Saturday, September 27, 2008

Good date choice

I'm now glad I used September 26th as a future-prediction date as this Buttonwood Economist article has used the exact same date (for 2021) as a criticism of governments' willingness to ban short-selling to staunch losses due to share-markets falling.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wrong, very wrong

As you can see from the graph, Townsville's fuel prices are nowhere near the dollar mark that I had predicted two years ago. Although oil is well down on its peak, and looks bearish overall, my thought that oil would be back down to around $70/brl and the Aus$ at around $0.85 US seem to be incompatible with the forces of doom holding financial markets.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Marconomic Policy wish-list

in no particular order.

Nation-wide water trading.

Early family payments for pregnancy registrations.

Easy Aus work visa/residency/citizenship pathway for all pacific island state residents including Hawaii.

Tradeable whale-hunting quotas.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I was just booking a hotel over the internet, while watching the start of the news. As it happened there was a breaking news item of a hotel being bombed. I had just booked in to the Marriott hotel... It was a Marriott hotel was attacked. I just checked to make sure that it wasn't the same hotel before I confirmed. I don't believe in omens....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Electoral Math - US vs Australia

The esteemed Dr. Clam and I had discussed the differences between the electoral math between the US and Australia and Dr Clam came up with something I couldn't have said better myself:(context here)

Preferential voting and proportional voting in the senate makes minor and single-issue groups not associated with a major political party much more important and successful in Australia. Third parties can play a constructive role,not just act as spoilers to cause civil wars. If there had been just one Democrat candidate in 1860 , that extremist yokel would never have gotten in with 39.8% of the vote.(Australia wins!)

*On the other hand, compulsory voting reduces the importance of single-issue groups associated with major political parties, which are valued in the US because they can get out the voter base. This means single-issue groups have less influence on the policies of the major parties here, and the parties better reflect the mainstream. (Australia wins again!)

* Finally, the US has been comprehensively gerrymandered on the state and federal level so that there are very few marginal seats, and parties can concentrate their resources even more disproportionately. (Australia, once again, wins!)

Basically, the jist of point two is that candidates on the extreme ideological edge of the major parties are an asset in the US, while they would have absolutely no chance in Australia (and would have to try for minor placings in the senate)- the mainstream would eat them up for breakfast.
Thus Sarah Palin, by dint of her being more of a wing ideologically compared to the mainstream, appears to be a blunderous choice (as it would be, in Australia). Any political commentator with any nous for the US electoral mathematics would realise that the mainstream just has to not hate her enough to be bothered voting against her.
I've been meaning to add an entry in Principia Marconomica about electoral maths, as I have done for a few other tidbits of late, the jist of it being that it doesn't matter so much that elections give spurious results, but that in the long run the electoral system is self-adjusting and stable.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The advantage of being black...

.. in chess is that you get to see what the opponents move is before committing to a strategy. Thus when the Democrats selected Joe Biden for VP nomination, this opened up the current strategy of the Republicans to fill a vacant niche of "woman on a presidential ticket". I think the Republicans looked several moves ahead on this one, and the current Republican plan bears no resemblance to that which would have been the case had Hillary been the VP nominee (see p-K4 vs p-Q4).

Stringing another "West Wing" analogy, I think the best chance for Obama is for McCain to have been a well known supporter of [big oil] energy (don't know? is he?) - and for there to be a big [oil installation] scary incident at a crucial stage in the election campaign.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sarah Palin

For months, I have had nothing interesting to say about the US election....Now suddenly I have so much I want to say that I can't keep up with my brain.

Having watched *All 7 Series* of "The West Wing", I am convinced that there is a serious case of Reality imitating art in the US at the moment. This article seeems to concur - eg.

One of The West Wing's team of writers, Eli Attie, admitted that the character of Congressman Santos was based on a young rising star of the Democrats, one Barack Obama.

On Sarah Palin, I don't even know where to start: Her *Fifth Child*, the fact that she's a dead ringer for Arnold Vinick's campaign manager (Sheila Brooks), her pro-life stance... her love of guns and hunting....

Maybe I'll start with her fifth child: Expecting our own fifth child at the more advanced age of 38 - at the forefront of our mind, is the increasing risk of Down's with age. Even more prominently, having Googled "Fifth Child" just to see what would come up, came a novel by Doris Lessing about... a life shattered by the unexpected fifth pregnancy turning out a disabled child. This on top of the fact that the birth of a severely disabled child is a particular nightmarish fear for me. Sarah's acceptance of her fifth child having Downs syndrome is a poignant message to me. I am in awe that she would be going for VP.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Professor Ronald Laura

Googling Professor Ronald Laura again?

I am all for balanced upbringing of my children (and children in general), but I rail against the unbalanced philosophy that rails against usage of technology and formal/rote learning in education in general.

Monday, September 01, 2008

That got My Attention

The US election wasn't inspiring me much until Sarah Palin got the VP nomination for the republicans.