Catallaxy Files

polymathic pontification, bleeding heart economic rationalism and liberal secularist contrarianism

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    Saturday, November 15, 2003
    From the Front Line

    Whilst most of our media coverage is on the American body count, todays SMH actually gives some coverage to the Australian forces still on the ground and hwo they are coping with life in a war zone.

    ""We don't have much of a social calendar, that's true," said Air Commodore Bentley. "There's exercise and we have a barbecue once a week for all the Aussies. We have movie nights and we just got satellite TV, so we were able to watch the Rugby League and AFL grand finals and the Melbourne Cup."

    Still, even watching a DVD can be a thrilling experience in Iraq.

    "We were watching Black Hawk Down on the roof of HQ one night and there were actual Black Hawks screaming across the sky in the background. There was tracer fire, too. That was surreal."

    Thursday, November 13, 2003
    Stick to the lab, Peter

    Astrophysicist and former Young Australian of the Year Bryan Gaensler has often implored his fellow scientists to speak out on social and political issues. His model of Einstein is evidence enough of the pitfalls of such speaking out - as seen in Einstein's attempts to find a scientific justification for socialism. As further evidence, The Age this morning runs Peter Doherty, an Australian who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine, on why public education is the clever system. Doherty tells us that 'the great majority of Nobel prize winners were educated in public high schools' - but given that around the globe the state has squeezed out (or indeed stamped out) private education that says far more about government policy than about public schools.

    Doherty complains that university students are often working at jobs 'that compromise the quality of their university experience'. But long student work hours are far more to do with lifestyle aspirations than financial necessity. The up-front costs of education have not increased enormously since I was a student in the 1980s (the only real change is computers), but the lifestyles are very different. Mobile phones, eating out, designer clothes, overseas holidays - at least at places like Melbourne University undergraduate affluence is amazing. Doherty's implicit suggestion that this should be subsidised is ridiculous. Brilliance in one field rarely flows through into smart ideas in another, and the scientists who made excuses when sent Gaensler's petition let prudence come before the arrogance of the clever.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2003
    Did the Greens go up or down by 2%?

    In an earlier post I speculated that perhaps a Newspoll result suggesting a 2% drop in the Green vote indicated that Brown and Nettle's antics during the Bush visit might have cost them votes. Not so, according to the latest Morgan poll. Morgan found that the Green vote went up by 2% in their survey period. Perhaps both polls measure sampling error rather than a change in real support.

    If we compare the Morgan poll time series with that of Newspoll (you'll have to put the relevant dates in their search engine) we see that Morgan often finds more Green voters than Newspoll - regularly 2-3% more (so the difference is unlikely to be due to the fact that Morgan generally polls over two weekends while Newspoll surveys over one). This is not the first time they trended in opposite directions either. So the sampling error theory is looking reasonably good.

    Morgan over-estimated the Labor vote for the 2001 election, and that combined with the persisently high Green vote suggests that they might be over-sampling urban areas.

    Sunday, November 09, 2003
    Watch the snappy left Steve!

    The friend of my enemy is my enemy, even if they would normally be my friend.

    Steve Irwin has doen a lot for raising environmental awareness. he's also put his money where his mouth is and bought unique habititats with his own hard earned in order to preserve them. It's the kind of thing that would normally make you a poster-boy for the enviro-left groups.

    But as Miranda Divine Devine points out in todays Sun-Herald, Irwin's exhuberent comments after having the PM and 'Dubya' visit him, has made him the target of the anti-Howard crowd.

    Whilst I'm not a huge fan of John Howard myself, I hardly see Irwin's (probably off-hand) praise as justifying the attack that ms Devine documents. Irwin should be judged for what he does, and has done, for the environment and promoting Australia. What appears to be a spiteful targetting of him is a classic example of smearing someone simply because they don't hate Howard.

    (p.s. MD's article on power-poles is also worth a read)




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