Monday, 28 January 2013

The political speculator's diary: It started with a kiss

The Coalition is favourite but the market has moved slightly this year in Labor's direction
The political speculator's diary: It started with a kiss: 'via Blog this'

Revolution Hits the Universities

Revolution Hits the Universities - NYTimes.com:
"LORD knows there’s a lot of bad news in the world today to get you down, but there is one big thing happening that leaves me incredibly hopeful about the future, and that is the budding revolution in global online higher education. Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems. And nothing has more potential to enable us to reimagine higher education than the massive open online course, or MOOC, platforms that are being developed by the likes of Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and companies like Coursera and Udacity." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Editing out the Major

"Don't mention the war" is probably the most famous episode of Fawlty Towers but political correctness is ensuring that viewers today are being spared some of the original language. The BBC deleted, reports the Daily Mail, the following scene as it re-screened the 1975 classic at the weekend:
Basil Fawlty and the major, played by actor Ballard Berkeley, exchanging their normal pleasantries before the conversation moves on to Basil’s wife Sybil and women in general.
The major tells Fawlty about the time he took a woman to see India play cricket  at the Oval. He then says: ‘The strange thing was, throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as niggers. “No, no, no,” I said, “the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs”.’
Click HERE to view

Monday, 21 January 2013

Political ads: Not as powerful as you (or politicians) think

Something to keep in mind as Australia's election year progresses.
From the Washington Post's Wonkblog:
Political ads: Not as powerful as you (or politicians) think: "Now, with the election returns in, we can begin to assess just what the presidential candidates and their allies got for the hundreds of millions of dollars they spent on TV advertising. The short answer: surprisingly little.  In all likelihood, even major shifts in advertising would have produced only minor shifts toward the candidate benefiting from those shifts."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Figuring How To Pay For (Chimp) Retirement

Figuring How To Pay For (Chimp) Retirement : NPR:



"Next week, the National Institutes of Health will get some long-awaited advice from a working group that has been studying what the agency should do with its current research chimps. That group may recommend retiring a lot more chimps. If so, finding them new homes in sanctuaries like this one won't be easy. "After the recommendations from our working group, we anticipate there will be a much diminished need for animals in research," says James Anderson, an official with the NIH who has been working to plan for future chimp retirements. "The single biggest issue will be the capacity of the sanctuary system. If we retire many more animals, there's no space." The NIH owns or supports about 670 chimps, he says. About 100 are already officially retired and live at a wooded sanctuary in Louisiana called Chimp Haven, which is the designated facility for retired government chimps. If more chimps are going to be retired soon, it's not clear where they'll go."

'via Blog this'

Are adulterous MPs now acceptable?

Are adulterous MPs now acceptable? - Telegraph:
 "After a senior Communist Party policy advisor was forced to resign from his post in China for an affair, Cathy Newman takes a look at the effect of British politicians' extra-marital affairs on their careers and public standing."
And her verdict?
... it's only if the affair is accompanied by a lie or a policy ramification that a minister is in trouble.
So although there was plenty of - unfairly - salacious coverage of David Laws' secret relationship with his boyfriend, he only had to leave after revelations he'd claimed £40,000 of taxpayers' money to pay rent to his boyfriend.
And in the previous administration, former home secretary David Blunkett quit not because of his dalliance with a married woman, Kimberly Quinn, but because he was accused of "fast-tracking" a visa application for her nanny.

'via Blog this'

The real surprise in the Fed’s 2007 transcripts: How much they knew, how little they understood

From the Washington Post's Wonkblog:

The real surprise in the Fed’s 2007 transcripts: How much they knew, how little they understood:
"One lesson here is that our public officials, even the hard-working, highly intelligent ones, are far from demi-gods. They have the same blind spots and tendency toward analytical failures of anyone else. Secrecy allows public officials, whether in the world of monetary policy or others like national security, to create a Wizard of Oz like illusion of holding great power, of maneuvering levers with information in hand that mere mortals can only dream of. When reporters interview a high official, there is often a subtext the high official aims to convey: If you knew what I know, you would understand the supreme wisdom of my actions. Seeing what the Fed officials were saying privately, to each other, in 2007 is a reminder that this isn’t always so, and just because a person has more information, it doesn’t mean he or she has the right answer."

'via Blog this'

Calculated Risk: The Future's so Bright ...

Calculated Risk: The Future's so Bright ...: "It looks like economic growth will pickup over the next few years. I've written about this before - a combination of growth in the key housing sector, a significant amount of household deleveraging behind us, the end of the drag from state and local government layoffs (four years of austerity nearing the end), some loosening of household credit, and the Fed staying accommodative (with a 7.8% unemployment rate and inflation below the Fed's target, the Fed will remain accommodative). The key short term risk is too much additional deficit reduction too quickly. There is a strong argument that the "fiscal agreement" might be a little too much with the current unemployment rate - my initial estimate was that Federal government austerity would subtract about 1.5 percentage points from growth in 2013 (Merrill Lynch estimate up to 2.0 percentage points including an estimate for the coming sequester agreement).   This means another year of sluggish growth, even with an improved private sector (retail will be impacted by the payroll tax increase).  But ex-austerity, we'd probably be looking at a decent year."

'via Blog this'

A Saturday morning AWU update from Michael Smith

I was delighted to be able to share my happiness with you yesterday afternoon. - Michael Smith News:

"Yesterday afternoon I just had to let you know that there is tremendous cause for optimism about justice being done in The AWU Scandal. We're not having a baby, I have no specific new information about Craig Thomson, I haven't won Lotto, haven't got a new job - I just wanted to share with you my happiness and reinvigorated faith in justice being done in The AWU Scandal.  I am still surprised that barrackers for the Gillard camp still refuse to countenance the possibility that she is a person of interest in a police investigation. I wrote about that investigation here in November last year and the investigation was confirmed in writing by Victoria Police in early December last year, posted on the blog here. Hedley Thomas's report about Victoria Police presence on the Sunshine Coast to speak with Olivia Palmer (nee Brosnahan) should have confirmed to most reasonable people that something was afoot with police. So let me reiterate something I've often said on this blog.   I remain a fierce advocate for the professionalism and prosecutorial expertise of the Victoria Police."

'via Blog this'

I have had the best news today!!!! Fantastic news and I want you to know. - Michael Smith News

I have had the best news today!!!! Fantastic news and I want you to know. - Michael Smith News:

I don't know what it means either but the AWU scandal sure is not dead yet.

'via Blog this'

Fiscal Affinity Fraud - By Paul Krugman

Fiscal Affinity Fraud - NYTimes.com: "Innocent that I am, I never heard the term “affinity fraud” until the Bernie Madoff affair hit the news. But once you hear it, the concept is obvious: people are most easily conned when they’re getting their disinformation from someone who seems to be part of their tribe, one way or another." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Ministers as public relations consultants for the real governent

Antony Jay writes in London'as Daily Telegraph on a new six part Yes Minister serial he has written with Jonathan Lynn that is about to premiere on television in the UK
Return to Westminster - Telegraph:
"... something we discovered: deep in their hearts, most politicians respected civil servants, and deep in their hearts most civil servants despised politicians. Part of the problem of government is that ministers always take the credit for successes, which focuses civil servants on avoiding blame. The central anomaly is that civil servants have years of experience, jobs for life, and a budget of hundreds of billions of pounds, while ministers have, usually, little or no experience of the job and could be kicked out tomorrow. After researching and writing 44 episodes and a play, I find government much easier to understand by looking at ministers as public relations consultants to the real government – which is, of course, the Civil Service."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

A spectacular start to a spinning polly speak election year

It's day one of the election year and it's marked by a spectacular example of polly speak and attempted spinning. Families Minister Jenny Macklin's effort, with the help of her media staff, is going to be hard to surpass in the months ahead.
First the polly speak:
Journalist: Tens of thousands of single parents are now on the dole, could you live on the dole?JENNY MACKLIN: What we know is that we needed to fix a difference that was in the system for parenting payment. Back in 2006 the rules were changed and anybody who had their youngest child turn 8 coming on to Parenting Payment who was looking for work went on to unemployment benefits instead. What we’ve done is really just make sure that those people who’ve been on the payment for a longer period of time have the same rules applied to them.
A first rate example of avoiding a simple question by answering something completely different. So far so good. But then a little slip in the face of persistence:
Journalist: With respect that didn't answer the question. Could you live on the dole?Ms Macklin: I could, and of course we understand that what's important for people who are unemployed is that we do everything possible to help people get work.That's the whole focus of this government - to do everything we can to help people to get into work and that's what we're doing with these single parents as well.
So the Minister thinks she could live on the dole. That's the kind of comment that will provide plenty of fodder for the media pack from now until polling day. So let's bring in a little spin. Erase the question and answer from the official record.
It was inaudible unfortunately. Unless you happen to have ears.