Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for February, 2010

Fear the god-fearing society… tax churches punitively

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-22

I guess we should have a punitive tax on churches for the trouble they cause the same way there is a punitive tax on cigarettes!

The 2 minute MSNBC report pretty much says it all… apart from the anchor-blonde’s tone giving a hint at how the US public will view (or more correctly, not view) the evidence. (HT: Pharyngula)

Unfortunately, Pharyngula’s PZ Myers’ post didn’t point to the source papers… so you can go into the gory details of the sampling and data yourself via:

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

Perspective – Bitchy climatologists v Pederast priests

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-21

Climate-action denialists try to pull down the edifice of climatology because of a few bitchy emails between competitive scientists, and a single error (but hardly a fundamental one that invalidates all other data) in a huge report.

It is a pity that the even more damning, more evil, universally recognized, and self-admitted phenomenon of pederast priests, which belies the claims that Xtianity leads to improved behaviour of individuals, doesn’t cause those climate-action denialists to demand that those organizations who have protected pederasts, or at least, despite supposedly intensive training been unable to make them decent people, be pulled down, be given no special protected status within civilized societies.

Why is that?

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Posted in Environment, Science and Tech, Society, Theology and Religion | Leave a Comment »

I may have to anti-strike in protest

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-20

If those papists in Canberra declare a national holiday because Mary McKillop is given some Roman gong… THEN I’M TURNING UP FOR WORK ANYWAY.

I’m beginning to smell a KRudd/Abbott lovefest, religious patriotic jingoism replacing everyday patriotic jingoism as the first refuge of scoundrels.

Mind you, from the policies coming out of Canberra these days, I think KRudd’s more partial to Bob Santamaria than Mary McKillop.

(p.s: I would celebrate if Father Bob was made Pope.)

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

Conroy will be pleased at Garrett in the news

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-20

Is it just the Libs who are happy that Garrett is getting so much bad press, or are some in the ALP even happier?

Certainly Conroy would be happy for any distraction from his questionable behaviour with media owners, which comes on top of his bloody-minded, technically illiterate and very unpopular policy stances in his own portfolio, such as his Orwellian internet agenda, and stances outside his portfolio that stem from his regressive social policy agenda, which tightly mesh with, and derive from the same imaginary friend sources as, the policies of Lib leader Tony Abbott.

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Posted in Australia, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Is sugar the gateway drug to cocaine?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-19

Those wanting action on adolescent obesity have got a good tabloid headline in their kit-bag, thanks to a new paper (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009296 in PLoS that links adolescent (but not) sugar overconsumption with a liking for cocaine in later life, not through correlative statistics, but by messing with the dopamine-related reward pathways in the brain.

It’s more than likely gambling and other addictive behaviours could have sugar as a gateway drug as well.

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Posted in Biology and Health, Politics, Science and Tech, Society | 1 Comment »

It cannot be that hard

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-16

The DVD (and obviously Blu-Ray) formats have some useful features – easy choice of soundtracks and subtitles… so why can’t we get ones with bleeps in the soundtrack and ****ing stars in the subtitles?

It can’t be hard.  if you can get two different cuts (theatrical and extended) on the same DVD, because you only need the extrra space for the extended bits, why can’t you have similar techniques for the extra bleeps and stars?

Mind you, I wish bleeps were a little more subtle… a neutral "errrrr" sound about the same volume as the voice.

The problem with blatant bleeps is that it can turn something quite innocent into something filthy…. try listening to the Sesame Street Count sing with bleeps and NOT hear the obscenities.

Posted in Media | Leave a Comment »

Why most of us look at evidence and action arse-about

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-10

A very thought provoking paper on why people do not want to, and therefore reject, overwhelming scientific concensus, has just been released on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN): "Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus" (2010-02-07) with the lead author from Yale Law School.

It posits and tests the idea that your worldview will make you, near-instinctively, reject evidence based on whether the actions guided that evidence would conflict with your worldview.

Putting it a bit simplistically, libertarians hate the science of climate change because it demands action involving regulation, and supranational concerted action, while lefties, viewing big business as intrinsically untrustworthy, will not credit any evidence that nuclear waste can be managed.

We are all screwed, unless there are enough people who have the intellectual discipline and inclination to make evidence-based decisions.  The number of "people-of-faith" (e.g. base their lives on the idea that evidence is less important than other drivers) in the world means that evidence will hardly get a look-in, so evidence-based politics and consequence evidence-based policy will remain a pipe dream (unless we convince those with imaginary sky friends to be internally consistent and pray rather than seek medical help).

An agonizing crash of human civilization and population is inevitable unless we get rid of both theists and libertarians (hopefully by educating them properly rather than a pogrom).

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Posted in Australia, Education, Environment, International, Philosophy, Politics, Science and Tech, Society, Theology and Religion | 2 Comments »

Real computing power for students – while cutting spending

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-09

If KRudd (or state governments) wanted to improve educational use of computers in schools (and kindergartens), and wanted to DECREASE the government spend on IT in schools, all he’d have to do is point schools to the pages where Google offers schools a near-enterprise-level service free of charge: Google Applications for Education and Google Apps for Kindergartens through Secondary.

Then, there’d be no need to fund laptops – just low-end "diskless" (actually a flash disk) netbooks and a means-tested basic internet connection (enough to be ok for google apps, wiki pages, etc, but a bit painful for music/video).

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Education, Information Management, Politics | 7 Comments »

Great bill that might end up a dog’s (or cougar’s) breakfast

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-08

The evil cackling you hear in the background is me thinking about how many harmless people could be locked away for up to three years if Nick Xenophon’s proposed legislation, with laudable aims, gets through.  Ain’t I a nice guy giving losers the chance to raise their concerns to government, and maybe keep their loser activities from becoming criminal?

The Senate Inquiry into the Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2010 got me wondering how many Australian women approaching or over "a certain age" (whatever that is) will have to delete their facebook and or myspace profiles, and start again with a new profile created from scratch, unless female behaviour has changed radically in the last 15 years or so.

Oh well, it’s an easy way to get rid of all the silly groups and pages they have joined!

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Posted in Australia, Language Use, Legislation, Politics | 2 Comments »

Modern Chinese Government – Confucian or Legalist?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-05

The cloak of Confucian authority has been used previously by Lee’s Singapore, and increasingly China, as justification for authoritarianism, promoting misconceptions in Western cultures, and possibly a subtext in the forthcoming movie about Confucius.

Many parts of "The Analects of Confucius" are quietly subversive, as I’ll show by quotes that confound the common charges against Confucius of being an authoritarian superstitious pedant.  Legalism is the true fist in the thin Confucian glove worn by Chinese leaders.  Both schools stress strong government for order in society, but have opposite approaches.

Legalism demands consistent application of harsh criminal sanctions to promote a cohesive society through fear, while Confucius demanded firm yet gentle leadership of a cultivated population, bringing harmony through education in virtue, as shown by the following:

If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. 
 
If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good.


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Posted in China, Civil rights, Ethics, Language Use, Philosophy, Politics, Society | Tagged: | 10 Comments »

T2 Political Donations Figures (Tweedledum Tweedledee Index)

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-03

I thought I’d crunch some numbers from the 2008/09 Donations to Party Group declared to the Australian Electoral Commission, looking specifically at what I’ll term a "T2 Index", with T2 being shorthand for "Tweedledum Tweedledee", a possible measure of perceived political similarity.

I look only at those donors who donated to both the majors (treating the Libs and Nats as one Liberal-National Party), and calculated the T2 according to the following formula:

T2 = 100 * (1 – abs(ALP-LNP)/(ALP+LNP))

While I think T2 donations are designed both to curry favor with whoever is in government and to drown out more diverse voices who might derail the privileged position of T2 donors, I’ll come back to this in a future post.  For now, I just tabulate the figures, noting that the average total T2 donation is A$77000, that these donations don’t include things like expensive meals charged at a premium because party figures attend, or those that get "under the wire"

BTW: If you use this post as inspiration for your own post, I’d really appreciate a pingback, because I’d like to follow the discussions on how people interpret T2 donations generally.

Bottom line points, for those who made donations to both major groups:

  • Total donations: A$6.6 million
  • Average sum of donations to both parties: A$77K.
  • For all T2 donors, the Tweedledee Tweedledum similarity score was 88.7%
  • For T2 donors above the average A$77K total donation, the T2 similarity score was 93.5%

Anyway… detailed figures over the fold (all rounded to whole numbers):

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

The best electioneering hat…

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-02

Electioneering honesty could be ensured if politicians wore funny hats, of a very special kind.

"Can a Brain Scan Predict a Broken Promise?" (Sci Am Online 2010-02-02) looks at results that seem to detect an intention to cheat when the deal is being made.

Hmmm… maybe there is application of these funny hats for use when signing contracts!

I bet this research won’t be getting much "innovation assistance" funding from politicians.

Posted in Biology and Health, Politics, Science and Tech | Leave a Comment »

If MySchool logic applied to students and university entrance…

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-02-01

I wonder what would happen if the assumptions of MySchool on the worth of schools, their ability to teach students, were applied to entrance scores for university courses?

If one school is deemed half as good as another, then surely a student from the inferior school, with test results three standard deviations above the mean for that school, shows greater ability and dedication to learning, and is more worthy of entry into an elite course like medicine or law, than a person who may have got the same absolute year 12 score, but was only one standard deviation above the mean for the better-scoring school.

Indeed, any raw score for a student of one school scoring half that of another, should be doubled when considering eligibility for a tertiary course.

Imagine the howls of protest from the ivy-walled private schools, as parents dragged the brighter kids away to place them in more disadvantaged state schools.

Imagine how the per-capita funding of schools, even on just a federal level, could be more equitable.

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Posted in Australia, Education, Politics | 1 Comment »

 
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