Thursday, December 23, 2004

Ukraine? You Don't Know the Half of it!!

In an earlier posting, I offered the pious hope that, while there were problems with the electronic voting systems used in the recent US election, the overall effect was minimal.

It now seems that it was, indeed, a pious hope, and that conniptions are in progress.

The Free Press site has this article (among several others) documenting the challenges to the Ohio result that have been lodged. It reads like fulminated mercury.

The least controversial part is that there is an increasing likelihood of a formal challenge in the electoral college when it convenes to ratify the vote on Jan 6, the first since 1877.

The most controversial part is that the big news groups have been keeping very quiet about all of this, preferring to concentrate on the soapbox thriller going on in the Ukraine (and, of course, the ongoing carnage in Iraq as the weeds grow up between the trampled daisies).
As Brin put it: 'And the trend. Oh Lord.'
I don't normally consider myself a conspiracy buff; tending to the view that most 'subtle plans' are the result of incompetence (although that, in itself, can be one part of the slippery slide into corruption). However, the evidence being stacked up is pointing to something very fishy indeed, and can't be lightly dismissed.

All this little mix needs now is for Kerry to be checked into hospital suffering from symptoms of a 'mysterious ailment'...

I will write more on this, and of my views on electronic voting systems later.
In the meantime, to all those out there in the back paddock, enjoy the Christmas break.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

More Summer Signs: The Coveting of Shadows

Hopefully, the last on what constitutes summer 'round here...
Even though this posting does originate from the more temperate southern regions of the continent, this is still Australia, the 'sunburnt country'. It's summer and, if the sun's out, things get hot. Ergo, if one's car is out in the sun, it also gets hot, and not very comfortable at the end of the day!

The problem then becomes one of finding a car park with a certain degree of shade during the day. And there's the rub! In a large outdoor parking lot (such as is to be found at the place I work) shade is at something of a premium.

However, I have found a spot which offers decent shade in the afternoon. It means I have to walk a little further to my desk, but that's a small price to pay, and I will continue to cherish my discovery for as long as nobody else finds out about it!
This isn't the sort of thing you'd even consider patenting...
In one of my geekier musings, I have wondered whether management could be persuaded to put up sail cloth in the parking lots. Idle speculation, since the place is rented, and the mentality seems to be don't improve on capital works you don't own (even if you do get the benefit of the improvement for the foreseeable future!)

On consideration, I've realised my discovery gives rise to a little social experiment: is the average person's urge to find shelter for their beloved chariot greater than or less than the urge to minimise the amount of walking to be done?

Monday, December 13, 2004

More signs of summer: Hamelin Battiness

In addition to being deafened by cicadas, there are other signs the silly season is upon us:
  • gum leaves in the gutters (given the number of introduced deciduous trees around, that means we get two sets of 'fall')
  • christmas beetles feasting off the new gum leaf shoots
more recently:
  • fruit bats feasting off the christmas beetles
  • fruit bat fights in the trees around our house
Over the last 10 years or so, there has been a colony of fruit bats (ie grey headed flying foxes) in the rainforest section of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Starting as a quirky novelty, it grew and grew until there were ~10,000 bats roosting, wrecking, weeing, and worse.
The evening skies around Melbourne came to resemble something out of a gothic horror movie as the bats went about their nocturnal activities.
The garden authorities grew increasingly concerned as they watched their beloved plants and trees gradually break down under the sheer weight of numbers.
The general public (ie the newspapers) grew increasingly concerned when it was found that they carry a rabies-like lyssovirus just waiting to 'emerge' and take its place next to ebola. This gave the 'generally concerned' a good excuse to foam at the mouth. Never mind that Sydney siders have been enduring the 'foxes for decades without undue incident (as far as I'm aware the virus has only been transmitted to humans once; and that was via a horse)

Anyway, with one thing and another, it was decreed that the fruit bats would have to go.
After several attempts and outcries (don't shoot them!), a more suitable habitat was located further up the Yarra, at Banyule flats. I'm not sure how they were 'persuaded' to move to their new home, but they were (not without a few questions being raised about how an alternate colony setting up at Yarra Bend along the way: conspiracies are everwhere!)

This weekend, we had a picnic at the Botanical gardens with some friends and, surprise, no fruit bats!!
Little Missy would have been fascinated, but no matter, she found the eels just as much fun.