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Presumption of innocence

One of the pillars our legal system is built on is the idea that the law must consider people innocent until proven guilty. I learned that in my few years of soul destroying legal studies. And from Law and Order. Which I don’t watch. The courts have a responsibility to consider defendants innocent until proven guilty. As does the media – they can’t be seen to unduly influence court proceedings. Trial by media is dangerous – particularly in jury trials where perception can become reality.

Dr Death Part 2: the terrorist Indian is a case that has thrust the doctrine of presumption of innocence into the spotlight. The government has been lambasted for revoking Dr Haneef’s visa before any conclusive findings have emerged. While political pundits point at this move as blatant wedge realpolitiking (creating a divisive issue in the national interest) and point scoring with the critical (in terms of importance rather than critique) dumb masses – I’d say the onus on the government is slightly different. I don’t think the government needs to function under the same umbrella doctrine when it comes to the potential innocence of a potential terrorist. Their responsibility is different. Government’s must be slightly prejudiced to protect their citizen’s interests. The burden of proof is also different – extradition is a different kettle of fish to incarceration. Kicking someone out of the country for possibly being a threat to the populace is not the same as removing someone from the public because they’re a confirmed danger.

For anyone outside the judicial branch of government to presume the innocence of anyone charged is for us to presume that the police force, the prosecutors et al are incompetent and every arrest and charge is wrong.

While Haneef is probably – on the weight of the evidence published so far – only slightly more dangerous than your average Queensland medical practitioner – I don’t think the government can be criticised too much for wanting to put the interests of their citizens at the top of their concerns. Even if it’s been a critical success (in the positive opinion sense of the word) with the critical masses (in the essential to election success sense of the word) giving the government’s approval rating a slight bump upwards in the polls – that’s surely no reason to be cynical…

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Checkered History

I’m a big fan of draughts/checkers/chequers… call it what you will. It’s a game of infinite complexity – but slightly more simple than chess. Infinite in that statement is apparently figurative. There are in fact 500 billion possible combinations of moves that make up a game of checkers. History was made today – when a computer program finished working its way through all of them and announced that the perfect game of checkers ends in a draw.

You can play against a computer with almost all the answers here.

It’s now nine weeks (and a few hours) until Robyn and I get married. We’ve almost got our invitations sorted out. We’ve almost got a lot of things sorted out. But there are thousands of little things like table decorations and stuff that I just didn’t ever imagine having to think about.

My current idea for a table decoration is to have a toffee apple bouquet as the centrepiece. These will double as bombonieres (they’re the little presents you give people to take home/eat – another stupid wedding tradition).

With nine weeks to go we’ve also started trying to figure out where to live. I can truly understand why housing affordability is an election issue – the rent/buy debate is something we haven’t really come to terms with yet. The idea of spending 35% of our income on paying off a house is less than appealing. But the idea of pouring 10% of our income down the drain in rent is an equal turn off. Living in the car might work.

Cheap wine and a three day growth

Keeping with the theme of Aussie Rock and politics from the end of the last post I thought it might be time to again assess the current Australian political climate (we can’t call it an election campaign yet because no election has been called). Big news this week people. Big news. K-Rudd has a MySpace page. MySpace pages are notoriously ugly. K-Rudd’s is no different.

Interested parties will by now know that K-Rudd is a Simon and Garfunkel fan (OMG WE HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON LOL LOL)… note my proficiency with netspeak lingo… I’m like fully l33t.

Here are some highlights from the comments page:

Kyle says:
12 Jul 2007 8:40 A Thanks for the add, didn’t think anybody was up as late as I was. I think all those old men from the Libs who say you’re “weak” because you “backflip” are really just showing how stubborn and unresponsive they are. While I can’t actually pinpoint what policies they seem to be talking about, I’m happy for you to change your policies because Australians don’t want them! Nobody’s shown me why that’s a bad thing, I always thought listening to the people was a good characteristic in a politician!Got a favourite Ella Fitzgerald number? I love listening to “Flying Home” whe I’m studying for uni exams because the mainly nonsense lyrics don’t distract you. Got a favourite yourself?

Against BSL Australia writes:
Hello Mr Rudd! Thank you for the friend add!Seeing as you have so kindly joined the myspace community so young people like myself can connect with you with our political issues I would like to point you towards my myspace page. www.myspace.com/againstbslaustraliaBreed Specific Legislation is an issue I feel deeply about as I believe that it simply doesn’t work, and punishes responsible owners. I feel that the government should be doing more to protect the community from dog attacks, but I also feel that Breed Specifc Legislation is not the answer. There should be more done to educate the community about dog safety, merely banning specific breeds does nothing to solve the problem. Mr Rudd, I ask you to stand up and address this issue, and to take proper action. I ask you to take measures that will actually help keep our children and communities safe. I ask you to stand up for responsible dog owners, and protect them from being treated as criminals. There is just so much proof out there that says Breed Specific Legislation doesn’t work, so why does it exist in Australia?

I’m now hoping that K-Rudd truly believes that this is a forum to engage with the public and set policy priorities. Stand by for an announcement on Labor’s new dog breeding policy. It’s a vote winner Kev.

On the Howard side of politics – which is on his right because his left ear is deaf… Howard famously had a “senior” moment yesterday when he forgot the name of an obscure candidate in an obscure electorate where they have an obscure chance of winning a seat from Labor. Oops. Not quite as adept with the whole WEB 2.0 thing the Howard Government’s myspace page has only eight friends, no comments and is unbelievably uglier than Rudd’s. This doesn’t really matter – for Howard it’s not web based campaigns (a notorious tool of the left – ala the American Democrats engagement with Youtube, MySpace and Second Life – we all know lefties are much more hip than those codgers on the right…) that will win the election – it’s policy on the run. That’s right people. Indigenous issues are the new black. Howard has taken a stand on fixing a long running, stomach turning, tragic situation in Australia’s Aboriginal communities – and won a bump in the polls for his troubles. The Liberals have still taken the major initiatives when it comes to economic policy announcements – K-Rudd and the Unions are all about WorkChoices, Climate Change, grocery prices, petrol prices, Internet access – hey wait on. They all sound like good ideas, and popular with voters who have probably forgotten the rate of inflation under previous Labor governments. The grocery prices thing is my favourite piece of populist political propaganda so far. Labor’s pollsters are doing a great job of finding the issues that voters care about and exploiting them with eight second sound bites that resonate with the electorate. Howard is coming up with big ideas but failing to deliver the message with the same suave panache. Housing Affordability will be the next policy frontline – and it’ll be a crucial issue for the Howard Government – if they can’t win that one then I can’t see them winning the election. Despite their ability to formulate policy to achieve goals – as opposed to Labor’s goals first policy later approach.

For now – a trip to the Howard Government’s MySpace page is a must – if only to see the banner advertisement for Big Brother – a show Howard loathes.

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Where there’s smoke…

Hello blog reader.

It has been a while since my last post and much has happened. I recently celebrated the one year anniversary of my new financial year resolution to not eat fast food. My definition of “fast food” included anything from McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, KFC and Red Rooster. I’m happy to announce that I made the whole year – plus some nine days as I’m yet to return. This year’s NFYR sees me forswear the joys of carbonated “soft” drink including the products of Coca Cola and Pepsi – but not extending to Bundaberg Ginger Beer or Lemon, Lime and Bitters at the pub.

I got all cultured and stuff in the last week with the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. I went to their gala “Chefs in the North” dinner as I did last year. The food was above average and the wine was superb. Robyn and I went to the Guv’nr’s Gala Concert on Saturday night featuring a string quartet from NZ, an opera performance, some improv didge and a pretentious “art” piece from the festival’s resident composer.

I spent Friday on a luxury charter boat circumnavigating Magnetic Island – I’ll post photos later. Wedding plans are continuing – we’re putting together a map so that people can find the farm. It’s exciting times people. That’s a little update from me…

And now, without further ado – the subject of my topic… Daniel Johns and Peter Garrett. The Australian media was briefly up in arms today, keen to see Garrett’s credibility go up in flames over allegations made that he’d been burning the Midnight Oil (and some THC) with the Silverchair singer and U2’s Bono.Johns was quick to hose down the speculation – claiming he’d made a spur of the moment, off the cuff, joke to lighten the mood on JJJ’s sullen breakfast program… from Crikey –

”In an interview I did this morning on Triple J I made a stupid joke. It’s just been brought to my attention that some people in the media have taken my dumb joke seriously so I want to set the record straight. At no time have I ever “smoked a joint” with Bono or Peter Garrett. They are both well known to be very anti-drugs so that’s why I assumed everybody would know I was joking when I made that comment. Clearly that wasn’t the case and I feel sick that I might have caused embarrassment to two people who I admire so much.”

“I was fortunate enough to once get to play them some of my demo’s but I swear that no joints were involved. I guess I felt a bit like a namedropper mentioning them on the radio so that’s why I added a silly throwaway joke. I accept that drug use is no laughing matter and I apologize sincerely for any confusion or harm I’ve caused. Just by the way, this is one of the reasons why I hate doing interviews. I really should just shut up and stick to singing.”

Convincing? I’m not so sure.

That suits me

I made a spontaneous (thanks to Hilton and Justina) visit to Brisbane over the weekend to sort out wedding plans with parents and other parties… We now have a confirmed menu for our reception, an idea of exactly how many people will fit into the venue (120) and an idea of how the ceremony and morning tea/brunch/whatever will run.

Robyn’s main reason for making the trip to the “big city” was to search for bridesmaid dresses. Her search took her far and wide – they (Robyn and her sisters) travelled the length and breadth of South East Queensland looking for suitable dresses – spending many fruitless days digging through bridal specialists, looking at plans and checking all the appropriate boxes (literally and figuratively). They found nothing.

I had some time free on Saturday afternoon when I arrived. So I went suit shopping with mum and Mattias. We found appropriate suits in the second shop we went to. We bought them. I am sorted. I chose a very dark chocolate brown suit with brown pin stripes. It’s spiffy. I’m so glad I’m a guy.

In other news…
In today’s Courier Mail there was a brief (a one paragraph story for those not familiar with the media vernacular) on the explosion (figuratively not literally) of pest fish populations in the riverways of South East Queensland. The story calmly advised that drastic measures would be taken and that these pest fish (carp, tilapia etc) would be rounded up and electrofished. What on earth is electrofishing? That was my response too – I looked it up so you don’t have to…

This is a definition from Wikipedia’s fishing entry:

“A relatively new fishing technique is electrofishing, typically used for stream classification surveys and catching brood stock for hatcheries, or making estimates of populations in a body of water. A gated pulse of direct current is used to cause muscular contractions in a fish, called galvanotaxis, causing them to turn towards the source of the electrical current and swim towards it when correct pulse speeds and durations are used, along with correct current.”

For those intrigued by the concept here’s the how to guide from http://www.electro-fisher.com/… they’ve also got videos of electrofishing in action. Complete with really cheesy soundtrack.

http://www.electro-fisher.com/How_to_electrofishing.html

But remember…

“Fishermen should also remember that electrofisher is an electric device in order to avoid the contact of electric field with the bare body- waders must be waterproof and be electrically resistant as well as landing net must be plastic not to paralyse anybody – the same refers to boats. The electrofisher SAMUS700 is very safe but it is not reccomended to put the hands into water while electro fishing though”