Fifty years ago next year, the Beatles toured Australia, Melbourne won one of the great Grand Finals by just four points and Aussies took home a paltry $39 a week. And fifty years ago an air travel revolution started with jets introduced onto domestic services replacing slower prop-jet Electras.At the time the cost of air travel was prohibitive, with the return fare from Perth to Sydney at $210 – more than five times the average weekly earnings. In today’s equivalent that would be a staggering $7,255. But in 1964 a loaf of bread only cost 15 cents and a quart of milk about the same.Ansett-ANA and Trans Australian Airlines both took delivery of their first 131-seat Boeing 727s in October 1964 and they also ordered the smaller DC-9 twin-jets. TAA called its 727s and DC-9s Whispering T-Jets, referring to the fact the plane’s jet engines were positioned at the rear of the plane and they had T-tails.While the re-engine configuration made for a quieter cabin, for airport residents the sound was anything but whispering with both types of jet impacting an area of up to 51sq km with high noise levels. The 727 and DC-9 are today banned from Australian airports because of their noisy engines.While passengers loved the smoother jet ride above most of the weather – meal time was slim pickings with just coffee and sandwiches on offer on domestic services. Competition was heavily regulated by the government’s Two Airline Policy which dictated that both airlines purchased the same types of planes and flew identical schedules. Innovation was scant, although the airlines were consistently profitable.However the efficiency and economy of the jets started to impact airfares and by 1981 domestic flying was only a quarter of the cost it was in 1964. Around this time the government started to loosen its grip on airline regulation with both airlines buying differing equipment and experimenting with new flights.TAA ordered 250-seat Airbus A300s while Ansett ordered 767s, 737s and 727-200LRs. In-flight innovation also resulted with in-flight music and hot meal services.At the end of 1980s the government deregulated the airline system and fares plummeted but so did the airlines.The first new airline Compass lost its way by charging return fares as low as $200 to Sydney from Perth when the standard return fare at the time was $600. In the late 1990s the government allowed a foreign owned airline to operate domestic services and Virgin Blue was born. Fares plummeted as Virgin hired eager staff that were paid half that of the incumbent airlines.Ansett failed, leaving the field to Qantas which had absorbed Australian Airlines (TAA) in 1994 and Virgin Blue.Today Australians, who earn on average $1,455 a week, enjoy what is unquestionably the world’s best domestic airline system. And the regular return fare to Sydney is around $400 –and often a lot less during seat sales.Air travel has soared from 3 million in 1964 to 56 million for the year to October 2013.
Abigail Kubeka has played a major role in the evolution of South African music over the years The second episode of Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part television series, which airs on SABC 2 on Sunday 22 June at 9pm, will feature a selection of inspiring South Africans who have found fame in the local art, literature and entertainment industries.Singer, songwriter, musical arranger and actress, Abigail Kubeka, has played a major role in the evolution of South African music over the years. Following the destruction of trendy Sophiatown in Johannesburg in the 1950s, Kubeka helped preserve many of the suburb’s well-known musical and cultural traditions.Johnny Clegg’s cross-cultural influence in South Africa – and across the world – as the “White Zulu” also features in the episode, as do a few of his protest songs performed during apartheid, especially the then-controversial Asimbonanga. Clegg has recently returned from a tour to the USA, and the segment looks at his international influence and the role he’s played in spreading a bit of South African culture across the globe.Also featuring is Ian Gabriel, an established talent in the film industry and director of the critically acclaimed Four Corners. Four Corners is a poignant look at gang violence, and juxtaposes South Africa’s film talent with the harsh realities of township life. The movie is a testament to the film industry’s role in communicating the country’s problems to encourage South Africans to help solve them.James Ngcobo, the first black artistic director of the Market Theatre, also known as the “Theatre of the Struggle”, makes an appearance in this episode. We look at the trials of the man whose life began as a boy from KwaMashu Township, born to a maid and a factory worker. The episode also discusses how theatre has helped to unite South Africans of all races.Bothale Boikayo, a Mafikeng local who won SA’s Got Talent in 2012 also features. We discuss her belief that the only way to change the world is to start with changing one person’s life and giving people a purpose and a goal to look forward to. We also look at her plans for the future.Finally, acclaimed author of speculative fiction novels Moxyland and Zoo City – the latter recently bought by Leonardo di Caprio’s production company – Beukes’ vision of the future South Africa is both utopic and dystopic when considering Moxyland. We look at why Beukes envisioned South Africa’s future as she did, and whether her ideas have changed since the release of the popular novel.
Not all Chinese modules have problemsA particular area of concern are the materials that keep moisture out of the modules and seal the photovoltaic cells between layers of glass, the Times said. When substandard or outdated materials are used, the modules fall apart.Problems don’t affect all Chinese-made modules. The U.S. subsidiary of Yingli, now the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer, for example, says only 15 defective panels were returned out of the 2.8 million shipped here since 2009. The company has just landed a contract to supply a California power plant with solar modules.Quality control also is a problem for non-Chinese manufacturers. First Solar, a major U.S. maker, has set aside $271 million to replace faulty panels manufactured in 2008 and 2009, the Times reported. Despite bumpy road, analysts see a booming marketGrowing pains in Chinese panel manufacturing will actually help the solar industry expand over time, with the global market becoming a $155 billion business by 2018, according to Quartz, a digital news outlet.Citing a report by Lux Research, Quartz said a decline in panel prices will help the solar industry expand into new markets. Annual solar installations will reach 62,000 megawatts in 2018, Lux says, and in the U.S., developers will rush to get projects installed before the tax credit drops from 30% to 10% at the end of 2016.“The U.S. should install 10,800 MW of solar in 2018,” Quartz said, “making it the world’s second largest solar market. But the real action will be in Asia, where Lux projects 30,300 MW will be installed by China, India and Japan.” Manufacturing shortcuts, most of them at Chinese factories, are leading to higher failure rates for photovoltaic panels and prompting growing concerns among testing labs, insurers and solar developers, The New York Times reports.In an article published May 28, the newspaper said that inspections over the last 18 months have discovered that “even the most reputable companies are substituting cheaper, untested materials” in their PV modules.Chinese companies borrowed a lot of money to ramp up manufacturing and are now under intense pressure to cut manufacturing costs and pay off the loans. One way of reducing costs is to take shortcuts and use cheaper materials, the Times said.One testing service reported the defect rate of panels inspected in Shanghai jumped from 7.8% to 13% between 2011 and 2012. Another said defect rates ranged from 5.5% to 22% in audits of 50 Chinese factories in the last 18 months.No one keeps an exact tally of how many panels fail, so the extent of the problem isn’t known.
About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say Bournemouth boss Howe plans lesson for booking-prone Jefferson Lermaby Freddie Taylor23 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveBournemouth boss Eddie Howe insists he will teach Jefferson Lerma to avoid “needless bookings”.The Colombian grabbed his fourth booking out of seven Premier League games in Saturday’s draw with West Ham United.He told the Daily Echo: “Saturday’s (foul) he probably didn’t need to do. I think the majority of his tackles I’m with him on the pitch and he might be a split second late and it’s a yellow card. That’s the way he plays.”You wouldn’t want him to change that competitive style. Obviously we don’t want to lose him to suspensions and it would be a big blow if we did lose him.”It’s the needless ones (bookings). It’s the ones at the end of the game that he’ll probably look back at and think ‘I didn’t need to do that’. They’re the ones that you want to try and eradicate from his game.”Howe added: “It was well-documented, Harry Arter and our relationship with Harry and how many yellow cards he picked up. But you wouldn’t want to change Harry’s instincts and the way that he played because he wouldn’t be the player that made him what he was.”It’s the same with Jeff. That’s why we signed him. You don’t want to take that away, a lot of the attributes that he shows but it’s trying to educate him and show him maybe a different way at times will be key – talk to him and show him some things.”We want to keep him on the pitch for as long as we can.”
OTTAWA – Former federal budget watchdog Kevin Page will deliver a blunt message to premiers this week about the costs of a future national pharmacare program: if Canadians want one, taxes will have to go up.Page, who now heads a University of Ottawa think tank, will walk through the numbers Friday when he gives a presentation to the provincial and territorial leaders on what lawmakers should know about creating a cross-country, publicly funded plan for prescription drugs.The federal Liberals have put together a group of advisers, led by former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins, to consult Canadians and explore options for a national program. The council is due to report back next year, when the topic of pharmacare is sure to become a major issue during the federal election campaign.But the burning question remains: who’s going to pay for it?Last fall, an analysis by the parliamentary budget officer estimated national pharmacare would carry a hefty cost in the neighbourhood of $20 billion a year. That’s about one percentage point of Canada’s gross domestic product and twice Ottawa’s annual deficit projections in each of the next few years.Page said there’s a solid argument to be made for national pharmacare because it would help Canadians save significantly on their out-of-pocket drug expenses and create more consistency in terms of health costs across the country. The 2017 parliamentary budget office study estimated such a plan would save Canadians more than $4 billion every year on prescriptions.But Page said Ottawa’s books are already facing a difficult fiscal situation and warned the federal balance sheet would become unsustainable if it assumed the full cost of such a program.The provinces, as a group, are in even rougher fiscal shape, he added.His presentation, which is based on a study by his Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy to be released Monday, recommends spending cuts and tax increases as ways to afford it.Page, however, believes there’s no way to avoid tax hikes if Canada is serious about pharmacare. One option would be to boost the GST by two points, back to seven per cent, he added.“Raising taxes is never easy, politically, in this environment, but I think if we’re going to really do something like this, we’re going to have to do it,” he said in an interview.“I don’t see any other way of really moving this forward.”Page will address the premiers in St. Andrew’s, N.B., where they will gather this week for Council of the Federation meetings. Without tax increases, governments will see their shortfalls balloon well beyond existing levels, he said.“I think it would shock people,” Page said. “Deficits would literally double.”He supports the argument that, in certain cases, public servants have a responsibility to tell taxpayers that raising taxes is in their interests as a way to make life easier for politicians to take unpopular decisions.“I think the case for a national public pharmacare program is pretty strong, even from a fiscal perspective,” he said.“Just on the numbers, it’s pretty clear that these public systems… produce much lower costs. Canadians are paying a lot for drugs, a lot.”Health-care advocates have long urged Ottawa to work with provinces and territories to implement a universal public prescription drug program that covers all Canadians.Critics call the country’s current system an inefficient, expensive patchwork that has left 3.5 million Canadians unable to afford the medication they need.— Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter
Mike Trout has put up an amazing couple of seasons in Major League Baseball, not just for someone as young as he is, 22, but for anyone. His 19.62 wins above replacement (WAR) over his first two full seasons ranks as the 36th best two-year stretch for any batter ever. Only nine batters have had a better stretch by the age of 25, and they’re essentially a who’s who of Hall of Famers: Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx and Willie Mays. The list of players who put up better numbers at an earlier age doesn’t have any names on it.Conventional wisdom seems to be that Trout, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is only going to get better. Much of that analysis relies explicitly on the traditional aging curve or on similar logic: MLB players and prospects typically improve rapidly through their late teens and early 20s, peaking around age 27. Trout was 21 last season, ergo, he has several years of improvement in his future.But regression to the mean dictates that the better the performance you’re looking at, the less likely it is to be duplicated. Players who put up huge numbers like Trout’s (or anywhere close) this early in their careers have a very high likelihood of having All Star- and/or Hall of Fame-quality careers. But how often do they improve on these initial breakout performances?I’ve taken all the players who put up more than 15 WAR over a two-year period at any point in their careers and broken them down by the age when they first accomplished the feat. Then I asked a simple question: Did they ever manage a better two-year period?The size of the bubbles represent how many players accomplished the “15 WAR in two years” milestone, and the y value of the bubbles show the percentage of those players who surpassed that milestone.As you can see, the odds of someone Trout’s age improving are ostensibly 100 percent, but that bubble represents a single data point: Alex Rodriguez. If you move to the much larger group of players between ages 22 and 24, the odds drop into the 50 percent range.On the other hand, some players who never managed a stronger two-year stretch still managed a strong third season immediately after their initial two-year breakout. In such cases, they may set a new two-year “peak” that overlaps the original. Thus, while never replicating their original two-year performance, they end up with a better two years on the books. This is the most likely time for a player to establish a new “peak,” because pulling it off only takes one well-timed season instead of two.Of the 75 players who achieved 15-plus WAR over two seasons, only 22 managed to replicate or exceed the feat later in their career. But an additional 15 improved their benchmark the following season. Counting these cases, the odds of a player’s two-year performance being his two-year peak drop substantially. Factoring this in and cleaning up the data a bit (I put the players in rolling 3-year age groups) gives us a result like this:For Trout’s case, there are a few other factors to consider:Cutting both ways: Trout’s numbers are higher than average in his age group. This makes it more likely that he’s a uniquely great player, but it also makes the numbers inherently less likely to be surpassed.Cutting in his favor: Trout was 21 last season, and his group covers players age 21 to 23. This gives him a slightly longer career ahead, and thus more chances to put up better seasons. Further, having pulled off such great numbers at such an early age probably increases the chances that he’s truly special. But there’s not really enough data to demonstrate this effect.Cutting against him: Trout is probably less likely to achieve a new two-year peak this year, because the strongest of the two seasons in this run was the first. Improving on his peak will require him posting better than 10.8 WAR — a feat which has happened only 22 times before, six of which were by Babe Ruth. (Also, though outside the scope of this post, it’s possible that the aging curve is no longer as favorable as it used to be).All things considered, the answer to whether Trout has peaked yet is “probably not,” though I think it’s far from being as much of a certainty as many people seem to think. Even some of the Hall of Famers mentioned above peaked early, and Trout’s start has been so strong that he could potentially do the same and still end up joining them.
During their 5-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs did something no team has consistently been able to do this postseason: get ahead of the Indians and stay there.Cleveland was 8-1 in the postseason heading into Wednesday’s game, so you wouldn’t expect them to have spent much time trailing. But they were notable front-runners even by the standards of a team with such a great record. Before Game 2 of the World Series, the Indians and their opponents had completed 81 innings during this postseason. Of those 81, Cleveland led through 57 of them — 70 percent — and was either leading or tied through 73, a staggering 90 percent rate of success (or at least, nonfailure) in the scoreboard battle. In games they won, they trailed in just one inning.1Seven of the eight innings they trailed came in one game — Game 4 of the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays.Going back to the advent of the wild card in 1995, both of those figures were the highest any team had ever carried through Game 1 of the World Series, and it wasn’t especially close. Even the 1998 Yankees — who won 114 regular-season games and then turned the playoffs into their own personal victory lap — only led or were tied through 85 percent of their innings through Game 1 of the World Series. And the oft-forgotten 2005 White Sox, who basically perfected this formula, checked in at 83 percent. These Indians have been the most front-running team in modern postseason history. 92007Red Sox10160212059.480.2 72012Orioles6118321129.582.0 102014Giants10952352247.779.8 62014Royals8940331644.982.0 YEARTEAMTOTALLEDTIEDTRAILEDLEDLED OR TIED 81995Braves8535341641.281.2 42007Rockies7445161360.882.4 32005White Sox8153141465.482.7 Top front-running playoff teams through World Series Game 1 21998Yankees9361181465.684.9 12016Indians815716870.4%90.1% Includes all postseason games since 1995, when the wild card was introduced, but excludes teams who only played in the wild card gameSources: Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet NUMBER OF INNINGS% OF INNINGS 52015Mets9557211760.082.1 The key to front-running is a versatile, opportunistic offense (check), good starting pitching (check) and — most importantly — a lights-out bullpen (um, check). Cleveland is custom-built for winning that way, and they’ve shown just how effective it can be in the small-sample gantlet of the playoffs. You can bet other teams will think about how to copy that style going into next season and beyond.But on Wednesday night, the Cubs beat the Indians at their own game. It was Chicago who struck first, claiming a 1-0 lead within the game’s first 15 pitches; it was Chicago who nickeled and dimed an extra run in the third and tacked on insurance in the fifth; and it was Chicago who kept their lead secure with dominant pitching, including six strikeouts from Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman in three and one-third relief innings. Against the Cubs in Game 2, the Indians trailed in more innings (nine) than they had in the entire playoffs combined heading into the game. It was a win right out of Cleveland’s playbook.As the series shifts to Chicago on Friday, it should be interesting to see how Cleveland responds. Aside from overcoming a brief 1-0 deficit in the first inning of Game 1 of the ALDS, we haven’t really seen the Indians mount any comebacks this postseason. Of course, the Cubs hadn’t been an especially strong front-running club themselves before Game 2 — until Wednesday, they’d led through less than half of their postseason innings — instead showcasing a variety of other ways to win. But given Chicago’s great starting rotation and the apparently rust-proof hitting of Kyle Schwarber, Cleveland might need to prove they can win from behind, too.