Go and buy all the boats. There’s one thing that an evil people smuggler needs, and that’s a boat to put his cargo on for the voyage towards Australia. So if I were in charge of trying to prevent this cruel trade, the first thing I would do would be take over the Indonesian used boat market. A well-spent billion dollars would surely mop up the supply of the barely seaworthy craft currently being used to ferry desperate people to Christmas Island. Let capitalism work. Price the smugglers out of the market. Then spend another billion to provide legitimate better paying jobs as fishermen for the crews now risking their own lives to be smugglers. I look forward to the Institute of Public Affairs promoting the idea.

I know nothing. I live in Canberra, but the last time I went to Parliament House it was years ago to see a goddaughter get a prize. No, I lie. A Liberal MP I very much admire had me over for lunch in the parliamentary dining room last year to chat about old times, but Liberal Senator Eric Abetz was at the next table, which kind of put a dampener on things.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I am not the possessor of any inside information about what is really going on within the Labor Party caucus and its leadership shenanigans. I know absolutely nothing secret.  I have spoken to no one who might actually vote. My guess that they will find a way to restore Kevin Rudd to the leadership is based on nothing more than a belief that in the end that self-preservation will prevail.

The Crikey Indicator. A lot of intra-day fluctuations over the long weekend but little change, really. Labor still has the job ahead of it.

This thing called peer review. It sounds so impressive, doesn’t it? “Peer review”. This article must be taken as gospel truth because it has undergone a rigorous evaluation by other experts in the field.

And then a non-scientist muggins like me comes across an article on the blog of Mike the mad biologist with the title “Maybe We Should Give Up on Peer Review and Just Dump Everything” in ArXiv, where he draws draws our attention back to a study years ago of how accurate peer review actually is.

Mike the mad biologist was moved to comment:

“Let’s leave aside the complete breakdown of any plagarism detection systems. If I did the probability theory right, the rejection of previously accepted papers is indistinguishable from the editors deciding to randomly accept papers with a twenty percent acceptance rate (with an acceptance rate of 20%, the probability of rejecting 9/9 papers is 13%, and the probability of rejecting 8/9 is 30%). I suppose the good news is that the study is too underpowered to detect a rejection rate definitively greater than would be expected randomly.

“At this point, the only purpose of peer review that I can see is weeding out much of the utter bullshit (though even that fails occasionally).

“Something Churchill said about the ‘worst of all possible systems’ comes to mind…

“Related post: If you think this is bad, read this post which describes how, at multiple journals, one reviewer claimed the results were impossible while the other claimed that ‘we already knew this.’”

News and views noted along the way

  • Top kelpie fetches $10,500 — “Tasmania-based breeder Matthew Johnson and buyers Paul and Jean Weeding from the Okehampton merino stud in Tasmania set another top price at the Casterton Working Dog auction.” [My thanks to Brian Loughnane for this item.]
  • Warming world: it’s time to give up the 2 degree target — “Limiting global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, as called for by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has become patently unrealistic. Political will is lacking, and emissions continue to increase. The target needs to be revised.”
  • Turkey’s class struggle — “Higher visibility for Islam is the inevitable result of more democracy in Muslim-majority countries.”
  • The quiet closing of Washington — “Conservative Republicans in our nation’s capital have managed to accomplish something they only dreamed of when Tea Partiers streamed into Congress at the start of 2011: They’ve basically shut Congress down. Their refusal to compromise is working just as they hoped: No jobs agenda. No budget. No grand bargain on the deficit. No background checks on guns. Nothing on climate change. No tax reform. No hike in the minimum wage. Nothing so far on immigration reform. “
  • Why don’t schools teach typing?
  • Costco CEO Craig Jelinek leads the cheapest, happiest company in the world
  • Looking it in the face — “Recently a reviewer complained that my new book of poems is much too preoccupied with death. He appeared to suggest that I ought to be more upbeat, dispensing serene wisdom in the autumn of my life, instead of reminding readers every chance I get of their mortality. Just you wait, I said to myself, till you reach my age and start going to funerals of your friends. Nobody warns us about that when we are young, and even if they ever did, it goes in one ear and out the other.”
  • Only children: lonely and selfish? — Children without siblings are more intelligent and more motivated.
  • The ghosts of Europe past — “The cheerleaders of the European Union like to think of it as an entirely new phenomenon, born of the horrors of two world wars. But in fact it closely resembles a formation that many Europeans thought they had long since left to the dustbin of history: the Holy Roman Empire, the political commonwealth under which the Germans lived for many hundreds of years.”
  • Like throwing a bowling ball at a battle ship” –“Audience Responses to Australian News Stories about Alcohol Pricing and Promotion Policies: A Qualitative Focus Group Study: