Saving petrol

Following up my previous post on Earth Hour and driving less, here’s an Australian TV ad from the 1970’s about saving petrol. I only vaguely remember this from my youth.

Thanks to Daniel Bowen ( for revealing this priceless bit of Australian TV history.

[This content was originally posted to Google Buzz, #125]

Environmental tokenism

If you’re into that sort of thing, don’t forget to join in with the world’s pre-eminent celebration of environmental tokenism this Saturday night when “Earth hour” takes place.

If on the other hand you want to do something meaningful and real about reducing CO2 emissions, may I suggest:

  • drive your car less**
  • buy a smaller more fuel efficient car
  • avoid or minimise air travel
  • buy less stuff

**A quick calculation for my household shows that one ‘earth hour’ of turning off electrical appliances equates to a reduction of only 0.5kg CO2 emissions. This is the amount of CO2 produced by driving just 2km in our car. Every day I ride a bike to work instead of driving is equivalent to 4 earth hours.

[This content was originally posted to Google Buzz, #124]


I just read Psalm 5 yesterday where God’s grace is so abundantly clear. The psalm draws a big contrast between the “wicked” and “arrogant” who “cannot dwell” with God (v4-5) versus David who says “But I, by your great mercy will come into your house”. (v7)

Entry to God’s house is not by a lack of wickedness, but by taking refuge in God and being glad. (v11)


[This content was originally posted to Google Buzz, #123]

The joy of algebra

I’ve been helping my 5th grade daughter with her Maths homework recently, and have been reminded of the joy of algebra. Quite a few of her homework questions involve complicated sentences about Joe being 3 times older than Jerry but 3 years later he’s only 2 times older. With 5th grade maths you can only guess at the answer with trial and error, but with algebra you just write down the equations and solve them with no guessing at all! How good is that? Sadly, my daughter is not yet convinced.

Update 20 Feb 2015: Sadly I went through the same struggle with my youngest son, trying to convince him of the benefits of algebra – even to the point of having the maths mantra – “There’s the hard way, or there’s algebra.”

[This content was originally posted to Google Buzz, #122]

Word trivia of the day

While pondering the question of what’s the difference (if any) between a “skill” and a “competency”, I realized that while “skilled” and “competent” are roughly synonymous, their opposites, “unskilled” and “incompetent” have quite distinct meanings. “Unskilled” means you don’t know how to do something, “incompetent” means you think you know how to do something when your really don’t know how to do it, and as a result do it very badly.

I wonder if there are any other examples of non-synonymous antonyms of synonyms?

[This content was originally posted to Google Buzz, #121]