Thursday, February 28, 2008

Finally, Harry Windsor is More Famous Than Harry Potter

Extending the news because Prince Harry is in Afghanistan? You've got to be freaking kidding me. There are few events on this earth that are so monumental that you have to produce extended news coverage of them.

Lets put it this way. If you didn't work out that if Harry ever did hit the frontline it would be vital that we didn't know about it then go back to trying to lick your elbow or whatever it is you do to pass the time of day. That bit is not news.

Put that together with the fact you haven't heard about him and his Saturday night exploit for 10 weeks and presto...


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Britain Will Not Boycott the Olympics

It is not a question, not an argument, not worth wasting breath on. But maybe worth spending a few words on to record the thought.

If the UK hosted the last Olympics, maybe. The UK will not host a retaliation Olympics unless we think we have a really good set of swimmers and table tennis players lined up for 2012.

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Geek Watch

I'm not ashamed to say I'm impressed by the idea of the periodic table on a shower curtain.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Poorly Defined Targets

The most dangerous types of targets in the world are those backed by financial incentive. Why is that? Because if there is money to be made you can be sure of making people clamber for it.

The worst example I have ever heard appeared in Friday's Daily Mail. A target of having 5,400 children adopted each year. In any given year how on earth can you tell that exactly 5,400 children need to be adopted? It can't be done, that's the primary indication that the target is poorly defined.
The target is so off the mark as to be abhorrent. If the true number is larger than 5,400 then there is no incentive to help those excess children in care. If the true number is lower then it encourages unwarranted adoptions. Literally making up risk assessments and removing children from perfectly ordinary caring families.

What if the number is absolutely spot on? Well, what about the difficult to place kids? The 8 or 9 year old tearaway or the 10 year old down syndrome child. Much easier to ignore them and manufacture the case for a blonde haired, blue eyed baby. So having the exact number is worse than an underestimation.

I can't for the life of me believe that the target is that plain without other safety requirements acting as buffers from the sort of manipulation that the Daily Mail reports on. But this does highlight the dangers presented by poor use of this powerful instrument.

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No Trust, No Democracy

The way MPs cling to this idea that the current political construct is the only possible form of democracy never fails to amuse me.

To paraphrase Khalid Mahmood MP in reference to one of his colleagues being bugged "if you do not trust MPs how can you believe in democracy?"


Of course is it far too easy to pick about the MPs. This week alone two have proved themselves to be untrustworthy. Peter Hain breaking the law on party funding and Derek Conway for a serious diversion of public funds into his family's coffers. Bearing in mind the tiny number of MPs there are, at this rate, you get through the lot of them in little over 6 years. Or 80% in a parliamentary term...

Quite frankly, how anyone feels fairly represented under this system bemuses me entirely. It's fairly easy to conceive that 30 million people in this nation are not represented. MPs can be elected on less than half the vote in their constituency. They just need to get more votes than the other guy. What that means is the more choice you have the poorer the level of representation.

For example:
3 contenders means the minimum requirement is 34%.
5 contenders means the minimum requirement is 21%.

The nature of democracy is that you have most say, most choice. However the nature of the system means the more choice you have the less democratic the result.

The system only survives because generally we can sort ourselves out on a daily basis and we are just so pathetically passive.

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