Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for September, 2009

Left “sensibilities”, Right “social autism”

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-28

Eyeing through Andrew Norton’s good set of links pointing to recent essays of The Right on the Left (2009-09-28), I must agree that Norton’s characterization of "the left" as a "sensibility" has much going for it, and that his work is, as usual, much more coherent and rational than most other self-identifying righties.

So what is the converse?  Are most self-identifying rightards best characterized by a lack of sensibility, if not sense?  Could they be described as suffering some kind of social autism?

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Politics, Society | 13 Comments »

Killing two birds with one underhanded stone

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-28

If it’s considered OK to pay money for carbon credits to developing nations for not burning forests that would otherwise be burned and release significant carbon dioxide, perhaps it’s possible to argue the same for ancient forests (coal), after transferring title to Australian coalfields to our indigenous communities who are demonstrably living in third-world conditions, then excise those lands from Australia (we did it to Christmas Island) and grant them to a new indigenous nation, which, because of current appalling living standards, would qualify as a developing nation, and thus eligible for "non-burning" credits.

It might sound like an underhanded ridiculous rort, but it’s no more ridiculous than the way not burning forests can get carbon credits in places like Indonesia and the Amazon.

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Environment, Politics | 5 Comments »

The town and the passion

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-20

The Cats

Q: Why would a Saints supporter hope for the Cats to win the premiership next weekend?

A: If they are a member of the local constabulary or owner of a local small business.

The Geelong Football club has always been different, more deeply defined by geography: even the blue and white hoops representing the waves of Corio Bay.

It’s the only team that remains true to tradition, still playing at a suburban ground, still maintaining near-universal support in the community so that a partisan comment to a stranger will almost always meet with approval, and still with a good number of players born in the region.

Indeed, on-field performance determines regional economics: there is even a 10% productivity difference on Mondays depending on whether there was a win or loss on the weekend.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The Data Liberation Front – being not evil

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-15

The Data Liberation Front ( is now public – a part of Google outside the domain (along with which seeks and funds good ideas mainly in renewable energy and health).

The DLF aims to make it easy to both import and export YOUR data to and from the Google Cloud.

This is important – and you’ve got to love the name, which Google admit is a homage to the Life of Brian by Monty Python.

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Posted in Civil rights, Economics and Business, Information Management | 1 Comment »

What is it wroth?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-09

Senator Steve Fielding announced in Punch, after the "F-I-S-K-A-L" difficulty, that he was suitable for his Senate position, despite his admitted problems with articulation and spelling (and the 29% in HSC/VCE English), putting forward as evidence for his smarts his great VCE maths scores, his Bachelor of Engineering, and his Masters of Business Administration.

Do you notice anything really odd about his argument?  (Hint: three letters).

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Posted in Australia, Education, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Drug test answer – I bought bikkies from a church, officer

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-04

Turn about is fair play it seems.

A few years back in Melbourne, a couple of door-to-door salesmen for imaginery friends called an ambulance after being asked into a house, and eating some biscuits proffered by their hosts.  (The symptoms were probably an over-the-top psychological reaction to the buzz.)

Now, from the Centre for Disease Control, in the usually very dry Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, comes a tale of turned tables.

The tables in question being a church-run stall on the footpath selling munchies.

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Posted in Biology and Health, Humor, Law, Society | 1 Comment »

The Hollowmen National Preventative Health Strategy

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-03

I was looking through the National Preventative Health Strategy Report, made public (after pressure) with a media release by Nicola Roxon, which doesn’t point directly to Overview and the more detailed Roadmap, but the home page of the site – which doesn’t exactly help anyone find it easily.

Some of it is good, with obesity identified as the number one issue, followed by smoking and alcohol, along with admissions that markets can stuff up social outcomes.  The thrust of the "active neighborhood" push, identifying town planning and public transport as key elements of health policy is great – but the state governments and councils won’t like it!

However, looking at the fine print of the targets for the three main problems, and the way it tiptoes around things that might offend the food giants, I’m worried that we are going to end up with an obesity strategy that, in the style of "The Hollowmen", will be an extremely watered down version, like turning mandatory controls on junk food advertising into a voluntary and self-regulated code.

There is the hint already, by looking at the targets, that obesity, despite being the biggest problem, will have a low bar set.

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Economics and Business, Governance, Politics | 4 Comments »

Will Holding understand homelessness any better?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-01

A healthy young politician, probably enjoying the benefits of survival training in the army reserve, spends a couple of days in freezing conditions (see ABC News), after ignoring safety signs that tell everyone not to wander alone in the snow, and it is described by the various news services as an ordeal.

Will this lead him to advocate more emergency shelters for the many homeless, who deal with exposure to the elements for the entire winter, and are more vulnerable because of poor nutrition?

It’s Tim Holding, who didn’t exactly get full marks for competence when he was Police and Emergency Services minister, and certainly, given his stupid solo wanderings on Feathertop, must be a very slow learner.

…And if he is considered one of the best and brightest in the Victorian ALP then how dumb must the rest of the Joh Brumby gang be?  How badly do they suffer from "one rule for the plebs, another for us"?

So, hope for any improvements in policy for the extremely disadvantaged in Victoria that rely on empathy and learning-from-the-experience is probably more than a little optimistic.

Posted in Australia, Politics, Victoria | 1 Comment »

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