Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RIP Jim Noble - Dmoz editor

Just noticed this post on the Open Directory Project (dmoz) blog.

I havent been an editor there for a few years now, but i had the privilege to volunteer with Jim. he mentored me quite a bit in my early meta days, and i met him a few times for beers at UK DMOZ meets.

His contribution, especially to the Regional/UK categories was immense, and he will no doubt be greatly missed there.

My thoughts go out to his family.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Voting Systems - A strong local connection

One thing that generally comes up in comparisons of voting systems is strength of your votes connection to your local constituency.

So in the current UK FPTP system - your vote determines your local area MP - who is a member of a national party.

This wouldn't change under the AV system proposed - it would still be constituency based.

So - whilst this has no relevance to the current referendum - I find it interesting that this argument is used as a criticism of PR systems.

Frankly - if I'm voting in a UK General Election - I'm voting on national policies. I couldn't give a hoot about the local connection. Local council elections allow me to express my local preferences. I don't want MPs to waste their time on local issues - this is what councillors are for. I want MPs to actually attend parliament and work hard to get the national policies I elected them based on actually implemented. They will of course fail horribly - but I want to see them at least try.


Now I accept that with a PR system with party lists - you do have an issue in that you are no longer voting for a person whose policies you understand, but for a party. The party members get to select who appears where in the list, and party members frequently do not represent the people who vote for the party. I tend to vote Tory, but only occasionally smoke cigars, and am not hugely fond of brandy. (I consider it to be a girly version of Scotch. This is strongly supported by the fact my missus drinks brandy, and slightly undermined by the fact that a bowie knife wielding South African friend also enjoys it. I digress.)

This party list selection issue is apparently one of the biggest challenges for PR to overcome. What if the party stuff the list with a bunch of wankers?

Well to be fair - the long term answer to that is that you don't vote for them again in a hurry.

Another option is to bite the bullet, give the bastards a few quid via direct debit and get your party list vote as a paid up party member.

A further option sometimes touted is adding the lists to the voting paper too... but frankly - that is too complex and will probably result in an undemocratic number of invalid votes or more likely a bunch of numpties voting randomly with no idea of what each politician stands for, based on the fact that they had "a nice smile" when I saw them on celebrity X-craptor.

My preferred solution to protect against this would be to put a basic long multiplication sum on the page as a kind of captcha. If they get it wrong, they're so dumb they didn't even think to use a calculator - and thus their vote is discarded. Awesome.

On my next post I promise to be slightly more relevant to the AV vs FPTP debate. Honest. Although on past form it probably won't be for a few years - and thus completely irrelevant to the referendum.

Brandy Glass image above courtesy of: akk_rus (Flickr)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Whisky Awards

They really like Highland Park. Which is interesting - as it's my least favourite of all the single malts I've ever bought (admittedly I have the 12 yr old not the 21 or 40 yr old one). In fact I've been using it to cook haggis after we ran out of cheap blended stuff!
Still if whiskies I like don't win awards - then they're less likely to inflate in price!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Eligibility for Parliament

A colleague sent me the following stats about sitting MPs in South Africa.

29 have been accused of spousal abuse
7 have been arrested for fraud
19 have been accused of writing bad cheques
117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
3 have done time for assault
71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
8 have been arrested for shoplifting
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year

Puts Jacqui Smith's pay per view pr0n in perspective! Anyway this led me to wonder what restrictions were placed on eligibility to stand for parliament in the UK.

One would have thought that at the very least crimes that speak to a lack of integrity in the person standing (e.g. Fraud) and crimes that indicate psychosis (e.g. Murder) might disqualify people from standing.

Interestingly there isn't really a clear list though. Certain things are enshrined in different bits of legislation. So insanity does prevent you from standing (so murderers and rapists might be prevented from becoming MPs depending on their mental health classification). Treason and being bankrupt also prevent you from being an MP. But being convicted for fraud doesn't appear to, which appears to be a pretty bad oversight.

I agree that people shouldn't be prevented from standing based on spent past transgressions that aren't indicative of current behaviour. (e.g. shoplifting as a teenager, speeding, having a bar fight, taking drugs etc) But crimes which indicate a complete lack of moral fibre (rather than just social deprivement) really ought to get you banned from standing.

Also currently if you commit a crime that gets you sent to jail whilst serving as a UK MP, you only lose your seat if you are imprisoned for a year or more.... Surely it should be a maximum of a month - you can hardly serve your constituents well from inside a cell.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Cheapskate your passport photos!

I found this site - http://www.photomat.eu/ took some photos against a magnolia wall in the house with our digital camera until some looked reasonable, and then processed em using the house. You then get an image block of 8 photos you can process with any online photo service as a 4"x6" image. At 10p for 8 (+ processing charge) that will work at hella cheaper than the £4 photo booths!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Conficker - Are you infected?

Well April 1st came and went without incident - so it appears the threat was somewhat overhyped - what a surprise.

The Conficker Working Group are offering a helpful chart to help people test whether their machine is infected.

See Conficker Eye Chart here [confickerworkinggroup.org].

Friday, April 03, 2009

No fun with protestors and no picket lines - boring!

Well my opportunities to express my ultra right wing free trade views have been scuppered twice in a week.

First I worked from home Thursday in the hope that the G20 protestors would make it round the dock and I could engage them in a nice debate on free trade - and hardly any turned up. I saw one group of about 3 punks chatting to a policeman and pretty much knack all else. So I didn't get a chance to throw any of my free hotel soap bars at anyone - boring!

And today the planned strike action at work has been called off by the unions pending further discussion, so I didn't get to cross picket lines and have a debate with the union reps. Again - boring!