September 28, 2012

September 26, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

Everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. 

Viktor Frankl

September 22, 2012

The truth is out

Jeez, this is so embarrassing:

Penises shrink by 10 per cent:  feminists to blame 

So the evil plotting of feminists has been uncovered by Rush Limbaugh. 


It only took men 50 years to figure out. 


Hat tip -  Jacob - Applied.H

September 21, 2012

September 19, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.


September 17, 2012

Sucker Punch

Tony Abbott, the man who nearly won an unwinnable federal election, is looking suspiciously like a man on the verge of being felled by a punch he either did or didn't throw when he was a young and silly university lad.  

Even for our superficial, absurd political arena, this is strange stuff.  You'd hope Abbott, or any of them, would be down for the count based on policies, incompetence, tin-ear-syndrome,  ignorance of macro economics - or anything other than being a jerk on campus 35 years ago.  The latter would rule out pretty much anyone who has ever been to university from holding any responsible job in life. 

Yet, the unstoppable Abbott is suddenly quite stoppable.  

Julia Gillard must be doing a few happy dances around The Lodge kitchen. 

Robert Manne, a professor of politics at La Trobe University, jumped into a bit of public thinking, to offer this scholarly spin on the story so far (emphasis added):
...  Simple common sense suggests that Patch was telling the truth. It is unlikely that a barrister would have lied about such a matter. But if he had, why would he have weakened his testimony by revealing that he had not actually been an eyewitness to the incident?
There are reasonable grounds for arguing about whether or not the violent and misogynist behaviour of the present Leader of the Opposition 35 years ago should be held against him now. There are, however, no grounds for doubting that Tony Abbott has seriously misled the nation with his comments to Stefanovic on Friday, because the story of the punch he threw at Barbara Ramjan is almost certainly in essence true.
Our trite politics.  Our trite would-be public intellectuals.  

It's enough to make a grown-up weep.  

Sparring in the ring of truth

September 16, 2012

Abbott's Character

Despite having a wife, three daughter's, a female deputy leader, and a scary female chief of staff, Tony Abbott is, we're told, an old style woman-hater, a born to privileged bloke who believes he is destined to rule - because he's a bloke.  He's also a Catholic, in a country that doesn't 'trust in god'. 

According to one female pollie, women think Abbott is "shifty". 

Many of the great unwashed, bemoaning Abbott's image problem with women, are entirely comfortable with the idea of the very rich, born-to-rule, arrogant Malcolm Turnball, or the less savory and greatly more arrogant Kev Rudd.  If the next federal election was a battle between born to rule rich white guys, Turnball would win.  Abbott wouldn't have a chance.

The attacks on Abbott compel me to cast votes (numerous of them, when the time comes), for the Liberal Party.  The old-school feminist hatred being hurled at Abbott is puzzling.  John Howard never suffered such abuse, despite, clearly, not being a new-age guy (the cardigans and tracksuits were a dead giveaway).  Downer had a moment, making a battering joke, but no one accused him of displaying anything worse than extremely poor judgement. 

I remember a thing or two about myself from 35 years ago, bits and pieces, broken scenes from a broken film, like most people.  If ten eye witnesses to something that happened ten minutes ago gave their statements to police, they would all have something different to tell.  Tested in court at some later date, many of those first hand accounts would be proven to be wrong by even a moderately adequate barrister.  Yet, 35 years on, many trees died during the week for the purpose of recording endless commentary, assertions and refutations, about stuff Tony Abbott did or didn't do at university 35 years ago.

Our politics has come to this?  Yes, indeedy.

I don't doubt that Abbott was and is a bit of a thug; he suffers foot and mouth disease like all politicians.   He was, with certainty, a bit of a dickhead when he was at university, as was every other person silly enough and committed enough to be involved in campus politics and student unions.  He lost against a woman, and was pissy about it.  He later won that role, clearly not so bad that other students were repelled by him.  Abbott was also a Rhodes Scholar, which requires academic excellence plus exemplary character.

I don't doubt he did and likely still does harbor a range of less than liberated thinking about women, and we know that he holds numerous Catholic beliefs that he'd like to impose on the rest of society, if he could.  The fact is, he's not an ideal PM candidate.  He's a loose cannon, a man with unwieldy economic ideas, and no particular vision for where he would take this country - much like our Labor leaders, peas in the same pod.  He might not be worth electing, all things considered, but neither is Turnball, Rudd, Swan, Gillard, Shorten and all the rest.

The shrewish gender war being waged against Abbott is an irrelevant diversion, and reflects poorly on Labor.  The suggestions that this attack is the equivalent of dredging up Julia Gillard's dodgy dealings for her lover when she was a professional lawyer doesn't hold up to inspection.  This new "evidence" against Abbott, from student days, is just that:  new, and from student days; not from professional dealings, not from his adult years (regardless of how growed-up uni students like to believe themselves, they are often embarrassingly childish and ignorant, which is what makes campus politics so funny.) 

Abbott is not a shoe-in for being the next Prime Minister.  He has a massive amount of work to do, not least in explaining his absurdly out of control and unaffordable policies, none of which will contribute to current or future productivity.  He has committed to things that will prove hugely difficult and disruptive to the economy, if he follows through (eg, rolling back the carbon emissions tax, rolling out generous and unnecessary maternity payments).  To date, Abbott  has not promised to do anything economically defensible.  In short, he has not promised to improve the country.  His shadow Treasurer has promised to slash the public sector, which is already bleeding from several major arteries.  None of this is appealing, no matter your gender.  

Instead of playing the game, the ALP is playing the man, which is staggering, considering how much material they have to work with.  Don't trust Abbott, hey?  His character is suspect?  He has no respect for women?
Trust, instead, Julia Gillard and her band of shrill, incompetent, economically irresponsible men and women?  Don't trust the shifty Abbott, who, for all appearances, is genuinely open to all people, and is basically a kind and caring man?  

The ALP has picked the wrong battle, but that is the way of their peoples. 

What Tony Abbott did or didn't do 35 years ago at university

September 15, 2012

Rich declare war on the un-rich

Marx was gung-ho about the prols rising up against the owners of production, but class warfare has simply never panned out the way Marx envisaged.  Give the prols enough to survive, plus go shopping, tell them that they are aspirational, and throw in some Kardashians, and thereabouts, class warfare, imaginings of revolution, splutter into nothingness.  

Funny to read of our latest class warfare, seemingly driven by bitter billionaires, baiting the rest of us.  

During the week, BHP Billiton chairman Jac Nasser taunted us with imaginings of Gina Rinehart and co heading off to live in Singapore.  
Mr Nasser said: “Would Australia be better off if the top 2 per cent of wealth creators and high-net worth people left and decided to live in Singapore? Would we feel better about that? Would we feel better if – you know, in some of these examples, if Twiggy Forrest woke up tomorrow, or Gina, or whoever, and decided, ‘I’ve had enough of Australia. I’m going to live in Switzerland.’
“Would that make us feel better?
“And the answer is, well, it shouldn’t and . . . it just seems to me that we should be congratulating and looking up to people who build and create growth and wealth, rather than this.”
Nasser, being a rich, smart man, top of his game, is out of his depths when it comes to defending his patch.  

So they could all up and go somewhere else?  And?

Who would care where they live?  Their assets would still be here.  Rather moot where our billionaires live.  

Dumb luck, being born into wealth isn't a matter for admiration or envy.  Nor are such people role models, since they can't be emulated.  There is only one Gina Rinehart, one Bill Gates, one Warren Buffet, and so on.  Some of these people are enviably smart, with full comprehension of their privileges in this mortal life, and  - notwithstanding the talent, vision and hard work that went into achieving what they have - they don't run around telling the un-rich that they too can achieve dizzy heights of wealth.  They're not that dumb.

With only 1226 billionaires in a global population of seven billion people it's stupid and insulting to lecture the world at large, to imply that there's infinite room at the top.  There isn't.  And the air up there is more rarefied than ever.  

Millionaires and billionaires declaring war on the un-rich is unseemly and more than a little bit pathetic.  It certainly lacks class.

September 14, 2012

September 13, 2012

Staggeringly bad reporting

The politicians are not getting it, the public is not getting it, and our journalists are sure as shit not getting it.

Fairfax newspaper, The Age, reports that Australian tax payers contribute a staggering amount of money to private schools, an amount not matched by other countries.

That's an interesting matter, of course, but the report then examines, and provides a graphic, to illustrate how Australian teacher salaries and classroom hours compare with a select number of countries.  Guess what?  The article mentions the top five best performing countries for educating our future generations, but the salary / teaching graphs don't include any of the top five.  A small reminder:  our PM, Julia Gillard, is promising to throw another $6.5B each year at our schools (but not for another couple of years, with full implementation to come to fruition in 13 years time) with the aspiration that Australian results in basic skills moves into the top five.  (In this millenium, we assume, despite Gillard's on the never-never timeframe.)

Why, I must ask, is Fairfax presenting irrelevant data?  Why, instead, are they not questioning the 258 per cent increase in educational funding between 1964 and 2003, with no improvement in literacy or numeracy in that time, which represents a 73 per cent decline in productivity - despite higher wages for teachers, despite smaller class sizes.

So, yes, let's throw more money at it, more and more and more, for ever-decreasing returns.

Her ''legislated goal'' is for Australian students to be ranked in the top five countries in maths, reading and science by 2025, positions currently occupied by Finland, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said Australia was performing only slightly above the average in areas such as student-teacher ratios and secondary school completion rates. ''Although we are doing well in some areas, we still have a lot of work to do to reach our goal.''

The OECD report found 68.6 per cent of public expenditure on schooling in Australia in 2009 went to the state system, compared with 99.2 per cent in the US, 88.1 per cent in Finland and 85.2 per cent in Korea. The average was 85.8 per cent.
Or maybe, instead of irrelevant commentary and irrelevant data, The Age could have mulled over why an education revolution, in progress for five years so far, isn't going to take another 13 years.  

Revolutions are supposed to move a little quicker, aren't they? 

Our big spend on private schools

September 12, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

Writing is hard for every last one of us. . . . Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.   

Cheryl Strayed

September 9, 2012

Two dollar shop

Gina Rinehart is a large target, being urber-rich, opinionated and in possession of quite a repellent character.  That doesn't stop her from putting a big red target on her forehead though.  She's a brave woman, Gina.  Having been obsessively private and quiet for decades on end, Gina, in her midlife crisis, has started to share her every silly thought with the entire world.  Yep.  Mighty brave.

A group of African miners were shot dead by police last week, with a few hundred of their colleagues momentarily charged with murder (for inciting police to kill miners, we assume).  In the same week Gina thought it excellent timing to take to YouTube to announce how wonderful the world would be if the working motivation of the average African miner - who are prepared to work for less than $2 a day - was more widespread:  preferably widespread to Australia.

Gina earns around $611 per second, sitting in an office.  Police are never likely to shoot her for standing up and yapping on YouTube.  Gina makes her money from digging up the resources owned by all of us.  Gina inherited tens of millions of dollars from her father, along with some clever deals that did not come to fruition until long after his death, but left Gina holding the platinum bag, as it were. 

Gina didn't ponder whether African miners were eager and happy to be working in appalling conditions, or eager and happy to work for less than $2 a day.  Nor did she ponder whether such wages, such blatant exploitation, was sustainable, humane, or equitable, given the massive profits to be had from mining -  in Africa or Australia.  Gina didn't wonder, during her rash bout of thinking out loud, how the miners managed to feed, house, clothe and educate a family on less than $2 a day. 

Gina also suggested that Australians should stop whinging, drinking and smoking - and we should stop being lazy blobs.  Follow these instructions, she implied, and all us would become billionaires, just like Gina.  Logically impossible, of course.  Gina doesn't like people being jealous of her wealth.  Jealous people who begrudge her an endless collection of pearls.  Jealous people who don"t work as hard as she does. 

Mostly, Gina doesn't like lazy people who expect to be paid more than $2 a day for their labor. 

That ten minute tirade must have gone down a treat with her thousands of workers. 

Her children, though, have heard it all before, directed at them.  Gina hates everyone equally.  Gotta give her that. 

World's Media Pan Rinehart's $2 a Day African Miner Comments-20120906-25fpq.html

September 8, 2012

Melbourne Zoo - Marli

Forget sun kicks, sun burps pretty spectacular

Sun burp
An aurora visible in Yokon, following the sun burp

Julia racing against clock

"To win the economic race, we must first win the education race".

Prime Minister Julia Gillard continues to live in her own world, full of pixies, fairies, marvelous teachers, old laptops and empty school halls.  

It's a vision she inflicted on a bunch of miners, for reasons understood by no one, other than Julia and her woeful speech writers. 

Julia has been racing all this time, and we didn't know it.  Good to find out.  Now we can look toward the finish line, to see where Julia is going.  We might even cheer her on.  Or move the finish line.  Whichever proves more amusing.

September 7, 2012

September 5, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

 The good news, to relieve all this gloom, is that a democracy is inherently self-correcting. Here, the people are sovereign. Inept political leaders can be replaced. Foolish policies can be changed. Disastrous mistakes can be reversed.

Theodore Sorenson, political adviser to J.F.K.

September 3, 2012

We did notice, Pete

Dumbest opinion expressed by any Australian, so far this century:
As the share of wages that must be put into super is set to rise to 12 per cent, from 9 per cent, today, Mr Costello said ''very few people'' realised this system had recently lost money, and there was a risk workers were being forced to make ''bad investments''.

Seems it's good thing Pete retired from politics rather than become leader of the opposition.  The addling of his mind and all sense would have been sad to witness on a daily basis.

Costello questions whether super is working

Pick your poison

Future governments may need to raise $120 billion – or almost $20,000 for the average four-person family – by the end of the decade to pay for Labor’s spending commitments.

Or around $70 billion, and counting, for Liberal promises.

Most of which will go on services or free money to the needy-rich. 

Not to infrastructure, not to value-added industries, not to geographic security, not to water security, not to food security.