29/6/2007

(In Transit)

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:08 am

I’m flying to the US for a conference today so I’ll be out of touch for a while, but hopefully should have something interesting to talk about then…

28/6/2007

Both Major Parties Wrong About Broadband

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:53 pm

This recent UQ grad makes a lot of sense to me: http://www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=12378

Armies Must Ready For Global Warming Role

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:54 am

From here (and this is a small excerpt of a longer article): http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/42799/story.htm

UK: June 26, 2007

LONDON == Global warming is such a threat to security that military planners must build it into their calculations, the head of Britain’s armed forces said on Monday.

Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff, said risks that climate change could cause weakened states to disintegrate and produce major humanitarian disasters or exploitation by armed groups had to become a feature of military planning.

Air Marshal Sir Graham Eric Stirrup, (1949 – ): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jock_Stirrup

27/6/2007

What does it say about the strength of your argument

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:48 am

…when you have to dramatically fudge the data to support it?

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/beck-to-the-future/

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/the-weirdest-millennium/

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/curve-manipulation-lesson-2/

Worth reading the ‘Comments’ section under that third article.

26/6/2007

Moby?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 2:15 pm

white whale

http://www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=12363

http://www.migaloowhale.org/

25/6/2007

The Torture Never Stops

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:06 pm

…is the title of an old Frank Zappa song, but it seems to fit American movies at the moment, with the Hostel and Saw franchises and Captivity. Apparently the TV show ’24’ features a bit too. Wonder whether it’s a reaction to the official government policies of the country?

Going Quiet

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:01 am

Sorry, haven’t had a lot to say lately (and I will get to responding to your comments right now). Couple of grant application things to be done have kept me busy and stressed out, but they’ll be finished by tomorrow. Some exciting news on another front that I don’t want to say a lot about yet (no, we’re not pregnant) means I won’t be getting my new bike for 6 months or so, but I think the sacrifice is worthwhile (still impatient though). Should hear something about whether I get the interview for the new job later this week, so that’s kinda keeping me on edge too. And we’re also looking for a new house to move to, with the attendant work. And I’m off to the US for a conference for all of next week. So basically, too much uncertainty is keeping my mind circling on these real issues, leaving it no time to goof off and come up with blog-fodder. 😉

20/6/2007

String Theory

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:38 am

Physics meets lolcatz

18/6/2007

6 Seksi Cruisers for Lorne

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:38 pm


Harley V-Rod


Harley Night Rod (if I had a cruiser this’d be it)


Random (Harley-based) chopper


Honda Valkyrie


Kawasaki Meanstreak


Yamaha V-Star

17/6/2007

6 Bikes I’ve Been Looking At (obsessively) This Weekend

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:32 pm

…probably none of which I’ll end up with! But since this *is* my current obsession, it’s about all I’ve got to share on the blog.

They range from 600 to 1000 cc, and from 1993 to 2002, and are all between $4500 and $6000 (some are on eBay and will likely get bid out of that range by the time they finish). All but one are in the Brisbane area, and the other one is down close to where Dad lives near Newcastle, so picking it up could be fitted into a trip. In chronological order, then:


1993 Yamaha YZF750R


1995 Yamaha YZF600


1996 Yamaha YZF1000R


1998 Kawasaki ZX9R (900 cc)


2001 Kawasaki ZX9R


2002 Suzuki SV650S

15/6/2007

Physics Guy

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:03 am

Lots of fun in physics class: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGZXhUeLh90

Thanks to lithos for point this one out

14/6/2007

John Howard and the Shutting Down of Australian Democracy

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:36 am

Great discussion in The Age from Peter Gebhardt:

http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/shutting-down-a-democracy/2007/06/12/1181414295911.html

13/6/2007

What do teachers really make?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:45 am

Teacher and poet Taylor Mali: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw1MFobWD_o

Sad but not at all surprising

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:23 am

THE Howard Government has lied about school results, unfairly attacked the quality of teaching and disparaged curriculums to impose federal control over education and increase the privatisation of schooling, a report says.

In the report, former Productivity Commission economist Trevor Cobbold says the Howard Government has transformed education into a market-based privatised system, aided by “the perpetration of three great frauds on the Australian public”.

These include the “myth” that there is a crisis in schools, that increased choice and competition in schools will improve student achievement, and the Government’s funding for private schools will help low-income families.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/report-hits-school-lies/2007/06/12/1181414299967.html

12/6/2007

Performance Pay for Teachers (again)

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:27 am

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/teacher-bonus-trial-next-year/2007/06/11/1181414218913.html

OK, it’s failed three times in the past (in the US), and there are plenty of signs it will fail again here, but it’s being pushed ahead anyway. Of course, just using all the money that would have gone into the performance payments, plus all the money that will go into studying and setting up a scheme, plus all the work and energy that will go into complying… to just give teachers decent pay rates across the board – and even more importantly, to free up time within the school day to allow them to work with each other and plan good lessons – is out of the question. That wouldn’t serve the real purpose of transferring even more from those who already have least to those who already have most.

11/6/2007

On The Importance of Doubt

Filed under: — Bravus @ 11:56 am

From a very interesting article by Peter Birkenhead (at Salon) on the value of questioning:

Forty-five years ago today, JFK, speaking to the graduating class at Yale, said, “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic … Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” He urged the students to “move on from the reassuring repetition of stale phrases to a new, difficult, but essential confrontation with reality.” Kennedy was urging the students not to let the establishment, which he represented, get away with anything. Submit its rhetoric to the fiercest scrutiny. Think for yourself. It was an invitation that reflected his own education, two years earlier, in the wisdom of doubt.

By June 11, 1962, the president had learned the lessons of the Bay of Pigs disaster well. His Yale speech seemed infused with regret at not having treated the CIA’s intelligence with more skepticism before the invasion. (The agency had promised that the exiles could “melt into the mountains” if the plan failed — mountains that it failed to notice were 80 miles away.) The speech also foreshadowed his own fierce scrutiny of the rhetoric of Gen. Curtis LeMay and other administration hawks, who urged an attack during the missile crisis.

Leave aside the application to George W Bush in the article, and just read JFK’s words in the first paragraph above. Wouldn’t a bit of that spirit have come in handy in this decade so far?

6/6/2007

Glorious Rain

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:18 am

I won’t be riding to work today: too rainy. (And I have plenty of course development work that I can do better at home anyway.)

Loving the sound of rain on the roof all night. It virtually never set in and rained solidly for a day or two in Edmonton – just showers or snow – and in the drought we’ve been having here in Brisbane since we arrived we’ve been very lucky even to get showers, and every bit of rain is greeted with delight. We’ve had nearly 50 mm (close to two inches in the old money) over night… and that’s the amount that apparently we need to wet down the ground before any even starts to run off into the badly depleted (15% of capacity) dams. But the good news is that (a) the rain did actually hit the catchment areas this time – it seemed to be avoiding them with laser-like precision for most of the summer and (b) there is more to come, so we should actually see some desperately-needed replenishment of the dams.

I can’t work at home tomorrow, but I’m willing to ride in the rain and carry dry pants with me if it means we get more rain.

4/6/2007

The Suspense is Killing Me

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:44 pm

OK, I’ve hinted around the edge of this here before, but tried to be discreet, but it’s time to be open with you… and if someone from the University of Queensland reads it, so be it.

I was approached in April by a recruiting (aka ‘headhunting’) firm about applying for a job at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). It’s in Toowoomba, a bit over an hour’s drive west of Brisbane. Initially I wasn’t keen, since I’d just moved to the University of Queensland (UQ), and since the family had settled in in Brisbane. Then I realised that, although it’d be a long commute, it would be a managable one, though I’d have to buy a more touring-oriented bike than I have now.

The job was also very attractive because it was at Full Professor rank… and it’s becoming clearer by the moment that getting back to even Associate Professor, the rank I held in Canada, at UQ is going to be a long, difficult and uncertain road. Not sure if the job title is attractive or not: I’d be Research Professor of Flexible Delivery and Director of the Centre for Research in Transformative Pedagogies (yep, need a largish business card or a tiny font!) But it’s a field my experiences over the past 10 years have uniquely fitted me to fill, and at a significantly higher rank (and pay) than my current job, and I think I could do a pretty fantastic job in this role. I’d also be a bigger fish in a smaller pond than at UQ…

I applied in mid-April, applications closed in mid-May, and the selection committee was supposed to meet this week, the first week of June. I just got an e-mail saying they will now be meeting later this month and I’ll hear whether I make the short-list and get an interview toward the end of June. There’s no real rush, but it’s kind of unsettling to be in the position of having two quite different imaginary paths ahead that my life could take, and waiting for months and months to see which of them will eventuate. Ah well, I guess it’s teaching me patience…

In related news, we have been very close to getting several rental houses closer to Sue’s new job, but on Friday they told her they won’t be continuing her position with them after this week. (There are several reasons for that amd I think they’re making a big mistake, but that’s another story.) So I guess whoever is guiding us knew it wouldn’t be good for us to get a house in that area… and as frustrating as it was to miss out several times, it has worked out for the best. Suzie is upset – any situation like that is going to feel a bit like rejection – but we’re looking for something even better for her over the next little while… and also hatching some investment plans to help her realise some longer term aspirations. But it means we’re both in a bit of flux at the moment.

Does Faith Make You A Better Person?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:22 pm

Creationists behaving badly

3/6/2007

Not Advertising

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:10 pm

I have an auction on eBay at the moment, but since it’s unlikely to be of interest (from a purchasing perspective) to anyone who reads this blog, I’m not promoting the auction here, just linking to it to tell the story.

Signed ball

We went to a Trivia Quiz night last Saturday night at a school near here, after being invited by some friends. Much fun was had by all, and we came about 4th out of 15 tables, so not stellar but credible. There were also a variety of raffles during the evening and for some reason (as a die-hard NSW Blues supporter in the State of Origin rugby league clashes) I bought a couple of tickets in a raffle for a ball signed by the Queensland Maroons ‘Former Origin Greats’ organisation. And, ironically, being probably the only ‘enemy’ supporter in the room, won it.

I really don’t have a lot of use for it, but we still resisted when someone in the hall offered us 20 bucks for it on the spot. Just as well really, as you’ll realise if you read the story told by the various updates to the description on the eBay auction. And hey, as of right now, 13 1/2 hours before the end of the auction, it’s already up to $33, so we’re already ahead of where we would have been had we accepted the offer (and way ahead of the 5 bucks I paid for the tickets).

So by about 10 am tomorrow my time I’ll know just how the story has panned out… and maybe have a new affection for the Queenslanders in the State of Origin.