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Comment He has a chance (Score 5, Insightful) 52

He has a chance, if opinion polls are to be believed, and thanks to the voting system used.

Australian Senators are elected for a term of 6 years, with a half senate election every three years. There are 6 senators for each state. The voting is by a proportional representation variant of the single transferable vote system (called the ‘preferential system’ in Australia).

Minority parties need to get at least 7% of the ‘first preference’ vote and be able to agree to an ‘exchange of preferences’* with other minority parties to have a chance at a seat in the Senate.

Although Assange is domiciled overseas and under threat of arrest, he is still able to run for the Senate. Under section 20 of the constitution, a senator may be dismissed if he is unable to attend for 2 consecutive months and has not been granted leave of absence by the president of the senate. However, under section 15, his place must be filled by another member of his party, conventionally, one who was listed on the ballot paper but who was unelected. Under section 44(ii), he would also lose his seat if sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment, but only if this was done by an Australian court. In this case again his place would be filled under section 15.

This new party would be best advised to stand a full senate team for each state and look to exchange preferences with other minor parties. The difficulty here is that the Wiki Party voters would probably also be Greens voters and the Greens might be hostile to an exchange.

*A complex series of deals to exchange votes on the ballot paper, but done openly and advertised in campaign literature.

Comment That's why we study history (or used to) (Score 1) 99

Yes, i'm sure this audience will always quote that old hack Asimov but perhaps Mark Twain is better - "history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme". Humans respond to much the same situations in much the same way - emphasis on 'much', because there are always differences of culture, place and circumstance.

That is why we study history - to guide us in our own decisions. Do some research on Heine and Neitzche and the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrance which ponts to recurring patterns of human behaviour, not for metaphysical reasons but because of human psychology, economics, geography all joined in chains of causality.

A cheaper way of doing this would be to have a talk with any professor of history. Some can actually impart information clearly when they are not writing academic papers. Of course governments don't always like what they hear because it often shows that their short-term agenda will lead to long-term failure.

But tell me please - this baby boomer asks why do so few gen X and Ys show any interest in history? Yes, i know it's boring in school, but so are most things. Why is there so little interest in the past/ Have you not learnt that other people's past is your future?

Comment Mostly makes sense - outside the USA (Score 5, Insightful) 351

Teaching is a collegial activity, so a good lesson plan would normally be shared within a staff room. Student's work is produced by minors where the school is 'in loco parentis' so their work would become school property to protect them from exploitation by adults, plagiarists and commercial interests.

That's how it works in Australia. Public school teachers are state employees so all their work is the property of the Crown. Good teaching material can be (and is) distibuted to other publis schools to give system-wide improvement. A teacher who gains a reputation for producing good stuff can negotiate this into promotion or a consultancy. State employees are not supposed to produce any paid work outside their job but in practice teachers who work as tutors, coaches or musicians etc are not imposed upon by the government as there is a tacit acknowledgement that teachers often need another income. Private school teachers' work is the property of their employee (diocesan office, school board) for much the same reason.

School administrators (puiblic or private) have a legal 'duty of care' to children. They won't stop parents from taking their kids to modeling agencies or auditions but if they produce something in school, say their major artwork for the matriculation exam, the school can arrange a professional exhibition and prevent students from beign ripped off.

American libertarians will doubt that government agencies can be benign (and if you want gold medal bastardry only a government can provide it) but not all countries have vast armies, huge spy agencies, heavily armed police or kill people with robot aircraft. The Department of Education will be staffed at policy and implementation level by people who believe in the value of education and teachers actually like children!

Comment Re:Chilling (Score 2) 223

No. Australian courts, state or federal, do not claim jurisdiction outside Australia. Only web pages that affect Australians in Australia have the potential for defamation (local term - includes libel and slander by any media) and only Australian citizens or permanent residents may apply to the courts. The initial application would be for an injunction against the publisher (a take-down notice). It is not easy to get an injunction. A refusal to obey the injunction would lead to a civil case for defamation. Truth is a sufficient defence, but there is no First Ammendment protection (there is no Bill of Rights in Australia). A jury has to decide if the plaintif has been defamed but a judge alone hears the defence and decides any penalties, which would include penalties to a plaintiff if the publisher could provide a defence.

This is the second such case in Australia so there is precedence - quite robust in fact. Federal and state law treats web pages under the same rules as television broadcasts (yes....I agree....). Google would be considered a publisher since it presents the web page after a search. Untested as yet is the issue of linking to a page.

Comment Only in America. Arrest the trophy wives! (Score 1) 533

What a weird situation! Prostitution is illegal in the USA? If it is illegal for a woman to offer sexual services for money and for a man to buy those services then all those trophy wives and their husbands should be arrested. This will cause disquiet in the upper ranks of society. Less flippantly - laws against prostitution are a class-based punitive measure.

Where I live selling sexual favours has never, strictly speaking, been illegal. Soliciting for prostitution in a public place is illegal but brothels are legal because they can be regulated and have health inspections. There are illegal brothels but only because they break the planning laws and operate in a residential area.

And why should visiting a prostitute make it difficult to find a job? Cause hurt to their partner, probably, and make them the target of ribald jokes, certainly, but how does it impact on their employability?

And why do so many of the posts above accept this situation?

Comment Stuff that has not been mentioned: (Score 1) 208

Lots of old books. Gruenberg on telemetry, the Radiotron Designers Manual, the ITT Radio Engineers manual, Skolnik on radar, the GE transistor manual and anything that shows actual circuits. You can always get modern books on theory but 1960s to 1990s books will give you circuits you can actually build.

Lots of components. You can buy in bulk from Chinese distributers using eBay and there is very little risk of counterfeits.

Good strong lighting. Loupe magnifiers. Fume extractors. Those devices that hold PCBs and components in place while soldering. Solid but comfortable chairs. Solid laboratory benches able to hold your test instruments and heavy equipment under test. At least 45 x 60 cm space on the bench.

Comment Nothing new here - done back in 1968 (Score 1) 180

Back in 1968 the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Australia operated proof-of-concept apparatus that did exactly the same thing. When I saw it operating it was a roomful of glass pipes that allowed the bacteria to live in their extreme environment and produce a gold compund that settled out and was collected there. Gold would have to be very expensive to make it commercial (and back then the price of gold was quite low), but it did work.

BTW, if you do the mathematics, the quantum wave function for gold is very similar to that of carbon14. And indeed at the heart of every gold nugget is a small speck of organic matter. Native gold is a finely dispersed suspension in granites and is usually not of commercial concentration. However, since alluvial gold accumulates in river beds the thinking at the Bureau was that bacteria were responsible for the growth of nuggets and that quantum processes played some unknown role.

Comment Sydney taxis (Score 5, Informative) 235

CCTV cameras have been fitted to taxis in Sydney for several years now at the request of the drivers. The hope is that this deters robberies. Does it work? I have never seen any figures - does anyone else know? They have also been fitted in State Transit buses with newer buses having a least three. In this case while it does not deter theft or assault it does lead to convictions. Also some entertaining reality TV on the news each night.

Comment University policy (Score 1) 870

Surely the conduct of examinations is the responsibility of the university or at least the faculty? Why does a lecturer need to be involved in enforcement?

I was involved in conducting examinations in schools (Year 3 to Year12) and universities for many years. Examination rules were usually set by the state Board of Studies or the university, but the rules I worked under can be summarised as:
- scientific calculators are permitted, but candidates must demonstarte to the invigilators that memeories are emptied (usually by just switching the calculator off, or by removing the battery)
- no dictionaries of any sort
- mobile phones switched off
- no PDAs or other networked devices.

Of course there were exceptions specified for particular exams, schools etc but in general they had to be simple and easy to understand given that the invigilators were usually retired school teachers and academics not always from the same subject area.

Calculators were permitted (actually they were mandatory) but the type was specified.


Girls Bugged Teachers' Staff Room 227

A pair of enterprising Swedish schoolgirls ended up in court after they were caught bugging their teachers break room. The duo hoped they would hear discussions about upcoming tests and school work, allowing them to get better grades. It worked until one of them decided to brag about it on Facebook, and the authorities were called in. The girls were charged with trespassing and fined 2,000 kronor ($270) each in Stockholm District Court.

Steampunk Con Mixes In More Maker Fun 50

California has once again been blessed with another steampunk convention, this time to be held in Emeryville, CA on March 12-14 as the "Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition." This year's event promises to mix in much more of the DIY/maker flavor for a greater hands-on feel. Steampunk has been gaining much broader appeal in recent months with the continued growth of maker communities, and the many delightful varieties of music and literature. The con will feature, among other things, a 2 day track of 2-hour how-to, hands-on, and interactive workshops gear towards makers, DIY-ers, mad scientists, and evil geniuses. Of course, if you are an evil genius you probably don't need a workshop except as a gathering for potential test subjects.

Breaking the Squid Barrier 126

An anonymous reader writes "Dr. Steve O'Shea of Auckland, New Zealand is attempting to break the record for keeping deep sea squid alive in captivity, with the goal of being able to raise a giant squid one day. Right now, he's raising the broad squid, sepioteuthis australis, from egg masses found in seaweed. This is a lot harder than it sounds, because the squid he's studying grow rapidly and eat only live prey, making it hard for them to keep the squid from becoming prey themselves. If his research works out, you might one day be able to visit an aquarium and see giant squid."

Man Sues Neighbor For Not Turning Off His Wi-Fi 428

Scyth3 writes "A man is suing his neighbor for not turning off his cell phone or wireless router. He claims it affects his 'electromagnetic allergies,' and has resorted to being homeless. So, why doesn't he check into a hotel? Because hotels typically have wireless internet for free. I wonder if a tinfoil hat would help his cause?"

Canadian Blood Services Promotes Pseudoscience 219

trianglecat writes "The not-for-profit agency Canadian Blood Services has a section of their website based on the Japanese cultural belief of ketsueki-gata, which claims that a person's blood group determines or predicts their personality type. Disappointing for a self-proclaimed 'science-based' organization. The Ottawa Skeptics, based in the nation's capital, appear to be taking some action."

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