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Monday Message Board

June 21st, 2004

Time as usual for the Monday Message Board. Post your thoughts on any topic. My suggested discussion starter on a cold (8 degrees!) winter morning: Which Australian city has the best climate? Which has the worst?

It’s time, as usual, for the Monday Message Board. Post your thoughts on any topic (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please).

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  1. June 21st, 2004 at 11:46 | #1

    Unless you’re Gene Kelly, Perth.

  2. June 21st, 2004 at 11:54 | #2

    It has to be Sydney, although Perth should be heard, assuming we’re talking about capital cities.

    Science has proved that the best climate in the entire country (and probably the entire world) is around Byron Bay, which means it comes down to Sydney or Brizzie. Sydney’s downside is summmer humidity, but Brizzie gets that in spades, without the benefit of Sydney’s seaside microclimates.

    Perth has a case, but suffers extremities on the dry side that rule it out for no. 1 spot.

    As for the worst, look south: Canberra, or Melbourne but probably Hobart.

    That takes care of that. Anything else to talk about this Monday?

  3. matthew byrne
    June 21st, 2004 at 12:34 | #3

    What are peoples’ thoughts on the new Herald poll that has the government ahead in primaries, with labor winning by preferences?

    Is this the signal for the (dis)hon. john to anounce an august election?

    Has the attacks by the US administration on latham had an effect on australian voters?

    When will latham unveil a tax policy?

  4. June 21st, 2004 at 12:56 | #4

    Adelaide. Nice dry air. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I spend most of my youth with a leaking nose because the sinuses were effected by the humidity. Adelaide has big blue skys.I have lived in adelaide since since 1969 and on some years I swear there were times when I got sick of another beautiful, perfect day… Springtime is heaven, the smell of blooms is the perfect accompanyment to some good head and home cooking.
    Sydney is nice for a holiday… the rain and the wet is good for lovers.

    By the way, I have recently finished reading Lathams two years worth of speeches while on a trip to visit my family in the Philippines (why ruin a good holiday you ask). I am a labor man and a loyal attendee of sub branch meetings. Never the less I cant help but think that many of his statements and propositions seem to be theoretically irrational. I like his guerrilla tactics (although he certainly is not in the league of Mao or Giap)but this theoretical frameworks are pretty weird. I am concerned some smart coalition strategist (yeah they do exist) will spot the irrationalities and exploit them.

  5. ML
    June 21st, 2004 at 14:05 | #5

    Thinking about the risk of fraud after electronic voting led to this train of thought: why not give each voter a receipt after voting (I know there are privacy issues). If the receipt gave you access to your raw data, and the electoral tallying was transparent, a citizen group of, say, as few as 50 could statistically audit the poll for faithfulness or otherwise to voters’ intentions.

  6. Stewart Kelly
    June 21st, 2004 at 14:24 | #6

    Are you talking about a take home receipt? Or just a print out of how you voted that remains with the people at the voting booth? Take home proof of how you voted could encourage vote buying and coercion.

  7. June 21st, 2004 at 15:07 | #7

    It depends what you mean by “best climate”…

    Perth’s weather is very livable except for a 2 week period in February each year, but the rainfall isn’t sufficient for a city of its size. We don’t have enough water.

    It’s always been a mystery to me how Perth managed to become the largest city in WA despite Albany having a much more suitable rainfall, climate more familiar to what the English settlers were used to, a natural harbour and an abundance of whales at a time when they were an extremely valuable resource.

    Despite all that, and Albany being a much closer sea route to anywhere, Perth was chosen over Albany. Any history buffs care to fill me in?

  8. observa
    June 21st, 2004 at 15:13 | #8

    Having lived in Adelaide, Darwin and Canberra, it’s hard to go past Mediterranean climates, although water is a problem.

    Jeff Hardy,
    Rest assured the Coalition strategists have spotted Latham’s(and perhaps Garretts) irrationalities. Expect to see them plastered all over the election campaign media, unless pigs begin to fly. No doubt Howard will be well briefed, prior to the now mandatory leaders’ debate. How Latham handles this may be the key to the election result.

  9. Harry Clarke
    June 21st, 2004 at 15:29 | #9

    Not Melbourne.

  10. June 21st, 2004 at 18:13 | #10

    Melbourne.

  11. wbb
    June 21st, 2004 at 22:07 | #11

    ML, e-voting is inevitable and to be welcomed – but it will take a while as people are understandably spooked by the corrupt practices associated with the outsourcing of electoral responsibilities in the USA. This subject has been unfortunately elided with computer-based voting per se.

  12. June 21st, 2004 at 23:27 | #12

    Hobart. Enough rain, but not too much. Never as cold as Canberra gets, never as hot as Canberra gets, just severe enough to keep the sooks out, yet perfectly comfortable for anyone with the foresight to pile on a coupla stones of protective lard in Autumn. Haven’t yet learned how to divest said stones, but …

  13. Peter Murphy
    June 21st, 2004 at 23:50 | #13

    Which city has the worst climate? I think Darwin would win by a landslide if all the tales of the “suicide season” are true.

    As for e-voting: I’m not really a supporter of the practice. I like my paper and pen. But if we have to go with it, let it be open source all the way. One can look at the source code without comprimising an election. Fortunately, that’s what happened with the ACT Electoral commision.

  14. kyan gadac
    June 22nd, 2004 at 02:09 | #14

    Regarding Albany, it was reputed to have the best climate in the world (well, the British Empire) in the 19th Century and I believe a Japanese study recently declared it to be the perfet climate. A mediterranean hideaway, wetter than Adelaide, cooler than Perth in summer and warmer than Melboure in winter.

    Perth was chosen ahead of Albany because of private enterprise and political patronage which Sir James Stirling had in abundance. His description of the Swan River would have drawn the ire of the Trade Practice Commission today.

    Once established, the colony and capital had a momentum of it’s own. Albany was still the preferred port when P&O used it as it’s W.A. stop until the 1890′s and some hope of a move remained. But as mechanical engines usurped wind, the cost of the extra miles to Perth was outwieghed by the advantage of population and politics.

    Perth’s political power has always been a source of some animosity in Albany athough, these days, the good burghers are making too much money selling land to well heeled refugees from Europe and the U.S to get too excited about the injustices of history.

  15. June 22nd, 2004 at 02:27 | #15

    The trouble with a take-home receipt is that it makes it possible to determine how you, personally, voted. Therefore, it makes people susceptible to bribery or blackmail to vote in a certain way.
    Oh, and open-source software is not the way to guarantee that an electronic voting system is secure. There is a classic article by Ken Thompson, designer of Unix, about how, as Thompson puts it “no amount of source-level verification or scrutiny will protect you from using untrusted code”.
    The best solution is to either forget the idea of electronic voting entirely, or use the voter-verified paper ballot procedure proposed by Rebecca Mercuri, where the electronic vote machine essentially acts as a printer of a human-readable voting record that is checked by the voter and gets deposited in a ballot box. A bunch of prominent computer scientists have looked at this and have concluded this is the only way to go.

  16. kyan gadac
    June 22nd, 2004 at 02:59 | #16

    To change topics entirely. I’d like to propose a new kind of state tax. I believe a road train levy would be a justifiable, consitutionally legal tax and you’d cop hell from the TWU. But seriously

    (1) it’s not a tariff, (unless buying a railway ticket is a tariff), to charge a per tonne-km charge for the use of a road. Therefore it’s consitutional for a State to raise a road train levy.
    (2) it can be applied selectively, to particular industries. Which makes it palatable to voters.
    (3) road transport costs far in excess of what it currently contributes towards road upkeep and a levy is a proportional way of recovering some of this unstated subsidy. Current taxation is regressive in regard to damage in that licence fees are the same irrespective of the distance a vehicle travels.

    Road transport tariff would also help shift transport decisions especially for bulk transport goods back onto rail and capture those that, for whatever reason, can’t use rail.

  17. kyan gadac
    June 22nd, 2004 at 03:00 | #17

    Happy Solstice!

  18. June 22nd, 2004 at 03:47 | #18

    Just noticed your email address, Kyan: Mokare was an Albany fella, was he not?

  19. June 22nd, 2004 at 03:56 | #19

    Thanks for that Kyan, I assumed it was some sort of political thing.

    What I was really getting at, though, was why did Stirling choose Perth over Albany?

    Was it just a case of too many people having already staken their claims in Albany for him to get his money’s worth? Or were there some other factors which made Perth superior to Albany in his eyes?

  20. ML
    June 22nd, 2004 at 14:31 | #20

    Stuart and Robert – your points specify some of the content I was only vaguely aware of when I referred to privacy. Reading Rebecca Mercuri it seems then a well-run version of a pen-and-paper system (not chad-based voting machine and not electronic) is least worst. But I still think an abuse-proof/resistant receipt, with its prospects for audit/assurance could be good. How about 1000 identifiable dummy votes for this purpose – sort of like the mystery shopper idea?

  21. June 22nd, 2004 at 16:07 | #21

    With population being what it is, and the fact that we generally have a result that night, and the system allows recounts and cross checking, why change it?

    Really I just love the drama of the results trickling in. An instat KACHUNG at five past six WA time is no fun at all.

  22. k.matts
    June 22nd, 2004 at 17:28 | #22

    Worst: Melbourne, but hang on, if you wait long enough it will change… (on a clear day you can see the rain coming).

    Best: Somewhere between Brisbane and Ballina.

  23. kyan gadac
    June 23rd, 2004 at 01:01 | #23

    Albany was a military outpost from Dec 26 1826, before Stirling got to W.A. so he couldn’t occupy Albany because it was already in use – at least I think that’s the reason. I’ll check up on my facts and update you next Monday .

  24. June 23rd, 2004 at 02:56 | #24

    Adelaide for best. Then, if you like that, Brisbane is the worst. Or Darwin, if it counts.

  25. June 23rd, 2004 at 14:16 | #25

    Ok, thanks Kyan.

  26. Brian Bahnisch
    June 25th, 2004 at 23:52 | #26

    cs, there are heaps of micro climates around Brisbane. Head for “the Bay” if you want breezes and cooler and its about 6C or more warmer on winter mornings than Ipswich.

    I’ve always thought Coffs Harbour best for summer and Whitsunday for winter. Average them and you end up around Brisbane.

  27. kyan gadac
    June 29th, 2004 at 01:21 | #27

    Follow up for yobbo…

    Stirling “had married into the wealthy and influential Mangles family, his father-in-law being a director of the British East India Company” Stirling wrote to Governor Darling in Sydney to establish a settlement on the Swan River because it was “well placed on the shipping routes to China and for trade with the Company” which Albany assuredly was not.

    Stirling and Lockyer(who established King George’s Sound(Albany))reported to Darling at the same time. Whilst Lockyer was cautious, Stirling was rapsodical about the Swan River. He returned to England to continue his lobbying and was ultimately successful.

    According to Garden, Stirling’s “optimism, or perhaps imagination, had convinced some government officials that it[Swan R.] had a harbour equal to the Sound.”

    Source: Garden D.(1977) “Albany, A Panorama of the Sound from 1827″

  28. wilful
    June 29th, 2004 at 11:30 | #28

    re climate: the Economist survey of “world’s most livable cities” rated Melbourne’s climate more highly than Sydney. One particular thing that Melbourne will always have over Sydney is the bloody cockroaches! Disgusting things, that prefer the humidity.

    Melbourne’s winters are too cold for me (Autumn is the best season here), I’d like to see what Adelaide (and Albany) are like.

    re voting: If it aint broke, why fix it? There are no serious charges of corruption or inaccuracy levelled at the AEC, we get our results often on the night, there’s a paper trail, why on earth would we look to change it?

  29. June 29th, 2004 at 12:57 | #29

    The AEC is broke, in a subtle way. Unfortunately it is unrelated to the electronic voting issue, and there don’t appear to be any technical fixes.

    The problem is that the present system requires a sort of mediating priesthood, and cannot be checked out by the people or even the parties. Normally this doesn’t matter, but it does mean that if the wrong sort of crisis ever were to come up, there would be no protection. It’s an intermittent bug, one of the hardest sort to catch.

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