Monday, 30 November 2009

Peter Martin takes a hard look at Joe Hockey and Turnbull's approval rating plunges further


Peter Martin writing in his blog of the same name reminds Australia that Joe Hockey has a more than spotty record as a minister in the Howard Government and a mixed record in the current shadow ministry.

When one looks at the three candidates (Hockey, Abbott and Andrews) posited as replacements for Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal Party Leader and thus Opposition Leader, Malcolm almost begins to look an attractive proposition - almost being the operative word.

That he is unpopular with voters is not an issue for the latest Newspoll results show Turnbull's approval rating has fallen to 14 per cent. Yet another nail in his political coffin.

Alternative names for the position of deputy leader are also quite frankly appalling. Peter Dutton for heavens sake - I seem to remember that he was one of those parliamentarians who walked out at the start of the Apology to the Stolen Generation and later he tried to abandon his electorate when redistribution made this seat unwinnable. As the current shadow minister for health and aging he has almost been a non-event when it comes to alternative policy.

None of the Liberal front bench have covered themselves with glory in this political bloodbath and the entire situation only highlights a lack of substance at the heart of the party.

While their Coalition partner, the virtually leaderless National Party, continually exposes itself as belonging to the lunatic fringe, which contains minor political parties on the Australian scene such as the rabidly intolerant Christian Democratic Party.

Today and tomorrow should provide an interesting and at times amusing spectacle, as the amended Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and associated climate change bills come before the Senate.

It is hard to see an overall electoral win for the Coalition at the next federal election unless Labor is involved in a monumental scandal.

Photograph from ABC News

Is this your house? Mapping predicted sea level rise (2)


Before and after a 1 metre sea level rise affecting one of the coastal rural areas within Clarence Valley local government area. Latest official 'worst case' predictions are for a 1.1 metre sea level rise in NSW coastal zones, occurring from
2009 onwards and peaking anytime up to 2100.
Click on images to enlarge.

Google Earth now has a sidebar function which allows the plotting of predicted sea levels rises due to climate change.This is a chance to get a visual appreciation of just how your home may be affected in light of the Rudd Government's recent report Climate Change Risks to Australia's Coasts.

Luke Hartsuyker, the Member for Interjections


I know it's not easy being an MP (specially if you sit on the Opposition benches these days) but the North Coast Nationals Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker seems to be making light work of it all.
Luke is becoming known for his fatuous one-liners.
Although many of these are lost in general catcalling across the Chamber, some do make it into Hansard.
"Kev wants to be the Pope" was one of the latest interjections in the second reading of those Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bills.
Along with "A fine member, too!" on another day and the earlier somewhat obscure "Sydney!"
Riveting stuff Luke!
Still I suppose it had to be all downhill from there once you'd waltzed a cardboard cut-out figure around the floor of the House of Reps.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Monsanto is another word for elitist ethnocentrism


This is Monsanto & Co. on Twitter last week:

MonsantoCo
Even after supplying those who need it this year, the US be able to save 10% of this year's corn harvest for the future. #ThankaFarmer






Michelle O - stop being such a princess and get a life!


On the 26th November 2009 ABC News online ran with this piece:
"Executives at internet search giant Google have apologised over an offensive picture of US first lady Michelle Obama that appeared high on its list of search results.
The picture was a photograph of Ms Obama that had been manipulated to give her the facial features of a monkey."

Now manipulated images of famous persons have been around for ages and North Coast Voices linked to the site Celebrity Apes in July last year when John McCain and Barack Obama were morphed during the US presidential election campaign.

I asked Clarencegirl and she tells me that from memory movie or pop stars such as Katie Holmes, Justin Timberlake, Madonna and Mariah Carey as well as politicians and nationally prominent personalities such as Rush Limbaugh were being given the ape treatment on this website.
The list also included Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton.
Memory is all anyone can rely on now as the site has been pulled completely by Google.
It seems that Michelle O. has turned into such a princess that she only wants the most flattering images out there in cyberspace and Team Obama is willing to cry wolf to gain her ends.
However censorship has not been as successful as they hoped and Google Images popped up with the
Celebrity Ape first lady pic contained in a September 2008 post on FlyLifeStyle.............

Sometimes Internet censorship is so mind boggling dumb.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Animalia......(4)


SMS published in The Daily Examiner on 27 November 2009:

Snake Warning

Beware of red-belly black snakes. Had a heart start while getting washing out of the machine! Found one clean well-spun snake. Snake did find cool space with water.

MB
Swan Creek

Colourful Byron - from the paddocks to the sea











Main Beach,
Byron Bay

Simon Harriott
Byron Creek I

Friday, 27 November 2009

Well what did you expect? Turnbull's leadership style grates


Lyrics by Turnbull quoted in Annabel Crabb's essay Stop at Nothing: the life and times of Malcolm Turnbull


To all intents and purposes Malcolm Turnbull's leadership style is decimating the Liberal Party of Australia. Well, what did you expect?

He took a wrecking ball to the Australian Republican Movement in 1998 and 1999 and it is still trying to recover almost ten years on.

After a disastrous national referendum result in 1999, Turnbull waited nine months and then resigned as chair of that organisation, with the rather amusing line in hindsight: Well I doubt whether I'll be remembered in the history books at all.

Oh, I think you will be remembered Mr. Turnbull - your name will probably be written in blood on the pages of future party histories.
Because the reputedly distant to vicious, alternatively overbearing or dictatorial "Bad Malcolm" always seems to win out over the "Good Malcolm".

You know you're a politcal tragic when.....


A fishing mate of mine wryly reckons you know you're a political tragic when you rush home (as he did), break out the gourmet crackers and antipasto, pour yourself a monster claret and switch on the radio for the last House of Reps Question Time this year (while keeping one eye cocked on the Senate strutting across the tube at 2pm yesterday).
Just goes to show that today's pollies are showmen not statesmen and we're beginning to treat them as entertainment.

Ozcar affair wet-fish slaps Turnbull in the face yet again


The Australian Senate Privileges Committee's recently published 139 page report Matters arising from the Economics Legislation Committee Hearing on 19 June 2009 only highlights again that the less than transparent performances of Liberal pollies Senator Eric Abetz and Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Turnbull were politically dishonest and manipulative.
"Truffles" was lucky that the Senate's convention on inquiries prohibits calling House of Reps MPs to give evidence on anything except policy and administration and barred commenting on his conduct in relation to the Ozcar affair.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Rudd and Macklin's food stamp mentality to cost Australian taxpayers over $95m annually


The desire of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to act as moral policemen walking the social security beat means that the new measures introduced into federal parliament yesterday will cost taxpayers an estimated $95.7M annually by the time income management is fully rolled out across Australia.

This Über Labor food stamp mentality (beloved by those in the Liberal Party-Nationals coalition as well) is likely to cause untold hardship for those who fall under the provisions outlined in SOCIAL SECURITY AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (WELFARE REFORM AND REINSTATEMENT OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT) BILL 2009 and Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (2009 Measures) Bill 2009 when these begin to come into effect after 1 July 2010.

Although these government bills target low-income families, youth and the long-term unemployed, they also apply to all categories of pensions (including aged, disability and veterans) and apply to individual pensioners if a Centrelink social worker or Dept of Veterans' Affairs decides that a person meets the criteria for income management.

The Greens appear to be the only voice in Federal Parliament which is going to speak out against these bills, Senator Rachel Siewert calling income management measure discriminatory and paternalistic.

PDF downloads:

Minister's Explanatory Memorandum

Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of Racial Discrimination Act) Bill 2009

Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (2009 Measures) Bill 2009

Crikey's publication of pop quiz on NSW Labor raises a smile


Crikey gave us a glimpse of the inner working of NSW Labor when it published Andrew Crook's article which contained a link to this email (accusing the NSW ALP of being one of the last surviving Stalinist regimes) which apparently was doing the rounds in the lead-up the state conference which saw Premier Nathan Rees finally take control of his government - even if this may only be a temporary victory on the rocky path to next polling day.

The email also contained this pop quiz and one gets the general impression that the original author has Graham Richardson in his or her sights:

Who said that?

1 "I had learned the true value of forgiveness in politics: nil."

2 "Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs."

3 "Any time spent worrying about the cruelty of executing such a nice fellow is time wasted."

4 "To choose one's victims, to prepare one's plans minutely, and then go to bed. There is nothing sweeter in the world."

5 "Power had been pursued and captured: it would not be given up without a fight."

6 "The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."

7 "Never refuse to do the little things, from the little things are built the big."

8 "Knowing your place, even if it is not the top rung on the ladder, is not being humble or putting yourself down. It's just being smart."

9 "A ruling party inevitably attracts careerists."

Answers

1 Graham Richardson, General Secretary, NSW ALP

2 Joseph Stalin, General Secretary, CPSU

3 Richardson

4 Stalin

5 Richardson

6 Stalin

7 Stalin

8 Richardson

9 Lenin


Cartoonist Bill Leak's study of Graham Richardson from Google Images

Be prepared for the Twelve Scams of Christmas


Bluddy 'ell it's almost December.
What do those scouts say? Be prepared......
With the festive season starting to gear up and thoughts of present buying beginning to creep into idle moments, it was probably timely that someone passed these emails on to me as examples of what may come down Teh Netz and land on your PC to snatch up your hard-earned readies, raid your credit card or wreck your home computer:

Xmas Promotion‏
From: Microsoft Award (cleohfn@bellnet.ca)
Sent: Friday, 20 November 2009 10:22:20 PM
To:
£750,000.00 has been award to you,send us your Names/Tel/Country to slyvester_howard@gala.net. Tel: +44-70-24-030-541

read and reply now‏
From:united state postal inspection service (
uspostal@noreply.com)

Sent:Sunday, 22 November 2009 10:43:51 PM
To:
1 attachment delivery.doc (26.0 KB)

Here's a reminder from McAfee by way of CNet News:

  1. Charitable phishing scams: Marcus warns consumers to be wary of e-mails that appear to be from legitimate charities. Not only will they take your money and deprive charities of needed funds, but they will also steal your credit card information and identity.

  2. Fake invoices from delivery services: During this period, scammers will send out fake invoices and delivery notifications appearing to come from Federal Express, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service or even the U.S. Customs Service saying that they were unable to deliver a package to your address. They ask you to confirm your address and give them credit card information to pay for delivery.

  3. Social networking friend requests: Bad guys take advantage of this social time of year by sending out authentic looking friend requests via e-mail. Marcus recommends that you not click on those links but sign into Facebook and other services and look for friend requests from the site itself. Clicking on a link could install malware on your computer or trick you into revealing your password.

  4. Holiday e-cards: Be careful before clicking on a holiday e-card, especially if it's from a site you haven't heard of. This is a way to deliver malware, pop-ups, and other forms of unwanted advertising. Some fake e-cards will look like they come from Hallmark or other legitimate companies, so pay close attention and make sure it's from someone you know. If you're going to send an e-card, be sure you're dealing with a reputable service lest you risk infecting yourself and your friends.

  5. Fake "luxury" jewelry: If you see an offer for luxury gifts from companies like Cartier, Gucci, and Tag Heuer at a price that's too good to be true, it probably isn't true. These links could lead you to malware and take your money or merchandise that will probably never arrive (or be fake if it does). Some of these sites, according to McAfee, even display the logos of the Better Business Bureau.

  6. Practice safe holiday shopping. Make sure your wireless network is secure and be sure you're shopping on sites that are secure. Though it isn't an iron clad guarantee, you should look for the lock icon in the lower right corner of your browser and make sure the Web page starts with https. The "s" stands for "secure."

  7. Christmas carol lyrics can be dangerous: Bad guys know that people are searching for holiday related sites for music, holiday graphics, and other festive media. During this time, they create fraudulent holiday related sites.

  8. Job search related scams: With the unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, there are plenty of job seekers looking for work. Beware of online offers for high paying jobs or at-home money making schemes. Some of these sites ask for money up front, which is a good way for criminals not only to steal your "set up fee" but misuse your credit card too. Marcus said that some "get rich quick" sites are all about money laundering, asking you to accept an inbound financial transfer and pay them.

  9. Auction site fraud: McAfee has observed a rise in fake auction sites during the holidays. Make sure you're actually going to eBay or whatever site you plan to deal with.

  10. Password stealing scams: Criminals use low-cost tools to uncover passwords, in some cases planting key logger software to record keystrokes. Once they get your passwords, they gain access to bank accounts and credit card accounts and send spam from your e-mail accounts.

  11. E-mail banking scams: A common type of phishing scam is sending out official looking e-mails that appear to come from your bank. Don't click on any links but type in your bank's Web address manually if you need to access your account.

  12. Files for ransom: Hackers use malware to gain control of your computer and lock your data files. To access your own data you have to pay them ransom.

Update:

On the SCAMwatch radar this month:
Overcharged bank fees scam
November 2009: SCAMwatch is warning consumers about hoax offers of assistance to reclaim overcharged bank fees.
Bogus anti-virus alerts
November 2009: Scamwatch is warning consumers to be wary of bogus security software or 'scareware'.
Travelling to the USA?
November 2009: SCAMwatch is warning all prospective travellers to the United State of America to be wary of unauthorised third party websites.
Comcover non-refundable loan email
November 2009: SCAMwatch is warning about an email from Comcover that offers a non-refundable loan
Steer clear of sports investment schemes
November 2009: SCAMwatch is warning you to be very careful if you think you can improve your odds with the aid of sports ‘investment’ opportunities.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Rudd Government's right-wing paternalism writ large with new income management scheme for Australian welfare recipients


This is what that arch-nanny Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin had to say today:

Joint Media Release with Warren Snowdon MP, Member for Lingiar

As part of major reforms to the welfare system, the Australian Government will introduce a new income management scheme to protect children and families and help disengaged individuals.

The Government is committed to progressively reforming the welfare and family payment system to foster responsibility and to provide a platform for people to move up and out of welfare dependence.

The reforms will help fight passive welfare and mean that more money goes to food, clothes, rent and less money goes to buying alcohol and gambling.

These reforms deliver on the Government's commitment to a welfare system based on the principles of engagement, participation and responsibility.

Income management is a key tool in the Government's broader welfare reforms to promote responsibility and strengthen families by ensuring that welfare is spent where it is intended - on the essentials of life and in the interests of children.

Income management is delivering key benefits. People are spending more on food, including fresh fruit and vegetables.

From 1 July 2010, a new income management scheme will begin to be rolled out in vulnerable regions, targeted at individuals at risk.

The new scheme will commence across the Northern Territory - in urban, regional and remote areas - as a first step in a national roll out of income management in disadvantaged regions. The Northern Territory has the highest proportion of severely disadvantaged locations in Australia.

The changes are part of a range of welfare conditionality reforms that the Government has already implemented, including the Cape York Welfare Reform trial, child protection income management in Western Australia, 'Learn or Earn'- Youth Participation Requirements, and the School Enrolment and Attendance Measure in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Participants of the new income management scheme will include:
* people aged 15 to 24 who have been in receipt of specified welfare payments for more than three of the last 6 months;
* people aged 25 and above on specified welfare payments such as Newstart Allowance and Parenting Payment for more than one year in the last two years;
* people referred for income management by child protection authorities; and
* people assessed by Centrelink social workers as requiring income management due to vulnerability to financial crisis, domestic violence or economic abuse.

The new scheme will apply to any individual who meets one of these criteria. It is expected that the roll out across the NT will take around six months.

A person will have 50 per cent of their regular payments, and 100 per cent of lump sum payments, income managed. These funds will be able to be spent on priority items by using the BasicsCard, Centrepay or similar arrangements through Centrelink.

Around 20,000 individuals are expected to be covered by income management in the Northern Territory when it is fully implemented.

The scheme will promote personal responsibility and positive social norms by providing for evidence-based special exemptions.

Requests for exemptions will be assessed on the individual's demonstrated record of responsible parenting, or participation in employment or study, including for example:
* A young person - if they are in full time study or training, or engaging in paid work;
* A parent - who demonstrates responsibility as shown by their children attending school regularly and are up to date with immunisation; or
* A long term Newstart recipient - who has a history of engaging in work, even if this is not permanent.

Individuals will also be able to voluntarily participate in income management, and will be eligible for an incentive of $250 every six months that they remain on voluntary income management.

New matched savings incentives will also be introduced for those on compulsory income management to help them budget and save.

An individual on compulsory income management, who completes an approved money management course and has a pattern of savings over at least 13 weeks, will receive a matched saving contribution from the Government of up to $500 and no more than 50% of the costs of household items, such as whitegoods.

This new scheme of income management will be supported with financial counselling and money management services, totalling $53 million over four years.

Existing provisions for income management in prescribed Northern Territory Indigenous communities will be repealed.

The operation of the new scheme of income management will be carefully evaluated. The first evaluation progress report is expected in 2011/12.

The other income management trials currently underway in Western Australia and Queensland will also continue to be evaluated.

Future roll out elsewhere in Australia will be informed by the evidence gained from this evaluation activity.

Future implementation will also be informed by other criteria including evidence of disadvantage in Australia and consideration of where income management could benefit individuals and families.

The new scheme of income management in the Northern Territory will cost $350 million over four years.

Trigger payments - individuals need to be receiving one of these payments to be subject to income management

Disengaged youth ('under 25s')
* Youth Allowance
* Newstart Allowance
* Special Benefit
* Parenting Payment (Single)
* Parenting Payment (Partnered)

Long-term welfare payment recipient ('over 25s')
* Youth Allowance
* Newstart Allowance
* Special Benefit
* Parenting Payment (Single)
* Parenting Payment (Partnered)

Child Protection and social worker referral
* Youth Allowance
* Newstart Allowance
* Parenting Payment (Partnered)
* Parenting Payment (Single)
* Sickness Allowance
* Special Benefit
* Partner Allowance
* Austudy Payment
* Mature age Allowance
* Parenting Allowance
* Widow Allowance
* Widow B Pension
* ABSTUDY that includes an amount identified as Living Allowance
* Age Pension
* Disability Support Pension
* Wife pension
* Carer Payment
* Bereavement Allowance
* Special Needs Pension
* DVA Service Pension or Income Support Supplement
Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA)

Payments to be income managed - once a person is subject to income management, the following payments will be subject to income management:
* All trigger payments listed above
* Family Tax Benefit
* Baby Bonus
* Maternity Immunisation Allowance
* Carer Allowance
* Child Disability Allowance
* Mobility Allowance
* Pensioner Education Supplement
* Double Orphan Pension
* Social Security Telephone Allowance
* Telephone Allowance
* Utilities Allowance
* a payment under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme relating to Homelands Learning Centre students
* ABSTUDY that includes an amount identified as Pensioner Education Supplement
* Bereavement Payment
* NT CDEP transition Payment
* Advance payments of most social security benefits, pensions and allowances, and some DVA service or income support payments and supplements.

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Amendments: want to see how polluting industries, climate change deniers and weak politicians are doing you over?


The Australian Labor Party most helpfully posted DETAILS OF PROPOSED CPRS CHANGES on its website yesterday.

Download PDF file

If for some reason this political document becomes so embarrassing that it disappears from the ALP site at some future date, never fear, Peter Martin has uploaded a copy to Scribd here.

I got me a bull bar and I'm a racist git, hee hee hee


Sadly, this letter to the editor in The Daily Examiner on 19 November 2009 recounts an incident which demonstrates that racism is alive and well on the NSW North Coast.

Click on letter to enlarge

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

CPRS major beneficiaries: "rent-seekers, opportunists and blackmailers"



I'm utterly speechless after Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull showed me that I'm totally powerless and about to be 'penniless' in my unwilling support of the big greenhouse gas polluters.

Post title quote:Bernard Keane writing in Crikey about who benefits from the Rudd Government's amended Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
Cartoon:
Google Images


What the casual punters think according to The Australian tonight:

While Clarence Valley Council remains silent on latest climate change report, local newspaper spells it out


The Daily Examiner,24 November 2009

In the face of Clarence Valley Council's silence on the Rudd Government's recent report Climate Change Risks to Australia's Coasts, The Daily Examiner's Erin Brady lays the facts before Clarence Valley communities in Sea level rise threatens our homes:

IF sea levels rise 1.1 metres by 2100, large parts of the Clarence Valley could be under water and towns may have to be relocated.
It sounds like a doomsday prediction, but according to a report released this month by the Department of Climate Change titled Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coast, this warning is based on credible science and is a scenario we should all be preparing for.
The report’s worst case scenario for the Clarence Valley is that up to 900 homes will be at risk of inundation from sea level rise by the end of the century.
At best, about 400 homes will be at risk and that is not including homes to be built in the future.
The report lays the cause of rising sea levels squarely on climate change.
It suggests extreme weather events will also be likely to become more intense, with larger and more damaging storm surges and the possible extension of cyclones further south.
“The current 1-in-100 year event could occur several times a year,” the national report said.
According to computerised modelling based on a 1.1 metre sea level rise, homes near the coast and in low-lying parts of the Valley could be under water or prone to inundation.
This includes large areas of west Yamba, islands in the Clarence River, west of Lawrence, Shark Creek, Lower Coldstream, Tucabia through to Sandy Crossing, Southgate, Ulmarra, Great Marlow and Alumy Creek.
Populated villages along the Clarence Coast would also be prone to inundation, including Iluka, Yamba, Brooms Head, Sandon and Wooli.......

Previous posts on North Coast Voices:

Even the ABC gets sloppy when it goes online


On November 18 ABC Radio's AM program online record for that morning ran with this headline "Australia still highest per capita carbon emitter".
However when you open the link what is actually said is; "MICHAEL RAUPACH: In the basket of developed countries we compare obviously with the US whose emissions are almost flat at the moment, countries like Canada, with the European Union. And in almost all of those cases we exceed the emissions rates of those countries."
So the ABC is insisting that Australia is still highest while one of the authors of the report in question is cleverly ducking giving a direct reply to the radio interviewer's incorrect statement by switching the focus to growth rates.

What is really happening here?
The interviewer is being told that Australia is not the highest carbon dioxide emitter in terms of growth rates, isn't the highest carbon dioxide emitter on a per capita basis and isn't the leading developed nation carbon dioxide emitter on the same per capita basis.
Everyone else seems to know that this country is very slowly falling down the ranks of carbon dioxide gas producers per head of population (now behind the United States if the very thorough International Energy Agency 2009 figures compute), so why on earth is the ABC indulging in sensationalist headlines that reek of The Telegraph's haphazard approach?
Why did Sarah Clarke insist that Australia's CO2 emissions were still rising according to the Carbon Budget 2008 when anyone reading this report and number sets can see that the nation's Co2 was down by 4,918 units last year.
Is the ABC making a bid to be accepted into the University of East Bumcrack School of Journalism?

Smart Aleck
Woolgoolga

These are the decade's 10 most influential moments on the Internet?


The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences thinks these are the moments that really mattered on the Internet. What do you think?

The Ten Most Influential Internet Moments of the Decade

Craigslist expands outside San Francisco (2000)
In 2000, the free classifieds site broadened its reach outside of San Francisco into nine additional U.S. cities, sending chills down the spines of newspaper publishers everywhere. Today Craigslist serves free listings in more than 500 cities in 50 countries, serving as a model for no-frills business and community success and the catalyst for countless jobs, apartments, and just about anything else you can think of.

Google AdWords launches (2000)
With the launch of AdWords in October 2000, Google turned advertising on its head. The self-service ad program opened up the marketplace to any business, no matter how big or small, and allowed advertisers to target their customers with laser-sharp precision.

Wikipedia launches (2001)
Containing 20,000 articles in 18 languages by the end of its first year online, Wikipedia today boasts more than 14 million articles in 271 different languages. The free open-source encyclopedia epitomizes the Internet's power to bring strangers from around the world together to collaborate on projects both big and small.

Napster Shut Down (2001)
Although Napster was shut down in 2001, it opened the file-sharing floodgates. Its demise sparked a wave of innovations that forever changed how we obtain and experience music and video - from Hulu to iTunes to Radiohead famously dropping its label and self-distributing their "In Rainbows" CD online for free.

Google IPO (2004)
Google's IPO, one of the largest in history, put the six year old search engine on the path to becoming the most dominant and influential company of the decade. From gmail and YouTube to Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Android, the Internet giant and constant innovator is the engine that powers countless aspects of our everyday lives.

Online video revolution (2006)
In 2006, a perfect storm of faster bandwidth, cheaper camcorders, and the groundbreaking use of Adobe's Flash 9 video player by YouTube combined to launch the online video revolution. The trifecta led to a boom in homemade and professional content - the Diet Coke and Mentos guys, lonelygirl15, SNL's Lazy Sunday, and Senator George Allen's "macacagate" - that has reshaped everything from pop culture to politics.

Facebook opens to non-college students and Twitter takes off (2006)
In September 2006, a social networking site for college students changed its user qualifications to include anyone 13 and older with a valid e-mail address. Facebook struck an immediate chord -- and almost overnight, social media went mainstream. Less than a month later, the creators of Twitter acquired the company and its assets from its investors, paving the way for the service to take off in 2007. Both companies took social media mainstream, radically changing the way we connect, collaborate, and communicate with everyone from friends to colleagues to customers.

The iPhone debuts (2007)
The iPhone was released on June 29, 2007. By the end of the weekend, half a million had been sold, and smartphones had gone from a luxury item to a necessity. The iPhone inspired the development of operating systems like Google Android, as well as an app for just about every aspect of modern life. Over the next decade, it's estimated that a billion new users will come to the Internet for the first time through mobile devices.

U.S. Presidential Campaign (2008)
The Internet altered presidential politicking in 2008 much as television had forty years earlier during the Kennedy/Nixon race. From videos like "Obama Girl" and the Reverend Wright clip shaping the debate, to social media mobilizing voters, to record-breaking online fundraising from small donors, every facet of the way campaigns are run was permanently transformed.

Iranian election protests (2009)
When Iran's 2009 presidential election produced fishy results, the opposition took to the tweets -- and the "Twitter Revolution" was born. In fact, it was so vital to organizing demonstrations that the U.S. State Department asked the company to delay planned maintenance.. The protests also highlighted Twitter's key asset as a protest tool: Since most users don't access it through a central website, it's nearly impossible to censor.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Is this your house? Google Earth now plots predicted climate change sea level rises


Before and after a 1 metre sea level rise in one of the streets with building consents granted by NSW North Coast Clarence Valley Council in the thirty years since climate change has been an issue. Latest official 'worst case' predictions are for a 1.1 metre sea level rise in NSW coastal zones.
Click on images to enlarge.
Google Earth now has a sidebar function which allows the plotting of predicted sea levels rises due to climate change.
This is a chance to get a visual appreciation of just how your home may be affected in light of the Rudd Government's recent report Climate Change Risks to Australia's Coasts.

Treasury explains Australians to themselves in the latest tax reform report


This is the opening salvo in an Australian Treasury commissioned report Behavioural Economics and Complex Decision-Making: Implications for the Australian Tax and Transfer System:

Many aspects of observed human decision-making differ from the 'rational' behaviour assumed in economic models. For example:

  1. People are much more concerned about possible losses than possible gains
  2. People are inclined to stick with the status quo
  3. People dislike uncertainty
  4. People value fairness
  5. People sharply discount the future compared to the present

For all but the simplest of decisions, people generally do not attempt to find the optimal solution, but rather apply simple decision-making strategies:

  1. They stick with what they know
  2. They follow others
  3. They settle for something that is good enough, rather than searching for the best

The more complex the decision, the less well equipped people are to deal with it. As a result, people often make decisions which do not appear to be in their best interests:

  1. They procrastinate, putting off things such as saving for retirement
  2. They stick with the default option, even if it is not the best
  3. If a decision is too complex they may avoid it altogether
  4. People are readily confused, and prone to misleading advice

These issues tend to be particularly prevalent among the least well-off.

Full August 2009 CSIRO report here.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Columbus go home! Columbus go home!


Last Monday Crooks and Liars posted the transcipt of a tongue-in-check speech given at a Tea Party Against Amnesty And Illegal Immigration rally before an initially cheering crowd of American wingnuts - the best punk'd I've read this year:

Hi, my name is Robert Erickson and I'm really excited to be here. Its people like all of you, and events like this that make our country great! Give yourselves a round of applause!

I just want to talk about a couple themes this afternoon because I love this country and I want to see America be the best place it can be.

Mr. Gutierrez is getting ready to propose an immigration bill in just a few short days, and we have to make sure he knows that we want a bill that's tough on immigration. Now is the time for us to stand up and make our voices heard!

In Minneapolis, where I'm from, we have a huge immigrant population that's been causing a number of problems. With the economy in recession, and so many people getting laid off, and unable to find work, immigrants should not be competing for the few jobs that are out there. It's just not fair to the folks who have a claim to this land and the right to be here. All across America, they are contributing to the flooding of our job markets making it hard for Americans to find jobs. Well, I'm fed up, and it's time to let our politicians know that enough is enough, and we're not gonna take it any more!

We need to secure our borders to protect our country. We need to restore order and put an end to the anarchy that's sweeping the nation. We need tougher immigration laws to make sure that we send these people back where they came from. We need to protect the sovereignty of the real Americans. We need to hold our politicians accountable.

It's no secret that with an invasion of immigrants comes waves of crime. We see them involved in massive theft, in murder, and bringing diseases like smallpox, which is responsible for the death of millions of Americans. These aren't new problems, though -- they have been going on for hundreds of years, and continue to this day.

I say it's time for us to say enough is enough! Are you with me? Are you with me? Let's send these European immigrants back where they came from! I don't care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinous crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery! It's time to restore the sovereignty of people native to this land!

I want more workplace raids, starting with the big banks downtown. There are thousands of illegals working in those buildings, hiding in their offices, and taking Dakota jobs. Let's round them up and ship them out. Then we need to hit them at home where they sleep. I don't care if we separate families, they should have known better when they came here illegally!

If we aren't able to stand up to these European immigrants, who can we stand up to? We need to send every one of them back home, right now.

Thank you very much, and we'll see you in the streets!

Columbus Go Home! Columbus Go Home! Columbus Go Home!

I'll take a serve of national pride, but no whale meat on the side thankyou


Photograph from The Sydney Morning Herald


Japan's new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama apparently doesn't like whale meat, but according to The Sydney Morning Herald and other sources his desire to protect his country's fishing interests is quite strong:

Despite Hatoyama's reported dislike of whale meat he urged Balkenende to take action against the group over its attacks on Japanese whalers in the Antarctic, government officials said.

There has been some discussion in the media of the possibility that Japan may draw back slightly from a position based mainly on national pride and that the whaling fleet's peak body may be facing funding cuts as reported in The Age:

A Japanese parliamentary review panel targeted the 80 billion yen ($A960 million) given to the OFCF for all of its fisheries programs on Thursday at one of its first public hearings......
A 2008 investigation by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper found that the OFCF had propped up the Institute of Cetacean Research with yearly interest-free loans of around 3.6 billion yen since 2001, but the institute had been unable to pay them back in full.

That Japan might have been considering changing focus from its Antarctica hunt in the southern hemisphere summer to hunts in the North West Pacific and in its own coastal zone is perhaps a faint possibility

as there is a paucity of published JARPA/JARPAII 2008 Antarctic-based research which might in other circumstances indicate a falling away of interest. However this may not denote decline but may be a function of increased intervention by anti-whaling vessels during the whale killing months.

What is a more realistic scenario is that Japan (still convinced that whales are consuming commercial fish stock and causing supply shortages on its domestic market) will continue in the same vein as The Shared Interests of International Whaling Commission Members Supporting the Principle of Sustainable Use Tokyo, Japan 23 April 2009 :

  • WE SUPPORT the principle of sustainable use of abundant whale stocks which contribute to sustainable coastal communities, sustainable livelihoods, preservation of cultural traditions, food security and poverty reduction;

  • WE OPPOSE placing the use of whales outside the context of the globally accepted concept of sustainable use and the norm of science-based management and rule-making, as whales are no different from any other living marine or terrestrial resource traditionally utilized for food;

  • RECOGNIZING that many whale stocks are abundant and increasing, we support the sustainable use of abundant stocks of whales and the protection of depleted ones, consistent with the ICRW;

  • WE WELCOME the resumption of international trade in whale products and reiterate that the IWC has no competence on this issue;

  • WE NOTE with concern the continued use of existing classifications, such as "Aboriginal Subsistence", "Commercial" and "Small-Type Whaling", as these discriminatory terms have no meaning in resource management.

  • WE RECOMMEND strongly the use of the universal language "Harvest Quota" when describing all off-takes of whales irrespective of purpose;

  • WE OPPOSE the continuation of the moratorium for those whale stocks that have recovered and are abundant, given the risk-averse management procedure for calculating quotas, that is, the RMP, which has been adopted by consensus by the IWC;

  • WE CONTINUE TO REJECT the creation of sanctuaries which are inconsistent with the ICRW;

  • WE RECOGNIZE THE NEED of both lethal and non-lethal scientific research related to population growth and the interactions between whales and the marine ecosystem, and

  • WE SUPPORT decisions that ensure food security and the maintenance and preservation of traditional food cultures as a fundamental right.

Climate Change: is it all over red rover for the world as we know it?


On the 15th of November 2009 it was confirmed that world leaders at the latest APEC conference had watered down their pre-COP15 statement on climate change goals. The APEC mention of a target figure for lower global greenhouse gas emissions had disappeared up the vested interests' overfed collective posterior about the same time that the draft document prepared for ratification at the Copenhagen meeting had been ripped to shreds.
This followed hot on the heels of a domestic announcement that the Rudd Government was watering down its own national climate change response, with an eviscerated Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme being shaped in negotiation between federal government and what are essentially climate change deniers acting on behalf of big greenhouse gas polluting industries.
It is distressingly apparent that this December the national governments gathered together are not about to bring forth a legally binding global agreement to tackle climate change - even though scientists have been bluntly warning about global warming since the early 1970s and we've literally run out of time to um and ah.

An enforceable global agreement will probably never happen, period.
Instead what the world's populations are being offered is the ephemeral promise of a joint political pledge which can be torn in two at the next round of home-grown elections.
It seems that the largest national economies have reached their own domestic political tipping points and are walking away from the rest of the world with a shrug of the shoulders and a "She'll be right Jack" attitude.
So where does that leave the ordinary Aussie man, woman and child?
It leaves every single one up sh*t creek without a paddle. No realistic options, no escape. Part of an unofficial third world.
Because when things start to go pear-shaped with water, food, electricity, fuels and goods becoming ridiculously expensive due to resource scarcity it will be the ordinary person who will be called upon to bear a disproportionate level of the financial burden and meekly receive a lesser allocation of these resources.
Later, when Australia and the rest of the world moves from scarcity to actual absence of certain vital reserves it will be ordinary people again who will be expected to go hungry, thirsty and place themselves at the mercy local weather extremes.
These same ordinary people will also be expected to pick up their belongings and move away from the coast with little or no help to relocate, for those with money and political pull will be more interested in smoothing their own passage in the face of an ongoing global crisis.
It won't help that you may own your own home - it's likely to be virtually worthless in 30 years time if you live in the immediate coastal zone or perhaps even within seven kilometres of the coast if severe destructive storms are frequent enough.
It won't matter that you were expecting your superannuation fund to see you through retirement - most of the infrastructure and shares it invested in will have gone on the incoming tide, been blown away by endless drought or disappeared into the maw of institutional investor and stock market panic.
No-one will care if you were a good and loyal employee or a lazy worker, a responsible citizen or a couldn't care less grasshopper - by then it's more than possible that your government will be flat broke and unable to offer any form of social safety net.
The politicians and power brokers of today don't really give a damn what happens to you because you're not one of the privileged clique.
It would cost too much in financial and political effort to actually do something effective about the catastrophic climate change bearing inexorably down on us all and these silvertails might actually have to momentarily pause in their obsessive drive for political power and influence or halt for a few financial cycles their current obscene wealth accumulation.
Dragging them out of their beds and lynching them is too good for our so-called world leaders and their multinational backers.
But in Australia the local sub-species of effin' sods obviously feel smugly safe from threat because Aussies don't resort to that sort of mob violence, instead we wait meekly for the pubs and the polls to open.
However, the world will change dramatically over the next fifty years or so and perhaps the then oh so elderly Rudd and Turnbull (flanked by their withered front benchers in bath chairs) shouldn't expect to sleep as peacefully in their retirement beds as their predecessors.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

How to get Google's attention



Simply mentioning the name Geoffrey Edelsten is a sure way to have Google notice you.

Today's Sydney Morning Herald features a front page yarn about Edelsten with a pic of his bride-to-be, Brynne Gordon, giving him a pash on the cheek.

The Herald's page 2 has a pic of Edelsten and Gordon at the Brownlow Medal. The less said about that pic, the better.

So, how and why does Google get into the Edelsten picture?

Edelsten, who has a hate-hate relationship with most journos and a track record of going to the Press Council, pays Google to alert him when his name appears. Well, that's what the SMH says today.

Edelsten is behind the website australiasworstjournalist.com.au which appeared this week. The site is registered to Lonnex Pty Ltd (ABN 12097786751).

The
sole director of Lonnex is Geoffrey Walter Edelsten but, as the Herald Sun reports, Edelsten denied he had set the site up."I know the person who did set it up, but I haven't seen it myself," he said vaguely. He said he was flying a helicopter and couldn't talk.

Edelsten's PR team produced Edelsten's very flashy website geoffedelsten.com.au

But, why is Edelsten paying Google? Edelsten could save himself a few bucks by setting up some free Google Alerts

Credits: SMH and HS

Teh Red Herring gets fan mail


The NSW North Coast has a number of fairly regular letter to the editor correspondents, but none more prolific than Fred Perring in the Clarence Valley.
Fred's published letters are greeted with a smile at absurdity or a groan of real pain in many Valley households.
Here is a 'fan' letter that made it into print in The Daily Examiner on 16 November 2009.

Wasted time

I DON'T know why all those academics waste years of their time and money learning all about physics, chemistry, mathematics, meteorology, climatology, geology, biology, ecology, statistical analysis and such.
I mean you have to go to university for three or four years, then do an honours year of study on a project, then if you are good enough, spend another two or three years to become somewhat expert in some field of study by gaining a PhD, and working for more years in the area of your chosen field to continually improve your knowledge and skills.
Instead of spending all of that time and money gaining considerable knowledge and expertise, just become a bulldozer driver like Fred, and you will automatically become an expert on anything and have strong opinions on everything (even things you don't have the slightest knowledge about).
Pay some earthmoving company a few hundred bucks to show you which knobs to move on the bulldozer, then go down to the RTA and sit for the licence.
Once you have done this you will become an expert in climate change, bat migration behaviour, politics, economics, whether or not sea levels are rising.
Complex issues like the functioning of the world's economy and the workings of the planet will be like child's play for you - after all, all you will need is a strong opinion and a typewriter to write letters to the editor.
You won't need to bother with trivialities like evidence, proofs, statistical analysis on any issue. Think how simple life will become.
So next time you have a bad pain behind your temple and a strange discharge coming out your nose, don't bother to get the opinion of a neurosurgeon, give Fred a call.
And if you think the safety/ survival of yourself and your children is at risk from catastrophic climate change, stop worrying, Fred has declared it to be a greenie conspiracy, and all those scientists who are giving daily warnings about impending danger are either mad, or even worse, 'greenies'.
For those of you who have had the misfortune not to have seen one of Fred's letters I will give a summary of the letters to the editor he has written (or is ever likely to write).
Regarding politics - the Liberal/National Party can do nothing wrong, the Labor Party can do nothing right, John Howard is God (or at least Fred's version thereof).
If there is a bushfire somewhere it is not caused by the red-neck idiot that lit it with a match or cigarette lighter, it is the greenies fault. After all everyone knows that National Parks spontaneously burst into flame at the slightest opportunity (or they seem to since humans arrived?).
If your football team lost or your chooks won't lay eggs or your car won't start it is being caused by those greenies somehow.
So I personally will rest safe and secure in my bed knowing Fred is on the job, solving all of the world's problems with his trusty typewriter (I somehow think that Fred is pre-computer era).

M CASEY,

Grafton.

Sometimes it seems we just can't win when it comes to water......

ABC Rural News on 13th November 2009:

Australia is running out of recycled water, as the nation's drains and sewers dry up.
Managing director of agricultural research consultancy Arris Pty Ltd, Dr Daryl Stevens, says flows into most Australian sewage treatment plants are declining dramatically, especially in drought-affected country towns.
He says water restrictions, more efficient water-using appliances and recycling of water in homes and on farms are all contributing, and Australia's sewage system may struggle to cope with waste.
"The amount and volumes of water have decreased 25 to 50 per cent going in to some sewage treatment plants," he says.
"One of the tricky things is the whole sewage system is designed on a certain volume of water flushing through it to carry all the solids that are mixed up in the water."

Friday, 20 November 2009

National Party candidate cannot be serious


ON the day Tania Murdock announced she would nominate as the National Party candidate for the federal seat of Richmond (in northern NSW), she was at Tweed Heads Local Court trying to pass herself off as a Queenslander to avoid a driver’s licence suspension.

The Tweed Daily News report continues:

The Roads and Traffic Authority had caught the Pottsville pharmacy manager driving on a Queensland licence under her parents’ Runcorn address when her New South Wales licence was suspended.

Mrs Murdock attempted to appeal the suspension on Tuesday on the grounds she was a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

But Magistrate Michael Dakin was quick to dismiss the application when it was revealed the 40-year-old had accumulated 26, mostly speeding related, traffic offences in Queensland between 1988 and 2008.

Her NSW record was not publicly available.

The long-time campaigner for extra police resources on the Tweed was forced to apologise yesterday.

“I am sorry,” Mrs Murdock said in a statement sent to the Tweed Daily News.

“While I never caused any accidents or drove under the influence, an accumulation of demerit points, particularly over double demerit weekends, has led the RTA to suspend my driving privileges until next April.”

She claimed she transferred to a Queensland licence earlier in the year when she temporarily lived with her parents in Brisbane.

“I looked for legal means to avoid losing my driving licence, and with hindsight now regret that too.”

“Like many local working mums, I do a lot of driving and I just didn’t give myself enough time to get from one place to another.”

“I fully support the road rules, accept the court’s decision and hope this will serve as a reminder to others that you really do have to keep a very close eye on your speed.”

The RTA sent a letter to Mrs Murdock’s Queensland address stating it had banned her from driving in NSW and she took up the option to appeal the decision at court.

“The RTA was advised you have transferred your licence to another state ... in view of the demerit points that have accrued for an offence committed by you while your former NSW driver’s licence was subject to good behaviour conditions, the RTA has determined that it will take action in respect to your driving privileges in this state (NSW),” the letter, which was submitted to the court, said.

“Driving privileges which allow you to drive in (NSW) while the holder of a driver’s licence in another jurisdiction will be withdrawn.”

Mrs Murdock said she hoped the incident would help others avoid the same fate.

“There is a silver lining in every cloud. In this case, I hope some of the people reading about this will take the foot off the pedal and avoid suffering a similar fate.”

Mrs Murdock is the president of the Pottsville Beach Business Association and narrowly missed election to the Tweed Shire Council last year.

If her nomination is accepted by the National Party on December 6, she will be up against former Tweed mayor Joan van Lieshout and current Richmond MP and sitting member Justine Elliot.

Mrs Murdock and her husband Colin have three young boys and have operated pharmacies at Pottsville for 14 years.


Source: Tweed Daily News

Going batty over feral humans. Animalia......[3]



Going batty over feral humans

The bats of the Lower Clarence have recently held a meeting to discuss the problems feral humans (which are rumoured to be boat people) are causing in their community.

These boat people apparently arrived some time ago down south somewhere and have been spreading across the country causing problems with the locals wherever they have turned up.

Spokesman for the bats, Rufus, said: "We don't want any of these boat scum in our community. If you let even one of them into the community then it quickly becomes a ghetto.

"They put their boxes up everywhere, vandalism and the crime rate go through the roof, they start cutting down bat houses and harassing law abiding bats that are going about their daily business."

He then added: "After a hard nights work out in the forest pollinating the trees and trying to earn a living so that they can feed their children, they return home to get a good days rest only to find that they are continually harassed by the humans making loud noises and throwing things at them.

"And the racket coming from the place where they keep their young, which are apparently called schools, is quite unbelievable -screaming, screeching and yelling. It is almost impossible to get some sleep.

"Also, there is a foul stench coming from their camps. Some of this comes from the tin boxes they move about in, some from the mechanical contraptions that they push around the grass on weekends, and some from evil smelling burning weeds which they have in their mouths."

The bats have hired an environmental consultant, who after an extensive study of the problem has recommended that Maclean and Iluka be bulldozed and the trees left to reclaim the area and restore it to its former pristine condition.

However, some bats have said that this would only be a short-term solution and that the humans should be rounded up and sent back to where they originally came from -'The African Solution' the bats called it.

The Africans are understood to be resisting this idea, particularly the chimpanzees and the gorillas, who said that the human's behaviour was an embarrassment to the whole family and they did not want them back.

However, a group of red-neck extremist bats has called for the total eradication of the species, saying that the humans had arrived uninvited, were illegal immigrants, were an introduced feral pest that caused massive environmental destruction, and were obviously vermin by any definition of the word.

A vote was held which was attended by all the bats, plus other interested groups such as the marsupials, birds, fish, reptiles and the local vegetation, plus a few mammals.

The result of this vote, which was nearly unanimous, was that eradication was the best solution. Dogs and cats were undecided and wanted more time to consider the merits of the proposal.

As a result of the community consensus vote, a deputation has been sent to Mother Earth to see if humans can be evicted from the planet, as they are bad neighbours who create problems everywhere they are found and don't seem able to get on with anyone.

Mother Nature is considering the proposal and was last seen muttering to herself: "Better an empty house than a bad tenant."

M CASEY,

Grafton.
[Photograph and text,The Daily Examiner, letter to the editor column, 10 November 2009]