The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Randomly: card games, airport security, trains!

Wednesday 1 July 2009 at 6:10 pm
  • Two weeks ago, a small town on the outskirts of Phoenix in Arizona held a local government election. They counted exactly equal votes for the candidates — so in equal parts publicity stunt and tie-breaking process, the two guys involved drew high cards. Courtesy of an obscure and not even that old Arizona law, the decision is totally legit!
  • Something else I missed last week: on Monday, a company called CLEAR that ran separate security lanes at most big American airports shut down abruptly. Their service always struck me as questionable — pay us money and we’ll overlook normal security measures! — and they never did get all the official approvals they needed, so I’m amused that the recession has killed their little scam. (Heck, second-tier frequent flyers get much the same benefit; maybe that’s why I’ve never seen anyone use a “Fly CLEAR” lane.)
  • According to my local papers, an equal (or bigger!) issue than the California budget is the proposal to build a high-speed railway to LA (which won financial backing at referendum last November). It’s a curious thing to watch Bay Area residents whine about whether to spend billions on above-ground tracks or billions more below ground, while around them the state runs out of cash. (Admittedly, the project has a good chance of getting federal money, and the planning phase has at least a year left in it, nevermind the ten-ish years scheduled to build the thing.)
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National Party, centrestage

Thursday 11 September 2008 at 1:50 am

Brendon Grylls must be relishing his time as the most important person in Western Australian politics at the moment. The most impressive part is that none of what he’s on about is new; the pre-election profile that aired on Stateline before the election seems amazingly prescient now!

And with John Bowler on his side, he commands five Legislative Assembly votes — enough for minority government with the Libs, or a majority with an apparently fragile Labor. So much for the old predictions that one-vote-one-value would destroy the Nationals and cement the big parties!

Also, what’s up with all the criticism of the WAEC from pollies? They’re taking just as long to finalise the vote count as they’ve done for every previous election I’ve seen, but just because Labor couldn’t win government this time means there needs to be an inquiry?!

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Perhaps the most awesome of all possible results

Sunday 7 September 2008 at 2:46 am

So, on the one hand, it’s never much fun to see a race without a winner.

But given that I am a political nerd, I think a hung parliament is awesome. Given that the campaign was short, mediocre, and predominantly negative … this outcome is great.

I guess having the Olympics to draw people’s attention while Barnett figured out what to do was a good thing, and naturally I concede I completely underestimated the level of disenchantment people had with healthcare, Burke scandals, Carpenter himself, and so forth. I’m particularly impressed that most of the new seats from the one-vote one-value redistribution went to the Libs.

Yet the result seems to say “we really don’t like you, but nor do we trust that other mob”. I think it delicious to imagine the prospect of Alan Carpenter forming a minority government with the Nationals, and being forced to compromise and consult on every decision he takes. This, to me, would be a best-of-both-worlds that tones down his brusqueness while also keeping the only competent team for government that we have. (It is, of course, more likely that the Liberals and Nationals settle their squabble and form government with the independents; most of them are right-leaning, so that’d be more of a business-as-usual story.)

And at least things in Perth aren’t as bad as they are in NSW; competence is apparently harder to come by than I’d have guessed!

P.S. I’m amused that, even though I thought the ballot paper was awfully short when I voted a fortnight ago, I was among the record numbers of people giving first preference to the Greens (a.k.a. the only party in WA to have its act together).


Kicking ’em while they’re down

Thursday 7 August 2008 at 4:40 am

I can’t tell whether the announcement of the next Western Australian election five months early is a well-played stroke of genius, or a tacky piece of cynical opportunism.

Yesterday I was somewhat stunned to see the WA Liberal Party fall into such a state of disarray that they had to go and defrost their ex-leader out of (almost-)retirement, even though they’d had plenty of much better-timed chances to dump Troy Buswell. But no matter how bad he was, I fail to see how such a late change could achieve anything, even if Carpenter did see out his term.

Meanwhile, the Government’s (re-)announcements a month ago of more spending on public transport, hospitals, and other infrastructure did sound awfully election-ey.

So I suppose an election shouldn’t come as a surprise. Now I just wait to see what this campaign’s version of the crazy canal proposal shall be …


Gee, that was quick

Wednesday 28 November 2007 at 12:10 pm

Wow, only a couple of days out from an election loss and already the Liberal Party is descending into something of a splattered mess. (Why are they even questioning whether to support a dumping their own policy?)

Perhaps it was fortunate that the Liberals lost last weekend; John Howard had previously emphasised the unified strength of his team, but now that’s looking like it was just a facade. Or maybe the party is full of back-knifers.

And then there’s the race for a new leader. Malcolm Turnbull is indeed the best of the three, while Brendan Nelson has suddenly grown a conscience, but neither they nor Tony Abbot have the nous that made Howard so good at holding votes.

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And thus, the mad rush

Thursday 22 November 2007 at 11:11 am
  • Is it Back To The Future week or something? Exhibit A: the Foreign Minister repeating the tired allegation of a few weeks ago that Rudd is all about style, not substance. Nevermind the fact that, for example, he hits issues younger voters tend to care about (the environment, education, and so forth) and is doing a much better job communicating with them.
  • Howard’s last big speech of the campaign also seems to have been all about past achievements … wasn’t he saying something last week about the future?
  • The recorded phone calls from Johnny that were the bane of so many people in 2004 are back!
  • Oh, and Pauline Hanson admits she’ll have a hard time getting in to the Senate ;-)
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