Many Reasons Howard Must Not Win

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:25 am

From The Age today: http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/its-all-or-nothing/2007/08/24/1187462515465.html

(this post’s title is mine, not theirs, by the way – they basically just describe the consequences in a pretty balanced way, but it paints a terrifying picture of Australia’s future)

And, even if some of us on the left despair a little and think ‘Rudd’s not that different, all politicians are the same’, this article shows that that is really, really not true in its consequences for Australia. Same deal in America: yes, the Democrats have been craven and lame, but the consequences of President Giuliani or President Romney don’t bear thinking about.


The Cost of Safety

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:14 pm

Maybe not an unprecedented rant on my part, but still… the same video study is focussing on students’ use of a ‘balance beam’ to learn about proportional reasoning.

Someone asked the question “But isn’t this stuff pretty intuitive for students? They play on a seesaw1 , so they know that if there’s a heavier kid they need to move in closer and a lighter kid needs to be further out.” And the guy doing the presentation said “Well, they took all the seesaws out of playgrounds about 10 years ago, and these are 12 year olds, so they’ve probably never played on one.”

OK, the seesaw in my primary school was an 8″ by 2″ slab of splintery old wood about 12 feet long, with metal handles in the shape of an upside-down ‘U’ at each end and half a car tyre buried in the ground under each end. And sure, sometimes the kid on the other end would jump off and you’d land hard on your butt. And sometimes a big kid would get on the other end and bounce you. I’m sure some kids got splinters and a few got bruises. But is the loss of learning equivalent to the saving of a few ouchies? I guess it’s possible for someone to break their leg or their neck on one, but it never happened at my school.

I’ll say it again: (a) perfect safety is an illusion and (b) safety isn’t free. We need to think very carefully about what it costs.

  1. Or ‘teeter-totter’ for our Nortamericano friends

The Essential Geek

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:07 pm

Was just at a PhD confirmation hearing (where the student has to convince us that s/he is ready to do the research) on having middle school students use digital video to learn and communicate their learning. Very interesting stuff, but one of my stray thoughts was that any innovation like this (or web-based teaching, or…) needs an ‘essential geek’. I may have talked about this here before, and I’ve certainly been thinking about it for a while… hey, I’ve *been* the essential geek on a couple of teaching technology innovations. But the point is, without that person who loves the stuff, for whom it’s a hobby, and hence they’re willing to put in a heap of unpaid hours, it just doesn’t happen.


Pretty Nice Guide

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:27 pm

…from Salon as to the reasons why my share portfolio is currently down by 40% from what I paid for it:



Extreme weather becoming the norm

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:49 am

From that lefty rag the Financial Times:


A Liberal Legacy Betrayed

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:30 am

Excellent article by Robert Dean on the Liberal Party1 as started by Robert Menzies, and the parlous state it has fallen to under John Howard.


  1. For readers not in Australia, the Liberal Party is the main party of the political right in Australia, which confuses people from places where ‘liberal’ is an epithet thrown at the left. This article goes some way to explaining why ‘liberal’ used to make sense for the Liberal Party but no longer does.