Melbourne 5

The title of this post sounds like a singing group or a gang of super-heros or a TV detective show: “Melbourne Five”

Ok. So you may have noticed a change to the Blog. I signed up for Google’s AdSense program. This means that the box at the top of the page will be populated by links to advertisers that have been selected by Google’s algorithms (Al-Gore-isms) to be of interest to those interested in the content of the page. I’m curious about this. I’m interested in a number of things about it: Whether or not the kinds of things that show up in my ads will seem relevant, useful or helpful. Whether it becomes irritating. Whether it actually makes any money.

If you have thoughts about this, I encourage you to let me know. I’m not completely sure how I feel about it and figure getting it out there is a way to clarify my feelings. “I’m sorry your honor, I wasn’t sure how I felt about serial killing so I thought I’d try it out and see. Turns out it’s not my thing.”

Speaking of which: It seems that the “Comment” functionality on my Blog is down. I’m trying to figure it out but for the time being it doesn’t seem to be working. I’ll let you know when it’s back, so if you’ve got comments, save them up.

I’m also thinking about changing the name of the blog to something other than “Leon’s Weblog”. The current title has the advantage of descriptive accuracy, abut that’s about it. So stand by on that as well.

Saturday was election day in Australia. Australians are required to vote. They get fined about $40 if they don’t, so everyone has this thing today that’s kind of like jury duty in the states. They HAVE TO GO, but it’s a privilege. So it’s a total pain to be able to take part in this wonderful thing.

Given the political strategies in the States based on turn out alone, it’s interesting to think about what would happen if we had such a system in the U.S. Another option would be to declare elections with an insufficient turn out, invalid. Until we reach a certain percentage, let’s say 80 percent just to be ambitious, we don’t have a quorum and the election has to be done over. I know there are arguments about mandatory voting not representing the kind of freedom that Americans hold to, but it also seems clear that two big things that can derail a democracy are voter ignorance and apathy. Not that mandatory voting would make people any less apathetic or informed, but it might help. If you have to vote, you have to at least know something. You at least have to get up off the couch. I think it’s possible to argue that when you’ve got an overwhelming majority of the people in a country not voting, they’ve voted against the basic idea of democracy and it’s time for something else.

So Labor won. This, it seems, is a good thing. The Liberal coalition has been in power for almost 12 years. Most of my friends here compared this election to the next one in the US; a chance to get rid of an abusive government. Well it seems to have happened. It wasn’t a landslide but PM Howard seems to have lost not only his post but his Parliamentary seat as well. That’s gotta hurt.

The US election is almost a year away. Almost anything can happen in that time. I’m sure many things will. I’m haunted by something I heard Sy Hersh say a few weeks back: The Democrats are going to lose this thing if they don’t wake up. There’s time to wake up and there’s time to blow it. Only time will tell.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply