November 27, 2010

The Big Day

Vote early, vote often!

I'm still tipping Big Ted, as the surprise winner.
"I think of politics like this: I'm stranded at the bottom of a gorge with two broken legs and I have to climb with my fingernails up to safety, where Marianne Faithfull from 1965 is waiting for me."
No, that wasn't an election quote from Ted, nor from John.  We can only dream of such clarity.

That was Solomon, circa 12 November, 2010, 90.7pm ADEST.

And don't forget to take a pencil sharpener.

I understand that it's the law, dating back from the early nineteen hundreds, for pencils to be provided at polling booths, but why the hell didn't they have the foresight to include the provision of a sharpening implement in that law?

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Update:  polling booths closed two hours and 16 minutes ago.  Minor hoo haa in the last few  days suggesting that final result would not be known until into the week, and that it was likely to be another hung parliament.  

Rubbish!  

Let's call it:  Big Ted has won, with a clear majority.  No hung parliament, no dodgy deals with the Greens.

On an equally bright note, the Greens have failed to sweep the state off its feet, making barely a ripple in the only vote that counts. 

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Update:  Rob Hulls at 9.58pm insisting that it will be a hung parliament and that the outcome won't be known for many days.

What utter tosh.

During the federal counting, neither party could muster 76 seats for the entire night of the vote.  Tonight, Libs/Nats are sitting on 45 seats, ALP on 37 - have been for a couple of hours.  Six are still undecided. 

The ALP are hanging onto 550,000 postal and pre-votes, with a stupid denial and desperation. 

Game's over guys.  Postal and pre-votes are almost uniformly 50/50.  There will be no last minute nail-biting rescue. 

November 26, 2010

Color consultant disappears in flash of ecru

Amy Wax, president of the International Association of Color Consultants North America, commenting on the US Department of Homeland Security’s intention of dropping the color-coded terrorism alert system, which stands at: red, orange, yellow, blue and green:
“… perhaps not surprisingly — colors could be an effective part of a warning system if tied to specific action. “How are we going to take those instructions and apply it to our lives?” she said. “Are we going to go to the airport, or not go to the airport?”
She said the agency’s use of “childish” primary colors like red, yellow and blue might have diluted the impact. “Purple, orange and magenta might create a sense of something that would get attention,” she said.”
Yeah, because whenever I think “magenta” I think - “To the airport, pronto!” -whether I need to fly anywhere or not.

Next leak to be beautiful and horrifying

Some guy talking about the next cache of documents planned for publication on Wikileaks:

''Everywhere there's a US post, there's a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed,'' he wrote. ''It's open diplomacy. World-wide anarchy in CSV format [a computer programming format]. It's Climategate with a global scope, and breathtaking depth. It's beautiful, and horrifying.''

Duck Friday

November 24, 2010

Wednesday Wisdom

There is no reciprocity. Men love women, women love children, children love hamsters.

Alice Thomas Ellis

November 20, 2010

Godwin will remain forever locked away

Godwin Grech, the former federal public servant whose physical being is so exquisitely expressed by the combination of his christian and surname, will remain, eternally, an enigma to us.

He will not be prosecuted for the faked email, nor for leaks to the Liberal party during the reign of the Rudd government.

The decision not to prosecute isn't a surprise; the opposite decision would have been.

No easily identifiable justice would have been served.  Nor, if a trial was held, would the mystery of what went on in Grech's mind during that startling year be unraveled for public consumption.  Grech would have offered no satisfying motive.  He would not have sought redemption from an amorphous public.

At the epicenter of one of federal politics' most curious and potentially explosive episodes, one that kept several senior political careers teetering (albeit, momentarily), Grech has never had anything to offer us, other than a memorable face and name.

Grech won't be prosecuted over OzCar

November 19, 2010

November 18, 2010

Watchers and experts on high alert

Royal watchers and royal experts don’t know when the William and Catherine will be married, nor where the nuptials will take place.  They don’t even know who will design the bridal gown.

Royal watchers and royal experts are also unable to tell us who will design the wedding gown, what will be served for desert at the reception, how many children will be spawned by the union, and which charities will be the beneficiaries of Kate’s patronage. 

Royal watchers and royal experts will live up to the demands of their calling in due course.

Brumby Camp


Instead of providing children with a sound education, which, ordinarily, one would think holds most people in good stead for a lifetime, the Victorian ALP has decided that profound change and social capital for a lifetime takes two weeks out of a twelve-year education. 

Sure, sending 15 year old's camping for two weeks is nice, but wouldn’t it be great if they were taught how to read, write and do ‘rithmatic before they have to romp around in some unsanitary rural space being prepared for profundity? 

In Brumbyland, taking 15 year olds camping will change the social fabric and prepare teenagers to meet adult life in a state of mega-preparedness, such that their parent/s and a minimum of 12 years of education doesn’t and can’t. 

It’s a friggin’ miracle cure!*

Dirt cheap too, at only a one-off cost of $2,000 per student.  

*Disclaimer:  two weeks at profundity camp will not inoculate attendees against cancer, heart disease or alcoholism, and will not result in world peace breaking.



November 17, 2010

Doctor in the house

The POTUS has a near and present 'round the clock medical staff of about 24 people, equipped with all the usual emergency auxiliary equipment such as blood and bandaides. 

Apart from being awed by the dedication and rigor of the ever-ready medical team, it made me wonder about the local protocols and support for our chief of the entire country.

Does our PM have a pharmacist hanging about with a bottle of generic vitamin C at the ready, a glass of Berocca, and a bag of frozen peas for instant soothing of incidental bruising? 

Wednesday Wisdom


If there's anything unsettling to the stomach, it's watching actors on television talk about their personal lives.

Marlon Brando

November 16, 2010

Alas, not very bright


Steve Tucker should be counseled, firstly on his self acknowledged (in writing) misuse of a government department's email system, secondly, on his inability to think, use simple systems and undertake basic research.
 
I don't mean "think" better of his decision to seek Olivia via his department-wide mail out. 
 
No, I'm talking about his inability to search the department's contact database by first name and phone up the one, two or twelve women in the department named Olivia. 
 
My first thought was that this was a lot of fuss, not even a little bit romantic, and certainty not a matter warranting media or online space.  Big yawn.  My prompt second thought was that Steve Tucker is a twit.
 
Steve:  you've never needed to find anyone in your department and not had their full name, or the correct spelling?  Really?  Come on:  the same online contacts database you've used many times before would have given you a list of every Olivia within five seconds. 

The whole email thing was bad form and stupid. 
 
No brownie points for initiative, romance or enthusiasm. 
 
Fail, fail, fail.

November 14, 2010

Thirteen more sleeps

"Complicated preference deals somehow propel tin of asparagus into power"

(From The Age - headlines you won't see this week)

It's enough to make one wistful.

If only ...

November 12, 2010

November 10, 2010

Liar, liar pants on fire

At least he was too sheepish to turn up at the press conference to announce that he had accepted a coaching position at Essendon, commencing in December, a decision that comes well short of the the three months holiday he insisted he desperately needed before even thinking about his future - as he  ended his contract with Geelong - and a career move that he insisted, only weeks ago, was beyond his ken - he was done with coaching; he was not joining Essendon.

There are, as we recently discovered (a super special call out to the Canberra Raiders!), many dog ways to leave a team:  Mark Thompson adds another to the list.

What a tawdry charade Bomber.

Wednesday Wisdom


Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.

John Kenneth Galbraith

November 9, 2010

Australian Financial Review Online - Priceless

Not long ago, the Australian Financial Review finally locked away lots of stuff that we used to be able to read for free, delivered daily straight to our inbox. 

This wasn't especially new for the AFR, which has had the juiciest and most worthy articles tucked behind firewalls for many years.  What is new is the absurd business model for pricing online access.

A subscription to afr.com costs $109 per month or $44 per month for subscribers to The Australian Financial Review who have a five or six day print subscription directly with Fairfax ("directly" meaning:  not via their suburban newsagent).

For those of you not good with head multiplications, that's $1,308 a year for electronic access, or more than enough to buy at least one edifying novel or book of non-fiction per week, every week, every year.

Buy contrast, if you can't bring yourself to give up your addiction to the Fin Review, you can do your bit to keep felling trees at the much cheaper price of $780 per year Monday to Friday.  Or, if your insatiable need extends to Saturday, it will cost you $899 each year.

Yes, that's right:  the masters of the universe at Fairfax are charging $409 per year more for delivering the Fin Review electronically - no ink, no paper, no delivery cost.

Pure genius.

Meh

At a memorial service for Dame Joan Sutherland earlier today, Julia Gillard, PM of Oz, proclaimed the dead opera singer the greatest singer of the 20th century.

Meh.

I'll have to proclaim myself a philistine. 

I've never been able to listen to her singing for more than 30 seconds or so ... Joan that is, not Julia.  I could listen to Julia sing for minutes.

Dame Joan greatest singer, blah, blah, blah

November 7, 2010

Misguided

The young 'uns want colour and movement, continual affirmation, and, preferably, continual instant gratification.  Much like the digital grid:  a constant feed.

That's fine, if you can find it, but searching or hoping that the world of real politics will deliver on any or all of those wants is to demonstrate a profound lack of knowledge of what it means to be political.

I'd like to sympathise or empathise with the former young Obama enthusiasts, but it sounds as if they didn't understood what they were doing in the first place - other than having a fun time.
“It’s not the fad anymore,” said Jessica Kirsner, 21, a junior from Houston and vice president of the College Democrats. “It’s not the fad to be politically knowledgeable and active.” 
And that's the problem:  politics isn't a fad, you don't get a new beaut thing twice a year, like the latest pair of Nike.  
“People were infatuated in 2008,” said Maddy Joseph, 20, a member of the group. “The reality has set in, and that’s frustrating for a lot of people.” 
Yep, real politics is a  marathon, not a fawning and momentary infatuation.

Welcome to the real world - it will be yours to run soon enough; you better learn not get bored with it.

Young voters feel abandoned 

November 6, 2010

Keef didn't forget a thing

“Believe it or not, I haven’t forgotten any of it.” 
Keith Richards has written a critically lauded autobiography, with some assistance in the research and writing department.

Did anyone - most particularly women, who might have turned their minds to such things - ever believe that Mick was a big boy? 

He's a small, scrawny man, always has been.  Nowadays, he's a small, scrawny and deeply wrinkled.

To have it confirmed that Mick is tee wee in all anatomically important departments is not a surprise. 

Keith has done a minor service to the world.  Perhaps some will even read his book to find out other, much bigger, stuff.  By all accounts, sounds like a worthy and interesting effort.

Keith has memories to burn

Tin ear

Interview with John Howard (The Weekend Australian):
"In an alternative universe, what might you have done with the interests and skills you bought to politics?"

If I hadn't had bad hearing, I'd have been a barrister.  Maybe even a journalist."
Instead he became our second longest serving Liberal Prime Minister, a job in which good hearing is optional, apparently.

November 5, 2010

November 3, 2010

Wednesday Wisdom


The advantage of a classical education is that it enables you to despise the wealth that it prevents you from achieving.

Russell Green

November 1, 2010

Stephen Fry: exploring new depths of turddom

Rooting random strangers in toilets or church yards is, according to Stephen Fry, the high benchmark of one's level of enjoyment of sex.

On that basis, Fry has announced that women don't like sex.  If they did, they would behave exactly like Fry's sterotypical gay man.

What a fucking misogynistic prat. 

And that's not an epitaph I toss about with wanton enthusiasm or abandon, as much as I'd like to.
"Fry also said as youngster he was "obsessed" with the world of cottaging - men meeting each other in public for casual sex."
I wouldn't have thought it a criticism to say that women do not, in general, suffer that particular debasing affliction.


Stephen Fry:  expert on all things to do with women and sex

Sucking lemons

Malcolm Grant - president of the University College of London, is a twit.  

"Imagine" - he commences:
"... that a newspaper decided to create a table ranking the world's cities. Is Moscow better than Sydney? Would Hong Kong squeeze in above Manchester? Or Bangkok above Brighton? It would be a nonsensical exercise. Better in what respect?"
Err, as it happens, lists of city rankings are churned out annually, looking at or emphasizing different data, eg, "livability" of which Melbourne continues to rank stupidly well.  (For those of us who live here, we can only ponder the ghastly livability of all those cities beneath us.) Newspapers don't churn out these lists, but they do get good mileage from reporting them. You'd have to be living in a cave in Iran to be unaware of said lists, or the president of the University College of London.

Grant continues, because, apparently we're all flibbertigibbets, entirely unfamiliar with the data that goes into the dead-common practice of ranking and rating stuff, whether it be cities, universities or pop songs: 
"They are all vastly different types of human settlement, meeting different aspects of human need in different cultures and climates.
True, there would be no shortage of data, though it would be of variable robustness and gathered on different bases in different countries."
Then Grant keeps spelling it out, for the complete dunderheads, who have somehow escaped from even accidentally glancing at a ranked list:
"Next, the data. On teaching, there are no robust data on which global comparison can be made. Some tables rely on curious proxies such as the number of PhDs awarded per academic, of undergraduates admitted per academic and the income per academic. None of these say anything about quality of teaching. 
We might expect measures of research excellence to be robust, because top research is a globalised activity. Yet we would be disappointed. Take research income. There is a world of difference between scientific and medical institutions - where research is expensive and grants tend to be large - and other types of institution."
This helps to explain why a world-class institution such as the London School of Economics can be ranked in one table no higher than 86th. What's more, research income is an input measure and will tend to be higher in countries investing seriously in research. It does not speak to the quality of output; British universities have consistently demonstrated outstanding return on investment."
Yep. We got it. Malcolm Grant is a bit techy about his university's various rankings, even though it is ranked, mostly, in the top quartile.

He thought it would be intelligent to speak to the rest of the world as if they are complete dolts, and to demonstrate that he misunderstood the foundations of his education, his profession, which, in essence, is the skill and art of comparing and contrasting, ad nausea, apples and oranges (if nothing else, academia is the birth centre of such activity), thereby dropping his ranking as an academic somewhere to toward the bottom on a list of one to 10,000,000.

Newspapers in London and in Melbourne thought this ignorant, unsophisticated venting of tee wee spleen warranted publication.

Apples and Oranges

The paradox of thrift

We're alright Jack.  Doing fine in the lucky country.  Digging up iron ore with our left hand and uranium with our right.  Hell, can't dig fast enough.  Building a desal plant here, rolling out an NBN there ... we're booming!

Whether we would have plummeted into the depths of hell without the cash for all, the useless buildings for every school, pink bats and whatnot, all thrown at us by the Rudd government is impossible to know with any degree of rigor, although superficial economic analysis has suggested we would have been fine.  Arguably then, the Australian response to the GFC - go in early and go in hard - was over the top for our circumstances.  Certainly, Australia does not suffer the economic, political and regulatory purgatory that is the US (where it all started), so common sense alone should have tempered the response here.

The ugly irony is that the one country that did not need to go in so hard or so fast did, while the countries that should have then, and still need to, haven't come to grips with macroeconomics 101:  the paradox of thrift. 

Contrary to a lot of bleating in the US and in Britain, very little money was thrown at trying to avert the worst ravages of the GFC in those countries.  At best, the government measures were measly and useless.  In the US, most of the money was thrown at propping up financial institutions, which, not unexpectedly, didn't create a single job or build anything.   Both countries are now cutting and slashing like Edward Scissorhands and foregoing investment in  infrastructure for recovery and future growth, thereby guaranteeing there will be none.

A lot of countries are still struggling, or will never recover fully (hell, Iceland no longer has a bank to call their own).  Japan, on the downward slide for a decade prior to the GFC, continues to build stuff no one wants or needs, abandons things half way, and slides ever more.

Those with crystal balls claim that it will take ten years for the US to create the jobs lost during the GFC; just to get back to where they were in 2007.  

The GFC supposedly wiped out the previous twenty years gain in wealth across the world, and even little Aussies would largely agree with that sinking feeling, thanks to our enforced superannuation funds.   Bizarrely, the one area that did not by-pass Oz - the drubbing of every financial investment - is the one that Rudd, then, and now Gillard, is going to force us to risk more of our dollars.  We have no control over how our money is invested, other than a tick a box, and the collective investment, prior to the GFC, was fast heading to a trillion dollars, yet Rudd/Gillard will make us risk 12% instead of the still nerve racking 9% being mandatorily stashed into a crap-shoot.

This is our security for the future, so we can all retire in self sufficiency and comfort.

*Snort*

America goes dark

Britain reels as austerity cuts begin

Housing woes - let the market fall

Developing nations leaving rich ones behind 

The end of the tunnel

Hey, small spender

Long recovery looks like recession 

Japan - the never ending decline