Monday, June 02, 2003

Double Backflip With a One and a Half Twist

I've reconsidered my position on the bill that the US Government has presented for the RAAF's use of its bombs during the recent war. I think, on the whole, it's quite reasonable that our government should pay for them.

The situation is analogous to one that some parents may have faced: you send your brat round to play with the neighbour's ankle biter and then get news that, in a moment of over-enthusiasm, the little bugger dismembered his host's GI Joe and melted an entire battalion of plastic soldiers into a scorched green blob. Under such circumstances I think any decent, responsible parent would feel constrained to make good the neighbour's losses and lay down some firm guidelines on how junior was to behave when playing with other kids' toys.

So it's time to stop complaining, and stump up the money. And time for Defence Minister Robert Hill to get onto the RAAF and let them know that, next time the US Air Force invites them over to play with the heavy ordinance, they're to make sure that it all gets returned in good working order. As a true friend, it's the least we can do.

I've also reconsidered my post on Hugh Mackay's call for our community's intelligent people to recognise their obligations to society, get off their arses and do something for the benefit of their fellow Australians. It was brought on by a story Zeppo Bakunin told at last Thursday's trivia quiz.

Way back in his misspent youth, Zeppo worked at the Tramways for a while. One day, while he was on a break, one of his colleagues - a gnarled senior trammie of many years experience - turned to Zeppo and said: "You went to Uni didn't you?"

"Yes" Zeppo confessed.

"Y'do Physics?"

"Only first year." answered Zeppo, a little apprehensive.

"D'you study any Relativity?"

"A bit." Zeppo answered, a little more apprehensive.

"Good. Perhaps you can help me out." His interrogator said, and produced a sheet of paper on which he scribbled out a string of incomprehensible equations of the

dt = {2L/c}*{1/[1-(v^2/c^2)]^0.5}

variety. Pointing to one he said: "The thing is, I don't understand this transformation here."

I think this bloke is a good example of the sort of person Hugh was complaining about. If he'd gotten off his arse and done something with his intellectual resources he might have made something of his life. Instead, he was content to waste his life as a trammie, occasionally pestering the better educated with pointless questions about the Theory of Relativity. What a waste.

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