Monday Forum: April 21, 2014

Posted in Open Forum | 84 Comments

“Without God, people can do as they please”

china christianity

One of the most enlightening books I have ever come across was The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark. And at the very end of this book there is a quote from a Chinese scholar who had been part of an investigation into the causes of Western economic success. This is a direct quote of what this Chinese scholar had said:

One of the things we were asked to look at was the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West, all over the world. We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.

I was reminded of this by an article in London’s The Telegraph with the self-explanatory heading, China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years. And while you may be sure the Chinese government has been keeping a watchful eye on where this might go, they have also not been attempting to stamp it out. And there are reasons for this, in keeping with that earlier study:

Some officials argue that religious groups can provide social services the government cannot, while simultaneously helping reverse a growing moral crisis in a land where cash, not Communism, has now become king.

They appear to agree with David Cameron, the British prime minister, who said last week that Christianity could help boost Britain’s “spiritual, physical and moral” state.

Ms Shi, Liushi’s preacher, who is careful to describe her church as “patriotic”, said: “We have two motivations: one is our gospel mission and the other is serving society. Christianity can also play a role in maintaining peace and stability in society. Without God, people can do as they please.”

In place of a moral order we now have political correctness and the pagan religion of Gaia and the environment. China, meanwhile, may become a Christian nation as we in the West depart from what may be the single most important part of the inheritance we have.

Posted in Cultural Issues, International | 145 Comments

The great tragedy of justice delayed

In The Australian today:
“Watching Barry O’Farrell’s resignation recalled Enoch Powell’s conclusion to his biography of Joseph Chamberlain that “all political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and human affairs”.

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

And it won’t cost tax payers a cent

Here’s a bit of good news:

Sky News is planning to launch, within months, a five-channel news service, delivered via IPTV or internet-based television, to broadcast news, business, political and sports content to 180 countries, including China and the Middle East.

The service will not cost taxpayers a cent, unlike the Australia Network, which has $223 million in funding over 10 years.

But then there’s this:

THE ABC has panned the Sky News plan for an international news platform called the Australia Channel that would rival, and potentially replace, its Australia Network, if it is cut in the budget. . . .

ABC spokesman Michael Millet yesterday strongly criticised the venture, after The Weekend Australian reported that Sky’s New Australia Channel would make the Australia Network ­obsolete technologically and distribution wise.

Mr Millet said an IPTV channel service would be no substitute for what the public broadcaster now delivered for its audiences internationally and in Australia.

But you know, it may happen after all:

ALP communications spokesman Jason Clare said: “Australia’s future is tied to Asia and any decision by Sky News to expand into Asia is welcome.”

Welcome indeed.

Posted in Media | 22 Comments

The land of missed opportunity

From two articles picked up at Instapundit. First this, the conclusion to an article titled, The United States of Envy:

Voters who will hear the Obama call for envy and redistribution should ask themselves and others: Would you prefer to live in an America where the market is dynamic and opportunity abounds, or in France, where unemployment is high and tax rates are crushing? Don’t you prefer opportunity to envy?

And then this from an article with the title, Growing-ups which is subtitled, “Living with your parents, single and with no clear career. Is this a failure to grow up or a whole new stage of life’?”:

The ‘selfish’ slur also ignores how idealistic and generous-hearted today’s emerging adults are. In the national Clark poll, 86 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds agreed that: ‘It is important to me to have a career that does some good in the world.’ And it is not just an idealistic aspiration: they are, in fact, more likely to volunteer their time and energy for serving others than their parents did at the same age, according to national surveys by the US Higher Education Research Institute.

As for the claim that they never want to grow up, it’s true that entering the full range of adult responsibilities comes later than it did before, in terms of completing education and entering marriage and parenthood. Many emerging adults are ambivalent about adulthood and in no hurry to get there. In the national Clark poll, 35 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds agreed with the statement: ‘If I could have my way, I would never become an adult.’

Read both articles but the second shows such a high proportion of bone-headed youths who are not interested in “dead-end” jobs that you really do have to wonder about not just how dynamic the US is and but how much of that opportunity there actually any longer is.

Posted in Cultural Issues | 34 Comments

Insiders and Bolt Forum: April 20, 2014

Posted in Open Forum | 64 Comments

Guest Post: Natural Instinct – Bias on ABC Insiders; Do the numbers lie?

Who actually appears as a Panellist on the ABC Insiders program, and how often do they appear?  This started as a little project for over the Xmas / New Year period, and then ran into difficulties, as I will explain later (see Note 2).

The ABC Insiders program is Left-biased and it can be proven by the numbers.

If the Hosts and each Panellist is given a political score of: 1 (Far Left), 2 (Left), 3 (Neutral), 4 (Right), 5 (Far Right), and this is then multiplied by their appearance frequency, then an overall program score can be calculated.  For the last three years, the program is obviously “of the Left” – scoring around 2.

Total Score = 2.08 – for the period 6 Feb 2011 to 6 Apr 2014 (136 shows)

Who has appeared the most frequently in the 136 shows, and what are their politics?

Per cent

Politics

Name

100

2

Barrie Cassidy ABC (see Note 1)

24

2

Dennis Atkins News

23

1

Lenore Taylor Guardian

21

4

Gerard Henderson Sydney Institute

21

2

Malcolm Farr News

19

4

Niki Savva News

17

1

George Megalogenis Author

15

1

David Marr Guardian

15

2

Laura Tingle Fairfax

13

2

Karen Middleton SBS

13

2

Phil Coorey Fairfax

12

2

Mark Kenny Fairfax

11

1

Fran Kelly ABC

11

2

Michael Stutchbury Fairfax

11

5

Piers Akerman News

10

2

Andrew Probyn West Aust’n

10

1

Annabel Crabb ABC

10

1

Kerrie-Anne Walsh Author

10

1

Mike Seccombe Global Mail

9

2

Brian Toohey Fairfax

8

2

Jacqueline Maley Fairfax

7

2

Misha Schubert Fairfax

3

5

Chris Kenny News

3

2

Glenn Milne Seven

2

4

Andrew Bolt News

2

2

Tory Shepherd News

1

2

Chris Uhlmann ABC

1

2

Jonathan Swan Fairfax

The Left-leaning results are also consistent over each of the last three years.

2011 Score = 2.16 – for the period 6 Feb 2011 to 4 Dec 2011 (40 shows)

Per cent

Politics

Name

100

2

Barrie Cassidy ABC

25

1

Lenore Taylor Guardian

25

4

Niki Savva News

18

1

Annabel Crabb ABC

18

2

Dennis Atkins News

18

4

Gerard Henderson Sydney Institute

18

1

Kerrie-Anne Walsh Author

2012 Score = 2.03 – for the period 5 Feb 2012 to 2 Dec 2012 (43 shows)

Per cent

Politics

Name

100

2

Barrie Cassidy ABC

28

2

Dennis Atkins News

28

1

Lenore Taylor Guardian

21

1

George Megalogenis Author

21

2

Malcolm Farr News

19

4

Gerard Henderson Sydney Institute

19

4

Niki Savva News

2013 Score = 2.05 – for the period 3 Feb 2013 to 1 Dec 2013 (43 shows)

Per cent

Politics

Name

100

2

Barrie Cassidy ABC

30

2

Malcolm Farr News

26

2

Dennis Atkins News

26

4

Gerard Henderson Sydney Institute

21

2

Laura Tingle Fairfax

19

1

George Megalogenis Author

19

1

Mike Seccombe Global Mail

2014 Score = 2.08- for the period 2 Feb 2014 to 6 Apr 2014 (10 shows)

Per cent

Politics

Name

100

2

Barrie Cassidy ABC

30

2

Dennis Atkins News

30

4

Niki Savva News

30

2

Tory Shepherd News

20

1

David Marr Guardian

20

4

Gerard Henderson Sydney Institute

20

2

Jonathan Swan Fairfax

20

1

Lenore Taylor Guardian

20

2

Mark Kenny Fairfax

20

2

Phil Coorey Fairfax

Note (1): The host is assumed to be Barrie Cassidy for all programs, though it was noted that once, or twice, Fran Kelly and Chris Uhlmann have been the host, but this was not recorded.

Note (2): From the 26 May 2013 till 6 Apr 2014 (38 shows), the panel is named in the web page “This Week on Insiders”.  From 6 Feb 2011 to 26 May 2013 (98 shows), the web pages just say “On Insiders this week, Barrie Cassidy and the panel discuss”.  The panel members were found by looking manually at the beginning of the “Sunday Papers” segment, and occasionally at “Predictions & Observations” segment.  On the 21 Feb 2010 and 27 Nov 2011, the panel is listed by name on the “Sunday Papers” web page - but this ‘mistake’ was not repeated subsequently.  The program on the 17 Jul 2011 is excluded from the analysis as this program was a 10 year special and had four panel members: AC, LT, GH, MF

So what does all this mean?  Well the new host, Fran Kelly, could go to her Executive Producer (Kellie Mayo) and say that she wants to adhere to the ABC’s Charter and present a show that is balanced, and that she does not want to host a Left biased show.  For example she could suggest that for the rest of year (about 33 shows) that there must be at least two right of centre panellists.  Now, given that 10 shows have already gone, each new show must average a score of at least 3.3, so given her score of 2 and assuming another panellist (from the usual suspects) will also score a 2 – then the other 2 panellist must be one 4 (centre right) and the other a 5 (far right) – for the rest of the year.  This will then achieve an overall program score of 3 for the year, i.e. Centre.

This proposal, if Fran would care to take it up, would probably cause a couple of ‘brain explosions’ amongst ABC staff but only because the ABC’s culture has drifted so far to the Left from the Centre (as self appointed warriors against the right leaning shock jocks and the ‘evil’ Murdoch empire) that its staff do not comprehend its Charter specified requirement that the ABC be balanced, entire unto itself.

Posted in Guest Post | 93 Comments

Google reads your emails

Let me start with this news item from two days ago, Google admits it’s reading your emails:

GOOGLE HAS UPDATED its privacy terms and conditions, eroding a little more of its users’ privacy.

Google is so far unapologetic about its changes, despite having created some controversy. The bulk of the responses worry that Google is now able to read users’ emails and scan them for its various purposes.

In its terms and conditions the firm said that its users agree that information that they submit and share with its systems is all fair game. Its update, the first since last November, makes the changes very clear.

This I have known myself since last October. This is the report I sent to IT within the University:

I am doing a presentation on Tuesday next week and wrote the following note to the coordinator of the seminar:

This is the paper I will speak to which is an update on my previously published paper. I cannot believe how much things have evolved from then. I will also do a set of overheads which will help me keep track of where I am and might even be of use to those who come to listen.

Attached to it was my paper named nowhere other than in the paper itself:

The Use of Multiple Choice Questions with Explanations for Economic Assessment

This was the same title for a paper I had written in 2008 and put up on an academic website along with an abstract. But for the past five years the paper had simply been a paper that could be accessed but no one had. And then, a few hours after sending my note off to the coordinator of the seminar I received the following email:

Hi Professor Kates,

Hope you are doing well.

I would like to introduce myself as [redacted], one of the fastest growing research acceleration firm. We have been working with academicians from 35 of the top 100 universities across the globe including researchers from Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, MIT, NUS, and INSEAD.

We help researchers with Data Harvesting, Analytics, Visualization and Technology Implementation. As an organization, our primary focus is to increase research productivity, reduce research costs, and enable researchers focus on the most important facets of their research. You can read more about us here .

As we read through the abstract of research paper on The Use of Multiple Choice Questions with Explanations for Economic Assessment, we thought it would be a good idea to set up some time for a short call and explore how we can help you accelerate your research. Let me know a good time and we can schedule a call accordingly. I look foward to hearing from you.

Regards

I do not believe in coincidences, specially not one in a million shots like this would have been. This was, moreover, not just someone who had read my email but had been able to open my attachment, read its title and presumably anything else they chose to read within the contents, and then send me a follow-up email, all on the same day.

It’s not just the NSA and it’s not just our foreign enemies. My google account information is not just being shared but my attachments can be opened by total strangers. And the more I think about it, the more it burns me up.

I then had very helpful assistance from someone in our IT department who was as interested as I was in whether Google really was reading my emails and allowing others to read them as well. After quite a number of emails back and forth to each other, this was the final email sent to me.

Hi Steve,

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

I’ve had some ongoing discussions with Google Support and here is the summary. They say that a message that travels only within Google servers can’t be accessed in transit, so could only be seen by a third party if the sending or receiving account is compromised by eg. phishing.

However, they also say that their mailflow algorithms mean that an email sent from one Google account to another, even sent from a Google user to themselves, may leave Google’s mail servers and come back in again. In that case, messages travelling on the internet would be subject to the inherent insecurity of email.

I’ve done a quick search to find a good explanation of why/how email is insecure, and I think this one sums it up pretty well:

http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/can-email-ever-be-secure/

As I understand it, hacking of email in transit, by eg. packet sniffing etc, is thought to be pretty rare. But it’s possible. However, there’s no way we or Google can establish whether or not this has happened since it would have occurred out in the wild, on servers or connections to which we have no access.

Not only is it not “out in the wild” or “pretty rare”, it even turns out to be integral to the google mail (gmail) system and no doubt common. The fact of the matter is that you do not know who your emails are being diverted to or who is reading them or the attachments. And now that Google has said so in public, it burns me up even more.

Posted in Cultural Issues | 49 Comments

Just remember, they’re going to get old too

My own moment when I’m teaching about structural unemployment, I always use as an example the “typing pool” which has zero meaning to every student I teach. Even the words don’t quite fit themselves into a coherent phrase from which they can conjure up an actual productive activity. I actually tried to buy a cassette player not long ago and they are nowhere to be had, not even in an op shop. Time I threw out my cassettes, I guess, but they’ll only go after I first get rid of my records.

As for the video, I like the way that “Walkmans” in the title is followed by the words “Portable Cassette Players” in brackets so it’s not all that certain that everyone who even watches this will know what it is or how it works.

Picked up at Hot Air

Posted in History | 65 Comments

Open Forum: April 19, 2014

Posted in Open Forum | 810 Comments