This Mess We’re In

Teaching Children is Easy

Hong Kong has apparently been working hard at its efforts to integrate its multi-racial society a bit closer. This satirical jab from Hong Wrong on the statelet’s (sorry Self Governing Territory) efforts at educating the younger members of it’s society shows they clearly have some way to go.

The Trouble with Politicians

Speaking of Hong Kong, there was news this week that a politician born there was considering leaving Northern Ireland after more than 40 years…

…for good because of enduring sectarianism and now rising racism.
Lo, who represents South Belfast in the regional parliament, also cited first minister Peter Robinson’s support for a born-again Christian preacher’s depiction of Islam as “the spawn of the devil” as a reason for wanting out of Ulster politics.

Far be it for me to suggest that The North’s thin veneer of success following the end of the Troubles might be wearing thin, but I do* look forward to this month’s and next’s Parade Season to kick off. (* in the way that I look forward to a screaming baby at 3am).

A More Secure Commute

Meanwhile in Beijing qz is claiming they are now subject to Airport Security style searches before entering the subway, leading to massive lines. As one commenter mentions:

Surely “throwing a bomb into this crowd would be more lethal” than setting one off on the subway, noted one skeptic

Exactly, everything’s fine!

This Teenage Government

Our venerable Prime Minister today released an announcement ostensibly about the 70th anniversary of D-Day and upcoming visit to Canada and the USA. It contained such D-Day references as:

The Government’s Economic Action Strategy to lower tax, cut red tape and encourage trade will improve the competitiveness of businesses so that we can build a stronger Australia.
We welcome investment and we are making investment more attractive by scrapping the carbon tax and the mining tax, cutting 50,000 pages of red tape and ending the “analysis paralysis” on major projects.
Our international partners can see that our Budget is again under control, we are tackling debt and deficits and we are serious about building a strong and prosperous economy.

I’m sure the diggers and others who thought they fought to save Europe from tyranny would be surprised to know it was actually to protect Tony’s mates from Carbon Taxes. That they later withdrew the statement should only add to the concern the teenagers have left another mess for the adults to clean up.

This Mess We’re In

After that selection of mind-numbing news, I have to leave it the magnificent Polly Jean Harvey to remind us how much it seems to change, but never really does:

And I have seen the sunrise over the river
The freeway reminding of this mess we’re in

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Lullabies: Five Pints 14 3

Science

I know I can sleep happily now they’ve finally solved the Mpemba Effect. Mind you, I thought you put boiled water into the ice cube trays because you could be certain the water was safe. You can tell I’ve been to Mexico and am not a Scientist.


People

Back in February Reza Berati, an Asylum Seeker from Iran, was killed at one of Australia’s Concentration camps for Asylum Seekers and Refugees which are scattered around the pacific islands. It took more than 8 days for an autopsy to determine the cause of death to be held. This past week a report into the events around his death was released.

The Australian Minister for Concentration Camps is clear about where the blame for Mr. Berati’s death really lies;

“There would have been no incident that night had there been no protests, I think that’s clear to say…”

What Scott fails to tell us is that there would have no protests if him and his political ilk treated people with a little more respect and showed a little more compassion.


Music

One evening recently I found myself lullabying my young boy with The Smiths magnificent Asleep.

You’ll be delighted to know he did wake up and wasn’t on his own the next morning.


Language

The internet has been a terrible cure for my infrequent bouts of homesickness. What with Skype and now FaceTime providing an easy avenue to see and talk with friends and family from afar and Facebook, Twitter et al connecting you with what those same people and others are thinking (and Liking) on a daily basis, it’s a lot easier than it must have been back in the day.

To top it off, there’s the People’s Republic of Cork website to remind me of the lilting tones of my own home place. In this story from earlier this year they can help you dear reader say Oiche Maith to me without sounding like a Scot.

If Commander Hadfield could do it on the ISS, why can’t you?


Entertainment

Speaking of Cork, I’ll leave you this time with a lovely little piece about the best part of that fine county, East Cork. And how Padraig Reidy (and I) totes agree that celebrity couple Kimye have chosen the best place in the world to spend their honeymoon this week.

Why Anywhere Else indeed!?

Which mistake did you made today?

Today I made mistakes, we all make mistakes. Not every day, but then as the song goes, some days are better than others.

Sometimes mistakes are good. The best mistakes are the ones where I quickly understood and corrected the problem. The ones where held my hand up and admitted that I messed up and asked the right questions to make sure the problem got fixed. Quickly.

Except in the worst of circumstances, people understand and I have hopefully learned from the experience.

The worst mistakes are where I stick to my guns, bury my head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. The situation where someone has constant and continuing problems, and any reputation that I might be capable goes down the drain.

Somewhere in the middle are the deliberate mistakes. Those made to either test responses or used to distract from something unpalatable. If I made them and was found out, I expect that not only does perception of my capability get thrown out the window, trust is frogmarched out of town as well.

One of the major political parties in Australia, and almost certainly our next government, has made a mistake regarding their policy about filtering the internet. I think we can agree that while the mistake was pretty serious, it wasn’t life threatening – despite some of the online reaction (the overwhelming majority of the country probably think a filter is for their pool or air-conditioner). And the person ultimately responsible for the policy, responded within hours to correct the record and we moved on.

Or have we. One thing I’ve noted from the ongoing online responses is the lack of trust in the response – which admittedly was probably already quite low from many of those responding – a feeling that the clarification wasn’t anything more than a fearful backdown.

Today the same political party released the costings of their announced policies. With the election in two days it should be certain that this long anticipated event would garner most if not all of the headlines less than 48 hours out from the polls opening. Releasing a mistaken policy, while not entirely masking some of the massive numbers in those costs, is bound to have some form of distraction.

Gotcha moments are more likely to make headlines, or at worst get you a story at The Onion, dry figures and policies instead tend to exist down the page.

Which mistake do we think the Liberal Party of Australia made today? Are they spinning a distraction or was it an honest mistake?

Link

Special Minister of State Mark Dreyfus says the bill will be withdrawn altogether if the Coalition does not support it.

"The whole basis for this particular package was the clear commitments that have been received from the Coalition," he said.

"If those commitments aren’t there anymore, we won’t be proceeding with this bill."

Mark Dreyfus learns there’s nothing like inheriting and having to implement someone else’s ideas. Especially if you end up having to defend them.

via ABC news

Are we being taken for granted by our local council candidates?

The first time I voted, Ireland picked my choice to be its President. I only voted one more time there which means that for various reasons, including moving to other side of the world and taking more than 10 years to become a citizen, I’ve not voted for twenty years.

Although I realized that one of the things I opted into when I chose to become a citizen of Australia was that one was required to vote, I was looking forward to breaking my duck, as it were, here in Australia. Especially after going half my life without taking advantage of freedoms hard won.

How disappointed was I then when I realised the first time I would participate in democracy! in my adopted country would be in today’s local council elections? Aside from the fact my council ward seems to be embedded within what’s known as a safe seat both at State and Federal level – with the then likelihood of any contrary vote to the local tendency ending with no result for me – none of the candidates in my ward were known to me, and this is how it remained throughout the campaign, which made it almost impossible for me to decide who to vote for.

Some might say I should chase these candidates down and try to find out more about them. To that I respond, fair comment, but as they are the ones who desire my selection, I’d be expecting the shoe to be on the other foot. Adding insult to injury is the financial penalty that can be imposed upon me or others like me if we choose not to vote due to the lack of interest in the candidates. In my view the fines should be applied to people who put themselves up as candidates and solely rely on a poster in their front garden or a patronising flyer telling me how to vote on the day.

In Federal or perhaps even State elections the constituency sizes are large enough for me to understand if we see neither sight nor sound of a candidate through the campaign. In local council elections, with a population of just thirty thousand to canvass over a period of six to eight weeks – or realistically, if they really are local, over four years – there’s no excuse whatsoever for this population of one not encountering a single candidate among the 14 running.

Democracy involves some amount of free choice, including the choice of whether to participate in its execution. In Australia and NSW, maybe the removal of the choice on whether to participate is allowing these so called local representatives to take our votes for granted. If my experience of this election has thought me anything its that it’s about time the over-represented people of Australia started taking their representatives to task. Not on the polarised party lines so populised in the media, but on their suitability to hold any office.

Making voting optional and removing above the line choices might be good mechanical methods to make candidates use a bit more effort to gain a receptive audience. Most other democracies seem to survive reasonably well without the requirement to vote after all.

But people like me being a bit more curious about who these people are and forcing them to earn their place in society wouldn’t go astray either. It would certainly help me avoid choosing people based upon their names, their party or even how pretty they look.

Otherwise, as a journalist friend of mine tweeted today, they’ll disappear again for four years after Monday only to pop their invisible names up on a ballot paper again in four years time.

Link

Despite both sides playing to populist alarm, and generating quite a bit of noise in the process, Australia’s total number of boat-arrivals is quite small, relative to the total population and the rate at which many other countries receive asylum-seekers

The Economist gets to the nub of the problem in this article. It’s not the boats, it’s the self-serving attitude of our leaders.

Thanks to my friend Naomi for sharing this.

The Editorial Line – Electricity Prices in NSW

Some great examples of journalism not allowing facts to get in the way of a good story or the editorial line in the past 24 hours, here’s one from ABC News Radio.
A story on this years NSW electricity hikes was led and ended stating categorically that they were being mostly caused by the dreaded Carbon Tax. This despite the interviewee in the piece repeating his organisations previous guidance that the Carbon Tax was contributing to only part of the increase.
The journalist narrowly focused her interest on the impact of the Carbon Tax on electricity prices, but the piece contained not a mention of the tax changes introduced to help offset potential price increases due to the Carbon Price. Perhaps the embarrassment of sticking so rigidly to talking points from the federal opposition was the reason the interview has not been published at the ABC News Radio site.
The representative from Energy Networks Australia went into great detail on infrastructure investment required of them in recent years to simply meet 40 hours per annum peak demand. The surprise the host showed when this was raised seems to indicate that she doesn’t live in NSW and is unaware there have been year on year increases of around 20% here over the past 5 years to fund that investment.
Which makes me speculate there will be a follow up on the reasons for the recent electricity price rises. One where the editorial team at ABC News Radio Drive will do some research into the nonsense of making electricity transmission infrastructure capable of managing 1 in every 150 day peak loads as if they occurred every day. Someone this week compared that effort to building all roads to be 12 lanes wide so that no one would have to drive at 3km for a few minutes in peak hour.
Assuming of course the ABC editorial line, which in June may require every discussion to include a Carbon Tax angle, allows for this before July 1 when the new electricity pricing comes into force. Conveniently in line with the introduction of Carbon Pricing.
It’s one thing, after all for commercial interests to tell half the story in order to attract listeners, viewers and readers. It’s a whole other when a non-commerical entity misinforms their listeners so as to toe the editorial line.

An illegal immigrant might just be the leader Australia needs

The soon to be Minister for White People who work in recruitment and sit on the beach added another dolt to his quiver this week with his alleged demand for an apology from the ABC. Proving again the middling replacement for our tolerable government will be as visionless as a baby Koala in the daytime.

This from the man who, with his use of fraudulent, emotional terms in his ambition for leadership, would prefer to create an unexceptional society similar to the suburban pokie infested social club of his electorate. One which might surprise those who come from afar, who imagine our society is more like a rip-roaring Rolling Stones set than the tressed Austrian fiddler we’re actually a little more partial to.

She’ll be right though, we’ll become the RSL of the southern hemisphere. A place where we can moulder in the halcyon days of our youth rocking to a cavalcade of washed up nobodies and feed our slot machines with never emptying pots of gold. And nobody, and especially not the Minister for Stop the Boats, will respond badly when we loudly proclaim our expectation of unlimited welfare for all.

Like The Rolling Stones blowing America away with Little Red Rooster on Ed Sullivan in 1965, you used to have to inspire the people to be rewarded with leadership. These days our leaders appear to just sit back and bore the world to death by press release. Sort of like a political André Rieu, they know their insipid subversions will, without question, be rebroadcast by the media consumed by the apathetic.

The current disregard for both sides of politics in this country shows, clearly, there’s room for a leader to inspire people like me off our collective behinds. No longer kicking our heels, rather looking forward to going back to the top of the slide and taking a ride, as it were.

Perhaps that person once got on a boat to escape poverty, destruction or some other life impacting situation. And illegally arrived in Australia against the wishes of the Minister for White Australia.

I could rock like the Ed Sullivan show to that.

Our Survey says #1

Following the release of Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment Data last week Roy Morgan Research did a Poll where electors (sic) were asked:

The monthly Australian Bureau of Statistics unemployment estimate is 4.9%* while the monthly Roy Morgan estimate is 9.3%. Which do you think is closest to Australia’s true level of unemployment – 4.9%* or 9.3%?”

The Results in

This special telephone Morgan Poll…with an Australia-wide cross section of 651 aged 14 and over

were stunning. Apparently

“Only 30% of Australians believe the ABS unemployment figure”

That would be “30% of Australian’s with a margin of error of…”? According to their own data, something in the region of 4% btw.

(As Stilgherrian says in his Podcast lionising Dennis Shanahan, if you don’t mention the margin of error in your poll, then you are a…well listen to the Podcast.)

Is a sample of 527 people – 124 of the people they talked to can’t vote – large enough to get a reasonable result without too great a margin of error? Is it satisfactory to accept the results of a poll and Roy Morgan’s supposed miniscule margin of errors when such a small sample is intended to represent more than 15 million Australians? That’s one person interviewed for every 23,000 Working Age Australians.

That they are surveying people about the results of another of their own surveys exaggerates the suspicion this survey was done simply to benefit Roy Morgan and the chooks they need to feed. Even the Onion would find it hard to parody that.

Perhaps it’s time for surveys to be instead reserved for something far more valuable?

Especially if you win a twenty one inch remote control television!