The New Machine

Last weekend the ultimate catastrophe occurred.  The washing machine broke.  Now you may be able to take that in your stride as a little inconvenience until it is repaired, but for me it is calamity, the ultimate  apocalypse.  I already had washing mounting up to rival Vesuvius, and another days delay would see an avalanche of linen and a tsunami of towels.  Of course it was a weekend, where I am at my busiest and the rest of the world decides to take those days off.  So I decided to fix the machine myself as I have done before.  The problem is that it would not do the spin cycle.  I tried it on every part of every cycle. Dead as a maggot.  (don’t know where that expression came from because in my experience, when things are dead, maggots are very active).  So I up-ended it and polished up all the connection terminals (about 40) using a dremel with a tiny diamond burr for the males and a tiny rat’s tail for the females.  Ain’t that a metaphor for a man’s world.  Males get diamonds and females get rat tails.  Cleaning terminals has worked before, but here my electrical expertise failed me.  

So bright and early Monday morning I headed into Atherton to buy a new appliance.  It is quite possible the old one could be repaired, but I needed an immediate solution.  I found that “bright and early” doesn’t work in Atherton.  The appliance shops don’t open until 9 am when the day is half over, so I kick my heels, fill up on fuel, read mail, do sudoku etc until the sales staff drift in.   They would find another definition of ‘the working day’ if they worked on a farm, which starts when you can see your hand in front of your face.  

The appliances on offer were all electronically controlled with comprehensive sounding but unfathomable specifications.  Which lead me to the conclusion that I wasn’t meant to understand, I was meant to be impressed.  So I bought one tempted by price and stated capacity of 10kg.  I removed the fantastic amount of cardboard and expanded polystyrene that would have safely landed the appliance to a bounce landing on Mars, to find a gleaming white Tardis.  I was to find out later that despite not being dark blue, it did indeed have time travel capability.  

My first job for this machine was to spin dry a load previously washed but caught in the rain on the washing line and now had to be spin-dried before being put in the dryer.  I examined the cycles available (12) and the settings available, 6 functions by 4 possibilities each which comes to 288 even before I explored the possibility of doing things in a different order.  I did not manage to find the critical path through the “fuzzy logic” programming.  Had to run the whole cycle from wash.  There are also a whole heap of things I can’t do if I select a cycle.  Certain settings are forbidden and blanked out.  The operating instructions mentions a few, but I think it would take a flowchart the size of my veranda to define the options available.  I have later discovered the ‘progress’ button which may enable me to navigate my way to a spin only solution, but may vastly multiply the 288 things that can already happen.  

Recently I noticed that the ‘time to finish’ display was not a clock.  It showed 16 mins, then I went off to do something and it showed 13 mins.  No, I was away longer than that.  Then I came back and it showed 18 mins.  Hence the reference to the Tardis.  Perhaps fuzzy logic, like quantum computing, are incredibly powerful tools to arrive at the wrong answer.

So I feel rather helpless.  At the mercy of the machine and it’s manufacturers.  And I like to consider myself amongst the technologically literate.  But I am falling behind.  I am sure that most of the people gave up long ago , but I am still striving and struggling to comprehend.  I really need a conceptual model in my head of how things work to be able to cope with the world.  I think I will have to give up my pretense of understanding everything and admit that I only understand little bits here and there.

Rant Warning! Toxic Waste Floods Canberra!

The LNP used to make much noise about factionalism in the Labour Party.  At least some of that huffing and puffing was justified.  But now it seems the LNP is wracked with worse.  Turnbull et al are paralysed and Abbot lurks like the ghost of Christmas past doing what he does best, wrecking things.  It was because of LNP internal dissent that we had to have a postal referendum on marriage equality, which was a complete no-brainer as the polls were so clear about what us proles think.  I bitterly resent $122,000,000, not including the nasty and irrelevant advertising, being spent to relieve Turnbull of the discomfort of being told off by a few of his own party, if it was dealt with in parliament.  Poor Malcolm.  Assailed from all sides by people who want him to do something or not do something.  I like the bloke.  I would invite him and his dearest to dinner except I doubt spaghetti bol is up to his usual fare.  It is unfortunate he isn’t temperamentally suited to be leader of a nation.  He would really like to please all of the people all of the time.  

That is an amusing contrast to another leader not fit to lead a country.  His fault is that he doesn’t want to please anybody, any of the time, except occasionally to suit his own ends.  You are way ahead of me …. Trump.  He also has a raft of psychological problems such as reality disconnect, a disdain for logic or reason, total lack of mirror emotions that could give him a hint of empathy, and a monumental ego.  How the US could make the transition from Obama to Trump, leads me to think I don’t understand the US despite all the information I have and despair of the notion that an educated people leads to an ideal democracy.  Oh well, the only consolation I have is that he is old.  He has limited time to do damage.

Meanwhile, back in the land of koalas, bilbies, turnbulls and other cuddly things, we have the power debate.  Debate is a good thing to air all the different sides of the arguments and bring them to the attention of the populace.  All the debates in history have never changed any parliamentarians’ mind, and that is not the point.  An elaborate charade where they sit in the house and supposedly talk to each other.  Except they don’t.  All the rhetoric is for people not actually there.  When searching for some direction about where Australia might source its future power needs, this government has been an abject failure.  To be fair, Labour has also failed before them, but now matters are coming to a head and still there is no direction or definite signals to the energy companies where to invest huge amounts of money.  So they don’t.  I don’t blame them.  Huge amounts of money at stake that may be trashed with a change of government.  Until there is a clear way forward they will keep their hands, and considerable cash, in their ample pockets in the sure and certain knowledge that their existing overstretched assets will provide a nice little earner as shortage makes electricity prices skyrocket.  Can’t lose.  Don’t need to compete.  

Nero fiddling as Rome burns comes to mind.  To his credit, Nero actually went out with the volunteer firefighters, but perhaps this is further evidence of the duplicity of politicians, as the fire did conveniently make way for the building of palaces he rather desired, and he is still a pyromaniac suspect. 

As to the future of energy sourcing in Oz, my mind is quite clear.  Or would be, but for a few glasses of vino.  Renewables are now cheaper, with or without subsidies.  The planet may/will become a nasty toxic place if we change the atmosphere, and I don’t want to take the risk.  I regularly babysit my grandkids, and this extends my view beyond my own lifetime.  The public in Oz get it, and have the highest uptake of solar in the world.  Another case, along with marriage equality where the government is way behind.  Leave the coal in the ground, because the steam age is over.  Let us preserve a few monster locomotives as a reminder, but let the smokey old power stations retire as we embrace the future.  Let us remember the fate of those that didn’t.  Kodak, swept away into history. 

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