Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kim Carr

Kim Carr. I'm going to guess he's another business person.

Well, it looks like I'm wrong. Kim Carr is a political man.

He's a Labor Party Member of the Senate. Lord Wiki says he represents Victoria. I forgot. How many Senators does each state have?

Okay.....

It's twelve from the states, and two each for the territories.

Baby Kim was born in Tumut New South Wales on 2 July 1955. Lord Wiki says Tumut is known as being considered for the possible place of the Australian capital city. I mean this was in the past. It's not in the running anymore. I think folks are fairly satisfied with Canberra.

Tumut is actually not too far from Canberra though. I'm looking at Google Maps. It's about two and a half hours to the west.

Oh yeah. Tumut is also known as being the gateway to the Snowy Mountains. Speaking of snowy....it's snowing here in Texas! We played in the snow this morning, and plan to go back out again this afternoon.

Lord Wiki doesn't really talk about Carr's early education. At the University of Melbourne, Carr got a Master of Arts and a Diploma of Education. I'm guessing that he taught in the 1970's. Lord Wiki says he did that for nine years. In 1975, he joined the Labor Party. That probably happened in the midst of his teaching.

After his teaching, Carr switched to a political career. He was a staff person for people in the Victorian Government.

In March 1996, when John Howard became Prime Minister, Carr got all these shadow positions. But I'm unclear about whether they were federal or state. Well, wait. I'm looking back up at the first paragraph. It says he was elected into the Australian Senate in 1993. So I think that would mean the shadow positions were Federal.

In 2007, Rudd became Prime Minister, and Carr was able to come out of the shadows. He was appointed as Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. That sounds important.

Carr is part of the left faction of the Labor Party.

That's about it for Lord Wiki. I'll search elsewhere now.

My internet is acting up again. I'll just sit here waiting and shivering.

Maybe the snow has messed with the internet.

It's still not working......

While I'm waiting, I'll work on my nephew's birthday present. Javier is turning one on Valentine's Day. I bought him two things: organic finger paint, and something else. I forget. Then I'm going to make him CD's with all the children's music I have on iTunes.

It's really weird. Blogger is working. It's still automatically saving my posts. But the other stuff is not. Maybe I'm just not supposed to know about Kim Carr.

It's working better now, but Jack wants to go back out in the freezing snow. Of course! I'll come back later and do more work.





All right. I'm back. We had fun outside. And the internet is finally working for me....sort of.

I got to Kim Carr's Parliamentary Page, at least.

This page list's Carr's responsibilities. There's two lists: departmental and external. I'm not sure what the differences are. Maybe the external ones aren't as connected to the government.

The departmental ones include: Ausindustry, Cooperative Research Centres, Enterprise Connect, National Measurement Institute, and Questacon! I've heard of the last one.

The external agencies are: AIATSIS (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies); Ango-Australian Observatory (I thought maybe that was a place to study white people, but it looks like it's a planetarium.); Australian Institute of Marine Studies, ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization); Australian Research Council, CSRIO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization); and IP Australia.

Now most of these so-called external organizations have government websites. So I really don't know why they're considered to be external. I'm lost.

Here's some recent media announcements. I'll see if anything looks interesting to me.

It looks like there's yet another technology-type organization forming. This one is called Commercialisation Australia. On 9 February, the board members for the group were announced. The purpose of the department is to bring new ideas to life. I'm not sure I fully understand. Maybe their actual website will make things more clear.

What I'm getting is that this is the government's way of supporting people who have a brilliant idea that can benefit the world in some way. Not only will they give these people a lot of money, but they also provide them with a case manager to help them out. I think it sounds pretty awesome.

On 7 February, there was a press release about agricultural research. The Rudd Government pledged seventy million dollars to come up with ideas that will strike a balance between environmental concerns and the need for ongoing prosperity in the agriculture and forestry industries. That sounds great to me too.

All these press releases are overwhelming. I'm going to move onto something else.

I'll read some of Carr's speeches.

His most recent one was on 8 February. It was to CSIRO regarding that whole agricultural program.

I like how he starts the speech: The future success of Australian agriculture will depend on many things – good people, good practices, and good conditions. It will also increasingly depend on good science.
I think that's very true, and said very well. I wonder if he wrote the speech himself, or does he have a speech writer?

Basically what the speech says is what the press release said. They want to use science to find a way to have successful farms AND lower carbon emissions. Is it possible? Carr believes so. He says, There is no problem we can’t solve as long as we are prepared to explore new pathways and embrace new ideas – as long as we are prepared to innovate.
Here's an idea. How about we clone humans and then use them for food. We can all be cannibals.

I'm joking, but the cloning might be good for animal meat. I think I read that somewhere....the idea of cloning brainless animals so we could eat their meat. Maybe we could just harvest the actual meat part. What if we could eat hamburgers without causing a cow a lifetime of abuse? It would be great to be able to eat meat knowing an animal didn't suffer. It would also help the global warming thing....less methane in the air. There could be less farming land dedicated to feeding the cows. In my vegan days, I remember learning that so much of our agricultural space is used to feed cows.

I'm not sure how we'd go about getting the cow milk though. Could you harvest udders and mammary glands? OR we could stop using cow milk and go for the human stuff. Can you imagine? Human milk cheese, human milk ice-cream, human milk butter..... It's so funny that we get grossed out by the idea of human milk, but we'll happily drink the milk from another species.

If people managed to accept it, it would be the ultimate work-at-home job for moms. Pump those boobs for cash. A truck could pick it up, take it the factory, pasteurize it, and.... to the market we go. Biologically speaking, human babies are meant to breastfeed from about 2-7 years, so most moms should have milk for about that long. Even if they wean the kid early, they can keep pumping for the money.

I'm imagining quite the future here. I should write myself a science fiction novel.

Sadly, I wouldn't have been one of those money-making moms. I had some of those baby-only boobs. Jack got nice and fat off my milk, so obviously something was there. But when I tried to pump, hardly anything came out.

Should I get back to agriculture?

Here's a space industry speech. It's from 20 January. Carr says that last year (2009), Rudd dedicated 48.6 million to space research. I know some people are against that. They feel we need to spend money on problems here, and not waste it out there. I probably disagree. I think we need to continue being conservative so we can save the Earth as much as possible. But I also think we need to face the fact that eventually we might need to move. It sounds greedy in a way. It makes me think of the British invading Native American and Aboriginal lands. Hopefully, if we do start exploring and finding new homes, we'll be more thoughtful and mature now. I hope we stop ourselves from re-playing that game of Terra nullius. If someone's already on a planet, wave hello, and then good-bye. But even if there is life on other planets somewhere out there, I'm guessing there are also plenty of empty planets. It's just a matter of finding them, finding a way to get there quickly enough, and finding a way for our biological systems to adjust to planets that might not exactly be perfect matches.

The planets might be so far away from Earth, that it's a once-in-a-lifetime journey. People might have to say goodbye forever. But maybe it will just be a physical good-bye. Maybe we can find a way for the Internet to stretch out really far. We can email each other from our different planets...while we eat our breast milk pizza.

Carr's speech doesn't just talk about future possibilities. The science used in space programs is often adapted to technology we use everyday. Carr mentions cancer diagnosis stuff, luggage scanners, iceberg trackers, etc. When we were at that Canberra space center, I remember seeing that CD's were also adapted from space technology. Or maybe it was CD-Roms? I forget.

The biography page on Carr's site has some brief personal information. He's married. He has four children. He likes to read history and fiction.

I think I'll leave the government site, and go elsewhere now.

The Liberal Party has stuff to say about Carr. Do you expect it to be nice? Of course not. They made a report card for Carr in December 2008. They say Carr was a massive failure. A Liberal Senator says, In Opposition Senator Carr promised the world, in Government he did worse than deliver nothing – he actually took the sector backwards. Well, that's not good. They basically say he made cuts in spending. I don't know if that's true or not, but from what I read earlier...it seems the Rudd government is spending a lot on science. The Liberal Party was also upset that Carr wasn't taking industry's side in the carbon emission reduction planning.

This article in The Australian talks about how Carr is trying to combat scientific fraud. That might be a good idea. It sounds like previously scientists with concerns of fraud would go to their own institutions. I like this quote from a philosophy professor in Tasmania: The public credibility of our own work depends on the public believing that researchers do the right thing. I agree. I think it's so hard to trust scientists these days, especially medical researchers. Maybe it's because we hear one thing one day, and then another thing the next. There's that whole vaccine thing going on. Over a decade ago, a prestigious medical journal (Lancet) published a study done by a guy named Wakefield. He inferred that the MMR vaccine had a connection to Autism. Now Lancet has announced they're retracting the story. Apparently after all this time, they've realized his research was unethical and invalid. This news is supposed to make us feel all trusting in vaccines again. I'm not. (Although we do the shots because I also don't feel warm and cozy about childhood communicable diseases). All this just makes me feel even more distrustful. If Wakefield's study really was so horrible, why did it take so long for Lancet to realize that? How many other studies published by them are equally invalid? Should all of them be reviewed now? Can we trust anything we read in medical journals?

I'm not really sure how you prevent unethical research. But I'm sure Carr and his friends are coming up with something.

Here's a recent ABC news story about Carr and his quest to push the science agenda. He wants science news to be better communicated to the public. There's talk of how organizations need to collaborate better with each other. There's also talk about how science in secondary schools needs to be improved. Yeah. I don't remember science being that exciting when I was in high school. Some schools are very good at taking interesting subjects and turning them into something very boring.

Well, there's probably much more I could dive into. But I think I'm done for now.