Monday Melbourne: CXLIV, October 2006
Russell Degnan

Rialto Building and Towers. Taken 2003

Melbourne Town 17th October, 2006 02:26:00   [#] [6 comments] 

The follies of an election lead-up
Russell Degnan

In a state full of committed gardeners, there is probably very few things the Bracks government is more afraid of than the sight of yellow lawns, and dying trees. One has to assume that is the main reason they haven't imposed stronger water restrictions already.

Either that, or they believe their own press, that substantial water savings have been achieved since the 1990s. They haven't, the claim that water consumption is down 22% since the late 1990s is based on the measurement of pre-water restriction drought conditions in 1997. Every year is a bit different in terms of rain, but the sudden upsurge on the back of a dry winter is not surprising. Gardens need a lot watering in hot weather, and there is nothing to stop people doing so.

What is surprising, is how slow the response has been. Triggers for water restrictions are all well and good, but even a cursory look at this graph shows that Melbourne has been trending towards the lowest storage levels in a decade since July. Based on previous drought years, and the continuing lack of rain, we can expect the water storage levels to drop by around 15-20% by next June (as happened in 1997 and 2002 even with water restrictions in place).

That puts storage levels down to, or even a bit under 30%. That's laundry water on the garden territory. The sort of restrictions we haven't seen since the Thompson Dam was built in the 1980s.

Not that this drought will last forever. Droughts are a constant feature of the landscape, and will continue to appear and depart as long as we live here. What needs to disappear is our reliance on punitive restrictions and half-arsed water pricing to manage our water supplies. As was discussed on Harry Clarke's site some time ago, pricing should reflect supply, and can and should be managed over the 20-year drought-cycle of south-eastern Victoria.

Moreover, as Robert points out: desalination plants are cost-effective solutions to water requirements, as long as people are willing to pay for them -- and one supposes they are. However, the government cannot build that kind of infrastructure if water remains under-priced.

It is going to be an ugly summer. Strictly speaking, there is plenty of water, but the fear that there won't be next year will drive restrictions until it rains. Until then, expect a lot of unhappy urban tree-lovers.

Sterner Matters 16th October, 2006 14:20:24   [#] [7 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CXLIII, October 2006
Russell Degnan

Melbourne Museum. Taken July 2006

Melbourne Town 10th October, 2006 12:46:18   [#] [0 comments] 

Season Review 2005-06 and 2006
Russell Degnan

Like last year, no cricket worth mentioning this month. Instead, a season review.

Pakistan 5th 1111.77 +65.28
P:12 W:4 D:5 L:3

Pakistan were the form team of this year, at least until their disastrous tour of England. Three series wins, two at home. A mountain of runs from Mohammad Yousuf, Inzaman ul-Haq and Younis Khan, and supported by a fine bowling attack when injuries weren't an issue. They still need to settle on some decent openers, but otherwise the rebuilding of the last few years has paid off.

Australia 1st 1378.77 +36.67
P:11 W:10 D:1 L:0

Ten wins, no losses, plus the rubbish ICC games. Australia made changes after the Ashes loss and were much stronger for it, even if they did bring back large parts of the old team by the time the Bangladesh series rolled around. There are still a lot of question-marks over the make-up of the side, and the opposition was weak, but you can't fault the results.

Sri Lanka 4th 1120.5 +34.04
P:14 W:7 D:3 L:4

Two-test-series specialists, Sri Lanka fought hard to draw in England, and to finish the series against South Africa, but are far too dependent on Muralitharan and Jayawardene. Those two are sufficiently talented to win them games though, and their record -- even accounting for four tests against hapless Bangladesh -- was solid.

West Indies 8th 832 +15.61
P:10 W:0 D:4 L:6

Sure, they didn't win any, and their away record had just the one draw to recommend it, but the West Indies still improved this season, pushing India at home, and New Zealand away. It is hard to say what shape a post-Lara West Indies will take, but one suspects that it can't be any worse, and maybe, just maybe, the powerhouse of old might return.

New Zealand 7th 1028.9 -5.18
P:8 W:4 D:2 L:2

Neither here nor there. A winning record was achieved by smashing Zimbabwe, and crawling over the West Indies. The losses came in a farcical late summer series against South Africa. New Zealand aren't terrible, but nor are they much good.

Bangladesh 10th 599.39 -14.9
P:6 W:0 D:0 L:6

Almost, but if only. Bangladesh almost pulled off the biggets upset ever, against Australia, but otherwise lost as has been their custom. The home losses have been getting better, and it can only be a matter of time until they get a break-through win against a decent side. In the meantime, their ratings slides and slides.

India 3rd 1123.44 -19.2
P:15 W:6 D:2 L:7

On the surface, India's record of six wins and two losses looks quite good. But an unconvincing win over the West Indies away from home, a drawn home series against England. and a one-nil loss away to Pakistan, are the results of an under-performing team. Once again, failing to convince.

England 2nd 1222.47 -30.46
P:13 W:5 D:4 L:4

Having had their best year since god knows when last year, England were truly woeful in this. It could have, indeed should have been, worse, had Pakistan not thrown the last game of their series by forfeiting. Any way you look at it, this was a return to earth for last year's stand-out side. To be fair though, injuries hurt, and the sub-continent is a tough place to play decent sides. Expect England to continue to improve next season -- depending on the Ashes result that is.

Zimbabwe 9th 672.64 -34.8
P:4 W:0 D:0 L:4

You'd lament Zimbabwe's performance if it wasn't self-inflicted. While the national team was repeatedly annihilated in a mercifully short tour program, some of their former players were racking up huge numbers of runs in county cricket. Still ahead of Bangladesh. For now.

South Africa 6th 1076.33 -50.86
P:11 W:2 D:2 L:7

Playing Australia six times can be hard work, but this was still an ordinary year for a young South African side. After playing reasonably well without luck or success in Australia, they were comprehensively thrashed at home, and away to Sri Lanka. Victories over New Zealand were unimpressive. South Africa has now dropped to their worst ranking since readmission.

Idle Summers 3rd October, 2006 00:10:44   [#] [0 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CXLII, October 2006
Russell Degnan

Spring Street offices. Taken May 2006

Melbourne Town 2nd October, 2006 20:32:51   [#] [2 comments] 

Beams - The Presets
Russell Degnan

I might be too busy to blog, but I certaily not too busy to listen to music, while I slave away procrastinating over my reading. But I won't recommend The Presets for reading to. Syncopated beats, and sparse musical arrangements make it hard to concentrate. It also makes it a hard album to get into at first, having lots of rythym but few hooks (Alex is right).

It is an excellent album though, fully deserving of the praise that has been heaped upon it, and upon which I am throwing my two cents. Being a huge fan of 80s pop, I'm sucked in by the melodic synths and drums of their radio-friendly songs, but there is much to admire, and only a few songs dont bear repeated listening.

Track Highlights
Steamworks - The driving rythmic opening track.
Girl and the Sea - Synths, and a smooth vocal, reminiscent of New Order in the bass work, and culiminating in an gorgeous chorus.
Kitty in the Middle - Funky french-style syncopated beats and noises worked together well.
Hill Stuck - An odd instrumental, bringing to mind visions of a denuded urban landscape through a car window as the horns play.
Beams - Cute, drifting last track, very like Air with its strings and horn work.

Finer Things 2nd October, 2006 12:09:18   [#] [0 comments]