Debunking

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Ain’t that nice? Don’t know where it is.

There’s been a fair bit of bullshite being spread around by people like Alan Jones and Malcolm Roberts about climate change and global heating recently.

Jones, with no scientific qualifications, tried to tell us that CO2 comprises only about 0,04% of the atmosphere and since Australia only produces a bee’s bucket of CO2, then we couldn’t possibly be responsible for any global warming at all.

Roberts, that stupid member of the crazy One Nation Party, and a graduate engineer who should know better, also tried to use statistics to throw doubt. He also said it’s a conspiracy by all the world’s climate scientists, all 10,000 or more of them, to skew the statistics and has said that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is in a plot with NASA to spread false information and data.

Anyway, the reason I mention all this is that all these crackpot theories and allegations are covered in this article:  Here Are Five of The Most Common Climate Change Misconceptions, Debunked from http://www.sciencealert.com, which I find to be a better than average science site (i.e. more science, less showbiz).

I also found this a few years ago. It sets things out very clearly:

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I’ve had to turn it on its side as it’s quite big. Right Click on it and choose View Image to see it clearly.

What is it about the Liberal Party that makes it seem as if they are a startled kangaroo in the headlights, unable to move either way?

It’s two things: fear, and resistance to change. These are actually linked, but essentially the climate science deniers such as former PM Abbott and current Minister for Drought and Natural Disasters (whatever!), David Littleproud, don’t understand science but mainly, they fear what it means and what they need to do. It’s easier for them to resist any change.

Yet this is despite clear evidence and despite dire warnings of the harm it is going to do to the future generations, their children and grandchildren. It’s astounding. They seem to be just closing their ears and refusing to think clearly. Typical symptoms of panic.

Of course, there’s the other argument, that they’re being “rewarded” by Big Coal and Big Petroleum. But can anyone be so venal as to threaten their children’s future for dollars now, when they’re in no position to enjoy their wealth? I think the answer is yes, but it’s hard to grasp.

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Coincidences again. This morning I read an article in The Guardian which mentioned an academic named Sofia Izquierdo Sanchez. I have never in my life heard that middle name before. Yet the surname of the French woman Wanda who bought my Magna car a couple of weeks ago was Izquierdo. How about that? They keep on comin’.

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I’m going on a long drive to Singleton tomorrow (don’t know where it is? Near Mandurah) to buy a car “entertainment unit” I found on Facebook Market.AVH-X3700DAB_blue_front_top

I intend this for Vera, for three reasons: 1. its CD/radio has CDs stuck in it that won’t eject; 2. this new radio has DAB+ reception; 3. because I can fit a reversing camera to feed into it. Once you’ve used one, you realise how useful they are, for not much money.

It’s advertised as near new in box for about half the RRP. I’ll have to take it on trust, though, as I can’t try it out on the kitchen table.

 

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The Meaning of Life

General relativity

Einstein’s gravitational equation, just an illustration.

 

(-80538738812075974)^3 + (80435758145817515)^3 + (12602123297335631)^3 = 42

There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the definitive answer to that famous question, what is the meaning of life? This equation comes from the web site www.livescience.com and is the answer to the Diophantine equation x^3 + y^3 + z^3 = k, where k in this case is 42.

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t immediately know the required numbers for x, y and z. It only took a worldwide network of around 500,000 home PCs around the globe working as a crowdsourced supercomputer and 1 million hours of processing time, and it finally came up with those numbers. I should add that 33 was one other number that had defied solution until recently.

This is mind boggling, a brute force solution to something that had defied solution for centuries. It’s not an elegant way of solving things, but “it does the job”.

We really have reached the age of advanced technology, or the very start of it, where massive computing resources are linked together worldwide via the internet to store incredible amounts of knowledge (e.g. Wikipedia) and provide massive parallel computing.

In addition, metals and materials technology and advanced manufacturing are providing us with beautifully designed products which are ultra reliable, yet very reasonably priced. I’m loving it.

I realise there are some problems with these products (they’re not all reliable, and they usually don’t bio-degrade) but that’s a separate issue. If you think about it, at the rate technology is advancing, do you really, desperately want your TV or toaster or laptop to last more than five years?

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Speaking of computing power:Type exampleI use a Photoshop-equivalent program called Affinity Photo. A few weeks ago I was just fiddling around to learn it and randomly typed these letters as plain text. Then I converted them all to a nice font, broke them apart so I could manipulate each letter individually, and finally applied an overall metallic effect. Neat, eh? My point is that this takes graphics and computing power that we just didn’t have 15 years ago, yet now I can do it in real time with no lag. Wow.

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Two points about politics today:

  1. The former Chinese citizen Gladys Liu, now an Australian citizen and a member of Federal parliament, has been revealed to have been a member of Chinese government organisations before her election, and perhaps subsequently. She at first denied it, but was shown to be lying, then protests her allegiance to Australia, but refuses to criticise China’s annexation and militarisation  of the South China Sea.
    It’s the same as the former senator elected as a member of Clive Palmer’s party a few years ago. He also said that China has the right to shoot at Australian military ships or aircraft if they go too close to those islands. Where was his loyalty? He was an Australian citizen, elected to our Senate, yet he was taking China’s side. To me that was treason.
    My point is that China can NOT be trusted. They lie as if it doesn’t matter (look at what they are telling their people about the Hong Kong riots). They break international law as if there is no law, then defy the courts. They steal, they spy, they takes our citizens prisoner, they run secret trials where the prisoner is denied a lawyer.

    China is a renegade country which cannot be trusted in any sphere. Ms Liu can protest her innocence but I can’t believe her. She lied at the start this morning, so how can she be trusted. Oh, I forgot, she’s a member of the Liberal Party, and the Liberals always lie to you.

     

  2. The Minister for the Environment David Littleproud, and the four other Liberal ministers with portfolios in similar fields, have all said they don’t accept that global heating is caused by man. This is unbelievable. Even at this late stage, when we’ve got less than 12 years to get things reasonably right in terms of temperature rise and CO2 emissions, we are STILL governed by climate science deniers!

    If you voted Liberal in the 18 May election, is this OK with you? Because you’ve put them back in power. And after all these years, this Liberal government STILL does not have a climate change policy framework. Their attitude is to sit on their hands and deny the evidence.
    We have a government of fools, and those who voted for them last May are guilty of causing me, us, actual harm. I may sue.

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A sad day

Pinnaroo

Part of Pinnaroo Memorial Park

I’ve just got home from the burial ceremony of an old friend from Channel Seven and later, Les Beck. He died last week from a massive stroke and was on life support in hospital, but he had told his family that he wanted them to withdraw support if it came to it, and so he died. He was 72, so we were the same age. Makes you think.

I’d known Les for many years, from sometime in the ’70s, I think, when he started at Channel 7, up to 1999 when I left and we remained friends in the years since. He visited me out here several times and helped me with my OSMO gimbal camera. In the usual way, time drifted on and I thought, “I must give Les a call.” But I didn’t, and now it’s too late. There’s a lesson there. He did a demo flight of his drone for me in the park near my house (it’s silent). There’s a shot of Les and me at the end:

He was notable for his calm manner and ready wit in crises at work. No matter how serious the problem, he always managed to smile and crack a small joke.

There’s a joke whereby a guy has jumped from the roof of a tall building. People notice him falling past the windows and call out, “Hey, how are you going?” The falling guy answers, “OK so faaaaar……”  That was Les’s standard reply if you asked him how he was. Unfortunately, his luck ran out.

He had rheumatic fever when he was a child and therefore had a weak heart. It caused a crisis in the late ’80s and he had to have a transplant of a pig’s valve. It worked very well, but it left him with a mechanical click sound on every heartbeat. He was proud to show it off to us in quiet periods at work, with a big cheery grin. Always joking was our Les.

I wonder how many know that his surname actually used to  be Beeck, in the Dutch style, and we called him Beeky or Beaky then. But he grew tired of explaining the spelling and that the pronunciation was actually Beck, despite the double e, and changed his name to Beck. We didn’t want to call him Becky, so Beeky it remained.

I also used to call him Lessss, after a character in WKRP Cincinatti, a crazy funny show about a US radio station. One of the sales guys in the show was called Les (pronounced Lessss in the American way) Nessman. So to me, Les was always Lessss.  RIP Lessss.

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That was my first time at Pinnaroo, which I’m a bit ashamed of because I haven’t attended many funerals. It’s a measure of how good a friend he was that I made the effort for this one.

I also joked a little that it was my induction course because that’s where I want to be when I go. Take note.

The funeral was conducted by another old Channel 7 guy, Harvey Deegan, who used to be a sports and racing commentator. We remembered each other and had a little chat.

It was a secular, non-religious service mainly, although God got a few mentions. Being an atheist, my service should remain God free, please, although mention him if you will. And maybe I’d better write some notes for anyone who thinks they want to read my eulogy.

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It’s a very welcome break with winter today, 31C forecast and it feels like it. I wished I’d worn a hat even at 9.30am at the service.

My garden is doing nicely. My kangaroo paw was looking a bit wilted in the cold weather a couple of months ago, but almost without me noticing, look at it now!

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My West Indian lime tree, after about five years of growth, is now producing fruit and flowers.

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Only small buds at the moment.

I’ve had about six limes from it so far, and although small, they are very juicy. But the spines on the branches make gathering them hazardous.

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I’m off to the doctor’s surgery in 20 mins. I’ve been summoned to take part in an osteoporosis survey. Crumbs, I’ve fallen so many times in the past 20 years, especially in Bali with their giant steps, but never with any problems. I’ve never broken a bone in my life and I don’t feel in any danger. 🙂

She’s gone

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Bye bye Maggie.

Yes, my dear Maggie has departed to new owners. I’m afraid I had to drop the price a lot. The guy who came to see it last Tuesday (his name was Sly!) turned out to have very good mechanical knowledge. He very soon took the cover off the timing belt, had a good look at it in the strong sunlight and pronounced it needing replacement. I kinda thought it did. He reckoned it’s a $240 or more parts job and about six hours work. Then he took the radiator cap off, found rust in the water and said the water pump and probably radiator would need doing as well. In the end, he offered $800 from my asking price of $1250.

I refused at first, but when I thought about it overnight, I realised that I would not be able to sell the car to someone else in good conscience knowing it needed those faults fixed, nor did I want to spend probably $1,000 getting them fixed.

So I called him back and said I’d take his offer. Luckily he still wanted it, so the deal was done yesterday. It turned out it was his girlfriend Wanda who was buying it. They are a French couple, touring the world, but liking Perth so much they may stay. Very nice people.

So that’s that. It’s a big load off my mind. I don’t have to pay the next quarter’s licence fee and I’m no longer taking up space in the laneway. And I have Vera to console me.

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I forgot to mention. Sly had a neat trick. He brought a condom with him. No, not what you think. He took the radiator cap off while the car was cold, and stretched the condom over the radiator filler hole. Then he got his friend to start the car.

The aim was to see if there were any air bubbles coming out of the radiator water, which would have inflated the condom if there were. That would have indicated head gasket leaks. The condom did not inflate, so all was well. Something to remember if you ever need to check a car.

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Still on the subject of cars and such, do you ever get the feeling you’re being ripped off? No? Never? Lucky you.

When I booked the Verada in for a new exhaust a few weeks ago, I took it to the same place I’d had the brakes done before that. How much again for the exhaust? “$695, mate.” But I remembered his quote when I had the brakes done, $595, and I said so. “OK, mate, $595 will be fine.” So he was looking to make an extra century at my expense. “Give the little man a go”, they advertise. Yeah, right.

Next, look at this:Spoons2

Yes, $104 for a set of plastic bowls and measuring spoons! Funny, I thought, they look familiar:spoons1.jpg

I bought these at Target a few weeks ago. Price?  $2. Yes. two dollars! Get the feeling that buyers of the bowl set are being ripped off?

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Now that Maggie’s gone (Wanda, the French woman, loved the name, by the way) I can concentrate on Vera and Honda-san.

On the Honda with its poor radio reception, I’ve found courtesy of YouTube that you can get at the roof mounted antenna base by opening the tailgate and pulling the rubber sealer away so as to pull the roof lining down enough to see it. And from the manual, there is a connector in there, feeding the line down to the radio via the channels. I wonder if that connector is corroded or has even come adrift. It looks as if it will be relatively easy to find out.

On Vera, I’m danged if I know why I’ve lost power to the cigarette lighter socket in the centre console. It was working, then just stopped. Yes, Myrtle, I have checked the fuse and in fact there are two involved and both are fine. I’ve had them out to check in case it’s a bad contact. Could the wire have burnt out to save the fuse? I’m investigating, which involves removing the centre console trim etc.

While I’m in the area, I want to add another “cigarette lighter” socket to the right of the steering wheel somewhere, because that’s the side I have the GPS and I don’t like its USB cable draped across the top of the dash.

And while I’m at it, I want to add a USB socket in the centre console of both cars, to feed a USB thumb drive to the radio/CD/DVD. That means making a very neat rectangular hole. Lucky I bought an Aldi multi-tool for this kind of thing recently.

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You’d think I’d have enough cars but I still feel the urge to buy another one!

1999_BMW_523i_(E39)_sedan_(2012-07-14)_01

A BMW 5-series E39 M has come up on Marketplace. The E39 is a late 1990s car and is regarded as one of their best classic models. Add the M specification (hand built and all that stuff) and it becomes a legend, very desirable. $5,000.  No, I don’t need another car…

 

Unsuccessful day!

Huh. The guy didn’t show up yesterday, nor did he phone or text or message me.

However, today I’ve had two more bites. One guy is coming tomorrow to look at it (so he says) and the other guy wanted to stat haggling right from the first contact. I said hold your horses, I’m not ready to haggle yet. I’ll know more tomorrow afternoon.

Successful day

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That was easy. I advertised Maggie, the Magna yesterday on Facebook Marketplace and it sold today. At least, I hope it’s sold, I’ll be certain once the money’s in my hand, but the guy’s coming from Mandurah on the train tomorrow to pick it up.

That’s a relief, paying the licence fees on three cars was a bit much and I’ve just got in with a month left on this one.

As for the money, I got $1,000 and that will about cover the $930 I paid out last week to have the oil leaks fixed (rocker cover gaskets replaced), two new rubber drive belts and the back three spark plugs replaced. But it’s running like a sewing machine now and I have a clear conscience. I hated having to have that work done but the oil leaks would have caused a yellow sticker at least. I can clear the laneway at the back of my house now. No-one complained, and one or two other houses park cars in their laneway, but I was a bit worried about it.

So ends 16 years with that car and it’s been great. Apart from a flat battery or two, I don’t think it’s ever let me down or failed to start. Two separate mechanics have told me that these engines will just keep on going forever if you look after them. One said he knew of one that had done 460,000Km (mine has done 157,000Km). It’s still smooth, qquiet and powerful. No rattles or squeaks. Lovely car.

That’s why I replaced it with the 2004 Verada, below left.

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It’s the same car but three years better developed and with more luxe. Now that the brakes and exhaust are done, it also drives beautifully. It’ll see me out, I think. Unless I trade it on something more expensive, but the Honda might go then. Who knows.

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It’s lucky I didn’t make any move to buy that Mercedes CL500, because it wouldn’t fit! I knew it was a big car, but I decided to check the measurements. Yes, the Merc is 5950mm overall length, and my garage is 5850mm max. So even with the bumper touching the garage rear wall, I wouldn’t have been able to close the roller door. Hah. It wasn’t meant to be.

But never let it be said that I don’t aspire to high class. One of these has come up for sale at a dealer in Perth. It’s a 2006 CLS350 at a considerably lower price than the CL. I might just go and kick the tyres, sit in it and scratch my beard.

MERCEDESBENZCLS-2006

CLS350 2006

Oh, and the length is 4913mm, so I’d have 937mm clearance. That’s do-able.

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The er, low standard of education of people on Facebook is astounding. They don’t seem to read the ad before asking questions. They need information repeated, sometimes twice or even more. They ask the same questions, just with different words.

The guy who bought Maggie asked me to send him photos of the car. There were 15 photos on the ad. If he was seeing the ad well enough to answer it and ask questions, how come he couldn’t see the photos? I asked him for an email address so I could send them to him. No reply. Then I put the photos into my reply. That seemed to do the trick. Huh?

I also bought a laptop power supply on Facebook Market this morning and went to Greenwood to collect it. But the woman left me standing at the door for several minutes while she went and searched for it. Why didn’t she have it ready when I called? Even then it was a lower power one. I asked about it and she said, oh yes, and went to search for several more minutes until she found the right one. Even then, it was missing its clover-leaf power cord. Oh, yes, and I waited several more minutes while she searched it out. Duh!

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My power bills used to be about $250 per two months before I got solar power, and dropped to about $45 for the same period after solar. Yippee, I said. But in this winter, I’ve been using reverse cycle for heating during the day and into the evening. Uh oh, my bill for June and July was back up to $220. It can’t be helped I suppose.

Dinner time. More later. Ciao, chow.

Brrrrr

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Isle of Skye  © PJ Croft 2019

It looked like spring was here yesterday, but it was very cold last night and now it looks like deep winter again. I’m sitting here waiting for a phone call to tell me that Maggie, the Magna, is ready for me to collect, but I think it’s too late for them to call today.

I put it in to Bridgestone Select Tyre & Auto, 56-60 Canning Highway, Victoria Park yesterday to have the rocker cover gaskets renewed (to fix the oil leaks), the rear three spark plugs replaced (since the manifold was off), two external drive belts replaced and an engine clean. Why so far away? My partner bought me a voucher for a service with them back in March and they did such a good job that I was impressed enough to go back. I recommend them.

Anyway, I delivered my car at 12.30pm and sat out the waiting period at the MacDonalds down the road until they phoned me at 4.45pm, not to say “Come ‘n get it” but to say the spark plug leads are corroded at the ends and I need a new set. But they don’t have them and so the car won’t be ready until tomorrow (that’s today, Friday). So I’m sitting here in the warmth of my heating while the wind blows and the rain falls, waiting for them to phone to say it’s ready. But since I have to get bus and train and bus to get back there, nearly two hours of travel, I don’t want to go out today.

Yes, it’s lucky it was a nice sunny day yesterday because I had to catch a bus along Canning Highway to Elizabeth Quay bus terminus, then the train to Clarkson, then a bus to my stop on Marmion Ave. It took nearly two hours. We all should be using public transport more, but it takes too long. I was the only passenger on the first and second buses at times. What a waste.

By the way, I got home and realised my house key was on the car key set at the service place. No worries, I have the lock box key safe on the side of the house now and so I could let myself in. Phew. I hadn’t given it a thought until I was at the door.

PS: I just phoned them and they’ve got the leads but are too busy to fit them at the moment. I’ve said I’ll leave it until tomorrow, but if the weather’s still crappy, I’ll probably leave it until Monday. It’s not as if I don’t have transport. I had the exhaust replaced on Vera the Verada on Wednesday and it’s sounding and driving great, plus I’ve got Hashimoto-san.

PPS: they just phoned and it’s done, so I’ll go in tomorrow. I asked for the damage (the bill!). It’s more than the car is worth!!! Gawd, I hope I can sell the car and recoup at least some of it. Grrrr. (The bill is about $900. Ugh!)

I’ve verified that the antenna lead is open circuit in Honda-san, by the way, and I don’t know what to do about it. It would go above the roof lining and down a pillar, along a floor channel and up into the dash, all hard to get to. I’ve noticed that the antenna socket on the roof has screwdriver slots. I wonder if I might find something if I unscrewed it. Probably the roof and wheels would fall off 🙂

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By the way, remember I listed all the electronic devices I have that have failed and await my fix? Well, add another one: the radio/CD in Vera the Verada is a 6-disc CD changer type, but you can’t load a CD. I hadn’t tried to use it up to now. It says Please Wait while it grinds and buzzes, but no Load command appears and no light in the slot. So that’s another one! Holy smoke. And I’m not sure if I listed it, but the power antenna in Vera is dud as well. I’m in the process of replacing that, but wire colours and mismatched plugs and mounting holes… grrrr.

I filled it with fuel on Monday too, and went to write the details into the notebook I keep for each car. Hmmm, no entries since the first fill when I bought it in November last year. Hmmm, search for the previous notebook entries in my Expenses notebook – nothing. I realised that this really was its first fill after those nine months. Because of its dud brakes and tyres, I hadn’t been driving it much except for short tests and hadn’t used the fuel. Wow.

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I know I wrote about that beautiful Mercedes last week, the one in Port Douglas, but I’ve just about decided it would be a leap too far. They are well known to have problems and the fixes are enough to bankrupt mere wage earners. I reckon this car is young enough (in kilometres) for the problems to be in the future, but…  I’ve almost given up the idea, but if it’s still up for sale in a month or so, maybe, maybe…

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I was going through my filing boxes last week and found my old WA Building Society passbook from 1976/77. It shows graphically how far we’ve come in just 45 years.

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Notice how everything was typed or manually written, and your passbook was your only record of your account. I assume the bank had duplicate records, but there were no desktop computers then. You stood at the counter while the teller took your book to a desk and typewriter and manually entered the figures. I think W. P. B. meant without passbook, i.e. a deposit from Ch.7 from my pay. We used to get paid in cash in those days too, a thick wad of notes in a long, tan coloured envelope. I didn’t have a big balance then, but I wasn’t earning much either. Each payday it was a battle of long tan (sorry!)

Remember the Friday panic? You needed cash for the weekend, so you had to find a way to get to the bank before they closed, which was 5pm on Fridays but 3.30pm on other weekdays. They were closed all weekend and there were no ATMs, so if you missed out, you sometimes had to write a cheque and try to find someone or some shop who would cash it, embarrassing. This was while you were madly trying to fill up with petrol for the weekend, or find a rostered station. It was terrible.

Contrast it with now: almost everything is done with a plastic card, and we maintain our own records, do our transfers and pay all our bills on-line on our own computer. There are ATMs everywhere but we get cash as we need it from the supermarkets or wherever. Travelling? No need to buy travellers’ cheques, the ATMs in our destination countries recognise our plastic card, even our ordinary local bank EFTPOS card, and dispense local currency, even showing our remaining balance. Need more? Just use a credit card. In all my years of travelling, I’ve never had a problem with card fraud, by the way. Just lucky I guess.

Oh, and we can do our banking on our phone, too, just by touching the display. Mine uses both a fingerprint and a password to get in, so I’m pretty relaxed about security. And my passwords are genuinely random letters and symbols too, not simple guessable combos. I use a password manager called Dashlane and although I was pretty wary when I started using it, I’m impressed enough to continue. There’s only one thing: it stores all your passwords “in the cloud”, that is, in America somewhere, so you need internet access. If you haven’t got any connection, it doesn’t work. That’s why I keep another password manager on the side as backup. It’s not too difficult to keep them synchronised.

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Speaking of security, I’ve just about finished reading a 1,000 page book on the history of GCHQ, the British General Communications Head Quarters. Great book! The author really knows how to write, his prose just flowing along as a good story. It started around WW2 and Enigma and Bletchley Park and all that, but as it goes on it gets into the Sixties and onwards and explains a lot of the events, scandals and disasters that I remember but didn’t know the full story. I’m nearly at the end in the post 2010 period, so it’s quite up to date.

One of the interesting things it mentions is public key cryptography. This is where you use a string of numbers, known only to you, to scramble all the letters and numbers and symbols in your email or document.

So you encrypt your email (using software) as if there was a padlock on it before sending it to your mate Bill, for example, and even if some spy intercepted it and tried to decode it, no-one can read it because they haven’t got the key. Of course Bill can’t read it either yet, because he hasn’t got the key at this stage. You have it, but you can’t risk sending it to Bill.

The answer is for Bill to also encrypt it with his own padlock and key (set of numbers) and send it back to you. It arrives to you with two padlocks now, yours and Bill’s.

Now you can unlock your padlock because you’ve got the key. Then you can send it back to Bill, and it’s still safe, because it’s still encrypted with Bill’s padlock. Of course, he has his own key, so he can unlock the file and there it is, as you originally sent it.

Isn’t that clever? So simple, and it was one of GCHQ’s employees who thought of it.

The problem is that now that it’s so simple to encrypt messages with virtually unbreakable codes, all the crims and drug dealers and terrorists can do it, and security agencies like GCHQ and ASIO and the NSA can’t decode them (in any reasonable time). Heard of 256bit-AES encryption? That’s it. Now you know.