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Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: Tassie’s GDP lags behind rest of nation

No cause for alarm in the country as a whole from today’s GDP figures but things are surely looking crook down in Tasmania.

Tasmanian woes. No cause for alarm in the country as a whole from today’s GDP figures but things are surely looking crook down in my old home state. In seasonally adjusted terms, the national GDP increased 0.5% in the September quarter, with through the year GDP growth at 3.1%.

At the state level there are some very big variations. In seasonally adjusted terms the percentage change in state final demand from September last year to this for the Northern Territory was plus 26.7, and plus 9.6 for Western Australia. But poor old Tasmania lags well behind with an actual fall of 5.7.

So you believe in the opinion polls, do you. How refreshing to find an opinion pollster with a sense of humour. Public Policy Polling of the United States tossed in an extra question this month that makes me chuckle about the seriousness with which a lot of poll findings are taken by some of my journalist peers.

In a section dealing with the looming budget crisis PPP reports:

As much of an obsession as Bowles/Simpson [an actual Republican proposal] can be for the DC pundit class, most Americans don’t have an opinion about it: 23% support it, 16% oppose it, and 60% say they don’t have a take one way or the other.

The 39% of Americans with an opinion about Bowles/Simpson is only slightly higher than the 25% with one about Panetta/Burns, a mythical Clinton Chief of Staff/former western Republican Senator combo we conceived of to test how many people would say they had an opinion even about something that doesn’t exist.

Bowles/Simpson does have bipartisan support from the small swath of Americans with an opinion about it. Republicans support it 26/18, Democrats favor it 21/14, and independents are for it by a 24/18 margin. Panetta/Burns doesn’t fare as well with 8% support and 17% opposition.”

A loss to South Africa and now New Zealand! Confirmation that this is not a good week for Australian national pride comes from the international consultant group Mercer. In its annual survey of the world’s major cities NZ’s Auckland tops the Asia-Pacific quality of living ranking and ranks third on the worldwide list. The best we can manage is Sydney’s 13th.

When your mobile phone knows you are sad. Smartphones with emotional intelligence are on the way. Well, at least that’s what a team of engineers at the University of Rochester will be telling an IEEE Workshop on Spoken Language Technology today. As the press release announces:

The researchers will describe a new computer program that gauges human feelings through speech, with substantially greater accuracy than existing approaches. Surprisingly, the program doesn’t look at the meaning of the words. “We actually used recordings of actors reading out the date of the month — it really doesn’t matter what they say, it’s how they’re saying it that we’re interested in,” said Wendi Heinzelman, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Heinzelman explained that the program analyses 12 features of speech, such as pitch and volume, to identify one of six emotions from a sound recording. And it achieves 81% accuracy — a significant improvement on earlier studies that achieved only about 55% accuracy.

The research has already been used to develop a prototype of an app. The app displays either a happy or sad face after it records and analyzes the user’s voice.

Research for the wowsers to attack. Don’t you just hate it how the anti-alcohol lot jump up and down with annoyance every time some scientist somewhere finds something good happens when you drink wine? Well regular imbibers like me do anyway so I’m going to enjoy the reports of some recent research from researchers at the University of Leicester until the wowsers begin their attack on it.

The good news from the Leicester researchers is that, using laboratory models, they have found that a daily amount of resversatrol, a natural ingredient in wine, equivalent to two glasses can halve the rate of bowel tumours. Work will soon begin on taking the findings from the lab to the next stage by carrying out clinical trials to find the optimum level of resveratrol in humans.

News and views noted along the way.

2
  • 1
    Mike Smith
    Posted Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    The wowsers hate it when you point out that their ‘research’ confuses correlation and causation, too. :^)

  • 2
    Jim Moore
    Posted Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    So you’re going to drink wine because it’s good for you now? Isn’t the fact that it tastes good and dulls your feelings of low self-esteem enough?

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