Election 2019 – Leave A Deposit

Preferably of money…

A question arose on Saturday afternoon – after everyone in the room had done their various voting chores – about the business of standing for election in Australia. Goodness knows we stand for lots of things; buses, pop concerts, and really bad biscuits at most meetings. How do you go about standing for election?

It appears that you need to be a part of a party – either a big one that makes you or a small one that you make yourself. The first alternative generally requires you to be of like mind with a great many other people, a self-advertiser, and the kind of devious politician that can act like a devious politician…

The second alternative means you have to corral a smaller group of nutters – but you still have to find a considerable amount of money to make the thing work. There is advertising, promotion, telephones, lawyers, etc. and not least the deposit of money with the Electoral Commission to guarantee that you are a real person – not a Bedlington Terrier in sunglasses. That you will become a real person who is sneered at and pushed into the gutter is another thing, but if you want to form the ” I Order You To Respect My Authoritah Party ” ( apologies to Cartman ), you have to expect it.

Let’s face it – no-one respects your authoritah outside the cardboard polling booth, so don’t expect that to change once they’re in there with the tiny pencil.

The barrier of a substantial monetary deposit – $ 2000 – is nothing to a major party but can serve as a way of keeping the worst of the nutters off the increasingly long ballot paper. This is a blessing in the cardboard polling booth as the thing seems to get larger each election.

I note that this year that as we were not required to number every single candidate in preference – there were some 25+ of them – we were given permission to mark our first 12 and let the rest go. For myself, I get some amusement with the weirder parties and independents but that sheet of paper is taking on the dimensions of a ship’s sail. I should welcome the raising of the deposit to reduce the number of loons let loose.

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Well, That’s The Sausage Sizzle Over For Another Three Years…

You can collect up the tiny pencils, Beauregard, and count the votes. The cardboard polling booths can be stacked away and do remember to pick up the coffee cups before you lock up.

Oh, and the How-To-Vote cards, too. I know they are officially the responsibility of the parties that gave them out, but some of those parties have clapped their carpet bags shut and jumped aboard the steamboat. They are not coming back to help with the clean-up.

Yes, I have a headache too. I put it down to the coffee…not the cask of cheap red wine I drank after the polls shut. It’s part of the risk you run being a Electoral Returns Officer in an ethnic neighbourhood. If I never see another Rananjstasavaramaputirian family with 56 cousins who live in the same street in my life it will be too soon. I heard a rumour that one of them wants to marry into the eastern European  Czchxüczbratoviltistianiççu family and hyphenate their name but if they do I am going to run over them with a lawn mower.

It’s been a good election. No tank fire for several kilometres and this year the Cossacks were riding Shetlands. Bit sad about the UN observer being boiled alive and eaten in Mirrabooka, but at least they have grasped the idea of the food stall at election time. And you have to love the losing candidate conceding defeat gracefully, though I think he might have briefed his staffers not to throw flaming bags of dog poo at the winner – or at least not on national television. That stuff sticks.

Anyone want the last sausage? Anyone? Didn’t think so….

Well, whatever you do, Beauregard, do not lose that cardboard ballot box. It’s not the sacred flame of democracy I am concerned with – I saw the flames on those paper bags they were throwing – it’s the thought of it unraveling and having to do a by-election all over again in a month.

I don’t think my tiny pencil is up to it.

Thank You, Tourist Driver

And I am not being sarcastic when I  write this – thank you indeed for being who you are, doing what you do, on our freeways.

You are slower than the rest of the entitled aristocrats in their Audis and angry tradies in their tray top Toyotas. You are in the left-hand lane, and about 10 KPH below the speed limit. You are doing the sort of speed I want to drive at, and you are a convenient haven.

I can tuck in behind you and look as if I am caught by your slow speed. In reality, I am slipstreaming you and would not pull out to overtake for quids. You are doing what I want to do. If you are driving a Bayswater Hire Car, so much the better. Your inexpertise advertises itself and takes the blame off me.

Please continue. I shall not flash my lights or toot my horn.

The Ten Commandments – Canadian Style

  1. Thou shalt refer to ice hockey as hockey. Thou shalt keep the festival of the Stanley Cup holy and undefiled.
  2. Thou shalt refer to gridiron football as football and to round ball football as soccer. Thou shalt keep the festival of the Grey Cup holy and undefiled.
  3. Thou shalt revere the salmon.
  4. Thou shalt revere maple syrup and not scream when thou dost see the price that they are trying to gouge for it.
  5. Thou shalt hate the American President and love the Canadian Prime Minister, no matter who they are and what they do, lest they become one and the same person.
  6. Thou shalt revere the CBC and revile the CBS, even if the shows are much the same.
  7. Thou shalt honour the memory of Ypres and Dieppe but not think  too carefully  about what actually happened – nor why.
  8. Thou shalt quake and tremble before the Lord, thy God, or if the Lord is busy at the time, before his deputies – the politicians of Quebec.
  9. Thou shalt apologise.
  10. Thou shalt glory in being right when that occurs and in being wrong when that occurs and film a documentary on both occasions with harmonica or accordion music.

Take these two tablets and if thy people will not heed, come back up the mountain, eh?

An Australian Brag

If you were born in Australia you have been subject to The Brag all your life. If you emigrated here you picked it up as soon as your feet touched the ground. Either way, it has become so engrained that you would be hard pressed to notice it.

The Brag? Well, it really involves a lot of Sub-Brags. We’ve just had this year’s April 25th Brag. We’ll have more Brags whenever the cricket starts up again and all through the football season. If a local cinema actor is nominated for an award…indeed if anyone is recognised with some sort of gong, we’ll add another Brag.

And we are just about to have a federal election – Federal parliament will be replacing its House and Senate members in the next month or so. And it is time for the Election Brag. And I’m proud to be able to enunciate it:

The Federal Election will be honest.

The individual members of both houses that contest the seats, their advisers, and their party organisers may have consciences that could be used to scrub pots…their parties may be collections of bigots, zealots, and ne’er do wells – they may have devious money-grubbing  schemes…but…

The Federal Election will be honest.

No stuffed ballot boxes, no stand over militias, no bought votes, no midnight disappearances. No seizures of power. No bribing of judges. No tanks, armoured cars, or riot police. No burning buses. No dead people.

Instead, we’ll get a huge ballot paper, a tiny pencil, and a funny little cardboard booth to figure it all out in. Our choice will be complex to make and be tabulated in a complex fashion – but it will be done cleanly. Some electorates will declare quickly and there’ll always be one at the end that takes jolly weeks. If some mistake happens that results in the loss of a ballot box, there will be a by-election for that seat and it will all clank through again.

We’ll all get a vote and our vote will count. We’re the luckiest damn country in the world for this – because we can buy barbecued sausages and lemon slices and scones to eat while we are waiting to vote. And smarmy Facebook memes that suggest our vote is worthless are a damned insult us and to something this country does very right.

 

The Brew

I have friends who are brave, courageous, and bold…like Robin Hood they wear tights and shoot arrows into things. In many cases intentionally. But they harbour a dark secret…they all want to be moonshiners.

Not necessarily with corn liquor stills, shotguns, and rusty old trucks…they set their sights lower – they try to make booze from whatever is available and they try to do it in medieval ways. Sometimes they succeed.

I can’t tell you whether this is illegal, as our state has a welter of alcohol laws that have developed over time and so many people who cheerfully disregard them. It may be perfectly correct to make liqueur out of chicken feet provided you are a member of a religion that wears feather suits and clucks. And certainly there are beer stores that sell you the ingredients for home-brew beer quite legitimately and the only consequence you suffer is gas.

However, that’s commercial ingredients and known formulae…it gets more dangerous when people take recipes off the internet, consult someone’s Uncle Marko, or just look at a pile of vegetables about to rot and decide to wing it. The temptation to mash them up, add yeast, and bottle the result is satisfying to start with but becomes increasingly less so as the bottles detonate in the pantry.

It is generally a case of over-egging the pudding…or over filling and over nourishing the yeast. There is a reason distilling is done in big metal containers and far away from valuables…the same reason that they make gunpowder in small batches in wooden buildings.

The danger of fermentation and bottling over, the next hurdle is storage. Storage space for homemade booze falls into two categories; too cold or too hot. You are either going to end up with a bottled version of the city compost digester or Picatinny arsenal in a lightning storm. If you have bottled in glass the shrapnel damage will be spectacular, but even a PTFE bottle going off will get the neighbours out of their houses and the dogs barking.

Finally you will get to the day when you can taste the results. There may be far fewer bottles than when you started, and the economic results may make each one the equivalent of Dom Perignon ’22, but don’t expect to win gold medals. Most home-made liquor is best cut with fruit juice, soft drink, or motor oil. A good 20-40 weight should do it…I always liked to use Bardahl if the homebrew was particularly new.

Holy Water, Holy Wine, Sacred Biscuits

It has recently come to my attention that there is such a thing as holy water. And it is available in little dishes out the front of certain churches. They are happy to have you wet yourself with it but frown on you decanting it into old pop bottles for use at home.

As soon as I found this out I looked into other holy substances and found that I could obtain holy bread, holy wafers, and holy wine. I was actually hoping for holy ice cream but this seems a little bit ambitious.

Still, I have not given up hope. Apparently there are lots of other holy things; holy cities, holy books, holy orders, and holy people, Surely the thought of a tub of holy Rocky Road could not be that far-fetched. After all, I’ve been hearing about holy cows ever since I was a kid…

I’m a little hazy, though, about the distinction between holy and sacred. Also sanctified and sanctioned. They seem to be used interchangeably in a lot of conversations, including the ones that urge followers to slay everyone else for the good of God…Who is said to be perfect and doesn’t need anything else at all. Except, I guess, slaughter.

I’m also a little nervous about any thing or any place that is regarded as so precious and valuable that you get to beat up on other people for it. I’ve seen Lord Of The Rings and ” precious ” doesn’t seem so good after all.

I guess the real problem I have is getting enthusiastic about folk tales that are designed to control me – tales that have originated in the stone, bronze, or iron ages and have then been codified for now. I also am nervous about the stuff the tech gurus invent for the iAge but at least most of it doesn’t ask me to murder people or avoid bacon.

Note: Apparently ANZAC biscuits ( an Australian cookie ) have been declared sacred by the Federal Department of Veteran’s Affairs and they are set to fine any bakery who makes them with ingredients not approved by that department. This is approval, not on health grounds, but on historic ones. Apparently you are not even allowed to call them cookies, so I may be getting a nasty note in the post.

No, I’m not rooting your leg. This is real. April 25th in Australia is fraught with dangers that other places never see.