Monday, June 30, 2014

Something's wrong...

...with the Hollywood machine, and the entire planet of under 30 year old movie goers (because surely that is the only possible market for this series) when the woefully reviewed Transformers 4 makes $300 million globally on its first weekend. 

I thought I read recently that the Chinese market didn't like the sameness of some Hollywood series (was it Marvel movies they were talking about?), yet here we have them going strong to one of most tedious noise machine series ever made.

But it is actually interesting to see how important the Chinese market now is - look at Edge of Tomorrow, for example, which which will not go too far over $100 million in the US but is getting - as with Transformers 4 - about double that take from the overseas market, which is dominated by China and Korea.  In fact, those two countries combined, count for more than the US for both movies.

You have to wonder what this will mean for the types of movies coming our way in the next decade.

UN talks pot

Marijuana: Pot use declines worldwide, but not in the US ( video) -

The UN reports that world wide, marijuana use is going down, except in the US.   Given the capitalistic excitement that is underway in that country over legal marijuana (the report opens with this:
 In Seattle this weekend, a school bus rigged up as a food truck will start selling
items infused with marijuana. The menu includes truffle popcorn, peanut
butter and jelly, and a Vietnamese pork banh mi, reports the Los Angeles Times.)
we can be sure that use will increase.

Increased use has been leading to increased treatment being sought.  I also note this:
According to the National Institutes of Health
(NIH), about 9 percent of people who use marijuana become dependent on
it – a number that increases to about one in six among those who start
using it at a young age, and to 25 to 50 percent among daily users.
The UN report notes (wisely):
“Based on assumptions regarding the size of the consumer market, it
is unclear how legalization will affect public budgets in the short or
long term, but expected revenue will need to be cautiously balanced
against the costs of prevention and health care,” the report states.

“In addition to the impact on health, criminal justice, and the economy, a
series of other effects such as consequences related to security, health
care, family problems, low performance, absenteeism, car and workplace
accidents and insurance could create significant costs for the state,”
the UN report cautions. “It is also important to note that legalization
does not eliminate trafficking in that drug. Although decriminalized,
its use and personal possession will be restricted by age. Therefore,
the gaps that traffickers can exploit, although reduced, will remain.”

Founding deists

'Nature's God' explores 'heretical origins' of religion in U.S.A.

Here's a review of an interesting sounding book on the deism of those who were prominent at the founding of the USA.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday physics

I haven't noticed this Youtube channel before, but I assume he knows what he's talking about, and he does a pretty awesome job of communicating complicated ideas:

An odd idea

'The Youngness Paradox' --"Why SETI has Not Found Any Signals from Extraterrestrial Civilizations” 

According to MIT's  Alan Guth , originator of the inflationary universe theory, our Universe is a product of eternal inflation --eternal into the future, but not into the past. An eternally inflating Universe produces an infinite number of pocket universes , which in turn are producing more new universes.  The old, mature universes are vastly outnumbered by universes that have just barely begun to evolve. Guth called it the "Youngness Paradox."

Guth says that "the synchronous gauge probability distribution strongly implies that there is no civilization in the visible Universe more advanced than us. We would conclude, therefore, that it is extraordinarily improbable that there is a civilization in our pocket Universe that is at least one second more advanced than we are. Perhaps this argument explains why SETI has not found any signals from alien civilizations.”
I'm not sure what it means for the number of civilisations that might be one second behind us.   But if it  means there may be many of them around at the moment, and if within the next (say) 300 years that a significant proportion of them start to explore the stars, what does the maths suggest as to how long it may take before we are likely to bump into one?    A lot depends on whether faster than light travel is possible, I guess.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

He's never been the same since he couldn't pat his AR-15

By way of understatement, I would say that David Leyonhjelm doesn't exactly come up smelling of roses from his Good Weekend profile today.  He has apparently upset many people involved in small party politics over the years, and some of their comments make him sound rather like Kevin Rudd in terms of control freakery.

And I haven't even touched yet on the parts that make him like a nut who we should rejoice lost his gun collection after the Howard government reforms:
What personally outraged Leyonhjelm was having to surrender much of his private collection, at first rifles and later some pistols, when the bans were extended. "I had lots of semi-automatic rifles," he says. "I had an M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, the AR-15, the FN FAL, a Rasheed semi-auto and a Norinco ... I had to relinquish them all.”

Prior to the compulsory federal buyback, he'd kept the cherished weapons in his attic and "every now and then I would take them out and pat them ... It was a big thing not being allowed to have them any more. It was no solace to know I was getting paid money [to hand them back]. It was an insult. There I was, being presumed to be unsafe because some nutter had got himself hold of a semi-auto in Tasmania.”

To this day, he won't attend a function if Howard is going to be in the room.

And does he not have enough sense to not talk about John Howard "deserving" to be shot? :
"All the people at [Sale that day] were the same as me," Leyonhjelm tells me, his light-blue eyes blazing. "Everyone of those people in that audience hated [Howard's] guts. Every one of them would have agreed he deserved to be shot. But not one of them would have shot him. Not one." He found it offensive, he adds, that Howard "genuinely thought he couldn't tell the difference between people who use guns for criminal purposes, and people like me".
He seems such a fool that he thinks the AFP should be able to tell when chatter about a PM "deserving to be shot" is serious, and when it's not.

Of course, for those Libertarian/Boltian fans of the LDP who comment at Catallaxy, if a Muslim migrant had said this, they would be demanding he be deported back to his country.   

There is little doubt that Libertarianism attracts the immature and selfish,  and these are qualities that appear to be on plentiful display in our Senator elect. 

Update:   let's add to the list of qualities that Libertarianism attracts: fantasies about the how the world could be and should be which ignore history and common sense.   For example, from this article -
His conviction that government should get out of our lives makes him ultra-dry on economic matters - arguing, for instance, that the state should not employ teachers, doctors or nurses, as these services can be privately delivered.
In the Financial Review this week, he went on a Right wing populist ramble about how the public service wastes money and has grown too big, and making reference to the state of Federal politics in 1927.

The fact is, we do not have a huge or inefficient public service by international standards, and while it is certainly possible that government is sometimes capable of doing things inefficiently and we can be vigilant about that, don't the 19th to 20th centuries gives us a good lesson in how social welfare and other services can be better run by government than by charity or private companies?   Don't they show that the welfare state grew because of the failure of the previous system?

The great improvement in global wealth over those centuries has been accompanied by the increase in the welfare State; Libertarians would have you think that it's what's holding the world back because they live in a fantasy land that everything is better if unregulated.   (It's like they all have a yearning to live either in the US or England in about 1830, as far as I can tell.)

It's interesting to note how the initial movement towards it was - apparently - at the instigation of conservatives who wanted to undermine socialists.   Current libertarian/small government ideologues seek to cut off conservatives from what good, common sense they used to exercise.   Of course, we see this in climate change too - where the truly devastating environmental vandals used to be the communist countries where economic theory overrode everything else.  Now it's the Libertarian extremists who encourage governments to do nothing and trust that everything will turn out OK.

Origins of WW1

This ABC discussion of the various factors behind WW1 is a pretty good read.  I hadn't heard much about this before:
"War by Timetable" was the provocative title of a 1969 book by one of the most acclaimed historians of the 20th century, AJP Taylor, who theorised that the cause of World War I could be traced back to an unexpectedly efficient transport system.

Taylor said none of the major powers actively sought a conflict prior to 1914, but depended on deterrence, through an ability to mobilise their armies faster than their rivals.

He argued that in the decade leading up to war, the generals of all the great powers had developed elaborate plans to move vast numbers of men by rail to confront any threat; a strategy intended to intimidate any potential aggressor while also serving as a useful extension of foreign policy.

The problem, according to Taylor, came following the 'July Crisis' of 1914, when the strategy, which was intended to prevent a war, had precisely the opposite effect.

All across Europe hundreds of trains and millions of soldiers were set in motion, swiftly and inexorably towards conflict.

Mass troop mobilisation had effectively become a declaration of war as politicians and diplomats were shunted aside by generals and station-masters.

"The First World War had begun - imposed on the statesmen of Europe by railway timetables. It was an unexpected climax to the railway age," wrote Taylor.

I've also been watching 37 Days, the dramatisation of the political lead up to the war (being shown Friday nights on SBS), and the way the movement of German troops sort of committed the country to starting was dealt with to some extent on this week's episode.

All rather interesting, even if I still can't  hold in my head for long information regarding the part of Europe between Germany and Russia - it's ridiculously complicated.

Update:  in defence of my abandonment of even hoping to understand what was going on in a large slab of Europe, I offer this map, from a post of 40 maps (!) which "explain" World War 1:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Been busy with the photos today..

It's sort of like if Hollywood was doing scenes from last year's IPA 70th anniversary dinner.   

Dumbest government in decades

As seen in the IPA's magazine

We all know it happened like this..

As inspired by the heading spotted at Fairfax "Decoding PUP's Jedi mind trick".

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Teen talk time

If you ask me, the chorus of Don't Stop by that Australian boy band sounds too much like parts of Everybody Talks. 

And I have to agree with my daughter that Que Sera is a good song.  And sometimes, the simplicity of a video and the image it manufactures is impressive marketing all by itself:

(It reminds me a bit of Fry at the Beastie Boys concert, though.  Pity it appears Youtube is thoroughly cleaned of Futurama clips.)


I see that Tim Wilson uses not only his private twitter account to go on about how we don't need s18C RDA, he also tweets using the Human Rights Commission account too, promoting his column in The Australian against s18C, and by reprinting it on the HRC website:

I didn't think his view on this was the Commission's collective view, and doubt that it is appropriate for him to be promoting his own views in this fashion.

And I have to repeat - isn't it stupid of the Commission to give this particular commissioner the title of "Human Rights Commissioner".   They should all be Human Rights Commissioners, with their subcategory following.   (His being "Preening Lightweight Showpony for Selfie Rights"*.)

* have I mentioned before that I don't like him? 

Predisposition and causation

Study finds genetic links between schizophrenia and cannabis use | Reuters

Some pro-legalisation people will probably think this study helps throw doubt on cannabis as a cause of schizophrenia:
 The results chime with previous studies linking schizophrenia and cannabis, but suggest the association may be due to common genes and might not be a causal relationship where
cannabis use leads to increased schizophrenia risk.Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the world, and its use ishigher among people with schizophrenia than in the general population.
"We know that cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia. Our study certainly does not rule this out, but it suggests that there is likely to be an association in the other direction as well – that a pre-disposition to schizophrenia also increases your likelihood of cannabis use," said Robert Power, who led the study at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London.
But isn't the point this:  even if you are genetically predisposed to both use cannabis and get schizophrenia, does actually using cannabis help bring on the schizophrenia you're genetically predisposed to get?  

And as for the finding itself, I think it's hardly surprising.

Harry Clarke comments

From his blog, talking about the suggestion that ABC iView move to a user pays model:
The Australian might argue that the ABC gets unfair public funding which disadvantages those private media suppliers who must make a buck.  There is some truth to this but The Australian anyway services a different market to the ABC. The Australian services primarily  - the right-wing loony market of cretinous IPA/libertarian types.  The ABC has a more balanced view of the world.

An assessment of the IPA hard to disagree with

Detritus — Thankyou note to John Roskam
(OK, maybe a couple of lines are too harsh, but I'm right up there with the general sentiment.)

Folks are dumb where I come from

Look, it's a clear as anything that Clive Palmer gets votes by being the anti-politician politician, and as such his support is from the politically un-engaged.   We seem to have a lot of those in Queensland, where Palmer polls an extraordinary 14%.

Still, as with Pauline Hanson, it can't last.   The flakiness and insubstantiality eventually seeps through into enough of the electorate, although with Hanson it was perhaps the impression that she was a mere dumb puppet for the men around her who wanted to get ahead that caused her downfall. 

The problem is Clive is the opposite - he uses others as puppets, up to and including visiting US (former) Vice Presidents, and we have to wait for the breakup of his Senators into a fractious disunity, with inside stories of Clive behind the scenes, to see his downfall. 

Well, that's how I think it will go.   Labor doesn't seem quite up to raising money to fund the jailing of a political opponent, as Tony Abbott did.

Salt on Piketty

What a lightweight and snide discussion of Piketty by Bernard Salt in The Australian today.   I've never read Salt's column's much - I found most of them boring - but I didn't really know his political leanings til now.

Also on Piketty, I was interested to read this blog entry on debate now going on about inheritance and wealth taxes.   As I have written before, I had not even realised that the US had such a tax, but the blog entry explains why that may be - very few people pay it.  The British inheritance tax is much larger (I think), but how many people may escape it by positioning money in off shore accounts is something I don't know.

I presume there has been a lot of economic work done on inheritance tax (in fact, I see there was a 2013 paper co-authored by Piketty with the alluring title "A Theory of Optimal Inheritance Tax") , but it's something we never hear about as a prospect for Australia. 

Perhaps that should change?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bell's theorem confusion

I'm pretty sure that the interpretation of Bell's Theorem in the popular physics books I read in the 1980's (written after the Alain Aspect experiments) was pretty consistent - that it showed reality was "non local".

But this article in Nature, which is not easy to follow but worth reading to get an idea of the continuing debate amongst physicists about some very fundamental concepts, goes into the alternative interpretation, and how the experiments still have unresolved "loopholes".   (Interesting, the suggestion at the end is that the loopholes may be experimentally covered by putting one end of the set up with a human on the Moon!)

Progress in this matter of resolving the very meaning of basic concepts in physics does seem very slow.

Yet another remarkable Jewish story from WW2

Surviving the Black Sea: An appreciation of David Stoliar, the sole survivor of the 1942 Struma disaster | The Los Angeles Review of Books

Read this lengthy review that tells the tragic story of the sinking of a ship in the Black Sea, full of Jews trying to get to Palestine, in 1942.

Suggestions for replacing the "honour killings are morally justified" talk

I don't know:  the Festival of Dangerous Ideas might have got away with a talk by a Caliphate favouring Islamist if they had called it "Understanding honour killings from within the culture," or some such;  but going with "Honour Killings are Morally Justified" was an absurd and offensive bit of trolling for attention. 

Now that the Festival has a gap in the program, I've been trying to think of alternative "dangerous" talk titles:

"Between Clive and the Buffet Table - a caterer reminisces"

"A Rinehart Family Christmas"

"The case for compulsory circumcision"

"The Phil Neitszke Guided Tour of Switzerland"

I'll keep working on it....

Mercury in fish, revisited

The Mercury-Laden Fish Floated for School Lunches |

I've posted quite a few times over the years about mercury in fish, mainly because it seems to be a topic they follow closely in the US, but less so here.

At the link is a lengthy article looking at the issue with regard to the dogfish, a type of shark that the US government is looking at using in school lunches and prisons, but not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

Interestingly, I see that the article indicates that Spanish mackerel is pretty high on the list of mercury affected fish too, above tuna, which I don't think I realised before.  I don't mind a bit of mackerel every now and again.  Certainly, our more premium white fish have now become ridiculously expensive. 

Higgs causes confusion

Should the Higgs boson have caused our Universe to collapse?
British cosmologists are puzzled: they predict that the Universe should not have lasted for more than a second. This startling conclusion is the result of combining the latest observations of the sky with the recent discovery of the Higgs boson. Robert Hogan of King's College London (KCL) will present the new research on 24 June at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Andrew Bolt: tired and emotional

Most fair minded people will be rather surprised at the jury verdict in favour of Rebekah Brooks, given that it was looking pretty obvious to readers, let alone the papers' editors, that the London tabloid staff must have been illegally hacking into private phones.     (Also, her sometimes lover was convicted, as well as 3 senior journalists who already pleaded guilty, and another 15 journalists apparently yet to go to trial.)  

Yet an apparently tired and emotional Andrew Bolt's reaction?:
May the Murdoch haters choke on their vomit at this result. 
Ha!  Yes, Andrew, it's like a complete vindication of everything good and noble about Murdochworld.

Oh - and who should join in - the hive mind of Catallaxy.  Sinclair Davidson thinks Andrew "sums it up nicely."

Look, fellas, I know you were at that big IPA shindig with Rupert as Guest of Honour last year, but wipe that gold dust from your eyes and get a grip, will you?  

*  If I were on the jury, I would have been tempted to convict her just for having such an annoyingly wild and woolly hair do.

More conscious coupling needed

For millennials, out-of-wedlock childbirth is the norm. Now what?

Interesting story at Slate at the strange state of US society regarding "out-of-wedlock" childbirth (and especially single motherhood.)  Although the outcome is not good from a poverty/social point of view, the suggestion is that no one knows what to do about it anyway:

The conservative response to this web of issues is to say we need to encourage more marriages. But evidence suggests that single mothers who later wed usually end up divorced and worse off financially than before. And as I’ve written, even if marriage promotion is a generally worthwhile goal, the government still has no real idea how to achieve it.
So far, federally funded programs designed to encourage matrimony have delivered weak results, and even where they’ve had a positive impact, the change hasn’t been nearly enough to make a significant dent in poverty. Meanwhile, cutting back on welfare for single mothers doesn’t shrink their numbers.

News spreads slow in the denier community

It seems like Andrew Bolt's climate denier reading is very limited.  He's relying on a Christopher Booker column which in turn is relying on Steven Goddard analysis of temperature adjustments.

I would say it's pretty clear that Bolt does not know that Steven Goddard made so many mistakes and refused to acknowledge them that Anthony Watts will not run any of his material at Watts Up With That.  Furthermore, a recent specific series of Goddard posts on the US temperature record was taken apart as being plainly in error at Lucia's Blackboard.  (In fact, it was there that Watts dropped by to confirm he would have nothing of Goddard's on his blog, and this has been the case for a year or two now.)

Bolt also quotes from Jennifer Marohasy - the Australia scientist whose credibility seems to have dwindled away, more due to her work on the Murray Darling, as far as I can tell.

Here's a hint Andrew:  if a pretend scientist has made so many wrong claims that even Anthony Watts stops using his material, he is not to be trusted on anything.

Do try to keep up to date on the current state of denialism, won't you?

I must be Swedish

Given that many people in the West are busy promoting the idea of drug law liberalisation, I had been meaning to look at the matter of one European nation which has, pretty much, had a very successful war on illicit drugs, but it seems to be pretty rarely spoken about.   (Instead, both Libertarians and Lefties like to talk about Portugal, which has seen drug use and harm reduce by way of de-criminalising personal use combined with a very un-Libertarian system of tribunals which deal with users.)  

I'm talking Sweden: the rich, successful little nation of pop, IKEA and blond women which has an attitude towards illicit drugs that makes me wonder if somewhere on my father's side some Swedish blood has crept into my genetic profile.  A recent article which appears to be from that country sums it up:
Cocaine, ecstasy and even cannabis are rarely seen in streets and clubs in line with Sweden's official "zero tolerance" approach. The ambitious target is clear.
"The overarching goal: a society free from illegal drugs," it states.

Sweden criminalized illicit drug use in 1988, thanks in large part to a two-decade campaign by a group called the Swedish National Association for a Drug-free Society (RNS). It followed a two-year attempt to introduce a more tolerant approach that was considered a failure by authorities.
"The most important link in the chain when it comes to the drug problem is the use of drugs, the demand that comes from the individual user," said RNS secretary general Per Johansson.

"If you don't focus on the demand you will never be effective combatting the supply of drugs." 
Sweden also puts strong emphasis on prevention, with extensive drug awareness programmes in schools and even preschools. The country now has some of the continent's lowest rates of drug consumption among students aged 15 and 16.
According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), only nine percent of the Swedish school population had tried cannabis, compared to 39 percent in France, 42 percent in the Czech Republic and around 25 percent in Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands.
'Something not Swedish'
A survey by the Swedish Drug Users Union in 2008 showed that a majority of the population supports the strict policy. Every other Swede said that possession or cultivation of cannabis for personal use should be punished with prison, and six in 10 believed that a "total war" on cannabis  -- which the survey defined as arresting and jailing all dealers and users -- was the best tactic.
"Drugs have always been seen as something not Swedish, like something foreign," said Börje Olsson, a sociology professor at Stockholm University.

"They are not part of the Swedish morals. People think 'this has nothing to do with us'." 
The latest EMCDDA data shows that the number of Swedish adults between 15 and 64 who had consumed cocaine during the last year was almost five times smaller than the biggest consumer, Spain.
For ecstasy, consumption figures in Britain and the Netherlands were 14 times higher than in Sweden.

Police play a key role in enforcement. Anyone even suspected of being "high" can be detained and given a compulsory urine test. If positive, they are slapped with a criminal charge and must stand trial. 
 It shows a few thing, I think.   Firstly, it appears that a key thing as to how seriously and successfully a nation takes on their "drug war" is cultural, and the cultural attitude does not uniformly run along the Left/Right divide.   (Compare other successful drug fighting nations such as Japan and Singapore.) 

Secondly, I think I have read that in Australia, at least, there is concern that drug education in high school may have the unintended effect of increasing curiosity and experimentation for those inclined to do so.   That doesn't seem to be the case in Sweden.

Thirdly, I am curious as to how drug use is co-related across Europe in terms of economic success.

I also note that drug use follows weird patterns across various nations.  Form the BBC report I just linked to, on why the UK doesn't have a crystal meth problem:
New figures from the Home Office estimate that in the past year about 17,000 people aged 16-59 in England and Wales took methamphetamine - fewer than for any other drug recorded. About 27,000 people had used heroin, 47,000 crack cocaine, 120,000 ketamine and two million cannabis. 

"The prevalence has been pretty much confined to the male gay scene and even within that what you might call the heavy-end party scene of injecting crystal meth and promiscuous sexual activity," says Harry Shapiro of the charity Drugscope. 

In the UK the drug is often used at sex parties and combined with others like Viagra and GBL, says Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, consultant psychiatrist at the Club Drug Clinic in central London. 

Most of its 300 or so referrals for using crystal meth are from London, but some are starting to come from other cities like Manchester. A small number are from the straight clubbing community, but they remain the exception, says Bowden-Jones.

"On the West Coast of America it's a drug of deprivation, in London it seems to be a drug of affluent gay men and in Eastern Europe it's associated with prostitution."
And yet in Australia, it is thought to be particularly popular in rural area.

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, the alliance of Left and Libertarianism which is promoting a softening of cultural attitudes towards drug use in the US and Australia is not good for the countries in the long run.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Japan on ice

A few years ago, devoted readers would have seen my post showing photos of various Antarctic national stations. (Quite a good post for its combination of curiosity, education and entertainment, if I do say so myself.)

Today, I read that Japan is thinking of building a new Antarctic station to continue its work of drilling into deep, deep ice, for the purpose of investigating the ancient atmosphere for climate research.

The article doesn't say exactly where the new station would be, but notes that if you're really desperate for a place to sleep, you may find an empty Japanese building in Antarctica:
Tokyo already has four stations on the frozen continent, two of which are currently in use—the Syowa Station on the coast and the Dome Fuji Station inland.

Japanese research teams at Dome Fuji Station have sampled air captured in as long ago as 720,000 years, after drilling down 3,000 metres (1.86 miles).

At the proposed new base, scientists would be able to drill down to reach ice that formed 1 million years ago, beating the current sampling record held by a European team, which has looked at 800,000-year-old ice.
So, what does the Dome Fuji Station look like?  It didn't feature in my previous post, probably because it's rather dull:


In fact, the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research website that that photo came from indicates nothing much is going on right now at the station:
Dome-Fuji Station was established in January, 1995 to conduct deep ice-core drilling at the highest dome of Dronning Maud Land, some 1000 km away from Syowa Station. After completing 3035 m deep drilling, the station is being closed temporarily.
But there is a more entertaining photo to be found about it, on what appears to be a Japanese guy's  Flickr feed:

That's an amusingly Japanese photo, even if I have no idea exactly what they are doing.   (I also wonder if the middle two guys are from that country.)  The caption beside the photo notes this:
Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition 35th members welcomed the arrival of those of 36th after 4 months construction work for Dome Fuji Station. The station became famous later thanks to a popular cinema movie "南極料理人 (Antarctic Chef)" and we are happy if you recall the station was constructed by us in such a harsh environment (altitude 3820 m; max air temperature -29 degree C; atmospheric pressure around 750 hPa) without taking a bath for 4 months.
 Well, it sounds like the movie might be worth tracking down.

By the way, I have no clear  idea what the Japanese man on whose flickr account this appears does for a living.  He certainly takes a heck of a lot of photos of what looks like cycling races, interspersed with graphs, and the occasional photo of him doing something science-y looking. 

Where's a lorry full of gravy when you need it?

Mashed potato spillage closes Yorkshire road for five hours

The fickle public on side again?

I've long thought it likely that public sentiment towards climate change varies with the weather, and as this poll was apparently taken recently, this may well explain the apparent increased public approval of carbon pricing and belief in climate change.

Certainly, in the last couple of months, the Australian public must be noticing the remarkable warmth for the time of year.

In Brisbane, where roses only lie dormant for a relatively short time anyway, they are really very confused about the warm autumn and winter.   But it's not only them - I'm sure lots of other plants are flowering when they wouldn't normally.  It is very noticeable.

But this poll was an on line one - which I never take all that seriously. 

Still any move in the public sentiment towards accepting reality and approving carbon pricing is welcome.

Poor misunderstood tobacco company

Is this the end of the tobacco war?

Peter Martin notes:
Added to the Health Department's website quietly last week amid debate over the effectiveness of plain packaging, the Treasury data shows 3.4 per cent fewer cigarettes were sold in 2013 than 2012. Plain packaging became mandatory on December 1, 2012.

The Treasury data is consistent with national accounts data that shows a decline of 0.9 per cent in the amount of tobacco and cigarettes sold between 2012 and 2013. The national accounts show a further slide of 7.6 per cent in the three months to March after the first of a number of big increases in tobacco excise announced late last year.

The Bureau of Statistics bases the national accounts measure on a survey of households, whereas the Treasury collects information on every stick and pouch of tobacco sold.

The Treasury data suggests that, adjusted for population growth of 1.7 per cent, the number of sticks sold per person slid about 5 per cent between 2012 and 2013.
Gee, no wonder Sinclair Davidson did some backtracking at Catallaxy when posting on the topic.  Will he still defend the "it's a disaster!" line he took at the first tobacco company suggestion that they were selling more?   (By the way, the three year anniversary of his "stagflation" warning is fast approaching.   I'm planning a party.)

And what will the economist wonder woman Judith Sloan say about it?  Attack the Treasury figures?  Who knows.  I see that Henry Ergas' Saturday position was that it "may" increase smoking:  I think of the three, it was probably Sloan who nailed her credibility highest to the mast on it clearly increasing tobacco consumption.

About the only tactic they have left to argue that smoking has not gone down is to say that illegal tobacco has replaced legal sales.   I think anyone sensible would allow that there may be some substitution going on, at least amongst well established smokers.   But I think it unlikely that new, teenage smokers would be seeking out the illegal product, and as such, the amount of substitution may well diminish within a relatively short time.
But the funniest thing in Martin's report is this comment at the end:
British American Tobacco spokesman Scott McIntyre said: "Smoking rates have been declining in Australia for a very very long time but since plain packaging the rate of decline has halved. That's what we are arguing." he said.
Have we all been misreading the tobacco companies?   I now understand their position to be that they would like the previous (alleged) higher rate of smoking decline to be reinstated by removing plain packaging.

They're a noble industry after all.   Or liars.  One or the other.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Don't mention the potty training

This article in the Atlantic on the (modern) history of potty training notes that Freud's elaborate theorising on the "anal phase" led to some fairly unusual wartime theories:
American anthropologists turned to potty training in the early 1940s, while studying what they believed to be the particular aggressiveness of Japanese soldiers. Could this aggression, asked noted scholars like Margaret Mead, be caused by premature toilet training? Anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer thought so. He argued (as it turns out, falsely) that Japanese parents potty train their babies earlier than Western parents do—and that this accounted for “the overwhelming brutality and sadism of the Japanese at war.” Gorer’s reasoning was that premature toilet training forced Japanese babies to control their sphincters before important muscular development had taken place. This caused intense rage, which the infants soon repressed. This repression, in turn, gave rise to severe and compulsive personalities.

Some of this psychoanalysis was done in the service of the American war effort. In the early 40’s, Geoffrey Gorer and some of his like-minded colleagues were hired as analysts by the U.S. Office of War Information’s Foreign Morale Analysis Division. There, they attempted to build basic personality profiles of foreign nation-states. (In a related project, Gorer linked infant swaddling in Russia to manic-depressive personality disorders.) Gorer’s research on Japan would expand, but he always insisted: “Early and severe toilet training is the most important single influence in the formation of the adult Japanese character.”
This raises the crucial question:  at what age would Hitler have been potty trained?

A Pope on my side

Pope Francis warns on 'evil' of drugs, opposes legalization | Reuters


I was thinking while watching Four Corners last week (about the prostitution, drug use and poverty in Brazil in close proximity to the World Cup) that the drug dealers who trade with the poor in such countries are utterly despicable.   I wouldn't mind betting that this Pope's strong views on the matter are due to his familiarity with the society wide problems caused by illicit drug use in his home continent, particularly amongst the poor.  Popes from Europe would not have had the same exposure to the issue, and maybe that's why I cannot recall it being mentioned much by them.

Hot dongle

I bought a Google Chromecast yesterday.  I got it after being reminded by Download This Show (the enjoyable Radio National show on technology and the internet) that it had recently been released in Australia, and they seemed to like it quite a lot.

It is good, and promises to get better as more apps come out incorporating it.  (ABC's iView apparently is doing so.)

One thing I wasn't expecting was that my daughter's iPod would work with it straight away, leading to fights between us (me armed with the Samsung, she with the Pod) for control of the TV.

(By the way, the thing does get pretty warm to the touch after its been used for a while - hence "hot" in the title.  I was thinking of entitling this post "Been Playing with My Hot Dongle", but decided against it.)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Groucho does smoking

Henry Ergas confirms himself as a complete tosser in his Saturday column, which comprises part of The Australian's nutty jihad against people who doubt their position that plain packaging is a FAILURE and WRONG!

He deploys all the tactics we've seen before - the straw man about how plain packaging should have had an immediate drop in smokers, and that it would result in smokers moving to cheaper brands so why do it? - both of which I showed had already been considered by the likes of strongly anti-smoking economists such as Harry Clarke.

Ergas notes the difficulty of working out the effects of different measures taken over a same period - typically increases in excise happening along with increasing restrictions on advertising.  But then (of course) he's happy to cite tobacco industry econometrics study which "indicate" it's all in the excise, and attacks Labor for not doing "Regulation Impact Statement" before introducing the policy.   He thinks this:
Roxon’s failure to undertake a RIS means the Abbott government must complete a post-implementation review of the plain packaging legislation by December. It should seize that opportunity to carry out an independent, rigorous review of policies towards the tobacco industry. The unfortunate reality is that this area has become a policy trapdoor: once a policy is implemented, there is no way out, no matter how costly and ineffective it may be.
Yeah, well, we kind of like of that way, because tobacco has been losing big time, and who cares whether it's (say) 10% advertising restrictions and 90% excise, or vice versa, or any combination in between?   The combination of policies has clearly been working.   And doesn't common sense suggest you're never going to be able to completely be sure of the precise weighting of the different factors?

Sinclair Davidson has taken up a similar line - arguing that you must be able to a cost benefit analysis of tobacco policy.   Of course, this fits hand in glove with the line he and fellow climate change "skeptics" have long taken - you can wait to decide on reducing CO2 until you know exactly what the climate sensitivity figure is.  Both are disingenuous ways of arguing to do nothing (including, with climate change, up to the point where you can't do anything effective anyway),  because your ideological starting point is that you don't want businesses interfered with. 

Amusingly, Davidson has also been running the line that we are being just too mean to smokers and making them feel bad:
The anti-smoking lobby has done an magnificent job of stigmatising and denormalising smokers and smoking. 
Oh diddums. 

Back to Ergas:  what about this section (with my comments in brackets):
After all, that policy imposes significant costs. Consumers are harmed, as the quality of a product they value is forcibly degraded [only if you count an ugly packet as degrading what's inside it - a smoker can still buy a premium brand if they want to]; producers’ profits are reduced and their trademarks destroyed [oh boo hoo - the industry which sickens and kills a large proportion of its addicted customers is going to lose money - that's a feature, not a problem]; and if consumption rises as plain packaging causes prices to fall (relative to the levels they would otherwise have achieved), the community’s health suffers [we already thought about that - so we brought in excise increase too].
What's the bet that Ergas used to be a smoker, by the way?

Update:   incidentally, this "we are too mean to smokers now" palaver - the fact is that something 3/4 of smokers want to quit anyway.   Encouraging youth never to start is a good way to ensure they're not going to regret their addiction in the future - and  we can promise with pretty high certainty they will.

Factor that into your cost benefit analysis, can you?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Electric bicycles popular - in China

Yeah, so Harley-Davidson have a electric motorcycle out that may or may not go into production, by the sounds.  But in the story, I noticed this interesting point:
Purpose-built electric bicycles are becoming hugely popular. In China 25 million are sold each year, according to Prof Peter Wells, co-director of the automotive industry research group at Cardiff Business School.
By the way, just Googling around to see what's available in Australia in the way of scooters (it has occurred to me before that I could scooter to work from where I live for much of the year), I came across this pretty interesting looking design that is coming Australia's way soon.  Hey, it's a cheesy ad, but the machine itself looks pretty cool to me:

A mixed bag

Our Libertarian Age: Dogma of Democracy is a Dogma of Decline | New Republic

Some of the comments following this essay are pretty much in line with my take - worth reading, many parts are surely correct, but some parts seem dubious. 

Small government by whatever it takes

I sort of missed the evolution over time of Right wing think tank increasing support for strict compliance with constitutional provisions and getting all aroused by the prospect of increased State responsibilities and less Commonwealth involvement.  They're currently Hi 5-ing themselves over the High Court making Commonwealth funding to assist programs within States a trickier thing.

It seems its all to do with fairly fanciful ideas of competitive Federalism being obviously A Good Thing.   Also, they'll run with any idea as long as it means government being smaller, somewhere.

While I don't doubt that States sometimes come up with novel and better ways of doing things which are then followed by other States, you can't dismiss the "race to the bottom" effect of such competition either.   And certainly, for some workers (Defence Force in particular) the lack of certain standardised things between  States (like school curriculum) had long made movement around the country a disruptive pain.   Now the likes of Judith Sloan are all for differentiation between States' schools again, regardless of the effects on worker mobility which she presumably thinks is a good thing.

It's also far from obvious to me that IPA types get any increase in their much desired minimal government if the States get their responsibilities re-inflated.   After all, look at things like anti outlay bikie legislation:  what small government types probably consider the most illiberal laws in the country are from State parliaments.

I am of the view that you get more intelligent government the higher up the Federal chain you go; you may not think much of politicians at any level, but for the spectacularly ill qualified, eccentric and prone to corruption, look no further than your State governments.   For this reason alone, I have been generally happy with the greater role of the Feds in matters over the decades, and yet again find the Right wing ideologues wanting worse outcomes for the public simply due to their ideology.

Not sure you should be helping them, Michael

Saving Joe Hockey: the budget we should have had

I find myself agreeing with nearly all of this "free advice on the budget" column by Michael Pascoe, but hope he is not part of a successful rehabilitation of a government I want to see the back of...

Why he's not to be admired

As this story from Mediaite notes, Rupert Murdoch is sincerely for immigration reform in the US, and has just written an op-ed about it, but the people he is battling are Republicans devoted to his money making Fox News business.

This has long been the problem with Murdoch:  he makes money by the cynical method of running media outlets that run political views he doesn't even agree with.   He plays both sides of the street - another classic example is when he was (formerly) promoting climate change action (now, with the break up of his last marriage, he seems to have changed his mind) he was simultaneously happy for Fox News to run hard on climate change denialism.

If media magnates want to use their media to run political and social views that they believe, well, they are entitled to and you can at least respect their consistency.

But when you are reaping in your riches from a media network which has become so influential yet runs views you strongly disagree with - where's the honour in that? 

Rewriting the map

The New Map of the Middle East - Jeffrey Goldberg - The Atlantic

Goldberg looks back at his 2007 prescient article talking about how the Middle East may end up.

I was interested in how his views have changed on the original division:
In the article, I was very critical of the imperial hubris that motivated the Sykes-Picot division of the Middle East by the British and French. But I’ve warmed to the argument that the Sykes-Picot arrangement was, in one sense, inadvertently progressive. The makers of the modern Middle East roped together peoples of different ethnicities and faiths (or streams of the same faith) in what were meant to be modern, multicultural, and multi-confessional states. It is an understatement to say that the Middle East isn’t the sort of place where this kind of experiment has been shown to work. (I’m thinking of you, one-staters, by the way.) I don’t think it is worth American money, or certainly American lives, to keep Iraq a unitary state. It is, of course, important to invest in plans that forestall the creation of permanent jihadist safe havens, and about this the U.S. should bevigilant, more vigilant than it has been. But Westphalian obsessiveness—Iraq must stay together because it must stay together—just doesn’t seem wise.
In the same way, there was the same "inadvertantly progressive" justification involved in the Iraq invasion in 2003 - the view that removing a dictator who violently suppressed parts of the population would allow for democracy to flower, and that it was almost racist for opponents on the Left to argue that the people there were incapable of working out their differences peacefully.   From memory, that was pretty much the position that Christopher Hitchens promoted, and which I found somewhat persuasive at the time.   It would be interesting to know what his position is now.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

That Indian problem, again

BBC News - Why do millions of Indians defecate in the open?

Yes, we seem to read about the dire lack of toilets in India a lot in the last couple of years (which reminds me, I wonder how the poo2loo campaign is going - looks like they have some cricketer on board now.)

But the thing I wanted to note about this BBC report was this interesting campaign slogan, which I gather is fairly unique in the history of politics:
Access to sanitation is a challenge that India's politicians want to tackle - both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promised to put an end to open defecation in their 2014 general election manifestos.

During his campaign, Narendra Modi, BJP's newly-elected prime minister, promised: "Toilets first, temples later".

Adam Creighton notes The Australian's beat up

This story's getting stale, but still, a few key features of the way some of our Tea Party Lite economists have conducted themselves need to be noted:

*   They set up a straw man to attack in the first place, carrying on (at first) as if it was self evidently "a disaster" if any short period after implementation showed a small uptick in consumption. 

Yet it was Sinclair Davidson himself who linked to a Harry Clarke/David Prentice paper that was out before plain packaging started that argued that PP may lead to people using cheaper brands, and that it was important for excise increases to offset this effect.

The ABS figures which indicate a slight increase for the first couple of quarters, then a large drop in the March 14 quarter, are entirely consistent with what Harry Clarke wrote in his paper.

Clarke and Prentice also noted (I'll paraphrase here) that the effect of PP may well be small (so you wouldn't necessarily expect to see a sudden drop in total smokers) and that it was probably going to work mainly on young people and their take up rate of smoking.   All of which indicates you would need to wait for a couple of years at least to see what effect it may have had.   (And even then, of course, there is little way of separating out the effects of the excise rise and the plain packaging.)

As with climate change denial, our Tea Party Lite economists rely on their readership not having understood the case in the first place.   

Adam Creighton in the Australian today argues about what ABS volume stats mean (and it is rather confusing, I concede.)   But whether he is right on that or not, here's where he ends up:
Despite evidence from both the tobacco industry and the ABS, the impact of plain packaging is yet to be determined after just 18 months. The measure may ultimately contribute to a real decline in smoking rates and cigarette sales.
So, what does Adam think of the headline on the front page of his paper which started all of this:

Labor's plain packaging fails as cigarette sales rise

But as Media Watch noted, this beat up of a headline ensured that Big Tobacco got big, useful headlines in England, where the policy is still under consideration.  If Creighton had any courage at all, he would specifically criticise his paper for its conduct, not just sneak this near the end of his column.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Treating Australians as parasitic 'leaners' is a grave mistake | John Quiggin | Comment is free |

A very good piece here by John Quiggin on the "class warfare" bulldust that Hockey is going on about, while at the same time doing a "moochers" lite analysis of "leaners and lifters". 

I also see that on a Fairfax online poll (yes, I know, not to be taken too seriously) asking if Abbott should call a double dissolution, 92% are saying "yes"!   I would bet that about 90% of that group is saying so because they reckon this government is so on the nose that they would clearly lose at a quick election.

Can Andrew Bolt and his readers genuinely be this dumb?

Unbelievably, Andrew Bolt has a post today  Fish killed by cold water the CSIRO said would be warm in which he calls a 2012 CSIRO prediction that Tasmanian waters would continue warming "a dud", because apparently a temporary wave of cold water is being blamed for a fish kill there.

Seriously, does Bolt think ocean water doesn't move around all the time, causing changes in ocean temperatures?   Doesn't he know that this is what an El Nino, for example, is all about?   Does he think a temporary incursion of cold water means a long term warming is not happening?
Does he think the CSIRO is making it up when it says Tasmanian waters have, on average, been warming rapidly (by global standards) over the last 50 years, as illustrated here?:

Does he think that fisherman are just pretending when they say warmer water fish have been moving into Tasmanian waters?

Andrew Bolt is embarrassing himself by displaying sheer, dumb, wilful ignorance.   That he has readers who don't give a second thought as to what he claims is perhaps the greater problem.

On a lighter, yet still depressing, note...

Here's a screen shot from The Guardian website "People" section this morning.   Has there ever been a sadder collection of stories for anyone interested in the current state of the entertainment industry?:

Possible explanations for The Australian's mental disturbance sought

Wow, just wow.

The Australian has deployed five six writers today to attack Media Watch for calling them wrong on their front page beat up last week about the alleged effect of tobacco plain packaging.

Merritt (Legal Affairs editor!), Ergas, Klan, Kerr, Creighton and Davidson.

They even re-print the latter's post from Catallaxy yesterday, including its criticism of Media Watch "cherry picking" which involves its own cherry picked quote to claim MW made a mistake with its use of 1.4% twice, as I pointed out yesterday.   (Amusingly, in the thread, my main Western Australian female fan, Philippa, mistakenly thinking that I was participating in the thread, actually linked to my post.  Yet no one from Catallaxy who read it noted back on the thread that I had identified a mistake.)

But the bigger point is this - there's something just clearly nuttily paranoid about how this paper conducts itself now, and wouldn't it be good to know where that is coming from?   If this newspaper was a friend, you'd be recommending it seek professional help; there's something clearly wrong going on in its head. 

It would also be good to know why it has decided to die in the ditch for Big Tobacco.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Damning figures on guns and kids

There are some spectacularly damning figures listed in this Slate article about how wrong it is for any American to think that having a gun in the household improves a kid's safety:
The United States accounts for nearly 75 percent of all children murdered in the developed world. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the United States are 17 times more likely to be murdered by firearms than children in other industrialized nations.
Children from states where firearms are prevalent suffer from significantly higher rates of homicide, even after accounting for poverty, education, and urbanization. A study focusing on youth in North Carolina found that most of these deaths were caused by legally purchased handguns. A recent meta-analysis revealed that easy access to firearms doubled the risk of homicide and tripled the risk for suicide among all household members. Family violence is also much more likely to be lethal in homes where a firearm is present, placing children especially in danger. Murder-suicides are another major risk to children and are most likely to be committed with a gun.

Crucially, these deaths are not offset by defensive gun use. As one study found, for every time a gun is used legally in self-defense at home, there are “four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” A study of adolescents in California found that there were 13 times as many threatening as self-defensive uses of guns. Of the defensive encounters, many arose in confrontations that became hostile because of the presence of a firearm.

In the overall suicide rate, the United States ranks roughly in the middle of the pack among industrialized nations. However, we are the exception when it comes to suicides among children between the ages of 5 and 14, with an overall rate twice the average of other developed nations. This stark difference is driven almost exclusively by a firearm-related suicide rate that is 10 times the average of other industrialized nations.
And there is plenty more to appal the sensible reader.   Read the whole thing

Evolving from a "disaster" to "not very supportive"

I trust that people who have been reading Sinclair Davidson's series of articles on plain packaging for tobacco have noticed how he has changed his rhetoric over time?

First, March 27, noting that industry says it sold 0.3% more in the first twelve months:
What a policy disaster! The situation of the ground must be even worse.
 June 6, based on the same information:
For a policy that had the intent of reducing smoking rates, this is a disaster.
June 10, after thinking about it a bit more:
It is an open question as to whether existing smokers are smoking more, or if new smokers are taking up the habit.
A lot of very careful work needs to be done into the efficacy of the plain packaging policy – the early evidence isn’t very supportive of the policy.
And yet he complains when others (according to him) don't take him seriously enough at a forum discussion?

And how was this for a classic bit of arse covering by Judith Sloan after she wrote an Australian column which virtually repeated every argument Davidson had run up the flagpole:
Sinc, you are doing a great job on this.
But we should not forget that this is really an issue of principle rather than empirics.
Inspiring work, hey, by economists who shoot their mouths off first, and think harder later.


I also note that Sinclair Davidson's post of today tries on a "gotcha" that Media Watch quoted a 1.4% figure incorrectly for two different things.   He even quotes from the BT letter to show "what it actually says", but in doing so clips off the first reference to 1.4% in the letter.  Here's the full section, with 1.4%'s double appearance in bold:
 “From 2008 to 2012 smoking incidence, or the number of people smoking, was declining at an
average rate of -3.3 per cent a year. Since plain packaging was introduced, that decline rate
slowed to -1.4 per cent,” Mr McIntyre said.
“Over the five years in the lead-up to the introduction of plain packaging, total tobacco industry
volumes were declining at an average rate of -4.1 per cent.
“Subsequently, since plain packs were introduced on 1 December 2012, industry volumes have
actually grown for the first time in a long time to +0.3 per cent.
“Further, the number of cigarettes smoked on a daily basis declined at a rate of -1.9 per cent in the five years leading up to plain packaging, while it slowed to -1.4 per cent after green packs hit shelves.
 Oh dear, the letter is "not very supportive" of the attempted gotcha after all.

Now Davidson then goes on to criticise Media Watch for omitting the paragraph in the letter that argues, in spite of the percentages it just quotes:
“With growth in industry volumes, fewer people quitting and a jump in the amount of cheap illegal cigarettes on the streets, you could draw the conclusion that people are actually smoking more now than before plain packaging came into effect.”
Yes you could draw that conclusion - at least if you're an economist who brings no skepticism at all to tobacco industry spin and doesn't think about the letter as a whole.

Surely the actual problem here, for people other than Davidson and Sloan, is that the letter's conclusion makes little sense in light of its own quoted stats.   The number of smokers is reducing, the number of cigarettes per day smoked is reducing, but the industry is telling us that we can conclude people are smoking more now?   [They might have an argument there, somewhere, if they want to critique how the different sets of figures they quote are compiled, but they certainly don't make it.  The simple fact of the matter is that their claimed increase in sales volume, together with the alleged increase in black market sales, don't naturally gel with declines in the number of smokers and the number of cigarettes smoked per day.]

Here's the thing:  the industry wants to discredit plain packaging (absolute certainly on that point) and had an "obvious" way to do it - to offer cut price cigarettes and claim that any increase in sales volume over any short period shows the "failure" of the policy.  (They were likely assisted in this by the timing of the excise increase which may have led to some stockpiling before the price rise.)   But of course it is a self serving tactic, just like the IPA will campaign in the media by touring climate skeptics, and then quote any drop in polling for "public concern" about the issue to tell the government "see, this is not an important for the public, no need to deal with it." 

And above all of this is the clear fact that many proponents of plain packaging expected it to work long term by discouraging the young from starting, and assessing whether it is working that way or not would take some time to establish.  (Teenagers represent a small proportion of total smokers anyway - under 18 year old smokers now are well under 10% of the total*, and it's substantially more popular with girls at that age.  Somehow, I suspect that it is probably exactly that gender at that age that may be most put off by the de-glamourisation of cigarette packaging.)

Update: * not sure what the right figure is - the percentages in the link I was looking at was for percentage of under 18 teenagers who smoke - not what percentage of total smokers they represent.  That figure is proving hard to track down quickly.

Stuck on unpopular

I see from Newspoll that Abbott's "dissatisfied" polling went from 50% earlier in the year up to close to 60% with the budget, and has stayed there.

I suppose it is only 6 weeks or so since the budget, but it's nonetheless pleasing to see a flaky, windvane of a PM with a policy he is most committed to that is considered an eccentric dog by most in his own party; who takes advice from business ideologues who can't even believe in science and climate change; who is prepared to operate border control under a fake veil of "operational secrecy" so that the public doesn't even know if it should be concerned; whose government drifts into unnecessary terminology changes so as to score points from an Israeli PM who is a favourite of Fox News; and who introduced with no pre-election discussion a major change to tertiary education that has unseen equity consequences while his daughter got free education pretty much for being his daughter, is stuck on unpopular.