Wasting time on grants. The article “Funding: Australia’s grant system wastes time in Nature this week is unfortunately behind a paywall, but the published abstract gets the message across:

“We found that scientists in Australia spent more than five centuries’ worth of time preparing research-grant proposals for consideration by the largest funding scheme of 2012. Because just 20.5% of these applications were successful, the equivalent of some four centuries of effort returned no immediate benefit to researchers and wasted …”

A Canadian role reversal. Different political strokes for different political folks. In Australia government ministers get stuck into banks for not lowering lending rates enough. In Canada they are lambasting banks for lowering them.

Reports the Globe and Mail:

“Flaherty made no apologies for his intervention. He insisted he was acting to protect consumers.

‘My concern for a number of years with very low mortgage rates is to ensure people can afford their mortgages when interest rates go up,’ he said.

‘It’s a concern for the Canadian people that they are careful and that they don’t assume the very low interest rates like we have now will continue indefinitely because they won’t. Inevitably, interest rates will go up.’

On the one hand, this … on the other, that. A certain caution among many of the political tipsters this morning as the decision hour for this Labor leadership race approaches the finishing line. A fear of being proved wrong competed with a desire to claim being right. It resulted in some confusing coverage that was perhaps best illustrated by the Melbourne Age.

In the great tabloid tradition the one subject dominated page one. The headline had the Rudd forces gathering for a leadership tilt alongside a more sober commentary listing the good reasons why nothing would happen. A wonderful way of telling the readers absolutely nothing.

Up north, Townsville’s Bulletin made a bold effort to become Crikey‘s Leadership Beat-Up of the Day award winner, but I fancy there was more interest in the giant rat featured on page 12 than the Kevin Rudd on the front.

A quotation for the day from Dennis Atkins in the Courier Mail:

“There’s an old law of politics that’s brutally simple: if you’ve got the numbers, use them; if you haven’t, talk about using them.”

One for the NT News foreign news page. London’s Daily Telegraph reports a seven-foot-long alligator is on the loose in the south of Spain. The reptile is thought to be somewhere near the exclusive neighbourhood of La Madeira and was spotted near man-made lakes in the popular tourist region Mijas.

News and views noted along the way.

  • Cyprus is different — “A tax on deposits is logical given the limited options, but guaranteed deposits should be spared on fairness and systematic grounds; a 15% tax on big deposits would be enough. Contagion is unlikely since Cyprus is different. Italian and Spanish savers are already alert to surprises such as the 1992 Italian bank deposit tax.”
  • Lesson of JPMorgan’s whale trade: nothing was learned
  • ‘Assad must go’ is the wrong solution — “The West insists that for any negotiations on an end to the Syrian civil war to happen, President Bashar Assad must first step down. The demand is fatal and only prolongs the bloodletting, allowing Syria to slip into anarchy while radical Islamists slowly hijack the revolution.”
  • Monarch in the middle — “Amid the social and political transformations reshaping the Middle East, can King Abdullah II, the region’s most pro-American Arab leader, liberalize Jordan, modernize its economy, and save his kingdom from capture by Islamist radicals?”
  • What’s TV’s problem with theatre? — “Once upon a time, Ibsen and Chekhov were primetime fare. So why is theatre never on TV any more? Broadcasters are missing a trick.”
  • The most expensive fighter jet ever built, by the numbers