Tomfoolery and Gerrymandering

This post was prompted by a recent US Supreme Court decision, but it also brought back some memories.

For 111 years, Burkard Polster and I wrote the weekly Maths Masters column for Melbourne’s Age newspaper, writing a total of 11111111 columns. (The title wasn’t of our choosing.) Our column began in print, as part of VCE Express in Monday’s education lift-out, which soon moved online. While in print, we were instructed to write “about 350 words”, just enough to say hello to a topic and then good bye. Once the column went online, however, we were granted a lot of license and took more: we would routinely submit well over a thousand words, illustrated with a number of Burkard’s beautiful graphics. It was also standard practice to be emailing drafts back and forth at midnight before the morning deadline. (Burkard: “Here’s the graphic I spent an hour on.” Marty: “It doesn’t work.” Burkard: “… Back in an hour.”) The payment for each column remained amusingly low; it was reminiscent of Calvin Trillin’s story of the Nation‘s editor offering to pay him in “the high two figures”. But of course we did the column as best we could as an end in itself. It was great fun to do, until it wasn’t, and it was exhausting. Continue reading “Tomfoolery and Gerrymandering”

A Couple Quick Words on the Palestinian Protests

(1) Of course the protests are antisemitic.

(2) People are allowed to be antisemitic assholes.

Regarding (1), non-Jews should be aware of what the overwhelming majority of Jews are seeing. Regarding (2), Jews should accept that they have to tolerate assholeness, just like everyone else. Continue reading “A Couple Quick Words on the Palestinian Protests”

RatS 27: Taibbi – Maintain Your Brain

We haven’t had a RatS for a long time. I think they were and are worthwhile, but there’s just been too much work with the day job of educational crusading to post much about the more general cultural decline. This one, however, by Matt Taibbi, struck a very strong chord. Taibbi is one of the very few consistently sane journalists on politics and the media. He is getting busier and angrier, and better, visibly exasperated at the increasing government and corporate control over social media and free speech. Taibbi has a particular loathing for censorious assholes in the legacy media, particularly in particular for the sanctimonious “misinformation” “experts”: see here and here for two recent examples. The following is a public post by Taibbi, with no particular target, simply a Mad As Hell scream.

Continue reading “RatS 27: Taibbi – Maintain Your Brain”

Estimating Stephen Gniel

Stephen Gniel, of course, was CEO of VCAA while the Deloitte debacle played out, and then during the subsequent 2023 VCE exams battle. Gniel then began his previously arranged secondment, to be Acting CEO of ACARA (also permitting Gniel, it seems, to duck appearing before the Bennett inquiry). It is in the latter role that Gniel appeared (along with Sharon Foster, ACARA’s Executive Director, Curriculum, and Russell Dwyer, ACARA’s Executive Director, Assessment and Reporting) at Senate Estimates on 15 February, in front of the Education and Employment Legislation Committee. I don’t think Gniel had much fun. Continue reading “Estimating Stephen Gniel”

Peter Dutton’s Broken Home

As soon as Potato Pete and his fellow “No” thugs started whining about the Voice Referendum being “divisive“, we were reminded of a great joke. We had figured the joke was a standard, but seemingly it is not: it took some tracking down. The joke is below, as it appeared on TV. It captures perfectly the hypocrisy and unmitigated gall of these wreckers.

Continue reading “Peter Dutton’s Broken Home”

The Guardian Objects to the University of Sydney’s Considered Voice

We will vote Yes on the Voice Referendum. Twice, if we think we can get away with it.

We did not begin that strongly in favour, but the sleaziness, vacuousness, blatant dishonesty and outright nastiness of the prominent No campaigners has convinced us as nothing else could. That toxic newt John Howard calling for people to “maintain the rage” is as revolting, and as idiotic, a command from an ex-PM as has ever been made. And they are all revolting. They are all lying. None of them believes a single nasty word they’re uttering. Except for Lidia Thorpe who is, instead, a dim-witted, narcissistic separatist. The entire No campaign has been disgusting, without a single ounce of rational thought or human decency. And so we have chosen to attack The Guardian.

Continue reading “The Guardian Objects to the University of Sydney’s Considered Voice”

UNSW Yells Bright and Not So Bright for the Voice

UNSW proudly claims to have been the first of the Go8 universities to declare support for the Voice to Parliament, and they’re now supporting the Voice with all lights blazing. This is a mistake, professionally and ethically. And, most importantly and least importantly, it is a strategic mistake. As a supporter of the Voice, it is sad and frustrating to see these guys stuffing up.

Continue reading “UNSW Yells Bright and Not So Bright for the Voice”

RatS 26: Taibbi – Are Authorities Using the Internet to Sap Our Instinct for Freedom?

Last week, Meta-Facebook-Instagram announced a program to combat “misinformation” during the referendum for the Voice to Parliament. This is a bad move, if for no other reason that it will be viewed, probably correctly, as the silencing of voices in order to support the Voice. The ironic anti-message will undoubtedly be clear to Voice sceptics. We had thought to write on this, but figured we’d already written enough on inappropriate Voice spruiking, and on the dangers of half-wit authorities declaring what is or is not misinformation.

M-F-I’s misinformation program is not just a bad move, however, for unintentionally screwing up the Yes guys on the Voice. M-F-I claims that their program is “contributing to democracy”, but there is a solid argument that they’re doing the exact opposite. Which brings us to Matt Taibbi. Again.

Continue reading “RatS 26: Taibbi – Are Authorities Using the Internet to Sap Our Instinct for Freedom?”

I Can See Clarely Now the Brain is Gone

Last week, the Federal Minister for Education, Jason Clare released Strong Beginnings, his remarkable report designed to shake up initial teacher education. We really want to write about the report but we have this old-fashioned idea of reading things before writing about them, and we simply haven’t had the time. We haven’t even had the time to read properly the many opinion pieces on Clare’s report.* So for now, making a couple quick points and directing readers to Greg Ashman will have to suffice. Continue reading “I Can See Clarely Now the Brain is Gone”

Squiggly Rick Bids Farewell to Squirrely Larry

We wrote about Larry Marshall last year, when it was reported that Larry had “opted not try to extend his role” as CSIRO Chief Executive, and was threatening to unleash his entrepreneurial powers upon the university sector. It turns out that Larry’s “step down” from CISRO may have involved a bit of a push.
Continue reading “Squiggly Rick Bids Farewell to Squirrely Larry”