and further problems with the carbon tax after the interview.
I don’t know what it is about Deniliquin, but every time I come here I end up hearing about some bizarre story, and I don’t know what it is about PETA (“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” by name anyway, no guarantees that they stand for anything along those lines) but every time I hear about them, they’re doing something nutty. Today is no exception, except that today the story is so nutty that I thought I’d woken up in another universe and not just another town.
Animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, claims scientists will soon make livestock farming redundant.
PETA is funding United States researchers to produce animal meats in a laboratory, using tissue culture.
Scientists have already successfully grown the first stages of animal muscle, but need to work out how to get it to look and taste like conventional farmed product.
Uh huh, so they haven’t actually made meat in a Petri dish, they’ve made imitation meat which doesn’t yet imitate meat in taste, appearance or texture…so far it’s about as close as me handing you a plate of bacon and telling you that it’s a cup of coffee.
This stuff will never really be meat as it never really came off an animal, but little details like that don’t matter to collective nutbar groups like PETA, after all, they’re “doing it for the environment”.
Asia-Pacific campaign manager Ashley Fruno says lab meats will be better for the planet.
“Well, at the time, I think we’re still a couple of years away from seeing it be publicly available, but everyone at PETA is rooting for science to produce an eco-friendly methadone for their meat heroin, simply because it’s kinder to animals, it’s better for the environment, and it can be disease free, which makes it better for human health.”
And presumably it does away for the need for humans to keep all of those evil methane-expelling, global-warming-causing herds of cattle around, so I wonder what will become of the cows? Perhaps they will frolic in the magic forrest…seriously, what do PETA propose that we do with the superfluous cattle? They wouldn’t propose killing them (would they?), so do we let them run free…gee, that seems like a downright silly idea, cows have less road sense than kangaroos.
And then there’s that strange comparison of meat eater and drug addicts. I wonder if PETA think that non-human meat-eating animals are also akin to drug addicts?
Anyway, farmers have treated the idea with the contempt which it deserves, put PETA back in their padded box and shipped them back to the nut house.
Greg Brown, the president of the Australian Cattle Council, says the environment would suffer if livestock farming ceased.
“She was heard to say it would be great for the environment, it would be a disaster for the environment, because we’d have all this uneaten vegetation which would be destroying the environment by ultimately getting burnt and putting all that stuff into the atmosphere, it’s just absurd.”
(h/t ABC Rural for the article and 2QN’s Paul Dix who brought the story to my attention).
Senate candidate Lin Hatfield Dodds says she’s not environmentally irresponsible for owning a V8 Toyota Landcruiser.
Ms Hatfield Dodds told The Canberra Times that poor public transport options forced her family to buy a second car about two years ago. The other family car was a Toyota Echo. The 4WD was chosen to take the family on monthly camping trips.
”I’m not at all worried about driving a four-wheel drive I’ve always said I don’t fit the mould of what people often perceive a green to be,” she said.
Well Lin, that’s just because most Canberrans don’t realise that the Greens’ socialist utopia inevitably involves the almighty administrators living a much more luxurious life than the rest of the population. It’s sold as “being nice to the environment” and “equality”…but you and I both know that this is not the case.
Back to the point though…monthly camping trips? Really? Aren’t those campfires bad for the environment or causing global warming or something? And if the rest of us are supposed to give up our large vehicles, how come you can’t lead by example. There are plenty of places to camp which do not require a four wheel drive in order to access them.
This is exactly the sort of “do as I say, not as I do” mentality that led to the delays and blowouts in cost of the Gungahlin Drive Extension. Admittedly the Stanhope government shares the blame for this by ineptly not simply overruling the cuckoo activists when they had the chance…however the Save The Ridge mob, supported by the Greens and the Socialists were the main cause of the delays in construction, the resulting blowout in costs, and the necessity to increase overall costs further by making the second lane a “we’ll just have to do that at some later stage” proposition for the ACT government. How is this a “do as I say, not as I do” issue? Because the Save The Ridge nuts use the GDE.
We can’t allow these people to take control of our government. We can’t risk having proponents of large central government in power when they pretend to be interested in “fairness”, but really just want to increase their own personal power and thrust some delusional socialist doctrine upon us. If they can cause a GDE fiasco at a local level, imagine what chaos they could cause at a national level. If you thought the Building the Education Revolution disaster was bad…you ain’t seen nothin’ (to borrow a quaint phrase) until you’ve seen Bob Brown as Dear Leader.
By the way, I love how The Canberra Times (aka The Fyshwick Guardian) not only tries to justify Lin’s hypocritical use of a V8 4WD with details of her carbon offset program (memo Lin: offsetting is not the same as reducing) but also seems to think that the only members of the Legislative Assembly are Greens:
Of Canberra’s four MLAs, three drive a Toyota Prius and the fourth has a Smart Car
I’m sure life would be much more in-line with the ideological standpoint of The Fyshwick Guardian if this were the case…but unless I missed something, the Hare-Clark proportional voting system hasn’t extended itself to removing all but the representatives of the party with the fewest elected members. Do the journos know something about the plans of the Greens that we don’t?
(with thanks to Jeremy Hanson MLA for the link to the article…seeing as I’ve mentioned Jeremy’s name, I should probably point out that my views do not necessarily reflect his)
That wet stuff falling from above makes your car harder to stop. Please slow down a tad. I know that you want to protect your car from the rain…but you should be more concerned about protecting it from a crash.
Ah, yes, of course I am going to yell at you if you, in an 80 zone, decide to not only move in to my lane right in front of me without indicating but also decide to stop suddenly in the process. That neither of us were hurt is a miracle. You are an idiot, please do not drive ever again.
And it’s not as if you even need to check the news or Exhibition Park to know it. It may be under new management, but it hasn’t attracted a less hoonish crowd. (As in previous years, I am not implying that all attendees are hoons or acting like idiots, so don’t even go there.)
The increase in buffoonery on the roads of Canberra…well the inner north at least, is quite noticeable. Dickson around lunchtime was pretty bizarre from what I saw, and when I took Nattie for a walk this evening, Ainslie Avenue and surrounds weren’t an awful lot better. Notably, the majority of people that I noticed doing bizarre and stupid things had interstate number plates.
A word to the foolish (because the wise don’t need words): the police have the power to confiscate vehicles and it really is a long walk back to pretty much anywhere from Canberra. I should know, given that I walked and hitch-hiked back to Canberra from Sydney in March last year.
PHOENIX (AP) — More than a year after Arizona became the first state in the country to deploy dozens of speed cameras on highways statewide, threats to the groundbreaking program abound.
Profits are far below expectations, a citizen effort to ban the cameras is gaining steam, the governor has said she does not like the program, and more and more drivers are ignoring the tickets they get in the mail after hearing from fellow speeders that there are often no consequences to doing so.
“I see all the cameras in Arizona completely coming down ” in 2010, said Shawn Dow, chairman of Arizona Citizens Against Photo Radar, which is trying to get a measure banning the cameras on the November ballot. “The citizens of Arizona took away the cash cow of Arizona by refusing to pay.”
The Arizona Department of Public Safety introduced the cameras in September 2008 and slowly added more until all 76 were up and running by January.
Supporters say the cameras slow down drivers and reduce accidents, but opponents argue that they are intrusive and are more about making money than safety.
The cameras led to more than 700,000 tickets to drivers going 11 miles per hour or more over the speed limit from September 2008 to September 2009, the most recent data available, according to the Department of Public Safety. The mandated fines and surcharges on all those tickets would total more than $127 million, but they had generated just $36.8 million through September, Lieutenant [Jeff] King [photo enforcement district commander for the Department of Public Safety] said.
Some of the people who got those tickets are contesting them in court and could end up having to pay the fine, but many of them have gone unpaid because drivers know they have a good shot at getting away with ignoring them. When people get tickets, they can pay without question, request a court date and fight the ticket, or simply ignore the ticket because law enforcement cannot prove they received it. The ticket becomes invalid if a violator who ignores it is not served in person within three months. It is nearly impossible to say how many people have ignored their tickets because courts do not track the figure.
Yeesh. Over here the authorities just assume that you receive the notice and suspend your licence if you don’t pay. It seems to me that this is the main cause of the apparent failure of the speed camera program. If the tickets were enforced, people would be paying them.
Somebody really stuffed the implementation of this program…I wonder who it could be?
While certain to increase, that $36.8 million in revenue through September will still fall far below the $120 million a year that former Gov. Janet Napolitano hoped to put in the state’s coffers when she ordered up the program in early 2007.
Oh…well that explains it. Janet Napolitano, the Obama administration’s National Security Nit-Wit (as Mark Levin so accurately put it yesterday)…the woman who said “the system worked” after a terrorist managed to get explosives on-board an aeroplane and use them on a flight in to Detroit on Christmas Day. The only reason many people didn’t die on that day is the heroic actions of other passengers.
Clearly Janet Napolitano’s definition of “work/worked/working” in the case of national security and for speed camera programs differs from the definition which can be found in English dictionaries.
It’s not the first time that this sort of test has been done, and it probably won’t be the last either, but it’s time to knock the stupid theory on the head once and for all.
ABC TV’s Hungry Beast program have found that a carrier pigeon is able to transport a 700MB file between two rural towns, more quickly than a car or the Internet. Apparently this makes pigeons faster than the Internet, supposedly dispelling Kevin Rudd’s theory that we would be worse off under a Liberal government which he seems to think would replace the Internet with carrier pigeons.
In terms of raw throughput, they may be right. The pigeon took one hour and five minutes, which is an average speed of 179.5 kilobytes per seconds. The car took a bit longer…and here’s where the test falls down on throughput…the Internet connection dropped out a number of times and didn’t finish the download, which says more about the phone line used for the Internet connection than anything else.
As it happens, the test is very wrong on throughput, at least in areas with ADSL 2+. On my home connection, I can regularly get downloads of a bit over 2 megabytes per second (2,000 kilobytes per second), which is more than ten times the speed of a pigeon.
That said, the pigeon test can be debunked even further, as the test only takes in to account raw throughput of large files, and completely ignores the way that the Internet actually works.
Take what happens when you visit the home page of this blog for example. Firstly, your web browser sends a request to the server for the page, then the server sends the raw HTML code of the page back to your browser. Your browser reads this, and generates a new request for the css stylesheets as well as every single unique image on the page (16 at the time of writing) as well as all of the embedded content such as YouTube videos of which there are a few, and the servers responsible for these images and embedded content send the requested data back to your browser. If you then go and watch one of the YouTube videos, the browser has to request that, and YouTube’s servers send the data back to your browser.
On the Internet, this doesn’t take very long. Requests go back and forth in moments, and it’s the larger bits of data (images, videos etc) which take time to download due to bandwidth restrictions.
You try doing that with a set of carrier pigeons. This site is hosted on a server in Melbourne, and I’m in Canberra, so your calculations will vary depending on your location, but let’s assume that the news report is accurate and that pigeons fly at about 130km/h (which sounds dubious to me, but we’ll run with it). Melbourne is about 650km away if you go in a straight line, so it would take a pigeon five hours to travel that distance.
Imagine that. You request my website at 7am on Monday, the pigeon arrives in Melbourne at midday, and returns with the HTML code of the website at 5pm. Your browser then requests the css stylesheet and, say, nine images, because you only have ten pigeons at your disposal…they are a finite resource after all. The pigeons arrive in Melbourne at 10pm, and get the data back to you at 3am Tuesday. You now have the stylesheet, so the formatting looks about right, and you have some of the images, although some of the formatting images are linked from the stylesheet so the site is still a bit odd in many places. Your browser requests the rest of the images and the embedded YouTube players, the pigeons get to Melbourne at 8am, and bring the data back to you at 1pm.
So, the total time required to load just the front page of this website via courier pigeon is 30 hours. This would not get any faster if you had more pigeons either, as you wouldn’t have known about the formatting images until you got the stylesheets back.
Thanks to browser caching of formatting images and stylesheets, you might be able to reduce the loading time of subsequent pages on this website to twenty hours, but that doesn’t really make the site any more useful to you.
And just think…if it takes that long to load a domestic webpage, how long would it take to load a website from overseas? It’s about 15,000 kilometres to the US, which is roughly 23 times the distance from Canberra to Melbourne, so if we multiply the domestic loading time of 30 hours by 23…ye gods! It would take 690 hours (28 days and 18 hours) to load the front page of this website. Yes, that’s right, a month to load one page.
And none of this even takes in to account the extra hours required for DNS lookups before you can even send a request to the appropriate server.
All I can say is thank God the ABC and their pigeons don’t run the Internet!