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John Thomas
Works at DET/DEECD
Attended Marian College, Ararat
Lives in Victoria, Australia
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John Thomas

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The Shovel on Operation Fortitude - Priceless

Better to laugh than cry. It didn't take long for fun to be made of "Operation Fortitude" – now cancelled – that would have seen Border Force Officers, Police and Transport Officers stopping people in Melbourne's CDB to question them about their visa status. 

Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has conceded that the initial press release announcing Operation Fortitude was a “clumsily translated” statement accidentally sent from the 1930s. 

“It did come across as a little abrupt. It’s always hard to translate these things perfectly from the original German,” Mr Quaedvlieg said.

But there was an immediate backlash, with many claiming it was not realistic for people to carry around visa papers at all times. A spokesperson for Border Force agreed. “An armband or a small badge sewn onto a person’s clothing identifying their visa status would be much more practical for everyone involved”.
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Gud
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Baggini Tackles Singer on Effective Altruism

This piece by philosopher Julian Baggini critiques the effective altruism movement more effectively than most, but it seems to me that Baggini is unconsciously just doing what evolution equipped us Homo Sapiens to do - look after number one.

The demandingness objection to +Peter Singer's utilitarianism, which is what Baggini's piece focuses on, is persuasive for people like us sitting at our computers making posts on social media. It's not persuasive for people living in slums in the third world who have no food to feed their families. They can't afford the luxury of debating the demandingness objection. Doing the right thing is tough for us rich people, and most of us aren't up to the task, but the less selfish we become the happier the world will become.

Singer answers Baggini's challenges well, and Baggini has the decency to report Singer's answers adequately. I agree with Baggini that the effective altruism movement places demands on us that we won't meet, but that doesn't make it mistaken. It just means that we humans aren't perfect.

#EffectiveAltruism  
The act of giving is always a calculated risk. Julian Baggini explores the limits of altruism.
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Young Scientists

Google Science Fair 2015 Finalists
 
Read more about these 5 innovative #GSF2015 finalists to learn how they're trying to make a difference in the world with their incredible +Google Science Fair projects goo.gl/yX65IY
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The Australian Ugliness

Australian architect Robyn Boyd wrote a book of that name in 1960 proposing that education in design, landscaping and architecture could overcome the ugliness he observed in Australian architecture and suburban planning. Perhaps education could help overcome the new Australian Ugliness on display on Facebook and in every day discourse among a distressingly large number of Australians when the subject of refugees and asylum seekers is broached. This piece shows what happened when Hazara asylum seeker Khadim Dai, who was found to be a genuine refugee by the UNHCR, was invited onto Facebook.



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+John Thomas​ ah, I wasn't clear on that point. The individual isn't the problem, it's their tradition and values they bring. If they came with a true willing intent to learn more successful behavior and social interaction, and those ABLE to accommodate an influx without undue burden listened, we might actually help each other.
My issue is building systems based on others supporting their desire. 
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Congratulations Melbourne! World's Most Liveable City

Melbourne has achieved this result for the fifth consecutive year. The Economist Intelligence Unit surveys 140 cities worldwide and gives them a liveability score out of 100 based on health care, education, stability, culture, environment and infrastructure. Melbourne scored 97.5. Seven of the top ten scoring cities were in Australia and Canada. Damascus in Syria was ranked as the least liveable city.

We love weekend escapes to our city apartment, only an hour's drive down the motorway from our home in Victoria's central highlands.

Top 5 Cities
1. Melbourne
2. Vienna
3. Vancouver
4. Toronto
5. Adelaide
Melbourne is named the world's most liveable city for the fifth year in a row by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
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nice place to be
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Australia's emission reduction targets not enough

... says the Climate Change Authority. It's CEO says the target puts Australia "at or near the bottom" of the table among comparable developed countries. The Abbott Government tried and failed to shut the authority down and so has since stuck its fingers in its ears, saying, "La La La. Not listening!"
The Climate Change Authority describes the Government's emission reduction targets as substantially weaker than its recommendations.
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Climate change - the climate has been changing ever since the sun started melting the ice on the planet - the dawn of time. We are only giving it a kick along. 
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Is the Iron Curtain descending on Australia!?

A major joint operation comprising police officers, border force officers and public transport officers was planned today for Melbourne's CBD. They were intending to stop people in the city to demand that they establish their right to be in the community by proving their credentials through questions like, "Do you have identification?" and "Do you have a visa?"

Fortunately, Australians are not yet prepared to be treated like citizens behind the Iron Curtain in 20th Century Europe, and a rapid protest on the street and in social media erupted forcing the cancellation of the planned "Operation Fortitude". It makes you wonder what PM Tony Abbott and Minister Anthony Dutton are thinking!

#BorderForce   #BorderFarce  
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“By repeatingly saying its a small number you are implying that you are at odds with anything being done about it.” +Warwick Williams 

That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that there are better, more efficient ways to identify those who are in the country without an appropriate visa than conducting a random sweep of Melbourne's CBD. 

“Again, the per capita emissions argument was brought up as a comparison to your method. It highlights how misleading quoting stats can be …”

The statistics are not misleading. They speak for themselves. They illustrate (1) that the number of visa overstayers in Australia is not a significant problem given that they represent only 1.2% of temporary visa holders, and (2) Australia’s refusal to take serious action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions is immoral. (See my pissing in the stream example above.) The fact that Australian emissions represent 1.5% of global emissions, a similar figure to the 1.2% of visa overstayers, is irrelevant. Global warming is a more serious problem than visa overstayers, and our relative inaction fails to meet our responsibilities as global citizens. (See my reference to Peter Singer’s point about the “global community” above.)

You seem to suggest that my opinion that refugees and asylum seekers are a significant focus of the Australian Border Force’s operations is “speculation getting even more stretched”, because I pointed to Howard and Abbott’s relentless electioneering focus on boats and asylum seekers. Perhaps if I add to that the announcements associated with the launch of the force you will accept that this is the case, and it is not speculation, but fact.  

I fail to see any irony in my comments about technology. Perhaps you could explain where it is, just as you could explain what “reverse racism” is. (You’ve still not responded to that question.)

The fact that police are entitled to ask for identification doesn’t make it reasonable to conduct a sweep of Melbourne’s CBD in which people are asked to establish their right to be in the community. You seem to think that those conducting such a sweep would be completely impartial and choose people at random. You may be right, but given human nature, I doubt it.

“Have I even said that you need to worry?”

Yes. You wrote “You think you don't need to worry... because you're white. Guess what? You're wrong …” In my four preceding comments I tried to get you to explain what you meant by that. I asked whether I should worry about being stopped by the police or about having my job taken by a refugee, or by someone overstaying on a tourist or student visa. Perhaps you could explain now what I should be worried about, along with answering my question about “reverse racism”.

“Did you honestly think for a moment the border Police with the Vic Police were going to be arresting anyone who doesn't have sufficent ID on them or targeting people who aren't white?”

No to the first part of that question, possibly to the second. Police officers may not target ethnic minorities consciously, but they might do so unconsciously. Data suggests that this happens in other places, though I’m not aware of any statistics for Australia. Perhaps Melbourne’s police are better behaved than elsewhere in the developed world.

“John, this is another irony. Your whole point of this thread is to create fear and hatred for the govt based on nothing but your hatred and bias towards it.”

There’s no irony in anything I've written, and I feel no hatred for anyone. I’ve made explicit and implicit criticisms of my government’s policies on border protection and carbon emissions. That is my right as a citizen, just as it is your right to defend those policies. I am debating substantive issues with substantive arguments. Your use of labels like “left wing clap trap” and “radical left wing agenda” merely express your emotional response to the issues raised in this thread and add nothing to the substance of the debate. You telegraphed your attitude with your first comment in this thread claiming that it was ironic that someone with the name +hussein aboudakin  would tell Tony Abbott to go back to England. That was a good point, but you may have missed that it could be aimed equally well at you. +David Crosswell nailed it with his response, “Not unless I was aboriginal.” Most Australians are of immigrant stock, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but some European Australians seem to think that their European ancestry gives them the right to tell other recent arrivals to “go back to where you came from” or to make fun of people with non-European sounding names.

“What is so wrong about the law being enforced? Should the Police stop enforcing the speed limit because the majority of people getting caught speeding are white people? Does that make the traffic act a racist law?”

In answer to those questions. Nothing, no and no. But that doesn’t help your case.

“No logic, no proof just incitement and opinions of fringe left wing political groups like Socialist Alternative.”

Here’s the logic in my comments. I’ve pointed out that 62,000 visa overstayers is not a significant problem when it represents only 1.2% of 5.5 million temporary visa holders and, even if they were all taking a job an Australian citizen wanted, they would still only comprise 0.5% of Australia’s almost 12 million strong workforce. I’ve pointed out that the similarity in the percentage figures, 1.2% for visa overstayers and 1.5% for Australia’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, is irrelevant to the moral point that Australia has an obligation to pull its weight and that greenhouse gas emissions are a more serious problem than visa overstayers. I've pointed out that there are more effective and efficient ways to identify those without visas than conducting a random sweep of Melbourne's CBD. I've pointed out that asking random people to establish their right to be in the community is reminiscent of the behaviour of police states.

That’s logic, and it has nothing to do with the Socialist Alternative. I’m not a socialist. I believe that capitalism is the best system we humans have come up with so far, despite its failings. It has helped achieve amazing improvements in the standard of living across the world in recent decades. There’s value in the free market, but it’s not perfect, and it needs to be tempered by governments whose duties include looking after all their citizens, both rich and poor, sick and healthy, employed and unemployed, immigrant and native born. In addition to this responsibility, wealthy countries like Australia also have a duty to help poorer countries whose governments are struggling with much greater problems than 62,000 visa overstayers.
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Defending Effective Altruism

Bioethics professor +udo schuklenk has written a good response to some objections to the effective altruism movement. He begins by pointing out that the movement's assumption that "we should maximize the good we can reasonably produce in the world with the means that are available to us" seems obvious. Why would anyone object to that? 

Strangely, even some in the charities sector are unhappy with the spotlight the movement has put onto charitable giving. It seems to me that they are afraid that an evidence based approach to evaluating the effectiveness of their particular operations might not prove flattering.

#effectivelatruism 
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In the military they limit charity drives to two a year, otherwise, we'd have people asking everyday.
To not contribute a substantial but notional amount without good cause was considered bad taste.
The United Way was one. Glancing through the pamphlet I noticed some %'s. I like numbers and it turns out that some of these high profile charities charge 4-5 times more than the low profile charities for their services as a percentage of their budget. Meaning a 100k budget was spending 10k for administrative fees. (salary and expenses) while the 10 million budget was spending 3.3 million for the same % of cost of having them run it. 
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Education  - 
 
Stop Motion Animation for ChromeOS

Named logically enough, "Stop Motion Animator for ChromeOS".
 
I was wondering if there was a simple stop motion animation tool for ChromeOS. Turns out there is. With the deceptively obvious name Stop Motion Animator for ChromeOS, it does exactly what it says on the tin. So with stop motion video taken care of, we are one step closer to Chromebooks being the perfect BYO device.
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No More Religions Instruction in Victorian Schools

This move by Victoria's Labor Government is a step in the right direction, but one that has upset Access Ministries and some parents who want their children to receive religious instruction in State Schools within regular class time. Schools and school communities wishing to continue with religious instruction on State School premises will be permitted to use lunchtimes and times before and after school.

The Education Minister James Merlino says the new program, which covers world histories, cultures, faiths and ethics, will be delivered by qualified teachers and will help "all school students, regardless of their background or faith, to understand the world around them and the ideas and values that shape that world".

Makes sense to me. What do you think?
Victorian schools will scrap special religious instruction from class time, with the future of the controversial program in doubt under new ;changes to curriculum.
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+perlita quiñones It's natural to love one's own religion, but should it be taught to children in a secular school?
+Jonathan Landrum I understand your surprise. It seems to me that allowing parents and religious groups to use state school premises for religious instruction after-hours makes some sense, just as allowing local chess clubs to book school rooms for their weekly meetings makes sense. But should religious groups be permitted to take up regular class time for this purpose? That's the way it has been in Victorian State schools for many years, and it's the way the State Opposition still wants it. A change of government could bring the old policy back. 
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Guide to iPads in the Classroom

A useful updated and revised combination of several Edudemic articles on using iPads in the Classroom.
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Ethics/Morality  - 
 
Voluntary Euthanasia Debate Fills Sydney Town Hall

EDIT: Updated Video Link - https://youtu.be/kZLs5L_Iknc

A full house at the Sydney Town Hall last night heard a debate between Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer and the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher, no slouch given his PhD in bioethics from Oxford University.

Fisher came across as the more amiable and more flexible of the two. This partly reflected his focus on a "slippery slope" argument. Singer was the more focused and the more assertive, beginning his contribution with a refusal to answer moderator Scott Stephen’s meandering and irrelevant opening question (cut from the video linked below). He also refused to answer off-topic questions from the audience, and in the only aggressive moment of the debate, accused Fisher of a “wilful refusal to look at the evidence” in countries with existing voluntary euthanasia programs.

A brief summary of the debate is here:
https://theconversation.com/singer-and-fisher-preach-to-their-flocks-in-euthanasia-debate-45880

Singer is an atheist, but it is not only atheists who argue for voluntary euthanasia. Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, is a supporter and says that euthanasia for the terminally ill "is profoundly Christian". (See independent.co.uk/news/people/lord-carey-euthanasia-for-terminally-ill-is-profoundly-christian-10452927.html)

What do you think? Should people be free to choose to die and be given assistance to die in some circumstances?

EDIT: The original video link is now private. The public video is here:
https://youtu.be/kZLs5L_Iknc
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A girl with an incurable brain tumor moved here to oregon so that she could take advantage of our law on assisted suicide. Last year my brother in AZ. suffered through agony with stage 4 liver cancer until he died. It was terrible for him and the family. He needed so many drugs that you couldn't really communicate with him anymore. 
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  • DET/DEECD
    Teacher, Consultant, Professional Developer, 2009 - present
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    Founder & Managing Director, 1990 - 2007
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Australian elearning pioneer - part entrepreneur, part teacher & part geek. Google Certified Teacher.
Introduction
Australian elearning pioneer, teacher and entrepreneur. Founded Dataworks in 1985 - a company which grew to become Australia’s leading curriculum software publisher. Brought Australia’s best loved children’s characters to interactive format including The Wiggles, Bananas in Pyjamas, Hi-5, Play School and others. These award winning titles broke local sales records and were licensed for resale in more than 50 countries worldwide. Sold business in 2007 and moved to Victoria's Central Highlands. Focused on helping teachers, students and school communities make the most of the transformative potential of new technologies.
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  • University of Ballarat
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  • Monash University, Clayton
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  • Monash University, Clayton
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A new breed of hardcore altruists are changing the way we think about ch...
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The act of giving is always a calculated risk. Julian Baggini explores the limits of altruism.

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MX Player - The best way to enjoy your movies. a) HARDWARE ACCELERATION - Hardware acceleration can be applied to more videos with the help

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Gestão Inteligente de DocumentosCamScanner é uma solução de Gestão inteligente de documentos para pessoas, pequenos empresários, organizaçõe

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News and updates from the Quantum A.I. Lab's corner of the multiverse

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Dana Nuccitelli: Climate contrarians appear to be running damage control in the media before the next IPCC report is published

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Easily superimpose yourself into your videos and make it appear as though you're inside of your presentation, floating through outer space,

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Google Politics & Elections. Your elections hub to study, watch, discuss, participate in and make your impact on the digital campaign trail.

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