15 November 2008

Koalas

Koalas lounge around in the trees, sleeping. They don't move for hours. They're cute and cuddly, but slow and dopey and quiet.

Except when they're not.

After midnight, they wake up. They grunt at each other, loudly, in this extraordinary bray like a donkey with a bass voice. They thrash through the gum trees in search of a mate. The din is tremendous. You'd hardly think it was the same sleepy creatures responsible.

When I was young, there were very few koalas around the area. Many people never saw one; I felt privileged to have seen two in my life.

Now, if I want, I could see one every day. I certainly hear them every day. I have looked up, wondering if one was around, and seen one right in front of my eyes. You can sometimes hear them call during the day, and see them raising their snouts as they do. They have passed me on the path at night, not seeming to even see me in the dim light. There's more and more of them all the time. They're not native to the area, so I wonder where the population explosion will lead.

They certainly keep the nights interesting.

5 November 2008

Good on ya, USA.

I'm happy to see that Obama got in. I'm also happy to see that huge numbers turned out to vote. I suspect the feeling in the US has been similar to what we had here after our federal election last November.

Stinkypaw wrote a post about it that reminded me of something I've often said to people.

In Australia, we have compulsory voting. There is occasional debate over whether this is a good thing. While I see problems in the voluntary system, there are two big problems in the compulsory one.

The first is that very few people understand how the political system and the voting system really work. There is little education in schools about it. I've even been asked at the polling booth by someone twice my age how to fill in the ballot. I often hear people quoting mis-information on the system. I think something is wrong when people are forced to vote in a system they don't fully understand.

The second big problem is something Stinkypaw mentioned - what if there is no one running that you want to vote for? Nothing sucks more than wasting your vote because none of the people represented you.

I think there should be one more little box on the list of candidates - saying 'none of the above'. It should be a genuine vote. If enough people tick that box, the election is re-run and none of the previous candidates can stand again.

Sure, it would cost a lot of money. But wouldn't it be satisfying?