Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Not the nine o-clock-ish news

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-06-24

A post in the Madame-la-Gillardine-and-faceless-men-free zone… a pot-pourri of links for those of you who want read something else.

Bonus funny over the fold: a photo I took (outside my place) of a kludge that could well end in a FAIL

  1. A Funny:
    xkcd on trumpets (and those vuvuwhatever thingies) Toot, and for those of you using a dain-bramaged web browser (yes, Redmond’s) that doesn’t show alt text when hovering over an image…. the bonus alt text is "This is also one of only five identified situations in which a vuvuzela is actually appropriate".  And the other four are….?
    The xkcd toot


  2. Some Economics:
    Soros on the crash, the Euro, and Germany with the following snippets:
    The crash:

    The authorities had to do in the short-term the exact opposite of what was needed in the long-term: they had to pump in a lot of credit, to replace the credit that had disappeared, and thereby reinforce the excess credit and leverage that had caused the crisis in the first place.  Only in the longer term, when the crisis had subsided, could they drain the credit and reestablish macro-economic balance.

    The Euro and Germany:

    First, the current crisis is more a banking crisis than a fiscal one.

    Second, a tightening of fiscal policy must be offset by a loosening of monetary policy.

    Third, this is the time to put idle resources to work by investing in education and infrastructure.


  3. Musings about academia and science:
    "In which we stand on the shoulders of midgets" Jennifer Rohn, research scientist and novellist, makes a persuasive argument in favor of second-(or third)-tier papers (therefore journals and institutions) as being oft critical to the development of ideas behind blockbuster papers published in Nature and the like.  I reckon it’s a must read for those planning funding of education, industry development, and future human capital.  There might also be parallels in changes to law and judgements.
  4. On society/economics/politics:
    "The Hard Work of Measuring Social Impact" from Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. 
    While the focus is on how non-profits can measure mission success objectively, there are obvious parallels with assessing the success of governments and indeed political systems.  (See my ideas on measuring overall government performance easily in "Missing in Action: The Key KPI for Government").

    Donors are placing nonprofits on the hot seat to measure social performance.  Problem is, there is little agreement on what those metrics should be.  Professor Alnoor Ebrahim on how nonprofit managers should respond

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Europe, Governance, Humor, Politics, Science and Tech, Society | Leave a Comment »

Heartless in Gaza

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-10-22

Israel wants to change the rules about war crimes (The Age, 2009-10-21), using the "must combat terrorism" furphy.

I hope someone goes through the watering down proposed by the Israeli warmongers, and looks at what would have happened if the British Mandate of Palestine had used the same lack of morality to control the Zionist terrorists who were busy blowing up stuff and people in a successful effort to create a state, a state established by terrorists (UN Security Council Resolution 57 of 18 September 1948), a nuclear renegade state that keeps IAEA inspectors away from the 200-odd nuclear warheads in it’s arsenal, an arsenal that makes Kim Jong Mentally-Ill look harmless.

No, Britain let all the terrorists off scot free, to be declared heroes by the terrorist-established state, and some to become Prime Ministers.

I’d imagine that if the British had used the methods Israel now wants legitimized, the state of Israel would never have existed… and the boats bringing the ethnic cleansers to Palestine after the second world war would have been blown out of the water.

But then, we only have to look at the genocide verses of Joshua and Exodus to see what the Zionist tradition considers absolutely fine – as long as it’s only done to us goyim.

After all, what did the Solicitor for the Commonwealth of Australia, seeking to justice tougher counter-terrorism measures, say in 2007 about the historical pretext used by Zionists to justify their land claims:

History provides numerous examples of situations where it has been necessary for a polity to defend itself against a body other than a sovereign state. One could start with the book of Joshua in the Bible. If the Canaanite cities had had a federation with section 51(vi) in it there is little doubt that it could have been invoked against the children of Israel, although at that stage one could hardly describe them as a sovereign state in the traditional sense. Their only territory was the territory they were about conquer.

Posted in Civil rights, Europe, International, Middle East | Leave a Comment »

Nanny state libertarianism

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-10-21

EU courts and commissions are often the target of those critical of "nanny states", but I expect even the most libertarian types will welcome this discussion from the EU Court of Human Rights about the rights of satirists and the EU’s efforts to try and stop fair satire being attacked by commercial and political interests in courts.

The satirists in the cases mentioned were doing things akin to having an effigy of the feral poodle as, well, a feral poodle, or maybe an image of corpulent bogans over a slogan "the people are bigger at Hungry Jacks".

From the ECHR blog:

Both cases could be laughed off as bizarre instances of the kind of situations that reach Strasbourg.  But equally, they point to a worrying development in various European countries in which commercial or political interests are attacking even the most innocuous expressions." In that respect, it is good that the European Court is taking jokes seriously.

I don’t think this worrying development is something particular to the EU… if it hasn’t started here yet, it soon will, and I hope our courts protect us from the powerful and their well-funded lawyers.

Posted in Civil rights, Europe, Humor, Law | Leave a Comment »

Xenophobes for Labor?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-10-14

It looks like (in Britain, but probably coming soon to the antipodes) that the Labor government is crawling up to xenophobes, (HT: Nature Human Genetics Special 2009, yep Nature… the gold standard of science journals) using methods that would give Mengele and Hitler wet dreams.

The UK government has already introduced dodgy genetic tests that it says will separate the illegal aliens from the citizens… even though the prestigious Nature reckons that not only is the science completely wrong, the government could well be lying about the program getting the tick of approval from scientists, but that the program will actually harm science itself, making research harder.

The Nature editorial "Genetics Without Borders" has the teaser:

A UK government scheme to establish nationality through DNA testing is scientifically flawed, ethically dubious and potentially damaging to science

And a few snippets, after which I’ll add a few thoughts, including some Australian context.

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Civil rights, Ethics, Europe, Politics, Science and Tech, Society | 5 Comments »

Who needs Morgan, Newspoll or Gallup?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-05-07

Perhaps the psephologists can put away their statistical tables…

According to this paper in Science (I don’t just keep an eye on Nature), kids as young as five can pick election-winners from photos.

It makes you think that the voting public isn’t much smarter than a 5-year old.

So… what about giving minors the vote?  They can’t do worse than the average adult!

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Posted in Europe, Politics, Science and Tech, Society | Leave a Comment »

Protectionist Farming Map of Europe

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-03-30

From (the home of the "natural enemy" of lefties like me more often than not) comes "And Another Thing" (2009-03-28) which has a great map of protectionist Europe.

LOVE IT… and make sure you don’t miss looking at Iceland.

Subsidized Farmers - Europe and Mediterranean

Subsidized Farmers - Europe and Mediterranean

I want to see the whole world mapped like this.

Posted in Economics and Business, Europe, Humor, International | 1 Comment »

OMG! I’m kinda on the side of Microsoft!

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-02-11

I’m an open-source unix-loving bigot, so it is very strange for me to urge qualified support for Microsoft when M$ is under attack in an anti-trust case.

What is happening is that Opera, with less that 1% of the Browser Hit Marketshare, has gone to the EU anti-trust groups (which have a history of justly hassling M$) complaining about bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, and Mozilla Firefox (who have over 20% of the market) have weighed in on the case.

Firefox is being unfair in my view, although not for the reasons outlined in ArsTechnica who rightly say that M$ market dominance is dropping.

If there is abuse by Microsoft, it is that IE has never yet released a production browser that correctly renders standard html – and with their market, this makes it much harder for those products that generate standard html to be viewed fairly, more than the browsers (like Firefox, which I heartily recommend) that do render standard HTML properly, but have problems dealing with the non-standard HTML generated by M$ products.

Admittedly, M$ are promising that IE8 will be much better rendering standard html, but that’s still a promise about a product that is still Beta, not production.  Other browsers render standard html fine… it’s the FIRST thing they try and do.

To fix this, the EU anti-trust mob should force Microsoft to include one or two other browsers with each installation of Windows until such time as a production version of Internet Explorer is included that renders standard HTML as well as it does Microsoft non-standard HTML.

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Posted in Economics and Business, Europe, Information Management, Law, Science and Tech | 3 Comments »

Euro v USD as premier currency

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-03-18

Another must-read cracking VoxEU post by Harvard Economics Prof Jeffrey Frankel, which discusses how the US dollar overtook the UK Pound just after the war, and why the Euro will overtake the US dollar as the premier international currency. "The euro could surpass the dollar within ten years" (2008-03-18) and a companion paper "The Euro May Over the Next 15 Years Surpass the Dollar as Leading International Currency" (2008-02-13).

The VoxEU post is great in that it looks at the political implications of the change, including the increasing mistrust of US foreign policy…

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Posted in Economics and Business, Europe, Politics, USA | 3 Comments »

Red tape good for economics: The Economist

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-03-14

After my "Deregulation == Unregulated == Uncontrolled" (2008-03-10), it’s worth reading a couple of 2008-03-13 articles in The Economist that support the idea that the rule of law and improved governance (a.k.a. good regulations with enforcing oversight) are good for economies: "Economics and the rule of law: Order in the jungle" and "One rule for the rich" which shows that rules make people rich (usually).

In the following sections, I’ll discuss the implications for Australia, and how this data raises deep concerns about what central bank bailouts of irresponsible (I’d say negligent) financial markets actually means.

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Europe, Governance, Law, Politics, Victoria | 1 Comment »

Rowan Williams has a point (2) – Detractors ignore Western law mess

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-02-14

Most commenters on "Rowan Williams Has A Point" are first, ignorant of the patchwork nature of Western law that needs tidying up with a coherent theory, and second, they ignored the significant advances of legal systems caused by a vocal, radical minority spurred on by religious or philosophical conviction.

"Western" law is fractured between two major systems: Common Law, generally restricted to Anglophone countries and their colonies, which worships precedent, and is thus prone to repeating injustices, and Civil Law, common in mainland Europe, which allows greater appeal to Natural Law, the ideal system civilization hopes to achieve.

Common Law, the basis of Australian law, is in the minority across the civilized world, and is easily recognized as fundamentally flawed.  Islamic law, on the other hand, encourages (but hardly guarantees) evolution towards an ideal law based on fundamental principles, and thus closer to traditional western systems.

Civil law has its roots in Roman law, Canon law and the Enlightenment, alongside several influences from other religious laws such as Islamic law


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Posted in Education, Ethics, Europe, International, Law, Society, Theology and Religion | 10 Comments »

EU carbon plan challenges AU and US

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-01-30

The recent EU decision to determine carbon allowances between countries on a per-capita basis is sensible, equitable, and will put huge pressure on people in profligate states like Australia and the US.

It is worth noting that industry has welcomed these proposals.

Interestingly, they have tweaked it to not be a raw per-capita, but a per-capita GDP.  In my lefty view this benefits those economies that do not depend on hyperactive money to boost their GDP – and is therefore slightly biased to socialized nations – no bad thing!

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Environment, Europe, International, USA | Leave a Comment »

Road congestion charges, Stockholm puts a green twist

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-07-28

Road congestion charges achieve a few good things, but from 2007-07-01 new Swedish road congestion charges in Stockholm will exclude "green cars", as well as the usual buses, emergency vehicles, vehicles used by the disabled, etc.

Electric (or part electric), non-LPG fuel-gas cars, and liquid fuels that are mainly ethanol will be exempt until 2012 (probably because lots of Swedes will have green cars by then).  Other congestion fees are mainly to reduce congestion, and Sweden has taken the best of the Singapore model (charging according to the time of day).

Can large Australian cities learn from another Swedish innovation?  Can we reap the considerable economic benefits?

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Posted in Economics and Business, Environment, Europe, Politics, Victoria | Leave a Comment »

Fundamental Rights: EU: Article 5: Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-07-12

This is the sixth in a series of posts that will explore issues from the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the draft EU constitution (see official PDF or my reworking into HTML), and covers another article from the first chapter of the charter concerning dignity.

Article 5: Prohibition of slavery and forced labor

  1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
  2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
  3. Trafficking in human beings is prohibited.

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Posted in Australia, Civil rights, Europe, Governance, Law, Society | Leave a Comment »

EU COFR 3.2.3 : Clarification needed: Wigs? Cultures?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-07-10

Something random hit me about EU Charter of Fundamental Rights 3.2.3 (It’s actually an unnumbered dot point): "the prohibition on making the human body and its parts as such a source of financial gain".

I wonder if this covers hair (and if you are an "Aaahh!!! Real Monsters" fan, toenail clippings)?  More seriously, what about cell-lines?

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Civil rights, Ethics, Europe, Politics | 5 Comments »

Fundamental Rights: EU: Article 4: Prohibition of Torture

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-07-06

This is the fourth in a series of posts that will explore issues from the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the draft EU constitution (see official PDF or my reworking into HTML).

The first chapter of the charter concerns dignity.

Article 4: Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

This, apart from removing the redundant word "cruel", is the same as Article 5 of the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to which both Australia and the USA are signatories) :

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Posted in Australia, Civil rights, Europe, Governance, Law, Politics | Leave a Comment »

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