Bottom Line

Let’s get to the bottom of global warming ...

This is no laughing matter. If you think biological – especially mammalian – emissions are something to snicker about, think again.

These little things are slowly killing our planet. Apparently.

Learned men, learned women, scientists, climactologists (more about them later), communication specialists, environmental lawyers and concerned politicians all around the world are suddenly sitting up and taking it (specifically – and please excuse the common impolite description –  farts) very seriously. And so should you, if you know what’s good for us.

Thankfully, someone’s on the job and the Australian Government has, in great foresight, set aside $26.8million to sort this looming disaster out.

Livestock flatulence is Australia’s third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, a huge contributor to global warming. According to the latest climate modelling, the (largely) silent tragedy these beasts are steadily wreaking actually has, surprisingly to the man in the street, been found to have little to do with the emissions’ temperature.

That was always just an urban myth and a pretty good joke. There are literally reams of analysis on the subject now. Google livestock emissions, and brace yourself.

The $26.8million allocated by the Federal Government is being spent very carefully on 18 specialised research projects over four years aimed at solving the problem. This is outlined by a new breed of climatologist specialising in the ‘critical turning point’ of climate change – increasingly known as the climactologist.

Here are just some of the topics being covered at a little over $1million apiece as part of the research package:

• Breeding low methane emitting sheep and elucidating the underlying biology.

• Methanotrophs in natural ecosystems and their role in ruminant methane mitigation.

• Microbial ecology of hydrogenotrophic rumen microorganisms in response to methane inhibition.

• Use of peptide-phage display libraries to discover peptides that are bioactive against rumen methanogens.

Sounds like we need to act fast.


According to the Animal Liberation organisation’s website, the cattle industry produces greenhouse gases in two ways:

“In South America, vast stretches of Amazon forest have been cleared and burned to make way for cattle ranches. This releases CO2 into the atmosphere. Land is still being cleared in Australia, especially in Queensland, for cattle grazing.

“Methane is another greenhouse gas. It currently contributes about 18 percent to global warming, but may become more important in future because it traps 25 times more heat than the CO2 molecule. Cattle produce methane in their excrement and flatulence, both of which they emit in large quantities. They contribute 60 of the 500 million tons of methane released into the atmosphere per year.”

Crikey! And then, a word of advice:

“A vegetarian diet avoids cruelty and reduces environmental problems.”

Clearly, we must act to set livestock free immediately and then kill the lot of them, to save the planet.

There won’t be too many qualms about culling flatulent pigs, but there may be some resistance to lambs, if not sheep. Horse racing, well, it’s better on the Wii anyway, where you can ride yourself. Pretty much everyone under 20 acknowledges that already.

Several extremely well intentioned special interest groups are concerned that this livestock emissions research does not go far enough and – more to the point – will have to be done very fast, before all the money is consumed by the global financial crisis.

As one top secret report by an eminent team of climactologists – known as Climactologi Occluding Wind Producing Animal Tragedy (COWPAT) – points out, no matter how much work is done to stem the tide of methane emissions from domesticated livestock, it is only the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg.

The real problems are out there roaming unchecked and, so far, unmeasured.


To be considered, because of its sheer numbers in Australia, must be the kangaroo – the perfect high mobility methane manufacturing machine.

Someone must get some quantitative magniloquence data on kangaroos right away. Then, hard decisions are going to be necessary.

The current estimated population of 58.6 million means there are more than twice as many kangaroos in Australia as there are cattle, according to the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia website. This has all the makings of a natural disaster, given what we now know about climate change. The roos, even those few loose in the top paddock, are going to have to go. Sad.

It gets worse – evidence is now emerging that flatulent emissions from eucalyptus-feeding species are even more toxic than at first thought. Koalas – with their pungent Goanna Oil smelling emissions – have got to go too, sadly.

The emu, blue-tongue lizard, lorikeet, platypus, ring-tail possum and wombats are all under close scrutiny. Scientific gaseity measuring systems are being developed so we can get a true picture of what a looming disaster these magniloquent Australian species are creating for our environment.

Perhaps the only hope for a different outcome are new animal methane capture and sequestration technologies being developed that may yet become a source of hydrogen for the new generation of eco-friendly cars. But the clock is ticking. Time and money are running out for our planet.

This is the Flatulence Earth theory.


Raising the bar stool on tax

There is a clever parable doing the rounds at the moment called Bar Stool Economics, widely attributed over the internet to an economics professor at the University of Georgia, David R. Kamerschen. As is so often the case with such internet fodder, he categorically denies the piece – and has set up a web page to do so – as do several other economists who have had it mis-attributed to them. Nevertheless, it’s worth considering this bar stool argument – although it may turn you to drink ...

Suppose that every day, 10 men go out for beer and the bill for all 10 comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The 10th (the richest) pays $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The 10 men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until, one day, the owner threw them a curve:

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the 10 now cost just $80.”

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But how could the other six men divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realised that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings). The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28%).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25%).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).

The 10th now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the 10th man, “but he got $10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got 10 times more than I!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the 10th and beat him up.

The next night the 10th man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill.

That, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. People who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax cut. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore – or go drink overseas where it’s friendlier.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. 

For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

Gest the GST?

The Bar Stool piece raises an old argument about GST that once circulated in economic circles. It goes something like this…

GST is 10 percent added to the sale price on goods and services. On a $100 item, that is $10. Say that $100 item was an object sold in a retail store. Assuming profit level is 25 percent on the cost price, equal to 20 percent on the sale price, a reasonable average, then profit on that item is $20.

So, the seller rents premises, employs people, pays taxes and superannuation, services business loans and pays utilities to get that item to market and make $20 profit, or 25 percent profit. The Federal Government collects $10. Most of the administration of receiving this money is already borne by the retailer, whose financial controllers manage the GST process and even pay the cost of transferring those funds to the government as a cost of doing business.

So the government’s $10 is a real 10 percent profit on the total activity of the retailer, or a 12.5 percent profit on the cost of bringing that item to market. It also equals half the profit that the retailer makes, for no input.

So, GST is mathematically a 50 percent immediate tax on the retailer’s profit in this average case. Easy.

That’s elementary and really does take the cake, Dr  Hewson …



Court hearings take on a whole new meaning when the defence gets defensive and the prosecution prosecutes elocution. These classics are attributed to an American book called Disorder in the Courts: Great Fractured Moments in Courtroom History by Charles M. Sevilla. If you can’t find the book, you might take a short cut by picking up a DVD of the 1936 Three Stooges comedy classic, Disorder in the Court.

Attorney: Are you sexually active?
Witness: No, I just lie there.

Attorney:What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
Witness: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

Attorney: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
Witness: Yes.
Attorney: And in what ways does it  affect your memory?
Witness: I forget.
Attorney:You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

Attorney: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
Witness: He said, “Where am I, Cathy?”
Attorney: And why did that upset you?
Witness:My name is  Susan!

Attorney: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
Witness: We both do.
Attorney: Voodoo?
Witness: We do.
Attorney: You do?
Witness: Yes, voodoo.

Attorney: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
Witness: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

Attorney: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
Witness: Uh, he’s 20.

Attorney: Were you present when your picture was taken?
Witness: Are you serious?

Attorney: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8?
Witness: Yes.
Attorney: And what were you doing at  that time?
Witness: Uh.... I was gettin laid!

Attorney: She had three children, right?
Witness: Yes.
Attorney: How many were boys?
Witness: None.
Attorney: Were there any girls?
Witness: Are you serious? Your Honour, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?

Attorney: How was your first marriage terminated?
Witness: By death.
Attorney: And by whose death was it terminated?
Witness: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?

Attorney: Can you describe the individual?
Witness: He was about medium height and had a beard.
Attorney: Was this a male or a female?
Witness: Guess.

Attorney: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
Witness: No, this is how I dress when I go to  work.

Attorney: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
Witness: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that question?

Attorney: All your responses must be oral, okay? What school did you go to?
Witness: Oral.

Attorney: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
Witness: The autopsy started around 8:30pm.
Attorney: And Mr Denton was dead at the time?
Witness: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him.

Attorney: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
Witness: Huh... are you qualified to ask that question?

Attorney: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
Witness: No.
Attorney: Did you check for blood pressure?
Witness: No.
Attorney: Did you check for breathing?
Witness: No.
Attorney: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
Witness: No.
Attorney: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
Witness: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
Attorney: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
Witness: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising law.



Smart arts answers

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Smart arts answers

It is said that it is an intellectual art form to complete the Indian Administrative Services entry exam. But because the list of candidates is so vast, the exam produces some of the wittiest examples of lateral thinking and smart artistry. Here are some examples:

Q.How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?
A. Concrete floors are very hard to crack!

Q.If it took eight men 10 hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it?
A. No time at all, it is already built.

Q.If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in the other hand, what would you have?
A. Very large hands.

Q. How can you lift an elephant with one hand?
A. It is not a problem, since you will never find an elephant with one hand.

Q. How can a man go eight days without sleep?
A. No Probs. He sleeps at night.

Q. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?
A. It will wet or sink, as simple as that.

Q. What looks like half apple?
A : The other half.

Q. What can you never eat for breakfast?
A : Dinner.

Q. What happened when the wheel was invented?
A : It caused a revolution.

Q. Bay of Bengal is in which state?
A : Liquid.

And this classic exchange, after which the candidate was given a prime job offer in the Public Service:

Interviewer: “I shall either ask you 10 easy questions or one really difficult question. Think well before you make up your mind!”
The man thought for a while and said, “My choice is one really difficult question.”
Interviewer: “Well, good luck to you, you have made your own choice! Now tell me this. What comes first, day or night?”
The fellow was jolted into reality, as his career future depended on the correctness of his answer.
But he thought for a while and said, “It's the day sir!”
“How?” the interviewer asked.
“Sorry sir, you promised me that you will not ask me a second difficult question!”
He was selected for the role.


You don't say ...

You don’t say…

Have you ever wondered at the origins of many of the peculiar expressions we use? When you discover its background, a ‘turn of phrase’ can take on a new significance.

In the 1400s a law was passed in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. This is ‘the rule of thumb’.

It is attributed that when a new game was invented in Scotland, it ruled to be ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden’ – and so the acronym GOLF entered the English language.

In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase, ‘goodnight, sleep tight’.

It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that, for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because the Babylonian calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month. Today, we know it as the honeymoon.

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So, in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them, “Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.”

This is where we get the phrase, ‘Mind your Ps and Qs.’

Again, many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. ‘Wet your whistle’ is the phrase inspired by this practice.



The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV in the US were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

Every day, more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.

Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.

Coca-Cola was originally green.

It is impossible to lick your elbow. (After hearing this, about 75 percent of people try to lick their elbows.)

The US State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work is Alaska.

The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28%.

The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%. With more than 65% of Australia being desert, we win this argument, hands down. (‘Hands down’ is not a card game expression, by the way, it comes from horse racing. Jockeys need to keep a tight rein in order to encourage their horse to run. A jockey so far ahead that he can afford to slacken off and still win can drop his hands and loosen the reins – hence winning ‘hands down’.)

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:
Spades – King David.
Hearts – Charlemagne.
Clubs – Alexander, the Great.
Diamonds – Julius Caesar.

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain.

In the US, if a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common? All were invented by women. ♦



God's words of wisdom

God's words of wisdom

It's nice to have a bit of positive reinforcement – even if you happen to be God.
Here is a collection of personal notes to God from some clear thinking children in the US, spelling errors and all.

Dear God – Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don't you just keep the ones you got now? – Jane.

Dear God – I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay? – Neil.

Dear God – I think the stapler is one of your greatest invention. – Ruth M.

Dear God – In bible times, did they really talk that fancy? – Jennifer.

Dear God – I think about you sometimes, even when I'm not praying. – Elliott.

Dear God – I am American. What are you? – Robert.

Dear God – Thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy. – Joyce.

Dear God – Please send Dennis Clark to a different camp this year. – Peter.

Dear God – I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it. – Nan.

Dear God – Please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good there now. – Ginny.

Dear God – If you watch in church on Sunday I will show you my new shoes. – Mickey D.

Dear God – If-we-come-back-as something-please-don't-let-me-be Jennifer-Horton-because-I-hate-her. – Denise.

God – I would like to live 900 years like the guy in the Bible – love, Chris.

Dear God – If you give me a genie lamp like Alladin I will give you anything you want except my money and my chess set. – Raphael.

God – we read Thos. Edison made light. But in Sun. School they said you did it. So I bet he stoled your idea. – sincerely, Donna.

Dear God – If you let the dinasor not exstinct we would not have a country. You did the right thing. – Jonathan.

Dear God – Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother. – Larry.


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