Wednesday, April 30, 2008
No graduation ceremony for Richard Butler:
CBS News journalist Richard Butler said he believes he was kidnapped in Iraq by policemen with sympathies toward the Hezbollah but isn’t entirely sure who held him captive for two months or why …
"I was pleased I wasn’t being mortarboarded in Guantanamo or being held for six and a half years like an Al-Jazeera cameraman, for instance,” he said.
(Via Tom W.)
"Climate change will trigger a chain of events which is likely to increase the stress on society and result in higher vulnerability to diseases including HIV,” said Prof Tarantola …
It’s just so obvious.
SHIRTLESS IN SWANSTON STREET
You’d think it was a little cold for this sort of thing:
Dozens of taxi drivers whipped off their shirts and sat down at a busy city intersection this morning in a protest over the stabbing of a colleague that has brought central Melbourne to a halt.
Do scroll down for a flabby cabbie picture gallery.
UPDATE. Further hot cabbie action.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
“Anyone wondering when Sen. Barack Obama was going to throw Rev. Jeremiah Wright under the bus doesn’t have to wait any longer,” reports Susan Davis. “In a press conference today, Obama condemned his former pastor in the harshest terms yet.” This wouldn’t have come as a surprise to Rev. Wright:
"If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me,” Mr. Wright said with a shrug. “I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen."
UPDATE. Not a good day for the Senator:
Have you seen this pig? It’s huge, inflatable, features the word “Obama” and it has lost its way in the California desert.
UPDATE II. Also losing her way is the Age’s Anne Davies:
Just when Democrat frontrunner Barack Obama needs voters and the Democratic Party to think about something other than whether the US is too racially divided to vote for him, his controversial pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, has reignited debate about how far America is from true reconciliation.
Killer intro, Anne.
Just when [Obama] might have hoped that the divisions lurking beneath the surface of polite American society — and which appeared to have cost him the primary in Pennsylvania — had again been papered over, they are back in the public domain.
Obama loses = racism.
They will feed a frenzy of attacks from the right-wing media, which will ask again: how is it that Obama could countenance a preacher with such views?
The “right-wing media”? Name names, Anne.
That could again drive a wave of uncertain blue-collar white voters back into Hillary Clinton’s camp before the crucial Indiana primary next week.
Because only whites could be offended by Rev. Wright. Who’s the racist here?
The comments that will cause most problems for the Obama campaign are likely to be Wright’s defence of Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam.
They will unsettle some in the Jewish community — a pillar of the Democratic Party — who rightly or wrongly will ask why Obama would listen to such a man.
Incredible. (Via Cuckoo)
UPDATE III. Maureen Dowd on Obama’s dilemma:
He’s back on the tricky path he faced as a child, navigating between two racial cultures.
Actually, he’s navigating between political cultures.
TONE COLD SOBER
Tony the Teacher marks five years of sobriety, achieved without any government encouragement at all. Well done. (Via California’s Andrew Lloyd, who met Tony in Australia several years ago.) Speaking of stone coldness, we are currently cold on land and cold at sea:
The Antarctic deep sea gets colder, which might stimulate the circulation of the oceanic water masses ... At the same time satellite images from the Antarctic summer have shown the largest sea-ice extent on record.
AUTUMN DESIGNS REVEALED
It’s Fashion Week in Sydney, so ...
Top by NSWRL of Sydney (1991); pants by Big Brother ’08 press kit; ugg boots by ... wait; they don’t work with this combination at all! Whoever added those should be poisoned. They destroy the entire look.
Monday, April 28, 2008
GETUP GETS DOWN
A pre-Summit email from Labor stooge group GetUp:
Only 1000 people will be deliberating Australia’s future at next week’s 2020 Summit - but that’s not to say your voice won’t be heard. Incredibly, 118 of the chosen delegates are GetUp members, including our Executive Director Brett Solomon ...
A more modest pre-Summit message at GetUp’s site:
1000 leading Australians are heading to Canberra to debate and shape a long-term strategy for Australia’s future in ten key areas ... a bunch of the official delegates to 2020 are also GetUp members ...
And a post-Summit confession, on Ten’s Meet the Press, from GetUp’s executive director:
BRETT SOLOMON: In fact, there was one representative of GetUp at the summit - and that was myself.
A short column about a short game.
MAYBE EARTH HOUR CAUSED IT
Cold, cold, cold! We’re all a-frozen in Australia:
• “Temperatures at Thredbo dropped to -4C and in Perisher to -2C, the coldest April days in the mountains for 30 years.”
• “Strathalbyn, south of Adelaide, had its coldest April night in more than a century ...”
• “The city of Orange in central west New South Wales is experiencing possibly its coldest April day on record.”
• “Woomera had its coldest April morning in 60 years of records ...”
Something strange is happening to our weather.
Damn straight, Ben. It isn’t following warmther predictions.
• “Temperatures fell by as much as 14 degrees below the April average in parts of southern Queensland this morning on the coldest recorded day of the year so far ...”
• “Mt Hotham has just broken the all-time record for the coldest April day (Monday 28th April) ever in Victoria ...”
• “It’s raining here today, and there is snow on the hills surrounding Melbourne. It was the coldest April day ever recorded in part of the state.”
• “Yesterday was the coldest April day in Sydney for 50 years ...”
• “The coldest April day in our district EVER according to tonight’s news.”
Conservatives. Liberals. Dating.
COLDER IS HOTTER
Climate change can do anything:
Times columnist Nick Kristof recently highlighted economic research showing that climate change may be driving up the rate of executions of suspected witches in East Africa.
Well, why not? Climate change is also reducing opium production, according to the Independent, by ingeniously making winter colder via global warming:
Faltering British efforts to tackle Afghanistan’s poppy crop have found an unlikely ally – in the weather.
Freak weather linked to global warming is expected to reduce parts of the country’s opium harvest drastically. Scientists believe freezing winter temperatures followed by late rains and a possible drought may cut this year’s yields, with some farmers losing half of their crop.
(Via Miles C.)
UPDATE. Also in Africa, but worse than witches:
The UN has covered up claims that its troops in Democratic Republic of Congo gave arms to militias and smuggled gold and ivory, the BBC has learned.
The SMH presents an expert:
Cars are no more fuel-efficient today than they were in the 1960s, a transport expert says.
At which point our transport expert should put his transport expertise badge back in the cereal box. You’ll never guess what this wizard is working on:
In research for the Garnaut climate change review, Paul Mees, of Melbourne University, has used Bureau of Statistics figures to show fuel efficiency has remained practically unchanged since 1963.
The average Australian car then used 11.4 litres of petrol to travel 100 kilometres. In 2006, the bureau’s Survey of Motor Vehicle Use shows, it was unchanged.
Modern cars also use petrol to run airconditioning, power steering, various hydraulic and electrical systems and to haul around safety equipment unknown in 1963. They’re efficient that way. Mees must know this (and, in fact, the article briefly points it out). Also, market forces are in play; manufacturers could boost economy by building cars without power steering and aircon and stripped down to the bare legal minimum of safety gear - they might call ‘em “Mees models” - but nobody would buy them. For fun, let’s compare the 1963 EH Holden with a 2008 Toyota Corolla Ascent sedan:
The Holden used a 2.45 litre six-cylinder engine that produced 71kW, eventually lugging it to 100kmh in around 16 seconds. The Toyota’s 1.8 litre four produces 100kW and whips it to 100kmh in under 10 seconds. Given time and enough study, Mees may be able to tell us which vehicle gets better fuel economy, too.
Some might feel this comparison unfair, since the Holden is a large sedan and the Toyota a compact. But check the stats:
Something there to think about the next time you read an article claiming that Australians are turning to smaller cars. Not so; small cars have turned into big cars. Back to Mees:
Dr Mees said boasts from the motor industry of emission reductions painted an erroneous picture. “The improvements in emissions you hear cited are from the promotional material released by car companies, which put the best possible spin on things. But the Australian Bureau of Statistics doesn’t put the spin on it; the current rate of progress in making cars more fuel efficient is no progress at all."
Does he seriously doubt that modern cars are much cleaner than previously? This guy’s a riot.
Freeways had also reduced fuel efficiency, Dr Mees said. “If you drive at 110kmh you use more fuel than if you drive at 70kmh."
Mees assumes constant 70kmh speeds on non-freeway roads. I wonder how our expert earns a living:
Paul teaches in the areas of transport, strategic urban planning and planning law.
But of course.
Perth’s David Archibald is the early (and deserving) favourite for first prize in Iowahawk’s 3rd Annual Earth Week Cruise-In, but massive respect is due to John Lien for de-treeing practically the entire state of Virginia.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Phoney Ruddlemania has bitten the dust:
The unity and goodwill that radiated from Kevin Rudd’s 2020 Summit last weekend have evaporated, with some participants saying they cannot recognise the “big ideas” attributed to them while others claim they were “systematically silenced”.
Among the silenced is Melbourne theatre reviewer Alison Croggon:
I was at the Summit, in the Creative Stream. There was general and deep dismay about the report that was handed up on the supposed fruits of our labour. Quite a lot was lost or altered in translation. In fact, we came up with quite a lot of substantial suggestions for policy, and our aspirations were rather different to what was eventually posted.
Alison and her fellow Creatives remain determined “to advocate more effectively for what they do”, whatever that is:
Firstly, perhaps, to change that inevitable, snarky percpetion that artists have nothing to offer and are always asking for more money.
Those perceptions are so unfair. Who might have suggested them? Wherever might they have come from?
The funding threat to La Mama Theatre is a threat to Australian society as a whole, writes Alison Croggon.
Oh. Back to Alison’s initial comments, in which she vows to maintain a Peter Garrett vigil:
I think Garrett might be feeling a bit nervous at present. What he’s created here is a bunch of empowered people wanting to hold him accountable.
Maybe they’ll shout at him.
(Via AJ and Max the Cat)
UPDATE. Chris Berg:
Wasn’t it better during the Howard government, when we weren’t able to quantify how dim Australia’s best and brightest actually were? Or how few ideas they had?