YES.

Nov. 24th, 2007 10:12 pm
puddlesofun: (Default)
I have one last piece of delicious chocolate. I am saving it to eat during John Howard's concession speech, to maximise my pleasure.
puddlesofun: (Default)
The following are not balanced views. They are my opinions, some of them well informed, others less so. A lot of it is for my benefit more than for anyone else's, because I didn't have enough answers for the question above. Anyway, it's a list of all the parties running for the senate, and pertinent info so I can remember who they are.

Read more... )

Voting.

Nov. 24th, 2007 12:07 am
puddlesofun: (Default)
So a few people I knew expressed confusion over stuff like preferential voting and the like, so I thought it couldn't do any harm to post my own limited knowledge here. Hopefully it's all accurate. Please correct me if you see anything that doesn't make sense:

The House of Representatives (little paper)

This is where you vote for your local member, who in theory will represent you (which is to say, your electorate, eg Grayndler) in parliament. Well, it's a nice theory, anyway. There'll be some boxes, and you number the candidates in order of your preference.

The AEC says: First, all the number of votes are counted for each candidate. If a candidate gets more than 50% of the formal first preference votes then they are immediately elected.

If no candidate has an absolute majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is excluded. These votes are then transferred to the other candidates according to the second preferences shown by voters on these ballot papers.

If still no candidate has an absolute majority, again the remaining candidate with the fewest votes is excluded and these votes are transferred. This process will continue until one candidate has more than half the total votes cast and is declared elected.


This is an unusual system and in fact a really neat one, because it means that you can vote for one of the smaller parties and your vote will still count. And if say, The Greens get a high primary vote but don't win, that might still send a message to the party who does win about how the people who live in that seat feel about environmental issues, which may affect policy. In theory.

The Senate (big paper)

The senate are (again, in theory) the people who represent your state. For some reason, you only vote for half of the senate seats in any given election (so a senate seat lasts for two terms before a candidate comes up for re-election).

On the senate ballot you have the choice of voting above or below the line. If fill in all the boxes below the line, you will decide exactly what happens to your vote. If you vote above, some guy in the political party you voted for will decide what happens to you vote (although you can find out exactly what they will do with them by examining their tickets here: http://www.aec.gov.au/pdf/elections/2007/gvt/NSW_2007_gvt.pdf ).

This is actually important even if the party you vote for gets in on primaries, because election to the senate is decided when a candidate reaches a certain quota (determined as a certain percentage of the total votes). After that quota is reached, the surplus votes that candidate receives are passed on to their next preference. It's this that can make preferences very powerful in the senate. It's also the reason it can sometimes take weeks to properly count the votes.

It's actually more complicated than that, too. The above-quota votes are only passed on with a reduced value (so vote for the one you like most, first, duh), and there's exclusions as described in the House of Reps. How it's actually worked out is described here: http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/counting/senate_count.htm (warning:contains maths).

Anyway, my point is that voting below the line is good. But if you do vote above the line (there are an awful lot of boxes, after all), at least check up beforehand that your party of choice hasn't done a preference deal with oh, say, the "Citizens Electoral Council," who say global warming is just a hoax perpetrated by nazis, and that Bertrand Russel is a "genocidalist". Unless you agree with those things, in which case I guess that would be fine.

Next: Who are all those people on the Senate ballot?
puddlesofun: (Default)
I’ve been playing “Super Columbine Massacre RPG” recently. I decided to do so because it seems to have figured in a lot of arguments which have the terms “video games” and “art” placed in close proximity to each other. And also, controversy. For fairly obvious reasons.

It’s not a well made game. It has the look of a top-down console rpg from the early 90’s, and fairly simplistic gameplay. Get up, go to school, set bombs without getting busted, get your guns out, commit horrible slaughter. Most of the dialogue is taken from diaries and records on the two boys involved in Columbine. Although there are lots of optional levels and secret bits, there aren’t really any branching paths to the story in a moral sense. I suppose you can choose to kill more or less people, but people will die either way.


After all the cartoonish (although bloody) violence, you suicide or are killed, and then you are hit with a slideshow of photos of the real victims and their bodies, followed by shots of their friends and family grieving. Followed by childhood photos of Eric and Dylan. This device is curiously affecting. You do become more connected to the tragedy through having perpetrated it in simulacra.

As I said, it isn’t a well-made game. The gameplay is primitive. Someone else might have made a better statement about this event in videogame form, if they had tried. But the fact remains, noone else did try. Few people tackled this issue in any medium, let alone lowly video games.

It has got me thinking that the impact and consequences of violence might be an issue that games are uniquely suited to addressing. There has after all been so much violence in the last 20 years of computer games, so many conventions and tropes to do with it have arisen that could be subverted or tweaked.

*

Anyhoo, the "art" part of the debate in a nutshell: Obviously there was proportionally more media negativity heaped upon this game than there was upon, for instance, Elephant or Bowling for Columbine, and it was pretty clear that most of the people calling for it to be banned hadn't played it or even seen it, so I think we can leave out the quality of the game when we look for the reasons for that. It was just their preconceptions of what a video game is or is for that caused their objections.

Some relevant stuff:

The game reviewed by a Columbine massacre survivor:
http://kotaku.com/gaming/feature/columbine-survivor-talks-about-columbine-rpg-171966.php

The game's creator being interviewed on a current affairs show after a massacre in Montreal:
http://live.canoe.ca/TheShow/Archives/2006/09/14/1839452.html

Apologies for rambling.
puddlesofun: (Default)
Well, I haven't done a political rant yet. I'll skip over the whole police powers at APEC thing, and how they've been given laws that let them do whatever they want and get away with it, and how they've told all the inmates at Parramatta periodic detention centre they can have the weekend off, because we need all of that cellspace for hippies. It's been pretty well covered. Here's some other stuff, that I haven't seen much about in the media (although I don't watch TV, so who knows):

Did you know that Peter Costello has introduced legislation making people legally liable for profits lost as a result of boycotts? Which is to say, if I were to convince a bunch of people that, say, they shouldn't buy a particular brand of snack because I'd found out it's actually made out of crushed third-world baby skulls, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission could sue me on behalf of SkullSnax Inc for any profits that they lost because of this. They could also sue any journalist who's report helped publicise my campaign.

So, you can have freedom of speech, if you're very rich.

Or, actually, not even then. Reporters without Borders recently rated Australia 35th in its press freedom index, lagging behind Ghana, South Korea and Bolivia. The NSW courts for instance have issued more than 1000 suppression orders in recent years, our Freedom of Information laws are a joke, and journalists can be prosecuted and jailed for refusing to reveal their sources.

We've never had any protections on freedom of speech in this country, but neither has any government gone as far out of its way to suppress it. It may be a pipedream, but I'd quite like some. Am I alone in this?

***

Also, thanks for reading my schedule of daily ramblings, which I started on a whim and has been quite a lot of fun. Some interesting conversations have come of it. 'till next time...





O! the cheese!

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