Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for November, 2009

Too good for them

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-30

In the Age/Nielsen poll today, Turnbull’s approval rating is 41%, while Coalition primary voting intention is 37%.  When was the last time a party ditched a leader polling 10% higher than the party?

The cuckoo-cons in the Liberals and Nats should think on that, but they won’t, and KRudd will be hoping they won’t.

Personally, I’m wondering what Turnbull’s preferred policy response portfolio to climate change would be, given that what he got past Howard pre-election is pretty much what KRudd proposed in spite of the Garnaut report.

My guess is that Turnbull’s preferred climate policy would be closer to the Greens’ than the ALP’s.

Posted in Australia, Politics | Leave a Comment »

And the Paul Keating Inventive Invective Award goes to…

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-26

At Pharyngula, a comment about trying to engage irrationalists, in this case creationists, but applicable to other domains, is one of the best giggle-inducing bits of invective I’ve seen in a while:

Want another reason to avoid debating creationists?  It’s like giving a mangy, limping, scab-encrusted starving fleabait cat a saucer of milk – you’ll never be rid of the whimpering dependent.

Posted in Science and Tech, Theology and Religion | 2 Comments »

How to stay a party leader in the lower house

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-26

Turnbull has stuck his political neck out arguing in favor of climate change.

I’d love to see him become Green Leader in the House of Reps, taking a few of the more sensible Liberal Party members in the house with him.

That’d REALLY scare Rudd – someone in the lower house attacking him on climate change from the correct corner.

Naaa, won’t happen, but it would be sweet.

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

Looking at luxury turns people callous, or worse

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-26

A Harvard Business School research paper shows that exposure, even just "priming" (such as happens after exposure to advertising) may not turn people into arseholes… but just not give a shit about others.

So perhaps there is something in the right-wing shock-jock accusation about lefty ABC viewers.  By non-exposure to commercials for up-market goods, or to tabloid journalism about celebrities that often prime viewers and readers with the luxuries of the celebrities, ABC viewers do not have their concern for the plight of others extinguished.

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Posted in Economics and Business, Ethics, Media, Politics, Science and Tech, Society | 8 Comments »

Increase penalties for scientific fraud and obfuscation

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-25

Regardless of your stance on the anthropogenicity of climate change, the urgency of any action required, or indeed the veracity (in terms of authenticity and representativeness) of the "leaked" emails from the Climate Research Unit (East Anglia) in the UK, there is at least one good thing that might come out of the mess.

The impact of scientific fraud might be properly recognized, and significantly greater punishments might be put on the books… indeed, perhaps in international law.

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Posted in Biology and Health, Economics and Business, Environment, Ethics, Governance, Information Management, International, Law, Politics | 2 Comments »

Climate Skeptics: Would you cover your kids in Agent Orange?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-23

By the logic of climate-change skeptics, deniers, or action-delays (from now on, I’ll just use "deniers"), they would see no problem with dusting your kids with Agent Orange, nor would they think you negligent if you dusted their kids with the stuff.  If not Agent Orange, then at least blowing smoke in the faces of their kids isn’t something they should complain about.

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Posted in Environment | 13 Comments »

Projections and ideology

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-20

The comments to this post a couple of days back made me think about the difficulties of rational conversations between those of different ideologies.

Dealing with projections is a problem, and it probably stuffs up policy development more than we can afford.

I’m not talking about extrapolations of figures, but something akin to psychological projection of the opinions of the reader, reading things that aren’t there, especially when the writer is known to have a different ideology.

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Posted in Governance, Society | 1 Comment »

Missing in action: the key KPI for government

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-18

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is an oft-quoted phrase describing rights of persons and therefore the duties of government, yet these are not measured as directly, nor as often, as much more indirect and much less relevant measures of government performance.

Perhaps the best way of assessing government performance quarter by quarter is to provide an indicator of the frequency and depth of depression in the community.  We might not be able to measure how successfully everyone in the community is pursuing happiness, but we can certainly measure how many are in the clutches of misery.

If a government is doing its job to perfection, then there would be zero incidence of depression that is a reaction to external circumstances, although there would be a small incidence of endogenous depression that would happen to a few unfortunate individuals however pleasant their circumstances.  Conversely, if nearly everyone has some degree of depression, even if only mild, and there are no signs of improvement, then any government that has been in power for more than a few months deserves to be ousted for incompetence (or malice).

It is fairly easy to measure depression incidence and depth as a number of indices exist, some of which can even be self-scored by patients and used as a quick screening tool.  These indices should also be used as a screening tool for government competence.

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Governance, Politics | 22 Comments »

If Carbon Cuts Were Wages…

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-17

Imagine if the rules for carbon emissions constraint by different countries were applied to wages and taxation within the community:

Those who are poorest would be hardest hit, needing to return to wages of a few years ago… and as most would be young "developing" workers, that might be before they were working, or working for a pittance as a trainee.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest might well be getting more money, based on their income from boom times when they were ripping everyone else off through commissions on dodgy derivatives.

There’d be a bloody revolution.

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Environment, International | 13 Comments »

Reworked “Showing what we stand for” at OLO

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-17

For completeness, below is a major rework of an earlier post that has appeared in On Line Opinion (2009-11-17), and the comments thread at On Line Opinion.

You’ll probably get wider readership of your comments over there… I’ve already put one response up.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Australian Electoral Commission oooppps

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-17

Was the unlamented Captain Smirk member for Bradfield?  Does 22=10?  Does the Australian Electoral Commission check things properly?

Let’s hope the Australian Electoral Commission does a better job of knowing which electorate is which, or the difference between 10 and 22 come December 5 byelection day!

Pictures over the fold, digitally altered only with red highlights and blacking over email addresses… text unchanged.

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Posted in Australia, Information Management, Politics | 1 Comment »

After 15 years, lack of data on Mental Health Crises is intentional

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-14

Unsurprisingly, the "Responding to Mental Health Crises in the Community" (2009-11-11) report from the Victorian Auditor General didn’t get a mention within a few days (at least) in either the old or new RSS feeds of all Victorian Premier and Ministers media statements.

Before having a brief look at the Auditor’s report on this topic (it ain’t pretty), it’s worth noting that very few of the auditor’s reports get a mention in the "All Media Releases" from the Victoria.  Three, according to searching within Google Reader, in a little over a year, had the word "auditor" in them… which suggests that only three were viewed as supporting the government, or even slightly spinnable.  There’s an opportunity for some interesting metrics, or even mashups there… looking for auditor reports and corresponding government/opposition media releases, especially the ones where the government avoids even the spin attempt.

The auditor examined the Department of Health, four Area Mental Health Services, Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria to assess whether:

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Governance, Information Management, Politics, Victoria | 2 Comments »

Erwin’s LOLcat

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-14

I detest all those cute cat photos that appear regularly on otherwise sane blogs, so, it’s time to react with something probably not at all original, but hey…

If you’ve ever done physics, you’ll know the Erwin I’m talking about, and there is a good chance you know what’s over the fold, so move on… no need to waste your bandwidth… but drop a note if you know of a better "Erwin" LoLcat image.

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Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Well, almost

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-12

KRudd promised evidence-based policy.

Well, we almost got it, in a punny kind of way.  The talk-no-action nothing-much-changed-since-Howard approach has resulted in something that could be characterized as follows:

Avoidance-based policy.

Posted in Australia, Politics | 2 Comments »

The species intelligence test

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-08

I propose a test for whether a species deserves civil rights:

Have members of the species found farts or fart jokes amusing, or have been observed playing fart/poop practical jokes on their fellows for no other good reason than amusement?

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Posted in Biology and Health, Civil rights, Humor, Philosophy | 8 Comments »

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