Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them - Isaac Asimov

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 01/13/11 at 04:55 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/20/10 at 04:05 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vote Aussie

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/18/10 at 04:16 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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.

More later.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/17/08 at 06:24 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/04/08 at 05:45 AM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kiwi Love

It appears the world doesn’t end when it’s legal, after all.

The number of sex workers in New Zealand does not appear to have increased since legislation decriminalising prostitution became law, according to a new report.

The Prostitution Law Review Committee was set up to report on the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 three to five years after the act came into force.

Its report, just published, was based on work carried out by the Christchurch School of Medicine and Victoria University’s Crime and Justice Research Centre.

The committee, chaired by former Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Fitzharris, said an accurate count of the number of sex workers was difficult.

However, a comparison between the number of sex workers in Christchurch in 1999, before decriminalisation, and 2006 - after the act was passed - showed the total had stayed about the same.

A 2007 estimate in five centres - Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hawkes Bay and Nelson - found a total of 2332 sex workers, the committee said.

Numbers of sex workers should continue to be monitored, it said.

But decriminalizing something only makes it more available and increases crime. At least that’s the rationale our government uses.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 05/30/08 at 11:59 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/30/08 at 12:43 AM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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.

An Australian is hoping to make a fresh start after a failed marriage by putting his entire life up for sale on the auction website eBay.

Ian Usher, 44, has decided to put everything he owns - including his three-bedroom home, car, and job - up for sale to fund his escape from painful memories.

Bids for the “life package” will start at just one Australian dollar, but Mr Usher is hoping to pocket £230,000 from the sale on the internet auction website.

Mr Usher, who emigrated from Scarborough six years ago and became an Australian citizen in 2006, split from his wife Laura last year after five years of marriage.

The split from the woman he calls “the best girl in the world” has left Mr Usher desperate for a new life elsewhere, without the prolonged pain of having to sell off their belongings bit by bit.

He said: “My life here is absolutely fantastic, but I just want to make a clean break and start again literally, so I am selling everything lock, stock and barrel, from the contents of my wardrobe to my kettle, and from my cutlery to my car.

“My aim is to walk away at the end of the eBay auction with my wallet in one pocket and my passport in the other, go to the airport and just jump on the first available plane to anywhere.

“My tale is a bit of a sad one, but I am not trying to sell anyone a sob story.

“I appeciate that many people have had to cope with much more than I have and have had much more sadness in their lives.

“This is just my way of dealing with what has happened to me.”

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.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/17/08 at 02:47 AM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sorry Is As Sorry Does

There are times when I really miss John Howard.

CANBERRA, Australia - Australia’s apology to Aborigines for decades of racist policies drew an outpouring of emotion Wednesday. But attention quickly turned to what many consider the inevitable next step: paying compensation to victims of past injustices.

“The job’s not done; it’s only the beginning,” said Lowitja O’Donoghue, 75, who has campaigned for almost a decade for a government apology.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has ruled out compensation, and lawyers say the apology passed by Parliament on Wednesday does not add anything to Aborigines’ chances of successful legal claims.

But Aboriginal leaders say the injury can never be fully repaired until the victims receive reparations for being taken as children from Aboriginal mothers. From 1910 until the 1970s, an estimated 100,000 children were taken from their parents under state and federal laws based on a premise that Aborigines were dying out.

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.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 02/13/08 at 05:07 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Kids Today

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:

The year is 2008.

An eighteen year old today was born in 1990.

They don’t remember Margaret Thatcher. John Major stopped being Prime Minister when they were seven. The huge political scandals of the last conservative government are history.

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.

Labour are the natural party of government and fiscal prudence. They’re also in favour of nuclear weapons, privatization of what’s left of the public sector, and friends with George W. Bush (who is the only American president they really remember).

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.

The Soviet Union, the East German Stasi, Nazi Germany, and Napoleon Bonaparte are all boogymen out of ancient history. The Apollo Project — wasn’t that an old Tom Hanks movie?

They probably remember 9/11 vaguely, and all the grown-ups being very upset. They were ten at the time.

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.

The Simpsons have always been on Sky.

They can’t remember when FOX was the fourth network.

Kylie Minogue has always been a singer.

Brittney has always been a laughingstock.

AIDS has been around forever, but there are meds you can take to cure it [not true, but a common misconception among the young].

Every adult had, and has always had, a mobile phone. They’ve had one of their own since they were eleven.

The internet has always been around. Cable or satellite TV has always been around. CDs and DVDs have always been around (and are boringly bulky). Freeview has always been around. iPods have been around since they were ten. They’ve never seen a Sony Walkman, though they’ve probably heard old farts mention them. And what did the coffin dodgers do with those big black round things, exactly?

Nobody they know expects to ever hold a job for more than three years.

Homosexuality has always been legal. Abortion has always been legal. The morning-after pill has always been available over the counter. Handguns have always been illegal.

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.

Nobody they know who is under 36 and not already a home-owner expects to ever be rich enough to buy a house. The average house costs as much as a helicopter or a high-ticket Ferrari.

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).

They’ll probably go to university, and come out of it with debts equal to two years’ worth of their starting salary. (Roughly what somebody twice their age paid for their first apartment.)

Lots of people take antidepressants. Everyone slashes themselves; it’s no big deal. (Statistics show a third of UK teens self-harm at some stage.)

They had their first drink when they were 11 or 12. They first had sex when they were 15 or 16. Only about 50-60% of them have passed their driving test yet, although 90% are planning to before they reach 20.

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.

There have always been cameras in shops and schools and other public places, although there are more of them than there used to be. Old folks grumble about privacy, but really, you’re being watched wherever you are. If you don’t like it, get a hoodie.

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.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 02/03/08 at 03:31 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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:

A new left-wing government in Australia has begun with a decidedly unliberal approach to economic policy — proposing a budget based on deep cuts in spending and taxes.

U.S. officials, who are headed in the other direction with a stimulus package likely to increase the federal deficit by at least $100 billion this year, had their first chance to hear about the novel Australian approach to the recent global economic turmoil during a first visit to Washington yesterday by Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

Mr. Smith had meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates before attending the State of the Union address.

The Australian plan, announced Jan. 21 by Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, was based on the assumption that a 3.8 percent inflation rate — rather than slow growth — was the greatest threat to the nation’s economy. It calls for spending cuts sufficient to produce a surplus equaling 1.5 percent of gross domestic product — even as the government goes ahead with promised tax cuts totaling $27 billion over four years.

The fiscal belt-tightening goes far beyond anything envisaged by the previous right-wing government of defeated Prime Minister John Howard — a staunch U.S. ally for more than a decade — or for that matter by U.S. governments since the 1990s.

“We are embarking on a hard-line approach to fiscal discipline,” Mr. Rudd said in announcing the plan last week. “It won’t be easy.”

In addition to $8.8 billion in savings the party identified during the campaign, the prime minister said the new government will turn to its “razor gang” to find more spending cuts.

He said his Labor Party government will also look for ways to encourage private savings and tackle a chronic shortage of skilled labor.

Razor gang. We need something like that in our budget. Actually, we need several.

Update: Damn. That should have been earwax eating government.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 02/01/08 at 06:00 AM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, November 26, 2007

Who’s Sorry Now

Hoo boy. Here we go.

Australia’s new government will issue a formal apology to Aborigines for the abuses they suffered in the past, prime minister-elect Kevin Rudd has promised.

Mr. Rudd, whose Labor party swept into power in an election on Saturday, said the apology would come early in his first parliamentary term.

Outgoing prime minister John Howard had repeatedly refused to say sorry.

At this rate, there won’t be too many people left to apologize to. Maybe this nonsense will stop then.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 11/26/07 at 10:22 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fists Don’t Kill People
by

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.

Man killed in fight over watering

SYDNEY, Australia - A 66-year-old man was bashed to death while watering his lawn following an argument with a neighbor over the city’s water restrictions, police and media said Thursday.

Police alleged in a statement that Munter approached Proctor Wednesday as he watered his lawn with a hose at 5:30 p.m. and an argument ensued. Television and radio news bulletins reported the argument was over Sydney’s water restrictions.

Proctor reportedly sprayed Munter with the hose. Police allege Munter responded by punching and pushing Proctor to the ground and kicking him.

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.

Posted by on 11/01/07 at 08:54 AM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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....

IF YOU thought John Howard was having a bad election campaign, spare a thought for Andrew Quah, a candidate for the Family First Party. He has been dumped as its candidate for the western Sydney seat of Reid after photos of him parading his private parts appeared on gay websites and were emailed around the country.

Mr Quah, 21, has also admitted to looking at porn websites in the past two weeks, which made his position untenable given his party’s strong commitment to protect children by making porn harder to access on the internet.

Mr Quah told the Herald yesterday he thought it was possible that he had posed for the compromising photographs. “I might have been drunk off my face or my political enemies might have drugged me.”

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.

Already Mr Quah is being called “Australia’s smallest loser”. The Other Cheek blog even put up what it alleged were full-frontal close-ups of him but used Family First stickers for optional modesty.

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!!

Posted by Manwhore on 10/29/07 at 03:35 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Attention Sydneysiders
by Lee

Anyone here live in Sydney?  If so, .  I’ve got a question for you.

Posted by Lee on 08/22/07 at 10:49 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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