This article argues that an ageing society has a significant upside.

The Japanese will soon be the first where 50% of the population are 50 or older. It’s likely that 50% of all the humans who ever reached the age of 65 are alive now. But as we are now finding out an ageing population has more wisdom, more accumulated knowledge and skills, probably consumes less and puts less stress on the environment. Sure, they need more health care but most older people are fit and active, well able to look after themselves. In Europe and the UK less than 5% are in any kind of institutional care.

Imagine that the natural equilibrium for a human population with enough to eat and good health care turns out to be old and stable,  producing only just enough babies to maintain itself! Certainly some of our current concerns, including alcohol-fuelled violence, drug usage and indeed war would diminish greatly if there were simply far less young people around.

This article is about Keirsey personality types. See Keirsey describes four main types.

  • Guardians speak mostly of their duties and responsibilities, of what they can
    keep an eye on and take good care of, and they’re careful to obey the
    laws, follow the rules, and respect the rights of others. (SJ 40-45%)
  • Idealists speak mostly of what they hope for and imagine might be possible for
    people, and they want to act in good conscience, always trying to reach
    their goals without compromising their personal code of ethics. (NF 15-20%)
  • Artisans speak mostly about what they see right in front of them, about what
    they can get their hands on, and they will do whatever works, whatever
    gives them a quick, effective payoff, even if they have to bend the
    rules. (SP 30-35%)
  • Rationals speak mostly of what new problems intrigue
    them and what new solutions they envision, and always pragmatic, they
    act as efficiently as possible to achieve their objectives, ignoring
    arbitrary rules and conventions if need be. (NT 5-10%)


Many people have had taken a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or Jung style of psychological test. What you get back is a 4 letter category such as ENTJ, which is supposed to be an assessment of how you perceive the world and how you like to make decisions.

Here is a free one you can try:

But it appears there is more to the story. (more…)

From a strictly scientific/chemical point of view, I’ve often wondered what actually goes on inside a “meth lab”. This article explains all, and provides enough info to roll your own. Obviously this is something you should not try at home.

The essential components are:

  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed cold tablets)
  • Red phosphorus (road flares)
  • Iodine (medical antiseptic)

Also required:

  • NaOH (cleaning product)
  • HCl (pool/cleaning) or Glacial acetic (cleaning product)
  • Trichloroethylene (brake cleaner)

For the chemists out there, this makes fascinating reading. Essentially, cooking the first 3 ingredients for 12-24 hours makes the meth, and all the other steps are routine purification and extraction. No wonder the stuff is so easy to come by.

According to Autocar, an anonymous Bugatti Veyron owner has found maintenance on his 400 km/h hypercar so expensive he trailers it to his favorite roads, then flies there in his private jet to save money.

Apparently, the English Bugatti owner was tired of paying $21,000 for a routine service, $38,500 for a set of four tires and $46,000 every fourth tire change to have his wheels x-rayed to check for stress fractures. In comparison, an annual service on a Ferrari Enzo costs just $2,730.

I like to be equipped for any eventuality.

I normally carry roughly one small handbag’s worth of stuff in pockets. Keys, money, penknife, phone (with full load of contacts and calendar), plastic cards, business cards, small notebook, pens, rubber (eraser to you!), name badge (surprisingly useful for getting into places!), handkerchief (cloth). Depending on the jacket, I might include a tie, alternate business cards, mints, maybe a USB stick.

The penknife includes blade, scissors, file, screwdrivers (flat and cross point), bottle opener, can opener, spike (otherwise known as the thing for getting stones out of horses hooves), tweezers and toothpick. Lots more stuff in the car: toolkit, office equipment, cables, camera, torch, spare parts, etc, etc.

Man is essentially a tool-using animal, and where would we be without our tools of trade?

How much energy do you use? Do you have any idea?

Here in Melbourne we have been subjected to an unrelenting campaign of messages and restrictions aimed at reducing speeding and drink driving. No-one can have missed the message, and anyone who gets caught must not have been paying attention. Anyone driving here will know it works.

Likewise there has been a campaign of rules and announcements aimed at making us conscious of our water usage and reducing how much we use. This is personal consumption, where you get to turn off the tap. Everyone now knows that the target is 155 litres per person per day. It works: usage has dropped.

If anything energy usage and conservation is even more important, but does anyone know how much energy they use or how much they should be using? There is little doubt that a similar public awareness campaign could achieve similar results to reduce the the energy we have direct and personal control over as a consumer: the energy each of us could use less of by our own direct actions.

If you don’t know what a boomershoot is, take a few seconds to speculate on what you might get if you put boomer and shoot together, in a US context.

Be sure to check out the video. There is a link on how to make the stuff too.

The things some people get up to. I would too, except we seem to have laws against it.

I am continually annoyed by the language used in weather forecasts. Why can’t they speak English?

Example: “A trough and low over the east are generating widespread heavy rain and damaging winds over northeast NSW, leading to flooding and dangerous surf. A vigorous front is crossing the WA west coast, causing destructive winds, squally showers and thunderstorms. “

  • The words trough, low, front are weather-speak: meaningless until you’ve done the training course.
  • The word widespread describes an area, but why should I care? I just want to know if it affects me.
  • The words heavy rain, damaging winds, flooding, dangerous surf, thunderstorms are good. Anyone should understand those.
  • The word squally is well known to sailors, but meaningless in any other context.

ME: “Heavy rain and damaging winds over large parts of north-eastern NSW with flooding and dangerous surf. Heavy showers or thunderstorms with high winds along the WA west coast.”

Another: “A fine, mild to warm and sunny day. Moderate northeasterly winds, freshening during the evening.”

Again, lots of special words: fine, mild, moderate, freshening mean? Much clearer would be:

ME: “Nice sunny day, warm for the time of year. Good breeze, could get a bit windy later.”

Why do they keep doing that?

It is sometimes said that the most of the people who have ever lived are alive today. This is obviously not true (see below), but leads to the more interesting question: what fraction of all the people who have ever lived are alive today, and when will this figure reach its maximum?

This is not easy to calculate with any certainty. The raw data looks like this (best guesses, see

  • Number of humans who have ever lived: 106.5 billion
  • Number alive today (2008): 6.7 billion
  • Births per year: 139 million
  • Deaths per year: 57 million

Current percentage=6.7/106.5=6.29%

This percentage is currently rising, and will do so for the foreseeable future. It should reach 7% in 2019. It will not begin to drop until the net birth rate is far lower than it is now. It never has been and never will be anywhere near 50%.

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