Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Food Shortage

An interesting, though long, article on global food shortage, and consequently, higher food prices. Why the food shortage? One reason is that countries like India and China are eating more meat, which naturally requires somewhat more grain to produce. Another reason is that crops traditionally grown for food like maize are now being grown for bio-fuels.

In theory, the increase in food prices will benefit places that export more food than they import - this includes many poor countries as well as middle-America. However, this is only in principle, and the lower rungs of such places will still suffer. It would appear that the halcyon days of cheap food are behind us.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We is getting dumber

The poor spelling I witness in first-year maths tutes makes me cringe (how bad their maths is another story altogether). I'm amazed we're still among the top ten countries in one education ranking:

In reading, Australia ranked equal sixth, while in 2000 it ran second behind only Finland. Australia now falls behind Korea, Finland, Hong Kong, Canada and New Zealand.

Australia now ranks equal in reading to Ireland, Liechtenstein, Poland, Sweden and The Netherlands.

In maths, Australia ranked equal ninth last year compared with equal eighth in 2003 and second in 2000, now falling behind Chinese Taipei, Finland, Hong Kong, Korea, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada and Macau.

The science questions changed between 2003 and last year, making it difficult to compare results, but Australia ranked equal fourth last year behind Finland, Hong Kong and Canada.

Well done, Finland, again. And how it pains me to tie with Ireland in reading. You'd be after wanting to read that book there, lad.