I don’t know the source. The following text was emailed to me by a fellow Hash House Harrier, probably after wandering the internet like a lost soul in the Hampton Court maze.  The idiom and spelling are American but this product, WD-40, is sold globally so I think this will be helpful to many.

The product began from a search for a rust preventative solvent and degreaser to protect missile parts.  WD-40 was created in 1953 by three technicians at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company.  Its name comes from the project that was to find a ‘water displacement’ compound.  They were successful with the fortieth formulation, thus WD-40.

The Convair Company bought it in bulk to protect their Atlas missile parts. Ken East (one of the original founders) says there is nothing in WD-40 that would hurt you.  Here’s a list of 43 other known uses:
01.  Protects silver from tarnishing.
02.  Removes road tar and grime from cars.
03.  Cleans and lubricates guitar strings.
04.  Gives floors that ‘just-waxed’ sheen without making them slippery.
05.  Keeps flies off cows.
06.  Restores and cleans chalkboards.
07.  Removes lipstick stains.
08.  Loosens stubborn zippers.
09.  Untangles jewelry chains.
10.  Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.
11.  Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.
12.  Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing.
13.  Removes tomato stains from clothing.
14.  Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots.
15.  Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors.
16.  Keeps scissors working smoothly.
17.  Lubricates noisy door hinges on vehicles and doors in homes.
18.  It removes black scuff marks from the kitchen floor!  Use WD-40 for those  nasty tar and scuff marks on flooring.  It doesn’t seem to harm  the finish and you won’t have to scrub nearly as hard to get them off.   Just remember to open some windows if you have a lot of marks.
19.  Bug guts will eat away the finish on your car if not removed quickly!  Use WD-40!
20.  Gives a children’s playground gym slide a shine for a super fast slide.
21.  Lubricates gear shift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers.
22.  Rids kids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises.
23.  Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open.
24.  Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
25.  Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, as well as vinyl bumpers.
26.  Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
27.  Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
28.  Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling.
29.  Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running  smoothly.
30.  Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
31.  Removes splattered grease on stove.
32.  Keeps bathroom mirror from  fogging.
33.  Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
34.  Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
35.  Removes all traces of duct  tape.
36.  Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain.
37.  Cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers, in Florida.
38.  The favorite use in the state of New York, WD-40 protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements.
39.  WD-40 attracts fish.  Spray a little on live bait or lures and you will be  catching the big one in no time.  Also, it’s a lot cheaper than the chemical attractants that are made for just that purpose.  Keep in mind though, using  some chemical laced baits or lures for fishing are not allowed in some states.
40.  Use it for fire ant bites.  It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch.
41.  WD-40 is great for removing crayon from walls.  Spray on the mark and wipe with a clean rag.
42.  Also, if you’ve discovered that your teenage daughter has washed and dried a tube of lipstick with a load of laundry, saturate the lipstick spots with WD-40 and rewash.  Presto!  The lipstick is gone!
43.  If you sprayed WD-40 on the distributor cap, it would displace the  moisture and allow the car to start.

P.S. The basic ingredient is FISH OIL.

Silly numbers


Journalists are very good at challenging politicians’ evasive answers, but they often let people get away with silly numbers. Two Australian examples caught my eye recently, and made me stroppy.

First, an article in our local newspaper (the Advertiser, which has the distinction of being Rupert Murdoch’s first newspaper) quoted the Civil Contractors Federation (an industry lobby group) as claiming that SA Water could be sold for $13 billion. The story was also reported by the ABC and other news media.

SA Water is South Australia’s water supply and sewerage utility, still publicly owned. A private owner would require at least a 7% annual return on a long-term investment, so a valuation of $13 billion implies an annual net profit in excess of $900 millon.  SA Water’s total revenue in 2013-14 was $1,100 million.  The numbers just don’t stack up.

Second, ACOSS has put out a press release claiming that if the rate of GST (goods and services tax = value added tax) were increased from 10% to 15% low-income households would pay 7% more for the goods and services they buy*. Even if a poor household bought only goods and services that were subject to GST** the maximum increase would be (1.15/1.10) – 1 = 4.5%.  So ACOSS’s claim of 7% makes no sense.  But no-one has challenged them.


* Quotation from ACOSS press release: “An increase in the GST has a much bigger impact on low and modest income households because they spend more of their overall income to meet their living costs, in comparison to people on higher incomes who are better able to save. An increase in the rate of the GST to 15% would require people in the lowest 20% of the income brackets to pay 7% more, people in the middle 20% 4.2% more, and people in the highest 20% income bracket just 3% more of their income.”

** That would mean no purchases of basic foods, medicines, medical services, water bills, educational services, childcare and other exemptions.  See here for the GST-free list.



Australian politicians, commentators and interest groups have embarked on a public discussion about tax reform. The main focus is the GST (goods and services tax = value added tax).  Should the rate, which has remained at 10% since inception in 2000, be increased to 15%?  Should the base be broadened to include some or all of the 53% of goods and services that are GST-free?

There is one thing that everyone agrees on: whatever changes are made to the tax system, they must be fair. I haven’t heard anyone say, “What this country needs is unfair taxation!”  But I suspect that the concept of fairness is not universal.

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) describes itself as “the national voice for the needs of people affected by poverty and inequality.” In their eyes ‘fairness’ means not increasing the share of the tax burden born by the poor.  In a radio interview this morning an ACOSS representative expressed the view that no household with an annual income below $100,000* should have to pay more tax than they do now.

But some other people see fairness differently. They think that people who work hard, learn productive skills, practise thrift and invest prudently should, in fairness, be allowed to reap and keep the harvest that results from this pattern of behaviour.

What do I think?

  • We cannot continue running a fiscal deficit forever.
  • The cost of health care will continue rising faster than GDP as more ways are found to cure illnesses and keep people alive.
  • The cost of supporting and caring for old people and disabled people will also rise faster than GDP.
  • Richer people are better able than poor people to minimise the amount of tax they pay – ultimately by emigrating.
  • Multinational corporations will always find ways to avoid paying normal rates of tax in the countries where they make their money.

Putting all these thoughts together, I don’t see how anyone but the very poorest can avoid paying more, either through taxes or by paying the full price for things that they have been accustomed to getting free or at subsidised prices.


* From official statistics for 2013-14 I infer that about two-thirds of Australian households fall below this threshold.

In the Beginning


I’ve mentioned my fundamentalist friend Peter before, haven’t I? He comes to the door about once a month to talk to me.  If no-one’s at home he leaves leaflets in the letterbox.  As fundamentalists go he’s at the end of the spectrum where AK-47s are considered impolite: he’s a Jehovah’s Witness.

Last week we had a lively debate about the origins of life, the universe and everything*. He enjoyed it so much that he came back the next day with two more leaflets called ‘The Origin of Life’ and ‘Was Life Created?’

‘The Origin of Life’ starts off by explaining how improbably benign our planet is – perfect for the survival of the species of plants and animals that inhabit it, and their complex interactions. The conclusion is that only an intelligent, purposeful creator could have provided for us so perfectly.

The logical flaw in this is so blindingly obvious that I am half-afraid, when I explain it to Peter on his next visit, that his faith will be shattered. “Peter,” I shall say, “is it not possible that the plants and animals have evolved in such a way that they are able to survive in the conditions that happen to prevail on Earth?”

“What?” he will exclaim, his eyes wide, the blood draining from his face, “You mean, we’ve had it the wrong way round all the time? How could we have been so misled!  This is surely the devil’s work!”

I will of course try to comfort him. “You are not alone,” I shall say. “Every day people are mistaking correlation for proof of causation, and assuming a direction of causation that suits their preconceived ideas.  You are human.  You are made in the image of God.  God makes mistakes.  So do you.”

Peter will be dumbstruck for the first time in his life.

“Let me give you an example,” I shall say, my voice and eyes expressing empathy. “Have you heard it said that men who do more housework get more sex?**”


“Well I say unto you, ‘Men who get more sex do more housework.’ Do you understand?”

“Not a word, but I believe you are a true prophet! May I touch the hem of your raiment?”


* This is a nod towards Douglas’ Adams’s brilliant work ‘The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘, which I have also mentioned before.

** But there are different opinions.  See here for the pro case and here for the anti.