Demonising gun owners: Persuasion versus putting on a show

The tragic mass shooting in a Texas church this past weekend has reignited the debate about America’s gun laws. Despite being inclined towards the libertarian position on many political issues, I’m not really that invested in the gun control debate. Firearm laws just aren’t a topic I normally have much interest in because there are other issues that matter more to me personally. Living in Australia, which has a different relationship to firearms than the US, I’m also wary of getting too involved in an argument with people for whom this stuff matters much more personally. As a private citizen in Australia, I presently have no interest in owning any guns. However I am capable of admiring the skill that goes into the design and […]

State of the Nation – Four Election Insights

You can not win an election unless there is an issue you are passionate about and are prepared to fight for.  – Gary Morgan. On Wednesday morning, I was fortunate to be able to attend the launch of the latest Roy Morgan State of the Nation report – election edition. The presentation explored the Australian political landscape, with a particular focus on the upcoming election, the issues of importance to voters, and the challenges for whoever forms the next government. My commentary below is based on the presentation, as well my notes in some of the other comments maybe by Gary Morgan and Michele Levine at the presentation. 1. It’s the economics at home that matter Forty-two  percent of Australians rate economic issues as the […]

The Big Switch: An Android user’s first week with an iPhone 6s

   Why did you get an iPhone? What do you think of it? Should I switch from Android to iPhone?  As a long time Android champion, these were the sort of surprised questions I started getting when I told people I’d made the switch to an iPhone 6s. Rather than fill Facebook with a series of unconnected posts, I thought I’d try and put my initial impressions in to a single blog post. So firstly, why did I jump ship? I have a confession to make. My decision to switch was at least partly based on novelty.  I’ve been pretty happy with the succession of  HTC ‘droids I’ve owned over the years. But I’m also someone who enjoys learning new things, and part of me […]

Fairfax ‘click bait’ does it no favours

   A lot of people like to hold out the Fairfax media as some sort of bastion of quality journalism. But if Fairfax is trying to carve a niche as the ‘quality’ news source, it might want to steer away from the sort of click bait journalism it engaged in today. Here’s the morning headline from the SMH, and a similar snapshot from the Canberra Times.      Now let’s hone in on that cancer story… CANCER RISK CONFRONTING MILLIONS A new report suggests almost one in three people may be affected. O. M. G.   One in three people affected. That sounds really really bad. But it says affected. That’s a bit of a give away that we might not be talking about your actual […]

Marriage Equality: The Greens’ choose power over principle. And where is GetUp! ?

When it comes to their power grab coalition with the LNP, The Greens just keep digging themselves a deeper hole, even misrepresenting the views of others to cover up their power-lust. But yesterday’s events should also raise questions about the commitment of GetUp! to its own principles. Senator Leyonhjelm showed in the Senate yesterday that when it came to choosing between their own marriage equality bill, and cementing their political power, the Greens preferred power. Rather than allow their own marriage equality bill to be properly debated, they’ve tried to save face by forcing it in to a one hour time slot Thursday. Senator Penny Wong sums up the farce nicely: “This is manifestly inadequate, and the Greens know it,” she said. “They take this position […]

Can you hear me Major Tom?

With David Bowie’s death, many people are sharing the connection they felt to the performer and his music. Though not a big follower of Bowie, there was one song that always made my chest tighten and my eyes swell. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to dream big. Throughout most of primary school, I wanted to fly the space shuttle. I started school in the year of the first shuttle flight, and was still relatively young when tragedy struck the Challenger mission. The toy box at my parents house probably still contains the die-cast metal space shuttle that I would fly on my simulated missions. I’ve no idea when I first heard ‘Space Oddity’, and for a long time I actually thought the song was […]

Scroll no further – there be dragons

This post marks the beginning of a new and hopefully reinvigorated life for  The Minimal State blog. If you happen to scroll past this point, you’ll be taking a bit of a leap back in time. There’s some interesting stuff covered in the old posts, but most of it is four or fives years old. If you’re looking for anything recent, don’t cross this line.  

Politicians and the God Complex: Voting for someone without all the answers

Would you vote for a politician who told you they didn’t have all the answers? After watching Tim Hartford’s TED Talk on ‘The God Complex’, perhaps you might be more willing to consider it. But if ‘trial and error’ is a better policy alternative, why isn’t it more popular with politicians? Tim Hartford argues that in our incredibly complex world, one has to have a God Complex to be ‘absolutely convinced’ they know how the world works. Likewise, someone who believes their particular solution to a problem is ‘infallibly right’ is kidding themselves. Hartford claims the best process for solving our problems is actually through trial and error. So when it comes to rolling out a nationwide policy, especially something long lasting and very expensive, […]

Terabyte Delight or Terror Byte?

I have a new post at TEX,  looking at the market buzz around terabyte broadband plans. The short version of my argument: whilst there are some users who consistently use  a terabyte or more, this is a lot more data than most currently need.  Anyway, the post  got picked up by the media, being covered by both ZDNet and IT News. ZD Net, Telstra Attacks Terabyte Fad IT News, Telstra says: Don’t take terabyte broadband bait

Attribution & Retribution in the age of Aurora and Stuxnet

This post is  inspired by my attendance at the Sydney session of the  McAfee Focus 2010 Security Seminar and recent discussions around the Stuxnet malware. At  McAfee’s  Focus 2010 Security Seminar, one of the more interesting sessions  was an analysis of Operation Arurora presented by McAfee’s head of Threat Research,  Dmitri Alperovitch.  Outside of  IT security circles, the name Operation Aurora probably doesn’t ring any bells.  But in January 2010,  the Aurora cyber-attack  was making headlines across the globe due to Google’s sensational claims it had been the victim of a security breach which had its origins in China. Google wasn’t the only company infiltrated.  A number of other US companies in industries such as finance, defence and technology, were also targeted. But it was […]