Monday, December 31, 2012

Lets combine gullible with inexperience

You can imagine how it all happened - in the months following September 11 2001.

Some smart entrepreneur entrenched in the US military-industrial complex cooked up a bit of a story along the lines of - "Either you stand with us against the terrorist threat - or you will stand alone".

And that was enough to terrify the gullible and inexperienced and headpat-happy leaders in the UK and AU into signing up for the manufactured "war on terror".

A simple marketing message - that has been used by successive US Administrations to intimidate the rest of us and which is continually used to impose new and harsh rules around how we operate as a nation.

The current nonsense in AU around surveillance and data retention is just the latest in what has become regular violations of our rights and restrictions on our freedoms.  And we now have many thousands more people employed in our *national security* industry.

Does any of that make you feel safe Virginia?

Never mind all that they say - we are protecting you from the "terror threat".  All in the name of "freedom" and "democracy" they say.  BS I say.  What do you reckon Eric Arthur Blair would say?

In 2012 the key features were - torture, unwarranted surveillance and drone strikes.  All illegal and all deadly with the details mostly secret.

In 2013 it will be more of the same plus whatever new and nasty crap they think they can get away with.

And here in AU our next generation of headpat-happy politicians are just as gullible and inexperienced as ever.  The only difference is that thanks to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks a few more Australians are now awake to the deadly game.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Politics, Power and History

It's just incredible how the US has gone from respected leader of the free world to pariah - all in the space of two or maybe three Presidential terms.

Many citizens in the west once felt safe under the wing of uncle Sam - now those same people are desperate to escape his deadly embrace.

The whole thing reminds me of the collapse of the Soviet Union.  As their leadership came under pressure they became even more scatty and unpredictable.  It seems that politicians under pressure always try to consolidate their power - rather than protect their people.

Are there no students of history amongst our politicians?

The takeover of the US and it's client's by the *batshit crazies* and the *far right* is now almost complete.

Despite Obama's historic second term the US Congress and Administration are still operating as though the weirdo's are in charge.  Cameron and Co. in the UK have pretty much turned that place into an economic wasteland.  And in AU the government and opposition have switched roles - with Gillard and friends now madly pursuing conservative policies.  Austerity is the new black ;-)

And the most dependent US client - Israel seems the most pressured of all with a very itchy trigger finger.  The world seems to have become a very unsafe place all of a sudden.

Apparently the new *normal* is - more wars, more drones and drone killings, more torture of foreigners and nationals alike, more persecution of whistle-blowers, more unwarranted surveillance and much more fascist and dictatorial behaviour.  All by those who we elected to look out for us.

And to think that it was all started by a ideologically driven Saudi living in exile in the mountains of Afghanistan.  Who would have thought that one person of such limited means could cause such widespread economic, social and moral chaos?

What fascinates me the most is that this one person seems to have had a stronger appreciation of politics, power and history than anyone in the west.

What does that tell you about the quality of our leaders and our political institutions?

Monday, December 17, 2012

The dole payment

Apparently the reason why our Government won't consider raising the dole is because it uses the low level of dole payment to put pressure on recently unemployed people to accept low paying and menial jobs.

Their plan is to ensure the dole is not attractive - by comparison with the minimum wage.

So if you have lost a real job that was paying a real salary then our Government want you to take a minimum wage job - rather than accept the dole and wait for another real job to come along.

I suspect this is because they know that real jobs are now few and far between.

So all you science graduates can now look forward to driving a taxi - or serving people in order to feed and house your families.  Good luck with that then.

The net effect is that pretty soon we will become a nation of minimum wage workers.  But even that is too much for big business.

For your reference the Australian minimum wage is $15.96 /hour.  The US minimum wage is $7.25 /hour.  That comparison tells you a little about the agenda of our Government.

They are furiously trying to reduce Australian labour costs - because their puppet masters in Washington won't tolerate Australian workers being paid so much ;-)

These techniques were first used by the Howard Government to demonstrate its *superior* economic manangement.  And we all know what that resulted in.

Now Gillard and Co. - an actual Labor Government - has adopted a similar plan.  Clearly they have given up looking out for Australian workers.

Oh and this scam also serves to artificially reduce the *official* unemployment rate.  Isn't that convenient?

I am just so over these turkeys.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Politics App

The one important thing that is missing from our lives is a *Politics App*.  It will need to run across all the current platforms and especially the new generation of smart phones.

So what would this app do?

Well for starters it would give you a "candidate rating" of all the politicians who are in your face and contesting the electorate that you specify. This rating would be built from the political history and public noise and words that spew forth from said politician.  In the event that they become unnaturally timid then it would use a generic "rating" that is developed for their party - or one that is based on their leader.

That feature alone should cause most of them to become extra vocal and wordy ;-)

So the first thing it would do is "rate" the quality of your local candidates - and "rank" them - top to bottom.  All based on their history and documented views and those of their party.  And it will provide a benchmark of best practice against which it will compare your candidates.

Hopefully, this will kill the current *batshit crazy* approach to politics.

The second thing it would do is allow you to ask "what-if" questions  - and compare candidates accordingly.  So what do your local candidates think about "US Military bases", "Gay marriage",  "Palestine", "Nuclear power", "Asylum seekers"  or "Increasing the dole" for example.  Many of them will be silent on these topics - in which case they will inherit their party platform.

And importantly - have they been *bought and paid for* by vested interests representing any particular cause?  This might create a little angst until they can work out how to get around it.

The third thing it would do is provide a finely tuned "Bullshit" detector.  This feature will analyse the noise or words produced by a selected candidate - and give you a bullshit rating between "none" and "total".

One of the unintended features of this app is that you can use it to analyse the words and speech of anyone - so point it at the local newspaper, the TV news or the church pulpit on Sunday to see who else is feeding you crap.

Now this app is not a simple little thing.  It uses lots of data and pushes the maths envelope - but it seems to be about the only way we citizens can get our polity back.

Anyone want to request a feature?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Unfit for office

We have a bit of a problem in Australia.  Our polity is broken and we have no way of fixing it.  And nobody who votes seems to have noticed.

One political party - "Currently in Opposition" - has been captured by the far right wing and their fellow travellers - the *batshit crazies*.  Its leader is rampaging about doing his best to destroy our actual government.  All with a little help from Uncle Rupert and his editors and the rest of the media circus.

And the opposition party MP's keep their heads down and their mouths shut because they are too scared to voice their disapproval - knowing that they would get the "Peter Slipper" treatment if they said anything.

These folks used to be your opposition MP's - but now they know that if voting changed anything they would be out of a job.

The other political party - "Currently in Government" - is doing its best to mimic an actual opposition.  Its leader has stolen the worst elements of the real opposition's *policies* and is doing her best to screw the nation and the people over.  Just because she doesn't know any better.

This mob have a full program of stupid underway - including handing out keys for new US military bases, damaging the nation with a confected and unnecessary surplus, engaging in harsh, cruel and *illegal* treatment of asylum seekers and shafting the unemployed.

And their MP's also keep their heads down and their mouths shut because they are too scared to voice their disapproval - knowing that they would get the "Kevin Rudd" treatment if they said boo to a goose.

These folks used to be your government MP's - but now they are just sheep meandering about in the shearing shed - waiting to be shorn.

Next year both parties will be asking us to select their candidates at the 2013 election.  Won't that be a laugh?

Friends, I wouldn't touch any of them - because IMHO both parties and their *offerings* are unfit for office.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Short Leash

I am pretty much in agreement with Mark Latham about the joke that's journalism.

It seems to me that most of us will be pushing up daisies if we were to wait for our various governments to take action to clean up our dysfunctional media.

In the UK Leveson looks to be dead in the water, in AU Finklestein has already been buried and in the US they won't even bother with an enquiry.

Because government has long since lost any desire to act in the interests of their citizens.  These days politicians - even so-called progressive ones - are all about encouraging monopoly, shafting people and sucking up to warmongers.

And that's when they are working to a plan - most of the time they just meander about in a policy daze - trying to second guess an equally thick opposition.

And the truly scary thing is that most of us haven't even noticed yet.  We will soon enough.

We need to rebuild our democracy and introduce some strong, interactive and two-way engagement between the people and their politicians.

Citizen initiated referenda and recall elections are good places to start.  Just so we can keep them on a very short leash.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Strategic colony of the United States

I find it fascinating that our Labor government and its key ministers seem happy to crawl up the United States' back passage.

It's like they know that they are going to get trounced at the next election - and so they act as though they want to piss off as many people as possible between now and then - just to show us all who's boss in the here and now.

That's a very clever strategy - one that will hopefully keep Labor in opposition for decades to come ;-)

The Assange and Wikileaks nastiness is all about sucking up to their US masters - who are trying to destroy Julian because he has exposed illegal, corrupt and arrogant US behaviour.  Now this is not news but our dickhead government thinks it is cool to pick on whistleblowers and abandon an Australian citizen - when given instructions from Washington.

I hope that Gillard, Carr and Roxon never find themselves on the receiving end of similar treatment ;-)

They want to destroy Assange and Wikileaks and send a strong message to anyone else who might attempt something similar.  It might once have worked when people were fully employed and had bought into the "debt until death" syndrome promoted by the "politico - media - housing" complex.

But most young thinkers have seen through that BS game and have other priorities now.  Give us another decade of political mismanagement - like the last one and it will likely be the politicians who are languishing in exile - or behind bars.

And - In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with WL Central, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has accused the current Gillard government of acting as though Julian Assange "doesn't exist, that he's not an Australian citizen." Mr Fraser slams the existing relationship between Australia and the United States as "far, far too close" and claims Australia is "a strategic colony of the United States, under current circumstances."

And yet aside from Fraser, the few senior thinkers who do occasionally have something to say about our polity are silent on this subject.  They like to talk tough when there is no personal risk - but they avoid comment when there is.

Phooey to you lot then.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Some serious sh*t is about to happen

I have spent the past few days exploring a little seaside village.  Or more correctly - a collection of villages - that are within an easy 2-3 hour drive of an Australian capital city.

And I think that "some serious sh*t is about to happen" there.

Because what has evolved over the past 30 years or so is that *shark* developers have locked up the coastal land and created many thousands of new residential blocks - upon which they and their mates have built many thousands of McMansions.

Which they have since on-sold to middle aged bogans contemplating an idyllic seaside retirement.

These developments are located near or in golf courses or adjacent to marina developments and their developers have spent large percentages of their funds on *marketing* them to gullible city-based bogans.

You know the ones - they used to work in manufacturing and live in suburbia - but they have lost their "job for life" and the wife wanted to retire to the seaside.

So far - so good.  Just a couple of minor problems.

Firstly, these thousands of McMansions aren't near any important community facilities.  The developers failed to provide any commercial space to accommodate supermarkets, post offices, medical centres, Centrelink offices or anything else that said bogans need access to on a daily basis.

Because as we know with our *free enterprise* system - that is always someone-else's problem.

And that is possibly OK when you are semi retired and still have a car and a driver’s license.  But what happens when you lose your mobility as you age?  How do you then get to the supermarket and medical centre that is 10km away?

And the second problem is related.  What about when the entire complement of McMansion owners have lost their mobility - and they all decide to move nearer to important facilities or to the retirement village?

What happens when they all try to sell their thousands of McMansions into a market that doesn't want them?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Five Big Issues

Now that the Opposition have demonstrated their complete incompetence after two days of irrelevant questions in the Parliament - do you think there is a chance for the Parliament to get back to looking out for the nation and the people?

No - didn't think so.  Jeez Australia we seem to have acquired an Opposition with no skills or policies and no idea and a Government that talks big but delivers small.

Really how is it possible for example to talk incessantly about Gonski - and then have no plans to fund it?  Nothing can get done while both the Government and the Opposition focus on those magical powers of a "Budget Surplus".  Look I know that weird conservatives think a surplus is mandatory - but what is Labor's excuse?  How did we end up with this circus?

In the absence of any leadership or focus on the big issues - I thought that I would bring my own.  So here are five things that I reckon we should have an adult conversation about in the lead-up to the next election.

Just watch as politicians duck and weave around them.

* The US Alliance - Firstly what is it - what are we Australian's committed to - and who committed us?  When we understand those things then we need to have a proper conversation about what we want it to be and how we can get it there.  If you want to see a politician squirm then ask them these questions.

* Climate Change - It's very clear that our feeble attempts to date are not enough.  We need to get serious about this issue and actually do something of substance.  It won't matter if the next Government is Labor or Liberal - both will need to step up and take the people with them.  Trouble is neither of the current political leaders have the neurons or the cojones.  The carbon tax is here to stay - and it probably needs to get bigger soon - regardless of the views of the fossil fuel industry.  Watch as your politicians run away from this one.

* War Initiation - I am personally not going to handle it very well if either Abbott or Gillard were to commit us to another half-arsed war - without any discussion or approval by the Parliament.  All Members of Parliament should take a similar position - why wouldn't they? We citizens need to fix this - because it appears that our politicians won't - they will send your kids off to die but they won't discuss it with you beforehand.  Remember that when next you vote.

* Our Expectations of Government - Government's can't do very much because they have offloaded important assets and outsourced major services.  But they won't ever acknowledge that.  It's all part of keeping you in the dark and fed maximum BS.  So we need to take the lead and have a proper conversation - about what we expect from Government.  And when we have agreement then we ought to instruct our politicians.  Or if they like they can participate - but we the people should set and drive the agenda.

* Fixing our Media - Lord leveson is about to report on Uncle Rupert's unpleasant little fantasy in the UK.  Instead of tripping around the issues here - we need to take a proper stand and make our media accountable.  No if's, no buts, no maybe's.  Just do it.

If we had a political class who were genuinely interested in looking out for our nation - then we wouldn't need to raise these things.  But we don't.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Julia Gillard

I don't have much time for Julia Gillard.  Not because of her gender or her state of origin or her history as a lawyer for the union movement or even her time as a political staffer.  It's not personal with me.

It's because I don't believe she is up to the job - I just don't think that she is a genuine leader or that she even has the interests of the nation or the people at heart.  She simply doesn't have the experience or the political nous that the job requires - and she demonstrates that almost every day.

And no amount of "tough as nails" talk will change that.

I think she is just a junior politician who is out of her depth - along with most of the rest of the Federal Labor crew.  Which pretty much explains why she and her party are on the nose with large numbers of voters.  Smarter folks than I have analysed the problem and even written books about it.  Perhaps she should read one of them.

Her political judgement has been so poor that for two years now she has been chasing Abbott and the opposition down every nasty little rat-hole that they can find.  As if that was ever going to be a path to glory.

If she isn't damaging the economy by pursuing a "Budget Surplus" then she is damaging people by incarcerating them on Nauru.  Or sucking up to the US and shafting Assange.  What on earth were she and the Cabinet thinking?

And now the Libs smell blood and think they will nail her over events from her union days.  And the entire media circus are on the case because they think the Libs might be able to pull it off.

The reason that Abbott and the Libs have adopted their "Batshit Crazy" approach to opposition is because they know that Gillard will steal the juicy bits.  She does that because she has no "intellectual argument" of her own to offer voters - all she can do is chase after the same racist and pig-ignorant voter that Abbott has targeted.

And by stealing the Libs "Batshit Crazy" agenda - what she has actually done is destroy her own credibility.

Like I said a junior politician - out of her depth.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bogan hunting day

Today must be bogan hunting day.  How else to explain why both Abbott and Gillard have ramped up the rhetoric and are continuing to beat up on asylum seekers.

Abbott is still calling asylum seekers "illegals" and wants them to join the "work for the dole" scheme to stop them acquiring a "welfare" mindset while they spend 5 years waiting to be re-settled.

Gillard doesn't yet know what to do with them because she hasn't yet read the Libs nasty new plan - and the morons on the Labor right haven't yet told her what to say.  But when she does say something you can rest assured that she will try to outdo Abbott.

These two gutless wonders are a national disgrace.

Abbott is just an opportunist - who thinks that he can weasel his way back into Government with the help of the dogwhistle and the dimwitted.  And Gillard is just not up to the job.

Their lack of international experience is how they got us into this mess in the first place and also why they don't understand how their behaviour damages our nation.

The sooner we are rid of them both - the better.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's a sick little state Virginia

So what do you do when your personal circumstances change and your income reduces?

Do you slow your spending a bit - look for smart ways to trim expenditure and seek out clever ways to make your dollar go further?

That is what most of us would do - but it's not what some Australian State Governments are doing.

After living high on the hog for much of the past decade - creaming it in with ever increasing GST and Stamp Duty charges - those State Government revenue streams have flattened and their growth has slowed.  Because much of it was driven by the *unmentionable* housing ponzi.

So what have the various States done to accommodate their new circumstances?  Well in South Australia they have gone after new revenue.  And very creative they are too - because there is really only one way for them to capture new revenue.  And that is by taking it out of your pocket.

So Government fares, fees, fines and other charges are growing - at a rate that is way beyond reasonable.  Plus they are manufacturing new rules and laws that result in you wearing new and excessive costs.

I have had a couple of personal experiences recently that left me gobsmacked - their revenue grab is way out of control.

This particular state has no shame.  If the Opposition were even half competent they would already be in power.

Question: "What are we citizens supposed to do when the Government is milking us and the Opposition thinks the solution is to slash and burn Government services"?

It's a sick little state Virginia.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Swinging Voter

I really do wonder how smart our political parties and their leaders actually are.

What seems to drive their approach is the so called *smart* polling and analysis of that magical being - the "swinging voter".

By definition a "swinging voter" is the opposite of a "rusted on" voter.  Apparently, he or she chooses a candidate at election time - based on analysis of the offerings of our political parties.

And people in the backroom think that they have an understanding of who the "swinging voter" is - and as a result they cause *batshit crazy* policy contortions to be adopted by their party - all in order to attract said swinger.

I just don't believe it.  If that is how the political parties operate then I think they have got it terribly wrong.

Firstly, there are few actual "swinging voters" who make choices based on policy alone.  There are many folks however who don't follow politics regularly and who make their mind up at the last possible moment - when they are in the polling booth.

The best way to capture these votes would be to "bribe them with actual cash" or with something else that causes them to recall your political party at the entrance to the booth.  Because they don't give a rats about your actual policy.  This question should be the subject of a couple of dozen PhD's at our Universities ;-)

Secondly, there are lots of thinking voters who are pissed off that our political parties adopt *batshit crazy* policy.  These are engaged voters who think that politics ought be about taking the high road and looking out for the nation and the people.  They hate the fact that the party they are going to vote for has compromised its policy - in order to attract a "swinging voter".

Some of these voters will go elsewhere if your *batshit crazy* policy is too-far off the wall.  Question to politician: Why would you chase after the fickle voter and risk losing the thinking voter?

I suspect that the so-called *smart* analysis by the political parties really isn't.  And if the parties had half a blue clue then they would have already worked that out.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Game of Illusion

More than anything else politics is a game of illusion.

Which is why politics and the media are so intertwined - they need each other to reinforce the myths that they have both created - and to keep we citizens in the dark.

For a long time this little game was rather subtle - the illusions that were conjured up were at least partially believable and as a result, the attempts of the political class to treat citizens like mushrooms were mostly successful.

But I sense that is changing - and rather quickly.

The most obvious example of an unbelievable illusion (or was it delusion) was the failed attempt by the Republicans to manipulate their way into the Presidency.

In Australia there are lots of examples - but one stands out in my mind.  That magical "Budget Surplus" so beloved by Liberal party conservative politicians.

The Liberal party have been banging on about "debt and deficit" for decades.  Few of them actually know anything about how an economy works - but they do know how Dr Goebbels and his "big lie" work.

"The essential leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness.  When one lies, one should lie big and stick to it, even at the risk of looking ridiculous".

They have learn't how to use the "big lie" and they repeat it - endlessly.  To the extent that "low information voters" actually believe it.

And our Labor party - yes Virginia the one that actually gets to pull the levers and decide how the economy is run - is so intimidated by the "big lie" that they have also decided to pursue that magical "Budget Surplus".  They are so scared that the "low information voter" will punish them when next we get to vote that they now own the "big lie".

So tell me again why we would want a Labor government if all they do is implement Liberal conservative policy because they aren't smart enough to create their own illusion?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Royal Commission

I don't know if a wide ranging Royal Commission is such a good idea.  I would have thought that a robust inquiry into the antics of the Catholic Church and its "camp followers" would be a good starting point and appropriate place to focus.  And if that unearthed major wrongdoing in other organisations - then revisit the terms of reference and broaden the inquiry.

Because the way things are looking the Royal Commission will take decades to complete and it will consume $millions of your tax dollars.  Most of the perps will be pushing up daisies by the time it issues findings.  And lots of lawyer profiles will be built on its process.  Does the world really need more "politically savvy lawyers"?

And if a "camp follower" were to accidently become Prime Minister in the meantime then he would probably strangle its funding.

Plus Cardinal Pell has form with obfuscation.  He has devoted lots of personal effort and time to the "climate change denial" industry - documented here and here.  Why wouldn't he deny reality at the Royal Commission as well?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

1954 Fantasy

The Liberals *batshit crazy* approach to opposition is going to bury them.  Just like it buried their mates the Republicans yesterday.  They have no choice really but to discard their crazy right wing fantasy - and head back toward the centre of Australian politics - and reality.  But I fear they won't see it that way.

It's pretty clear to all rational observers that the re-election of Obama has blown a huge hole in the approach of the far right.  They deluded themselves that the 2008 result was an aberration.  Somehow they reasoned that the people got it wrong when they elected a black man to the white house - and all they had to do was stand firm and the voters would come home to "daddy" in 2012.

And now that it is all over and Obama has wiped the floor with them - they are shell shocked.

It's bad enough for the Republicans.  I doubt that they will recover - certainly not within the next term because they have no reality based thinkers to help them understand where they went wrong.  And their so called "think tanks" don't actually do any thinking.  In their eyes they didn't do anything wrong - it was the people who stuffed up - again.

And Faux News will relentlessly push that theme for the next four years - or until Uncle Rupert dies.

And my guess is that Australian Liberal's will be caught in the same trap.  The few actual thinkers in the party are all seriously outnumbered by the far right - and by the opportunists who thought they could smell a "ministerial post" under Abbott.

But as with the Republican fantasy - the Liberal fantasy will fade badly as we get closer to an election - and the real strategic thinkers start to deliver the goods for other parties.

The Liberals will be left with their main cheerleader Uncle Rupert - hanging onto a plan of misinformation, half truths, lies and made up BS - designed to appeal to "low information voters".  Because they actually believe that they can "fool some of the people - all of the time".

Probably because it has worked so well for them in the past - and Uncle Rupert has built his fortune on it.

The trouble is that the people have moved on - but the old white conservative males who run things are still locked into 1954.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Insider Knowledge

There was a time in a prior life when I was enthusiastic about the Melbourne Cup - in fact any form of *beast* racing.

That was because I had a system.  It was a complicated system that used huge amounts of data to build *predictive models* of a race event - and then used those models to find a selection of *beasts* that would likely be at the front of the field - toward the end of the next race.

And then I used that selection in multiple exotic bets - mainly trifecta's and first four's.

This was my "pseudo scientific" approach to gambling.  And it usually worked - wins were much more numerous than losses.  For a couple of years it became my primary source of income - but that is another story.

But what quickly became apparent is that the data collection was onerous and time consuming.  To be a consistent winner - huge amounts of data are required - some of which is not obvious to the casual punter.  Weather and track condition and *beast* temperament are quite significant factors - which the form guides never seem to reliably quantify.

But the most significant factor - has to do with "the insider problem".  The industry folks who work and live with *beasts* have insight that is difficult to reliably capture in *predictive models*.

I stopped mucking about with it all when I realised that I couldn't reliably capture that insider knowledge.

But that hasn't stopped others from trying.

The Macquarie Equities Research folks have a good track record - and today they recommend - 1 Dunaden, 24 Kelinni, 15 Maluckyday, 20 Lights of Heaven, 2 Americain and 12 Galileo's Choice.

If you are feeling adventurous then a few trifecta's built with these numbers might be fun.

PS: You know what is hilarious - I won $150 on the sweep at my local pub - with #14 the winner.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Truth Tax

All state governments are moaning about their *revenue* problem and some - like South Australia - have used the opportunity to fleece the poor and vulnerable in their community.

Well state premiers do I have a solution for you.  It's called the truth tax - and here's how it works.

* You tell a lie - then you pay the tax - which is $100.

* Or more correctly - the tax is $100 for every *person* who is exposed to your lie.

So if you, premier - were to tell a little white lie to your spouse and it was discovered then you pay the $100.  But if you were to lie to a reporter say or in front of a television camera - then the tax is $100 times the number of readers or viewers of the resulting story.

And if Uncle Rupert's editor insists on yet another BS front page about how "we'll all be rooned by this government" then the tax due will be $100 multiplied by that rags' circulation.

You get the picture.  It starts on 1st January next - so you have got plenty of time to prepare.  You will probably need to stock up on lots of soap and water.

But look on the bright side.  In the case of South Australia - your entire *revenue* problem would be fixed after about a month - if News Ltd. keeps printing Uncle Rupert's local Sunday newspaper ;-)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fat, dumb and happy

In South Australia we have a state government that has been enthusiastically beating up the "bikies" and the "hoons" - and now they are about to start on the "poor".  Who's next?

So if you are a South Australian and have "outstanding fines" - then the Attorney-General is going to sell your house and/or your car out from under you to recover the money.  Because apparently the state needs it more than you.

This is a state that has perfected the art of "scamming" its citizens with "fear and penalty" programmes and outrageous fines - for quite minor breaches of their "manufactured" laws.

It's also a state where incomes and job security are amongst the lowest in the nation - and where government "scams and associated fines" are amongst the highest.

I am pretty sure that they have a couple of hundred public servants in an office somewhere dreaming up yet more "quite ridiculous" fear and penalty systems - to scam some more revenue from you.

And it's like that for two reasons.

1.  The South Australian Government has been in power for far too long - and like all long term governments - they have become fat, dumb and happy.  Not to mention arrogant.  And frankly the Opposition are worse - because they are even less interested in looking out for the people of the state.

2.  And the people who live in the state are too scared to speak up.  They have been intimidated and cowed.  And most state politicians misread that as "approval" to proceed with their dingbattery.

The truth is that the state is a basket case - mostly due to inept politicians on all sides.  I would love to hear someone dispute this - any takers?

So my advice to the people who live there is simple.  Leave and go somewhere else.  Take your family and your ideas and your assets and go where your contribution is valued.

Or at least go somewhere where you won't be assaulted by the state on a daily basis.

PS: I am happy to debate "anyone" - who thinks the state government is on top of it's game and looking out for the people.  Or even has half a blue clue ;-)

PS2: Yes - it's about time we had a real conversation about how to advance the state - and look out for the people - instead of letting the dingbats on the far right make *dumb* choices for us.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's Laughable

Last Saturday Don Farrell was awarded the top spot on the SA Labor Party Senate ticket - apparently because he was the best person for the job.  But by Tuesday he had decided that he should hand that spot over to Penny Wong because - well who knows?

Apparently the initial *gift* was the result of a democratic process.  Strange really given that Farrell has no profile anywhere and Wong is the well respected Federal Finance Minister.

Anything to do with the fact that Farrell was one of the "faceless men" involved in the *putsch* that replaced Rudd with Gillard?

Well I suppose you could call the process democratic if you branch stack the party with your supporters and then ask them to vote for you.  In your dreams that might be democratic - but in the dreams of the rest of us it is just factional malarkey.

South Australia used to be known as the "shopkeeper" state.  What seems to have changed is that the shop "assistants" have risen up and now dictate terms to the Labor Party and via them - to the rest of us.

How do you feel about that, Virginia?

And it's not just the Labor Party that has been infected by the right wing dingbats.  Remember Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi - doesn't he hold the top spot on the Lib Senate ticket?

Our political parties just don't get it - they are now owned by the arseholes on the right - but they think we voters haven't noticed and don't care.

Think again sunshine.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What a dilemma?

When you - Mr and Ms Australia - eventually take some time to think about why our polity is so broken - and start to analyse our political personalities and their parties - then I urge you to take a moment to reflect on this.

It was 2001 when George W. Bush sent US troops into Afghanistan and 2003 when he started the Iraq war.  The war in Afghanistan is still going - 11 years later.  President Obama - to his credit - pulled US troops out of Iraq in December 2011 after *only* 8 years of death and destruction.

The next US president will probably start another *rabid right wing* war in the Middle East - this time with Iran.  Or that's what Willard and his mate Bibi say they want to do.

The Iraq war in particular was started under false pretences - three so-called western countries (USA, UK and AUS) working in concert manufactured evidence and ignored facts.  Worse - they sent our young men and women off to fight without any consideration of consequences.

4,805 of them were killed and 32,753 were wounded.  And to date in the Afghanistan adventure 39 young Australian's are also dead.  What a waste.

Clearly our politicians aren't very good at history.

But what's worse is that our current Prime Minister doesn't want to find out why we went to war in Iraq - and what lessons we should learn to stop it from ever happening again.

She thinks that it's best not to investigate - because she knows that it would expose lots of political stupidity - not only that of little Johnny and his cabinet - but also of her current puppet masters in the US.

And we couldn't have that - could we.  Not when our entire Foreign Policy is built on the serious "suck-up".

Fascinating isn't it - she knows that a proper investigation will show Howard and his cabinet (including Hockey and Abbott) up as compliant fools - but she won't risk alienating big brother.  What a dilemma ;-)

Which is why it is so important for all Australian's to support this group.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Eternal Love

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are neck and neck because - well who knows?  But the fact that they are says volumes about the collective intellect of the American people.  Because "The Wisdom of Crowds" was supposed to even out the bias and the BS of the vested interests and the stupid people.

Obama is a middle class and middle of the road Democrat who has been doing his best to clean up the god-awful mess that he was left by George W. Bush.  He isn't perfect by any means but he is trying hard and he has been making good progress for 4 years.  He deserves another term.  His biggest failure is that he spent lots of time negotiating with the Repubs - thinking they were reasonable folks.

The main reason that his progress has been slow and intermittent is because those Repubs have been blocking his every move.  Plus they just won’t accept the fact that a black man is in the white house.  Some of us call that racist.

And Romney is part of the 1% and probably just another "ugly far right wing Republican".  But even that is a guess - because he has had more contorted positions than Linda Lovelace.  He won the Republican nomination by being further to the right than Attila the Hun - but donned the useful disguise of "just another harmless old man" in the debates.

My guess is that he is probably a better actor than Ronald Reagan - and will revert to "ugly right wing Republican" when and if he wins the election.

Which will be a pity - because the last thing the world needs is another half-arsed US President - exporting Republican ignorance and arrogance via US military might.   George W. Bush did enough stupid stuff in his eight years to last the US a lifetime.

But the fascinating thing for me is that 300 million Americans appear so evenly split.  This decision should be a no-brainer - but apparently it isn't.  Very scary stuff.

And Australian politicians thought it was a good idea to pledge "Eternal Love" to the US.  We seem to be as mad as they are.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crowd source the Country

I am starting the search for a new country - because I am pretty much over the one that I already have.

I won't get into the details here but 40 odd years of pisant, populist politics has so fcuked this place that there is just zero possibility for us to get back into the main game.  Most of the rest of the region has already bypassed us and those countries that haven't will probably do so in the next decade.

You won't like them but here are just some of my gripes.

* Our national industry policy appears to have been developed by a kindergarten class out in the burbs of Canberra.  Because there is zero recognition of the need to resource, build and develop any smart industries that employ people - or which add any value.

* We have all been encouraged to think that the path to happiness and wealth is by owning a double priced McMansion in suburbia.  And we encourage every high-school dropout to spend their life's work - jerry building them.  What an enormous waste.

* We won't put our effort into a small business - because we know it will be trampled by a monopolist big business - so our investments are all around buying and selling real estate.  All supported by the biggest tax scam in history - "negative gearing".

* Australian's who earn real money - work at digging holes and shipping dirt overseas.  They fly-in and they fly-out and think they are the new upper class.  Our entire national infrastructure is dedicated to supporting their day jobs.

* As a result almost no-one these days has been educated beyond high-school - or if they have then it's a lightweight little degree that was on special somewhere - or found under the flap of a weet-bix packet.

* The Reserve Bank's main job is to keep the housing bubble inflated - and if Uncle Glenn ever took his eye off the ball - then our "national wealth" would disappear down the plughole faster than a Collins Class submarine in "dive mode".

* The Government's main job is to distribute our hand-outs and to help us to acquire McMansions - it's all become a bit of a circular argument really.

* Our real thinking and design and science and engineering jobs disappeared years ago - as conservative politicians’ fcuked with the education system and did their best to ensure that Australian graduates were replaced with cheap 457 visa holders.

* And we acquire large imported 4wd's because we think they enhance our *status*.  You probably don't want to hear what I think.

* Our entire population is obese and unhealthy.  Because we are so poorly educated that we can't tell the difference between salt, sugar and essential vitamins and nourishment.

* We demonise asylum seekers who approach our shores seeking our protection.  And then we send them off to detention hell for 5 years before allowing them to come back and join us at the pub or the footy.

* We have been conned into allowing expensive monopolies across all the touch points of our life.  If it's not a government agency screwing us - then it is usually a bank or a supermarket or a retailer or a utility giving us the finger.

* About one eighth of our people live below the poverty line - but that is OK because they are too poor to be of any value to our political or media classes - so no-one gets to hear much about them.

* And BTW, our media is also fcuked.  Mostly our so-called journalists can't work out how they lost their influence - and so they have reverted to even more outrageous and made-up faux BS each day.  Seriously, have you watched morning television recently?

* That our federal government values a budget "surplus" above funding "research" tells you a bit about their priorities.

* And our state governments are all about creating jobs for life - for their political class.  Some of whom spend an entire lifetime on the seat while sucking at the teat.

* And speaking of politics - we have two opposing federal political leaders who have zero international experience - but who we allow to start wars overseas in our name - and who send our troops into harms way at the whim of every half-arsed US President.

* Our political class are so in love with the US that they pledged eternal loyalty years ago - without bothering to tell us.  And now we can't escape that deadly embrace.

I am so outa here - and I am looking for your inputs to help me decide where I should go.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ranny's nasty little legacy

Blue or red, Liberal or Labor - it doesn't seem to matter much - because South Australians often end up with repugnant laws - regardless of the colour or the marketing ideology of the political party that is in power.

And this particularly nasty law is just one of them.  By any measure, the confiscation and selling or crushing of citizens vehicles - by the state goes completely against any concept of natural justice, personal rights and fairness.

Chris Kourakis is *so* right to oppose this.

This state government and their police force are terribly out-of-control.

What is particularly galling is that they have already had "world class" advice on how to deal with the road toll - and have just ignored it.  If you missed it, the report is here.

This is one of the very nasty legacies of the Rann era.  All because media Mike was finely tuned to the 20% of voters - mostly right wing geriatrics - who are Authoritarians and who would cheer him on when he beat up the "Bikies" and the "Hoons".

Who's next for some unwanted police attention - the grandma's and grandpa's who like a little bit of horizontal folk dancing on Saturday afternoons?

I wonder what they are all thinking now that Ranny's best mate Lance has been found to be a cheat?  Are the police going to confiscate his bike - and crush it ;-)

It's a sick little state, Virginia.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mobile Broadband - mostly crap

Spare a thought for regional Australian's who are trying to find reliable mobile broadband services beyond the boundaries of the big cities.

Where I am today - in a large regional centre not very far from a capital city - the mobile broadband services are - to use a technical term - *mostly crap*.

I have a variety of 3G devices (from Huawei and Sierra Wireless) registered with three of the local carriers (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone) - just so I can kid myself that one of them might actually work when the others don't.

Everyone will tell you that the Telstra service is the best performer in this space - but that is not my experience at all.

It is true that the Telstra Next G service is marginally faster than that of the competing 3G services.  But it is terribly unreliable and just stops for minutes (sometimes hours) at a time - it even does this in the big cities.  The other 3G services are much slower but they usually do keep going.

I am not technically knowledgeable about this gear - but it looks to me like the Telstra service is just hugely congested - and that is probably also true for the other carriers.  I was in a Telstra shop today and the geek there was trying to sell me the new Telstra 4G service.  From all accounts it is much better.

But - do I really need three 3G services and a 4G service - just so I can access the internet when I am away from home base?

I will probably acquire the 4G thingy - and it will probably be better for a while - but when that starts to slow down will they release something called 5G?  And what will I then do with all my existing services and hardware?

Does anyone out there have any suggestions about how to deal with this problem?

Friday, October 19, 2012

They are at it again

Over the past 42 years - the Liberal Conservatives in South Australia have been in charge for 12 years and the other team - the Labor Conservatives have run the State for 30 years.  That's 2.5 to 1 in favor of Labor - not that it makes much difference.

You would imagine that those numbers would cause a little bit of reflection at Liberal Party HQ.  But you would be wrong.

And one of the main reasons is because the South Australian Liberal Party has no idea how to win - and never has.  They have no policies, no people of substance, no plan for the state, no idea where they are going or how they will get there.  They are clearly a party of politicians who prefer opposition.

They think that they can constantly shuffle leaders and that will make them attractive to voters.  All this in a state where large numbers of voters are naturally conservative - and would actually vote for the Liberal party - if the party and it's leaders had half a blue clue.

This is one of the most amazing "stuff-up's" in Australian political history.  And the scariest thing is that their seat warmers in the State Parliament still don't get it.

Because next Tuesday they are at it again - to decide who their new *Leader* will be.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We don't do *many* carbon atoms here

Have been working on this little motorised runabout for the past couple of days.  Not finished yet - but you will get a bit of an idea of the layout from this - four view concept image - taken from the 3D model.

4.8 metres long, 2 metres beam with just a little hint of innovation in the layout, build and propulsion.

Including an efficient compressed air powered outboard motor.  We don't do *many* carbon atoms here.

Room for a couple to have a reasonably comfortable - and cheap - weekend away from the kids - exploring  the watery parts of our planet.

Or maybe not - because it won't have the same *status* as a fast depreciating and gas guzzling 4WD on the never, never - will it Virginia ;-)

Andrew, Adam and Robert

There isn't much intelligent discussion going on - in and around our politics - but this is well worth 40 80 minutes of your time.

Andrew Leigh, Adam Bandt and Robert Manne are having a real adult conversation - all in front of a lot of other interested people.

This is a good example of the sorts of conversations that the rest of us should be having - each and every day between now and the next election.

The question is - will we?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Low information voters

The low information voter is engaged with our polity - only at the periphery.  We may well be "rusted-on" to a particular political party and its "marketing ideology" but that doesn't mean that we actually understand anything about its real agenda.

That's why the parliamentary turmoil of the past week is a good thing.  A Prime Minister showing some "passion" about something is a great way to re-connect with people who have become increasingly remote from our polity.

The greater the involvement and commitment of the people - the better it is for our democracy.

Unfortunately, that's not what the political parties want.

Most Australian's take our polity for granted - we don't understand it and we aren't interested enough to devote effort to find out about it.  Which is why large numbers of us have become "low information voters".

Low information voters don't understand or question the motives of our political parties.  And we certainly don't consider the consequences of voting for them.  All we are interested in is our team winning the "horse race" come election day.  And as a result, large numbers of us have somehow been convinced to vote against our own personal interests.  Of course we don't even realise it - but that is what we are doing.

Because they have trained us well.  First the political parties captured our polity.  Then they worked out how to make us "rusted-on".  Then they managed to get us to cheer for them during their confected "horse race".  After "the cup" is decided they want us to ignore them for the next 3 or 4 years so they can hoover up entitlements - without our scrutiny.

Because the whole thing is a mirage - designed for the benefit of the political parties.  And without "low information voters" - it just wouldn't work.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Here's the thing Margie

Mr Abbott has rolled out his wife Margie - a "civilian" to reassure undecided voters that he is worthy of our consideration when next we vote.  And Margie tells us that Tony "does not have a problem with women".

Well fair enough - I guess you would know Margie.  But while you are on the national stage - what about a few other things that concern us about your man?  Perhaps you can reassure us about these things as well.

* Tony thinks that Climate Change is crap.  Is that a view that your entire household has - or is it just one that he thinks will win him a few extra votes from the dingbats on the far right?

* He does seem obsessed with "turning back the boats" and he frequently calls asylum seekers "illegal’s".  Is that his feeble attempt to corral the racist and the dim-witted amongst us or are those positions also strongly held by you and your family?

* Tony does tend to talk our economy down a lot - and berate our government for not doing things the way that he would do them.  Is this something that he does at home?  Does he insist on "his way or the highway" with you and the kids?  Or is this just his little charade in the Parliament to impress the voters?

* Plus, he does tell a lot of lies.  Tony uses *lies and fear* as political weapons to scare low information voters and confuse them about the "carbon price", "asylum seekers", "the economy" and lots of other complex things.  Does he practice these lies at home?  Does anyone in your household believe them?  Does he often lie to you and the kids?

I mean - I am just curious to know if his *batshit crazy* approach to opposition is something that he does because;

(a) He thinks we Australian's are stupid and will fall for it or;

(b) He and his family firmly believe in it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Conroy's red underpants are a real shame

You would think that our "world class" Telco’s would be falling over themselves to "fill-in" the gaps that are now so obvious as a result of the lack of progress with the NBN.

Regional Australia in particular is being short changed.  Broadband services are bad enough in the cities - but venture out into the regions and they are non-existent.

And it's all because the Telco’s have been milking their customers for decades and have built their businesses around a marketing model - not an engineering one.  Oversell your services as much as you can and then neglect to build out the infrastructure to deliver those services.  And f*ck your customers.

It might work for a little while but it looks like the three Amigo's have pocketed the proceeds while regional Australians are now paying the price.

Everywhere else that is called fraud.  But here in Australia we just pat the monopolist on the back and ask them if they want another exclusive arrangement or hidden handout ;-)

Part of the problem is because the NBN has been overhyped.  Over the longer term it might provide an answer - but lots of Australian's are fuming at the lack of services and progress - in the here and now.

Where I am today - there is just ZERO available bandwidth - for the entire day to date.  It's like switching off the power to the entire city and walking away.  And it's a disgrace that this can happen in the 21st Century.

If Senator Conroy and his red underpants can't get the thing moving a lot faster then they will be toast when they next front the people in 2013.

Of course that is just what the other side is hoping for.  Meanwhile regional Australian's have become the meat in the political sandwich.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Galah in the pet shop

I laugh a little when some top notch journalist PR staffer tells us that "all politicians lie" and that we voters know that and we don't even mind so much.

Hilarious.  Or it would be if it were true.  The truth is that we *despise* politicians who lie.  And we also seriously dislike their spin and associated stunts that are designed to get us to pay attention to them.  If you don't believe me then #asktony.

But in the "old days" the lies and the spin didn't last very long - they were perishable thoughts ;-)  And the permanent record was difficult to find after the event - and so the politician's outrageous lie tended to be forgotten after a few days.

And while the mainstream media still control that record - and don't resurrect it very often - there is a new kid on the block.

Bob Carr calls it the "Galah in the pet shop".

There are a few citizen bloggers who take the time to record the misdeeds and the BS of our politicians and their cheerios in the media - and to make comment about it from time to time.  And we sometimes manage to re-play those misdeeds long after said politician hoped they had been forgotten.

For example - I am sure that "big Joe" thought that this little lie would have disappeared off the radar by now.   I am pretty sure that the voters of North Sydney will be interested enough to see if he does it again next time.

And if he does then I am willing to bet that the outcome will be a lot different.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Yeah - in my dreams

One of the main reasons that our politicians don't do enough to bulletproof our economy - is because they don't know what to do - take you for granted.

Because they are consumed with staying in office.  The primary focus of politicians is to win elections and to keep on winning them.  All so they can keep their snouts firmly embedded in the trough.  And when they have finished with that then they get shuffled off to a diplomatic post somewhere where they can swan about and spend your money without having to be accountable to you.

Their KPI's are built around electoral success - which is mainly about beating the opposition every three or four years - instead of developing and enhancing their communities and providing opportunity and security for their constituents.

And unfortunately many voters have unwittingly bought into this same shitty deal.  Large numbers of voters are "rusted on" to a particular political party and its ideology.  Or at least some imaginary marketing enhanced interpretation of its ideology.

It's as though these "rusted ons" have lost the ability to "understand" and "think" about alternatives.  They vote in a particular way - always have done - and always will do.  It's how the political parties have designed and built and operate our polity Virginia.

The "rusted on" attitude is exploited by politicians - who do crazy stuff in an attempt to capture the undecided vote.

The best example of this that I can think of is the Liberal's "climate change denial" policy.  Complete BS gets promoted because Mr Abbott knows that rusted on Liberals won't defect - and he might have a chance to add a few more "crazies" to his collection of "rusted ons" by announcing that climate change is "crap".

Does it work?  I don't know - but he thinks it does ;-)  Too bad about the planet.

The best way to get politicians to start talking and acting sensibly will be to stop being "rusted on".  Take some time to listen to and understand your local candidates and their political parties - and then vote accordingly.

Put the wind up them and make them develop and offer up policies that are in the interests of the nation and the people.  Introduce some reverse fear into the election process - where the politicians are fearful that the voters won't elect them until they start to behave.

Yeah - in my dreams.

PS: Matt Taibbi has a much better political story - here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dimwits in charge

Today Standard & Poor’s downgraded South Australia's credit rating to "AA" from "AA+" - whatever that means.  But I suspect that little game ain't over yet Virginia.

That particular state has been in terminal decline for decades - the local polity is so broken that there is just no possibility that a "white knight" will turn up to rescue the place anytime soon.

As in most Australian states the type of person who is attracted to state politics - is not the type of person who is needed to get the place working again.

What’s needed is a vision and a collection of ideas and some comprehensive understanding of how to execute them.  I will return to that in another post.  In the meantime you might like to type the word "innovation" into the search box on my blog and hit Enter - or even read this.

Instead what we have is a political class and a bureaucracy in terminal decline - who's only purpose, has become to chase revenue, obfuscate and annoy hapless citizens.

Here is a small example.  Recently I was cruising along in my classic Citroen on one of the least congested and most remote highways in the state - when a police cruiser clocked me for being over the 110 km/h speed limit.  Fair enough I was doing 124 km/h.  The situation was safe and neither I nor anyone else was in danger - and the fine was $320.00.

In my opinion - the penalty is way out of proportion to the crime.  The thing that gets in my craw are the arbitrary numbers that are involved.  So why isn't the speed limit 112.345 km/h - for example.  And "who" is to say what is safe - and what isn't.  Not the highway patrolman - whose *only* interest was filling out the revenue form and checking paperwork.

It is sickening to realise that we citizens are being screwed silly - all to feed the dumb-arsed political machine.

But my complaint will make no difference - because in a couple of years the incumbents will get turfed out and another set of dimwits will be in charge and there won't be any corporate memory to guide them either.

The only question is "Why do we tolerate it"?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cranks and Crazies

An issue that we will need to deal with soon is the fact that our political parties have inserted themselves between the people and the parliament.

These days it's the political parties that *control* our polity.  They decide who gets to sit in the parliament, who gets to call themselves "dear leader" and which policies are offered up to the people at election time.

And because "not paying attention to politics" is baked into our culture - we voters haven't even noticed that anything is amiss.

But even with all that Mr Abbott finds himself between a rock and a hard place because his state Liberal colleagues have selected, endorsed and even managed to get quite a few *cranks and crazies* elected.

They usually populate the Senate - because Australians are apparently less interested in who gets to occupy those seats.  I would love to see a real analysis of Australian voters' knowledge of the Senate - it would probably blow your mind Virginia.

Recently we saw a South Australian Senator implode and there are a few others  scattered across the political landscape waiting for the right moment to claim their 15 minutes of fame.  I am personally wanting to hear the Lib Senate leader from Tasmania tell us his version of the *facts of life* ;-)

We already know that many Australian's will vote against their own personal interest - when confronted with glitter and shiny stuff and Lib BS.  The problem for the Libs is that they thought they owned the crazies - and could control them.  But it appears they were mistaken.

The crazies are just using the Libs to climb the ladder of opportunity - it's going to burn them and the voters who aren't paying attention - but it's hilarious to watch.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

F*ck You Australia

When Mr Abbott tells Coalition Members of our Parliament in both the House of Reps and the Senate - that he won't tolerate them *freelancing* - what he is really saying is "F*ck You Australia".

He thinks that as so-called Leader of the Liberal Party that he is entitled to tell your elected members what to do, how to think and what to say.

And most of your Liberal and National MP's apparently agree - because they tug their forelock and say yes sir - no worries sir - as long as you get us back into government sir - so we can get our snouts back into the public trough sir.

When the Australian Federation was created there was no thought for "political parties" or even for "political party leaders".  The intent of the founding fathers was to create a House of Representatives and a Senate - comprised of individual members who were elected by your vote - and who were accountable only to you and the other voters in their electorate.

The idea was that these House and Senate MP's would offer up to you and the other voters a compelling value proposition that would cause you and the majority of the rest of the voters to prefer them over the competing candidates - at election time.

Our founders designed a parliament where local competition was expected to result in a diverse and high quality selection of candidates being elected and sent to Canberra - to make important decisions for and on behalf of the nation and it's people.

And there was no concept of your elected Member being part of a "Marketing Franchise" - like McDonalds or KFC or Harvey Norman.

And yet that is how things have turned out.

Our MP's were supposed to think and act and behave in the "National Interest" and what we have discovered this week is that Mr Abbott thinks *he* can tell them what to do.

The "National Interest" seems to have somehow been replaced with "Mr Abbott's interest".

Funny but I can't recall ever being asked to vote for that - what about you?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's Appalling

I am talking about the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.

Now I like to think that I am a reasonably astute and technically aware individual - I have been working with information technology for nearly forty years - and I have run a couple of statistical analysis software companies.

But I just can't navigate the ABS website.  It is impossible to find any real data at a state, regional or local level.  It is easily the most inconsistent and overloaded website that I have *ever* experienced.

For goodness sake - whoever is in charge - employ some proper design folks and let them determine the layout of your web pages.  Start again - because most of us have no idea what a Catalogue Number even is.

The ABS people might know something about data and statistics - but they clearly know nothing about data presentation and category navigation - let alone user interfaces.

It's one thing to have a high quality national statistics organisation - but it all counts for nothing if you can't disseminate the information.

Lets get this fixed now - for everyone's sake.

Slow Thinking Conservatives

Some of you will know that I spend a bit of time in South Australia - because I have family there and it's where I do a bit of *boat building*.

Mostly I hang out in a little seaside village that is hidden away from the rest of the world.  And that is just how the locals like it.

The location is great and the weather is mostly good but the place suffers in other ways.

Take politics for example.

The place is seriously conservative - like much of regional Australia.  Both the State ‫and Federal MP's are "right wing" conservative Liberals and it has been that way for ever.  The really scary thing is that many locals don't even know what that descriptor means.  You think I am kidding don't you, Virginia ;-)

The current State MP has the second safest seat in the State parliament - with something like a 26% margin.  He could be a cardboard cutout and the locals would still elect him.  There are a few who think he is.

It reminds me of Michael Moore's attempt to get a Ficus elected to Congress.

Which brings me to my point.  Infrastructure - or rather the lack of it.

Over the past 42 years - the Liberal conservatives have been in charge for 12 years and Labor has run the State for 30 years.  That's 2.5 to 1 in favor of Labor.

Interestingly, those numbers also reflect the infrastructure investment that has been made in this place.  It's been woefully underfunded - particularly the important areas like education and health - don't even think about roads and water supply.

I suppose there will come a time when the locals will realise that they have been short-changed as a result of their political choices.  But I sometimes do wonder if anyone who lives there is actually paying attention?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Conservative Soulmates

Like their soulmates in the US and the UK - our conservative party has gone seriously off the rails.

The US Republicans and the UK Tories and the AU Liberals have been taken over by the mad right wing.  They have installed ideological and cultural warriors across their leadership teams and are doing their best to convince their constituents to "vote against" their own personal interests.

Dingbat right wing policies sometimes gain a little traction - because the full effect and intent is seldom advertised upfront.  It is only when the people actually develop an understanding of the impacts - that they realise they have been screwed.  Fortunately the process of learning and understanding is helped along when an arrogant State Premier can't help himself - and abuses his position ;-)

After which the people usually work the game out rather quickly.  Thanks for that Campbell.

The Liberal game plan is now pretty obvious to everyone.  And the amazing thing is that it has been discredited everywhere else that it has been tried.  Don't believe me - check out the impact of the Tories version of *austerity* on the UK economy?  The place has been royally stuffed.

Like when was it actually in the interests of the people and the nation to slash and burn the public service and sack public employees?  When was it in the national interest to hand vast sums of government money to international corporations to do the work of those public employees?  And who actually voted for any of that anyway?

The job of our political class is to look out for the nation and for the people.  But conservative politicians don't worry about any of that - because they worship at a different altar.

Might be a good time to revisit the intent of R.G. Menzies when he established the Liberal Party.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dingbat Ideology

Australian conservative politicians are going a bit ratty on us.  You can see evidence of that in the recent behaviour of SA Opposition Leader, Isobel Redmond.

She had a serious "brain fade" recently and let the cat out of the bag about her intent to demolish the public sector when the Liberals get into government.  She said that she wants to sack 25,000 public servants.  And when that became public knowledge - she recanted and said it was all a mistake.  Sure it was, Virginia.

Her soulmates in Vic and NSW and QLD have already begun to slash and burn the public sector.  Her only mistake was mentioning it.

All because Liberals have been captured by a dingbat right wing ideology that has it's origins with the tea baggers in the US Republican party.  They basically want to reduce government down to nothing and the quickest way to do that is get rid of the people who run the place.

Notice how they always want to sack the public servants - never the politicians?

They much prefer those "magical" budget surpluses to employing people or even educating their constituents or keeping them healthy and safe.  If you can kill the memory of how things work then you can re-build government in your own crazy image.

And their constituents don't yet know that this is really about the transfer of wealth to the *private* sector.  Sure the Liberals will decimate the public sector but they will also *outsource* many government functions to their mates in the "white shoe" brigade.

If you think that government is bad - wait until you see government services delivered by charlatans and crooks - trying to maximise their *performance* pay.

And it's not just the state Liberals who are doing it.  Mr Abbott has a similar - and much larger and more dangerous - plan.  His mates at the IPA inadvertently released his roadmap this week - which contains about 75 things that he will slash and burn.

They even confirmed this one.

Look it's fair enough for opposition's to have a different plan for government.  The only problem with the Liberals agenda is that they aren't up-front about their intentions.

They think they will sneak back into government under false pretenses and then slash and burn the place - and that Australians will be happy to let them.

I don't think so.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Design Tools

There has been a bit of discussion around the software tools that I use for by boat design projects.  So I thought that I would expand on some of those capabilities here.

The key design philosophy that I have adopted is to design and build "hi-tech" boats using "low-tech" and mostly "sustainable" materials.  So I am primarily interested in using plywood and other timber products - usually held together with epoxy and often with glass and sometimes Kevlar or other semi exotic skins.  I try to minimise the use of carbon fibre (cost) - but usually have a bit of it in each project.  I am currently testing some green (non petroleum based) epoxy products - and they look promising.

I am not interested in using solid fibreglass or other carbon intensive or petroleum based materials.  I have been using a bit of aluminium but have recently moved to lightweight steel space frames instead.  Too early to tell how successful that will be.

Basically I have four main pieces of software in my design kitbag.

* Hullform - for the hydrostatic related elements - to analyse the model hull displacement and related things.  I have used Hullform for many years now.  A couple of years ago Peter Rye made the source code available and I spent a bit of time building my own custom version which I have compiled under MinGW on Windows.

All my custom software is built with the GNU tools - because they just work.

* MOI - for the graphics design and physical layout.  This is easily the best 3D modelling software on the planet.  I have tried everything from the so called "industry standard" 2D CAD (mostly rubbish) to high end 3D Modelling and nothing even comes close - when designing a complex structure - quickly and accurately.  The thing that I really like is that it just works and keeps working.  It won't crash and destroy your model.  Michael Gibson is a bit of a hero - he has built a great product and deserves our support.  If you are interested in 3D modelling then you can do a lot worse than to use MOI.

* Monoc - my custom software to help with the analysis and design of my custom *monocoque* timber structures.  These are basically bonded plywood cores on laminated frames with longitudinal stringers - all wrapped in glass and sometimes poly or Kevlar skins - glued and encapsulated in epoxy.  I built this years ago and revisit it from time to time as product circumstances change.  It allows for optimisation of the final hull and deck monocoque structure - to achieve maximum stiffness with minimum weight.

* Perform - Someone else's custom software to analyse the *performance* of the combined "hull" and "rig" design - over a dozen or so standard but typical courses.  So what this does is simulate the sailing performance of the current design which then allows comparison and analysis between a number of competing designs.  A process of testing and elimination finds the best performing model.

So when we are close to the end point of any particular design then we will usually have been through an iteration of more or less than a dozen models.  The published design is usually the standout of that process.

PS - Nothing to do with boat design - but these guys are pushing the envelope with their design innovation.  Do any Australian's know why this can't/won't happen in Australia?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Escape Machine

When my day job takes me "on the road" and I have settled into my hotel room for the evening, I sometimes grab a nice bottle of wine - put my *boat design* hat on and think about what my next "escape machine" might look like.  Then I fire up my design tools and build a virtual version of it.

And when I get some time between work gigs then I can usually be found in my *workshop* actually building one of them.  Here and here are a couple that I prepared earlier.

Actually that's not strictly correct - this one is still in the shed - should be in the water later this year.

I know that engineering design and creativity and innovation are supposed to be dead in this country - but I can't help myself ;-)

The thing that makes it all work are the tools and the *knowledge* and the people who create them and use it.  These days it is possible to design any physical object by first creating a 3D model - and only building the real thing after you have proved and de-bugged the virtual design.  It's called virtual prototyping.  And surprisingly, it doesn't require tens of millions of dollars to be paid to US Corporations as incentives ;-)

I am guessing that our tertiary education institutions are all over this like a rash - doing their utmost to help our industry compete.  Or at least they would be if they didn't have *moron* right wing state government's slashing and burning the *education* programme.  Jeez we do stupid better than anyone - Virginia.

I have been thinking about a bit of a radical boat for a while now - as outlined here.  That idea has developed into something of substance - two 4.8 metre hulls - joined end-to-end at the cockpit.  It's basically a big double-ended and multi-chined sharpie - with water ballast, a centreboard and a sprit schooner rig.  It's the next one to occupy my *workshop*.

And by contrast - here is a fun little trimaran - and a radical catamaran.

Monday, September 10, 2012

David Marr #asktony

Here's the thing.

I don't much care for a clever and nuanced analysis of someone who has an agenda that is mostly about screwing people - and returning the nation to the 20th century.

Unless it is going to expose some truths - which of course it never would.

The single question of Mr Abbott that I and many other Australian's are interested in - is this.

"What will Mr Abbott do to advance the interests of the nation and the people - when he becomes Prime Minister - specifically"?

In other words - I want to hear about the five or six priority things that he will focus on and tackle from day 1 - all in his own words?

Only when we hear and understand them - will we be able to judge the man and his programme.

Sorry, but every thing else is "fluff and bubble" and made up BS all designed to obfuscate.

Be present & be pleasant

I had a quite serious conversation over the weekend with an old and experienced political staffer.  The conversation really opened my eyes - and the booze wasn't too bad either ;-)

The standard approach of all politicians everywhere is to "Be present & be pleasant".

What this means is that our politicians need to be seen - everywhere and anywhere.  Hence the "Be present" bit.  Being seen means being as "over exposed" as possible within their local community.  They will usually become members of as many local sporting and social clubs as possible.  And often the local business or farmers association and even the local council are good targets for aspiring politicians.

The whole point of it is to get themselves out and about and in front of as many of the *locals* as possible.  Plus it will often get them into the local media - who often have nothing else to report on except sport.

But usually their actual intellectual contribution is minimal - because that hinges on the "be pleasant" bit - which is the hardest thing for someone with a working brain to do.

Apparently it is vital not to "piss anyone off" and so there is a standard process used by successful politicians everywhere - to listen intently and agree with everyone - when engaged in conversation.

The idea is to be a great and frequent listener - and an infrequent speaker.  In other words, they need to pretend to be interested and concerned enough - that you will feel satisfied when you have unloaded your gripes on them.

The only speaking we expect from them is when they are opening a new sporting facility and in that process they are heaping exorbitant praise on the locals for building and staffing it.

Of course it is all a charade. Because politicians are concerned with getting elected - not with fixing your problems.

But the thing that is really interesting about all this is the character and personal makeup of the people who do it - term after term.

There are few people with the self discipline to get elected regularly.  The ones who do are naturals - which also means they are the wrong people to change things.

So next time you get to choose a political candidate - vote for the bloke with the opinion and the big mouth - at least he has the passion to do something - other than get elected.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lawyers doing rocket science

Far too much political discussion in Australia is built around fairytales and myths.  "The Liberals are always better at looking after the economy", "Labor is always better at education and health", "Liberals are the party of small business", "Labor is the party of big government".

It's all BS of course.  But the politicians and their partners in crime - our *world-class* media think we citizens are too stupid to engage in a real adult conversation - so they  incessantly recite these fairytales.

And they think the *rusted-ons* will blindly repeat their mantra's and vote accordingly at the next election.  Well it worked as recently as 2004 - when the most deceptive politician in recent history asked us - "Who do you trust"?  And we gave him 3 more years and he gave us WorkChoices.

Things would have continued along as they always have - except for two things that have changed everything.

Firstly, the Coalition elevated a "man of no substance" to their leadership - and they seem determined to keep him there - regardless of the wants and needs of the people.  The folks who are currently running the party of Menzies are not clever enough to understand that they would already be in government if they had taken a "moderate centrist" path instead of the "dingbat right" path back in 2009.

Secondly, our government would be doing much better if they hadn't promoted the "B" team and if they hadn't tried to become Australia's second conservative party.  It is inconceivable that an actual Labor government is still waging an unwinnable war, allowing foreign troops to establish bases here and spying on our citizens.  That's what happens when junior lawyers think they are good at strategy or politics ;-)

And then there is the question of competence.  Yes it is true that government is complex.  So is rocket science - but we don't allow lawyers to design and build and operate the space shuttle do we?

The time has long passed when it was acceptable for fools, charlatans and other miscreants to use government as a play thing for their fantasies.  We need a much greater level of competence and accountability in and around our polity.

And we need it to be focused on the national interest and the interests of our people.  Not the friggin politicians and their mates on the gravy train.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Two Stars - Just above woeful

There has been a bit of discussion recently about how our Prime Minister has been badly treated - by the usual suspects in our media and the local blogosphere.  The main offenders are apparently old white males who are annoyed about *something*.

And I do agree that PM Gillard has been under a bit of pressure.  And some of it has been unwarranted and maybe even unfair - if not downright sexist and nasty.  I don't think personal abuse is OK at all.

But having said that I don't think our Prime Minister is up to the job.  It's nothing to do with her persona or her gender.  It's about her experience and skills and ability.  From what I have seen as a politically engaged and active citizen - I rate her performance as "Two Stars - Just above woeful".  And I don't think that I am the only one ;-)

Australia deserves better - much better.

And quite a few of her Ministers are not up to scratch either.  It's not a personal or ideological thing with me.  It's all about my expectations around the quality of our leaders and their skills and knowledge and ability.

I have a strong sense that *somehow* we have ended up with the B team.  There are so many top quality Australian's - why have we ended up with mediocrity all over our polity - Virginia?

I was going to provide examples - but there is simply no point.  Anyone who reads my blog will know my position.

And in case anyone imagines that I prefer the Coalition - I think Mr Abbott and most of his frontbench are actually worse than Labor.  They have done *nothing* to prepare themselves to govern since 2007 - and it shows.  There is just *nothing* about the Coalition that would cause progressive and thinking Australian's to vote for them.  They have been captured by a rabid right wing ideology that will decimate the place if they ever get to pull the levers.

Not to mention an old media mogul - who thinks he owns them.

And we are not going to take it anymore.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

If Only

If only Australia had leaders with the qualities of this man and of this woman.

Can you imagine if one was Prime Minister and the other was Leader of the Opposition?

It really wouldn't matter who was in which job.

If only.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Here is what I would do

The polls are bad, the opposition is leaderless, the press is disintegrating, the mining boom is collapsing and the people are restless.

Must be time for another government handout ;-) Just kidding Virginia.

So if I were Julia then I would be planning an election.  Preferably a double dissolution election - for October.

But even a half senate election will be good enough to throw a bit of chaos into the mix.

Fairfax have lost their corporate memory and the Murdoch press is looking sick. Rupert will be lucky to evade jail when Lord Leveson reports.  Channel 10 is near death and the old Packer mags - including the Womens Weekly have run away to Germany.  All the usual suspects are cacking themselves about their future.

And I am loving it.

Big changes in our media dynamic are a good thing.  Not so much for the preening insiders - but very much so for we outsiders.  Because our media needs a big shakeup and has needed it for a decade or more.  The lies and the bias might survive for a few moments longer but eventually Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt will go the way of the dimwitted dodo.

The only reason they survived so long is because of what little Johnny did to dumb down our education system - and our students - who have since become right wing bloggers ;-)

But back to the election.  October will be a perfect time because by then Labor will have most of their ducks in a row.  All the big policy items will have been outlined and discussed.  And the biggest and most important of those is education.

And where will the Coalition and the mining magnates and the Murdoch press be with their combined opposition programme?  Seriously, who cares?

Perhaps they can enlist Gina's persuasive capability for a few words in support.

The only possible stain on Labor's agenda will be what Nicola Roxon is proposing to do around national security.  But I wouldn't worry about that too much because none of our voters have a blue clue about the implications - and about 30% of them won't even mind if she wants to store our communications data for a couple of years.

So go for it Julia - October looks good to me.