The ditch is getting deeper. The difference between a conservative government in New Zealand and a supposedly socially progressive one in Australia just got more apparent. Yesterday New Zealand legalised gay marriage. Both our Prime Minister and Opposition Leader continue to oppose such a change. Shame on them both.

The question he should have asked. Robin Day was the BBC interviewer par excellence. Margaret Thatcher the politician without peer when it came to ignoring the hard-hitting question and just saying what she wanted. The working relationship between the pair was the source of this wonderful reminiscence during the British broadcaster’s coverage of yesterday’s funeral.

A  colleague remembered how, after one rather frustrating attempt at rigorous interrogation, Robin Day decided this was how he should have begun the interview:

“Prime Minister, what’s your answer to my first question?”

Not a bad place to live. Yet another of those international rankings of good and bad countries. Yet another finish near the top for Australia. This time it’s the Economist Intelligence Unit with what it calls a Democracy Index.

News and views noted along the way.

  • Two people described the same person to a forensic artist and this is what happened — “Chances are, you’ll take a second look in the mirror after you watch this. Or maybe you’ll just ditch your mirror altogether. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
  • How the IMF became the friend who wants us to work less and drink more
  • Central bankers say they are flying blind — “Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, the former member of the European Central Bank’s executive board, captured the mood at the IMF’s spring meeting, saying: ‘We don’t fully understand what is happening in advanced economies.'”
  • Online education trumps the cost disease — “In a large, randomized experiment Bowen et al. found that students enrolled in an online/hybrid statistics course learned just as much as those taking a traditional class … Perhaps even more importantly, Bowen et al. found that the online model was significantly less costly than the traditional model, some 36% to 57% less costly to produce than a course using a traditional lecture format. In other words, since outcomes were the same, online education increased productivity by 56% to 133%! Online education trumps the cost disease!”
  • Serious threat to Asian economic model — “… the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a trade and investment treaty involving the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Peru, Chile, Australia and New Zealand … contains an important section on State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), championed by the U.S. and Australia. The TPPA drafts are secret, so the text of the SOE section is not known. However, it can be anticipated that the section will contain disciplines to curb and shape the behaviour of three types of SOEs.
  • Coffee and qahwa: How a drink for Arab mystics went global
  •  WHO says no poultry contact in some China bird flu cases — “According to a Reuters analysis of the infections, based on state media reports, only 10 of the 77 cases as of Tuesday have had contact with poultry.”
  • The world’s three-speed economic recovery — “Emerging market and developing economies are still going strong, but in advanced economies, there appears to be a growing bifurcation between the United States on the one hand, and the Euro area on the other.”
  • Syria crisis: Bashar al-Assad says West will ‘pay price’ — “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the West will pay a high price for what he described as its support for al-Qaeda in his country’s conflict. In a TV interview, Mr Assad compared the situation to US support for Islamists in Afghanistan leading to the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”