Climbing onto the largest vessel the world has ever seen brings you into a realm where everything is on a bewilderingly vast scale and ambition knows no bounds.
Prelude is a staggering 488 meters long and the best way to grasp what this means is by comparison with something more familiar.
Four football pitches placed end-to-end would not quite match this vessel’s length – and if you could lay the 301 meters of the Eiffel Tower alongside it, or the 443 meters of the Empire State Building, they wouldn’t do so either.
In terms of sheer volume, Prelude is mind-boggling too: if you took six of the world’s largest aircraft carriers, and measured the total amount of water they displaced, that would just about be the same as with this one gigantic vessel.
Under construction for the energy giant Shell, the dimensions of the platform are striking in their own right – but also as evidence of the sheer determination of the oil and gas industry to open up new sources of fuel…
Prelude…pioneers a new way of getting gas from beneath the ocean floor to the consumers willing to pay for it.
Until now, gas collected from offshore wells has had to be piped to land to be processed and then liquefied ready for export…Usually, this means building a huge facility onshore which can purify the gas and then chill it so that it becomes a liquid – what’s known as liquefied natural gas or LNG – making it 600 times smaller in volume and therefore far easier to transport by ship.
And LNG is in hot demand – especially in Asia, with China and Japan among the energy-hungry markets.
To exploit the Prelude gas field more than 100 miles off the northwest coast of Australia, Shell has opted to bypass the step of bringing the gas ashore, instead developing a system which will do the job of liquefaction at sea.
Hence Prelude will become the world’s first floating LNG plant – or FLNG in the terminology of the industry.
RTFA for the economics behind the decision – because, push comes to shove, there is no other primary reason for the construction of this behemoth. Optimizing profit is the name of the only game Shell plays.
Against a backdrop of fear and uncertainty following the hostage taking in Sydney, thousands of ordinary Australians turned to social media to spread a message of unprecedented tolerance and solidarity.
Trending worldwide, the #illridewithyou hashtag was a response to a number of Muslim listeners who called Australian radio stations to say they were scared to travel in public as the siege unfolded.
Users offered to ride on public transport with anyone feeling intimidated. They posted their travel plans and invited others to get in touch if they were going the same way and wanted a companion.
Police stormed the Lindt cafe in the central business district, bringing an end to a day-long standoff with gunman Man Haron Monis. There is still uncertainty about his motive for taking up to 30 people prisoner.
But the sight of hostages being forced to hold a black flag bearing the shahada, the basic Islamic creed – “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God” – in the window of the cafe seemed enough to make innocent people concerned about a backlash if they wore Muslim dress in public.
There is little wonder that Australian Muslims are scared. As research has shown, terrorist attacks and events seen to be “the fault of Muslims” have been shown to catalyse a sharp increase in the number of Islamophobic attacks perpetrated against Muslims going about their everyday lives…
All this might make the popularity of the #illridewithyou hashtag surprising. But what really underpins this social media phenomenon is the fact that ordinary people are not only aware but are prepared to do something about the Islamophobia that ordinary Muslims face in the current climate…
In the world of bigots you don’t even need to be Muslim to be lynched. You simply have to “look” like a Muslim or “dress” like a Muslim. The first person I recall being murdered by a bigot right after 9/11 was a Sikh in Arizona. Reality didn’t matter in the least. The distance between Sikh and Muslim beliefs includes centuries and are nations wide. Meaningless to a narrow-minded fool.
I mentioned this response to the siege in Sydney to my wife and her first recollection was folks in a software company she deals with in much of her IT work. They’re in Georgia. After 9/11, folks throughout their company made it a point to travel together with many of their fellow workers, Indian, Pakistani, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist – everywhere – to act as an additional shield against the bigots and fools who wanted to kill a Muslim ar at least some kind of non-Christian foreigner.
An Australian magistrate ruled that a janitor in Sydney can keep most of the $100,000 in Australian currency he found while cleaning the bathroom of a television station in Sydney. The ruling came three years after Chamindu Amarsinghe found the money in a sanitary bin.
“There was too much to count,” Amarsinghe told an Australian news team. “I thought someone was playing a prank on me. But when I touched the notes, all yellow and green, I realized it was real money.”
I just thought, ‘That’s not my money, so I can’t take it away. I don’t know what the hell this money is doing here.'” He added, “Someone could have put it there and planned to come back for it. I didn’t want them to come back for it and find it gone and them come after me.
Despite criminal investigations and charges into the money’s origins, little is known of where it came from and no owner has come forward to claim the cash. Unable to determine where the money came from, Magistrate Michael Smith felt it was best left in the hands of the man who found it, saying “There’s no reason why such honesty should go unrewarded.”
Amarsinghe has moved to New Zealand where he is studying for a career in information technology…”I just want to spend my life in a normal way, find a job in IT and carry out that dream,” he said. “I’m really, really lucky. I’m not going to waste it.”
Although unsure what he’ll do with the money, Amarsinghe plans to donate a portion of it to the disabled and a portion to a Buddhist temple outside of Melbourne.
Bravo. Truly a pleasure to read of an honest man – and sensible.
Reminds me of a Palestinian I worked with in a factory back East. He hit the lottery in Palestine and used the money to bring his family to the United States where he studied and qualified for a solid industrial trade. Had enough money left over to send his daughters to college.
In motorcycle speak, that means he went from a Triumph motorcycle to one from KTM – with more power, advanced suspension. He can scare himself even easier, now.
The video reminds me much of the southern Rockies – especially here in the dry end in New Mexico.
Helmet camera is a Drift Ghost S.
When he’s not blogging about environmental and other political issues in Australia, he finds time to work for a living – and play outdoors. His blog is listed over there on the right of the page – Blog that should not be.
Hendrik Helmer has taken out the unofficial title of having the largest cockroach removed from a human ear in Darwin.
He says dislodging the 2cm giant at Royal Darwin Hospital caused him agonising pain.
The cockroach took about 10 minutes to die after it was removed from his ear.
Mr Helmer, from the Darwin suburb of Karama, said his ordeal began early on Wednesday morning when he was woken up at about 2:30am by a sharp pain in his right ear.
He immediately thought some type of insect may have crawled into it while he slept…He said the pain was intense and despite a few bouts of relief began to get worse.
“I was hoping it was not a poisonous spider … I was hoping it didn’t bite me,” he said.
After trying to suck the insect out with a vacuum cleaner, he tried squirting water from a tap into his ear to flush it out…
“Whatever was in my ear didn’t like it at all,” he said.
As his pain increased, Mr Helmer, who works as a supervisor at a warehouse, roused his flatmate to take him to Royal Darwin Hospital, where he was quickly seen by a doctor.
Mr Helmer said the doctor put oil down the ear canal, which forced the still-unidentified insect to crawl in deeper but eventually it began to die.
“Near the 10 minute mark … somewhere about there, he started to stop burrowing but he was still in the throes of death twitching,” he said.
At that point the doctor put forceps into his ear and pulled out the cockroach…
“She said they had never pulled an insect this large out of someone’s ear,” Mr Helmer said.
Helmer says he’s not changing anything in his lifestyle – or sleepstyle; but, when some of his friends were asked for an opinion, they said they’ve started sleeping with headphones on or earbuds in their ears.
Some washing machines are more dangerous than others
Police in Australia have rescued a naked man who got stuck inside a washing machine while playing a game of hide-and-seek.
The man reportedly hid inside the top-loading machine so he could surprise his partner.
But he became stuck and it took 20 minutes for rescuers to dislodge him using olive oil as a lubricant…
The incident took place on Saturday in Mooroopna town, north of Melbourne, in Victoria state.
Few details were revealed about the man, with some reports saying he was 20 years old.
Sergeant Michelle De Araugo said “it was just a game gone wrong”, according to Agence-France Presse news agency…
Another officer cautioned against misusing household equipment…”My advice would be for people not to climb into appliances – obviously that [can] cause a number of issues, as we’ve seen on the weekend,” said First Constable Luke Ingram.
I emailed a mate of mine in Melbourne just to be certain it wasn’t him. After all, the coppers didn’t give out the lad’s name. He replied that he “has too much respect for appliances to do anything like this.”
I thought about teasing him about being a Spurs fan and that being sufficient reason to suspect his sanity. But, we all know it takes a proper Gooner to try a stunt like this.
Government researchers have tagged 338 sharks with acoustic transmitters that monitor where the animals are. When a tagged shark is about half a mile away from a beach, it triggers a computer alert, which tweets out a message on the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter feed. The tweet notes the shark’s size, breed and approximate location…
The tagging system alerts beachgoers far quicker than traditional warnings, says Chris Peck, operations manager of Surf Life Saving Western Australia. “Now it’s instant information,” he tells Sky News, “and really people don’t have an excuse to say we’re not getting the information. It’s about whether you are searching for it and finding it.”
The tags will also be monitored by scientists studying the sharks. Researchers have tagged great whites, whaler sharks and tiger sharks.
“This kind of innovative thinking is exactly what we need more of when it comes to finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict,” says Alison Kock, research manager of the Shark Spotters program in South Africa. Kock tells NPR that the project is a good idea — but that people should know that not all sharks are tagged…
Kock and Kim Holland, a marine biologist who leads shark research at the University of Hawaii, agree that the tweets won’t be enough to protect swimmers.
“It can, in fact, provide a false sense of security — that is, if there is no tweet, then there is no danger — and that simply is not a reasonable interpretation,” Holland says, pointing out that the reverse is also true. “Just because there’s a shark nearby doesn’t mean to say that there’s any danger. In Hawaii, tiger sharks are all around our coastlines all the time, and yet we have very, very few attacks…”
The typical human response when something wild and natural kills something tame and unnatural that has invaded their evolutionary habitat – is to kill the wild beast. This is only exaggerated by governments who [of course] must consider additional aspects of the question. Like – how will these people vote in the next election if I’m not perceived as a father figure/protector.
Scientists in Australia have reported the discovery of huge freshwater reserves preserved in aquifers under the world’s oceans. The water has remained shielded from seawater thanks to the accumulation of a protective layer of sediment and clay. And it’s not a local phenomenon. Such reserves are to be found under continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.
The discovery was made by researchers at the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) and the School of the Environment at Flinders University. The scientists estimate there is around half a million cubic kilometers of what they describe as “low salinity” water, which means it could be processed into fresh, potable water economically.
The reserves formed when ocean levels were lower and rainwater made its way into the ground in land areas that were not covered until the ice caps melted 20,000 years ago, causing sea levels to rise…
To access these non-renewable water reserves, it would be necessary to drill into the seabed from man-made, offshore platforms or from the mainland or nearby islands. Despite the high costs involved, the water would require less energy to desalinate than it does to desalinate sea water, although a careful assessment of the economics, sustainability and environmental impact of the exploration of such water reserves would be necessary.
Our history as a species is characterized by the quest for scarce goods. When these are the stuff of life – rather than baubles for princes, pundits and priests – conflict often is the result. One must hope that when technology is sufficiently advanced for economic access to these reserves our politics and ethics are equal to humane distribution.