Out with the old…

… in with the same old story.

You’ll have to pardon me if I’m somewhat cynical about government, newly elected in a historical landslide, coming in and saying there’s a $4.5 billion dollar “hole” in the budget not revealed by the previous administration, and that means all our policies have to be “reviewed”.

It sounds like the perfect excuse to abuse the broad mandate handed to the incoming government. The spin is already revving up – the “hole” is over forward projections:

In December the half-yearly review of the budget forecast a surplus of $432 million for 2012-13 and $129 million in 2013-14 (see report, page 4).

However, yesterday’s briefings revealed the updated prediction is for a deficit of $405 million in 2012-13, which is forecast to rise to $1.2 billion in 2013-14.

The Treasury briefings show that by 2014-15, the budget will have fallen $2.4 billion into deficit. However, this is beyond the scope of the forward estimates, which only run to 2013-14.

The government reached its $4.5 billion figure by adding up the forecast deficits between 2012-13 and 2014-15.

And further to this is the obsession with a AAA credit rating, for which they say we don’t want to threaten by borrowing. What’s the point of a credit rating if you don’t use that credit?

Labour was full of incompetent fools, but let it not be said that the Coalition is not above petty old politicking.

the daily column

Tim Bray on Blogging

This article prompted me to remember that I had a neglected blog:

Blogging is Healthy: It’s no longer the white-hot center of controversy it was in 2005; now it’s part of the establishment, and if you look at the numbers from the popular platform providers like WordPress and Blogger, still growing quite nicely thank you.

Freshness Matters: When you don’t update a blog, it gets stale fast. The natural tendency of the human mind to favor what’s fresh is reinforced by search engines leaning the same way.

Write For Yourself: Don’t try to guess what people want to read; you’re the only person whose interests you really understand. In particular, don’t thrash around trying to appeal to a larger audience; the only surefire way is pictures of celebrity breasts, and the world already has enough.

… so maybe just the occasional kick in the pants to remind me that this exists as a place to mind dump is worthwhile.

review tech


Call me fickle, but just about a year ago, I was looking at the ebook-e-reader market and thinking that it was a waste of time, that paper books were here to stay for years yet and that it was far too expensive. Who in their right mind would pay $300 – $400 just for the reader, and then more for the damn books to read on it? Up until January, my only exposure to reading electronic books had been the Stanza app on the iPhone, and while it worked for reading short passages, it was woefully inadequate for full novels.

Of course, a year is a long time in technology, none more so than 2010.

First, the iPad came along, and I flip-flopped on the idea of buying that before finally caving. Initially I used it for games, videos, and all manner of internet browsing, before finally deciding to take it along with me on my daily commute. On the train, all those options were off the table – so I tried out iBooks, and found it amazingly readable.

A pity then the iBooks bookstore is so overpriced, none more so than in Australia – paying more for a digital edition is just about the biggest rip-off I’ve heard of. There were some classics for me to catch up on, and I managed to churn through quite a few. There’s only so much archaic 19th century prose you can read before getting a little weary of it, and so I tired of it.

And then came the Kindle…

When the Kindle shows up in the post, you almost think there’s been a mistake. The box weighs more than the device, and seems absurdly oversized. When I say this thing is thin and light, there’s absolutely no kidding – it’s hardly thicker than 20 pages of a typical novel, and so easily held in one hand with its lightness. Turn it sideways, and it’s virtually gone.