Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Was the Norwegian atrocity strategic?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-24

I am suspecting that Breivik’s targetting of the best and brightest youth of the left in Norway was not to strike terror – but to remove talent, to weaken the left.

It’s wiped a massive proportion of the talent the left has, talent about to enter real-world politics over the next decade.

It has gutted the left’s talent pool, effective for the next few generations: – the young talent so tragically removed would doubtless have had children and grandchildren of similar talents, of similar leftist leanings.

There are indications about the net that Breivik thought strategically.

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Posted in Ethics, International, Politics, Society | 6 Comments »

Dummies Guide To Mass Murderers

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-24

Unless you are part of that demographic-to-be-ignored, the latte-sipping bleeding-hearts, both left and small-l-liberal, here is a quick guide to labels and policies regarding mass murderers, or assassins of your own prime minister:

Demographic: Swarthy Moslem White Lefty Latte Sipper White Christian Anti-Moslem Righty Swarthy Ultra Orthodox Jew Righty
Psychology: Evil Mad Mad Mad
Your Ideology: Evil Mad and Dangerous Irrelevant because of insanity Irrelevant because of insanity
Punishment: Execute or incarcerate forever without trial Criminally insane ward in a prison Criminally insane ward in a prison Imprison
Others in the demographic: Kick them out of the country, don’t let any more in, or subject them to security agencies bullying. Make them shut up, and especially don’t let them speak in schools or mass media.. The Right Stuff Patriots
Assumption next atrocity is from the demographic: 99% 1% 0% 0%
Assumption the demographic’s policies will destroy civilization: 100% 100% 0% 0%


Personally, I’d classify all four as mad, and where frank psychosis is incomplete, the evil results come from improper education, incitement by others in the same demographic, and twisted readings of the texts of the ideology.

In other words, things that could be largely prevented by a combination of decent community mental health services, and an education system that gives fair exposition of all texts used by nutters as pretexts for action, stressing the humanity in those texts, and showing how the inhumane parts should be deprecated.

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Posted in Australia, International, Language Use, Law, Media, Politics, Society, Theology and Religion | 1 Comment »

Malcolm, PM with party of one?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-23

I’m in silly mode here, but the silliness has some weird delicious sense for all the nonsense.

Here’s the best way for the ALP to keep Tony Abbott and the Liberal Backroom Bastards out of the lodge – offer to support Malcolm Turnbull as PM on the floor of the house.

… Malcolm as PM, not in the ALP, but supported by a coalition of ALP, Independents and Green … and maybe a few decent moderate Liberals if there are any others left in that party.

In theory at least, the PM merely has to have majority support in the House… and there is no constitutional requirement for the PM to be in the major party among supporters.

In theory, with ALP, Green and Indy support on the floor, Turnbull could be offered the Lodge without joining the ALP – without him resigning from the Libs even – or at most, being a party of one.

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Posted in Australia, Environment, Politics | 1 Comment »

Herald-Sun Ethics Checklist

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-23

Surprise, surprise, the Murdoch Hun main web page now has a link to the ethics and code of conduct required of editors and journalists.

….So, have fun ticking these dot points off for Muroch’s Melbourne rag for the first few points, using the Hun’s most notoriouspopular propagandistcolumnist as a touchstone: Andrew Bolt, or indeed, even the Murdoch broadsheet, The Oz:

  • 1. Accuracy
    • 1.1 Facts must be reported impartially, accurately and with integrity.
    • 1.2 Clear distinction must be made between fact, conjecture and comment.
    • 1.3 Try always to tell all sides of the story in any kind of dispute.
    • 1.4 Do not knowingly withhold or suppress essential facts.
    • 1.5 Journalists should not rely on only one source. Be careful not to recycle an error from one reference source to another. Check and check again.
  • 8. Discrimination
    • 8.1 Do not make pejorative reference to a person’s race, nationality, colour, religion, marital status, sex, sexual preferences, age, or physical or mental capacity. No details of a person’s race, nationality, colour, religion, marital status, sex, sexual preferences, age, or physical or mental incapacity should be included in a report unless they are relevant.

Given the extent to which Abbott dances to the Murdoch tune, I wonder if the same standards should apply to him?

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Posted in Australia, Ethics, Media, Politics | 3 Comments »

Not tweeting … buzzing plus good

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-23

I’m finding Buzz and the public posts (easily separable from private posts) in Google Plus a hell of a lot more conducive to short comments than Twitter.

So, if you want some of my shorter thoughts and notes …

  • Google Buzz has all my shared gReader items, with a few comments, as well as other links I find interesting.  (Mind you, most of those I follow have their Buzz feed from their tweets.)
  • Short Posts (well, the public ones unless you are in my circles) are for short posts, links, and the occasional personal comment.

Oh, and regular readers here, if you still need an invite to get into Plus, get a gmail address to me one way or another and I’ll send you one.

Impressions of Plus

GooglePlus isn’t all prettily wrapped up yet, and it’s an odd mix of twitter, newsfeed, email and blogging with a bit of linkedin thrown into the mix – even without blogger.  The one thing I really like is the way it is well integrated into gmail – add posts, get notifications, respond to comments, all without leaving your gmail windows.

And yet, if you expect a facebook clone, you’ll be disappointed.

It is, however, already very good at letting you choose what bits are seen by who – public, one circle, or another circle.  At the very least it means I can easily choose to not annoy my younger friends with geeky science posts, not waste more politically-oriented interlocutors with posts about funny things my grandson said when I came home that night… that’s a real boon.

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Posted in Information Management, Media, Society | Leave a Comment »

What turned Breivik into a gunman and/or bomber?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-23

(Update on my opinion of what was going on in Breivik’s head: "Was the Norwegian atrocity strategic?")

I wonder what filled the gunman arrested in Norway and linked to the Oslo bombing, Anders Behring Breivik, with so much hate?  (Here is the untranslated original.)

I wonder if he reads papers filled with the same Tea-Party-esque anti-watermelon rhetoric as we have here…. Or are the Norwegians too damned nice to have a popular columnist equivalent to our bogan-inciters?

The guy probably has a pinup of Sarah Palin on his wall and a bible by his bed.

I wonder how long F*x News pushed an islamist terrorist line, or whether even F*x realizes that those nice nordics are so nice, that they’ll only be attacked by individuals or a "losers’ club" in desperate need of psychiatric care – the types who probably needed remedial reading classes but didn’t get enough of them.

Can you see tabloids around the anglosphere (or indeed anywhere) demonising as "the face of evil" people who look like the following?  Calling for incendiary right-wing groups to be shut down?

The man arrested over the shootings and bombing in Oslo - a profile that will not be demonized by Andrew Bolt

The man arrested over the shootings and bombing in Oslo - a profile that will not be demonized by Andrew Bolt

No… I don’t think so.

Update: I expected better of "The Guardian"!

Oslo bomb: suspicion falls on Islamist militants
Norway’s role in Afghanistan and its decision to file terrorism charges against a Muslim cleric may explain the Oslo bomb attack

The question now is who is likely to be behind it.
The most obvious conclusion would be a jihadist group.

Ye gods, could the The Guardian attacking Murdoch be not a principled stand but a takeover bid for the ability to spout rubbish to bogans?

Update: This page apparently lists Breivik’s facebook interests, favorite books, etc … saying (in my view correctly from what we know), that he is "Norway’s Timothy McVeigh" – except McVeigh wasn’t exactly bright.

Update: – I was wrong about the remedial reading if the reports about his facebook reading list are correct.  I still reckon he’ll turn out to be a nutter not a terrorist.

Update: Yes, Andrew Bolt did as expected:

Once the identity of the attackers becomes known, the consequences for Norway’s immigration policies could be profound

Yes…. paragraphs on moslems, and any corrections or focus on the real problem tucked away, not blasted in bold….. but read the comments to Bolt’s article and see what ordinary voters who drive the policies of both major parties are like..


ElineGiske Eline Giskeødegård
G.W. Bush, 9/11: “We’re gonna hunt you down.” Stoltenberg, 22/7: “We will retaliate with more democracy”. I’m proud to be Norwegian.

Posted in International, Media, Society | 2 Comments »

Are you smarter than a chocolate ad?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-21

Tony Abbott should probably loosen his celice … from around his neck – it’s cutting off the blood supply to his brain.

Tony Abbott’s 2011-07-07 interview transcript on the Liberal Party website proves a half-way decent 3rd grader knows more science.

See, one of the things that people haven’t quite twigged to is that carbon dioxide is invisible, it’s weightless and it’s odourless.

By saying carbon dioxide is weightless, it shows Mr Rabbit never paid attention to Julius Sumner Miller on chocolate advertisements, or Deane and Rob on The Curiosity Show.

Even Dan Quayle, the US VP who was filmed at a school spelling bee telling a kid to mis-spell "potato" had a better excuse than Abbott.

But the Australian public (apart from the latte left and latte right) won’t laugh, they won’t notice the error.

Pauline Hanson, even Humphrey B. Bear is an intellectual giant by comparison.

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Posted in Australia, Environment, Media, Politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Even in bold print, retractions do not fix the damage

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-19

The adage "act first, apologise later" has extra truth in it given new research on the persistent effect of lies/misinformation, even when strongly counteracted.

The research indicates just how damaging the lies and innuendos of dodgy politicians and press can be – retractions and corrections have relatively little effect on later decisions by victims.

It means truth in advertising, and even more, truth in reporting, needs heavy-handed policing, heavy penalties for intentional misrepresentation, and strong statutes.

Research reported in Scientific American "Lingering Lies: The persistent influence of misinformation" gives a stunning example of just how strong the effect misinformation, even when immediately corrected, can have.

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Ethics, Media, Politics, Society | Leave a Comment »

Right penalty for the wrong crime

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-16

In true tabloid form, and putting another black mark on modern society’s good sense and probity, the Murdoch empire is copping a well-deserved, indeed too light, punishment, but because of the trivial and limited offences, not the heinous acts of the group that are harming the world as a whole.

It was the hacking (and destruction of evidence) of the phone of a teenage girl who had disappeared (and later discovered murdered) that finally got things moving against Murdoch’s empire in the UK.

It will be the hacking of phones of the World Trade Centre attack victims that will probably get things moving in the US.

These are hardly the most serious of the obvious illegal acts – the bribing of police is a greater crime against the functioning of a society, so the general public is damned by being galvanized by the pure tabloid headline offence, that only affecting individuals, rather than being concerned about corruption that eats away at civil society for all.

The greater crime against civilization committed by the Murdoch empire is hardly causing pain to Murdoch at all.  This damns the public even more, who have had the opportunity, through the sum of individual actions, to hurt Murdoch’s methods – not just used by Murdoch, but any media magnate.

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Posted in Media, Politics, Society | Comments Off on Right penalty for the wrong crime

Fox – goose or gander

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-06

Murdoch’s Limited News Corporation has, shall we say, a fair and balanced attitude to hacking.

The principles they operate by when deciding whether an act is good or evil becomes apparent after a little thought.

On the one hand, the Murdoch empire defends itself when its agents hack the phones of politicians, royalty, and even murdered girls – aiming at profit by gaining unlawful access to information that is obviously private.

On the other hand, hackers who hijacked the F*x News twitter feed, posting untrue news reports, are totally reprehensible, and get the US Secret Service involved to chase down what could be termed incompetent and untruthful journalistic volunteers.

It is not as if it’s the first time F*x has reported counterfactuals, it’s not as if it is the first time the Murdoch authors, even in broadsheets, deliberately cause people to believe falsehoods.

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Posted in Media | Comments Off on Fox – goose or gander

Latte-sippers on-side with our military – bogans and pollies off-side

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-05

It turns out that the latte-sippers, worried about legal niceties, have been thinking along the same lines as our military – while the jingoistic politicians and bogans who claim to back our soldiers are instead forcing our military to do the wrong thing.

Those legal and ethical niceties about those our soldiers capture that have worried our brass include the practice that means if a single US private (4th class) is alone in an entire brigade of Australian soldiers, and any opponents are captured, it is the US, not Australia, that does the capturing.

As detailed in "Australian POW policies risk: top secret papers" (The Age, 2011-07-04) and "Revealed: Defence confusion over POWs" (ABC, 2011-07-04), show that the military brass were worried about not merely the legality of their operations, but indeed, whether it was principled:

Confidential Defence documents reveal that Australia’s policies on handling prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2003 were so contrived that they ran the risk of being neither ethical nor in line with international law.
The risk was starkly outlined in a top-secret memo from former chief of the Defence Force, Admiral Chris Barrie, to defence minister Robert Hill in February 2002, which warned that Australia’s prisoner arrangement "may not fully satisfy Australia’s legal obligations and in any event will not be viewed as promising a respect for the rule of law".

– The Age

And what does Mike Kelly, now a politician but previously Australia’s top military lawyer in Iraq, have to say about responsibility for prisoners we capture?

He says the country that captures prisoners of war retains a responsibility over their welfare.


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Posted in Australia, Civil rights, Ethics, International, Law, Politics, Society | Leave a Comment »

Bushfire bastardry

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-04

The dead in the horrible Victorian bushfires a few years back, and those that will die in the future from similar causes, seem to be, by misdirected investigations and blind eyes to evidence, poorly served by both current and previous governments.

Who benefits from this? Only the negligent – the privatised power supplier cutting corners on safety, or a government unwilling to pay compensation, or politicians in both major parties who do not want a proper evaluation of the fundamental dogma that pushes privatization of state assets in general and utilities in particular.

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Governance, Media, Politics, Victoria | Comments Off on Bushfire bastardry

Bent and Bungled

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-06-29

There are three billion more reasons to detest, and hopefully prosecute, the unlamented ALP Brumby government of Victoria.

The general continuity of policy under Liberal Premier Ballieu will be tested to see if it can use legal smarts to annul the 10 year pokies contracts the came out of deceitful behaviour by one, if not all parties.

Will Ballieu use the chance to kill two birds with one stone – sink the ALP in Victoria for a decade or more while helping the states coffers to the tune of billions at the same time?

It’s a win/win for Ballieu and Victoria if he does, and if he doesn’t, there is no reason to believe the Liberals will be any more honest, any more competent.

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Posted in Economics and Business, Governance, Politics, Victoria | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-06-26

My strengthening suspicion is that my life has fortunately come at a tragic time – lucky to see another peak of human civilization, yet with the sadness of the pointers to another fall already in sight.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way

A Tale of Two Cities – Dickens

Let me show you some of those pointers – both the big and the small:

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Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

House a possum, not a cat

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-05-01

It is good to see the use of possum-boxes advocated in "The Possum Wars" (The Sunday Age, 2011-05-01), but it didn’t push the point that there should be a war on the far more noisy and destructive mammal in our cities – the cat.

Cats, for their massacre of native fauna, could be called "furry cane toads" – but that would be unkind to cane toads which at least don’t impose a significant cost to human health (see "Kill cats – save humans and the health budget" – 2009-06-09).

Possums might be a little annoying with their kxkxxxx noises during the mating season, but they don’t make noises all damn year, and don’t mimic the sound of a human baby crying.  That sound gets deep down, reaches into even my sleep, and wakes me up, having grabbed at my basic human instincts to attend to a distressed infant.

Possums?  They make good "wild buddies" for the famil – while you cannot establish the reciprocal affection you can with a magpie family, it’s pretty easy to develop some trust from them.

Personally, I think kids can learn as much, if not more, from a wild buddy than a pet.

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Environment | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

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