Saturday, April 30, 2011

Riverine razing

Wikipedia lists the "mighty Murray" as the longest river in Australia and, indeed, it is the river that runs through three different states (New South Wales, Victoria,and South Australia - the Murray River in Western Australia is a different body of water.)

What's more it then lists the Murrumbidgee,which is only in NSW and the ACT. The three rivers are placed here in reverse order. The Darling River has shrunk from a worldbeating length to third place in Australia. I don't doubt the rest of the top 30 river systems so I think it must depend on which part you count as the Murray and which the Darling.

Otherwise what happened? Were there boggy bits they couldn't get to with the tape measure leaving them having to guess? Add in some hostile waterfowl and bite-y insects and it becomes apparent why the Wikipedia waders had a different reading to the midstream monsters, and the role of remote readers barely skims the surface.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Riverine rising

[this database taken from Factmonster. Other lists omit Red Rock from the Mississippi-Missouri, don't list them again individually, and list the Murray-Darling as one super-long river]

RiverSource Outflow
Nile Tributaries of Lake Victoria, Africa Mediterranean Sea 4,180 6,690
Amazon Glacier-fed lakes, Peru Atlantic Ocean 3,912 6,296
 Red Rock
Source of Red Rock, Montana Gulf of Mexico 3,710 5,970
Chang Jiang (Yangtze) Tibetan plateau, China China Sea 3,602 5,797
Ob Altai Mts., Russia Gulf of Ob 3,459 5,567
Huang He (Yellow) Eastern part of Kunlan Mts., West China Gulf of Chihli 2,900 4,667
Yenisei Tannu-Ola Mts., western Tuva, Russia Arctic Ocean 2,800 4,506
Paraná Confluence of Paranaiba and Grande rivers Río de la Plata 2,795 4,498
Irtish Altai Mts., Russia Ob River 2,758 4,438
Zaire (Congo) Confluence of Lualab and Luapula rivers, CongoAtlantic Ocean 2,716 4,371
Heilong (Amur) Confluence of Shilka (Russia) and Argun (Manchuria) rivers Tatar Strait 2,704 4,352
Lena Baikal Mts., Russia Arctic Ocean 2,652 4,268
Mackenzie Head of Finlay River, British Columbia, Canada Beaufort Sea
 (Arctic Ocean)
2,635 4,241
Niger Guinea Gulf of Guinea 2,600 4,184
Mekong Tibetan highlands South China Sea 2,500 4,023
Mississippi Lake Itasca, Minnesota Gulf of Mexico 2,348 3,779
Missouri Confluence of Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison rivers, Montana Mississippi River 2,315 3,726
Volga Valdai plateau, Russia Caspian Sea 2,291 3,687
Madeira Confluence of Beni and Maumoré rivers, Bolivia–Brazil boundary Amazon River 2,012 3,238
Purus Peruvian Andes Amazon River 1,993 3,207
São Francisco Southwest Minas Gerais, Brazil Atlantic Ocean 1,987 3,198
Yukon Junction of Lewes and Pelly rivers, Yukon Territory, Canada Bering Sea 1,979 3,185
St. Lawrence Lake Ontario Gulf of St. Lawrence 1,900 3,058
Rio Grande San Juan Mts., Colorado Gulf of Mexico 1,885 3,034
Brahmaputra Himalayas Ganges River 1,800 2,897
Indus Himalayas Arabian Sea 1,800 2,897
Danube Black Forest, Germany Black Sea 1,766 2,842
Euphrates Confluence of Murat Nehri and Kara Su rivers, Turkey Shatt-al-Arab 1,739 2,799
Darling Central part of Eastern Highlands, Australia Murray River 1,702 2,739
Zambezi 11°21'S, 24°22'E, Zambia Mozambique Channel 1,700 2,736
Tocantins Goiás, Brazil Pará River 1,677 2,699
Murray Australian Alps, New South Wales Indian Ocean 1,609 2,589
Nelson Head of Bow River, western Alberta, Canada Hudson Bay 1,600 2,575
Paraguay Mato Grosso, Brazil Paraná River 1,584 2,549
Ural Southern Ural Mts., Russia Caspian Sea 1,574 2,533
Ganges Himalayas Bay of Bengal 1,557 2,506
Amu Darya (Oxus) Nicholas Range, Pamir Mts., Turkmenistan Aral Sea 1,500 2,414
Japurá Andes, Colombia Amazon River 1,500 2,414
Salween Tibet, south of Kunlun Mts. Gulf of Martaban 1,500 2,414
Arkansas Central Colorado Mississippi River 1,459 2,348
Colorado Grand County, Colorado Gulf of California 1,450 2,333
Dnieper Valdai Hills, Russia Black Sea 1,419 2,284
Ohio-Allegheny Potter County, Pennsylvania Mississippi River 1,306 2,102
Irrawaddy Confluence of Nmai and Mali rivers, northeast Burma Bay of Bengal 1,300 2,092
Orange Lesotho Atlantic Ocean 1,300 2,092
Orinoco Serra Parima Mts., Venezuela Atlantic Ocean 1,281 2,062
Pilcomayo Andes Mts., Bolivia Paraguay River 1,242 1,999
Xi Jiang (Si Kiang) Eastern Yunnan Province, China China Sea 1,236 1,989
Columbia Columbia Lake, British Columbia, Canada Pacific Ocean 1,232 1,983
Don Tula, Russia Sea of Azov 1,223 1,968
Sungari China–North Korea boundary Amur River 1,215 1,955
Saskatchewan Canadian Rocky Mts. Lake Winnipeg 1,205 1,939
Peace Stikine Mts., British Columbia, Canada Great Slave River 1,195 1,923
Tigris Taurus Mts., Turkey Shatt-al-Arab 1,180 1,899

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Roll Out the O'Barrell

Tony Abbott's got it wrong, and not for the first time, when he states that the landslide victory (only the third such in our democratic history) is a rejection of Carbon Tax. That's giving this carbon tax too much credit(s). 

The people of New South Wales were fed up with the state Labor Party for a number of reasons (if you were unkind, you'd stretch that to multitude of reasons). There's been plenty of talk about the way they had drifted from their own constituency - even from the departing  Premier Kristina Keneally - and of long term Labor-ites angry enough to vote their political adversaries in instead. 

At the end of the day, a government of whichever stripe is going to be booted out if it doesn't govern well. Here are the 306* more valid reasons than a federal carbon tax for why a government of sixteen years lost power:

  • They're a government that's been in for several years and warded off every challenger during that time. That breeds the kind of inefficiencies and distractions that plague a political party that feels entitled and complacent.
  • They weren't a real worker's party any more. Mick Young was a shearer and Bob Hawke was a drover's dog but the generations of NSW Labor driven by Carr were branch officials, with unions becoming recruiting grounds for a seat of one's own. If new Labor Party leader, John Robertson, follows through from his job as an electrician and as an empassioned union boss opposing the privatisation of electricity, then he could have the credentials for returning the party to its roots.
  • Whenever a party rapidly changes leaders - and it's not the only party to do so - it appears unstable, which does nothing to engender confidence. When you get stately state leaders/statesmen like Neville Wran or Sir Charles Court or able premiers like Bob Carr, the voting public feel reassured. A series of wild cards being flicked across the table would more describe the last government once Carr retired. Iemma looked like a rabbit in the spotlight most of the time and was as tiresome with his slogans as Abbott's support base. Nathan Rees gave it a red hot go but then got rolled by factions.
  • Ah yes, factions, and behind the scenes powerbrokers. That's what makes politicians as a profession so unpalatable to the common (wo)man; the whole needling and manouevring that is hidden from view.
  •  The T Card, which rivals the Tea Party for monumental folly to a t. Why is it not possible for a government, or one of its many agencies, to put out a contract as applicable as any commercial undertaking?  If you quote low, make sure you can get it in in under budget, and if you claim to be the most able to implement the project, please have the courtesy to prove it and recoup the investment. Here the bottom line is: you have the successful tender, make sure you make it work or you don't get paid. That's eleven million dollars down the drain. Makes a wildly overbudget swimming pool at local govt level look like a trifle.
  • Splendour: remember that episode of Tony Abbott being rebuffed by Andrew Wilkie for having offered too much? Fiscal responsibility on the part of government is the best way to convince the populace through any blip in the market. And we really just want to know that the appropriate amount was spent to get the most productive outcome. Anything else is fluff.
  • the Premier State was in bed with developers; its ministers movers and shakers, often with odious personalities that added to a volatile fuel.
  • Barangaroo deserves its own special column for getting taken for a row. A project for which there was widespread and vocal, not to mention high profile, opposition to, being shoved through without consultation in the dying days of a government on the way out. Here's the symbol of all that arrogance, all that manipulating of planning laws, all in the one gaudy monstrosity. More of a fuck you than a thank you from the party that had been given so many years in power.
  • Public transport. Sydney had a great transport system when the 2000 Olympics were on. That proved it could be done. It's been a sad and sorry saga since then, with promises of new lines, new trains, new safety mechanisms, and none met. I worked at Rail Access Corporation and it seemed to be just a thing to show on the whiteboard the different kinds of driver error occurring each month, without a plan to prevent it.
  • The road network hasn't been much better. It's fascinatingly horrible to hear of tunnels not getting usage and of other networks jamming up.
*I don't have time to list them all

Essentially the voter looks at a government's performance on the ground, they care considerably less for gimmicky issues that concern the Opposition of the day. Barry O'Farrell didn't have to be flash, or running with weirdo protest groups, to make an impact. He just had to promise better government, and getting things back on track.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Sage Undertaking


I didn't vote Green this time. I accepted that Janet Mays had the most active involvement in pursuing the course best for the Mountains and so I decided to be local.

I know there's an argument from the party to say you should give them all the support you can; that second preference won't keep the wolves at bay. But, since this is the same kind of line taken by the ALP to stop people voting Greens or independent, I doubt the Green party would want me to water down my conviction, even if it did cost them.

I like the Labor candidate too, and I accept that her old boss Koperberg was more true to his electorate than I may have proposed.

Sage may be an asset, being a member of the victorious party, but I do share some disquiet at the idea of having three tiers of conservative rule.

I like the fact that the incoming O'Farrell government have made a checklist of promises, and they understand what the priorities are through those specific undertakings.
There's reason to have some confidence when an Opposition leader promises more public service jobs, not less. Perhaps he has learnt from Peter Debnam's unpopular slash'n'burn policies, not to scare the horses. But I do get the feeling that Barry is a more temperate and moderate leader than his immediate predecessors in the Liberal Party.