And a good morning on this quite lovely Canberra morning. It is starting to get a bit colder now, but I have to admit to quite liking the way April and May unfold in Canberra. The leaves change colour, the nights become a bit more nippy, and for those of us who are fortunate enough to be awake in the mid-dawn hours, there are some interesting and patchy fogs which adorn the roads.
In this edition:
* Bye bye Bob!
* Canberra is a good place for an international airport
* To Japan’s credit, unfounded fear-mongering does not derail nuclear power
* Mike Huckabee will not be VP
* New brain research leading to better reading skills in school kids
* Is Metricon Stadium breaking AFL rules?
* Heidi Harris to announce her new station on Monday
Bye bye Bob!
As you have probably heard by now, Bob Brown is retiring from politics. The current leader of the Greens in federal parliament will quit his post as leader of the party, and also as a Senator. He will be handing the reigns over to current deputy leader Christine Milne.
In some ways it is nice to see Bob go. One less strange person in parliament pushing an abhorrent wheelbarrow of nutty ideas can only be a good thing, except for one small problem. I see the Greens as being left-wing extremists wrapped up in fuzzy feel-good environmental stuff designed to make them look nicer. They use the guise of being worried about the environment to enable them to push all kinds of socialist and Marxist ideas. Bob Brown, to me at least, is more moderate than the likes of Christine Milne or (I get a shudder down my spine from merely mentioning this name) Sarah Hanson-Young.
Bob Brown is patient, and doesn’t seem to mind how long it takes for him to get his way, and in many ways I think this is what has helped the Greens to reach a point of having some influence in politics. The fact that, under Bob Brown, the Greens have very rarely aggressively pushed their underlying ideas, and have instead made sure that their message is carefully wrapped in pleasantries, is one of the main reasons they have managed to attract voters. They have attracted the people who are uninterested in politics and “like the environment and stuff”; the rusted-on Labor voters who couldn’t support various Labor people but knew that a vote for the Greens would result in Labor government; as well as the true lefties who have quite happily understood the underlying message of the Greens, and have agreed to follow Bob’s lead and not make too much noise, because they know that the majority of Australians want no piece of a socialist country.
Sure, the Greens have been right there every time the Socialist Alliance has held one of its weekly protests about everything, but they don’t go out of their way to publicise it.
This will change under Christine Milne. Anybody who has watched her whenever one of the non-ABC TV stations has given her a platform will know just how forthright (or would that be forthleft in her case?) she is in her support of anything and everything that Karl Marx would have supported. Equally, Sarah Hanson-Young does her bit to whip up the socialist fringe of the country.
This isn’t to say that Bob Brown didn’t have his moments. His repeated attempts to have the “hate media” (read: anyone in the media with whom he disagreed) silenced were a good example. Bob clearly has an angry streak under the surface, and I suspect that 2UE’s Mike Jeffreys may be correct in his analysis that Bob Brown is a very angry man under the surface, but uses that anger to carefully craft a very controlled outward appearance in the hope of getting his own way eventually. Think about it. It really didn’t matter whether Bob was talking about his love of trees, the carbon dioxide tax, or about the latest story in the “hate media”, his delivery was always the same. A continuous monotone hypnotic boredom-fest. I suspect that he was trying to brainwash people through sheer boredom.
It seems to me that under Christine Milne, the Greens will solidify their core socialist voters by being more strident in their advocacy of Marxist views, but will scare off most people in the process. In the short term, this will create waves, but in the long term it should destroy the party.
All that said, if in three weeks time the Greens decide that the Bob Brown approach is better for them, all they need to do is recruit former Obama
propagandist press secretary Robert Gibbs, who had the same entirely uninteresting delivery as Bob Brown, with the added ability to never answer a question which he didn’t want to answer, something which dear old Bob never did quite manage to accomplish.
Canberra is a good place for an international airport
In other domestic news of late, the subject of Sydney’s second airport is back on the agenda, with Canberra being touted as an option. I like Canberra as an option, but if it happens, I don’t want it to be considered as “Sydney’s second airport”. Canberra Airport should take international flights, especially given Canberra’s status as the capital city of the country. In fact, part of the reason Sydney airport is so busy is because it’s the connection point for many people who are travelling to Canberra from outside the country.
I would also like to see a residential development occur at Tralee. Canberra Airport’s Stephen Byron is opposed to this because it would be under a flight path, but I don’t see this as an impediment. The airport is already there, and therefore anybody who buys or builds at Tralee would be well-aware that aeroplanes may fly over their house, and should therefore be unable to complain about it.
I see both things as being extremely beneficial to Canberra and surrounds, and while I expect to only ever see one come to fruition, it would be nice to have both.
To Japan’s credit, unfounded fear-mongering does not derail nuclear power
You may recall all of the fear-mongering after last year’s Japanese earthquake about the likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe, and all of the anti-nuclear activists trying to use it as an excuse to end nuclear power generation around the world. As we know, despite the claims that the death toll would be high and the people who would be afflicted with radiation-related illnesses would number in the many thousands, the fact is nobody, repeat, nobody has died, and a mere 10 people  have radiation-related illness.
As such, sanity has prevailed, and Japan are turning some of the nuclear reactors back on .
The Japanese government decided Friday that two nuclear reactors in western Japan are safe to restart, in a major step toward bringing idled plants back online for the first time since last year’s devastating nuclear accident — though local opposition could still prevent a restart.
The decision effectively gives the government thumbs up to a gradual return of nuclear power, after nearly all the country’s 54 reactors — which provided roughly 30 percent of Japan’s electricity — shut down because of damages or for routine maintenance and stayed offline amid concerns about their safety.
The Japanese government still needs to convince locals that it’s a good idea, but given how small the fallout has been from the Fukushima plant, especially given the magnitude of the natural disaster which occurred (the earthquake and tsunami), a simple statement of the facts should be enough convince any sensible thinking person that the nuclear power plants are a good and safe option.
Mike Huckabee will not be VP
In the wake of Rick Santorum’s unfortunate decision to abandon his run for the Republican Presidential nomination during the week, almost making it certain that Mitt Romney will be the nominee, there was some peculiar speculation that Romney will choose Mike Huckabee as his candidate for Vice President.
Let me tell you right now, that will not happen.
Mike Huckabee, while certainly a plausible person as a candidate, is out of the race for this election cycle. He recently (in the last few weeks), launched a new syndicated talk radio show in conjunction with US radio giant Cumulus Media. The show, which airs at the same time as Rush Limbaugh (the single most listened to talk radio host in the country) has replaced the Limbaugh show on a decent number of Cumulus stations, which is a massive gamble for Cumulus, and is airing on over 180 stations.
Neither Huckabee or Cumulus will be abandoning this show any time soon. Cumulus has way too much riding on this to be suddenly left without a decent show in the midday eastern timeslot, especially seeing as letting Rush go from many of their stations has allowed competitors to air Rush, giving them potentially crushing competition if Huckabee were to walk or flop.
I would rule out Rick Santorum as a VP pick at this stage, but I’m not willing to make a prediction as to who will be Mitt’s running mate if Mitt does get the nomination. What I will say is that it will have to be a solid conservative, because Mitt is not enough of a conservative to enthuse the Republican party’s base.
I just hope some lessons have been learnt from the 2008 campaign. America can not afford another four years of Obama, and another dumb lurch away from the right and to the centre, politically speaking, is the sort of bad idea that could once again see the GOP botch a campaign and give Obama a perfect opportunity to win, despite his terrible polling numbers.
New brain research leading to better reading skills in school kids
An interesting story out of Michigan.
New brain research has led educators in New Buffalo to try a different method of teaching kids to read. Instead of teaching just the letters of the alphabet, they are teaching kids to read the sounds in words. It’s having remarkable results. Reporter Ryan Klund from ABC57 News in South Bend, Indiana, has the story:
If you sit in Ms. Selir’s kindergarten classroom you’ll see something, maybe, you’ve never seen before. Every kindergartener is reading a book and pronouncing words that other five and six-year-olds, usually, would never read.
“It used to be we just thought it was the 26 letters of the alphabet and that’s it,” said Laura Selir. “But there are 44 sounds the kindergarteners all learn.”
“We now know every child can read if taught the right way,” said Erika Milovich, the Instruction Literary Specialist at New Buffalo Schools.
Milovich helped implement the program in ever grade at the school and said that the results speak for themselves.
On state testing this year New Buffalo improved K-5 reading and writing scores, moving into the top three schools in Berrien County. It was the first time New Buffalo made that mark.
It’s only being taught in a handful of schools at the moment, but hopefully that number will rise soon as the results are very promising.
Is Metricon Stadium breaking AFL rules?
Last night while watching the AFL, I noticed something strange about the way Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast is putting the vision of the match on the big screens. They appear to be taking the full TV feed rather than a modified version and, consequently, the countdown clock on Seven’s graphics is visible at all times on the big screen.
For those of you not familiar with the way AFL timing works, each quarter runs for 20 minutes of playing time, and events such as the ball going out or someone scoring temporarily disrupt the “playing time”. At the ground, a clock counts up from zero in each quarter and does not stop for these interruptions to playing time, meaning that the players and the crowd can not see how much time is left in the quarter, but instead can see how much real time has elapsed. Most quarters take between 25 and 30 minutes of real time, but can take more or less time.
It is not against the rules for a team runner to pass on a message to players about how long is left in the quarter, and it is common practice for the coaching staff to keep an unofficial record of how much time remains, but it is against the rules for the amount of time remaining in a quarter to be visible.
At many grounds, where a broadcast feed is used on the big screens, the spot on the screen where the time would be shown in normally covered up, however at Metricon Stadium it is not.
I wonder if the AFL have noticed this, and what will be done to fix it?
Heidi Harris to announce her new station on Monday
If she’s going to another radio station, anyway.
You may recall that a couple weeks ago  I mentioned that Alan Stock had taken over Heidi Harris’ morning drive program on KDWN-AM in Las Vegas, and that there was a rumour going around that Alan’s former station (Heidi’s too, for that matter) KXNT had signed her but not made it public. Well, Heidi has announced that, on Monday, she will be able to make an announcement.
Regardless of where Heidi goes, she has a strong following and will most probably do very well. I wish her all the best, and look forward to her announcement on Monday US time.
And that’s all of the Sunday Bits for this week.