Archive for April 30th, 2009

A curious job ad from WIN Television

I was intrigued by this job ad on Seek the other day

Job Advertisement

In particular this bit:

This newly created role is dedicated to both the State and Federal Politics rounds.

This makes me wonder if WIN are planning on increasing the scope of their news operations, possibly dumping Nine News in favour of producing their own all encompassing local/national/international bulletins similar to the way ABC TV handles local news in Canberra or the way Ten Capital used to produce an hour-long local/national/international bulletin instead of broadcasting Sydney’s Ten News.

If they do, it will be interesting to see if they can rate better or do a better job than Nine News. It would, in Canberra at least, provide a locally-focussed alternative to the Sydney-centric 6pm bulletins.


2 comments April 30th, 2009 at 04:48pm

I knew those corn flakes were bad for me

I hate, and I really do mean hate, corn flakes. They taste like cardboard, and they are hopeless as a cereal as they become soggy far too easily. Whilst they are nice and crunchy when dry, they aren’t particularly appetising. You can imagine how pleased I was when I found out that global warming is going to make corn flakes a potentially fatal meal…finally we can rid the planet of these awful little flaky things.

Climate change could lead to “killer cornflakes” with the cereal carrying the most potent liver toxin ever recorded, an environmental health conference has been told.

The effects of the toxins, known as mycotoxins, have been known since the Middle Ages, when rye bread contaminated with ergot fungus was a staple part of the European diet, environmental health researcher Lisa Bricknell from Central Queensland University (CQU) said.

“People started suffering mass hallucinations, manic depression, gangrene, abortions, reduced fertility and painful, convulsive death,” Ms Bricknell told the 10th World Congress on Environmental Health in Brisbane on Tuesday.
Mycotoxins can appear in the food chain as a result of the fungal infection of crops in the field or in storage, either by being eaten directly by humans, or by being used as livestock feed.
Ms Bricknell said there had been outbreaks of high levels of aflatoxins in Australian crops in recent years and global warming was providing a new threat to food safety, with temperatures expected to rise in inland areas of the eastern states while rainfall was tipped to fall.
“In a situation of climate change, if we are importing more products and imported products are not regulated … we can also expect that other countries may be experiencing similar problems with increased contamination.

The end of cornflakes almost makes me want the global temperature to stop falling.


April 30th, 2009 at 02:47pm

Republicans take lead in generic congressional poll

This took me by surprise…and for a poll like this to take me by surprise, it must be surprising!

For just the second time in more than five years of daily or weekly tracking, Republicans now lead Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% would vote for their district’s Republican candidate while 38% would choose the Democrat. Thirty-one percent (31%) of conservative Democrats said they would vote for their district’s Republican candidate.

Overall, the GOP gained two points this week, while the Democrats lost a point in support. Still, it’s important to note that the GOP’s improved position comes primarily from falling Democratic support. Democrats are currently at their lowest level of support in the past year while Republicans are at the high water mark.
Democrats began the year holding a six- or seven-point lead over the GOP for the first several weeks of 2009. That began to slip in early February and the Republicans actually took a two-point lead for a single week in the middle of March. Since then, the results have ranged from dead even to a four point lead for the Democrats.

These numbers tend to bounce a fair bit, but it will be interesting to see what these numbers do over time. I might have to add these numbers to the monthly poll roundup that I’ve decided to run from now on.


2 comments April 30th, 2009 at 01:30pm

Speaking of pig flu

Another reason not to panic:

A member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.

Quite the correction there. Incidentally seven in about a week works out at 364 over the course of a year. Normal flu claims over 100,000 people each year worldwide.

As I said earlier, I’m not in the least bit concerned.


1 comment April 30th, 2009 at 11:05am

The faulty way to detect pig flu

I had an odd dream about pig flu yesterday (although annoyingly in the dream it was referred to as swine flu).

In this dream I picked up the local newspaper “The Watch” and immediately noticed the headline “103 Canberrans arrested for swine flu” whilst at the same time hearing the details of the story on the radio. According to the report, the ACT government had authorised phone taps on everyone and directed the authorities to detain anybody who coughs on the phone as this is apparently proof of swine flu.

All of this was happening while I was sitting at one end of a semi-circle of people in my lounge room. Aunty Nell, my grandmother, Dad, Mum and me. After the news report, my grandmother started speaking, she announced that the news story explained why her friend had disappeared that afternoon, but the government got it wrong as it was her and not her friend who coughed on the phone. She then struggled with her chair and started coughing while she tried to get up so that she could walk to the police station and hand herself in.

The unspoken understanding in the dream was that the government had arrested the non-coughing person in each of these phone calls, although as the dream ended there it is unclear if the error was ever fixed.


April 30th, 2009 at 10:24am

Obama’s first hundred days by the polls

US President Barack Obama has racked up his hundredth day in office, and whilst the polls aren’t looking good for him, I’m not willing to declare it all doom and gloom for his administration just yet.

Whilst it is true that his approval rating is the second lowest for the hundred day mark of any president in the last 40 years (56% according to Gallup, Bill Clinton was the only one with a lower score on 55%), and whilst it is true that the trend line is going down, it is also important to note that Mr. Obama received 52.9% of the popular vote in the election, compared to 45.7% for John McCain. Every major poll has Obama’s approval rating above 52.9%, which indicates to me that he still has enough support to win an election.

So, a look at the polling data. Two days after the election when Rasmussen started maintaining a presidential approval rating for Barack Obama, he had:
Strongly approve: 40%
Total approve: 52%
Total disapprove: 44%
Strongly disapprove: 32%

By inauguration day (January 20, see above link) he had improved his strong approval rating slightly, and halved his strong disapproval rating:
Strongly approve: 41%
Total approve: 67%
Total disapprove: 32%
Strongly disapprove: 16%

Today (29 April US time, the date of the 100th day) the approval rating is still slightly higher than post-election, but the strongly approve rating is down. The disapproval ratings are both slightly lower than post-election.
Strongly approve: 35%
Total approve: 55%
Total disapprove: 43%
Strongly disapprove: 31%

I personally don’t see the point in graphing the days before Obama was inaugurated as he really had no control over anything in that time, but the first hundred days on the other hand are worth graphing:
Barack Obama's approval rating over his first hundred days in office
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

Approval is down, disapproval is up, but as I said earlier, we’re really only getting back to election day levels. If the graph proves anything, it’s that post-election Obamamania (some people would call it the “honeymoon period”) is dieing off, and sensible scrutiny is starting to set in. I suppose the fact that Obama’s approval rating at this point in his presidency is the second lowest in forty years should be some cause for concern, but as his approval rating is still higher than his election score, I don’t think it’s cause for panic in the administration just yet.

The statistic that I find more interesting than the raw approval numbers is what Rasmussen call the “Presidential Approval Index” where they subtract the strongly disapprove figure from the strongly approve figure. It is arguably more useful as a daily tracking poll than the raw approval index:
Barack Obama's Rasmussen Presidential Approval Index over his first hundred days in office
Data courtesy Rasmussen Reports, LLC

I’m thinking that it might be worthwhile revisiting the approval numbers on a monthly basis. Clearly there is no point in looking at them again in two days time when the end of April numbers come in, but perhaps we’ll do this again at the end of May…or I might have to run a “poll alert” if the approve/disapprove lines cross before then.


April 30th, 2009 at 06:06am

An email from Wayne


Dear Samuel,

I notice that you have not written anything about swine flu yet. Could this be because you can’t find a way to blame Barack Obama for it?

Wayne [name removed]

I was amused by that email, and was tempted to ask Wayne why he hadn’t blamed pig flu on global warming…but I’d prefer to be serious about it.

I haven’t written about the pig flu because I’m not in the least bit concerned by it. Let’s face it, I have a greater chance of catching normal flu than pig flu, but I don’t get a flu shot each year. I have far more pressing concerns, such as job applications. If I do happen to catch the pig flu, well so be it…when it kills me, I’ll be sure to turn in to refrigerated bacon slices which can be bought at your local supermarket (that is, if the authorities allow it…which they probably won’t).

That said, Wayne, you’re in luck, because I had a dream about pig flu yesterday and you’ll be able to read all about it later today.


April 30th, 2009 at 04:18am

ACTION Redex: Spot the missing town centres

Why do I get the feeling that this will turn in to another failed experiment very quickly?

Commuters can expect a bus every 15 minutes during peak times and every 30 minutes during off-peak times on high-demand weekday routes when the ACT Labor Government trials new rapid transit buses in 2009-10.

Chief Minister and Minister for Transport Jon Stanhope revealed today that the Territory Budget will provide $1 million for the new service, REDEX – Rapid Express Direct, to be trialled in 2009-10 between 6:30am and 7pm on weekdays during school terms.
REDEX 1 will be a return service to Gungahlin, Dickson, City, Russell, Barton, Woden, Erindale and Tuggeranong. REDEX 2 will be a return service to Kippax, Belconnen, City, Russell, Barton, Woden, Erindale and Tuggeranong.

Buses will run every 15 minutes from 6:30am to 9:30am and 3:30pm to 6:30pm and every 30 minutes at all other times.

It immediately occurs to me that Weston has been completely missed from this service, meaning that Westonites need to travel to Woden to utilise it. Fyshwick is also missing, as is deepest darkest southern Tuggeranong (a fairly large area) and the Eastern areas surrounding Red Hill.

I’ve said it before (although I don’t recall ever saying it on here) and I’ll say it again. The only way to get people to use the bus service in droves is to run direct centre-to-centre runs, in both directions, at regular intervals at all times of the day and weekend.

When I worked in Weston, the bus was not even a remotely viable option due to the fact that, in order to get to Weston at 8am, I needed to be out the door shortly after 6am. Much easier to drive to work at 7:45am. When ACTION eventually did produce an express service from the City to Weston, they decided that people would only need to go from Weston to the City in the morning, and the reverse in the afternoon. A direct City to Weston service in the morning would have made the bus a viable option, even though it would have taken longer than driving.

I really doubt that ACTION are going to tap in to a market of Gungahlinites who travel to Tuggeranong each day…with that service visiting Dickson and Russell and Barton, I wouldn’t be surprised if people will be able to drive directly from Gungahlin to Tuggeranong, back to Gungahlin and to Tuggeranong again in the time it will take that bus to get there. In fact, when the service is operational, I intend on testing my theory.

ACTION and Mr. Stanhope, direct centre-to-centre services (and preferably, direct suburb to centre services in peak hour) are the only way you’ll attract a large influx of passengers. Yes, it will be expensive, but with Canberra growing, do you really think a bus service through almost every part of Canberra is going to be quick enough for most people to put up with?

Oh…I just spotted another missing town centre…Hume!

Place these words in a different order: elephant, white.


1 comment April 30th, 2009 at 02:16am


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