Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Do not try to play the system

Copyright Antony Green 2010
The heading of this post is the advice given to me and my Esteemed Colleagues by our Fine University administration when they were telling us how the Big Computer would automagically process our preferences for the rotations we go on next year.  I am sure that every year some small number of people do not follow this advice, choosing instead to rely on convoluted logic and/or game theory to justify selecting rotations they don't really want but believe they won't be allocated in order to secure other placements that they just know they need to get or their careers will be destroyed in utero.  But by and large, medical students are sensible level-headed types who would never try to play the system when this much is at stake.

Not so the Australian public.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald, which you can read by placing your computer's cursor over THESE CAPITAL LETTERS using the pointing device with which it is equipped and depressing the selection button once, says that in a poll taken of voters since the election, 13% of them would have voted differently if they had known what the outcome of the election would be.  I have a message for those voters:


It's a difficult concept to get your head around, I know, but voting is an expression of your preferred outcome.  If enough people vote for something, it will happen.  There is no point voting for something that you don't want in order to "send a message".  Somewhat astonishingly, 1 vote out of 15 million sends no message at all, while 2 million votes out of 15 million changes the result.  If you want to send a message, write a postcard.  Sure, it'll cost you maybe a buck fifty.  But at least it won't put us all in the situation we're in now, where Bob Katter is the most powerful man in the country and Bill HendersonHeffernan* is trying to influence the formation of government by making prank phone calls in silly voices.

*okay I admit it.  I'm a moron.


Anonymous said...

Wow - that's interesting - 13% is a massive chunk.

What if the 13% were split exactly in half in terms of swapping their primary vote between labour and Lib/Nats? That would mean that a huge chunk had changed their votes, but we'd still be in the same electoral position.

If we did that enough, we'd probably end up with a Time Lord as Prime Minister. (Hey PTR - there's a great quiz question - choose your favourite incarnation of The Doctor!)

Anonymous said...

Vote 1 - Anthony Green for PM.

Anonymous said...

erm, wasn't it Bill Heffernan who was making the phone calls?

PTR said...

Well that's embarrassing. I was about to rubbish you for not reading my post properly. Turns out it's me who can't write properly! I'm going to fix it in the original post so that nobody suspects a thing.

Anonymous said...


Did you travel back in time and seduce Anonymous, so that they'd never have time to make that comment? The error has just seamlessly vanished on your blog!

PTR said...

It's hard to say for sure, seeing as they're anonymous and all. But most of my time-travelling seduction has been happening during the Renaissance so I doubt that Anonymous was around then.