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Garrett-man

Garrett-man

In breaking news, superhero Peter Garrett has protected the sleepy population of Australia from attack by giant bumble-bees! The threat posed by the shadowy Bombus terrestris was narrowly averted. According to official sources, the super-garrett was able to learn from the lessons of the disasterous Phantoad invasion of the 20th century.

Nice work Garrett-man. We can all sleep at night, thanks to you!

So, Turnbull claims credit for swaying the banks to deliver a larger portion of the massive 100 basis point interest rate cut than they might have otherwise. Yes, of course, Mr Turnbull is more influential than market forces.

As George Megalogenis (one of more thoughtful commentators on The Insiders) said last week, it is good for the opposition to put a contrary argument to the governments position, in order to force the government to justify its position. But the condition to this is that the opposition shouldn’t sacrifice its credibility.

Turnbull’s positions of (1) asserting the banks should pass on 100%, despite all expert advice to the contrary and (2) claiming victory for the 80% that was passed on are certainly extraordinary. I guess hasn’t done his credibility harm in the long term, but I do suspect he doesn’t believe what he’s saying.

I took a moment today to contemplate how lucky the casual observer of Australian politics is right now. Think back to a few years ago. We had a deceiptful, weasel-words prime minister and an unelectable st bernard of an opposition leader. Now we have a proficient & contemplative prime minister and a strong-willed, very liberal opposition leader. And both of them know how to structure an argument. Game on, I say!

NSW has pulled out of round two of the federal government’s computers-in-schools scheme (news). The NSW state education minister Verity Firth stated today that the cash-strapped government doesn’t have the funds to buy:

  1. electicity to run them;
  2. technical support to maintain them; and
  3. “let alone” the software to run on them.

Yet again mainstream has fallen victim to the “computer equals Windows” mindset.

The state of NSW should plan to install a solid and feature-rich linux distribution on their systems. Then they can help address their problems by:

  1. using less electricity
  2. avoiding the need to employ proprietary software certified technical support staff; and
  3. getting access to a veritable plethora of free & open software which will provide not only an excellent foundation for general education, but also a platform for true computer science education

A few weeks ago I installed Miro, the free TV and video player for multiple platforms. The content available is a mix of TV show segments and specialist video podcasts (or ‘vodcasts’). A few days ago I subscribed to Planet Nerd and I think it’s fantastic.

Planet Nerd subscription in Miro

The show will not be news to any regular watchers of Melbourne’s community TV station, channel 31, as it is broadcast free-to-air. But Planet Nerd deservedly has an international audience via it’s Internet presence.

Episode 8 contains an interview with David Shea regarding that most haunting of childhood TV memories, the Dr Who theme music. (I’d love to know which cafe the interview was recorded in as the espresso machine in background looks devastatingly professional). This interview has broadened my expectations of what community television can and should deliver.

A musical interlude then explores what it takes to be Dr Who’s assistant. The episode concludes with a dark Harry Potter conspiracy that exposes corrupt, confunded officials in local and state government.

It’s a spine-breaking chortle-fest from start to finish. I recommend Planet Nerd to all fellow geeks, especially Gen-X’ers.

Last week I spent a day doing conservation work. Like most big organisations my employer (a big Aussie bank) allows employees to take a few days during the year to work with volunteer organisations. Yay for them!

I love the bush and would be a registered “protector of small, furry animals” if I could only find the appropriate organisation to register with. So when the opportunity with Conservation Volunteers Australia arose to help “reintroduce native mammals, bandicoots, and dunnarts” how could I resist?

Of course I needed to prepare myself and the first question was, what the heck is a dunnart? Finding out it was a native rat-like marsupial with a fat tail was in no way a deterrent.

The day itself was wonderful. The weather started out a bit windy but by the time I arrived at the bushland reserve it was a glorious sunny day. Unfortunately the introduction of the furry creatures isn’t to happen for a few years yet. First we have to do weeding … and lots of it. It was great to be working in the sun instead of stuck in front of a computer in an office and somehow getting my arms cut up with blackberry bushes was even more enjoyable than writing software architecture documentation.

Take a look at the volunteer opportunities offered by CVA. There’s heaps of great activities around Australia. And not just in the cities, but camping conservation work in the bush too. At the moment they have an activity called “Koala Catching – Mt Eccles National Park”. I’d like to do that. I wonder how fast they throw them?