Saturday, November 07, 2020

Australian Elections

The Australian Parliament has two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate is a house of review but can and does block legislation from the the House of Reps. Each state is represented by 12 elected Senators and while the process is complicated, it does allow smaller parties to be represented. Our two major territories have two Senate representatives each.

I am walking on the wild side here, but each state has its own independent electoral commission and they are responsible for state, local government and I think union elections as well as others.

When we vote for our Federal government, the election is conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission, again an independent body. This is a good thing compared to the US where Federal Elections are conducted by states, each with their own styles and methods.

In theory each vote for House of Reps should be equal. I am rather puzzled that in the US your vote in Wyoming can have a greater weight than say in the hotbed of communism, California. Australia is divided into electorates which is direct voting for candidates by numbers and the party of your choice. In theory we do not elect a Prime Minister, but of course who is leading a party and will become PM influences the vote. 

Every so often and hopefully in an unbiased manner, our electoral commission adjusts the boundaries of electorates to take into account changing populations. That is the more people live in this area so they get more vote weight, and these people who are living where population is declining, they receive less weight. It is not perfect nor always timely, but it does correct over time.

Come election day, you may have voted by mail, or maybe pre polled at a designated voting office. But the vast majority of us buy a Democracy Barbequed Sausage, with onions and tomato sauce (ketchup), or a cake from a primary school fundraiser stall and consume them as we line up to vote. In the past your name on the electoral role was crossed out as you received your ballot papers, now it is marked off on tablet style computers. It matters little if you vote left or right. It is all quite convivial. You vote in privacy in a flimsy cardboard booth and deposit your votes into the appropriated two boxes.

So, you have performed your democratic duty and if you haven't done any of the above, unless you have a good excuse, you will be fined if you haven't voted. Many are. Voting in Federal, State and local elections is compulsory. Actually, it is getting your name ticked off as having attended is compulsory. You don't have to vote, just attend or return you mailed ballot papers. 

The newly elected House of Reps party may claim victory that night and the opposition may concede defeat, or if close, it may take a day or two to get a result. The Senate result often takes longer for reason unknown to me.

While our system is far from perfect, I am rather pleased that there is never normally any talk of court challenges, as the Australian government is elected by perhaps over 95% of those eligible to vote and overseen by an independent authority. The rules and election laws are strictly followed.

Pretty pictures tomorrow.

Later edit: Of course this all counts for nothing while The Queen via her non elected Governor General or State Governors can at the stroke of a pen sack any of our politicians.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Card Game and Busy

 You choose your card from those displayed and at the end you are not shown the card you chose but that your card has been removed from those on display. I thought it was very puzzling until R and I played it simultaneously and his different card was missing too. It then clicked. All the cards displayed are different to what is first displayed, with the space where your card was presumably removed. Simple and clever.

R has lost a written document on the desktop and is rewriting it while uttering many bad words, then we are out for dinner. 

I'll see if I can post something later today. If not, have a great weekend. 

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Fancy a card game?

 This is an interesting short card trick for you to try and see if you can work out how it is done. It wasn't until R and I did it together that I worked it out. It is quite simple really... once you know.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Educating me

 It is 2am East Coast time in the US, 6pm here, and an election result is not clear. All of our free to air television stations have dropped normal programmes with wall to wall election coverage. It has never happened before and how tedious. 

I am looking at map of the US with the 2016 election results and I am a little puzzled as to why Illinois surrounded by a sea of Republican red voted for Clinton and not Trump, but when checking a detail, Chicago is the answer I guess. 

Most Democrat states are on the coast, and I can probably understand why Colorado voted for Clinton. But I know little about New Mexico (build the wall turned voters off?) and Minnesota is perhaps the most puzzling one for me.

Can you help me understand New Mexico and Minnesota?


 Retirement Imagined

7.00 Wake, dress, 40 minute walk, listen to podcasts

7.50 Shower, breakfast, take medications

8.10 Sit at desktop

8.30 R arises, makes instant coffee, chat about the day ahead

8.50 R showers

9.10 The day ahead begins

Retirement What Really Happened

7.00 Wake, make instant coffee, go back to bed and play on tablet, while listening to radio

8.15 Get up, make more instant coffee, only ever drink half the second cup, sit at desktop while listening to radio

8.30 Take medications

8.30 - 9.30 Occasionally expose myself in my dressing gown to all and sundry on street from the balcony while checking that trams and traffic are flowing normally. Otherwise, still at desktop

9.30 - 9.45 R arises, makes instant coffee, discuss the day ahead

10.10 R showers

10.40 I shower

11.00 The day ahead begins

God forbid we have to be anywhere before 11.00am

Ok, there is a bit of theatre in the latter and during lockdown we really felt the need to spread the minimal things we could do each day out over the day. It has seemed to have become a habit though. Better do something about that.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Bad news from Vienna

 It is certainly not the cheapest city in the world but I loved Vienna and we had the best time in the city, seeing the sights including a light musical concert in Schonberg Palace, riding the trams, catching the underground train, being amused by a hundpark, seeing glamorous older women dressed to the nines with beautifully styled hair and coffee cake in a cafe dating back to the 15th century. I won't mention the awful Spanish horse dancing. It is so distressing to hear of a crazy Muslim attack on the citizens of Vienna resulting in four deaths and many injuries as gun wielding criminals rampaged through inner areas.

It would be wrong to say you haven't lived unless you have eaten apple strudel and custard (vanilla sauce) in Vienna, but I am so glad I did before the world went crazy.

A Sunday Outing

 We had to bite the bullet at some point and we are back using trams to get around. We caught a tram to the city and then a tram to Ikea in Richmond. People were pouring into Victoria Gardens, the shopping centre location of Ikea. As I always remark to R, Victoria Gardens, although well served by public transport, it set up for cars and not pedestrian arrivals and departures. This is understandable in one way in that people buy large things at Ikea and need their cars to transport what they buy.

We just went to buy a lamp, we cut short the compulsory walk as R remembered where the lighting department was. We went down some stairs and cut through to lighting. 

We found what we wanted, a quality Swedish back light for the tv, made in China costing $18. Then I saw a desk lamp for only $10. Again a high quality Swedish product, made in China.

We had Subway to eat, washed down with very ordinary and expensive coffee from some chain place. Public seating in the food court was still not open, so we found some shade sitting on a bench under a tree outside to eat and drink. We didn't pay $1 for a bag and carried our lamps home in their boxes. Probably no bragging rights to be seen on a tram carrying Ikea lamps. Lucci, maybe. R was exhausted by the time we arrived home, but still insisted on getting the tv lamp set up.

We are happy with both lamps.

Horrible old fashioned bulbous lamp now replaced with a much more modern lamp.

On the surface our place is spotlessly neat. Never look behind our things, or under our appliances, or under our beds.... or my bedside cupboard. 

Monday, November 02, 2020

Understanding the Middle East

Dun worry about it. I don't and nor will you ever understand what happens in the Middle East.

 It was a combination of things that coalesced for me. Our friend Marie in London wrote and posted photos of her visit to Afghanistan in the 1970s. It was a great place for young travellers to visit in the 70s and while I am sure the pure as driven snow Marie did not partake of what many backpacker travellers did in Afghanistan, young people had some crazy good times there.

The same day I read Marie's post I listened to a podcast, and a Kiwi (New Zealand) comedian Pax Assadi with an Iranian Muslim father said, 'you see a couple of hundred mad Muslim men on tv each night who seem to represent the Middle East and you judge all by them. You don't look at those going about their daily lives, working hard and bringing up families with much love and care while striving to have their children well educated'.

It is all too easy to judge the Middle East as being populated by 'mad bastards', but don't. Just don't. 

Musical Monday

 I suppose I spent an hour hunting for the right clip from the 1980 Canadian made film set in Amsterdam called the The Lucky Star, and I have failed. It was performed by the late actor Lou Jacobi in a Jewish? Amsterdam cabaret club during WWII. It was a terrific movie and received some awards but has slipped into oblivion now. The best I can do is this very poor quality clip of the young male star of the movie repeat singing the song after hearing it. Still I had to download the clip and then cut out the appropriate part. So little reward for so much effort and you will have to use your imaginations as to how it would sound if sung for laughs by sending up Hitler in a cabaret. The lyrics are below.

Life could we wonderful, in Amsterdam

Life could be beautiful, in Amsterdam.

When Moses led the Israelites, across the desert sands
He told them there was job for Jews, in the Netherlands
The job was diamond polishing, but what he didn't tell
Only twice a year they're out of work, but in two six monthly spells.

Life could be wonderful, in Amsterdam
Life could be beautiful, in Amsterdam.

If Missus Schicklegruber, Mr Schicklegruber's missus
Had one night said 'Nein, mein heir', to Schicklegruber's kisses
He might have fallen fast asleep, and Adolph, the crazy nut
Would have stayed where he belonged
In his father's you know what.

Then life would be wonderful, in Amsterdam
Life would be beautiful, in Amsterdam.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Extra questions on US ballot papers

 I heard that as well as voting for a President? not a party? in the US, there are what we call referendum questions on ballot papers. I picked up a few from state ballot papers.

Oregon asked, differently phrased of course, but should magic mushrooms be legal to consume? I can envisage a lot of creative art and music coming out of Oregon, none of which I will understand.

Rhode Island is officially called The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Oh, the word plantations is going to kick some people off. Better it is dropped. We won't mention the N word.

Colorado asks should the grey wolf be reintroduced to the Rocky Mountains? Of course it should. Nature's balance and all that, but farmers will bleat like sheep.

I heard an interesting question for those in Washington DC, which was actually a city question. It was so interesting, I have forgotten what it was.

One state (Georgia?) has the confederate flag within its flag and the proposal is to change it to an image of a magnolia bloom. What a great idea. 

Citizens of the US unite and tell me what some of your ballot questions are and of course which state you are in.


Sunday Selections

 Joining with Elephant's Child and others for Sunday Selections, this week a mix of randomness.

What are these things, we asked the florist. Canterbury bells, was the reply. The South Melbourne Market florist has been closed during lockdown and the normally very dour man actually cracked a smile when he saw us approaching.

My quilt cover is never nice and smooth even if ironed. I dried the cover too long in the new washing machine and I quite like this crinkly result.

These murals in Prahran Square brighten things up a little. I think I've shown some before but not these. I like the owl.

Twice we have tried to get our free Domino's Pizza by ordering online, the only way to do it, and failed. We've given up and have returned to our usual supplier. Buying takeaway pizza gives R a night off from cooking but at times he makes them at home and they are delicious. This one is ready to go in the oven. 

I am amazed at how many young people know how to play chess. This photo was taken in happier times outside the State Library. 

What? It was on the corner of Toorak Road and Clara Street and no, I don't remember it and I think I would if I ever saw it. Ghastly.

"I was here first"!
"No, I was here first"!
"Liar! I was!"

I was too late to get a good photo of this callistemon in bloom but it is in front of an interesting flatblock.

Sipping my ISO walk coffee at the very pleasant MacRob Fountain. 

A war commemoration statue of a soldier carrying his wounded mate. Oops, I chopped his foot off.

Ah, here is his foot. I wondered if there was any significance to the rough plinths, but not so far as I can find out.

Corellas feeding on the median strip of our home street.

One, two....

flatblocks plus a house will be demolished that may have housed fifty plus people to be turned into seven luxury apartments housing perhaps a dozen people. So much for increasing the population density in the public transport rich inner suburbs.