Category Archives: Billionaires

Gates swing better

THE mainstream Olympics are done and dusted and it is time to turn our  passion to popular science.
By popular science, I mean knowledge to help people. If it can compete in the media with Brad, Angelina, Jen and that other bloke, all the better. More dollars may befall science.
Today, two great scientific endeavours crossed my path. One is from Australia and the other from the U.S.
For some strange reason, for which I am most grateful, the publicly funded Australian scientific organisation CSIRO likes to keep me in the loop of what they are up to.
My last review was of The Pirates of Penzance. I am not convinced a story on The Sultans of Science will sneak past my day editor. As I am a writer, managing editor and chief coffee-maker of Bent Banana Books, it will fly high here.
Gates, farm and Bill have improved

CSIRO today announced a new type of cattle gate SaferGate aimed at preventing farmer death and injury has completed rigorous testing and development by the CSIRO.
Farmer and inventor Edward Evans designed SaferGate  which was  put to the test by a CSIRO-developed “crash test cow”.
Between 2000 and 2005, 211 Australian farmers were “caught, crushed, jammed, or pinched in or between objects”. Gate incidents also account for 0.5% of deaths among agricultural workers in Australia. The figures would be much higher in the U.S.
It seems cows play a part in many incidents. CSIRO’s 60kg test cow, which has authentic horns and hide, is designed to simulate the force of a bull or cow charging a cattle gate, used on farms, feedlots, in trucks and abattoirs across Australia.
CSIRO concluded its research last week with a series of simulated crash tests designed to evaluate how SaferGate would perform when charged or kicked by an animal. Designer Edward Evans broke a leg broken when operating a cattle gate on his farm. Unlike a traditional cattle gate, SaferGate swings away from the farmer or operator when a cow charges it, preventing injury or death.
Mr Evans said, ‘With the help of CSIRO, it is great to finally see my vision for SaferGate coming to life.’
SaferGate will be initially launched in Australia and the United States.
 Being government funded, CSIRO is subject to the vagaries of political priorities.  It received an economic windfall after it was recognised as the discoverer of Wi-Fi technology.
International computer and telecommunications giants borrowed Wi-Fi from CSIRO without paying royalties.
In June 2007,  CSIRO won a case in the U.S. Federal Court against Japanese manufacturer Buffalo Technologies, the basis of which the research organisation used to demand royalties from others manufacturers of  Wi-Fi equipment. 
CSIRO filed patent infringement suits against 3Com, Accton, Asus, Belkin, D-Link, Fujitsu, Marvell (manufacturers of Apple’s iPod), Nintendo, SMC and Toshiba.
Several big names bit back with HP, Apple, Intel, Dell, Microsoft and Netgear bringing cases against CSIRO in an attempt to have the research organisation’s patent invalidated.
As the case played out in a Texas court, the Australian Government-funded research organisation struck agreements with the big  players:  Dell, Intel HP, Microsoft, Asus and Fulitsu.
CSIRO’s remaining opponents Nintendo, Toshiba, Netgear, Buffalo, D-Link, Belkin, SMC, Accton and 3Com caved and also settled.
The settlements netted CSIRO $200 million with continuing licence royalties.
You will notice Microsoft was one of the settlers and a lot of computer consumers are hostile to that corporation. However founder Bill Gates is putting his money towards alleviating tragic conditions within the poorest nations on earth.
Over the next two days, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will process 200 litres of artificial poop to trial out new toilets that do not need water, electricity nor connection to a sewage system. Maybe that should be” faux human poop’’ as artificial implies manure made by people.
Enough of that crap, the Reinvent the Toilet Fair intends to improve the lives of the 2.6 billion people in the third world who do not have access to a toilet.
Using $3 million in grants from the foundation, eight engineers are creating self-contained, power- and water-less systems.
One is powered by faeces, which are also dried and burned into fertiliser.
Another invention is a solar-powered toilet and one that converts waste into electricity with microwave technology.
It seems Bill Gates has finally got his shit together.

Bernie Dowling, August 14, 2012

Horseys painties and big bucksies

REMIND me not to bet on anything with fewer than four legs.
Aussie bookmaker  Tom Waterhouse was betting $1.90 Edvard Munch’s pastel painting The Scream would fetch more than $106.5M at an auction at Sotheby’s auction in New York.
My considered opinion was it would go for a mere pittance, less than, $80M. I was way off.
The Scream went for chump change under $120M.
The winning bid was taken by a Sotheby’s executive, and the bidder was not identified.
One of four versions by  Norwegian artist Munch, but the only one in private hands, The Scream easily topped the previous auction record held by Picasso’s Nude, green leaves and bust, which went for a piddling $106.5 million at Christie’s two years ago.
It is reported the sales room at Sotheby’s erupted in applause and cheering when the hammer came down. A few titters of laughter came from those who had read my estimation had paid 50% too much. I believe the laughter was directed at me rather than the buyer.
I could go on about some people having too much money and I will for a bit. Two resolute bidders drew away from the original field of seven to drive the price up by telephone.
Overall, the Sotheby fetched a record $330 million with Picasso’s Femme assise dans un fauteuil, selling  for $29.2M; Miro’s Tete humaine taking $14.86M out of someone’s purse and Dali’s  Printemps necrophilique, gathering  $16.3M in the dead of spring.
Talking of the dead, I made my money today on the annual Grand National Steeplechase at Warnambool, Victoria, here in Australia.
I say dead as the music for the unofficial Aussie national anthem Waltzing Matilda was supposedly the modification of a tune Christina Macpherson heard at this race meeting in 1894. I say dead also in remembrance of the horses and jockeys who have lost their lives during the atavistic sport of jumps racing.
I support the abolition of jumps racing while I will bet on them as long as they continue. You might call that horsey hypocrisy and it would be a good call. As I mentioned in my previous column, we Aussies will bet on two flies crawling up a wall.
Great Britain is the thorn in the side of a world-wide ban on jumps racing. Racetracks there have total programs with jumps racing. Many expensive racehorses run on both the flat and over jumps. The Grand National Steeplechase is an institution.
Banning jumps racehorses would create more reaction than recent attempts to stop the barbaric fox hunting. Oscar Wilde was awake to the essence of that sport  more than a century ago. He called it “the unspeakable in pursuit of the edible”.
Without presuming to improve in Wilde, he could have said the “ineffable in pursuit”. The prefix “in’’  can convey emphasis instead of negativity. Extreme ‘’effers” support fox hunting and jumps racing.
For more of my extreme pontifications see 7 Shouts at Google eBooks or  Amazon.