Are algorithms ruling your world?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 20 August 2017
A year or two ago, how many would have known what the word algorithm meant? Now it is a word in common use. It crops up whenever automation or artificial intelligence is mentioned.
The term ‘automation’ once conjured up images of robots doing manual tasks; now it encompasses intellectual or cognitive tasks being undertaken automatically. We are told that already the majority of financial transactions are carried out not with pencil and paper and calculators, but via algorithms.
Dutton for PM – no thanks
2353NM, The Political Sword, 12 August 2017
If the conservative ideologues get their way, Peter Dutton could be Prime Minister within a few months. If Dutton became Prime Minister, he would be the eighth person to be Prime Minister with double letters in his last name. For the record, if you get asked the question at a trivia night, the others are (in order) Cook, Scullin, Fadden, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull. The history of the last four is well known and in all cases their terms as Prime Minister are remembered more for the politics of gaining or losing power, associated with poor opinion polls, party infighting and a general sense of unease within the community.
So; were the first three any better? Apparently not.
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 6 August 2017
Inequality amblyopia is a condition affecting some conservatives, who simply cannot see inequality when looking directly at it. The facts and figures that convince objective observers that there is
increasing inequality in our nation, are simply not visible to them.
Dog whistling in the park
2353NM, The Political Sword, 30 July 2017
It could be said that Senator Pauline Hanson and the other One Nation senators have ridden the coat tails of racism and bigotry to reach the lofty heights of the Red Chamber on Capital Hill in Canberra. Hanson will tell you that she sincerely holds those views and while it demonstrates her ignorance of how discrimination adversely affects the society we all live in, she and her fellow One Nation members are entitled to their opinion.
Is Donald Trump mad?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 23 July 2017
No, I don’t mean ‘hopping mad’. We know
that he is hopping mad with the media and its ‘fake news’, with CNN particularly, and with some of its commentators whom he has chosen to label as intellectually deficient, and unpleasant to the eyes (bleeding from a face lift!).
he is hopping mad about the criticism he attracts….
More power to you
2353NM, The Political Sword, 15 July 2017
Rather than writing another article this week about the great Abbott versus Turnbull war on ideology, causing your and my excitement level to maybe rise sharply and rate as ‘slightly interested’, let’s look at some positive events that are occurring right here in Australia. Even if you have been living under a rock for the past ten years, you have probably heard of Tesla. Elon Musk is the co-founder, CEO and Product Architect of the company which produces electric vehicles, solar roofs and battery products, and while he might not be the perfect human being, according to his Wikipedia entry his $15.2 Billion wealth started with a $2,000 seed fund from his father.
Look out for dinosaurs
2353NM, The Political Sword, 9 July 2017
Creationists will tell you that life on earth began around 6000 years ago when the good (Christian) lord decided to make a world over 6 days – because on the 7th, he rested. Other faiths and cultures also have mythical stories of how the earth was created; which probably suit the fundamentalists in most religious or cultural groupings. Evolution is a far more common belief. There are museums full of evidence of the process of evolution, how small simple structures became large complex structures, demonstrating the ebb and flow of different life forms at different periods of the earth’s history. Creationists have a leg each side of an interesting barbed-wire fence – having a literal belief in a religious text because they can’t cope with the uncertainty of the alternative but sufficient trust that they will be able to pay off their house from future earnings.
Climate wars all over again
Ad astra, TPS Extra, 2 July 2017
Only a naive optimist could believe the contemporary rhetoric that the Finkel Report might bring the climate wars of the last decade to an end. As long as Tony Abbott lurks in the wings there will be war over climate. His whole persona is warlike, his political book is even titled Battlelines
. A pugilist since student days, he has carried unremitting combativeness into his political life, and will do so until he leaves.
The Coalition needs an Abbott-proof fence
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 29 June 2017
If you were to ask Malcolm Turnbull to tell you honestly
what was his most demanding and persistent political problem, Tony Abbott would most likely be his answer.
She said what!
2353NM, The Political Sword, 25 June 2017
Senator Hanson recently implied that children on the autistic spectrum should be shunted off to ‘special schools’. However Hanson wants to spin it, she said: “These kids have a right to an education, by all means, but, if there are a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be looked after and given that special attention. Most of the time the teacher spends so much time on them they forget about the child who is straining at the bit and wants to go ahead in leaps and bounds in their education. That child is held back by those others, because the teachers spend time with them.”
Respect the culture
2353NM, The Political Sword, 17 June 2017
Representatives of our First Peoples recently gathered at Uluru to discuss potential methods for recognition within the Australian Constitution. The final document is really worth a read, as it is an aspirational document that should be a roadmap for the future of all Australians. Sean Kelly from The Monthly
recently wrote an article where a number of different ‘elders’ of society commented on how the Uluru Statement from the Heart was conceived and will affect our entire society going forward. Certainly there was politics involved in the process and seven delegates did walk out of the process, but in reality that was to be expected.
Trump becomes irrelevant
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 11 June 2017
We saw it coming, even before his election as President of the United States of America. Few gave this man any credence as he campaigned against Republican after Republican for the GOP nomination. His ideas lacked substance, his policies were threadbare, even nihilistic, and his persona unbefitting such high office. He was bereft of the attributes necessary to become the world’s most powerful person. Not many gave him chance; even the pollsters wrote him off.
All you need is love
2353NM, The Political Sword, 3 June 2017
The Beatles released ‘All you need is love’, written by John Lennon and Paul McCarthy, 50 years ago this month during the first global satellite television broadcast, Our world. June 1967 was the summer of love where it is claimed that up to 100,000 people congregated in the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood in the city of San Franscisco. The two events are related as far as The Beatles by that stage were a studio only band and seeking alternative lifestyles.
America – what have you done?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 28 May 2017
If Leo Tolstoy were alive today, instead of creating Anna Karenina
he might find writing Donald John Trump
more intriguing. I suspect he would again begin with similar memorable words: "Happy presidencies are all alike; every unhappy presidency is unhappy in its own way."
Just beyond its three-month mark, Trump’s presidency is already uniquely unhappy, sad, chaotic, unpredictable, reckless, irrational, erratic, and ignorant. His Republican colleagues find it bewildering and jarring; much of the American electorate find it bitterly discouraging; and the rest of the free world, extremely dangerous.
Falling through the cracks
2353NM, The Political Sword, 21 May 2017
In amongst the budget, responses and ‘expert analysis’, you might have missed the news that so called conservative ‘warrior’ and MP for the seat of Dawson in Central Queensland, George Christensen, recently became a medical tourist to Asia. Christensen, who before the operation weighed in at 176 kilograms, went to Malaysia for an operation to remove 85% of his stomach
Economic geniuses perform epic back flip
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 17 May 2017
The sheer effrontery of our politicians never ceases to astonish me. To them black can be white, and in an instant white can be black. It is not just the monumental back flip that such a change of language involves that astonishes me, it is the bald-faced nerve they exhibit when they change course to the opposite direction, as if nothing had happened! The 2017 Budget starkly exemplifies this.
Perceptions are everything
2353NM, The Political Sword, 14 May 2017
Those that know me are aware that I do a fair bit of travel around my home state for my employer. As my home state is Queensland, a considerable component if that is air travel as, for example, Brisbane to Cairns or Mt Isa is around the same flight time and distance as Brisbane to Melbourne in a 737. (As a side note – it’s actually a bit sad when you and your colleagues at work sit around at lunch time and knowledgably discuss which Queensland airports have the best cafes, or the smaller hire car queues!)
Sitting in yet another regional airport terminal recently waiting for the yet another delayed plane got me to thinking about perceptions. Don’t get me wrong, I would much prefer a plane to be late so the ‘issue’ can be fixed…
Turnbull applauds Obamacare repeal – what’s next?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 11 May 2017
First an awkward handshake, having been stood up for three hours in New York by Donald John Trump while he celebrated his great ‘victory’ in the House with the passage of an Obamacare repeal Bill and its replacement with the American Health Care Act, then wearing a rictus grin that bespoke obsequiousness writ large, our Prime Minister applauded
Trump with: ”Well done”
and "It's always good to win a vote in the Congress, or the parliament as we call it, I've got to say, it's always satisfying to win a vote when people predict you’re not going to win it too. So keep at it, it's great."
Peas in a pod
2353NM, The Political Sword, 7 May 2017
Amongst the day to day news of who is going to challenge for the dubious honour of leading a political party, stories of government inaction, fires, pestilence and so on, you might have missed the March for Science; held the weekend before Anzac Day in up to 54 countries across the world. As reported on Fairfax websites: “Thousands of scientists and their supporters, feeling increasingly threatened by the policies of US President Donald Trump, gathered on Saturday in Washington under rainy skies for what they called the March for Science, abandoning a tradition of keeping the sciences out of politics and calling on the public to stand up for scientific enterprise.”
100 days of President Trump
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 4 May 2017
It feels much longer, doesn’t it? He seems to have been in our face for eons. Of course he has been
. As he relentlessly plied his way from rank outsider to winner of the presidential race, there never has been a candidate in recent history that has been thrust at us so disturbingly for so long. There has never been a presidential runner that has attracted so much attention.
The face of willful ignorance
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 30 April 2017
To whom do you believe I’m referring? There are no prizes for correct answers! I’m referring to someone who I believe is guilty of immoral ignorance. His actions have the potential to destroy our civilization, not today or next week, but in the foreseeable future – we don’t know when, nor does he. I am referring to Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.
The report card
2353NM, The Political Sword, 23 April 2017
Former Minister and Liberal Party Director Andrew Robb recently completed an investigation into the poor performance of the Liberal Party in the 2016 federal election. Yes, they won by a whisker, but losing 14 seats is a drubbing. Former PM Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, writing for the Daily Telegraph has her theory:
On two separate occasions over the past 10 years, Malcolm Turnbull has plotted to seize the Liberal Party leadership from the incumbent. On both occasions, the polls hit high highs, and then low lows. On both occasions, the base deserted Turnbull and on both occasions, the considered judgment was he had a plan to take the leadership but he had no plan to run the party, or the country.
Discrimination for being a white male – seriously?
2353NM, TPS Extra, 20 April 2017
Australia has recently been subject to a debate over proposed changed to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The changes were seen by conservatives to be necessary as there were some evidence to suggest that the Courts found that sometimes, some of their rank were found guilty of harassing, offending or insulting others based on their race or religion. During the debate, Senator Brandis further added that he found it "deeply offensive and insulting" for Labor and the Greens to say his campaign for the changes to race hate laws had something to do with him being a white man.
Open letter to PM Turnbull about automation
Ad astra, TPS Extra, 16 April 2017
The people of Australia are aware of your desire that this nation and its people be agile, enterprising, and ever ready to adapt to change. I applaud your aspiration.
While some changes receive much publicity such as global warming, there is another, just as crucial, but which scarcely receives a mention. I am referring to the march of automation and the consequent displacement of humans from work they once did.
How are the ‘adults’ managing our economy?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 12 April 2017
Who will ever forget the insults, the slurs, and the slander that the Coalition heaped upon Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan as they managed the economy through the Global Financial Crisis and beyond? They were depicted as incompetent children playing games in an economic sandpit with no idea of what they were doing, making one catastrophic mistake after another. Remember how the Coalition boasted that the children should get out of the way and let the adults take over, insisting as they did that they were the experts at economic management.
The winds of change
2353NM, The Political Sword, 9 April 2017
Question – What do Mark Latham, YouTube, Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May and Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act have in common? The question could be answered by suggesting the winds of change are in the air.
2353NM, The Political Sword, 4 April 2017
You may have noticed some of our more conservative politicians reacting to the recent terrorist attacks in London and Europe by calling for bans on the Islamic religion or the expelling of all those who have similar beliefs. Apart from the lack of logic that is implied by suggesting that somehow ‘the authorities’ have some way of reading or controlling people’s minds, how do you differentiate between the person with the ‘suspicious’ name that has been resident in a country for two years apart from the person with the ‘suspicious’ name that has generations of ‘local’ heritage.
How will those displaced by technology survive?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 28 March 2017
Twenty Twenty-Four – our Orwellian destiny?
drew parallels between the disturbing prophesies in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
and the disquieting situation we are now experiencing as sophisticated technologies – robots and algorithms – are enabling the collection of more and more personal data. There is though an even more distressing accompaniment to these technological advances – the displacement of human workers by robots and algorithms. This piece addresses this issue.
Vale Ken Wolff
TPS Team, The Political Sword, 22 March 2017
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our close colleague and dear friend, Ken Wolff.
His last published article at The Political Sword
was What to watch for in 2017
: his sudden death was not what we anticipated.
Thou shall not hate
2353NM, The Political Sword, 19 March 2017
If the name Milo Yiannopoulos means nothing to you, congratulations on being a normal, well-adjusted person. Yiannopoulos is someone we all aspire to be the complete opposite of. He was until very recently, an alt-right figurehead and said all the ‘right’ things. According to The Guardian
he did a fine line in Islamophobia, misogyny, transphobia or harassment. Out Magazine
, (which takes pride in its LGBTI heritage) called him a ‘super villain’.
A pound of flesh
2353NM, TPS Extra, 16 March 2017
Well inside his first 100 days, President Trump is facing a revolt from his core constituency. Trump promised a number of ‘initiatives’, from ‘flushing the swamp’ (a reference to the political class in Washington DC), to building a wall to keep Mexicans in Mexico and repealing Obamacare, more formally called the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ a program implemented by the Obama Administration to ensure health care was affordable for Americans that were not on large incomes.
Twenty Twenty-Four – our Orwellian destiny?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 12 March 2017
Have you ever felt overtaken by the velocity of world events? Have your ever felt overwhelmed by the pace of change? Have you ever wondered what the world will be like in Twenty, Twenty-Four, forty years after George Orwell’s prophetic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four?
Thirty pieces of silver
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 5 March 2017
Disappointment, disillusionment, disgust, desperation, desolation, despondency, and above all simmering anger - these are the emotions so many Australians have had, and still are experiencing when they reflect on Malcolm Turnbull’s period as prime minister. And this applies to many Labor supporters, who welcomed Turnbull’s overturning of Tony Abbott. Surely, they thought, nothing could be worse than the appalling Abbott.
Climate change, power and coal
2353NM The Political Sword, 2 March 2017
You may have noticed it’s been a bit hot lately. In fact, if you were born after 1985, you have never experienced a cooler than average month. Let’s just read that again so it really sinks in – if you were born after 1985, you have never experienced a cooler than average month. The UK Government (amongst a lot of other experts in the field) states that Climate Change is happening…
Abbott’s legacy of destruction
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 26 February 2017
Do you sometimes wonder how the Turnbull government has managed to get itself into such a mess? Of course Malcolm Turnbull must shoulder much of the blame himself. A piece that I will post next week: Thirty pieces of silver
attests to this. By sacrificing his long-held principles and values on the altar of his enduring ambition to be Prime Minister no matter what the cost, he has brought about many of the vicissitudes he is now enduring.
Is trickle down economics a fraud?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 19 February 2017
The spectre of trickle down economics continues to haunt the political landscape, emerging again and again like a ghostly zombie from a dark, damp cave where it quietly moulders, refusing to die, always ready to be summoned by a believer. Not often is the term ‘trickle down’ uttered, and when it is, it is by opponents of the concept. Instead, the proponents tell us that giving tax cuts to the top end of town will benefit those at the bottom through more jobs and better wages.
2353NM, TPS Extra, 16 February 2017
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continues. In the past couple of weeks, the Commissioners have been hearing evidence from Catholic clergy. Some of the numbers are scary:
Alternative facts and transparency
2353NM, The Political Sword, 12 February 2017
Would you believe that I am a 25 year old self-made millionaire and spend my life travelling around the world – only if I can fly in an Etihad A380 equipped with “The Residence” three room suite (only plebs travel First Class apparently)!. I also have bankers beating a path to my door to lend me money for my latest development proposal, after all anything I touch turns to a platinum - plated investment opportunity.
Selfishness is political poison
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 5 February 2017
Amid the contemporary chaos of national and international politics do you wonder what is behind it all? Is there a common factor that might explain our own federal government’s failures, its incompetence, and its appalling behaviour?
Is there an explanation for the words, behaviour, and punitive actions of Donald Trump? Is there a common theme that explains Brexit, and the rise of extreme right wing and conservative movements across Europe and in America?
Computer says ‘no’
2353NM, The Political Sword, 29 January 2017
Once upon a time, someone came up with an economic theory that robbery was good for the economy. The theory was along the lines that the robbers get some extra cash and most of it will reappear in the economy at some point soon after the robbery; the bank or shop is insured for the loss so it gets its money back; and as the number of robberies per annum doesn’t exceed the insurance premiums that banks and shops pay, the insurance companies are not out of pocket either. Of course, the theory is rubbish as stealing money (regardless of the rationale) is just wrong: staff and innocent bystanders who are the real victims of robberies are likely to need considerable physical and mental health support for a long time and so on.
What to watch for in 2017
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 15 January 2017
As with most political issues, the following few questions are inter-related: Turnbull’s future may well depend on the economy, on whether or not a new conservative party forms and whether there is a Trump-inspired trade or currency war between China and the US; our economy may well depend on what Trump does in relation to China, let alone whether Morrison displays any understanding of economics; and so on.
In 2017 – let’s be the change we want to see
2353NM, The Political Sword, 1 January 2017
Well look at that. 2016 is finished and 2017 has arrived to present us with more challenges. To be brutally honest, 2016 wasn’t the best of years for those who prefer progressive policy, equality and fairness for all. Later this month, Donald Trump becomes president of the USA; at the time of writing Malcolm Turnbull still survives as prime minister of Australia; and the likes of Cory Bernardi and George Christensen seem to be in charge of the LNP’s policy settings, probably in spite of what Turnbull would like to think. In the past, articles at this time of the year have suggested that no one really cares about politics because the beach, tennis and cricket are too appealing.
Happy Christmas and New Year to all our Visitors
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 25 December 2016
This is the time to wish all our readers a Happy and Relaxing Festive Season with your Family, and to thank all who have sustained The Political Sword
The barbie bigot looks back on the year
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 18 December 2016
G’day ev’ryone. Welcome back to the barbie. The big news of the year has been elections, both here in Oz an’ in septic-land. I’ve been a bit quiet since the election ‘cause, after all, the result was a bit hard to take (an’ it was a bit cool an’ wet for a barbie for a while). Mal scraped in by a seat an’ really spat the dummy in his election night victory speech. It wasn’t really a victory at the time, ’though he claimed it was. Victory speeches are meant to be mag ... magnamus … gracious, but not Mal. He couldn’t understand how he almost lost. All the gloss an’ glitter, an’ the smile, were gone an’ he didn’t seem to know why.
The buck stops where?
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 11 December 2016
The old adage says ‘the buck stops here’ and it applies to managers, CEOs, government ministers and similar people when they take responsibility for what happens in their organisations, including mistakes. When applied in full it leads to people resigning if more serious mistakes are made even though the mistake was not personally made by them. But nowadays modern managers are more likely to point the finger down the ladder and say the blame lies there. What has happened to the old concept of responsibility?
The real bullies
2353NM, The Political Sword, 4 November 2016
A Brisbane 13 year old committed suicide last week because, according to his mother he was being bullied. He identified as being gay and apparently was being bullied at school. Rather than join the chorus of those who instantly know what was going on and speculate for a week or so until something else comes along, how about we look at the culture that seems to be genuinely regretful when a tragedy such as the death of a Brisbane school boy occurs but votes for and allows much greater crimes against our society to be celebrated.
The rise of political staffers: how people disappeared from policy advice
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 27 November 2016
In October Attorney-General Senator George Brandis got into a stoush with Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, which ultimately led to Gleeson’s resignation. At one point Brandis attempted to turn the issue into an argument about what constituted ‘consultation’ but the real issue was that Brandis had decided his office should have control of what advice could be offered by Gleeson — Gleeson would not have been allowed to provide advice unless the request for advice was first approved in Brandis’ office.
Let’s welcome President Trump
Trump’s Uncertainty Principle
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 23 November 2016
Way back in 1927 German physicist Werner Heisenberg, described the Uncertainty Principle
that applies to quantum mechanics. It states that the more precisely the position of a particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be known, and vice versa. With apologies to Heisenberg and quantum physicists, the uncertainty principle seems to be a suitable metaphor for America’s President Elect.
2353NM, The Political Sword, 20 November 2016
Yes, you read the title correctly. Donald J Trump will be the 45th President of the United States of America after amassing more ‘Electoral College’ votes on 8 November 2016. It doesn’t matter that Clinton won the popular vote as the ‘Electoral College’ is where you need to outperform. The reality is that close to 45% of the population used their democratic right (in the US anyway) of not voting for any Presidential candidate. It’s easy to make the assumption that a lot of people either didn’t care, didn’t like the candidates, or just couldn’t be bothered. Some of those may now be regretting their choice.