Archive for November 7th, 2010

The Sunday Bits for November 7, 2010

A happy Sunday to you. We only have a few bits for the Sunday Bits this week…first though, a programming note.

I have received an email about the election results graphic which is at the top of the page, specifically asking how much longer it will be there. I will probably take it down at the end of the day even though there is still a little bit of counting to go. We know what the general result is, and there’s no real point in keeping the graphic up there consuming a rather large bit of screen real estate for another few weeks while legal challenges take place to decide races. If you want to see the graphic, and the district-by-district breakdown, check out the Fox News Map.


Moving on, but continuing the mid-term theme, guess which news station won the ratings on election night. FOX News of course!

Not only did FOX significantly outrate both CNN and MSNBC, but between 10pm and 11pm (I assume Eastern time) they (remembering that they’re a subscription cable channel) outrated the three big free-to-air networks, ABC, CBS and NBC.

The cable network averaged 6.957 million viewers between 8:00pm and 11:00pm, far ahead of CNN on 2.423 million and MSNBC on 1.945 million.
Across the total election coverage period between 6:00pm and 2:00am, Fox News averaged 5.302 million viewers; CNN registered an audience of 1.789 million, while MSNBC averaged 1.544 million.

The Baltimore Sun adds that:

FOX News beat MSNBC and CNN combined during every hour in total viewers and 25-54. Tuesday’s performance was also amongt FOX News Channel’s top ten telecasts in the channel’s ratings history in total viewers. Furthermore, Tuesday marked FNC’s highest primetime delivery since the Presidential Election in 2008. All of this, according to Nielsen:

*FOX News Channel peaked with 7,167,000 viewers between 9-10PM
Meanwhile, CNN peaked with 2,592,000 viewers between 10-11PM
And MSNBC peaked with 2,040,000 viewers between 10-11PM


And to round-out the mid-term stuff, there’s some strange stuff being circulated by kooks like Media Matters For America (strange people who, rather than insisting that media should be balanced, insist loudly that media should have a strong left-wing bias…and are just too nuts for me to be bothered giving them a link) about Rasmussen Reports’ polling. Rasmussen was the most accurate of the polling organisations for the 2008 elections using their own unique polling formula, and as such is regularly contracted by media organisations (including FOX News, which is probably why MMFA hate them) to conduct polls. Media Matters are claiming that Rasmussen significantly over-represented the Republican vote in their polling when compared to the results of the election.

Really? OK well, if they’re over-representing the Republican vote in a statistically significant number of races, then their overall prediction should be massively over-representing the Republican seat gain in the House.

The Rasmussen prediction was a Republican gain of at least 60 seats.

The result: Republicans went from 178 seats to (at the moment) 239 seats, a gain of 61 seats.

OK, maybe they got the Senate wrong…ummm, nope, they didn’t.

Rasmussen Reports projected 48 seats for the Democrats and 45 for the Republicans. We also listed seven Toss-Ups – California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia – in the final Rasmussen Reports Senate Balance of Power rankings.

The two parties split those seven Toss-Up races, which is what you’d expect. Four were won by Democrats, two by Republicans, and one (Washington) remains too close to call.

On current trends, the Senate should end up D 53 – 47 R which, is pretty darn close to the above (assuming the toss-ups are considered “as predicted) D 52 – 47 R with one left over.

The rest of Rasmussen’s track record can be reviewed at the above link, but suffice to say, the complaints are a crock.


On to domestic matters and The Australian had an exclusive story on Thursday exposing government documents which revealed what many of us have suspected and even concluded in our analysis of the Federal Government’s National Broadband Network: That the government needs to legislatively cripple Telstra in order for this new business to have even the slightest chance of success.

THE Gillard government must urgently pass legislation to smash apart Telstra’s near-monopoly position for the implementation of the $43bn NBN to proceed.

This has been revealed by previously secret documents.
Slabs of the documents released by Senator Conroy’s department [to The Australian in response to a Freedom of Information request] were blacked out. The documents would have gone to the minister soon after the election but there was no date on those released.

The briefing paper stresses the urgency of acting swiftly on the NBN. The government has been told that the laws to structurally separate Telstra must be passed during the spring sitting of parliament, due to finish on November 25.

The fact that Telstra has made a deal with NBN Co. which would see them receive billions of dollars (undoubtedly funded by new government debts) by agreeing to the split, is irrelevant. And if it’s not irrelevant, it’s bordering on bribery.

The point is that Telstra is a private business. It is owned by shareholders. The Federal Government once owned the whole thing but now only owns 10.9% of it. Given that, the government really is in no position to dictate to the company how it should operate, so the fact that they are willing to use legislation to interfere with the operations of a private business in order to help out a $43 billion gamble in a new mostly government-funded competitor to the business which they are legislatively hampering, is at best a disgrace, and at worst a deliberate and abominable attack on the private sector and, amongst others, the superannuation accounts which rely on the private sector…and therefore an attack on the taxpaying citizens who rely on those superannuation accounts.

Quite frankly, I find this whole effort to re-nationalise the telecommunications industry disturbing.

Among other problems highlighted in the documents, The Australian notes that:

The documents also highlight the massive funding task to roll out the network, confirming that the government would provide $26bn in equity funding. This is likely to be largely done through commonwealth-issued debt, leading to interest costs that would have a “negative impact on the budget bottom line”, the briefing states.
The documents suggest a tension between boosting competition and making the roll-out cost effective. Many telcos are threatening to seek compensation if the plan leaves their assets “stranded”.

So not only is the government spending billions of dollars which it doesn’t even have, it is quite possibly putting itself in a position to repeat the mistakes of the New South Wales government whereby they are having to pay millions of dollars per year in penalties to private companies involved in the M5 Motorway because things didn’t quite work out as the government had hoped…in this case we’re looking at a situation where the Federal Government or the NBN Co. may have to pay penalties to private telcos which assist in the NBN if they don’t get as much co-operation as they might like, which is quite possible if the NBN Co. decides that retail is more profitable than wholesale.

Oh, and did I mention that the mandatory back-up batteries for the National White Elephant Broadband Network are going to cost between $90 million and $150 million per year to replace as they reach the end of their useful lives? No? Oh, well The Australian did. Why are they the only major news outlet which seems remotely interested in exposing this white elephant for the farce it truly is?

Anyway, I digress. Between two and four million acid batteries will be disposed of annually under the scheme. And there I was, living under the impression that this government was concerned about the environment or something…

Realistically this whole thing should be left to the private sector. Sure, it would take longer and probably wouldn’t put fibre in as many places, but to the same extent it would be reacting to demand (or likely demand) and would be capitalising on new and emerging technologies as the evolve, rather than the government’s model of locking itself in to the assumption that fibre will be the absolute best option in five or ten years from now…a model which is highly likely to result in an expensive white elephant.


And finally, one I’ve been hanging on to for a while. Back in High School, PE (Physical Education, or “sport” for the most part) was not really my favourite subject and I had a bit of a habit of getting under the skin of my teachers. One of the regular annual units in PE was athletics, which usually involved my hated 400 metre run and sometimes an 800 metre run, and even worse a cross country jog over a much larger distance, all of which exhausted me. To make matters worse, it was deemed compulsory that students had to stretch before exercise to prevent injury, something which I contended was utterly useless and which I often refused to participate in.

I got in to an argument with my teacher, Todd Brazier, about this one day. I cited an article from (if memory serves) The Sun Herald on the subject. Mr. Brazier said that if I could show him the article and accompany it with a parental note, then he wouldn’t make me do the stretches, however it had to be both as the note or the article on their own wouldn’t cut it, and he gave me the whole “responsible teacher doesn’t want to be sued” lecture. Funnily enough, I got that lecture from a number of teachers in my high school years.

Anyway, the article had been in the paper a few weeks beforehand and had since been discarded, so I couldn’t show the article to Mr. Brazier, which was a pity because, as obnoxious and annoying as I may have been, I was right…and a study released in August by US Track and Field (the governing body for the sport in that country) backs me up.

The study, one of the largest of its kind, involved almost 1,400 runners, from age 13 to past 60, who were assigned randomly to two groups. The first group did not stretch before their runs, while otherwise maintaining their normal workout routine: the same mileage, warm-up (minus any stretching) and so on. The second group stretched, having received photographs and specific instructions for a series of simple, traditional poses, like leaning over and touching toes, that focused on the calf, hamstring and quadriceps muscles. The volunteers were told to hold each stretch for 20 seconds, a technique known as static stretching. The entire routine required three to five minutes and was to be completed immediately before a run.

The volunteers followed their assigned regimens for three months. Predictably, since running, as a sport, has a high injury rate, quite a few became injured during the three months. About 16 percent of the group that didn’t stretch were hobbled badly enough to miss training for at least three days (the researchers’ definition of a running injury), while about 16 percent of the group that did stretch were laid up for the same amount of time. The percentages, in other words, were virtually identical. Static stretching had proved to be a wash in terms of protecting against injury. It “neither prevented nor induced injury when compared with not stretching before running,” the study’s authors concluded.

There you have it, stretching before exercise is a futile waste of time, although I suppose it could count as further exercise and be of some help if you’re on a weight-loss kick, but seeing as I weighed 30kg at the age of 14 (which is when I believe this encounter occurred), I certainly didn’t need to lose any weight. The average weight for that age is somewhere between 50 and 60kg, apparently.

And yes, if you’re wondering, I am mentioning Todd Brazier’s name so that, one day when he’s googling himself, I can finally settle the score…not that I hold a grudge or anything, far from it, I actually admire the man and thank him for putting up with me and especially for allowing me to use the laundry instead of the communal changeroom…I think I would have gone postal if I’d been forced to continue to use that changeroom and deal with the ever-present bullying.

I digress, yet again. Hey Mr. Brazier, here’s the article and uh, as I’m over 18 now I assume you don’t need a note from my parents. Hope you’re well and that teenagers haven’t driven you nuts.

And with that, I’ll end what I thought would be a short Sunday Bits.


November 7th, 2010 at 03:15am


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