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Mumbai police have found nothing in newspaper reports, or in video of a meeting between a fake sheik and Rafiq Qureshi, to suggest he was trying to sell his daughter, Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali.

There never was anything to this.

The real story should be how a shonky News Of The World journalist lured Rubina Ali’s father to a luxury hotel after telling him he was a wealthy sheik who had been moved by her story and wanted to meet her. He then offered the father money for Robina. The father declined and left.  Not interesting enough for News Of The World.

Look at the photo in the story. Robina does not look like a little girl whose family is in the middle of negotiations for her sale.

What is disturbing about this is the willingness of News Of The World readers (and apparently lots of others) to believe that ‘foreign’ parents don’t really care about their children, and are quite happy to sell them to strangers as long as the price is right.

Oh.  My mistake.

That was another Hitler birthday event.

These dual blade saws look pretty cool – powerful and precise.

When you see it in action, the dual saw seems such a great idea you wonder why no one thought of it before.

They don’t seem to be available in Australia yet. Damn.

I watched Phelim McAleer’s documentary ‘Mine Your Own Business’ again last night.

It is difficult to watch and not feel angry at the easy complacency of western environmentalists who, from the comfort of their air-conditioned homes, tell people in the developing world that their way of life is quaint and worth preserving, and that even though they cannot afford basic medical care, or to feed their children, they are rich in other ways.

A bit like our own Russell Crowe, who knows far better than the people of Cape York and the government of Queensland what is really good for people in remote regions of Australia. In Russell’s view, it isn’t job opportunities, better housing or decent roads, or any of the things he takes for granted and would throw a massive trantum if he was deprived of for even a few minutes. No, none of those things matter when you have a spiritual connection to the land. What contemptible tripe.

A few excerpts from a review of Mine Your Own Business:

Half a world away, when confronted with the argument that denying the people of Fort Dauphin a chance to obtain jobs would keep them poor, the leading critic of the ilmenite project and the owner of a luxurious catamaran pontificates to Gheorghe Lucian, an unemployed Romanian traveling with the film’s crew: “I could put you with a family here and you can count how many times people smile … and I can put you with a family that is well-off in New York and London and you can count how many times they smile, and then you can tell me who is rich and who is poor.”

You can imagine what this esoteric interpretation of wealth sounds like to Lucian, the Romanian who graduated from Rosia Montana’s Technical College and is desperate to find a job. Two-thirds of his fellow villagers lack running water and use outside bathrooms even in freezing winter. For him, as for the other 700 prospective employees of the mining project back home, the choice is literally “between having a job and leaving.”

The film crew also traveled to the Chilean Andes to find out who was leading the fight against Barrick Gold. It turns out—as one local villager explains—that those who oppose the investment are mainly rich landowners who don’t want the peasants working on their lands for a pittance to flock to the mines for twice their current wages.

McAleer tells us that the claim the mining project will displace three glaciers that provide irrigation for local agriculture is false. The glaciers will not be affected and the company will build a reservoir to guarantee that local farmers have a decent supply of water.

Will this industrial progress in Romania, Madagascar or Chile pollute the environment? Well, the alternative is much worse. Communist-era gold mining, which was technologically backward, bureaucratic and unaccountable, turned Rosia Montana’s river into disgusting filth. In Madagascar’s Fort Dauphin, slash-and-burn agriculture—the sort the rural poor resort to in order to survive—has destroyed the rain forest.

As one of the people interviewed in the documentary points out, it is wealthy, well developed societies which are able to divert funds and energy into conservation. Wealth and development are not just good for people, but also for the environment.

And anyway, who are we to tell people whose children are starving that they cannot have jobs and industrial development because we would rather their cute lifestyle and pretty village stayed exactly as it is?

1.  It’s raining on Kangaroo Island. I realise this may not be much of a cause for celebration for you, but it is for me!

Most communities on KI have no mains water. We rely entirely on rain water we catch and store at home. Rains usually come in April, and here they are. Just in time, too – the tanks are nearly empty. Yay!

2.  Kevin Rudd is not a nice person. No one, let alone a Christian, who should have some idea of what hell is, should ever wish another human being to rot in hell.

I am sure people smugglers do not think they are ‘the scum of the earth.’ From their point of view, for very little return, and at considerable risk to themselves, they try to help people find new hope in a new country.

I imagine they think that ‘the scum of the earth’ is a title better reserved for politicians who try to give the impression that they are more caring, more welcoming and will be nicer to anyone who arrives in Australia, when they have no intention of being nicer to anyone, and the end result is more suffering for everyone.

3.  Comments are not displaying correctly. We are working to fix this.

I have had two computers in today which were infected with the dreaded Conficker Worm. This was the first time I had seen it in the wild.

You can download a free Conficker (sometimes called Downadup) removal tool from Sunbelt Software, makers of the superb Vipre Anti Virus/Anti Spyware.

If you keep your computer up to date with Windows updates you should be safe. If you are already infected, Conficker will stop you accessing Windows update, and possibly other security sites. It may also stop you transfering files from CDs, DVDs or Flash drives to your computer.

If you find you are unable to access certain websites, including Windows updates, download and run the Conficker removal tool. If your computer won’t let you download the tool, take a flash drive you have not used in your computer (because otherwise you may infect any computer you plug it into), and go a friend’s house or wherever you can get internet access.

Download and save the SSClean.exe file, and take it back to your place. Run the SSClean program from the flash drive. If you are infected you will get a message saying you need to restart and scan again. Do so.

You should now be able to download and run any Windows updates. Then run a full virus scan with your normal anti-virus. Then run SSClean again.

That’s the fifth boat in a fortnight, the forteenth since the federal Labor government made changes to immigration policy last September.

No doubt we will soon be hearing repeats of the ‘Jesus was a refugee‘ motto, with the implication that anyone who questions the instant acceptance into Australian society of anyone who turns up must therefore be unchristian and uncaring. Because if you turn anyone away, then you would have turned Jesus away.

It’s all very well wanting to appear compassionate. And if appearance is all you care about, then sure, let’s just take anyone who has the money or other means to push their way to our shores.

But the fact is we cannot take everyone who would like to come. We don’t have the water, we don’t have the infrastructure to take a large proportion of all the refugees in the world, certainly not in a short period of time, and equally certainly not without careful planning.

And the wish of others to come has to be balanced against the right of those already here to be protected from people would would bring to Australia the violence or intolerance or whatever it is they want to escape from in their homeland.

In other words, we have to be selective. We should be generous. If we want to continue to be able to be generous, we must also be careful about how many, and who, come to Australia.

Those who appear in Australian waters uninvited may not be, and probably are not, the most needy or deserving. They are simply those who have the money or other means to try to shortcut a system of review that is designed to find and help those most in need of help. In the case of the last few boats, the people on them had already travelled half way around the world, and through at least half a dozen countries to get here.

A truly compassionate approach will do everything reasonably possible to discourage illegal immigration, because the need to shelter, feed and process illegal immigrants, and to provide them and their children with medical care and education, all takes money and resources that could be spent finding and welcoming people who do not have the resources to push their way to the head of the queue.

As I have noted before, the result of the Labor government’s wanting to appear compassionate is actually more suffering, both for those who come expecting a softer welcome and are turned away, and for those who wait in refugee camps around the world, and will have to wait longer because resources that could have gone to preparing them to come to Australia must instead be utilised supervising queue jumpers.

The questions at the end of the article on NAPLAN testing (a few posts below) were selected from those close to the end of the paper. They are among the harder questions

Question One.

Each person gets two votes. So there will be twice as many votes as people. Add up the number of votes shown by each bar in the graph to get a total number of votes. Divide that total by two. There are twenty-six votes, so there are thirteen people in the club.

Question Two.

I had to stop and think about this one. There are two unknown factors of 96. One factor divided by the other = six. So (at least) one of the two factors is divisible by six.

The next step, unless you are very brainy, is to write down the six times table: 1×6=6,2×6=12, 3×6=18, 4×6=24. We can stop there, because 4×24=96. So we know 4 and 24 are the two mystery factors.

We can check by remembering that the problem tells us their product is 96, and that one divided by the other is 6. 24 x 4 = 96. 24 divided by 4 is 6.

Question 3.

Total weight lifted = 26kgs. The bar weighs 4kgs. So the total amount of weights to be added to the bar is 22kgs. Divide this by two to get the amount to put on each side = 11kgs.

Of the weights shown, what combination will make 11kgs? Three 2kg weights, and one 5kg weight. So to show the total number of weights used, you would shade six 2kg weights, and two 5kg weights.

These questions are not easy – but why should they be? Most of the questions, like problems one and three in my examples, involve  commonplace, real life applications of maths skills.

I won’t wish students and teachers good luck. Too much everyday success or failure is blamed on luck or the lack of it.

With good teaching and conscientious study, you don’t need good luck.

Scientists at the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland have found an earth-like planet orbiting the red dwarf start Gliese, about 20 light years away. The planet’s gravity is too high to support life in forms similar to those of living things on Earth.

But the estimated average temperature of the planet is 0-40 degrees Celsius. This means that most of the water on the planet will be in liquid form.

On Earth, anywhere there is liquid water, there is life.  So the chances are very good indeed that some sort of life exists on the newly discovered planet.

Let’s go say hello!

1. Don’t install Apple’s Bonjour programme.

Bonjour is meant to simplify network setup and connectivity between your computer and ‘smart’ devices. In fact Windows handles network setup perfectly well, and Bonjour simply adds another layer of complication. In some cases it will stop internet access completely. If you are running Vista and install service pack 2 (still at RC stage), and then find you have no internet access, Bonjour is almost certainly the cause.

Google lists about 1.5 milion pages if you search under Bonjour problems. One of those problems is that it installs itself on your system without your permission. That’s just rude.

Check to see whether it is installed on your computer. If it is, uninstall it.

2. Don’t install Magentic wallpapers or screensavers.

You may be offered these, or already have them, if you use (why?) Incredimail.  They look pretty, but can cause a number of problems, including making Internet Explorer pop up a difficult to get rid of blank page whenever the screensaver kicks in.

3. If you use Office 2007 and have lost or cannot see the ribbon, right click on the menu bar and uncheck ‘Minimize the Ribbon.’

This from the current edition of The Professional Edge, the journal of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geo-Scientists of Saskatchewan. This links to a PDF file. See from page ten on.

A couple of excerpts:

Add a dash of guilt and fear of the apocalypse, and how can the citizenry resist the call to “save the planet”? But when you stop and think about it, the apocalyptic predictions don’t quite make sense scientifically…

Therefore the suspicions of any scientist should be aroused by glib assertions like “the science is settled” or “there is a consensus,” because this is not how scientists and engineers operate. Al Gore’s movie and books are so appallingly riddled with mistakes and outlandish exaggerations that they would be laughable if they weren’t taken so seriously by so many…

There has grown a whole industry of  taxpayer-funded climate modellers whose equations can’t reproduce last week’s weather let alone past climate change at all, but whose crystal balls universally forecast impending disaster (and of course the urgent need for more research money)…

Why haven’t physicists pointed out the basic mistakes in the science? Why haven’t more geoscientists stood up to correct the misconceptions about natural, long-term climate change?

Via Small Dead Animals

The U.N. Durban II (Geneva) conference for racism and anti-semitism was planned and organised by the world’s worst perpetrators of racism and human rights abuses. A representative of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi, Mrs. Najjat al-Hajjaji, has chaired the Durban II Preparatory Committee for the past two years, and at the beginning of the conference was elected chair of the Durban II Main Committee.

The rank hypocrisy of Durban II was exposed before the world this week when UN Watch surprised the Libyan chair — by bringing a victim of Qaddafi torture to confront her on Libya’s brutal torture and scapegoating of five Bulgairan nurses and a Palestinian doctor.

From UN Watch – this links to the video.

Teachers are preparing their year 3, 5, 7 and 9 students for the National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy tests which will take place around Australia from the 12th to the 19th of May.

This national testing scheme was introduced last year. The idea is that it gives students, teachers and parents an objective way to compare their school’s, and individual children’s, level of knowledge and skill with others around the country. This makes it easier to identify particular schools and children who need more support.

It may also help in identifying teachers who are underperforming, so naturally the AEU (Australian Education Union) doesn’t like it.

One of the criticisms was that the tests were unrealistically hard.

I was able obtain copies of last year’s tests. There was some spelling in the literacy tests, but the greatest emphasis seemed to be on students’ ability to interpret a variety of common texts: recipes, a newspaper cutting, a short story.

The literacy tests seemed fair for their year level. They required an ability to think about the meaning of ordinary texts, and to apply that knowledge. Generally single word answers were required, and these were either right or wrong – making the test easy to mark, and providing a straightforward objective result.

This is exactly what parents want. They want clear, objective information that shows what their child has learned, and how his or her performance compares with that of other students in their own community and nationally.

The numeracy tests were also good in terms of design, and questions were appropriate for the year level they were testing.

I have run a number of quiz nights for various organisations over the years. In each bracket of ten questions I will put a couple which any dimwit should be able to answer. Then there will be five or six which you might confidently expect someone in a group of six or eight adults to know.  Then there will be two or three which will test even an intelligent and well-read person

The NAPLAN tests seemed to be organised in much the same way. At each year level there were some questions which any student with half a brain should have been able to answer. Most of the other questions were solvable with a bit of thought by an average student. And a few were required some deeper knowledge or thought.

I have copied three (out of 45) questions below from the year five (11 year olds) numeracy test. I’ll post answers and explanations a little later. Enjoy!

NAPLAN Numeracy Problem 1

NAPLAN Numeracy Problem 1


NAPLAN Numeracy Problem 2

NAPLAN Numeracy Problem 2


NAPLAN Numeracy Problem 3

NAPLAN Numeracy Problem 3

No they didn’t. They said hundreds of millions would be hurt by climate change.

It is true that lots of people are hurt each year in natural disasters. But apart from increased casualties caused by more densely concentrated populations, there is no reason to believe that there are more ‘climate’ disasters than ever before.

The claim is that a warmer world means more hurricanes and major storm disasters. It doesn’t. Models of climate change which assume anthopogenic warming say the poles will warm more than the tropics. Major weather is driven by the difference in temperature between the tropics and poles. That difference decreases when the poles get warmer. This should result in not more, but fewer, major storms.

But in any case the world has been cooling for the last ten years and the net change in global temperature over the last century is now approximately zero.

No one is going to be hurt by man-made climate change.

People are going to be hurt if industrialised nations deny developing countries the opportunity to build power stations and major industries because of ‘climate concerns.’

So yes, unless world leaders really begin to look at the evidence, and base environmental and development policies on that evidence, then hundreds of millions will be hurt by stupidity.

Queensland commuters may get free rides on trains, buses and ferries if they travel at off-peak times, says Qld Minister for Transport Rachel Nolan.

This is being considered because public transport is overloaded at peak hours and under-utilised at other times.

What made that news story of interest to me was that Rachel Nolan noted that the state government subsidises the cost of public transport by $3-$4 for every dollar spent by commuters. I guess the figure would be similar in other states.

In other words, if someone pays a dollar for his or her train fare, the taxpayer pays another $3-$4. Every time.

I’d like to know that there has been some sort of evidence based, not just wishful thinking based, study that shows that this level of subsidy for public transport is a reasonable and cost effective investment. In other words, that the benefits to the wider community outweigh the cost, and that tax payers would not be better off if this money was spent somewhere else.

If that is the case, then I don’t mind paying for other people’s bus tickets.