Monday, September 07, 2015

Australian senators Keep Hammering the Great Wind Power Fraud

Following almost 6 months of solid graft, 8 hearings in 4 States and the ACT, dozens of witnesses and almost 500 submissions, the Senate Inquiry into the great wind power fraud delivered its ‘doorstop’ final report, which runs to some 350 pages – available here: Senate Report

The first 200 pages are filled with facts, clarity, common sense and compassion; the balance, labelled “Labor’s dissenting report”, was written by the wind industry’s parasites and spruikers – including the Clean Energy Council (these days a front for Infigen aka Babcock & Brown); theAustralian Wind Alliance; and Leigh Ewbank from the Enemies of the Earth.

Predictably, Labor’s dissenting report is filled with fantasy, fallacy and fiction – pumping up the ‘wonders’ of wind; completely ignoring the cost of the single greatest subsidy rort in the history of the Commonwealth; and treating the wind industry’s hundreds of unnecessary victims – of incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound – with the kind of malice, usually reserved for sworn and bitter foreign enemies.

And the wind industry’s stooge on the Inquiry, Anne Urquhart – is still out their fighting a faltering, rearguard action – long after the battle for wind power supremacy was lost – a bit like the tales of ragged, 80 year old Japanese soldiers that kept fighting the Imperial War, until they were dragged out of the jungle and into the 21st Century. Nevermind the facts, when delusion will do!

Among those Senators on the Committee – who pulled no punches in getting the truth out – were Liberal Senator from WA, Chris Back and STT Champion, Liberal Democratic Party Senator, David Leyonhjelm from NSW.

While the wind industry and its parasites have been praying to the Wind-Gods that the whole thing might just ‘blow over’, those Senators on the Inquiry – not in thrall of Infigen, Vestas & Co – are still in there fighting for a fair-go for rural communities, across the Country; and power consumers, everywhere.

Always pleased to disappoint the beleaguered and dwindling band of wind worshippers in this country, STT is delighted that Chris Back and David Leyonhjelm show no sign of letting up.


Blatant bias, as ABC bans Tony Abbott — at his own literary awards

Note that Abbott is himself an author

The ABC has used its editorial independence charter as a ­reason for refusing to broadcast live a literary speech by Tony Abbott — at the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

The broadcaster was unwilling to air Mr Abbott’s speech at the awards, one of the nation’s richest literary events, and yet was happy to allow the prize-winning authors to speak live and unedited.

Australian Publishers Association president Louise Adler, the event’s organiser, has revealed that negotiations with the ABC broke down irreconcilably last year because the broadcaster was unwilling to show Mr ­Abbott’s speech.

“The ABC refused to broadcast the PM’s speech, which was going to be about seven minutes,” Ms Adler told The Weekend Australian.

“What was puzzling was the ABC’s willingness to broadcast unedited the prize-winning ­writers’ speeches but not the Prime Minister of the day.

“What if a writer had said something defamatory? One can’t but deduce that the national broadcaster was making a political judgment rather than an editorial judgment.”

The ABC’s stance stands in contrast to the corporation’s willingness to give convicted criminal and terrorist sympathiser Zaky Mallah a national platform on its Q&A show.


Victorian MP staff hiring change stalled

A PLAN to change how Victorian political parties can hire staff has stalled after claims Labor's taxpayer-funded workers ran election campaigns.

POLITICIANS have been allowed to pool some electorate staff to help with parliamentary work since the 1990s, but three Labor MPs say their staff were actually used to run Labor's Community Action Network.

Their claims have derailed a plan already in train to simplify electoral entitlements and make electorate offices safer.

It's understood PriceWaterhouseCoopers recommended electorate offices should always have two staff for health and safety purposes.

Instead, MPs will be able to contribute a capped portion of their printing and other allowances budget to the party to hire extra staff.

But that's on hold while the two parliamentary speakers decide how to investigate Labor.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy asked Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass to investigate whether Labor used electorate staff to run campaigns.

"You can't use these staff in office times for anything else except working for those members," Mr Guy told reporters on Thursday.

"If you are a member in Ballarat and you send your staff to campaign in Bentleigh, clearly there is a problem."

A spokesman for the ombudsman had no comment.

Premier Daniel Andrews maintains his party followed the rules, but on Thursday he would not answer direct questions about whether electorate staff were working for Labor's Community Action Network.

"We're not going to go round and round. Yesterday I was very clear, I'm answering your question very directly - there are rules and the rules have been followed," Mr Andrews told reporters.

The premier said Labor followed the rules for pooling electorate staff.

Upper house president Bruce Atkinson and lower house speaker Telmo Languiller are deciding how they will investigate Labor's electorate staffing arrangements.

The Liberal Party has not used staff pooling arrangements since 2006.

"The people who are paid for by the parliament are there to support members of parliament in the parliamentary duties, and to support and assist constituents," Mr Atkinson told the upper house on Wednesday.

"They are not there for political campaigning."


A gaggle of lame ducks

PROMPTED by Twitter twaddle and the indistinguishable and mendacious ramblings of The Sydney Morning Herald, a ­dishevelled group of protesters milled outside The Daily ­Telegraph ­office on Sunday.

Some members of the mob wore T-shirts with boringly familiar abusive slogans, a pair wore the emblems of the Teachers ­Federation, there were grubby representatives of the Socialist Alternative, and while one or two defaced the pavement with chalked slogans, others vowed to smash homophobia or demanded equal marriage — now. There was an anti-shark cull protester and someone against ­racism, but the overall picture was of a confused and unappealing ­inchoate rabble. Their loose bond, apparently, was to offer political support for the campaign for homosexual marriage.

The protest was triggered by NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli’s sluggish enforcement of his own department’s regulations against political propaganda being forced upon school students following protests from parents against a decision by the principal of Burwood Girls High to cancel two class periods for a mandatory screening of a documentary called Gayby Baby on homosexual ­unions which was calculated to promote the campaign for ­homosexual marriage.

The SMH has persisted in publishing the lie promulgated by both the school and the department that no complaints against the screening were lodged.

Yesterday, a departmental spokesman confirmed in writing that “Burwood Girls High ... has received and continues to receive … complaints,” while the school “informed the department late on Thursday, August 27, that they had received a small number of complaints from parents in relation to their planned screening of the Gayby Baby documentary”.

If the gathering who mustered in Surry Hills represented Herald readers or those in favour of perverting the traditional definition of marriage, it is easy to understand why so many stayed away.


Educationalists: teaching bad ideas

Teachers are starting to fight back against the biases of educationalists

Back in 2012, I attended a conference in Sydney about school improvement. Although the speakers were there to talk about a diverse range of topics, many took the chance to disparage ‘transmission teaching’, where the teacher stands at the front and talks to the class. They knew that their audience would welcome this view.

Such a scene encapsulates much of what is wrong in the strange bubble of education conferences. Educators often talk to themselves. They give a nod and a wink to each other to signal their alignment with values that are not necessarily shared by members of the general public or even other teachers. While real policy decisions are made by government ministers outside of the education establishment, this does nothing to puncture the groupthink; educationalists merely characterise such decisions as coming from know-nothing, philistine politicians who impose their views on experienced professionals.

It might make sense for educationalists to be so dismissive of policymakers if the processes of education were grounded in strong evidence, as they are in medical practice. However, a lot of what is pursued by educationalists actually flies in the face of the evidence. For instance, on the issue of using phonics to teach children to read, there are three national reports from the UK, US and Australia which all support the largely common-sense view that learning to read by sounding-out words works. Yet influential educationalists still express scepticism, and it seems that teachers are still not trained effectively in phonics.

Transmission teaching, to which the education establishment is so opposed, is basically what most people think of as ‘teaching’. A teacher will stand at the front of a class, explain some concept or new bit of terminology, and then ask the students some questions about the new concept or term to see if they have understood it. This offends the sensibilities of those who don’t like the idea of teachers being sources of authority and would prefer pupils to ‘construct’ their own knowledge.

Countless studies comparing transmission teaching with constructivist approaches find in favour of transmission teaching. Again, this is simply common sense. Instead of letting children flounder and make the same mistakes generations of children have made before them, a skilled teacher can pre-empt these problems, focus students on more fruitful avenues and explain why in the process.

But this is not what teachers are encouraged to do. In an influential book for the National Academies Press in the US, the constructivist position is explained in terms of the children’s book Fish is Fish. In the story, a frog visits the land, and then returns to the water to explain to his fish friend what the land is like. You can see the thought bubbles emanating from the fish as the frog talks. When the frog describes birds, the fish imagines fish with wings, and so on. The implication is that we cannot understand anything that we have not seen for ourselves; each individual has to discover the world anew.

If this were true then there would be no point in books, because it would not be possible to communicate ideas through words. There would be no point in magazines or the internet, and no point in education conferences. A large part of what many educationalists believe to be best practice can be easily falsified by everyday experience.

Educationalists’ fondness for therapeutic approaches to education is also undermining good teaching methods. Yes, teaching pupils directly – giving them strong and clear instructions and guidance – might be a more effective way of getting them to pass exams, so the argument goes, but what of developing students’ character? If we allow students to work out how to solve problems on their own, they say, then we will help them build their resilience. In short, we are asked to accept the logic that we should teach children badly in order to prepare them for life’s frustrations. Sadly, it seems that UK education secretary Nicky Morgan has bought into the idea that schools should help build children’s characters.

However, the education world is changing. Teachers are starting to ask questions using social media, blogs and even through their own conferences. One notable success has already been chalked-up by the blogger Andrew Old, who forced a change of tack from the Ofsted, the English schools inspectorate. Ofsted had been effectively enforcing constructivist methods on teachers by criticising them for talking to their students or for not organising enough group work. Old assiduously collected the evidence of this on his blog, forcing Ofsted to issue new guidance to inspectors.

Frustrated politicians of all stripes are unleashing unprecedented disruption on education systems by creating new kinds of schools and new ways for teachers to qualify. It is sad that it has come to this, but educationalists who have ignored evidence in favour of ideology for such a long time will finally have to reckon with the unleashing of teacher-led critique.


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