Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for the ‘Governance’ Category

Rabbit holes in suspicious places

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-09-02

Looking at where the multi-billion dollar holes Treasury discovered, I smell an agenda… as the biggest holes are specifically in areas the LNP would slash anyway given any excuse.

Health, education, and parental leave are something Mr Rabbit and his warren friends love slashing.

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Ethics, Governance, Politics | 1 Comment »

The curious tale of Mr Rabbit and Mr Fox

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-08-27

Mr Rabbit and Mr Fox have joined forces and strategies, brazenly hiding the truth, scared enough to risk exposing their illegitamacy to be considered as, respectively, a government and a news outlet.

Mr Rabbit is trying to be a cunning fox who is Professor of Cunning at Oxford, as Blackadder would say.

Mr Fox is running like a scared rabbit, afraid of democracy, perhaps.

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Posted in Australia, Governance, Media, Politics | 1 Comment »

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 »

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 »

Kosky resigns – innocent AND guilty

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-01-21

Lynne Kosky’s resignation from the Victorian Parliament and as Minister for Transport, for family reasons, was greeted with loud hurrahs by many long-suffering public transport patrons, and a string of "it wasn’t her fault" by many who recognized that taking over public transport, with many botched contracts already underway, was a poisoned chalice.

However, Lynne Kosky, along with all other Victorian Ministers, is extremely guilty of disservice to the public, for not gathering together with any honest party members, grabbing Joh Brumby, spreading him face-down on the Cabinet table, and shoving well-hidden and conveniently lost documents relating to mismanaged and ill-conceived contracts up his arse until his eyes popped out.

Such a method of assassination would take approximately 0.000000001% of documents meeting such criteria – even if they were on microfilm not paper.

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Posted in Governance, Politics, Victoria | 2 Comments »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Stalin’s children – Western “democracies”

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-03

I propose what seems to be a general rule of politics these days:

The probability of policies being set in harmony with the opinion of experts is inversely correlated to the unanimity of expert opinion and the importance of that policy.

Climate change is but one example where unanimity of relevant experts is near total, yet scientists are ignored at best, and often punished

Economic policy is an example where there is no unanimity, so the politicians choose the expert opinion that suits them or political sponsors.

Nature ("Sacked science adviser speaks out" doi:10.1038/news.2009.1053 2009-11-02) has a depressing interview with a recently sacked advisor on non-therapeutic drug use, who made the following comment.

It just seems to me a nail in the coffin of evidence-based government.

– David Nutt
University of Bristol

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Civil rights, Education, Environment, Governance, International, Politics, Science and Tech, Society | 9 Comments »

Missing in action

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-02

While blogotariat was having problems with my news feed, many would have missed a post becoming more relevant by the day: "What if the ACCC covered political scams?"

Think about it.

Posted in Australia, Ethics, Governance, Politics | 1 Comment »

Spammers: Dumb, and handled with kid gloves

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-01

There are two points I’d like to make about spammers:

  • The hypocrisy of business and governments that are not proactive about spamming, yet spend considerable resources trying to stop the much-less-damaging copyright infringments; and
  • Just how stupid are these spammers anyway, if they are working hard at setting up false identities in one of the least likely social networks to fall victim to them, such as Nature Network, which is perhaps the social network with the highest average IQ and education?

However, one of the things a few of the fake identities on Nature Network were advertising could be considered well-targetted compared to the others.

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Posted in Economics and Business, Governance, Information Management, Politics | 2 Comments »

LobbyClue at GovHack

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-10-31

Lobbyclue at Govhack is a nifty bit of hacking of government data (of the good hacking variety) that will only be up for a short time.

Follow the money between agency, individuals and companies, then click on the item of interest and get their relationships.

Enjoy it while you can get it folks.

I’d love to have this tool applying across the whole of governments in Oz.

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

Will it flout broadcasting rules? Will viewers get fair warning?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-10-18

It’s a paradigm shift in product placement, more blatant and yet more subtle than merely having a hero drinking a particular brand of soft-drink on the screen – yet it’ll probably go unchecked by controls on TV advertising.

Microsoft are, putting it kindly, "having input" into the script of an upcoming "Family Guy" episode, with the dog touting all the bells and whistles as to why people should upgrade.

Will the TV broadcaster have to make announcements about it being a sponsored program like it does for other infommercials before the start of the program and when returning from typical ad breaks?  Will the broadcaster have to obey rules for how many minutes of advertising they can air in a given time?

Advertising under the wire

Advertising under the wire

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Posted in Economics and Business, Governance, Information Management, Media | Leave a Comment »

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