Our own religous fundy politician..

The Australian reports on Labor MP Bidgood.

“I believe there is God’s justice in action in what is going on here.
We haven’t seen the end of it. The ultimate conclusion is like I say,
we look at Bible prophecy, we are going towards a one world bank and a
one world monetary system. And if you believe the word of God and you
read Revelations…you will see clearly what is being spelt out. We are
in the end times.”

“What would Jesus do?” Let’s for a moment assume there is a Jesus who is rational…
Perhaps consider resigning and getting some therapy until you sort your head out?

And just to prove his judgement is dubious, this is the same guy who it is alleged “first reaction when someone is threatening to take their own life is to
take a photo and then to try and sell it to a news organisation”.
He had to recant his actions later in parliament.
Mr Bidgood last night said he “deeply regretted” his actions and
apologised for any offence he had caused: “My actions were highly
insensitive and inappopriate, and I am tonight writing a letter of
apology to the family involved.”

Is this really the sort of person who should be in parliament, a place with a requirement for good judgement?

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One thing Australia sucks at..

Every morning when I walk into work, I walk up a staircase above a strange looking cone about a meter and half high. Inside are bundles of wire, small windows for sensors and a whole pile of very old looking electronics.  I have stopped and looked at this a few times and read the interesting notes on the wall behind it. It is a prototype of Australia’s first satellite, WRESAT. Around it in this mini-museum are other examples of rockets and various weapons that fly. There’s even a Long Tom missile that reaches from the ground up and past the 1st floor landing. There are early models of research programs that took over 20 years to flesh out. However nice it is to see these items, there is a sad fact behind them. WRESAT was put into orbit over 40 years ago. It only took us 11 month to design, build and put this into space, that’s pretty impressive. However , today, in 2008, Australia does not have much of presence in space. Even though we are one of the leading counties in the world when it comes to standard of living, wealth and technical capability we simply don’t have any space program. We *used* to be one of those countries. That SUCKS.

Andy Thomas, one of Australia’s few people it has put into space, mentioned our myopic view of space a couple of days ago in this article. Even when he was in space it wasn’t officially as an Australian. And then today I hear of Indonesia’s space program and a recent rocket launch. And India’s, China’s and Japan’s and the list goes on, except Australia is never on that list.

Australia does not have a presence in space because our short sighted governments don’t seem to think this is important. Most likely in the same way that they don’t think basic science or a skilled workforce or even people who can think is important. My theory is this, if you’re really friggin stupid then it’s difficult to understand the benefits of being smart and doing clever things. If you haven’t any first hand experience of doing clever things, you’re too busy dealing with the here and now to think about long term planning or difficult issues. Like long range research. It’s just sooooooooooo much simpler to go with bread and circus politics and keeping the masses happy. And that’s what we’ve had for as long as I can remember.

What I can remember is seeing Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in 1969. It was cool, we got half a day off school and I can clearly remember seeing the black and white fuzzy broadcast at home. Throughout school I had an interest in space and decided to make a career in it. In 1980 I was accepted into aeronautical engineering over in NSW. However I didn’t take up the offer, I simply couldn’t afford to live in Sydney and student support funding was means tested and my middle class dad earned too much, which at the time really wasn’t much compared to the average wage. However I went on with an engineering career for 20 years and with hindsight it was the right decision because the space industry died in the arse around that time. Ironically Andy Thomas went to the same University as me, even the same department with the same lecturers, but a few years earlier and he escaped to the USA to have a career in space. He simply couldn’t have that career and stay in Australia.

This inaction over a space program isn’t all that limited. The inaction over the River Murray, the long term (un) sustainability of our crops and stock and the total lack of any population plan whilst mindlessly supporting economic rationalism and the bat-shit crazy idea that we can have growth forever is just typical of people who have no clue nor idea about the future and further supports the idea we are led by morons. We are so lucky we are rich in natural resources which means we can let our manufacturing industry squander, our smart people drift overseas and we can live by our ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. However when some country like Indonesia is putting up rockets and has an active space program we really need to have a long hard look at ourselves.

As a country we really need to see an eye doctor about our myopia, it’s starting to make us look stupid as well as blind.

People in Melbourne thicker than Sydney :-)

It’s that day of the year again.

So far we have ABC Science with this gem. All I can say is I’m pretty sure if we could find the paper we’d probably discover people from both cities are pretty thick, in comparison to say, Adelaide. 🙂 Of course the funding generally comes from the eastern states so we’d never be funded to prove this obvious observation. However, does either city have frog cakes? No, point proven.

New Scientist has some spooky news.

And Wikipedia today. Fantastic. But not in the true meaning of the word. Just check out the revision history for the amount of work needed.

Urban Myth 1: Psychics 0

At the start of the year it is always interesting to see to sort of crappy predictions psychics make for the forthcoming year.  In some cases they predictions are so nebulous it’s a joke, in others there’s a bit of post-hoc editing. Whilst at the end of the year they trot out any vague hits and promptly forget the misses.

On the other hand there is an new urban myth with regards to the movie “I am Legend” which is lining up to be a sure fire hit. (Both the movie and the myth) There is a screen shot of a newscast near the start of the movie with a ticker showing the result from a Giants and Patriots game. It’s a bit complicated for those that don’t follow gridiron but when the movie first showed, let alone when it was put together, the prediction was very unlikely and regardless of scores and ability can only occur once every 4 years.  It has the Giants loosing to the Patriots for a second time and this can only occur if both teams make it through to the Superbowl. (Grand Final for us in Australia) This unlikely event has actually occurred which will lead to the 2 games and it is quite likely that the Patriots will win leading to a very cool prediction that comes true.

Now onto the similarity. How many times are there TV news reports, headlines, etc. in the back shots of movies that don’t come true? I imagine quite a lot and none of these are remembered and trotted out as famous misses. However this will be at least interesting as the ticker had the final score, a degree of “prediction” that psychics are loath to attempt. To be a correct the final score will need to be Patriots 23, Giants 7. The most likely way of obtaining this score is for 3 touchdowns by the Patriots and a safety to only one touchdown by the Giants. The other option is for the Patriots to miss a conversion and kick a fieldgoal but without knowing this years statistics it’s hard to know how likely this is.

We’ll know whether this prediction comes true on the 3rd February.

Fixing broken things

A fantastic article in the Guardian about an underground “cultural guerilla” movement known as the Untergunther. Their purpose is to restore France’s cultural heritage and they have made the news with a fantastic job of restoring a clock that had been left in neglect. And not just any clock but one in the Panthéon in Paris. Here is a case where rationality has failed and other means have been used to generate a good outcome, even if it can be claimed they acted illegally. This reminds me of Guerilla Gardening from the interesting website Web Urbanist.

This sort of work, the work of the underdog, can make good social comment and raise awareness of some of the things we have let slip over the years. Reminds me of Banksy, there’s no link, I’m encouraging you to explore the web for this artists work.

Sometimes the traditional and rational way of doing things doesn’t work, especially if you are a minority. Something skeptics shouldn’t forget.

Federal Science Policy?

Thought I would review this topic after a few weeks of the most boring election campaign in history.

Findings: Zilch, nil, nada, nothing.

You  have got to kidding!

Nothing new from Labor either, not a single press release about science in the last two months. This is really sad. Lucky country now, dumb country soon.

Bindeez cracked by Aussie doctors

A nice article appeared the Daily Telegraph explained how the poisoning issue was discovered.  It’s good to see science at work and nice to know that solving a tricky medical mystery has prevented many other kids ending up sick. As a side issue how many practitioners of the pseudo-sciences could have done what these doctors have done?