The perils of repeating someone else’s material

Natalie Bochenski writes in the SMH under the heading “Game of Thrones season 4: did TV creatives get Wall battle right?”:

In her Washington Post blog, Alyssa Rosenberg mourned a moment from the book that was changed for the episode.

“For some reason…they were afraid to preserve a key moment from Martin’s novels: Jon’s belief that it may have been his arrow that killed Ygritte, the woman he loved,” she wrote.

“In the books, that uncertainty reinforces Jon’s loyalty to the Night’s Watch and what it has cost him. Here, that task is given unambiguously to a child. When Jon holds a dying Ygritte in his arms, there is no fear or anger that either of them need to push aside.

Except that the scene in the book reads:

“He found Ygritte sprawled across a patch of old snow beneath the Lord Commander’s Tower, with an arrow between her breasts. The ice crystals had settled over her face, and in the moonlight it looked as though she wore a glittering silver mask.
The arrow was black, Jon saw, but it was fletched with white duck feathers. Not mine, he told himself, not one of mine. But he felt as if it were.

So: source in error; SMH likewise.


More “impossible to refrain from commenting on stuff that shouldn’t be there” from the SMH.

First, just the usual little stuff:

But the introduction of the new aircraft has not been without it’s problems.

The company aims to have the reliability up to the level of it’s long-range 777 model, which has a reliability rate of 99.4 per cent.

Srsly? Once is a typo; but … twice?

And then this: Apple to raise app prices by up to 30 per cent:

The position is:

  1. Apple has 88 different price tiers for an app. The content owner chooses the tier for their app (Apple has no say in this; it is solely the owner’s choice). Tier 1 is priced at US$0.99. That is the price charged in the US App Store. Tier 2 is US$1.99, Tier 3 is US$2.99, etc
  2. Apple then applies an exchange rate to produce the prices for the App Stores in other countries. That is what Apple has just changed.

Importantly, when comparing prices in Australia, you have to take account of GST.

After the present change, an A$1.29 tier 1 app will be A$1.17 ex GST. That gives a derived exchange rate of  0.84.

For a Tier 3 app, the prices are US$2.99 and A$3.79, which gives an exchange rate of 0.87.

Tier 6 is US$5.99 and A$7.49, for an exchange rate of 0.88.

Over the past three months, the exchange rate has moved between 0.87 and 0.93. It’s clear that Apple is forecasting that the present 0.92 rate will drop; which is exactly what economic pundits are predicting.

Most importantly, consider the period that was just superseded: it was in place since about June 2013, and the A$:$US exchange rate applied by Apple during the period was 1.00; i.e. US$0.99 was A$0.99. During that time, the actual exchange rate has averaged around 0.90, and ranged between 0.87 and 0.97, meaning Australians have had better prices than on the US Store for that entire 6 month period. The current change is a correction, with a clear bearish bias.

But you won’t see any articles in the regular press about that; one only sees articles picking out when the pricing is Australia is disadvantageous.

Stolen passports

The fact that there appear to have been two people aboard MH 370 with stolen passports would not necessarily mean foul play. They could, for example, have been used by people trying to immigrate illegally, who just happened to be unlucky enough to board a doomed flight.

If they were travelling together, then it is not unreasonable to presume they would have bought the tickets together or checked in together, which would account for them having ticket purchase dates and sequence numbers one after the other. Continue Reading →

MH 370

I suspect that investigators will already have a fairly good idea what — so sadly — has happened to Malaysian flight 370. Key to this will be the ACARS system. ACARS is an automated reporting system that automatically reports messages back to the operating airline during flight. They range from serious faults to minor maintenance warnings, as well as periodic updates on location.

Key to working out what happened will be whether MH 370 sent any unusual ACARS transmissions, or indeed any ACARS transmission at all. In the case of AF 447, although no pilot-originated communications were received by any land station, Air France still received a number of ACARS messages. These gave enough information for informed commentators to work out roughly what happened, even before recovery of the cockpit voice recorders: a pitot fault, followed by loss of automatic pilot and disagreement between the onboard computers; then a descent rate warning. Then nothing. Continue Reading →

This is getting ridiculous

The SMH. This is getting ridiculous:

Clarke did exactly the same in the first innings in Sydney in January to claimed another left-hander, England’s Michael Carberry, off Johnson.

Australia was just one wicket from victory when Johnson bounced out Philander, but it proved to be a fleeting celebration as Philander’s challenged Aleem Dar’s adjudication [scil that] he had hit the delivery caught at short-leg by Alex Doolan. Continue Reading →

A very unfortunate title

The SMH currently has a top of front page story with a very unfortunate heading. What is not clear until you click the link is that the title has been truncated so that the last word is missing; in full, the title is: “Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes abused daughter’s friend, court told”.

Worse, as shown on the front page, the comma has been replaced with a colon.

So the statement on the front page is “X is Y: court”, while in the full story it is “X is Y, court told”.

The way it is expressed on the front page inaccurately converts it to a statement that originated with the Court (which carries the implication of a finding by the Court) rather than one that (as is the case) originated with a witness. Not good at all. 

The use of “allegedly” in the first paragraph is also poor. If that over-used term is to be used at all, it should be: “It has been alleged in Court that X …”. Far better: “A witness today in the trial of X told the Court that Y”.

The early months of World War 2

Some rather wrong history in the Canberra Times:

It took six more months for this to break out into a major conflict. The then Allies’ reaction to the German invasion of Finland in late 1939 was to talk at length and expel Germany from the League of Nations: not the most robust response. Some clashes broke out, especially at sea, but it was not until April/May 1940 that large-scale warfare began.

Let’s see:

1. Germany did not invade Finland. The Soviet Union — later one of the Allies — did, on 30 November 1939. That war, the Winter War, lasted until 13 March 1940. (It was revived, as the Continuation War, just after Barbarossa in June 1941). Fighting was bitter, with the Russians alone losing more than 100,000 killed or missing in action.

2. Germany was not expelled from the League of Nations as a result of the Finnish invasion — that was, again, the USSR. Germany had withdrawn from the League of Nations some seven years before, in 1933. Continue Reading →