Everything, Everything - May 2010

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I Love HD
Thursday 27th May, 2010 18:52
I'm always amazed when people say they can't see any difference when watching High Definition content. I suspect they need to get their eyes checked (and I suspect they're responsible for an above average number of car accidents).

This week has been an expensive week, but I now have a new 24" monitor that's capable of displaying 1080p content, the Dell UltraSharp U2410 (fantastic build quality, properly calibrated). Just in case that wasn't good enough, I now have a Sky+ HD box hooked up to the 1080p Sony Bravia, displaying Sky's HD content in all its 1080i goodness (the TV, somewhat surprisingly, seems to take the interlaced source in its stride). Perfect for watching the World Cup in a few weeks time! :D
Women And Equality
Friday 14th May, 2010 11:29
Theresa May has been appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality in the Conservative–Liberal Democrat Cabinet.

Some people have suggested she can't do both jobs at once (I'd argue, tongue in cheek, that she's a woman so unlike the men in the cabinet she can multi-task and do both roles at once), but more people have suggested she isn't suitable for the latter role (although as a friend has pointed out, she may have simply followed the party line).

If you take a look at her voting record on Homosexuality - Equal rights you can see some interesting things.

Firstly, she's been absent for a couple of the bigger votes ("Local Government Bill — Repeal of prohibition on promotion of homosexuality (Section 28)" and "Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations").

Secondly, when she has voted, she's been in the minority for all but one. Here are a couple of examples, which went through with a strong majority:
  • Crime and Disorder Bill — Reduce age of consent for homosexual acts to 16
  • Adoption and Children Bill — Suitability Of Adopters
In fact, the only one she's agreed with was "Civil Partnership Bill [Lords]", and that was also a strong majority.

You do have to wonder why she's been made Minister for Women and Equality? I'd be more impressed if they'd picked a rebel Conservative MP that had regularly voted against their party. Or perhaps someone from the Lib Dems. The Consveratives don't have a great track record when it comes to equality, I can't see it getting any better now they're (kind of) in power.
Wednesday 12th May, 2010 08:01
Mr Clegg said the coalition had been "overwhelmingly" endorsed by the party.

Perhaps. But I don't think the Lib Dem voters will be quite so happy.

If Labour quickly pick a good leader, I wouldn't be surprised if they stand half a chance of getting back into power in about six months time if the Conservatives stick to Cameron's claim that unelected PMs must call a poll within six months.

Perhaps rather foolishly, George Osborne will be Chancellor, with Vince Cable only responsible for "business and banks". The concessions made to the Lib Dems means that the gap in The Conservative Party's numbers is now even bigger.
General Election 2010 - 22:00
Friday 7th May, 2010 13:41
A few hundred people were upset to discover they were too late to vote during the General Election yesterday. Boo hoo.

In 2005 the turnout across the UK was 61.4%. This year it looks more like 70-75%. That's only around 15-20% higher than last time, so I'm amazed that it was such a struggle to cope with the higher turnout. Anecdotal evidence suggests that students may have been to blame (although you're not obliged to bring them with you) for turning up without their polling cards, which increased the amount of time taken to issue ballot papers.

But I feel that a lot of the blame should be placed on the public themselves. Polling booths opened at 7AM and closed at 10PM. That's 15 hours, a pretty large window to vote. It's hard to feel entirely sympathetic for people turning up 2/3rds of the way through the event.

"But they couldn't vote during the day as they were busy working!" I can imagine people saying. Why not use a postal vote? You can do that at your leisure. If you're too slow to return your postal vote (because you're so busy), it doesn't actually prevent you from voting normally on the day!

The TV debates between the 3 main parties concluded a week beforehand, which still gives plenty of time for the X-Factor and Big Brother generation to make a decision on an incredibly important decision that affects the next 5 years of their lives. I'm also surprised by how many people appear to have made their decision at the last moment, given that things like the manifestos have been available for weeks (and candidates have been campaigning for weeks). If you care that strongly about your vote being counted, take the day off work. The General Election (generally, pun not intended) only happens every 5 years.

Sometimes s**t happens. I hate to say it, but a few hundred votes (most likely split fairly equally) probably won't make a huge difference* to the result both locally or nationally.

Should people have been more proactive? Sure, we could have spent more of the government's money on running the general election (it's not like we have a massive deficit or f**king huge national debt) to ensure there wouldn't be a capacity issue (perhaps do it over two days, or have more polling stations open). We could also waste money on improving the road network so we never face a traffic jam or slow moving traffic at rush hour (it's pretty much the same issue - especially if you compare the train to a postal vote). We could also employ an insane number of doctors and nurses to wipe out every single waiting list in the NHS. Let's throw money and people to every existing problem and prevent any new ones from happening!

Or we accept that we do the best we can with a finite amount of money and people (the latter are only human). If people had made more of an effort to attend during working hours, perhaps this "scandal" could have been averted, but that would probably require people to volunteer and donate their time to benefit the rest of society. Isn't that what Dave Cameron wants as part of this "Big Society" he keeps talking about? Remind me again why I have trouble believing it could work?

* South Park - Douche and Turd:
Mr. Mackey: M'kay, that's one more vote for Turd Sandwich.
Randy: [through clenched teeth] So who won, Mr. Mackey?
Mr. Mackey: It's pretty close, but it looks like Giant Douche is gonna win.
Cartman: Oh no! NOOO!!
Kyle: HA! You lose, fatass!
Butters: [by the doors, motions to the others to look] Uh hey, wait a minute! [the others present gather round and look out. Stan approaches the school, battered and injured, and the others stream out of the school]
Randy: Stan!
Sharon: Stan, you came back. Does that mean... you learned the importance of voting?
Stan: I learned that I'd better get used to having to pick between a douche and a turd sandwich because it's usually the choice I'll have.
Randy: He's going to vote!!
Townsfolk: [murmuring amongst themselves] He's going to vote. He's going to vote. [they gather round and hoist Stan up, carrying him inside. Stan is lowered and he fills out the ballot. He holds his shoulder and thinks a moment while images of an eagle, the White House, and the US flag float in the background. He makes up his mind: he votes for Turd Sandwich. He considers his vote, then approaches the ballot box and drops his ballot in. Mr. Mackey, holding the box, spins around in his chair happily.]
Singer: Let's get out the vote! Let's make our voices heard!
We've been given the right to choose between a douche and a turd.
It's democracy in action! Put your freedom to the test.
A big fat turd or a stupid douche. Which do you like best?
Mr. Mackey: [Adding Stan's vote to the tally] Stan's vote bring the total votes for Turd Sandwich to... thirty six! And Giant Douche has... one thousand four hundred and ten. Giant Douche still wins.
Some Townsfolk: Yeah! All right!
Other Townsfolk: AWWWW!!
Stan: Dude, so my vote didn't even really matter!
Randy: Hey! That's not true, Stan.
Sharon: [genuflects behind Stan] You can't judge the merits of voting on whether or not your candidate won.
Randy: [genuflects behind Stan] Your vote still mattered.
Mr. Garrison: [rushing into the school] Hey everybody! [holds up a shredded PETA shirt. Everyone turns and looks] They just found all the PETA members murdered at their compound! [all gasp]
Mr. Mackey: What the? They're all dead? Well, that means...
Clyde: That we can go back to being the South Park Cows! [opens his jacket and shows off his Cows shirt]
All: Hooray! All right!
Randy: [to Stan] NOW your vote didn't matter.
Gordon Bot
Monday 3rd May, 2010 11:20
As I watched the live footage of Gordon Brown's visit to Ipswich, I was reminded of an article I read last night that mentioned how wooden Brown's questions were.
  • How old are you?
  • What age are you?
  • That's a good age.
  • It's nice to meet you.
  • It's good to see you.
  • What football team do you support?
  • Thank you.
  • Good.
  • [repeat their response as a question]
If I could be bothered, I might write a little JavaScript based Gordon-bot. I can only assume he's keeping the questions and responses simple to avoid putting his foot in it, as I don't think he could pass the Turing Test based on his current performance.

I'm sure he'll do considerably better during the proper Q&A that's about to start, he seems to know his manifesto (and those of the other parties) extremely well.
Saturday 1st May, 2010 10:21
The BBC's live coverage posted this earlier:

One minister who has not lost his sense of humour during the hectic campaigning is Lord Mandelson, the BBC's Iain Watson reports from the prime minister's train. He is approached by a passenger who asks him to sign her copy of the now Lib Dem-supporting Guardian for her "friend". He complies with her wishes and signs it, "Peter Mandelson pp The Dark Lord". Asked what she does she replies she works for the polling company Mori, but doesn't offend Lord Mandelson by pointing to Labour's current ratings.

As I was writing this, they posted:

"There would be a BBQ summer under a Conservative government every year," David Cameron jokes with a butcher after asking about BBQ sales. He is mixing with shoppers at a Saturday market in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, buying Banbury cake and purple sprouting broccoli.

But Dave, think of the carbon! I admit it's not too bad if people have gas barbecues (but it's just not the same as cooking with charcoal - "real" charcoal, also commonly known as "chunk charcoal," doesn't have the nasty additives, and burning it is carbon neutral, although it often comes from thousands of miles (or even multiple continents) away, which negates some of its carbon benefits).
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