Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for December, 2009

A Very Kenny Xmas To You

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-23

A more animated post than usual this season, but I’d also like to wish all readers Io Saturnalia! (heathen that I am).

Animated image of author in South Park style getting squashed by Xmas Prezzies

A Very Kenny Xmas

Hopefully your browser will display animated gifs, at least once.  Even more hopefully, you’ll recognize the South Park theme… and I hope I haven’t offended anyone who lip-reads.

And if you think it’s got a hint of criticism about commercialism of festive seasons… yep!

Couldn’t have done it without The Gimp.


Posted in Humor | 3 Comments »

Another miracle

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-23

With saints declared because of a medical success rate (among those that pray to the saint for a cure) equivalent to waving a dead chicken, and the same people often claiming miraculous appearances of religious figures in mundane objects such as a fried egg or squirt of sauce on a pie, it worth noting a miraculous appearance of a "virgin mary" in something that actually IS medically effective.

Virgin Mary miraculously appears in a condom

A catholic condom?

Yep… a condom… you’re guess whether used or just unwrapped.

And you can almost see the baby Jesus nestling up to a shoulder.

Hat tips to Friendly Atheist via Pharyngula

Posted in Humor, Theology and Religion | 1 Comment »

Sexism and SOIFdom

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-21

Hat-tipping and riffing on Robert Merkel at LP, it seems no wonder that Slaves Of Imaginary Friends (SOIFs, pun with serf intended) tend to the "conservative" view that women should be homemakers, and furthermore, that if we want a society improved by rational policy, at least a couple of generations of males should be primary care-givers, particularly during the years when vulnerable brains can be poisoned, resistant to the idea of evidence-based action.

With 4 women as SOIFs for every 3 male SOIFs, and with more women as primary care-givers, the next generation is pushed into becoming SOIFs.  If this continues, we are doomed.  This depressing statistic may be related to either the gender gap in students and practitioners of the hard sciences (cause, effect, or self-amplifying feedback loop), and may also be related to the traditional and unfortunate low status of women in conservative societies, mirroring the popularity of early Xtianity among slaves.

Does it also reflect the popularity of fad diets, the relative frequencies of body images contrary to reason and evidence?  The resistance to accepting evidence in these things shares much in common with SOIFdom.

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Posted in Education, Society, Theology and Religion | Leave a Comment »

The Scandinavian Play

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-16

Ashamed to be Australian when Howard encouraged warmongering across the world, now it’s time for Australians to be ashamed as KRudd effectively encourages warming.  And the citizens allowed both PMs to get away with such immoral actions!

With the Lost-Hope-nhagen conference, the politicians merely acting for audiences, it’s worth reminding everyone of another Scandinavian play "(An|The) Enemy of the People", more than 120 years old, written by Henrik Ibsen, perhaps looking at an old post of mine about the play, or look at Wikipedia.

When you read, simply replace "Doctor Stockmann" with "Scientific Community", and "tannery polluting the local spas that are the town’s cash cow", with "Big Carbon interests destroying the planet for illusory economic benefit", and you’ll think it was a current affairs re-enactment of what is going on today.

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

A Climate-Model Wizard for the rest of us…

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-16

PLoS One has a newly published paper: (2009-12-15) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008320 "Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool" that delves into Climate Wizard, a free web-based tool that lets you choose the region, the models and datasets, whether you are interested in rainfall or temperature, averaged over the year, the season or a particular month, and get an easy-to-understand graphic out of it.

Here is a wide shot of the whole of Australia, using a CSIRO model, one particular emissions scenario, and looking at winter rains during the 2050s, showing the controls you have to generate your graphic:

Sample of ClimateWiz looking at winter rain in 2050s Australia

2050 Winter Rain IPCC A2 Scenario CSIRO Model Whole of AUS

Zooming in on one region and turning up the transparency so you can see towns gives you something like the following:

ClimateWiz 2050s Winter Rain, West Vic, A2 Emissions, CSIRO Model

ClimateWiz 2050s Winter Rain, West Vic, A2 Emissions, CSIRO Model

Damn… the dairy sector between Colac and Warrnambool, the milk I love from the places I love, is screwed BIG time under the A2 scenario and CSIRO modelling unless we quickly develop genetically-engineered cows that produce powdered milk.

Yes, it’s uses a lot of the same stuff as the IPCC, but accomodates newer data.  It’s so simple that even 10-year olds and politicians could use it.

Citation: Girvetz EH, Zganjar C, Raber GT, Maurer EP, Kareiva P, et al. (2009) Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8320. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008320

From the abstract….

Although the message of “global climate change” is catalyzing international action, it is local and regional changes that directly affect people and ecosystems and are of immediate concern to scientists, managers, and policy makers. A major barrier preventing informed climate-change adaptation planning is the difficulty accessing, analyzing, and interpreting climate-change information. To address this problem, we developed a powerful, yet easy to use, web-based tool called Climate Wizard ( that provides non-climate specialists with simple analyses and innovative graphical depictions for conveying how climate has and is projected to change within specific geographic areas throughout the world.

The results of these analyses are consistent with those reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but at the same time, they provide examples of how Climate Wizard can be used to explore regionally- and temporally-specific analyses of climate change. Moreover, Climate Wizard is not a static product, but rather a data analysis framework designed to be used for climate change impact and adaption planning, which can be expanded to include other information, such as downscaled future projections of hydrology, soil moisture, wildfire, vegetation, marine conditions, disease, and agricultural productivity.

Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Environment, Information Management, Politics, Science and Tech, Victoria | Leave a Comment »

Low bar for overblocking in the net censorship test

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-15

Rather than go on about the offensiveness and cost-ineffectiveness of the KRudd/Conroy net censorship effort, and discussion of better approaches, I thought I’d look at one particular aspect – the design and results of the overblocking test.

Bottom line: Low bar, and even then, the results weren’t great.  Lots of evil stuff still got through, and too much innocent stuff got blocked.

Overblocking, the prevention of access to legitimate content, can be a problem with blocking based on the URL (the requested address), and is always a problem with content-based filtering – even when automagically deciding to block based only on text content rather than trying to analyze images, sound or video.

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Posted in Australia, Civil rights, Governance, Information Management, Media, Politics, Science and Tech, Society | Leave a Comment »

Barnaby was right and should have gone further

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-15

Poor Barnaby Joyce!  When he points out an elephant in the room, he cops flak from all sides: the elephant in the room in this case being US indebtedness and the risk of default, and the need for Australia to have contigency plans for either the default or the necessary collapse of US consumer spending.

If he’d followed his chain of reasoning further, noting the commonality of risks and appropriate responses of the economic corrections for both US default and climate change, he’d have had the environmentally responsible wings of both left and right calling him a hero.

Which makes me wonder: why didn’t he follow the chain of logic he started?

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Posted in Australia, China, Economics and Business, Environment, International, USA | 1 Comment »

A more general feed with added whimsy

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-09

Here is the RSS of links I put up on fb with more whimsy and less politics, designed for my general-population friends.

You don’t have to be a facebook user to see the feed, I think.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The three main Copenhagen links I want you to look at

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-07

  • – The official COP15 site
  • – A link from the COP15 home page – lets you put your place in GoogleMaps in support of a "fair and effective" Copenhagen deal – with the resulting data presented to the leaders at COP15, and obviously our Glorious Leader Prima Donna who has been appointed a "friend" of the conference.
  • – A world-wide common editorial – but none from Oz (shame) – all starting (well, the English ones at least with the following:

    Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial.  We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

    Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security.  The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation.  Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc.  In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage.  Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.
    The Guardian instance (on their FRONT PAGE)

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Posted in Economics and Business, Environment, Media, Politics, Science and Tech, Society | Leave a Comment »

Catholic church should be a proscribed organization

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-06

If an organization repeatedly breaks the law relating to serious crime, then it should be considered a gang, and, like terrorist groups or some bikie gangs, be proscribed.

But the Roman Catholic church, a serial offender on child sexual abuse, at the very least an accessory after the fact, gets away with it, despite the public being more than aware (indeed "ho-hum") about each new revelation of such crimes, which are incorporated into many "comedic" routines.

If a cabal of child-molesters or child-pornographers had as many members as the Roman Catholic church in Australia has guilty priests and after-the-fact accessories, it would be proscribed, and every member put under surveillance at the very least.

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Posted in Australia, Law, Politics, Society, Theology and Religion | 2 Comments »

Lateline, CCS, Nyos – and ALP part of the COALition

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-03

What an interesting Lateline!

For those who watched the report on the dangers of burying CO2 and the Lake Nyos disaster, I’ll point back to Australia’s work on burying CO2"Otways Carbon Capture: Dumb Idea?" (2008-05-25).

But Hunt, Liberal spokesperson on Climate Change, made a lot of sense, criticising the KRudd Carbon Polluter Rewards Scheme (which the Libs can share the blame for!) as a lot of money for little return, with no real focus on reduction by government intervention that promotes renewables and efficiency, and statements implying market mechanisms aren’t really that useful.

What the…?

But of course, the triple-headed COALition (Liberal, National, and Labor) furphies were rolled out – CCS and "jobs going overseas"

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Politics, Science and Tech | 1 Comment »

Republished Key KPI

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-03

My earlier post "Missing in action – the key KPI for government", which argues that if the purpose of a political system is to enable life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then population depression indicators can be used to assess the success or failure for the entire range of government actions (and inactions), and should be released by the ABS more regularly than once a decade, is now (with minor reworking) up at up at OnLine Opinion

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Higgins By-Election 2009 – A Biased Form Guide

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-03

A Higgins resident, it’s time for my form guide (biased, I know), and a list of other form guides to the 2009-12-05 by-election.

I’ve included links to parties and personal sites where I can find them, and I wish the AEC would do the same!

I’ve placed the candidates in a table ordered by MY preference, (although my rating is A-Z) and hope the winner is Dr Joe Toscano.  I’ve never had a problem with any of the many letters and/or op-eds he has had printed in The Age over many years.

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Environment, Politics, Victoria | 1 Comment »

Senators Bob Brown and Joyce on the same side

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-01

Whoa!  Do mine eyes deceive me?  Senators Brown and Joyce officially in agreement to the extent of jointly sponsoring a bill with Xenophon?

…and on something that aims, at a sustainable environment, being nice to cuddly animals, and improving the working conditions of laborers?

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Environment, Legislation, Politics | Leave a Comment »

KRudd edurcashunal standurds FAIL

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-01

The KRudd "Education Revolution" is perhaps driven by the spelling standards of those pumping out his media releases… or maybe he isn’t a control freak after all if headlines like the following get through.

How many eyes run over his media releases before being put up at the official ALP website?  It must be easier to stop such a glaring error than an important number about our economy!

For both images, click to get a larger version in all there horibull gloury.

First, the list of media releases from (which will change tomorrow, I’d imagine).

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Posted in Australia, Humor, Information Management, Language Use, Media, Politics | 1 Comment »

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