Archive for March, 2012

The Labor Conundrum

March 26th, 2012 No comments

The Queensland result is nothing short of disaster for the ALP. No other words can really express the tragedy that is the result. And listening to Annabel Crabbe on with Richard Glover this afternoon it was the source of much mirth and scant analysis of what it meant. But Crabbe rightly identified that the challenge for the ALP is interpreting what it means, and in my opinion it doesn’t bode terribly well for the Federal party. In my not so humble opinion the ALP is caught in a pincer movement partly of its own making. Thirty years ago the ALP could rightly lay claim to being the party for workers, strong ties to the unions in a highly unionised work force, which meant their connection to working people was real. Their growth out of parliamentary socialism we could call it, informed their attempts in the Chifley years to nationalise the banks. But since the days of the electorally successful Hawke and Keating governments the ALP marched right and deserted their view of government ownership of large entities. Hence Hawke’s government privatised the Commonwealth Bank, Qantas and Australian Airlines. Leaving it a hypocritical argument when they opposed the sale of Telstra by the Howard government.

Now we have seen within a the last year two state ALP governments fall for two reasons: privatisation and scoring one election win too many. First the ALP must try to sort out where it stands with privatising assets. They are idiots to keep arguing this “must be done”, when they are too cowardly to go to an election on it. Iemma was rolled by the party over electricity privatisation, and yet why should the party support him? He was too gutless to ask the people for a mandate over it, knowing electricity privatisation was poison. By the time Keneally achieved this the ALP was done for, but one of the nails in the coffin was partial power privatisation which the true believers hate. A year ago the Coalition won seats they had never won before in NSW, in part because the ALP lost their base. Bligh likewise didn’t gain a mandate for the sale of assets but she did it and then also reaped the pain of a mad electorate annoyed about many things, but particularly about being lied to.

The other problem both these governments had was crap oppositions. Both won their last election based on the poor palatability of their oppositions. This forced people to stick with governments they were tired of, by the next election once the oppositions were organised and worthy of election the electorate overturns the government they hate with such vehemence the wilderness for the ousted party is long and deep. There are parallels federally of course with the failure of the Keating to win the 1996 election. He was so hated that Howard just had to stay quiet and ride on the hatred to victory. This led to a long 11 year time in Opposition for the ALP. The answer here is when given a lifeline, recognise it and change tack – big time. Don’t take it as an endorsement of what led to you being on the nose.

Now any ALP member who doesn’t see the problems for Gillard is a fool. Gillard like Bligh is seen as a liar, now the silly thing is all politicians lie, but for Gillard it is like a millstone around her neck. It means even good messages fail to get traction in the community because the electorate has switched off. Now this is a problem for Gillard, because the QLD election tells us what happens when the electorate really dislikes you, or the electorate sees you as lying and negative. But more importantly Gillard has failed to articulate what the ALP stands for. The trite comments about “Labor Values” are at times not much different to the Liberal Party. The ALP must look again at those values it holds dear and not be afraid to hold tight on them. State ownership of key assets is anathema to the economic rationalists, but the ALP should not be the home of these thoughts. The ALP needs to recast itself as a modern party not just of the working class but one that isn’t a plaything of the 1% or the 10% of society with the wealth. It needs to make it clear that the broader left views of public education, universal healthcare, environmental concerns and workers rights are theirs above all else. They have not done this, and when they have recently (“like the Carbon tax”) is has been other parties like the Greens dragging them to it.

Australia is so welded to the 2 party system the ALP will recover in Qld and NSW, but the ALP will continue to struggle if it fails to articulate an ideology that is true to its parliamentary socialist history and lets business drive agendas due to their buying power.

Here endeth this rambling rant.

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Return to a state of [Ubuntu] Unity

March 21st, 2012 No comments

I tried GNOME fans I really did. But sadly the GNOME 3 experiment for me is over. I wanted to support GNOME 3, I really did, but in terms of functionality I am afraid that Ubuntu’s Unity is better for me. I tried to ignore the discomfort I felt with GNOME 3 but sadly the environment that is GNOME 3 just does not work as well. On the desktop it was bearable but the dock simply replicated the Unity dash and the frippery bottom bar extension was like a broken task bar from GNOME 2.x, it simply offered limited functionality. On my netbook the damn network applet took ages to reconnect after waking the machine up, it was so bloody frustrating. Unity reconnects within 10 seconds.

The notifications on the bottom right corner is not the correct place, sort of shadowed it never seems to operate quite right. Whereas Unity has the top righ corner, things seem more obvious and the unity bar on the left seems more functional.

Yes I miss the Super Button reveal and especially the ability to close programs there. But sadly I cannot be on the GNOME bus any more. Time to ride the Unity train and see where that goes.

Categories: Linux Tags: , , ,

An Auto by any Other Name.

March 5th, 2012 1 comment

When is a manual car not a manual car? Simple answer, when there is no clutch. What about clutch-less manuals, simple answer they are a farce. Readers the sad reality is this, the only true manual has a gear stick and a clutch and no matter what a car owner says anything else is an automatic. You see automatic has two meanings depending on perspective, it either means relaxation and comfort, or it means lazy and lack of driving skill. Now the former meaning is why people buy automatic cars, and hence why many cars are auto only. Most people buy an auto cause it is easier and in city driving, no gear changes makes life very easy. And the reality is most people see driving as a chore.

But the latter meaning bothers many sporty car owners and car makers. You see if you have just sprung 50,000 for you new Golf GTi you don’t want someone laughing at you for buying an auto sports car. So car makers have tried and tried to improve autos so they are manual-like. And let’s be honest they are better. But they aren’t a manual and I for one won’t accept the illusion any more. One day I was chatting to a guy about his Golf GTi, “Did you buy the manual or auto?” I asked, “I bought the DSG.” He responds like he has some special transmission that somehow is better than an auto. It is still a frigging auto. No clutch and changes itself… that is an auto. It doesn’t matter how it does it, it is still an auto. “You see they have the wheel paddles so you can… blah, blah, blah”. It doesn’t matter that you can change it manually it is still an auto. No clutch means it is an auto.

I had a friend with an Alfa 147 which wasn’t an auto, no it was a Selespeed. This is Alfa speak for: “we feel dirty that we have to make auto cars cause we make drivers cars but this tries to replicate the manual experience”. Sadly the way it did it was when you changed it dropped revs and then changed then picked up again, so harshly I might add you move in your seat noticeably. I mean it was contrived and embarrassing, it was an auto pretending to be a manual because sadly Alfa knows no auto option in Australia means very few sales.

So to all out there, I will bear it no longer. If you tell me you car has [insert marketing hype name/acronym for auto] transmission I will now say, “Oh the auto”. An auto by any other name is still an auto. No matter how much you cover it up with techno jargon your sports car really is just an auto. Which means you aren’t really into driving.

Categories: Cars, Rant Tags: , , ,