Swine Flu a Good News /Bad News story

The ABC has reported the death of an Aboriginal man from Swine Flu, that is the bad news. My condolences to his family.

The good news is that this man is from a remote community,
in Western Australia and nobody else is currently ill with Swine flu. When you look up Kiwirrkurra on Google maps and see how remote this place is, it looks like just about everybody who was going to be exposed to this virus has been. This means that if you live in Australia, that sneeze you had 2 days ago may have been your case of the Swine flu.

This is the kind of thing epidemiologists look for. Current thinking is that viruses tend to attenuate (lessen morbidity) with time but transmissability increases with time (simple selection pressures or evolution in action).

In my opinion, our public health gurus have being very cautious over the last couple of weeks which is a good thing but they have also have tested in real time some of the protocols. Afterall how do you handle a thousand passenger cruise liner? Shutting down primary schools may contain the virus but will the same work for a high school where teenagers may not be content to stay at home?


Of course I may be disasterously wrong and Swine flu may come back with a vengeance.


Rubbery Poll Interpretation – I blame the GFC. Check Centrebet next time

There has been much ado about the interpretation of Galaxy pre-election opinion poll on the Queensland election which predicted a win for the LNP and the actual poll result.

The folowing should be noted

  • No margin of error was not reported.
  • The method of sampling was not reported.
  • The reported sample size was 800.
  • No break down of the sample in age or urban/rural reported
  • The electorate of Queensland is bigger than the city of Melbourne and is spread over a couple of multiples of size of the state of Victoria.
  • Brisbane is closer to Melbourne than Townsville.

Bob on Unleashed at abc.net.au

There are many ways a poll, if manipulated, can get you a false, convenient result. You can take the poll on a holiday weekend when many younger, and therefore Labor-leaning voters, or Green-leaning voters, aren’t at home. You can take the poll in early January when (as always) the Labor vote and the Green vote will go dramatically down for this reason, when many, many voters are in a caravan park or a holiday motel, or overseas. You can ring up on Friday night when only the old, the ill, the poor, the loveless and the mad are at home, these being more likely Liberal voters or National voters or One Nation voters or Independents. You can ring on Saturday morning when the prosperous are out shopping. You get more Liberal voters at home that way, saying Lawrence Springborg for me.

This is the way, I suggest, that Newspoll gives its principal client Rupert Murdoch what he wants and why Newspoll is widely known as “the Bill O’Reilly of statistics”.

Newspoll is very careful to go where the ambiguity is, and show no-one its raw figures. Why otherwise its raw figures should be secret is hard to say. These figures are “adjusted”, we are told, “to reflect population distribution”. I’ll bet they are.

Newspoll, moreover, rings no mobile phones, just those people who happen to be home on Friday nights and not, say, at the pub. Just those people who possess home phones (many young people don’t any more) and don’t mind giving up half an hour of their evening when they might be cooking dinner. Those who do mind are listed as “refused”. Only those who speak English, and speak English well, are persisted with, I am told; otherwise, I am told, Newspoll hangs up, and lists them as “refused”.

Where are the great love stories of today? from ABC Unleashed 2/2/09

Katherine Scholes posed this question in an editorial at Unleashed at ABC.net.au

She asks

Ask your friends to name a great love story – a book or a film – and they’ll probably come up with one set in the past. Something like Pride and Prejudice, Dr Zhivago, Gone With the Wind, Titanic – or my favourite, The African Queen. If they do choose a contemporary story it’s likely to be one that takes place in another culture, like Slumdog Millionaire. The fact is, it’s very difficult to conceive a great modern love story located in our own world. There’s no problem with writing stories about people falling in love – after all, it happens in real life to most of us, often more than once. But the truly great love story is not the stuff of everyday life. It has to have serious tension, high-stakes conflict and genuine uncertainty about how things will turn out.

In the interests of scholarship I repost someone else’s post.

In answer to question in the title this was posted –

VoR :

03 Feb 2009 9:58:07am

Then there’s Charles and Camilla. It was Destiny. Her ancestor was his ancestor’s mistress. But she married someone else when he was away too long on naval duties. He married a virgin with a long pedigree and good breeding characteristics. Who was too young and naive to realise the deal she was expected to accept, and suffered in the loveless marriage, particularly when Charles and Camilla reconnected. Popular in life, his wife became iconic in death. The whole world was against his liason with Camilla.

(Would this be better as opera, mini-series or You-tube parody?)

I was thinking more on the lines of Buffy and Angel or Buffy and Spike or Angel and Cordelia.
However somebody said it better.

Helena Celeste :

02 Feb 2009 11:04:54pm

No great love stories? Buffy and Angel! or Buffy and Spike. She had a thing for the undead. As do quite a few modern romance heroines, from Twilight (with its subjugated female desire) to True Blood, vampire romances are the new love stories. There is an entire genre with hilarious paperback covers, all featuring vampire heroes with rippling muscles, who seem to be defying traditional lore by getting a suntan.

If you are throwing in modern day romances then please add Brian and Justins romance from “Queer as Folk”.

( I quite liked this Unleashed, it asks a very accessible question.)

In defence of Bill Gates

Donald Brook wrote a piece on why he hated Bill Gates and posted at the Australian BC unleashed website. Mostly it was a complaint about technology and not so much about Bill Gates in particular. 

Billibaldi :

18 Nov 2008 2:29:16pm

With the convergence in electronics going the way it is, I would suspect that your next computer could be your mobile phone connected to your TV (and keyboard for convenience.) This more or less what Larry Ellison predicted about eight years ago.

In my household, hardware failure has overtaken software failure for downtime. 

I do have to defend Mr William Gates III because he forced a standard on the world for better or worse. This single standard has allowed computing to be accessible to the masses because it allowed economies of scale.

  • BlackMagic :

    18 Nov 2008 7:39:48pm

    ‘I do have to defend Mr William Gates III because he forced a standard on the world’

    What standard was that? I’ve been in IT for more than 45 years and I can’t think of any standard that Microsoft has given the world. If you’re suggesting that Microsoft standardised the PC you don’t know your computer history. IBM standardised the PC in 1981 when it announce the first Personal Computer.

    When IBM was looking for an off-the-shelf operating system for the first PC, MS-DOS wasn’t the first choice for IBM. DR-DOS was chosen, but Dr Gary Kildall, owner of DR-DOS, was uncooperative and IBM turned to Microsoft. 

    Microsoft didn’t have an operating system as it was a computer languages company at the time, but it quickly bought an operating system from a company called Seattle Computer Products for $50,000. A programmer named Tim Paterson wrote the operating system. A dispute between Microsoft and Seattle Computer Products over the operating system was settled in 1986 when Microsoft paid Seattle an additional $950,000.

    As for Microsoft giving the world standards of any kind, that has never happened. All Microsoft software is proprietary and Microsoft refuses to release any details of how its products work, except under some very limited licenses that are also expensive to acquire.