29 November 2008

Kevin 747

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been getting carried away with his foreign policy fantasies at the expense of Australia's future.

Mr Rudd never misses an opportunity to be photographed with the world's economic and political heavyweights. Notwithstanding the current global challenges, there is no justification for spending 59 days overseas within the first year of taking office. John Howard, in contrast, spent just 18 days overseas in his first year as Prime Minister.

Year Month         Day   Location                  Nights Source
2007 December     8 – 16 East Timor and Indonesia     8     1
2007 December    20 – 24 Kuwait, Iraq, United Arab    4     2
                         Emirates and Afghanistan
2008 February      15    East Timor                   0     2
2008 March        6 – 8  Papua New Guinea and         2     2
                         Solomon Islands
2008 March/April 27 – 13 USA, Belgium, Romania, UK   17     2
                         and China
2008 June         8 – 14 Japan and Indonesia          6     2
2008 July         8 – 14 Indonesia, Malaysia          6     3
                         and Japan
2008 August       8 – 12 China, Korea and             4     3
2008 August      18 – 21 New Zealand and Niue         3     3
2008 September   22 – 27 United States of America     5     3
                         (New York)
2008 November    13 – 17 United States of America     4     3
                             Total Number of Nights  59

1. Parliamentarians Travel Paid for by Dept. of Finance, Tabled June 2008, Page 375
2. Senate Estimates May 2008, Finance & Public Administration, Question F19
3. Sourced from general media – no official documentation available to date

Rudd in Niue While overseas, Mr Rudd has

  • made a dubious commitment to disarm the world of nuclear weapons;
  • announced plans of an EU-style Asian community without even giving our Asian neighbours the basic courtesy of advising them beforehand;
  • handed Toyota a $35 million grant, not knowing how this large sum of taxpayers' money would be spent; and
  • delivered a six-minute speech at a G8 meeting.

23 November 2008

Preventing the unsightly yellow highlighting caused by AutoFill

I was asked to prevent the AutoFill feature on the Google Toolbar from highlighting the fields on our website's registration page with yellow. It can be easily switched off, but many users will be unaware of this.

We found one approach to the problem on the Web that involved using JavaScript—far from ideal, and it apparently didn't prevent highlighting of drop down lists. As it turns out, there is an easier way to resolve the issue.

The key is to understand how AutoFill works. It identifies the fields that are highlighted by searching for keywords such as name and email in the source HTML. By eliminating these keywords without changing the appearance of the page we can prevent AutoFill from changing the colour of the input controls on forms.

A simple example of a form with highlighted fields is shown below.

<form action="/" method="post">
      <td><input type="text" name="name" /></td>
      <td><input type="text" name="email" /></td>
  <input type="submit" value="Submit" />

To prevent the yellow highlighting, we must do the following:

  • For displayed text, break the keywords using empty span tags.
  • For keywords in the HTML not displayed to the user, such as attributes, rename them.

These changes fool AutoFill so that the input controls are rendered without the yellow highlighting.

<form action="/" method="post">
      <td>Na<span />me:</td>
      <td><input type="text" name="na" /></td>
      <td>Em<span />ail:</td>
      <td><input type="text" name="em" /></td>
  <input type="submit" value="Submit" />

21 November 2008

It won't just be your boss browsing through your records

Those who voted for the ALP in the last federal election believing that they have become the new Third Way force in Australian politics will be disappointed. The Rudd government has produced classic Labor policies, including reducing incentives to participate in the workforce instead of living off welfare, raising taxes on luxury vehicles without considering how the workers employed in this industry would be affected and ISP level Internet filtering—a useless answer to a social problem imposed by government that will fail. Now, they have submitted to union demands that violate your basic rights.

Joe McDonald and Kevin Reynolds, CFMEU officials

Julia Gillard, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, is finalising legislation that would give unions unfettered access to the employment records of non-union employees. In response, Michael Keenan, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, said:

Employees should have a right to decide who sees their personal employment records and who does not.

Non Government third parties, such as unions, should not be given any access to an employee’s information, unless the employee has given consent.

Unions are clearly looking for access to employee records to manipulate workers to try and build up their rapidly dying membership bases.

Ms Gillard’s backflips to appease the union movement and the Labor backbench will cost Australians jobs and do untold harm to the Australian economy as we navigate through difficult economic times due to the global financial crisis.

19 November 2008

Rudd's war on everything: the anatomy of political spin

Kevin Rudd's war on everything is one of the less sophisticated examples of his talent for political spin, and it became the source of amusement during question time when Joe Hockey, Shadow Minister for Finance, Competition Policy & Deregulation, asked him about the numerous wars that he has declared since becoming Prime Minister a year ago:

Mr HOCKEY (3.09 pm)—My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his 2007 declared war on drugs, his January 2008 declared war on inflation and yesterday’s declared war on unemployment. I also refer the Prime Minister to the 2007 ‘Rudd’s war on whalers’, the February 2008 ‘A war cabinet to fight disadvantage’, his February 2008 war on downloads, his March 2008 war on pokies, his May war against doping in sport and his October war on bankers’ salary deals. Prime Minister, how goes the war on everything?

Mr Rudd has mastered the usage of keywords to powerful effect. While some voters found Rudd's repetition of phrases such as "education revolution" and "working families" during his 2007 election campaign rather monotonous, others found them inspiring. It might be difficult to accept that merely selecting the right words and using them as frequently as possible with barely any policy detail can win an election, but we must remember that campaigns are designed to appeal to the voters who will determine the outcome of an election, not everybody. A voter might base their decision on little more than 30 seconds of an interview they saw on the 7.30 Report, which they never watch except when changing channels.

A new mantra that Labor has added to their arsenal of spin is "decisive action", which started to become common when the global economic outlook began to deteriorate. It appeared 16 times in the Hansard of the House of Representatives for November 12: 14 instances from Labor MPs, once in a quote from the The Australian, and once by Liberal MP Tony Abbot:

Mr ABBOTT (Warringah) (10.36 am)—It is always a pleasure to follow the member for Werriwa, who is a strong representative of his constituents and is doing his best to defend the government. I have to say that ‘decisive action’ has joined ‘working families’ as the government’s cliche du jour. The fact is: this is belated action, at least insofar as pensioners are concerned, because the opposition has been calling for strong action to help pensioners since very early on in the year when it became clear that prices were skyrocketing, particularly the prices faced by pensioners and others on low incomes.

16 November 2008

Was Rudd's phone leak a slight against Bush?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd showed his contempt for parliament during question time when Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull pressed him for some basic answers on the damaging leak of the exchange between himself and President Bush in which Mr Bush supposedly asked what the G20 was. When asked about apples, Mr Rudd talks about oranges:

Mr TURNBULL (2.34 pm)—My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the account in the Australian on 25 October of a highly confidential telephone conversation between him and the President of the United States, an account which acclaimed the Prime Minister’s diplomatic knowledge as much as it denigrated that of the US President. Given the Prime Minister now says the Australian article was factually wrong, why did he take no steps to correct the record until after the White House took the unprecedented step of expressly rejecting this self-serving story in the Washington Post three days later?
Mr RUDD—I thank the member for Wentworth for his question. The purpose of my call to the President of the United States was to discuss the importance of the G20. The President was fully aware that was what the conversation was about. We supported the decision by the President to host that meeting, which I will be attending over the course of this weekend—on Saturday. It is an important meeting, it is important for the country’s future, and we will be cooperating closely not just with the government of the United States but with other governments on the key challenges on the global agenda, namely, the global financial crisis, global financial regulation and global economic growth. We will get on with the business of conducting what is an appropriate level of policy coordination with our friends and partners. We will do so in the future. It is the right course of action and we have our sleeves rolled up and intend to get on with it.

Source: House of Representatives Official Hansard

Mr Turnbull asked four questions on the matter, and on each occasion Mr Rudd responded with blather that was irrelevant to the question. Evasive answers from politicians are certainly not unheard of, but usually they are relevant. Rudd wastes question time delivering political commentary in an attempt to make his silence on the matter less conspicuous.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Bush gave Rudd the impression that he did not share the same enthusiasm for a summit of the G20, which Australia is a member of, and consequently aroused resentment from our narcissistic Prime Minister. Rudd is a man consumed by fantasies of grandiosity and would be highly sensitive to anything that undermines the vision that he has for himself. If Bush preferred to limit discussions of the financial crisis to the more prestigious G8, which would exclude Australia, then it is quite possible that Bush provoked Rudd's vindictive streak and Rudd sought to devalue Bush by leaking aspects of the conversation that would embarrass him and draw more attention to the G20 group of nations.

We have to wonder, incidentally, why Mr Rudd is still referring to Mr Turnbull as the Member for Wentworth, as shown in the transcript above, even though he became Leader of the Opposition two months ago.