November 25, 2015

Horse 2029 - The Worst Word In The English Language?

Have you considered this, oh Have you thought about the implications of yout statement? Are 80% of the letters of the word "Queue" really redundant?

English is a really strange language, who was first the bastard child of low-German, Saxon, Norman and then a vagabond thief, who stole words as her nation stole countries through the cunning use of flags.

The seventeen letter of the alphabet probably came to us from the Semitic Qoph, before being hammered into shape through the ages into the Phoenician Qōp and then maybe the Greek Qoppa (Ϙ). Modern Q probably showed up in Roman, with C, K and Q being used to represent "k" and "g" sounds.
In modern English, Q is usually followed by U because the Etruscan civilization who were eventually conquered by the Romans in 264BC, rendered "kw" sounds as "QV". The letter U came to us in the middle ages as a means to differentiate V and U sounds.
All this is mostly an aside though, because although it helps to explain why Qu is almost always seen in "native" words as a digraph, it doesn't really bring us a whole lot closer to assessing the claim by

If 80% of the letters of the word "Queue" are really redundant, then Q is a legitimate word. Is that true though?
The only other one letter words in the English language are "A" which is a singular indefinite article (this is "a" blog post) and the word "I" which is the perpendicular pronoun. I hope that makes sense.
If Q is a legitimate word, then it would be unique in being the only one consonant word but without a vowel modifier, it's almost unpronounceable.
Q might very well the name of James Bond's gadgeteer quartermaster or someone in the Star Trek universe who has the power to alter time, space, and reality, but even then as a single letter, it's still pronounced something like "kyoo".
Clearly one letter is not enough.

Two letters? Is that "kwu" or "kwe"?
English is already idiotic enough with its spelling to suggest that anyone might hope to know that Qu is a word. The combination "ough" is already bad enough and has anywhere between six and ten different pronunciations depending on where you are in the Anglophone world.
I take it you already know, Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Two letters isn't enough to carry a word like this along; not with so much ambiguity in the language.

Is three letters enough?
Manuel, the very cheap waiter from Barcelona in the TV comedy Fawlty Towers is famous for the uttering of this three letter word. In his own words: "I can speak English, I learn it from a book."
I know that languages are different and that the same spelling might be pronounced differently both between languages and even in the same language (like that bottle of Polish polish you use to clean furniture) but Que is recognisable enough in English that it can only be pronounced "ke"
Three letters is not enough either.

Maybe this is the point where we should stop. "Queu" sort of looks like a legitimate word. Spelling is mostly arbitrary anyway; so there's no logical reason not to stop here.
Four letters might be enough.

As usual we can blame the English language for being a thief. The word "queue" was stolen from French in about the fifteen century and probably derived from the older word "Cue" which means a "tail"; which itself came from the Roman word "cauda" and Italian "coda". We still find Codas at the end of bits of music; which is the tail to a piece.
When we steal a word in English and especially when we steal one that's already in Roman script, we tend not to muck with it a lot unless your name happens to be Noah Webster.
Rather than being redundant, although the word looks idiotic, it's sufficiently interesting enough to be memorable and since people tend to read whole words at a go, rather than sounding out all the various parts, the word serves us well because it isn't ambiguous or easily confused with something else.
The other thing to bear in mind is that the silent-e on the end, is consistent with words like "cube", and even makes it look like it rhymes with words like "blue" and "true".
Five letters might be over-engineered but it works.

I think that an argument can be made that maybe 20% of the letters of the word "Queue" are redundant but only the "e" on the end and even then, it's tenuous.

I also think that the worst word in the English language is through. Ideally, I'd like it to be spelled "ðroo" but that's another story.

November 21, 2015

Horse 2028 - North Sydney By-Election; Labor's No Show

The by-election for the seat of North Sydney which became vacant after the resignation of former Treasurer Joe Hockey, will be held on the 5th of December.

Realistically the only candidate who stands a chance out of the field of 13 is NSW Liberal Party President and former Hockey staffer, Trent Zimmerman, as the Federal Electiral Division of North Sydney, has been held by conservative parties since the nation's inception in 1901 except for a bried period of six years when Ted Mack held the seat from 1990 to 1996.

If you look through the list of parties contesting the election, there is one party which is conspicuous by its absence.
For those people reading on interesting readers and devices, I warn you, a kaleidoscope of colours follows.

Sustainable Population
Liberal Democrats
Voluntary Euthanasia
Christian Democrats
Palmer United
Bullet Train

The only one notable exception which would usually contest an election is the Australian Labor Party. For reasons which I can only assume are apathy and defeatism, the ALP hasn't even bothered to field a candidate; which I think inadvertently speaks volumes.

I suspect that the Turnbull government will want to show its credentials before it goes to the next Federal Election by passing a budget. Arguably the budget is the biggest single event in the life of a political year; so that means that we're unlikely to have an election before the 10th of May 2016 in my not very well paid opinion.
The latest possible date than an election can be held is the 14th of January 2017 but that's only if a parliament runs to the absolute end of its term and the writs are drafted on the very last possible date. 
For some reason, Australia likes to hold its elections in September. This is either because a budget has just passed or because it means that a government once it has won an election can wave about the magic word "mandate" around as though it were a weapon. Both sides of the divide are guilty of this and its disingenuous to pretend otherwise.
Assuming that a the next Federal Election is in September 2016. Then maybe the ALP's decision not to contest the North Sydney By-Election is purely economic. If it doesn't, then it can fold its money in half and stick it back into its pocket for use later; that seems sensible to me.

The problem in not contesting an election though is that it does effectively give a harry-handpass to the Liberal Party and if politics is about scoring political points and scoring goals, then that's either equivalent to an uncontested mark or a rushed behind. If the Liberals win the seat, the numbers don't change an iota in the House but they do win bragging rights.

I know that this sounds strange but even though an MP is elected to represent a local constituency, almost never do the people in the electorate think of it that way. If you ask most people who their MP is at any level of government, I'd bet that the majority of people don't actually know. What they do know is which party they voted for and even though the electorate likes to complain that they didn't vote for John Citizen as the Prime Minister or Billy Wonderfish if there's a spill, that's kind of a disconnect anyway because they did vote for a member of a party. The 150 little elections aren't really fought on "local issues" at all. 

Given Labor's disinterest to contest a local election, what does this say about a potential national election? Are we to assume that by inference that they actually don't care? It's worth remembering that even during the period of the the beginning of the Menzies Government in 1949 to the 1972 election, Labor did bother to field candidates at every election. Doctor Herbert Evatt and Arthur Calwell who were the unluckiest Opposition Leaders in Australian political history, did both manage to win the popular vote even though their parties lost elections.

For Labor not to bother in North Sydney, I think either highlights a party which has lost its fervour or has for the moment lost its way.

1940 - Curtin
1954 - Evett
1961 - Calwell
1969 - Whitlam
1990 - Hewson
1998 - Beazley
On six occasions, a majority of the popular vote didn't translate into a majority of seats. These six are Opposition Leaders who lost elections but won more votes.

November 20, 2015

Horse 2027 - International Men's Day: Grow Up!

November 19th, was International Men's Day. As a man, I knew nothing about the day and quite frankly if I did, I doubt that I would have known how to celebrate it. What should I have done? I dunno, hammer nails into wood, hoon around and smoke up the tyres, lie around on the couch?
I did nothing, which is the best thing to do for International Men's Day because it's an inherently stupid day. I understand that issues like male suicide and men's health issues are important but is this day really necessary?
The point is that every day is International Men's Day and has been for a very long time.

Let's assume of a second that all the women of the world were allowed to stop working on the day of the year that the average wage that they are paid, finally runs out, relative to men.
If on average, women are paid only 82.13% of men, then the day that we should expect them all to refuse to do any work is October 28. I've got bad news for International Men's Day, the women would has stopped working 22 days before. Remember that date, it's important.

In 1975, on October 24, the Nordic country of Iceland staged what I think is probably the single greatest event in labour relations anywhere in the world. All the women of Iceland went on strike. October 24 was the date which was deemed that day of wage equivalency and so at 8am, around 90% of the women in Iceland, refused to do any work that day.
Fathers found that they had to take their children to work, as all of the schools and day-care centres were closed. All of this was also made all the more pertinent as 1975 was declared by the United Nations to be International Women's Year.

If we are going to have an International Men's Day, perhaps we should talk about the awful plight that men face, having to be paid 121.75% that of women and thanks to our "one size fits rich" superannuation system, also have to face the prospect of finishing with 50% savings in retirement.
By my reckoning, men make up 435 of 593 of all seats in Federal and State Parliaments across the country; so it's not hard to see why legislators don't really take women's issue seriously.
If the parliament really took harassment in the workplace serious, it would have taken action before Julia Gillard's now famous "misogyny" speech ever took place. The fact that it didn't indicates to me that parliament is too feeble to actively police the laws which it generates.

There are issues like harassment in the work place which men almost never face and women in public life often face the sort of threats, which even a decade ago would have been unprintable. How many times have you honestly heard of a male journalist being threatened with rape? Probably none.
Admittedly I'm not in a position of power and I don't command a six figure salary but let's be honest because I was born a white male, I won the jackpot of life. I don't face racial abuse, ethnic abuse and neither do I face abuse because of gender.

I know that this sounds stupid but I inadvertently did celebrate International Men's Day. I walked home from the train station alone at night and nothing happened.

November 12, 2015

Horse 2026 - Hello Bruce. Australia 3 - Kyrgyzstan 0

Australia 3 def.  Kyrgyzstan 0
Jedinak 40' (pen.)
Cahill 50'
Amirov 69' (o.g)

The Bruce Stadium or whatever they decide to call it these days. Hello Bruce, Bruce. Looked like a cross between a pre-school's sandpit and an explosion in a quilt factory. It was the same for both sides - complete rubbish.

After an opening flurry of shots in which six shots were rained down in six minutes, the game settled into a hard but fair tussle. Kyrgyzstan is a rugged central Asian nation in both geography and character and they showed that they were up for a physical challenge against Australia who is renowned for that kind of game.

The first major chance came after 14 minutes when Jedinak supplied a cross to the mercurial Cahill whose opening shot hit the wood work. This game would devolve into the sort of game that for every second that passed, the greater the chance that one side was going to break.

In the 16th minute, Kyrgyzstan played an impressive counter and after an Ivan Filatov shot hit the defence, it fell to Viktor Maier who was brought down in the area by James Meredith. It should have drawn a penalty but instead got nothing at all.
22 minutes in and after a Mooy corner, Luongo's shot sprayed wide and four minutes later Meredith supplied a swinging cross from the left wing which hung in the air forever but Cahill's header went wide.

Tomi Juric who was nursing an injury finally succumbed to the pain and his replacement Nathan Burns injected himself into the play with vigour and pep.
In the 28th minute, Mooy fired a rocket from about 17 yards away but the brave Azamat Baimatov threw himself in front of the ball and diffused it nobly.
There was a slight lull in play as players regrouped and although Burns sent a cross in front of the defenders, Jedinak's shot went so far high and wide that it practically came back down with snow on it.

In the 38th minute Mooy put a pass into Burns and as it bounced around in an unguarded penalty area, somehow Mark Milligan managed to miss an open goal from less than 2 yards away.
Almost a minute later, Islam Shamshiev brought down Burns in the penalty area and Jedinak stepped up to take the penalty. Jedinak's strike would have been impossible to save for even the best keepers in the world, for unless plucky keeper Pavel Matiash had grown wings and become and aeroplane, there was no hope at all that he was going to save the penalty.

Before the half time period came, another Mooy corner also found Cahill's head but didn't find the back of the net.

After the half time break though, Mooy and Cahill would again link up. After just four minutes of the second period, Mooy troubled the defenders and threaded it through a space in the back four; without even looking, he found Cahill who blasted the ball across the hapless Matiash for the second goal of the game.

For a brief period, Kyrgyzstan appeared to have found some fight but unfortunately, Shamshiev's shot showed no conviction at all and dribbled outside the right hand post. Shamshiev would be replaced later in the match by the defender Vitalij Lux, which showed that Kyrgyzstan had gone into damage control rather than attack their way out of it.

Kyrgyzstan had retreated from a fairly attacking 4-4-2 with a diamond centre to a 5-4-1 and this proved to undo them further. They became confused and cramped at the back and for the next eight minutes, Australia began to run rampant. This would finallly culminate in the substitution of  Jedinak for Troisi and Australia pushed even higher, moving from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3.
With extra players forward Australia did break Kyrgyzstan; when in the 68th minute a Mooy corner, hit the back of Ildar Amirov who turned the ball into his own net.

At 3-0 up, the nails in the coffin had been hammered in and the match kind of fizzled out in the last twenty minutes. Apart from a brief period in the 91st minute when Matiash saved a Cahill strike and then saved a second shot from Troisi who benefited from the deflection, this turned into a fairly simple exercise.

With the two top teams staying on for further qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, Australia can not really afford to rest on their laurels. Even with a game in hand, they still trail Jordan by 4 points in Group B and so will be looking to futher consolidate (ie thrash) Bangladesh in Dakar next week.

November 06, 2015

Horse 2025 - In Defence Of Unknowable Terms Of Parliament

For those who would like to say that I haven't done my research and thought this through, please refer to my previous multiple thousands of words and 25 blog posts on the subject:

Horse 1716 - Parkes
Horse 1717 - Barton
Horse 1720 - Deakin, Watson, Reid
Horse 1724 - Fisher
Horse 1728 - Cook
Horse 1738 - Hughes
Horse 1758 - Bruce
Horse 1761 - Scullin
Horse 1780 - Lyons
Horse 1796 - Page
Horse 1837 - Menzies
Horse 1850 - Fadden
Horse 1856 - Curtin
Horse 1873 - Forde
Horse 1880 - Chifley
Horse 1901 - Menzies (again)
Horse 1916 - Holt, McEwen
Horse 1926 - Gorton
Horse 1939 - McMahon
Horse 1949 - Whitlam
Horse 1968- Fraser
Horse 1983 - Hawke, Keating
Horse 1999 - Howard
Horse 2016 - Rudd, Gillard
Horse 2023 - Abbott, Turnbull

Have I got your attention?



Are you sitting comfortably?

Then we'll begin.

For those who look across the past eight years of Australian democracy and accuse the system of not working, I'd like to remind everyone that since 2007 we have had five Prime Ministers but from the time that I was born up until 2007, we had just four.
Over the long run and if you include Sir Henry Parkes (who probably would have been Prime Minister if he was still alive), then all up we've had thirty Prime Ministers in 120 years. Over the long run, that's one every four years; which I think is fine.

If you look across the various systems of government, then two years between elections as they have in the United States House of Representatives is demonstrably too short because if leads to continual electioneering and gridlock in the legislature, four years is too long because it leads to weeks and weeks of campaigning which is mostly pointless and hideously expensive and five years like they have in the UK is obviously a terrible idea because it means that bad governments stay in for too long and hated governments might only really need to face the electorate twice in a decade.
I personally think that an uncertain term of about three yearsish in a not very exact sort of way, is good for democracy and also allows a government who is bold to actually force a mandate for something, as say Whitlam did in 1974 or Menzies did in 1951 (the latter failed in banning communism).

In the general scheme of things, Australian politics generally goes through periods of friction and then stability. In the opening eight years, we had six Prime Ministers as the states learned or didn't learn how to rub shoulders together, we had six Prime Ministers as the Second World War roared around the world and following the retirement of Sir Robert Menzies we also had six Prime Ministers as politics went through a generational shift.
What we're looking at now, following on from Hawke, Keating and Howard who were all Silent Generation Prime Ministers, is another generational shift where we've had four Baby Boomers. Time will of course tell if Malcolm Turnbull is finally able to achieve the sort of stability we've seen in ages past but there no reason to suggest that the hope for years to come isn't another age of parliamentary stability. The other side of the coin is that in periods of long parliamentary stability, it must really really suck to be the Leader of the Opposition who has to sit opposite that, like Doc Evett, Arthur Calwell and Andrew Peacock did.

A nominally three year parliamentary cycle at least gives an Opposition Leader a reason to keep at the job. Someone like Tony Abbott who lost the 2010 election after one of the most protracted series of bunfights in corridors that we've seen in this country, spent three years fighting tooth and nail to finally win the top spot in Australian politics and whilst commentators might like to say that it led the nation into toxic politics, it actually belies the fact that more than 500 bills passed through the parliament in that period of time; making it an especially productive period in political history. Had Abbott had to wait four or even five years in the cold, he might had lost heart and given up altogether.

One of the usual arguments which is put forward for having fixed terms is to fight against the advantage of incumbency. I think that this is mostly nonsense. It makes some degree of sense to claim that that is the case in a nation like the United States where the elections for the House of Representatives have no bearing on who actually forms cabinet government but  in a country like Australia, governments are almost never swept to power, old governments are swept out of office.
The incumbency argument makes even less sense in the light that in a system that can show periods of change, then it's probably best to design a system that gives a wee bit of advantage to the incumbents because it adds to stability
Besides which, as New South Wales and Victoria have shown quite comprehensively, having fixed election dates in no way improves government; with bad governments such as the Labor government from 2007-2011 which lurched from side to side like a zombie sheep, having no way to be removed by the electorate. If New South Wales had shorter terms like the Commonwealth has, then New South Wales would have been rid of the pox much sooner.

I can tell you that the next United Kingdom general election will happen in May 2020 and that the next US Presidential Election will happen in 2016, with campaigning already starting in America now; as the the rest of the world watches on in glorious horror at the sheer profligacy and expense of it all. Surely it's much easier to just go "Snap - election in five weeks. Off you go!" and everyone is happy.
Besides which, I like the idea of having no idea when the next election is. It might be in the spring, or the winter, or an autumn; who knows? Nobody knows! I think that it also helps to keep things interesting and may we all live in interesting times.

November 05, 2015

Horse 2024 - Is Government Regulation Really Useless? Pull The Other Plug

Dear John (not your real name; you know who you are),

Subject to our conversation about the uselessness of government regulation and your assertion that all government regulation is bad, you set me the task of finding "just one area" where government regulation is good.
It took me longer to take the photograph, let alone to write this piece, than it did for me to come up with the example.

This should be an area which is close to your heart because it's also so very close to your wallet. Here is a picture.

This is a power point.


Just wow.

Wow wow wow wow.

Wowie wowie wowie wow.

In 1937 the standard C112 plug/socket system was codified and in 1938 it was adpoted as a formal standard across Australia. This standard was superseded by AS 3112 in 1990 and formally adopted as AS/NZS 3112; currently AS/NZS 3112:2011.
Before 1937, plug and socket manufacturers were basically free to do as they chose but a series of gentlemen's agreements between plug/socket manufacturers and the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, solidified this as a working and proper thing.

It should be obvious to all and sundry that a standard electrical plug is good, fit and proper for everyone involved from plug/socket manufacturers, to electricity delivers, to appliance manufacturers, to consumers. Laws exist for the regulation, standardisation and protection of society and for something like electricity delivery, such a thing actually helps to protect people and stop buildings from burning to the ground.
You'd think that something as forgettable as a power point and plug standard would be simple to regulate but the document from Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand is 69 pages long¹.

Then there's the question of electricity delivery itself. Unbeknownst to most people, Australia's voltage is actually not 240V but a nominal 230V which was brought into line with the International Electrotechnical Commission's worldwide harminsation program, starting in 1981.
A 230V power supply can be delivered with voltages from a –6% to +10% variation on that standard; which means that this can be anything from 216.2V to 253V.

The thing is though that almost nobody in the real world, honestly knows or cares about the standard. Electricity is perfectly fungible; not only do consumers not care who generates their electric power, most of the time they're not even aware whose actually responsible for delivering it.
All they care about is that when they plug in their stuff into a wall, they get something that approximates 230 boring volts, at about 10 amperes and at a gloriously monotomous 50±5 cycles a second. Most of the time they don't even care about that; all they want is to have stuff work when they plug stuff in the wall.

Government regulations aren't inherently bad and to assert so is a lie. I mean you are free to jam forks into the wall if you so desire but the outcome might not be pleasant. On the upside, at least you won't live long to regret it.

People don't complain much either if they have to comply with other government regulations like road rules for the most part. There are lines painted on the road and people are safer driving a two tonne vehicle at 60km/h down the street than they are operating a fork. Above the age of 45 Coronary heart disease and other Cerebrovascular diseases are likely to kill people and below that Suicide is a greater cause of death than Land transport accidents².
This doesn't change the fact that the death rate for an individual over the course of their lifetime is pretty close too 100%.

People only really complain about government regulations when they impose direct costs or delays on someone, like having to pay taxes, or waiting for building approvals. The vast majority of government regulations go by totally unnoticed by people; yet they help to explain why their dinner was safe to eat, why they mostly got to and from work in as boring a manner as possible and why their workplace and house didn't spontaneously burst into flames.

Wowie wowie wowie wow. People often like to say that they'd like to use a machete to cut through red tape but the administration of boring regulation really does save the nation and some red tape holds the nation together. Think about that when you're microwaving your pizza pocket.

Pro lege,


November 04, 2015

Horse 2023 - Australia's Prime Ministers - Nos 28 & 29 - Tony Abbott & Malcolm Turnbull

XXVIII - Tony Abbott

In the fallout from the 2007 Federal Election in which John Howard became only the second Prime Minister after Stanley Bruce to lose their own seat at the election, the Liberal Party was kind of directionless for a time.
In the face of having virtually no Opposition Leader to speak of, Kevin Rudd achieved preferred Prime Minister polling levels of 74% at one stage. Dr Brendan Nelson held the job for almost a year before Malcolm Turnbull took over and then on 1st Dec 2009, Tony Abbott became Leader Of The Opposition.

Abbott who had previously been a staffer for the Liberal Party including job a press secretary to Liberal Leader John Hewson, was parachuted into the richest electorate in the country and which has only been held by the Liberal Party or its predecessors.

2009 was a fortunate date to become Opposition Leader because it meant that Abbott had sufficient time to draw the party together and mount a challenge at the 2010 election. The 2010 election would result in a hung parliament with both the Labor Party and the Liberal/National coalition falling short of the required number of seats needed to form government. The Labor Party only formed government because of the support of the crossbench and Abbott would have to wait three more years before he became Prime Minister.
At the Sep 2013 election, Abbott's coalition won back government; taking 90 seats to 55 seats and needed no help from the crossbench.

Abbott's government was perhaps most noted for its headline position to do with asylum seekers and boat arrivals. As the Opposition Leader, Abbott promised that a government that he would lead would "stop the boats" and for the most part it did. This however would come with its own problems and after an initiative to turn back boat arrivals called Operation Sovereign Borders was launched, four mainland detention centres were closed and deals were made with countries such as Papua New Guinea and Nauru to accept refugee and asylum seeker arrivals.
In Feb 2014 a riot in the Manus Island detention centre erupted and it was reported that processing of visa applications had in fact stopped on Manus Island. The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, warned Australia that its decision to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea could breach international law and its human rights obligations.

Things weren't all quite so polarising though. Almost under the radar of the media, Tony Abbott did flag that he would "sweat blood" to see recognition of Indigenous peoples incorporated in the federal constitution; with the hope that this would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum which repealed Section 127 which said that "aboriginal natives shall not be counted" in reckoning population.

On the trade front, Abbott concluded free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China but it was elsewhere in foreign policy that Abbott showed his statesmanship.
With the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukranian air space by presumed Russian backed troops, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, led negotiations at the UN Security Council to have that crash site declared untamperable by unfriendly powers. When another  Malaysia Airlines plane, flight MH370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing (so completely in the wrong direction), Abbott personally committed both the navy and the air force to looking for debris.

In September of 2015, Abbott would not survive a leadership spill when current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull won 61-39.

XXIX - Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull is perhaps more interesting for what he did before becoming Prime Minister because not yet even being seven weeks into the job, there isn't a lot to judge by in the grand scheme of things.

As a lawyer, Malcolm Turnbull was able to have the British Government's objections to an autobiography by an ex-MI5 officer Peter Wright, overruled. The book called "Spycatcher" speaks of an MI6 plot to assassinate the President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser as well as of a joint MI5/CIA plot against British PM Harold Wilson. The British Government who saw it as damaging, wanted to have the book banned but Turnbull led the legal team which lifted the book's supression orders.

On the business front, Turnbull had made a wise business decision by buying a stake in tech-startup Ozemail in 1994 for $500,000 and eventually selling it to WorldCom five years later for $57m.
In the light of that, Turnbull's appointment in Abbott's cabinet as the Minister for Communications and in particular the minister responsible for the National Broadband Network, seems rather a good fit.

Since becoming Prime Minister. the heat of political debate appears to have died down a little. The Abbott Government's proposal to deregulate university fees appears to have been postponed until at least 2017 and it also appears that if there is to be a plebiscite on the subject of Same sex marriage that that might also be slated for 2017.
Where Turnbull's Government decides to go on issues like taxation policy, immigration and border control and on things like infrastructure remains to be seen; it also depends on what the electorate and the Senate will allow him to do.

November 03, 2015

Colt 2022.2 - Solved in 22 Seconds

Teachers deny the question was too difficult (scroll to the bottom of the article for the solution).
But strong maths students made the mistake of overthinking the question, while weaker students froze up, believing there was not enough information to solve the question. 
- The Age, 2nd Nov 2015

I bet I can solve the question without even drawing a diagram:

There are 360° in a circle.

The angle between 12 lines radiating from the centre to each corner is:
360°/ 12 = 30°

12 equaliateral triangles can be drawn.

The angle sum of a triangle is 180°

The other two angles in these equaliateral triangles is:

180° - 30° = 150° (two angles)

150° / 2 = 75° (two angles)

If a line is drawn which extends from a side. Two 75° angles rotate around a point.

Angles on one side of a straight line add up to 180°

180° - (75° * 2) = 30°

Two coins are side by side; so that angle must be reflected. 

30° + 30° = 60°

The Answer is D.

I win a cookie. Time elapsed (22 seconds).

Horse 2022 - F1: Angry Rosberg Remains Unbothered (Round 8)

Even before a wheel had turned at the Mexican Grand Prix at the the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, engine builders were already bemoaning the fact that because the race is held at a height of at least 7000ft above sea level, engines wouldn't be able to breathe as easily in the less dense air and that precisely because the air is less dense, engines would not be able to dissipate their heat as easily.
Even after a 50 place grid penalty, the Honda engine in the back of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren was the first to expire; probably because of this reason.

Early in the race, Sebastian Vettel had a collision with Daniel Ricciardo and this meant that he dropped his third place and had too pit. Things only got worse from there. His pitstop put him to the back of the field and even though he spent most of the race on a blistering pace, he was still instructed to let Hamilton and Rosberg pass under blue flags. Vettel's race went from disappointing to humiliating when on lap 53, he spun the car into a set of barriers and then proceeded to try and clean up his mess by picking up broken pieces of Ferrari and putting them in the cockpit.
Not that Raikkonen in the other Ferrari had it any better.

Perhaps in exacting revenge for the incident in Russia (which for the purposes of this blog never existed) on lap 22 and challenging for sixth, Valtteri Bottas punted Raikkonen off the track. When quizzed on the subject of whether or not it was his or Bottas' fault, Raikkonen was quite phlegmatic about it and said that "That is life.It is racing. I haven't seen the pictures, but the end result wasn't ideal for me."
The last time both Ferraris failed to finish a Grand Prix was all the way back at the Australian GP in 2006.

After the safety car had come out and after the marshalls cleaned up Vettel's Ferrari, the Mercedes power in Bottas' Williams proved too much for the Renault in the back of Kvyat's Red Bull. Bottas breezed off into the distance and Kyvat was left to defend a late charge from his team mate Daniel Ricciardo.
The second Williams of of Felipe Massa who had sort of been nurdling around behind the leaders for virtually all the race, dribbled into sixth place.

Most of the Grand Prix was decidedly processional with very few overtaking maneuvers around the circuit. After about ten laps, the race very quickly turned into a silberwäsche with both of the Silver Arrows shooting off into the distance. Late in the race, there might have been a little bit of interest with Hamilton ignoring the Mercedes team’s directions to pit for new tyres so that he could stay out longer and hopefully get some advantage but it simply didn't work. Pretty much from the first corner, this was a Rosberg benefit race.
Maybe following on from the hat-throwing incident at the end of the Russian GP, Rosberg found some fire and it must be said that Angry-Rosberg is better than Sad-Rosberg but it's all come too late in the season.

Race Results:
1. Rosberg - Mercedes
2. Hamilton - Mercedes
3. Bottas - Williams
4. Kyvat - Red Bull
5. Ricciardo - Red Bull
6. Massa - Williams

"The John Logie Baird Television Was Better in 1984 Memorial Cup" at the end of Round 8 in Mexico looks like this:

52 Hamilton
46 Rosberg
30 Vettel
13 Bottas
13 Ricciardo
12 Kyvat
12 Massa
11 Raikkonen
6 Perez
4 Grosjean
3 Nasr
1 Hulkenburg

The Constructor's Championship is thus:

98 Mercedes
41 Ferrari
25 Red Bull
23 Williams
7 Force India
4 Lotus
3 Sauber

November 02, 2015

Horse 2021 - Falling Effective Income Tax Rates Shouldn't Justify a GST Increase

If you listen to the vast river of complaint that flows through the airwaves every day, you very quickly develop the impression that "taxes are too high" and for just about every problem in existence that "the government should do something". Quite clearly, these two statements are in conflict because if you expect someone, including the government, to do something then that has to be paid for some how. You can not expect a plumber to come around and fix your plumbing unless you intend to pay them for their work. Likewise, if the government should do something then they will want to be paid for doing the thing; their vehicle of payment is via taxation.

The eternal conflict in politics, the great left-right divide, is the next problem of who should do what. The absolute extreme left is the position that the government should do everything and collect lots of tax; the absolute extreme right is the position that the government should do nothing and collect no tax whatsoever. Apart from the degree of social control that governments aught to legislate for and exert, politics is mostly the eternal argument between these two positions and pushing forth and back between them in order to win power.

The other thing to remember is that politics is a game which is played by people. The problem with people is that people tend to think that in the story of their lives, they are the good guy and what they think is best. They also tend to live in the present and so events in the past tend to have less weight on the formation of opinion than perhaps they aught to. If taxes are too high, then it must follow that taxes are higher than they've ever been, right? Whether or not this is actually true is mostly irrelevant since games played by people are always played in the present.

I decided to look into the past; into the story of taxation and see what was true. The following graphs are derived from calculations based on information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Taxation Office.

Taxation rates have more or less been on the slide since the late 1970s. Long gone are the punitive taxation rates of 60% and more, and yet there are still quite vociferous speakers, particularly on the right of politics, who think that taxes are still too high. Perhaps they are behind the latest push to increase the hateful GST from 10% to 15% because they know that this will shift the burden of taxation from the leaners at the top of the system to the heavy lifters somewhere in the middle (the people at the bottom already can't carry anything but don't worry, the GST will ensure that their legs are kicked out from underneath them - private affluence at the expense of public squalor is the order of the day).

When Joe Hockey was Treasurer, he raised the issue of bracket creep as an excuse to lower income taxation. I concur that bracket creep is indeed a thing but in the grand picture of the last 30 years, it's almost like arguing what colour to paint the fleas on a dog. Bracket creep is the notion that as people's income increases due to factors like inflation, that those increases pushes them into the next tax bracket. Fair enough, but income taxation is a marginal system and if your income is say $80,000 and your marginal tax rate is 40% and you get a pay increase of $1 which pushes you into a 45% bracket, then that 45% tax rate is only applied on that 80,001st dollar.

This graph shows the effective rates¹ of income tax for half of, one time, twice and four times Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings² (AWOTE) since 1985. All of these income tax rates have been obtained from the ATO website and then by working out what the rates assessed would be.
You will note that the effective taxation rate for AWOTE has remained more or less constant since 1985 but that for 4x AWOTE and to a lesser extent, 2x AWOTE have fallen. The biggest fall in effective income tax rates happened in the year 2000/01; commencing on 1st July 2000.

The effective taxation rate on half of AWOTE has also fallen but the most dramatic fall happens not in any AWOTE figure but the effective taxation rate on the Median Wage. The reason for this is quite sinister.

Median Wages have always been less AWOTE for a good reason. As a measure of central tendency, AWOTE whilst it might be a headline rate, is grossly inadequate to tell the story of what is actually going on. AWOTE which is an average includes all take home wage amounts but AWOTE includes the people at the very top of society whose wages have been increasing at many multiples that of the rest of the population.
Outgoing Telstra boss David Thodey reported back in August that his take home pay was 163 times that of the average employee of the company. His story is not atypical. In 1985 the pay mutiple of the CEO versus the average worker was typically about 20 times; in 2015 that has blown out to more than 100 times across the ASX. That means that the average CEO of an ASX 200 company takes about 3 days to take home the same wage as their average worker in the form makes in a year. That sort of rapid increase in that multiple is going to change the AWOTE figure quite markedly but the Median Wage, that is the value which slices all wages in twain, hasn't increased to anywhere near the same degree. This erosion of Median Wage as opposed to AWOTE certainly explains why the effective taxation rate on Median Wages is falling faster than everything else.

I want you to think back to Year 7 maths (yes I know that it might have been years ago but hear me out). You may remember the three measures of central tendency. The Mean or Average is all of the scores divided by the number of things. The Median is the score that splits the number of scores into two halves. The Mode is the most common score. When the Australian Bureau of Statistics quotes AWOTE wages, it's quoting Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings. I think that in principle, that this is simultaneously stupid and misleading and this is why:

The Commonwealth of Tiny is a small nation of ten people. In the year 20X5 it has:
5 people: income $20,000
50% unemployment.
Total wages $100,000.
Average wage: $10,000
The economy of Tiny is undergoing a serious reorganisation though. By the year 20Y5 it will have:
1 person: income $55,000; 9 people: income $5,000
0% unemployment - Yay! Unemployment has been eliminated.
Total wages: $100,000
Average wage: $10,000

Using a measure like average wages produces no change at all. The headline rate of unemployment has fallen; which means that the government has something to crow loudly about. However, more than half the income now goes to ten percent of the population and significantly more than half of the people are on half the average wage.
This might either sound like a triumph of economic planning if you happen to be one of the ten percent of people who have seen their wages skyrocket but if you are the majority of people, you are being seriously done in.
The Commonwealth of Tiny is not dissimilar to the Commonwealth of Australia. Since 1984 when the Median Wage was about 80% of Average Wages it has been steadily falling; if you follow the trend, then by 2018 the Median Wage (that is the wage which splits the population in two) will be less than 50% of the average wage.
I question the relevancy of quoting AWOTE when for half of the population, AWOTE is actually twice their wages. I'm not exactly sure which percentile of population that AWOTE actually maps to but for the Median Wage to have fallen that far it must mean that wages at the top end of the scale have increased by many many multiples. In 1984, management of companies was taking home a wage of between four and ten times that of their workforce; today it is not uncommon for management of big firms to be taking home a wage of twenty and thirty times that of their workforce with some CEOs of ASX companies raking in more than a hundred times that of their workforce. Yet at the same time, the average rate of taxation across the board is falling with people at the top enjoying the biggest tax cuts.
The argument given is that reducing tax allows firms to employ more people but the obvious hypocrisy here is that of course you can employ twice the number of people if you pay them less than half of what they would have got. This is also in the face of a massive amount of automation - when I worked at the Commonwealth Bank's money box branch at 48 Martin Place there were 24 tellers on the floor whereas when I went there last week, there were 3. Granted that the Internet has changed the way business works but I'm sure that the demands upon management have not meant that their work has become ten times harder; yet that's the reward they're given.

The implication for government of a falling Median Wage is that the tax take per person must also invariably fall.

October 31, 2015

Horse 2020 - The phrase "Reach For The Stars" is much older than that.

The phrase "reach for the stars" is indeed an interesting phrase. I've heard it in several contexts but my two most favourite are either:
1. When someone in a Western (usually an outlaw) points a gun at someone and tells them to "reach for the stars". In this context they want them to put their hands up; both as a way to make sure they they don't reach for any weapon to retaliate and because is makes it easier to perform a walletectomy of their victim.
2. As a sign of encouragement, the phrase "reach for the stars" is telling someone to aim high. It was Norman Vincent Peale, the author of that most famous of books The Power of Positive Thinking (1996) who wrote “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

The phrase is much older than that.

Related is the phrase "Reach for the Sky" which was a 1956 film based on the 1954 biographical book written by Paul Brickhill about RAF fighter pilot Sir Douglas Bader.

Bader had been an RAF pilot since 1928 but suffered a crash in 1931 whilst attempting some aerobatic maneuvers and lost the use of his legs. He was retired against his will and when hostilities broke out in 1939, he again joined the RAF and would go on to score 20 kills, 4 shared kills, 6 probables and damaged a further 11 aircraft. He was shot down himself and would be sent to Colditz prisoner of war camp where he would eventually be liberated by the US Army in 1945. As you'd expect though, being an RAF pilot...

The phrase is much older than that.

The Latin motto "Per ardua ad astra" is the motto of several Commonwealth airforces including the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and the South African Air Force but it was the Royal Flying Corps which eventually became the Royal Air Force which adopted it in 1912.

It has been suggested that the first commander in charge of the RAF, Colonel Frederick Sykes, asked his officers to come up with a motto as a way of boosting morale. King George V is reported to have liked it immensely. The officer generally credited with it is Lieutenant J. S. Yule, who was walking across Farnborough Airport with a friend at the time.
As you'd expect...

The phrase is much older than that.

As most people in the upper echelons of society at the turn of the 20th century were still educated in the classics of Greek and Latin, Lt Yule had read it in Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid. The Aeneid speak of Aeneas' journey from his home in Troy to Italy, where he would settle and eventually give rise to the Roman Empire.
The Aeneid dates from no earlier than about 19BC. Aeneas was already a well known character and appears in Homer's The Illiad; which itself dates from about 710BC.

In Latin the phrase "Macte nova virtute, puer: sic itur ad astra, dis genite et geniture deos." is said by the god Apollo to Aeneas's son Iulus and translates as "Go forth with new value, boy: thus is the path to the stars; son of gods that will have gods as sons." after Iulis has just killed one of the Italians, Numanus, despite having no war experience whatsoever and perhaps doing it by accident with a stray arrow.

Is the phrase to "reach for the stars" from a time before people knew they were gigantic balls of plasma? YES!
We now live in an age where even small children know that the sun is a mass of a mass of incandescent gas; a gigantic nuclear furnace, where hydrogen is built into helium, at a temperature of millions of degrees. Some say... that The B-Side to this song will be familiar to fans of a certain British Motoring Show, and that it was all the plan of a particular untamed racing driver to smash all the equipment in that hotel kitchen which closed it, so that Mr Clarkson wouldn’t get a hot meal, in a ploy to take over as the next host of the show.
All we know is... that "Reach for the Stars" is such an interesting phrase that it takes 7 people to sing about it. 

October 30, 2015

Horse 2019 - Fragments III: The Umpire Strikes Back - A No Hope

Just like Fragments I and Fragments II, this post is made out of the detritus that has built up on my tablet computer. These are the posts which get index numbers but never get properly written. These are the posts which will never become proper pieces but still deserve a life of their own.

It seems to me, you lived your life like a sandal in the bin.

A14 - The Flu

And so it was that in the years 2026 to 2028, that almost four million Australians died. They were not the victims of war and conflict but of simple influenza, brought on by institutional neglect.
How did we get here? What can we learn from this tragedy? What actions might have been taken differently? This book attempts to examine the causes and conditions which led to the single greatest disaster in Australian history; both in wartime and peacetime, so that the loss of some four million souls might not be in vain.
It is my hope that by shaking the ghosts of the recent past, we can hope to avoid the spectres of tomorrow. 
- Brian McClymont , 17th July 2030.


C52 - Anachronistic

This sign indicating that unauthorised vehicles will be towed is not the worst example of an anachronistic sign that I have seen. The car being towed does look like a small sedan or coupe and although there aren't that many, they still do exist even though they are relatively unpopular. A small car is likely to be a hatchback rather than a sedan though.
What you will see on road signs are some incredibly anachronistic things. Railway crossing signs frequently have pictures of steam trains on them even though steam was driven off the rails by diesel more than fifty years ago. High Wind signs tend to have pictures of cars that look like they were popular in the 1970s, towing caravans which also look like they date from about that era, even though the car most likely to be towing a caravan today is a big four wheel drive. Even signs for telephones are starting to look a bit old hat, as most of us carry mobile phones around with us and the old style receiver is mostly only found in businesses and the few remaining houses of people who still feel the gentle tug of telephone cable. Gone are the days when the only phone in the house can with its own piece of furniture and your conversations were the public drama which all in the house gathered around to hear one side of.


D13 - The Childishness Of The Private Sector

A client of ours spent a great portion of our meeting on Friday afternoon complaining longly and loudly about how much they were paying out in school fees for their child to go to a private school. Their little darling had just entered Year 7 and the jump in fees from the year previous was considerable. The obvious thing to do would have been to send their child to the local state high school (which by the way, still has a history of producing excellent results) but rather than blame themselves for this self imposed economic burden, they chose to blame the government for taxing them so much even though they easily clear more than five times AWOTE.
Halloween, the 31st of October, truly is the date when all the ghouls come out to play. They aren't little children who go from house to house demanding sweets though, they go to their accountants to haunt them before the imagined tax deadline approaches. (Are you tucked up safe and sound in beddy-byes? If you lodge with an accountant, your usual lodgement date will be 15th May next year.)
School Fees are one of those things where the expenses paid by government are submerged. If St Uppington's School For Priggish Children really did put the values of how much government subsidy was received per child, would parents begin to feel grateful? I imagine not.

One of my most favourite things to do in the year, is on Boxing Day when the temperature outside begins to approach triple digits Fahrenheit, is to lie as still as possible on the couch watching cricket on telly and boats on Sydney Harbour just after lunch. The Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race is possibly one of the biggest cases of conspicuous consumption of the year. In addition to the multi-million dollar yachts that make the run to Hobart; which are decked out in the names of high end watch companies and insurance firms, are the playthings of the 1% who have their own toys. One could say that such an event is capitalism at its finest but this totally ignores the fact that it is the Bureau of Meteorology who provide the data to tell the crews where the winds are and it is the Royal Australian Navy and teams of volunteers who have to fish people out of the water if it all gives wrong. Never even once, including when in 1998 some of the most massive squalls ever seen turfed 55 people into the angry blue nothingness, did any private firm even lift a finger to help. Where were you Prudential? Where were you Rolex?

If that sounds extreme, ask yourself how many private companies did anything in the wake of the Lindt Café siege. What about in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. There were plenty of firefighters who risked their lives but how many people from say, the Chase Manhattan Bank, or Lehmann Brothers, or AIG? None. That's how many. Yet when these firms run into trouble, they come crying back to governments like a bunch of little babies, waah waah waah. 

J60 - Boo!

I think that it is demonstrably different to when Hawks fans booed and continue to boo Buddy Franklin. In fact I'd say that it's almost the responsibility of Hawks fans to boo Buddy Franklin. In the case of Buddy Franklin, he moved from Hawthorn to Sydney and that's a bit like becoming the Dread' Pirate Roberts - if you inherit the costume of the Dread' Pirate Roberts then you become the Dread' Pirate Roberts. Buddy moved to Sydney and became a Swan. As far as Hawks fans are concerned, Buddy Franklin is a traitor but this is a specific case.
It's also different to say, when Sydney FC fans boo Berisha. There is a pointed and deep rivalry between Sydney FC and the Melbourne Victory (and I think one that's even deeper than the Sydney FC / Wanderers rivalry) but the second that Berisha happens to play for Sydney FC, the booing would stop. 

This is what I don't understand about the booing of Adam Goodes. He has stopped playing for the Sydney Swans and so in the context of on field rivalry, booing achieves nothing. Booing at Adam Goodes in the context of being a brand ambassador for a top end department store makes even less sense unless you are under the employ of another department store and even then that's not normal.
The only possible explanation that makes any sense is that the people who continue to boo Adam Goodes are fundamentally racist.

N8 - What Are You Doing, Troy Aikman?

I happened to be watching the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Dallas Cowboys when I was waiting in line at the bank and who did I hear doing commentary than none other than former Cowboys quarterback, Troy Aikman. In the eleven minutes that I was in the queue, Aikman must've reminded us at least a dozen times that he was once the quarterback for the Cowboys and kept on telling us about the style of football that he played.
I'm sorry Aikman but I kind of feel that the only reason that you achieved meteroric fame, as opposed to the other players is because you were the quarterback. I also kind of feel that the only reason that you still have enough brain capacity to be able to run all those Ford, Mercury and Lincoln dealerships is also because you were a quarterback and because you had a line of Nose Tackles, Tight Ends and Corner Guards standing in front of you, making sure that you weren't wiped out by some other hulking 300 pound monster coming through. Part of the reason that you are a successful businessman and own half of Denver is because American Football is a team sport and there were ten other players on the field at the time. When you talk about playing style of a highly organised team, then that style is usually imposed from above by the managers and coaching staff who work out how to run plays and spend their time analysing what does and doesn't work. 

Sometimes ex-players of various sports do make excellent commentators and this usually happens when they can anticipate what might happen or they can describe what's going on at a more intimate and technical level because they've been there. People like Alec Stewart, Richie Benaud, John McEnroe, Chrissy Evert, Martin Brundle and David Coulthard all fit into this category. Then there are the commentators like Murray Walker, John Motson, Martin Tyler, Phil Ligget and Henry Blofeld who themselves weren't renowned as players or competitors but they lived and breathed the sport they described to such an extent that it flows through them and into the microphone.
Aikman will be an excellent commentator because he has a voice which suits the job quite well but he needs to step back and remember that this is a different skill and that the audience doesn't need to be reminded every 38 seconds that he played the game, or that he owns a stack of car dealerships and half of Denver.

October 29, 2015

Horse 2018 - Time, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Which country has the most time zones in the world?

The obvious answer would be Russia right? This vast sweeping land of the Rus, extending all the way from Torfyanovka in the west, or even Yantarny in the Kaliningrad Oblast which has Lithuania and Belarus in the way, to Uelen in the east on the Bering Sea, stretches across 11 time zones.

+02:00 GMT Kaliningrad Time
+03:00 GMT Moscow Time - and all railroads throughout Russia
+04:00 GMT Samara Time
+05:00 GMT Yekaterinburg Time
+06:00 GMT Omsk Time
+07:00 GMT Krasnoyarsk Time
+08:00 GMT Irkutsk Time
+09:00 GMT Yakutsk Time
+10:00 GMT Vladivostok Time
+11:00 GMT Srednekolymsk Time
+12:00 GMT Kamchatka Time

Then there's the United States who through conquest, annexation and the amusingly named Guano Islands Act of 1856 which enables citizens to take possession of unoccupied and unclaimed islands anywhere in the world; provided they find bird poo there.
No, seriously. I am not making this up:
Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.
- 48 U.S. Code § 1411, Guano Islands Act 1856

Those 11 time zones are:

−12:00 GMT Baker Island and Howland Island
−11:00 GMT American Samoa, Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll and Palmyra Atoll
−10:00 GMT Hawaii, most of the Aleutian Islands, and Johnston Atoll
−09:00 GMT Alaskan Time
−08:00 GMT Pacific Time
−07:00 GMT Mountain Time
−06:00 GMT Central Time
−05:00 GMT Eastern Time
−04:00 GMT Atlantic Time
+10:00 GMT Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands
+12:00 GMT Wake Island, McMurdo Station, and Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station

From what I can gather, Australia might have twelve time zones at the moment. When the clocks go forward for Daylight Savings, without fail there's always some remark about how complex Australia's time zones are. There are six time zones on the mainland at the moment; truth be told I had no idea about Central Western Standard Time which is used in the Eucla region of WA and in Border Village SA.

Australia might have 12 time zones:

+05.00 GMT McDonald Island
+06.00 GMT Cocos & Keeling Islands
+07.00 GMT Christmas Island
+08.00 GMT Western Australia
+08.45 GMT Western Australia - Eucla area
+09.00 GMT Casey Station Antarctica (Daylight Savings)
+09.30 GMT Northern Territory
+10.00 GMT Queensland
+10.30 GMT South Australia (Daylight Savings)
+11.00 GMT NSW, Victora (Daylight Savings)
+11.30 GMT Lord Howe Island (Daylight Savings)
+12.00 GMT Norfolk Island (Daylight Savings)

Then there's France. France as one of the great European powers who felt guilty about having an empire, solved its guilt by simply making all of its far flung islands part of France. You will remember (See Horse 2008) that places like Martinique, Réunion and  New Caledonia don't just live in French territories of French posessions, they live in France. They send members to both the Assemblée nationale and the Sénat French parliament and have full voting rights in Europe.

If that sounds weird, then remember it's no different to Tasmania which is a state of Australia or Hawaii and Alaska which are states of the United States. Some of these places are as much departments of France as Lozère or my favourite, Sarthe.

France's 12 time zones are thus:

−10:00 GMT French Polynesia
−09:30 GMT Marquesas Islands
−09:00 GMT Gambier Islands
−08:00 GMT Clipperton Island
−04:00 GMT Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin (Atlantic Time)
−03:00 GMT French Guiana, Saint Pierre and Miquelon
+01:00 GMT Metropolitan France (Central European Time)
+03:00 GMT Mayotte
+04:00 GMT Réunion
+05:00 GMT Kerguelen Islands, Crozet Islands
+11:00 GMT New Caledonia
+12:00 GMT Wallis and Futuna

The problem that I ran into at this point, is a legal one.
The House of Commons in the UK passed the Statutes (Definition of Time) Act of 1880 and that should have been where the story ended, if it wasn't for the fact that the world is a ridiculously weird place.

The law states that:
Whenever any expression of time occurs in any act of Parliament, deed, or other legal instrument, the time referred shall, unless it is otherwise specifically stated, be held in the case of Great Britain to be Greenwich mean time, and in the case of Ireland, Dublin mean time.
- Statutes (Definition of Time) Act of 1880

However, in the case of Gordon vs R (1889) in the British Court of Appeals, Gordon who was riding his bicycle without a lamp, an hour and two minutes after sunset, when the law stated that he must carry a lamp on his bicycle "during the period between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise", successfully was able to argue that "sunset” is not a “period" of time but a consequence of astronomical fact.

Prior to the arrival of railways in Britain, it was a free for all with regards time and So far, I've found what might be considered to be thirteen different time zones if we assume that time is only bound to the expression as contained within acts of Parliament etc.
I would assume that a clock in a town square fulfills the condition that local time is "otherwise specifically stated" by virtue of the fact that time is being stated on the clock.

Those 13 time zones out of what could potentially be hundreds are, in minutes difference to Greenwich Mean Time:

-23:39 Belfast Time
-17 Truro Time
-13 Barrow Time
-11 Carnforth Time
-9 Liverpool Time
-7 Manchester Time
-6 Leeds Time
-5 Oxford Time
-3 Boston Time
+0 Greenwich Time
+7 Norwich Time
+14:10 Bristol Time
+30 Sandringham time (Edward VII said so)

Even to this day, some places still show their defiance to the House of Commons and pooh-pooh their imposition of time through legislation.

The Bristol Corn Exchange:

There are two different minute hands showing both Greenwich Mean Time (in black) and Bristol Time. I think that it's fair to the say that the time in Bristol is specifically stating that the time is otherwise. I hope so, or else the country with the most time zones in the world is France... and that's awful.

October 27, 2015

Horse 2017 - The Real Reason Wellington Phoenix Were Ejected From The A-League
The Board of Football Federation Australia (FFA) has determined that an application from Wellington Phoenix for a 10-year licence extension to compete in the Hyundai A-League will not be granted.
The current licence term under the Club Participation Agreement (CPA) for Wellington Phoenix expires at the end of the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season.
Under the CPA, the Club has the option of requesting that FFA lodge an application to the relevant football authorities to seek approval of Phoenix’s participation in the Hyundai A-League until the conclusion of the 2019/20 season.

Such an application is required in order to seek exemptions from various statutes of Football New Zealand, Oceania Football Confederation, Asian Football Confederation and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
FFA CEO David Gallop said the Board decision was taken in the best interests of Australian football.
- Football Australia, 26th Oct 2015

This is the news that the Wellington Phoenix has effectively been booted out of the A-League at the end of the season. This is disappointing but not completely unexpected. I suspect that pressure was brought to bear on Football Australia by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA; notwithstanding the fact that I suspect that FIFA and the AFC are both racist organisations.

I think that it says something that even the United States which is a nation which doesn't really care about football, currently has it's Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and the Attorney General's Department lookinh into mass fraud, money laundering and racketeering. So far, 18 individuals and two football confederations have either been accused, investigated or indicted for corruption.
FIFA isn't a case of a few rotten apples spoiling the bushel. FIFA is a case of the most of the bushel of apples being rotten and struggling to find a good one.
Although the AFC hasn't been implicated in the corruption scandal, it still makes you wonder about what is going on.

I for one wonder about the legitimacy of the process which saw Russia awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 World Cup; particularly when you consider that Qatar has never qualified for the World Cup, had a population of less than a million when they were awarded the tournament, didn't even have plans to build five stadiums let alone the ten usually demanded by FIFA, and that during June and July when a World Cup is usually held, the overnight low temperatures hover around 29°C in the capital of Doha. Qatar wants to hold the 2022 World Cup in December despite this interfering with most countries' regular seasons and the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations which was scheduled to be held two weeks later.
One wonders how much oil money came to bear on FIFA.

That aside, some nations in the AFC really started to resent Australia's admission into the confederation after Australia "stole" a qualification spot in first the 2010 and then 2014 World Cups. In 2006 the AFC had four spots and Australia qualified for the World Cup via the half spot alotted to the OFC and South America. When Australia joined the AFC in 2007, it immediately then qualified for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup and then the 2011 tournament, then took one of the AFC's four spots for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.
In the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, Australia lost the final 1-0 to Japan and then this year in 2015, Australia beat South Korea in the final, 2-1 in extra time.

Even before the 2015 Asian Cup had ended, AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa who is the President of the Asian Football Confederation, fired a shot across the bows of Football Australia, despite the fact that the 2015 Asian Cup was easily the best organised and the best attended in the tournament's 59 year history:
The president of Asia's football governing body says Gulf nations want the Socceroos expelled from the continental confederation.

"There are indications that prove that such desire exists among the confederations of west Asia to evict Australia. But I also know that the Arabs are not the only ones who are not convinced that Australia's membership in Asia's football is feasible."
- AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, - ABC News, 30th Jan 2015

I suspect that David Gallop has hidden a deeper truth in plain sight. By saying that the decision to reject the Wellington Phoenix' further participation in the A-League "was taken in the best interests of Australian football" I think that he might be saying as diplomatically as possible, that the AFC have a hammer and are threatening to smash Football Australia's fingers, whose hands are tied.
Wellington Phoenix, which is a club from New Zealand, complicates the AFC/OFC relationship and I suspect that the AFC would rather see the OFC cast adrift entirely.

Mind you, I don't understand why the AFC doesn't apply to FIFA to absorb the OFC in its entirety. The OFC does have 14 member confederations but once you remove Papua New Guinea with 7.0 million people and New Zealand with 4.5 million people, the rest of the confederation only contains 2.5 million people; which is less than the population of Sydney.
If the AFC were to absorb the OFC, it could claim that its 61 member nations are worth far more than the pathetic 4 spots that it currently gets. I think that the AFC is resentful that UEFA which has 54 member nations gets 13 spots and that CONMEBOL which is responsible for South America, has only 10 member nations but got 6 spots at the 2014 World Cup.

What I suspect has happened is that rather than persuade FIFA which it knows is a corrupt organisation, the AFC has bullied Football Australia into conforming to its will because it knows that it could very easily rustle up the Gulf nations to eject Australia from the confederation.
The fact that AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa specifically mentioned the Arabs, indicates to me that if an expulsion order was tabulated at an AFC meeting, it would go down racial lines; probably also as retribution for Australia's ties with the United States.

This ejection of the Wellington Phoenix does mean that the A-League will be reduced to 9 clubs unless Football Australia either creates a new startup or allows new clubs in. I don't currently see anything on the horizon other than to say that the ACT, Tasmanian and Northern Territory governments have all expressed their interest in supporting clubs in the past and that the Northern Territory currently has no sporting teams in any national competition.

“The application for a 10-year extension to the licence does not meet the requirements we see as fundamental to the future growth of the Hyundai A-League.”
- Football Australia CEO, David Gallop

I would think that one of the requirements that the FFA sees as fundamental to the future growth of the Hyundai A-League, is the continued membership of Australia in the AFC. I think that's what's made Gallop play his hand in the way that he has. That and the possibility of having his fingers smashed by the AFC's very large hammer.

October 26, 2015

Horse 2016 - Australia's Prime Ministers - Nos 26 & 27 - Kevin Rudd & Julia Gillard

XXVI - Kevin Rudd

The story of Kevin Rudd's premiership begins almost a decade before he even won the top spot. Rudd was elected as member of the seat of Grifith in 1998, at the beginning of a series of lucky events and masterful strokes by PM John Howard. Howard was a man of almost no charisma at the start of his term of office but following the sale of Telstra, the introduction of the GST, his handling of gun control issues following the massacre at Port Arthur, the terrorist attacks on Sep 11 2001 and two subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he built his charisma as he went along; into something formidable.
The opposition Labor party lurched along with Kim Beazley at the helm for two losing elections in 1998 and 2001, Simon Crean who took over for a while, Mark Latham who was a disasater and lost the 2004 election, before handing the reins back to Kim Beazley. Kevin Rudd who had been Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, took over as leader of the Labor Party in 2006 and then won an 83-65 landslide in the 2007 election.

Almost as the parliament's first action, Rudd organised an official apology to the "stolen generations" of Indigenous Australians who had been taken away from their families because of the actions of Federal governments past. A series of targets to improve the lot of Indigenous Australians was also embarked upon but this would prove far harder to achieve.

The Rudd Government also made its business to repeal the Workplace Relations Amendment Act 2005, which came to be known as WorkChoices (no space), which among other things removed all companies with fewer than 101 employees from unfair dismissal laws, changed the way that minimum wages were set, reduced the powers of the the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, phased out the system of Australian Workplace Agreements and installed a new board called Fair Work Australia with more oversight.

It was on the economic front though that Rudd's Government was to face its biggest test and in 2008 it did a rather good job of management during the Global Financial Crisis.
Sparked by the US housing bubble and a series of complex insurance and equity instruments, the US economy tanked, which resulted in trillions being wiped off the value of markets and banks refusing to extend credit.

In Australia, the Rudd Government as led by Treasurer Wayne Swan, initiated an stimulus package worth A$10.4bn and a second package worth A$42bn. In addition to this, the Federal Government sured up Australian banks by underwriting deposits at major banks, kick-starting spending with a $900 splash to taxpayers and announcing the beginning of two headline programs called Building the Education Revolution which saw the building of school buildings and the beginning of the National Broadband Network.

The Rudd Government failed to pass legislation surrounding a proposed carbon emission trading scheme and copped flak with regards its Minerals Resource Rent Tax. In June of 2010, the Labor Party dumped Rudd as leader and replaced him with the first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

XXVII - Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard had been Deputy Prime Minister since Labour had won the 2007 election and in the June 2010 leadership spill, she was elected unopposed as leader of the party and with it as Prime Minister.

Gillard's Government was quick to establish legitimacy and 23 days after she became Prime Minister, she announced an election.
The resulting bunfight saw Labor with 72 seats, the Coalition with 72 seats and six crossbench MPs. The Greens Adam Bandt and three independent MPs Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, threw their support behind Gillard's government with regards supply and confidence and thus Labor remained in power 76-74 after everything had washed out.

Even though the Rudd Government before the election couldn't secure passage of its  emissions trading scheme, a fixed price on carbon emissions was secured in preparation for an eventual trading scheme and this finally came into being on 1st July 2012.

Gillard's Government introduced Plain cigarette packaging laws and in ongoing education reform, sought agreement from the six state governments for its National Education Reform Agreement, following the Gonski Report.

Ms Gillard herself became the target of increased personal attack on the floor of the parliament from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott; this finally came to the boil on X when she fumed at him for fourteen minutes in what has now become known as the "misogyny speech".
The level of political discourse continued to sink, particularly over issues like asylum seekers and undocumented boats arriving on Australian territory and it was issues such as the budget and border security; particularly over mandatory detention and sending asylum seekers to places like Malaysia and Nauru, that the Labor party became increasingly fractious and by 2013, Gillard faced two leadership spills in March and June; with the second ultimately signalling the end of her premiership.

XXVI - Kevin Rudd (again)

Rudd's second tilt at the Prime Minister ship was fraught with negativity. He personally rescinded his concerns about sending asylum seekers to Nauru and Papua New Guinea for offshore processing and the Greens became increasingly concerned with their support of the government.

Wayne Swan resigned as Treasurer and Chris Bowen took over that job and although the Rudd Government tried to make some headlines with regards the constitutional recognition of  Indigenous Australians, changing position on the subject of gay marriage and enacting the  Better Schools Plan which was a watered down version of what David Gonski had outlined in his report, by the time of the 2013, the government was walking wounded.

Tony Abbott's Liberal/National coalition easily won the September 2013 election 90 seats to 55. Julia Gillard did not contest her seat and Kevin Rudd resigned from parliament within a fortnight of the election. Later, Mr Abbott would boast that he had taken out two Labor leaders and was on course for three.