December 27, 2013

December 25, 2013

Just a little computer simulation

Physicists have devised a new experiment to test if the universe is a computer.

A philosophical thought experiment has long held that it is more likely than not that we're living inside a machine.

The theory basically goes that any civilisation which could evolve to a 'post-human' stage would almost certainly learn to run simulations on the scale of a universe. And that given the size of reality - billions of worlds, around billions of suns - it is fairly likely that if this is possible, it has already happened.

And if it has? Well, then the statistical likelihood is that we're located somewhere in that chain of simulations within simulations.
 That's ok then, none of this is real.


Physicists to test if Universe is a computer simulation

Life will end in half a billion years: don't worry, it won't be your fault

 Life and Earth as we know them, will end, but it won't be human induced - not even by global warming.  Those last two points will disappoint a few billion people, who daily long for Armageddon, purely for the joy of being able to say 'I told you so'.  
Earth, for example, is 4.6 billion years old, but animal life has been around for only half a billion years, and oxygen has only been abundant in the atmosphere for two billion years or so and, of course, intelligent life only a sliver of that time. If we found an analogue of Earth circa three billion years ago, would we even recognize it as a promising place? 

The book’s title, Billings says, is a reference to the expected longevity of life on Earth, but his account is less about exoplanets than about the people who make the search for them their lives’ cause — “creatures that, before their sun went dim, might somehow touch the stars.” 

There is both good and bad news here. The good news, Billings reports, is that even if we burn up all the fossil fuel, we are unlikely to tip Earth into “a runaway-­greenhouse world” as one scientist described Venus.
The bad news is the planet is going to become uninhabitable anyway. Long before the Sun burns out, Earth’s core will cool off and volcanoes, which restore the atmosphere, will cease. The amount of carbon dioxide will fall to levels too low to support photosynthesis in half a billion years or so. 

Complex life arose here only half a billion years ago, notes James Kasting, a geosciences professor at Penn State, who concludes glumly that intelligence might exist for only one-tenth of Earth’s history, cutting the odds of its being detected elsewhere. 
Did you notice that little bit in there?  Carbon dioxide, currently labelled, for marketing reasons, a pollutant, and source of all evil, despite remaining one of a handful of elements essential for any and all life, will fall to levels that are too low - in half a billion years.  

It makes the efforts to reduce carbon dioxide look a tad silly.  

Laugh only in moderation

Just in time to protect patients from the dangers of holiday cheer, a new scholarly review from a British medical journal describes many harmful effects wrought by laughter. 

Among the alarms it sounds: The force of laughing can dislocate jaws, prompt asthma attacks, cause headaches, make hernias protrude. It can provoke cardiac arrhythmia, syncope or even emphysema (this last, according to a clinical lecturer in 1892). 

At the very least, the new review could be considered an affirmation for the perpetually dour. If 2013 was the year of the worried well, the authors imply that 2014 is poised to be the year of the humorless healthy.
Despite such a comprehensive look at the medical literature on laughter, Dr. Ferner felt there was still territory to be charted. “We don’t know how much laughter is safe,” he said. “There’s probably a U-shaped curve: laughter is good for you, but enormous amounts are bad, perhaps. It’s not a problem in England.”
 Who says laughter's the best medicine

Dead drunk

Giving literal meaning to the concept of being drunk with power, first killing off his uncle, then having a couple of aides killed - the latter a decision made by Kim-Jong, the young punk in charge of North Korea nowadays, while he was drunk.

Pity the people of North Korea.  Nothing is to save them.

Wednesday Wisdom

December 24, 2013


Kate Winslet and her husband have named their baby boy Bear.

The Pitt-Jolie family have done their Christmas shopping at a Target store in a little spot on the Gold Coast, Australia. 

And that was the news today.

December 20, 2013

December 13, 2013

December 9, 2013

Bolt shines light on his dark underbelly

Earlier today I glanced at Andrew Bolt's daily column.  I won't link to it.

The headline read something about the 'dark side' of Nelson Mandela. 

Bolt wrote about this 'dark side' and recourse to violence, and blah, blah, blah. 

No nuance, no understanding of history, of apartheid, of Mandela, of anything.

Mandela never killed anyone (which is good!), yet spent 27 years in jail.  Do I have to point out that most of our local murderers spend a fraction of that time in jail?

Anyway, Bolt had nothing good to say about a man, newly dead, whose life served more good on any single day than most of us manage throughout our full lifespan.  Along with me, Bolt fits firmly into the second group. 

If ever I had wondered about the sincerity of Bolt's opinions, as opposed to deliberate provocation for the sake of attention, or wondered about whether there's a tiny black and bitter heart driving his daily rants ... today was a revalation.

Shallow and despicable, for no other reason than that he can, and he's paid to be.

December 6, 2013

Left of politics still not happy with the right of politics

The tenor of intensity with which many journalists dislike the Prime Minister and his colleagues is evident in the note which accompanies the current edition of The Monthly magazine. Editor John van Tiggelen quotes "one of the magazine's most popular contributors" as declaring: "I don't think I've ever seen such a cabinet of creeps; I can't bear to take them seriously yet."
This contributor chose to remain anonymous. Not so Van Tiggelen himself, who referred to the Abbott government's "onanistic reverence for John Howard" and depicted it as "this frat party of Young Liberals who refuse to grow up".
A considered person might well have regarded such language as redolent of frattish, undergraduate language. But Van Tiggelen is the editor of one of Australia's leading magazines and is happy to put his name to such infantile abuse.
The cover of The Monthly claims the magazine contains an article by Greg Sheridan titled "My Beautiful Bromance with Tony Abbott". In fact, this is an attempt at ridicule by academic Russell Marks. Sheridan has known Abbott for three decades. To some, Sheridan's recollections in The Australian and elsewhere of the young Abbott have been of considerable interest. Not to the likes of Marks and Tiggelen, however, who regard them as a suitable case for sneering. 
A problem for the Abbott government is that most journalists who report national politics are inner-city types. It's difficult to think of many members of the Canberra press gallery or key reporters in the capital cities who would support Abbott's position on, say, climate change or asylum seekers or same sex marriage.
So much is the dislike of Abbott that it appears some commentators want his policies to fail even if this is damaging to Australia's national interest.

Abbott's anguish inner city types in media dislike him

Loss of a hero

So few heroes in the world, now one fewer. 

Nelson Mandela 
Jailed for 27 years, released 1990, aged 70
President of South Africa 1994-99.
July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013

100 years of Canberra breeds a Skywhale

I still don't get it.  
In celebration of Canberra's centenary, a skywhale hot air balloon was created, by an artist who shall not be named on this little site.  

I understand the link between hot air and Canberra, but I've got no clue what whales have to do with our landlocked capital city.  
Nor can I get my pea brain around the concept of a whale with a dozen teats on its wings.
An ugly and absurd piece of 'art'.
Having paid $300K for this inflated object, the ACT government doesn't even own it; that honour goes to a hot air balloon company in Melbourne. 

Duck Friday

December 4, 2013

Saving the world one vacuum cleaner at a time

What next, hairdryers?!

Now Europe wants to make it harder to cleaner your carpets

EU energy saving rules cut power of vacuum cleaners

Politics: throwing money at it is rarely the solution

For three decades, the education budget has increased by so many multiples of every other area of government spending, and so many multiples of the CPI, it makes my head spin.

Those decades of evidence show, convincingly, that hundreds of billions of dollars - additional funding - hasn't improved educational outcomes in Australia.  On the contrary, Australia's global ranking on basic lifetime skills and knowledge continue to go down, down, down. 

Yet, both the Liberal and the Labor parties continue to throw (or promise to throw) more and more money into eduction.  Neither party is able to provide evidence that there will, this time, be improved outcomes.

It's called evidence-based funding. 

Not something we do in this country. 

Imagine how much dumber the future generations of politicians will be.

Nah.  Don't think about it.  Your head will explode. 

He just sings and stuff, right?

"I'm my favourite rapper." YouTube

"I mean, my music isn't just music, it's medicine. I want my songs to touch people, to give them what they need. Every time I make an album, I'm trying to make a cure for cancer, musically." BMI

"I'm going down as a legend, whether or not you like me or not. I am the new Jim Morrison. I am the new Kurt Cobain ... The Bible had 20, 30, 40, 50 characters in it. You don't think that I would be one of the characters of today's modern Bible?" Interview with Tom Westwood.

"My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live." VH1 storytellers

"I am the number one human being in music. That means any person that's living or breathing is number two." The Wendy Williams show.

"I wouldn't even say that I'm a rapper. I'd say I'm more of a messenger." Jimmy Kimmel Live

"I am Warhol. I am the No. 1 most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh." SiriusXM

"I'm like a vessel, and God has chosen me to be the voice and the connector." The Fader

"I just think that when my confidence meets other people's insecurity, that equals 'Kanye's arrogant.'" Vibe 

"When I think of competition it's like I try to create against the past. I think about Michelangelo and Picasso, you know, the pyramids." Slate

Kanye West's 10 most arrogant quotes

Wednesday Wisdom

November 29, 2013

November 24, 2013

Not funny

“It’s real,” he said. “I’m quite excited about it. I hope it makes us a lot of money. I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!”

So says one of the surviving Python's about their threatened reunion. 

John Cleese has already done this, to unfunny effect - a one man performance, taken around the world, for which, I gather from reviews, Cleese did nothing more than stand on a stage to complain at length about having to do the show so as to pay alimony to one of his numerous ex-wives.  For this, real people paid real money. 

It does beg the question why any of them would still have a mortgage to pay off and why the public should now suffer these old men - flaunting the deserving rich syndrome is never a good look.

Bring out your dead - Monty Python reunite to pay off their mortgages

November 22, 2013

November 15, 2013

November 13, 2013

Green fantasies break everyone

And Germans are discovering that their warm embrace of green policies is leaving the most vulnerable citizens out in the cold - quite literally. Charities call it "energy poverty". Rising electricity bills, in large part due to Germany's renewable energy surcharges, have seen power cut off to more than 300,000 households a year because of unpaid bills.

As Stefan Becker from Catholic charity Caritas in Berlin told Der Spiegel, "People here have to decide between spending money on an expensive energy-saving bulb or a hot meal."

In other words, the fine-sounding push towards renewable energy - through subsidies to an expensive and haphazard renewable industry - redistributes money from a poor family living in a tiny apartment to a well-to-do family living in a house with roof-mounted solar panels.

And as Der Spiegel points out, the left-wing parties are most responsible for hurting the poor. The Social Democrats, "which sees itself as the party of the working class, long ignored this regressive aspect of the system. The Greens, the party of higher earners, continue to do so."

Former German environment minister Jurgen Tritten of the Green Party once said that Germany's switch to renewable energy would cost each German no more than the cost of a scoop of ice cream. In fact, rising electricity prices mean that the poor can barely pay for dinner, let alone dessert.

The same crunch is happening in Britain where Prime Minister David Cameron once declared his government would be the "greenest government ever". Cameron now admits that green levies for renewable energy are causing "energy poverty" for 2.4 million British households.
Green dreams 

Wednesday Wisdom

November 12, 2013

More stuff that politicians can't do

Ten thousand dead, current estimates, and millions homeless and without clean drinking water and food. 

Over at the UN, the Philippine's representative implores politicians to end the 'climate madness'. 

Alas, neither politicians nor the rest of us ordinary humans are much good at changing the weather let alone the climate. It has been this way for five billion years. 

It's like suggesting we equip ourselves with dinner forks to push back ocean waves or use tennis rackets to reduce wind.

The real madness, which has persisted since recorded time, is the inability of humans to predict the future.  Humans have an especially poor strike rate with predicting Armageddons, and yet so many persist, ever hopeful that one or other Armageddon will arrive - to prove them right. 

Jarring juxtaposition

Paul Keating on the ABC, being interviewed by Kerry.

Clive Palmer giving a speech at the National Press Club - following his first few minutes sitting in his brand new seat in federal parliament - channeling JFK, and lauding Marx.

*Head exploding*

November 9, 2013

Why do Americans need so many bathrooms?

Located half an hour out of Chicago, the nine-bedroom, 15-bathroom mansion sprawls over three hectares and boasts five fireplaces, a wine cellar with room for 500 bottles, a home theatre, card room and cigar room.
Yes, it's a $29M house, but all the same, who the hell needs 15 bathrooms to a ratio of nine bedrooms?  Plus there's a three bedroom guesthouse, no doubt with a goodly surfeit of its own bathrooms.

Much smaller residences in the US have the same thing going on - not uncommon to see houses listed with a few bedrooms and a squillion bathrooms; no mere powder room is ever enough for the occasional visitor. 

Do Americans have bladder issues? 

Do they have collective obsessive compulsive disorder about the cleanliness of their person? 

Or is this a job creation scheme for bathroom cleaners? 

Michael Jordan's gigantic Chicago mansion goes to auction

November 3, 2013

Honesty in politics

In startling news, buried deep inside the Sunday paper, Tony Abbott recently kept his word by visiting a Queensland mother of six, who has concerns about coal seam gas. 

Mrs Orr's local member gave her a call, seeking morning tea one Saturday.  MP Bruce Scott took the PM with him, and a pleasant time was had by all.

Mrs Orr lives 250km outside of Brisbane.

Abbott continues to be a decent person who goes out of his way to do the right thing.  

He visited, he listened, just as he said he would.

Abbott honours a promise 

November 2, 2013

Why the Greens and the ALP too often make me want to puke

Adam Bandt was a bit quiet after linking Tony Abbott's climate change policies to the NSW bushfires.

But Bandt later got support from Labor MP David Feeney, who suggested that the PM was himself politicising the fires. "The Liberals are appalled that anyone would politicise the NSW bushfires" he tweeted, with a picture of Abbott in his RFS gear.

Yes, the fires are well over, as is this political anecdote, but it still makes me furious that when a moral high ground is within sight, the Greens and the ALP usually opt for the other road. 
Abbott sets an example by firefighting, lifesaving and raising money for charities, most particularly for women.

It's pathetic and boorish to deride his life long contribution to the community in which he lives.

What has Adam Brant or David Feeney done for others lately, or over the course of the last couple of decades?

Not much of anything, I'd hazard a guess.  So much time on their hands and so little decency.

October 18, 2013

October 17, 2013

Maxine suffers retrospective momentary clarity

Maxine McKew, three years after her momentary stint in federal parliament ended, continues to gain attention for regurgitating every thought that every other adult in the country has had during the last six years, about the ALP federal leaders. 

At The Australian (bless ‘em), McKew's belated thoughts were given maxi coverage yesterday, for reason unfathomable. 
Having trashed Julia Gillard's prime ministership, former Labor MP Maxine McKew has now rubbished the man to whom she owes her brief political career: Kevin Rudd. 

Ms McKew, who won John Howard's seat of Bennelong in 2007, says Mr Rudd was "off his game" during this year's election campaign, advocated idiotic policies and introduced a "perverse and cruel" asylum-seeker regime that she "couldn't stomach".

The one-term MP, a former ABC 7.30 Report host recruited by Mr Rudd to run in 2007, says Mr Rudd "went off the deep end" when he announced he favoured "the idiocy" of preferential tax rates for companies that moved to the Northern Territory. Ms McKew also says Labor's "already diminished credibility was practically shredded" when senior public servants disowned the suggestion they had verified a "black hole" in the Coalition's policy costings.

And she attacks the selection of former Queensland premier Peter Beattie as Labor's candidate for Forde, describing it as one of the "worst" decisions of the campaign and saying "it looked desperate".
Yep, we know all of that, and more, but thanks for playing, Maxine. 

Kevin Rudd trashed as Maxine McKew mauls her maker

October 16, 2013

Palmer doesn’t know how to quit while ahead

The legitimacy of more than half the votes cast in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax has been challenged by Clive Palmer's legal team in a lengthy process that may leave the seat unrepresented when parliament resumes early next month. 
Fairfax is the only seat still undecided, with the massive number of challenges brought by Mr Palmer's scrutineers -- who are paid employees of law firm HopgoodGanim -- the main reason for the delay.
The recount started last week after Mr Palmer finished seven votes ahead of the Liberal National Party's Ted O'Brien. Under Australian Electoral Commission rules, there is an automatic recount when the margin is less than 100 votes.

In what had previously been the closest election count in modern electoral history, the recount for the Victorian seat of McEwen in 2007, there were 643 contested votes out of approximately 100,000 cast.
AEC figures late yesterday show that of the 89,167 votes being recounted, 47,135 have been challenged and given to the district returning officer for a determination.

He also said the "vast majority" of challenges had come from representatives of the Palmer United Party. There was some movement in the public tally yesterday, with figures published on the AEC website showing Mr Palmer now 20 votes ahead.
Which begs the question how often Palmer needs to win his seat before he finally concedes he's won and heads to parliament.  

Was it all a gag, he didn't mean it?  

Or is he itching to take the AEC to court?  

Either way, he's wasting everyone's time and money.  

Costly recount puts Clive's tilt in limbo 

Wednesday Wisdom

Formula for a successful writer: 90 per cent avoiding the internet, 1 per cent writing, 9 per cent persuading the cat to sit somewhere other than on your keyboard.

Lauren Beukes

October 11, 2013

Duck Friday

c/o Kath ... of course

October 10, 2013

Driving motor vehicles damages men's brains

A conservative Saudi Arabian cleric has said women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems, countering activists who are trying to end the Islamic kingdom's male-only driving rules.
A campaign calling for women to defy the ban in a protest drive on October 26 has spread rapidly online over the past week and gained support from some prominent women activists. On Sunday, the campaign's website was blocked inside the kingdom.
In an interview published on Friday on the website, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, a judicial adviser to an association of Gulf psychologists, said women aiming to overturn the ban on driving should put "reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions".

His comments reflect the extent of opposition to women driving among some conservatives in Saudi Arabia.
"If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards," he told Sabq.

"That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees," he said.

" ... automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards ..."?  This might suggest that women should never sit down, rather than being a function of driving a vehicle, yes? 

Sadly, the real story is the evidence, collected over many decades, and indisputable, that men who drive motor vehicles, whether out of pure necessity or for frivolous reasons, experience shrinkage of their manly bits and their brains – such shrinkage being in direct proportion to the amount of driving undertaken.  So far, medical scientists have seen no limit to which the manly bits and brains can shrink, but it could prove to be until the point of disappearance. 

Portrait of gallstones

International Images for Science Exhibition 2013: No, this is not a pebbly beach, these are gallstones.  (Ouch!)

Portrait of a tardigrade


International Images for Science Exhibition 2013: A portrait of a tardigrade or waterbear, The animals consist of only a few hundred cells that are differentiated into muscles, digestive organs, reproductive organs, nerves, in many cases eyes. This creature was found in a crater lake in Kenya, Africa.

October 9, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

Wisdom begins in wonder. 


October 8, 2013

October 6, 2013


Bill Gates has admitted that Ctl+Alt+Delete was a mistake, although it wasn't actually his fault, it was the guy who designed how the keyboard would work - and for reasons we'll never know, he refused to change his two hand/three keys combo. Damn him!


 Chopper Read, back in the day.

October 2, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

Happiness is not a brilliant climax to years of grim struggle and anxiety. It is a long succession of little decisions simply to be happy in the moment.

J. Donald Walters

September 27, 2013

September 25, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

Without a trace of irony I can say I have been blessed with brilliant enemies. I owe them a great debt, because they redoubled my energies and drove me in new directions.

E. O. Wilson

September 23, 2013

This should fix things: Centre for Memory, Imagination and Invention

Everything you thought you knew about environments and communities is wrong.  But don't worry, you can blame your poor memory, and lack of imagination and invention.

Memory, imagination and invention are three pre-conditions for sustaining communities and environments. The Centre for Memory, Imagination and Invention (CMII) comprises a unique interdisciplinary group that addresses these interrelated concerns from both theoretical and applied perspectives. 

Building on the expertise represented in its members, CMII responds to a growing recognition that scenarios for future sustainability based exclusively on instrumentalist, rational paradigms fail to produce community engagement. CMII's mission is to demonstrate and enhance the usefulness and the efficacy of humanities, creative arts and social sciences research to cause positive social change, and to improve social and cultural fabric.
Deploying innovative methods drawn from the disciplines of cultural heritage studies, museology, architecture, literary studies, creative arts and design, CMII is forging ground-breaking projects focusing on themes including spatiality, cross-cultural engagement, innovative technologies, and the operation of memory.

Clive Palmer gets the hang of being an elected member

The new Member for Fairfax responds on Twitter to a questions about his Waratah Coal mine seeking Federal environment approval.


September 20, 2013

They wish

Lexicon, by Max Barry, is a story about an organisation of poets who can, after training, control people by using stupendously powerful words. 

Yes, yes, it's FICTION.

Poets would never have the wherewithal to organise themselves. 

Fowl research

In the UK, six universities have each taken a share of $3.4 million in grants to study how humans interact with chickens.

Yes, chickens.

Yes, how humans interact with them.

Since 6000BC. 

That is, the study will look at human interactions with chooks over thousands of years.

This announcement has been bought to you by KFC. 

As you were. 

Duck Friday

September 18, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

September 16, 2013

Not a peep

Anyone know how the Wikileaks party fared in the not-yet-stale Australian federal election?

Sunk without a peep or a squeak, I assume.

Our political reporters so uninterested that there hasn't been any commentary on where it all went wrong.

Ditto no analysis of how Katter was eclipsed by all and sundry, most especially the sundry Palmer and PUP.

September 13, 2013

Voyager goes star treking

Voyager, the little explorer that could, has left our solar system.
"This is the first time that humanity has been able to step outside of the cradle of the solar system to explore the larger galaxy," said Marc Swisdak, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland.

The unmanned probe was launched in 1977 to study Jupiter and Saturn but has continued for 19 billion kilometres and is now exploring the galaxy.

It is carrying a golden disc with spoken greetings, earth sounds and a collection of music in case it is found by intelligent life forms.
NASA - Voyager:  The Interstellar Mission

Voyager has gone where no probe has gone before

And so say both of them

Anthony Albanese said he is running for the Labor leadership because he believes he can deliver the party government again at the next election. 

"I am standing for the Labor leadership because I firmly believe I am the best candidate to lead Labor back into government at the next election."
Bill Shorten said the same thing.

Duck Friday

September 11, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children’s games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.

The Napoleon of Notting Hill – G. K. Chesterton

September 9, 2013

More wash out

The ABC asks the big questions:  'Is it time for Kevin Rudd to quit politics'.

Well, yes, yes it is time.

However, word has it that Rudd has no intention of going anywhere other than straight back to parliament.  This is staggering, unfathomable, if true. 

Australian Greens leader, Christine Milne, refuses to accept any responsibility for a reduction in the Green vote - it's the fault of the ALP and a lack of support from the environmental movement, apparently. 

The whopping 27 per cent drop in support looks like leading to, alas, more Greens in parliament.  Okay, only one more, but that's one too many.

Fearless Clive Palmer, leader of the PUP, has already declared that Tony Abbott owes him - Palmer is taking credit for getting the LNP over the line.

I'm king maker, says Clive Palmer

*Rolls eyes*
LNP star candidate Bill Glasson has labelled Kevin Rudd churlish, sanctimonious, disrespectful and a smart-arse after the deposed prime minister used his concession speech to brag about victory in his own seat. 
Giving his speech on Saturday night, Mr Rudd said: "It would be un-prime ministerial of me to say, 'Bill Glasson, eat your heart out,' so I won't."
The entire 24 minutes of Rudd's speech was shameless.

Kevin Rudd slammed for gloat

How the grown ups got back in charge:

Just after Tony Abbott's frustratingly fruitless victory in the 2010 election campaign, Liberal pollster and strategist Mark Textor presented party director Brian Loughnane with a paper entitled "A campaign for grown-ups by grown-ups". 
Being grown-up became the central theme of a three-year strategy in which four principals with their own distinct roles and talents worked towards Saturday night's "overnight success" of the election of the "unpopular" and "unelectable" Liberal leader as prime minister.

'Grown up' tactics trump negativity for coalition

September 7, 2013

Oh for fuck's sake!

Remember the dirge-like victory speech that Kevin Rudd gave when the ALP won the federal election back in 2007?  The droning that seemed like it would never end?  I can't have been the only person who felt an urge to hand the man a Prozac.

Fast forward to a slamming defeat in 2013 - although yes, he did save the furniture - Rudd's concession speech was cheery, buoyant, bouncy, verbose and virtually a victory speech - and no, he didn't shut the fuck up.

Rudd's latest thought bubble slow to expand

Why hasn't Rudd conceded defeat yet?

It's heading to 10pm and the outcome has been obvious for three and a half hours.

September 6, 2013

September 4, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and is widely regarded as a bad move.

Douglas Adams

September 2, 2013

It's the economy stupid

Labor campaign spokeswoman Penny Wong tends to lull her audience into a hypnotic state. But this line hit us like a slap in the face. "I think a lot of people are tired of this costings debate, I'd quite like to be able to talk about something else," she told Seven News on Friday. Say what?
(The Oz) 

And with that, Wong joined the Hockey camp of inventing the lie that voters are bored by economics.

As far as I know, there's no 'costing' in the world that can establish that a policy is sound and appropriate, will be effective, will have no unintended outcomes, and will come in at the cost first claimed.  

Nor is there any 'costing' that can establish that the opportunity cost of one policy over another is defensible - at least not in the land down under, since both of our major parties ignore such inconveniences.

These are the reasons why the empty 'debate' about costings should stop.  It's a nonsense game, and the ALP and the Liberals are treating us like fools.  

With only four days until votes are cast, we haven't heard a single concrete or coherent economic thought from Rudd or from Abbott.  


Battle of the witless

The prime minister on Tuesday offered a scathing assessment of the opposition leader's "temperament", including whether he's capable of dealing with complex diplomatic issues.
Mr Rudd took up the theme again on Wednesday, describing Mr Abbott as "aggressive".

He justified the personal attack by saying the Australian people have a right to know "what they're buying". "With me, they do, warts and all," Mr Rudd told reporters in Brisbane…
Mr Abbott later brushed off the comments.
"I'm not going to get into a competitive character assassination with Mr Rudd," he told reporters in Tasmania. "I'll leave Mr Rudd to engage in that kind of personal attack.
"I would simply suggest if you want to know my character, ask my colleagues. If you want to know Mr Rudd's character, ask his colleagues."


August 31, 2013

Character is destiny

He loves to run, and swim and bicycle, and he loves to volunteer, in the bushfire brigade, in the surf life-savers, in Aboriginal communities, in raising money for charity. He has been doing all this for 20 or 30 years. There are things people dislike about Abbot, but he is always the same man. In a decade as a minister and four years as opposition leader, there are no stories of mistreating staff, no stewardesses in tears.

There is one episode in Abbott's life I witnessed but don't often recount because my own role was so utterly unheroic. In 1977, Abbott and I were lying on the sand at a surf beach some distance out of Melbourne. The surf was way too rough for either of us to go in. Suddenly a woman came up to us screaming. Her son had been pulled out by a rip and was in bad trouble.

I was a weak swimmer and had I dived in someone would very soon have had to rescue me. Abbott was a strong swimmer and pretty much without hesitation jumped in, swam out to the kid, took hold of him, dragged him down the coastline a bit to get past the rip, and brought him safely to shore. He was not a bit interested in the mother's thanks, rather a bit disgusted the kid had gone out in such treacherous surf.

That was 36 years ago. I've got no doubt if the incident happened today Abbott's response would be the same.

Publicly and privately, he's the same bloke. His personality may be unreconstructed, but also, it's not a construct.

A contest between constructed man and unreconstructed man - Greg Sheridan

Syria UN Human Rights Committee frowns a little bit

The UN Human Rights Committee and the EU have "expressed serious concerns" about events in Syria. 

Then they had cucumber sandwiches and took an afternoon stroll.

Tally over four years:

- 100,000 dead

- four million refugees.

How to avoid ending up in front of a firing squad in North Korea

The road to Damascus

Understanding the Syrian civil war in 10 easy steps from the comfort of your safe little home -

Simple points to help you understand the Syria conflict.

August 28, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter

August 22, 2013

As with Howard, so goes Rudd

With just over two weeks remaining, and the entire country fed up with our feeble federal politicians, it's starting to look as though the good people in the electorate of Griffith will serve the country in the only way they can - by voting Kev Rudd, current Prime Minister, out of office.

The voters of Griffith - not Gillard, not Shorten, not Abbott, not the collective of voters - will finally put a stake in the heart of Rudd's overweening ambition.

So you see, federal political life is still closely resembling a box of chocolates.

Polling suggests PM Kevin Rudd could lose his own seat

August 21, 2013

Rock and hard place

Consider the equation before voters. On one side is a two-term government racked by spectacular hatreds, dragged low by broken promises on carbon and the surplus, various program failures, and a worsening economy. It campaigns for ''a new way'' but offers a recycled leader once dumped and then viciously traduced by his own side. This gaffer-taped operation is asking voters for three more years.
On the other side is an opposition famed for its negativity and woefully small-horizon thinking, yet uncannily united and consistent. Its leader, while prone to the odd verbal gaffe - his female candidates have ''sex appeal'' - enjoys unqualified support internally.

Little wonder, then, that in a choice between Labor's incendiary internal chaos, which might or might not be behind it, and the Coalition's ground-dwelling but unified ordinariness, the latter is appealing to more voters.
While the 2010 federal election campaign was chaotic and absurd (can anyone ever forget the unveiling of the 'real Julia', who was awfully busy moving everything forward?), come 2013, things are tied, ugly and enervating.  Nonetheless, on September 8, we will all wake up to a new government.  We will get one or the other, and neither one or the other is anywhere near as good as we deserve.

Ground control to major Kev, sorry you're a goner

Wednesday Wisdom

There is another world but it is in this one.

Paul √Čluard

August 14, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. 

F.Scott.Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby