28 November 2014

7 observations about voting for the upper house in Victoria

Just a quick bunch of notes about preferencing in the Legislative Council (upper house) for the Victorian state election which takes place tomorrow.

I've done a quick look at the preferencing (at least for Eastern Metropolitan, which is the region I live in), and as always it's quite interesting.  As always, I like to have a look at voting properly, because the group voting tickets (that is, what happens when you “vote” above the line) are really a lottery.

Obviously, folks, I recommend that you vote below the line, and do it properly. I've made a string of observations around this, and I'll discuss these below.

This time around, I am trying to get a better idea of preferencing by the different parties.  This will interest me.  The preferencing of each party is available at the Victorian Electoral Commission’s website and it is well worth a look.

I look at preferencing in one way:

Observation 1: If a party preferences one party over another, it's because they see their policies as preferable.

That's right, folks.  The Sex Party might have righteous policies in regards to censorship and drug legalisation, but they preference the Liberal Democrats, a party of ultra-libertarian lunatics that would gladly have us revert to the Wild West.

This means, folks, that they prefer their policies.

Now, I know that a few of you are going to say “preference deal” and “convenience” and other frankly bullshit excuses for why preference deals turn out the way that they do.  But you need to get over this.  Preferring nazis over moderates (which one party got pinged rather badly for at the last federal election), sends out all the wrong messages and will direct votes to such lunatics over more reasonable entities.

Even the Libs think that Rise Up Australia are a bunch of kooky nutbars, based upon their preference flows.

But you can't just look at this.  Oh no.

Observation 2: Some parties split their preferences in weird and unusual ways.

The DLP is a good example of this.  If you vote 1 above the line, your 9th, 10th and 11 preferences will go to the Libs, but it won't be until your 30th and 31st preferences that you see the rest of the Liberal candidates.

They do the same with the PUP, evidently because they dislike certain candidates intensely, rather than party platforms.

Observation 3: Parties standing for the upper house have policies that no one ever reads.

Folks, look at a list of the parties standing this year for Eastern Metropolitan.  Do you even know who the Australian Country Alliance are, or what it is that they want?

Did you even know that they are not above statements that assert that freeing up the sensitive Winton Wetlands is for kite-flying, or beach umbrellas?  When really, they would rather like duck hunting at Winton to start up again?

Mind you, they at least have a lengthy policy statement.  And whilst it smacks of redneckery, there is stuff in there that is reasonably good as well, such as better rural rail networks.

But you wouldn't know that, would you?  Oh no.  Read up – it's good for you.

But read this first...

Observation 4: When you vote below the line, its optional preferential.

This is interesting.  In the Victorian upper house, you can number the boxes below the line up to 5, and then stop!

This means that if you only want to vote for the first couple of groups – or even only 1 group in the case of the major parties – you don't have to vote any more than one to five.

This is kinda cool. I have two issues with this, though:

Observation 5: If you vote boxes 1 to 5, and your vote gets through 5 rounds, it then ceases to influence the political process.

There is nowhere to go once your five preferences have been exhausted.  This is a good reason for numbering more than five boxes. 

But another reason is this:

Observation 6: Numbering all boxes enables you to put someone last.

That's right.  I would very much like to put Rise Up Australia stone, motherless, last.  Because they're scary theocratic lunatics, that's why.  If I were to only number boxes 1 to 5, I couldn't do this.

Observation 7: It's good to do your research.

This is where how I like to do things.  I start with parties that I'd like to put last, or near the end of the ballot paper.

This year, that will be the following parties:

  • Rise Up Australia – Evangelical protestant fundamentalists with a paranoid flavour
  • Shooters and Fishers – Gun nuts
  • Family First – Evangelical protestant fundamentalists without quite so much paranoia
  • Australian Christians – Traditionalist protestant fundamentalists who are related to Fred Nile's Christian Democratic Party
  • Democratic Labour Party – Catholic fundamentalists, if you can have such a thing.  Generally regarded as more moderate than RUA, FF and AC but still a little loony.  Take abortion for instance.

I then add parties that may be part of the Liberal Democrats circlejerk.  The LDP are a bunch of ultra-free market libertarians.  They like to game the system with false front parties to farm preferences – this year, it appears to be the Voluntary Euthanasia Party (Victoria) which has suspiciously close preference flows, and only came into existence this year.

Lastly, I'm looking at the Australian Country Alliance.  They seem to have positioned themselves as a softer Shooters and Fishers, but sadly their preferencing of the theocrats has not gone unnoticed.

Next is the majors and Palmer United.

Now, just because the preferencing of Richard Dalla-Riva of the Libs by the religious parties is awfully high compared to the other Liberal candidates, (he's not their number 1 candidate, Mary Wooldridge is), I'm putting him at the back of the queue.  This is alarm-bell territory.

Finally, the minors that I like, which will go near the start - In this case, numbers 1-10.  The list is short this year - in no particular order:

  • Australian Greens
  • People Power Victoria/No Smart Meters
  • Australian Cyclists Party
  • Animal Justice Party

Ordinarily, I'd classify the PPV/NSM ticket as a single issue party, but they appear to be interested in broader power and fuel issues as well.  Such as fracking.

Happy voting, all.

16 April 2014

At risk of being labelled an Islamophobe...

I find it interesting that there is, seemingly, this complete oblivion in the atheist community about when statements made about religious practitioners are unfair generalisations.
We had a look at Richard Dawkins a little while ago. In his case, I concluded that whilst he’s been hanging out with the wrong crowd he is in all likelihood, not evil. But he does appear to have made some new friends who are not quite right. Unsavoury, even.
At the time, I compared Dawkins to Sam Harris, who is prone to gaffs, except in Harris’ case, it just seems to be his own case of peculiar logic. I also consider Harris to be largely benign, although Harris lost a lot of his own cred when he tied himself in knots over racial profiling.
Where Dawkins and Harris have it most wrong though, is on the subject of Islamophobia. They're not the only ones: I know of quite a few in the atheist community who think that Islamophobia does not exist.

10 December 2013

Meeting notes

Here's a list of some of the words and phrases that were used by participants in the meeting that I was just in:

bottom line
dedicated resource
back to the economics

04 September 2013

Voting below the line - 2013 edition

I don't think I need to remind you, folks, why it is a good idea to vote below the line for the Senate.  Very simply put, it is TOTALLY UNLIKELY that the party that you want to vote for first will have preferenced the same way that you want to preference.

Theoretically, this should mean that Australians should vote below the line more often than not, but as we have discovered on numerous occasions, Australians couldn't give a rats arse about voting properly.

In my Senate post from the last election, I did a bit of a guide in how to vote below the line for Senate candidates.  I have to update this now, because obviously it's out of date.  And do bear in mind that this refers, primarily, to the Senate ballot paper for Victoria, but you could, potentially, use the same line of thinking for the other states as well.

20 August 2013

A quick post on slurs and preferencing

I’m not planning on doing an ornate series of posts for this election like I was for the last election. If I have to say anything, I probably will say that my opinion on the fibre to the node is the main one in a series of issues that will possibly sway me towards preferencing the ALP over the Libs.

The election is still a couple of weeks away, though.

Ok. That out of the way, it’s worth getting in a post about hardened, rusted-on political party members. I’m not a member of a political party and because I also consider myself a swinging voter, I think that I’m way more objective than most.

I had this discussion with someone on Twitter who is honest enough to post his party membership upfront in his Twitter bio. He’s a Labor man. But I thought this was a rather interesting tweet when he posted it:

10 August 2013

Has Richard Dawkins finally dug a hole that's too deep?

I would have thought that Richard Dawkins had learned something from Sam Harris' mistakes over the past decade.  It would appear not.

Harris' continuing mistake is that he simply fails to understand what is wrong about profiling specific targeted groups of human beings, doing his best to say that he's not crossing any lines by lowballing with straw men containing “racial” or “ethnic”.  And each time he does, there is a collective slap across the globe as faces are buried into palms.  And, like that oil leak that BP couldn't put out in the Gulf of Mexico, he keeps spewing this crap out.

Instead of learning from this, Dawkins has been re-iterating the same tired old arguments as Harris that causes people to think that he's using atheism as a Trojan horse for racism.

Now, I have to say that I'm quite a fan of Dawkins.  I rather liked the Selfish Gene, and even though I had issues with certain parts of The God Delusion, I still thought it was excellent.  But what I find frustrating is that Dawkins doesn't appear to understand where the line has been crossed.

05 May 2013

Fun with libertarians

I should start a webpage where people bait libertarians.  I'll call it Loonbook.  They're pretty easy, really.  A lot of them paint themselves as moderates or centrists, but there's nothing moderate or centrist about them.

Pretty much without exception, they're all raving, ultra-paranoid, grasping right-wingers who see tax as theft and government spending as absolutely necessary if it's on them.  And the moment that you suggest that government does something, you're a "statist" and as bad as the rest of them.

But you know, for the most part, libertarians do mostly the right thing, in standing up for people's rights.  Strangely, though, where people are too weak to assert their own rights, libertarians are only too keen to ride slipshod over them.  Get a load of this fine fellow:

21 April 2013

13 things that you can do to improve your privacy online

I was asked by a mate of mine recently, 'Dikkii.  Why don't you do a blog post about all the privacy stuff that you have done with your browser?'

Personally, this mate of mine is pretty switched on, internet-wise (I cracked a pun!) so I was a bit taken aback that he genuinely wanted to know about why he should get his web-surfing privacy under control.  I thought that he might already have this sorted out.

The reality of it all is, that these days, it's a game with moving goal posts.  To keep up with the companies mining your browsing habits really needs one to be on one's toes.  But it's so difficult.  Consider these:

10 April 2013

Blocked again

I've only been blocked on Twitter once before, that I know of.  That was by Helen Razer and to this day, I have no idea why.  I only know that I was blocked, because I went to follow her one day and found that I could not.

But I thought I'd regale you with this tale of more blockage.  This time, it came about in a record quick exchange with some tetchy Belgians who run an online magazine that goes by the name of Side-Line Magazine.

Specifically, it was this article that suggests reasons why you can't re-sell electronic media files once you've bought them.  It reads as a defence of DRM, because the reasons given is that once you have the file, you might copy it before you re-sell it.  Just "might", mind you - we're not all pirates.

08 January 2013

Alternate method - Linux, Calibre, e-books (epub) and DRM

You may already have read my previous post, where I examined the utterly ludicrous situation that Linux users are placed in if they want to buy, download and finally read an ebook on their ebook reader.

You may recall me mentioning that I had given you the long version.  This post will cover off on the slightly less long version – this is the Calibre plugins version.

Same as before, note that for this exercise, I'm using Linux Mint 14 (Nadia) XFCE.   Also, I'm assuming that the ebook that you purchased was DRM protected by Adobe's Digital Editions software and is in the .epub format.  Most lending libraries use the .epub format for their ebooks, so if you plan on using a library, this will help.  Sadly, if you have a Kindle, this will not help you.  Apologies, however you may notice later on in this that we will be downloading a plugin for Kindle users.  We'll pretty much leave it at that and go no further with that or any other plugins in this post.