Two Bittersweet Anniversaries

There are two significant anniversaries in the equal rights battle for the indigenous peoples of Australia this weekend.

For those outside of Australia this may be a difficult fact to comprehend, but today, Sunday 27th May, is the 40th anniversary of the 1967 national referendum to remove the two sections of the Australian Consitution that discriminated against Indigenous Australians.

Saturday, 26th May, was the 10th anniversary of the release of “Bringing them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families” which dealt with the forced removal of indigenous children from their parents from the first days of colonisation through to the present day.

On the 9th July 1900 the UK Parliament passed the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Wikipedia page) which removed the power of the Federal Parliament to legislate on behalf of the indigenous peoples, saying that the Parliament could pass laws for:

The people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws

It also prohibited the indigenous peoples from being counted in any census, Section 127 “Aborigines not to be counted in reckoning population” saying:

In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.

Then, on June 12th 1902, the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 (PDF of original) removed the right of all coloured people (except Maoris) to vote, in a section bluntly called “Disqualification of coloured races”, saying:

No aboriginal native of Australia, Asia, Africa or the Islands of the Pacific except New Zealand shall be entitled to have his name placed on an Electoral Roll unless so entitled under section forty-one of the Constitution.

There is a common perception that the 1967 referendum permitted Indigenous Peoples to vote, but that is not the case as the earlier Commonwealth Electoral Act 1962 had already extended voluntary enrollment and voting rights to all Aboriginals (a 1949 act included indigenous people who were enrolled at the State level, basically covering SA, VIC and NSW), but it was not made compulsory (as it had been for other Australians since 1924) until 1984. The Australasian Legal Information Institute has a timeline detailing “Legal Developments Affecting Indigenous People” in beta at the moment.

Sadly, this is bittersweet anniversary as the average life expectancy for an indigenous person is still around 17 years less than a settler, according to a recent WHO report. As the primary author on the section for Australia, Dr Lisa Jackson Pulver, told the ABC:

For example, Indigenous babies born today can expect to live only as long as people in Australia 100 years ago.

Australia is now officially the worst wealthy country in the world for Indigenous health. It is a shameful record.

Multi-Core for HPC: Breakthrough or Breakdown?

At SC06 there was a panel discussion on the final day about whether the trend to more and more cores on a socket was going to be good or bad for HPC. The feeling was that because the fact that chip makers need to do something to make up for stagnating clock speeds coincided with having more and more blank space on the die as transistor sizes shrunk more cores was inevitable.

However, this puts all your memory on the wrong side of the pins from the cores, and HPC will (must) need to find a way to deal with it!

The presentations were really good and I was a bit sad that I couldn’t get enough notes as the session was packed and I was up near the back, but I’ve just found out that all the slides used are up on the web as PDF’s, courtesy of the most amiable Thomas Sterling, who chaired the session.

The most illuminuating HPC related quote was from the slides of Steve Scott talking about how RAM characteristics have changed over the years:

1979 -> 1999:
16000X density increase
640X uniform access BW increase
500X random access BW increase
25X less per-bit memory bandwidth

My favourite non-HPC quote is from Don Becker’s slides:

My nightmare: An 80 core consumer CPU means your web experience will be 79 3­D animated ads roaming over your screen

Be afraid, be very afraid (on both grounds)..

Microsoft / Novell Deal Terms Posted

LWN has this to say:

The terms of the Microsoft/Novell deal have been posted at last. There are three parts: the patent cooperation agreement granting the patent non-licenses, the technical collaboration agreement describing the technical work each company will do, and the business collaboration agreement on the business arrangements.

Groklaw also has an initial post about the SEC filing which details the agreement and quotes Novell on how GPLv3 may affect it.

Migratedata – a Generic Database Conversion Tool

Andy Ballam left a comment on my post about migrating from PostNuke to WordPress mentioning a tool he’s created called migratedata that I though deserved a wider mention..

This might be helpful to people: I’ve just started a project called migratedata ( that provides a framework for migrating between all different types of databases without writing any SQL – just editing an XML file.

It comes with an example that will migrate from PostNuke to WordPress 2.2. Nice work Andy!

Cutty Sark badly damaged by fire

Some bad news out of London..

A fire which severely damaged the famous 19th Century ship Cutty Sark is being treated as suspicious by police. The ship, which was undergoing a £25m restoration project, is kept in a dry dock at Greenwich in south-east London. An area around the 138-year-old tea clipper had to be evacuated when the fire broke out in the early hours.

Fortunately it appears that because of the restoration work about 50% of the ship had already been removed for work, but this will make the conservation work much harder.

The images below are linked from the BBC.


The Cutty Sark before the fire


Cutty Sark on fire


Cutty Sark after the fire

Oh the hard cheese of old England

This is, er, cheesy.. but in a good way.. 🙂

Since debuted in December, the Web site offering a live broadcast of a round slab of English cheddar cheese slowly maturing has had more than 1.2 million hits.

There is also a YouTube time lapse film of it maturing over the last 3 months.

It even has its own MySpace page where you can pledge allegiance to the Cheese (if you use MySpace). Where’s Les Barker when you need him ? 🙂