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You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life - Albert Camus
Thursday, January 13, 2011
The Land Down Under Deep Under
Being married to an Aussie—one from Queensland, actually—I’ve been hearing a lot about the massive flooding hitting the area. It’s bizarre to watch. Last time I was there, Brisbane had gone a long time without substantial rain. Now they’re inundated. Seeing places Jindalee and Toowoomba underwater is just strange. (My in-laws are fine).
One question everyone’s been asking me is why this isn’t getting more attention on the news. I suspect the Tucson shooting is the biggest reason. But another reason is that Australia is a functional country. This is not Haiti or even New Orleans. They are responding to the crisis rather than waiting for everyone else to help them. While they can use some help, the Aussies will pick up, clean up and move on. They’ll be back on their feet well before it’s time for the Maroons to wipe the floor with the Blues ... again.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Vote or Die, Mate
Three aspect of the Aussie election bear mentioning, absent any political analysis.
First, voting is mandatory. Granted, the fine for not voting is only $20, if I read my websites correctly. But it is a mandate nonetheless. I’m not a big supporter of voter mandates. I fall into the camp that says that voting is a right, not a duty, and you are free not to exercise that right. Moreover, I’m not sure I want our elections being decided by people who have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the booth.
I also worry that mandatory voting leads to government growth, as it expands the pool of people who need to have their votes bought. However, it’s not like the lack of a mandate has kept the growth of our government in check. And pouring millions of people into the ballot box whose main involvement in government is getting taxed could drown out the motivated minorities hat constantly vote for government lucre (unions, big business, etc.)
Second, voting is held on a Saturday to make it easier for people to vote without missing work. I think this is a great idea (modulo some allowance for orthodox Jews who won’t vote on the Sabbath). An alternative suggestion I’ve heard is to make voting day a holiday. That’s less appealing, since you’d have to mandate the holiday to make it work. I don’t think it would make that much of a difference, given the zillions of absentee ballots and early voting every year. But it might help. I’ve missed a vote because of work.
Third, is the Aussie system of preferential voting. In this system, you vote “1” for your top choice and number your other choices in order of preference. This is to prevent a party winning with a minority of the vote. A perfect example would be last year’s NY-23 election, which the Democrats won with 48.3% of the vote. In a preferential system, conservatives could have put Scozzafava 1, Hoffman 2 or vice-versa, which would potentially have swung the election. A similar scenario might play out this year in the Florida Senate election.
I like this idea, mainly because it would allow people to vote for third parties (Green or Libertarian) without necessarily throwing the election. Granted, that would probably mean that Gore would have won in 2000. But if it means we get some serious libertarian votes—and maybe a libertarian Congressman or three ... well, it still wouldn’t have been worth it to have President Algore.
Anyway, discuss in the comments. And I’ll post update if Aussiesmurf or my wife identify something stupid in my post.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
There’s an election coming up here in Australia this weekend. I’m sure it will get badly covered by the American media, so I’ll be sure to give you a first hand take to contrast against it. A few things to note:
1) The election is about Australia and has nothing to do with Obama, the War on Terror or the US. Keep this in mind when some dipshit tries to make a referendum on US policy, as dipshits almost always try to do.
2) This is a somewhat conservative shift for Australia, which is part of a broad conservative shift in the Western world. But conservative is a relative term. The Liberal Party ("liberal" meaning the opposite in Australia of what it does in he US) is still supporting paid maternity leave, semi-socialized medicine and so on. It’s a matter of degree.
3) It’s almost refreshing to watch the debate here on Australia’s large budget deficit. Both parties are talking about tax increases and spending cuts to eliminate Australia’s deficit. There’s none of Obama’s “find $100 million” symbolism or the Republican’s “we’ll cut taxes and eliminate waste” line of hooey. There are hard numbers. The only thing remotely like it in our country is Paul Ryan’s roadmap.
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
It’s 6:45am Next Wednesday
Just got back from Australia. I am dead. You know a trip is a long when your wife turns to you during hour 26 when your toddler is getting whiny and having her sixth poop of the trip and says, “Man, I hope this plane crashes soon.”
I don’t think she meant it that way.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
You Die Now
This has to be one of the most disgusting pieces of enviro-panic brainwashing I’ve ever seen. Kids answer lifestyle type questions about how much they drive or compost or whatever and based on --- well, complete bullshit as far as I can tell—the site tells you when you should die so you don’t use up too many resources.
Apparently, I should have died at age 3.4.
What a bunch of stupid garbage.
Friday, May 30, 2008
It appears the world doesn’t end when it’s legal, after all.
But decriminalizing something only makes it more available and increases crime. At least that’s the rationale our government uses.
Grumbles From Down Under
My trip here got off to an inauspicious start. First there was the toe stub that broke the nail on my big toe and had me on my knees in the airplane pulling shards of nail from the bed. Then there was the computer thing. I was bringing a new macbook for my in-laws. I also had my laptop and my wife’s laptop in the same bag since (a) our laptops have highly specialized scientific software installed so we can’t leave home without them; (b) Quantas has gotten weird about making sure carry-on bags weigh less than 10 lbs but will happily ignore a laptop bag weighing 20 lbs. Unfortunately, the bag I had them in was from a scientific conference. That is, I put $7000 worth of computer equipment into something made by hippies.
The good news is that the in-laws’ computer is undamaged. But my computer’s airport is dead and Sal 10000’s monitor is unreadable (busted inverter board, I’m guessing). And since Aussie computer stores wouldn’t pass muster in Iraan, Texas, I can’t buy the specialized equipment I’d need to effect repairs. So we have, basically, one usable computer for the next three weeks. Ugh. But at least Sal 11000 Beta slept for most of the flight out here—unlike her dad.
Anyway, the reason for this post is that I was “out at shops” today. People who complain about the rising cost of food, gas and whatever in the States need to get some damned perspective. The price of everything in Australia has shot up dramatically. I know people who are seriously contemplating shopping trips to America just to take advantage of the low prices.
Granted, Aussies are a lot more import-dependent than we are and therefore more sensitive to world price fluctuations. But I suspect a similar picture would be found around the world. And one of the only benefits of a falling dollar is that it is creating a big incentive to buy American.
Monday, March 17, 2008
I Will Buy You A New Life
Anyone who says your life is the most valuable thing you own hasn’t met this guy.
Yeah, but what if your life really sucked? Could the buyer get a refund or a trade-in? My own life, for example, is fairly boring. You can have it if you want-I’ll take monthly payments.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Sorry Is As Sorry Does
There are times when I really miss John Howard.
If we ever truly got around to apologizing and paying back everyone who’s ever been wronged, the entire human race would be flat broke. But hey, at least we’d be guilt-free.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
An interesting post by Charles Stross that provides, when converted from pounds to dollars, some insight into where the country is going. He’s writing from a UK perspective. I’ll pencil in the American version:
They don’t remember Ronald Reagan or Bush 41. Clinton left office when they were ten and is only about as real to them as Carter is to me. The huge scandals that bugged his administration are history.
I’m 35 and I’m guessing a lot of the people who read this blog are within five years of that. When I think of the Republican Party, I still think of the era of Reagan—a booming economy, the triumph over communism and the shrinking of government. But if someone’s political awareness just started in 2000, what would they think of the GOP? The 18 y/o kids today will probably think of Republicans as the party of fiscal chaos, military incompetence, religious prejudice and managerial nepotism. Ten years ago, half of young people were Republicans. Now it’s less than 1/3.
This gets to me for some reason. So far, the War on Terror has lasted 1.5 years longer than high school. At least it’s been easier to get laid during the War on Terror.
They can’t remember when FOX was the fourth network.
Brittney has always been a laughingstock.
American kids have experienced everything but the last. One good thing about the last eight years—no 18 y/o can remember when gun control was taken seriously.
The paragraph above is also one reason I think the Culture War will fizzle. Turning back the clock on abortion, birth control and/or gay sex gets more and more difficult with every kid who can’t remember a time when they weren’t legal.
One of the lovely differences between the US and the UK—every American expects to own a house (although for how long is a bit questionable these days).
I suspect American kids drink a little less, wait a bit longer and slash a bit shallower. Most American kids are driving by age 16—although most probably shouldn’t be.
Tragically, America is moving in this direction as well.
Feel free to add to this in the comments, especially the younger members of the RTLC crowd.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Conservatism Down Under
You know the Republican Party has lost their way when they are less conservative than the booger-eating labor government of Australia:
Razor gang. We need something like that in our budget. Actually, we need several.
Update: Damn. That should have been earwax eating government.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Who’s Sorry Now
Hoo boy. Here we go.
At this rate, there won’t be too many people left to apologize to. Maybe this nonsense will stop then.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Fists Don’t Kill People
Boy, it’s a good thing that handguns are restricted because it may have been a lot easier to kill this guy over some stupid bullshit than having to use fists and feet to bludgeon him to death.
I support mandatory hand and leg cuffs to prevent this kind of tragedy. If he had to get the key from the cupboard, he may have had just enough time to cool down.
It’s real simple. People will find a way to kill other people, regardless of the tools involved.
Update from Lee: I’m still waiting on Australia to ban pointed sticks. We all know how dangerous a man can be with a pointed stick. And since any stick can be turned into a pointed stick quite easily, the ban should be on all sticks of any size or variety.
Monday, October 29, 2007
It Doesn’t Even ROOK rike Me!!
Australian politicians are catching on to America’s ‘hypocracy imitates politics’ agendas. the newest has become a cantidate named Andrew Quah, a ‘Family First’ cantidate. Haven’t read much on the party but the article indicates that the title has something to do with ‘putting the family first.’ In a shocker (not really) Mr. Quah has become another politician to have a scandal that involves the key words, “nude” “gay” and “drugs and alcohol.” Rike a virgin, taped for the vewy filst time...Rike a viw-w-w-gin....
By the way, if you needed any further proof that stereotypes aren’t always fictional, Mr.Quah has earned himself a new nickname in the wake of this scandal.
Damn, I can’t berieve this outlage!! this is, rike, the thiwd time I told you it wasn’t me, it was my poriticar enemies!!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Anyone here live in Sydney? If so, . I’ve got a question for you.
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