State of the Union

4 05 2008

Its 15 mins to midday on Sunday and I’m on the couch with my laptop watching Family Guy. Life is tough.

The move to Warrnambool has generally been a good one. Work is bearable and actually interesting at points. I’ve started to build up a decent group of friends around town. There’s lots of young people who have moved here for work. Doctors, Dentists, Optometrists, Dieticians, and too many lawyers.

I’ve been learning to surf, but going to pack that in for the year now that its getting cold. Quitting smoking hasn’t gone to plan, but will get there one day I hope.

Money is very tight unfortunately. Two people living off one very measly income is not as fun as its sounds. Not much to complain about though, we’re never going to have trouble paying the rent or anything because we both have parents that would help out before that ever happened.

I very much needed a break this weekend. All that remains to be seen is how many wills I will have to draft this week.


Best Computer Ever

30 01 2008

The iPod Touch is the best computer that I have ever owned.I never would have believed it but it has almost completely replaced my laptop for web-browsing when I’m at home. It is much better at contact and calendar management than my mobile when I’m out and keeps me entertained as well. I can’t wait for an iPhone now.

Update: 2 years on, and I now have an Android phone which is vastly superior and have never owned an iPhone.

No vote for you!

14 10 2007

Little Johnny has paid his visit to the GG and the election has been called for November 24. If you are 18 years old and not enrolled to vote, sucks to be you because you have only until 8pm tonight to get on the electoral role before they close. It wasn’t this way before.

There used to be a 7 day period after the writs were issued during which you could update your details or get on the roll for the first time. But since the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill introduced by the Howard Government last year that is no longer possible. And we call ourselves a democracy. What a fucking disgrace.

At the 2004 election 136,000 people aged 18-25 enrolled after the election was called. That must be more than 1% of the entire adult population that have just been disenfranchised. How did we let the little weasles in the Liberal Party get this one by us? Maybe Australia was just too busy worrying about all those Sudanese refugees hanging around in groups of 3 or more and scaring the nice white people.

So just to sum up. 18 years old and not enrolled? Yes? Then the Liberal party have just denied you one of the most fundamental citizenship rights. And why is that you ask? Electoral fraud? I’m going to call bullshit on that one. Its because John, Pete, Phillip and the rest of their cohort are pretty sure that you won’t vote for them anyway (younger voters tend to go for the left of centre parties) and if that’s the case then you musn’t deserve a vote.

I swear if these guys get back in, I’ll have to leave the friggin country for the next three years.

In the interests of accuracy, you apparently have until Wednesday to enrol, which is still fucked. Don’t miss your chance to vote Howard out.

MP3 Downloads at Amazon Music

26 09 2007


I just tried out the new DRM-free MP3 download service at Amazon. I fully expected that it wouldn’t work with a non-US credit card but with a bit of address creativity it went off without a hitch, despite the fact that it is meant to be US only. (If they really didn’t want you to do it they would force you to use a US credit card like iTunes)

I purchased the new Kevin Devine album which is not available on eMusic because he is now on Capitol Records, which I think are owned by EMI. It was available on iTunes in the Plus format but was going to cost $17.99 AUD. I make a point of paying for my music these days through things like eMusic but I find it difficult to make myself pay that much for an album anymore.

On Amazon it was $7.99 USD which according to Google is going to cost me $9.24 AUD . Bargain! It helps if you have a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign currency conversion fee, but I’m not going to pimp my credit card company here.

Only downside that I could see of the Amazon store was that you have to download a stand alone application to purchase albums, but you can buy single tracks without it. According to Daring Fireball it only installs the application in the Applications folder on the Mac. Kudos to Amazon for starting out with an OS X client as well.

The songs are 256kbps MP3 which is the minimum that I’m prepared to accept in terms of quality. Above that I’m not going to pretend that I could tell the difference. A bit of competition for iTunes certainly can’t hurt either.

Check it out here.

Update: Amazon have started blocking non US IP addresses, and the download process for albums using the Amazon program prevents use of a proxy to get around it. (When you install the program, it opens a link to download a file, and I don’t know how to force that through a proxy) What a bummer. I’ll stick to emusic for now. I’ll never understand the RIAA and how their own paranoia prevents people from paying for music.

Microlight parachute mishap

26 09 2007

Ouch. I’m sure that parachute seemed like a good idea…

Random thoughts for today

24 09 2007

Right so birthday was last week. I’m now 23 and facing the harsh reality that no one cares about your freakin birthday when you get older. Had a really good dinner though on Sat night at the Grand Hotel in Richmond which has a funky Italian style dining room. Service was great too. The light on the horizon is the iPod touch that I will be getting very shortly to replace my ancient 20GB 4G iPod. V excited about that and glad that all the screen issues seem to be getting sorted.

I have also recently rediscovered and am trying to use it to find interesting stuff to read while I’m at work. I think I’ve read the whole internets by now and I’m bored. It also does automatic daily link posts which I have always hated on other sites but now have to have now. So enjoy! 🙂

Finally, my last day at my current job cannot come soon enough. The 26th of November is the day I think. Then its off to Thailand for a month, back home for Christmas and Jan and Feb off until I have to become a grown up and start wearing a suit everyday in Warrnambool.

Oh, and check out these photos of 40 of the new fatboy Nanos all laid out. Its all over the interwebs by now.

Is Australian Federation Broken?

12 09 2007

I’m currently writing a research essay for a constitutional law subject that requires me to have an opinion and I was hoping that babbling about it would help me get my own thoughts straight.

The recent High Court decision in NSW v Commonwealth (the decision upholding the Workchoices legislation) was a ruling that many would have seen as a long time coming based on the previous authorities. But the true extent of the expansion of the Corporations power under 51(xx) of the Australian Constitution needed to be spelled out. Effectively the majority decision gives the Commonwealth very wide power to use the Corporations power to legislate indirectly on Industrial Relations. This was never envisaged by the framers of the Constitution, but that in itself is not sufficient to make the decision wrong.

Kirby in dissenting, stated that the High Court needed to ‘rediscover the essential character of the Constitution’ and I think that I tend to agree. Being quite left leaning in my views I generally tend to favour ‘big’ government that intervenes in the economy to effect social outcomes. But having watched the Howard government over the last decade I think I have moved closer to a ‘small l’ liberal position where I see the Australian federal compact as an effective way of limiting the power of the Commonwealth government.

The Australian Constitution in contrast to the Canadian Constitution (which establishes a federal system similar to our own), read literally sets up a very decentralised federal system of government. The moves towards centralising power in the Commonwealth have largely come from evolving interpretations in the High Court rather than Constitutional amendment. It is notoriously difficult to amend the Australian Constitution by referendum so maybe this approach by the court has been a necessary one. After all the Constitution should be seen as a living document that evolves and adapts to suit modern circumstances. The world we inhabit now has changed markedly from the one in which the Constitution was drawn up, and much change occurred during and in the aftermath of the two world wars.

It would seem apparent that the Australian system of government would be a poorer one without its federal nature. It encourages innovation admittedly often through bitter disagreement but generally, I would argue, produces better outcomes. It is not in our interests that we allow the Commonwealth Government to reduce the states to mere service providers.

Kirby’s reasoning in the Workchoices decision, in invalidating the legislation was not based upon the heretical ‘Reserved State Powers’ Doctrine. This doctrine exemplified in the 1920s decision in Huddart Parker v Moorehead stated that there were implied limitations on the powers given to the Commonwealth based on the assumption that certain powers and responsibilities were ‘reserved’ to the states. This decision was overruled in the Engineers case and the High Court has never gone back. Thus it will get you nowhere to argue in front of the High Court that power over Industrial Relations is reserved to the States.

It is apparent also from the authorities on what activities of constitutional corporations (foreign and trading or financial corporations) are covered by the Corporations power, that a very broad range of activities are covered. This includes activities incidental and in preparation to trading and on the broadest view, covers any activity done by constitutional corporation. Kirby in Workchoices could not then argue that matters related to employment did not fall within the Corporations power as it would appear that battle has been lost long ago. What Kirby did argue is that 51(xx) should be read subject to 51(xxxv) of the Constitution. This provision relates the the Commonwealth’s power over industrial disputes that extend beyond the limits of one state and provides for a Conciliation and Arbitration commission to deal with such disputes. Any Commonwealth legislation regarding industrial relations has long been based on this power.

Kirby’s argument was essentially that the Commonwealth could not defeat qualifications to this power by using another power, 51(xx), to indirectly legislate for that subject matter. To do so would render the industrial disputes power in the constitution a nullity. I accept this view and it is difficult to understand how the High Court adopted an interpretation that effectively destroys a particular section in our constitution. With any luck, if the Howard government is voted out at the coming election the balance in the High Court may start to shift closer to Kirby’s view point, though it may be a bit late for Kirby. Unfortunately, he may have to spend his remaining years on the bench, in dissent.

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