Labor’s coup was brainless and doomed two prime ministers – Similar danger signs are starting to emerge under the Coalition. – “… A year after Tony Abbott’s election victory, there are similar danger signs emerging. The May budget was riddled with policy inconsistencies. Promises have been broken and his government’s policy priorities are unclear. The Coalition’s messaging is too scripted to be effective. The Prime Minister’s Office has replaced cabinet as the fulcrum of government. Mr Abbott, so aware of the failures of the RuddGillard governments in opposition, must be careful not to repeat them. … To be a successful, long-term reforming government that maintains the trust of voters, it is essential to focus on only two or three core policy areas in a term. The danger is that governments that try to do too much too soon end up doing nothing well. A clear set of priorities leads to a disciplined message about the government’s overarching purpose. Key lines cooked-up in focus groups and compiled by the Prime Minister’s Office are not the most effective way to communicate to voters. Governments have been infiltrated by an army of political staff, devoid of substantial policy or governing experience. Their focus is pure tactics rather than long-term strategy.”
New Mexico nuclear waste site may be hobbled for years – “It may be years before an underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico shuttered by a radiation leak is fully operational … An investigation into the incident at the site, where contaminated refuse from nuclear labs and weapons sites is buried in a salt mine a half-mile below ground, has centered on a container whose contents included a chemically reactive mix of nitrate salts, organic matter and lead. Preliminary findings from the probe indicate that a chemical reaction generated excessive heat and caused the waste drum from Los Alamos National Laboratory near Santa Fe to rupture, releasing high levels of radiation in the mine and low levels aboveground, where 22 workers were contaminated with amounts not expected to harm their health.
The death of the political interview – “… for the most part interviews with frontbenchers are an arid, ritualised affair: interviewer suggests politician’s policy or position is flawed/inconsistent/unfunded; politician denies the charge/ignores the question/suggests that real people in his or her constituency care about something different. They repeat this a few times, typically for somewhere between four and 10 minutes. The interviewee considers it a success if he or she hasn’t said something that will attract the ire of their party’s PR capos. The interviewer considers it a success if the exchange has produced “a line”, though more often than not it will be the line the politician came to deliver.”
The Keeling Curve Gets a Much-Needed Boost from Google’s Schmidt – “The new Schmidt grant will allow the Scripps team to chip away at a years-long backlog of air samples to measure changes in the ratio of carbon isotopes, which provides information about manmade sources of CO2. Eric Schmidt is the executive chairman of Google, and the Schmidts have a history of funding environmental projects. This video, from the American Museum of Natural History, expands on the history and importance of the Keelings’ observations.
How to see into the future – “So what is the secret of looking into the future? Initial results from the Good Judgment Project suggest the following approaches. First, some basic training in probabilistic reasoning helps to produce better forecasts. Second, teams of good forecasters produce better results than good forecasters working alone. Third, actively open-minded people prosper as forecasters. But the Good Judgment Project also hints at why so many experts are such terrible forecasters. It’s not so much that they lack training, teamwork and open-mindedness – although some of these qualities are in shorter supply than others. It’s that most forecasters aren’t actually seriously and single-mindedly trying to see into the future. If they were, they’d keep score and try to improve their predictions based on past errors. They don’t. This is because our predictions are about the future only in the most superficial way. They are really advertisements, conversation pieces, declarations of tribal loyalty – or … statements of profound conviction about the logical structure of the world.”