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April 7th, 2005


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03:59 am - Games Games Games Games (the Slightly Larger Furry Creatures Press)
(...aaand the flop came king-jack-ten of clubs, so everybody pushed all in. The turn and river couldn't help and it turned out that absolutely everyone had ace-queen for the royal. Result, a 200-way split pot and nobody needed to send anything anywhere! Quite extraordinary...)

First, happy birthday to oinomel71! This, of course, operates on the principle that if you start composing a LJ post on someone's birthday and don't finish it in time, it still counts. Happy birthday Eastern Daylight Time, or something?

Second, elvie points out that favourite mad performance art group Blast Theory are running Can You See Me Now? on Thursday and Friday this week between 4pm and 7pm BST - the current game is taking place around "The Junction" in Cambridge - that's Cambridge, UK, not the one near Boston. Anyway, you can run round a virtual chunk of Cambridge pursued by real people whose physical positions are superimposed on the virtual world, trying to avoid being caught by them.

The game is pretty easy, but it's an interesting way to play; before long, you make new challenges for yourself, like staying just out of the way of the runners - perhaps chasing them? - or interacting with other players. The most obvious improvement via improper gameplay is to go to the real Junction in Cambridge, play via wireless internet in their physical presence and throw the runners off-guard. It's old tech (I blogged about it in late 2002) but at least we can be confident it works reliably. Anyway, it's only online for another day or two, so get movin', and perhaps I'll see you in virtual Cambridge.

Third, a new campaign has officially started of the biggest game of them all in Britain - the General Election. Kudos to BBC News for putting what I consider to be an excellent site covering the election online straight away; the highlight, for me, is the issues comparator, which I consider an outstanding piece of public service. Pick three parties and compare their policies on 17 issues at a glance, which I think blows away arguments from the disinterested that all the parties are the same or that the parties spend more time slagging each other off than saying what they stand for. Incidentally, while I'm glad the differences between parties are clear, I do think the fact that there is so much cross-party agreement about best practice is heartening and should be celebrated.

Also interesting to note that the BBC have appropriated the term weblog for their frequently-updated collection of short pieces. I quibble at the terminology slightly in that I still associate weblogs as being primarily about dissemination of weblinks rather than original content, so perhaps I'd call it a journal. Their interface is also sadly lacking a way to view all the entries of that day without users' comments; nevertheless, I'll forgive them that for the fact that they offer a RSS syndicated feed, already syndicated to LJ as blog_vote2005. Anyway, frequent Friends list F5ers, have at.

US politics geeks may well find following the British election fun and possibly less depressing than the US campaign simply because more parties make for more geekery and more colour. Admittedly a good 30%+ of the vote will be taken by each of the Labour and Conservative parties, translating to close to 90% of the seats between them as a result of our First Past The Post scheme, but the Liberal Democrats stand good hopes of increasing both their vote share above 18% and their representation, plus the minority parties may well take a bigger chunk of the vote as well. There isn't a direct equivalent to the Electoral Vote web site which was essential daily reading in the US campaign on the grounds that constituencies are so small (c. 70,000 voters) that you can't really take meaningful polls within them, plus nobody is quite sure which the marginal constituencies really will be. There's always the BBC's poll tracker and associated analysis.

Incidentally, I don't anticipate significant change in foreign policy between the US and the UK, whatever the result of the election. Labour are more traditionally associated with the Democrats and the Conservative party with the Republicans, but Tony Blair has famously strong ties to both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The strongly pro-European Liberal Democrats favour closer ties with Europe, which might possibly be at the expense of de-emphasising ties with the US, and they were the highest-profile party to oppose the war in Iraq, but I don't think relations with the USA are a major policy issue for any of the serious players. Perhaps there are questions to be asked about what the UK is getting out of the "Special Relationship" at the moment, but the Conservatives and Labour aren't willing to do so as a policy commitment.

Almost needless to say, I encourage everyone in the UK who is permitted to vote either to do so, or alternatively to take considerable pleasure in deliberately spoiling their ballot paper, quite possibly in a glorious, elaborate and demonstrative fashion. Both voting and proactively spoiling should give tremendous pride.

The big question for me, of course, is who to vote for. Here are my views; you tell me for whom I should vote.

I would be especially keen to support an overtly secular or humanist party who would disestablish formal links with specific religions and rethink the roles of religious representatives in the House of Lords, the religious aspects of the Northern Irish government conflict, the religious underpinnings of marriage as opposed to civil partnership, British involvement in religious conflicts, religious financing, holiday tradition and so on. This is not to say that established religions do not have good ideas, but I do not accept religion as a means of authority. I support equal rights and tend to support redistribution of opportunity to those who are unfortunately disadvantaged beyond their control. (Not to excess, but to a greater extent than happens currently.)

I would be especially keen to support an overtly internationalist party or movement who would be keen to recognise that decisions should be taken at the most appropriate level - frequently this is more local than happens at present, but also frequently this is more continental or global than happens at present. I would encourage handing more responsibility and power to European and global government, not least as a route towards further entrenching and securing long-term peace, and discourage particular attachment to conventional geographical concepts of nation.

I am overtly pro-government and feel that the institute of government, regardless of the political alignment of its incumbents, is unfairly disparaged. It is not responsible for many of the problems and issues that people often ascribe to it; conversely, I'm not sure whether governments can claim all of the credit for accomplishments that are often ascribed to them. However, I believe that human nature cannot be trusted to work for the greater good effectively without the leadership and guidance that some form of government provides, not to say that our form of government is necessarily the best one (though experiments and refinements over the years and across the globe have shown what does and doesn't work). I respect the small-government (libertarian? Libertarian?) position but consider it misguided, frequently uncaring and sometimes dangerous. Of course, I may just not understand it properly. :-)

I believe that government does not currently do an effective job at dealing with aspects of life that determine people's well-being; people's concerns and miseries are frequently far from the topics that governments currently address. I would support citizenship and education reforms to make people consider the more unfortunate consequences of human nature which are currently exploited by the media. In short, I think it is possible for the world to be happier through government intervention, but I don't know how and I don't think this concept is currently being addressed in the manner it would most beneficially be.

I support electoral reform to ensure that minority viewpoints are heard and considered. In practice, I support forms of proportional representation and would set the level of required support for a viewpoint to be considered to be very low, rather lower than the 5% figure sometimes used (e.g. in the London Assembly). I am aware that there are some nasty extremists out there, but I do not fear any one particular band of nasty extremists. In principle, nasty extremists' viewpoints should be considered, though in practice almost always rejected.

I believe that the jobs market is a more capricious and inequitable way of rewarding people for their efforts than would be desirable. I favour limited, but greater than current, redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor, not just within the country but around the world. I regard myself as very fortunate and quite rich already in this regard, even though I am some way from what is considered "middle Britain" or "middle England".

I believe that people have the right to do what they like with what they earn to some extent; I believe they also have a responsibility to benefit the rest of the world. When people become unusually rich, I believe that their right to choose which good causes benefit from their largesse (which charity, or possibly which luxury) does not exceed their responsibility to fund the social benefits that nobody chooses to fund. In simple terms, the rich world should pay for unfashionable causes like garbage collection in the poor world.

I believe that tax policy is very difficult and do not believe that massive hikes in income tax are the best way to fund this. I am concerned about the extremely wealthy's ability to evade taxation and suspect that global co-operation is required to ensure that the extremely rich cannot change their nationality for convenience and economic benefit.

I believe that while successful people have the right to make life more pleasant for their loved ones, they can currently do so to an extent that reinforces inequalities in an unhelpful fashion. I would support increases in inheritance tax, even to my own detriment, to the point that nobody can be excused from contribution to society simply through the basis of privileged upbringing.

I am not opposed to private health, education or transport in principle, but I would hate to see any fo them expand to the point that public alternatives were unacceptably poor quality. Of the three, I regard public health and public education as being rather better served than public transport in Britain at the moment. I have little opinion on whether consumers can be trusted to make well-informed decisions when choice is offered.

I do not have tremendously strong opinions on the issue of crime. Business at large is currently given excessive leeway to damage the environment. Art, culture and sport contribute greatly to the well-being of the world and are currently underfunded; governments should not be scared, within reason, from attempting glorious and imaginitive public projects which may form modern wonders of the world; my sense of reason on such matters is more liberal than most.

For whom should I vote? Feel free to answer that question either by picking a party that matches up most closely to my views, or by challenging my views and suggesting why I should adopt different ones more closely aligned with a particular party.

Lastly, if all these games are too much for you, a safe-for-work and very silly picture: how they celebrate April 1st at a Japanese zoo - or, possibly, confirmation of the existence of the Oriental version of Trigger Happy TV.
Current Mood: indescribablevariable

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


From:quidditchmaster
Date:April 6th, 2005 08:10 pm (UTC)
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Hahaha, you bastard. I was counting on winning a giant pot =P

Also, you NEVER, EVER, EEEEVER push all-in with a royal flush on the flop. You have the absolute nuts; you can safely slowplay it.

;)
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 6th, 2005 08:13 pm (UTC)
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When one person pushes all in, though, and at least two did, I can't imagine not pushing all in in response.

At least one person folded, though. They don't need to send anything anywhere else either. Funny how that worked out, really.
From:quidditchmaster
Date:April 6th, 2005 08:23 pm (UTC)
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Well, yeah, but they were dumb, then =P

Then again, 200 people had the same hole cards, so I guess this isn't exactly a 10-player ring game...

Hey Chris, have you seen the schedule for Lumos 2006? What are your thoughts on "Water Quidditch"? What about the (what I take to be as a) chess tournament?!

I can think of so many reasons why water quidditch is going to bomb, but for some reason I fear I don't hold the same amount of influence over the games department's runnings as I do/did for TWH. Do you know of any way water quidditch could ever even work? Water polo seems to be the basis of the idea, but the fatigue factor, the "no harmful contact" factor... three goals (guarding ONE is hard enough; I'd know!)... to swim back and forth all the way across the pool every time possession changes...

And only TWO HOURS allocated to it. I am fearful for the games department -- granted, we have about 16 months until L2006 ... with 6 months to go until TWH, I've definitely persuaded enough people to change enough things in ten months time. . .

Thoughts?
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 6th, 2005 08:32 pm (UTC)
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Mmm... no opinion, really. I don't know whether I'm going to have that time off in my shift pattern; if I'm not able to go then I shall merely restrict myself to being jealous of the people who can.

Lumos at large does look good, though. I'm a little concerned that only one of the organisers involved is a name I recognise - albeit a name I hold in high regard! - though frankly I don't think HPEF, Inc. would have given their endorsement unless the other people had their act together.
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From:beingjdc
Date:April 7th, 2005 01:44 am (UTC)
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Difficult to say other than not-Conservative. A Lib Dem vote is probably most likely to be interpreted as pro-PR (PR of course would be a terrible thing but I don't have time for the argument now) and pro-internationalist-especially-the-EU. Arguably they're the most secular party, though as with many of these things that aren't really defined by party the full spectrum is present in the Labour Party. The Lib Dems are less redistributive, especially within the UK, but since that's not the general perception a vote for them would not necessarily be thus perceived. I would suggest finding out what your local Lib Dem candidate's views on things are, and what chance they stand of winning, then voting Labour :)
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From:bateleur
Date:April 7th, 2005 02:46 am (UTC)
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I don't have time for the argument now

If you have time later I'd be very interested, since I'm currently pro-PR but get the impression from your comment I may have missed one or more problems with it (I haven't looked into it in any depth).

I, too, get the impression Chris is more Liberal Democrat than anything else. Where else can you find pro-government and pro-electoral-reform ?
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From:beingjdc
Date:April 7th, 2005 02:55 am (UTC)
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My main problems with PR.

1) You no longer get your local MP. Since one of the key jobs of an MP is to take up local people's problems with Government, I'm not sure how this would work. You could just pay people to do it, but this would reduce the link between parliamentarians making laws and seeing the impact of those laws on the people they affect.

2) You would therefore be voting for a list, not a candidate. This list would therefore be drawn up centrally, not locally. This would reduce the power of local political parties and increase the power of national political parties. I think this is bad.

3) Further, although we maintain the fiction that a general election is about electing a Parliament, it is fundamentally about electing a government. PR would make it very unlikely that an election would elect a government - you might say that's no bad thing because no party had the support of 50%+1, but you would end up with a governing coalition formed by two or more parties based on deals cobbled together in secret, and almost impossible to unelect, eg even in 1997 under PR John Major could have stayed on if he had offered Paddy Ashdown a good enough deal, that would clearly have been a travesty of the public mood.

4) Extremists, yeah, I can probably live with them, but giving the BNP state funding still grates.
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From:undyingking
Date:April 7th, 2005 03:33 am (UTC)
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This is a bit of a generalization -- there are many different forms of PR. Or, more accurately as PR is a rather useless term, there are many forms of electoral system which end up with a representation more nearly proportional to each party's level of support across the country as a whole. There are systems under which you would get a local MP, and systems under which lists are drawn up locally.

I'm also not sure that history bears out the contention that a governing coalition ... almost impossible to unelect, as in some countries using PR-ish system (eg. Italy, Israel) governments, although coalitions, tend to be very short-lived by our standards.
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From:beingjdc
Date:April 7th, 2005 03:43 am (UTC)
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There are systems under which you would get a local MP, and systems under which lists are drawn up locally.

Yes, but they're usually not PR are they - you're right about it being a useless term, you could move to STV, but STV isn't really a form of PR, it's just a system that artificially boosts the chances of election of moderate parties, and tends to become more proportional the larger you make the constituency.

in some countries using PR-ish system (eg. Italy, Israel) governments, although coalitions, tend to be very short-lived by our standards.

Again, "Yes but": governments in those countries tend to fall as a result of the smaller parties changing their mind about who they support, not the voters. Although Italy was governed for half a century by more-or-less a coalition of everyone who wasn't the Communist Party, they just kept changing Prime Minister.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 11th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
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I think I like the ERS' recommendation of STV with appropriately large constituencies so that the less frequently expresed viewpoints can get representation. The concept of one reasonably large constituency with many representatives from many different parties works for me; hopefully you would have at least one representative in the constituency who was sufficiently to your taste that you could contact, and there would be some sort of division of labour among parties with more than one representative in the same constituency.

Mind you, we have the experiences of the London Assembly (not using STV, but creating a similar sort of multi-member constituency) to draw upon. Changing the subject slightly, I wonder how well the decisions to choose the voting system they did have worked in practice? The difference between having geographically tied AMs and at-large AMs I can understand as being a theoretical disadvantage, though I'd be curious to see how it turned out in practice. (I still think the CPA deserve a seat...)
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From:oinomel71
Date:April 7th, 2005 02:09 am (UTC)
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Eastern Daylight Time's cool. Actually, even August Daylight Time would still be cool - so thanks. :-)

It would be wrong for me to offer electoral advice to a person who obviously has more fully formed opinions than I do - all I'll say is read the manifestos, read between the lines as well, and just see who ticks most of the boxes for you.
(Deleted comment)
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 11th, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
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It's a fair point. I once voted for a Conservative councillor for similar reasons - she was very good at her duties, regardless of political affiliation. She passed away not long ago, though.
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From:undyingking
Date:April 7th, 2005 03:38 am (UTC)
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In practice, under our current system, you should only vote for the party that best matches your own opinions if you live in a rock-solid constituency and your vote doesn't matter. If you live in a marginal constituency, you should instead vote against the party that you least want to see in power.

(That's my current analysis of the game, anyway!)
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From:jumbach
Date:April 7th, 2005 08:38 am (UTC)
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I've always admired the Parlimentary system for the way that every party gets some action in both houses.

I'm a registered Republican, for example, by my political views are strongly Libertarian. However, since Libertarians have absolutely no shot at ever having a candidate elected, I register and vote Republican. Whereas, if we had the same system you folks have, we'd have a few Libertarians in Congress. (But also some Communists, some Socialists, some Peace and Freedom, some AIP's, etc.)
From:daweaver
Date:April 7th, 2005 12:20 pm (UTC)
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This GIP has been a holding post. It will eventually gain a full analysis of Mr Pokery's requirements, vis-a-vis the parties expected to stand in his consituency.

When I've finished it, and not a second sooner.
From:daweaver
Date:April 8th, 2005 10:48 am (UTC)

This is hardcore (1)

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Before I embark on a review of the parties vis-a-vis your views, a word about foreign relations. Mr Michael Howaerd is not welcome at the house of Carl Rove, on the grounds that Mr Rove is a lying scumbag who supports Toby Blair, and Mr Howaerd is a lying scumbag who doesn't support Mr Mister Blair. That said, Mr Howaerd's party are not prepared to go for any anti-Yank votes there might be, leaving them to be hoovered up by parties of the left.

Now, to business. I'm going to pick out what I think are the salient points from each section, then try to fit a party (or parties) around that. I'm not going to suggest that you attempt to modify your position, because that would be wrong. And, of course, it's going to be coloured by my views.

The parties I'm reviewing are those that would have won seats in the European Parliament under GB-Sainte-Lague rules. Roughly in left-to-right order:
RESPECT / SSP - Green - Nationalists - Lib Dem - Blairite Labour - Conservatives - (English Democrats, UIP, BNP are grouped as the Far Right). I'm excluding all Northern Irish parties, on the grounds of ignorance. However, I am including a notional Old Labour party, between the Nationalists and the Lib Dems, roughly approximating the views of Labour around 1983. (Is Blairite Labour equivalent to the SDP? We'll discuss later.)

That list of points in order:

* overtly secular
* disestablish religions

Hmm. Disestablishment of the CoE tends to feature with Marxist parties, and may appear in the Green manifesto. Don't think it appeared in the 1983 Labour manifesto. Of course, you do realise that disestablishment requires a complete re-negotiation of the constitutional settlement...

* support equal rights
* tend to support redistribution of opportunity

I'm not entirely clear what you're referring to here, so a rather large Pass.

* overtly internationalist
* decisions should be taken at the most appropriate level

Ah, good old subsidiarity returns. Hurrah! Greens and Lib Dems are the most pro-Europe; perhaps the nationalists are the closest fit to your position. The Conservatives and points further right won't allow power to devolve in either direction, and history has shown the Blairite Labour party follows a similar argument. RESPECT has no stated position on these matters; their SSP partners seem to be in broad agreement, though they're not pinning down well.

* overtly pro-government
* human nature cannot be trusted
* effective job at dealing with people's well-being
* intervene to make world happier

Which pretty much rules out the far-right parties, those appealing to base instincts of us -v- them.

* electoral reform
* proportional representation

Explicit commitment from RESPECT and the Greens, implicit commitment from the Lib Dems, ruled out by the Tories, actions count against Blairite Labour. This was an implicit commitment in Labour 83, so suspect that Old Labour might still have this on their agenda, not least because it would clip the wings of any government of either hue.

* redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor
* not just within the country but around the world.

Explicit commitment from RESPECT and the Greens, less concrete proposals from the Lib Dems and (in the form of G. Brown) both Old and Blairite Labour. Pretty much ruled out by the far right.

* do not believe that massive hikes in income tax are the best way to fund this.

That'll be RESPECT's policy blown out of the water. The Green's policy is more to slow growth and allow the rest of the world to catch up - I don't know how you feel about that. The Lib Dems propose smaller income tax rises, with the aim of increasing social capital lower down the chain.

* reduce tax evasion - global co-operation
* increases in inheritance tax.

Everyone says they'll tackle that, but no-one seems prepared to confront the worst offenders - the laxly-regulated states like Delaware. Is your perfect party prepared to piss off the Yankees?

* Business damages the environment.
* Art, culture and sport are currently underfunded

These policies are ruled out by the Conservatives and points to the right.

[continues...]
From:daweaver
Date:April 8th, 2005 10:48 am (UTC)

Re: This is hardcore (2)

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From everything you've said, I suspect that you're looking somewhere on the scale between the Greens and the Lib Dems, including Old Labour. Perhaps also a look at Blairite Labour and the likes of RESPECT would be in order, if only to refine your thoughts further.

I suppose it'll all come down to how well you think your local MP, Mr Stuart Bell, is faring. The handy They Work For You guide shows that he was:
Quite strongly for introducing foundation hospitals.
Very strongly for introducing student top-up fees.
Moderately for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.
Very strongly for the Iraq war.
Moderately for introducing ID cards.
Moderately for the fox hunting ban.
A mixture of for and against equal gay rights.

If that's your bag, go for it. It'll take an absolute landslide to unseat Mr Bell, his majority is a mere (whirrs and clanks) 48.5% of the vote.

That makes voting for a putative far-left candidate possible, though only if there's just one, not the two from last time. As it's such a safe Labour seat, turnout may fall below 50% again, and that would lower the bar to the far-left retaining their deposit.

Alternatively, you may prefer to vote Lib Dem, on the off-chance that they'll gain enough support to push past the Tories into second. Unlikely, but is it less likely than the far-left passing 5%?
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 11th, 2005 05:05 pm (UTC)

Re: This is hardcore (2)

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An excellent summary; many thanks for putting so much time and effort in.

I am poorly disposed towards Sir Stuart Bell. Rightly or wrongly, I don't rate him terribly highly as a constituency MP; as far as I can tell, he seems to spend a great deal of time and effort on his role as church estates commissioner, a role for which I have no particular sympathy. I also disagree with TWFY's assessment of his voting record on equal gay rights, reading his voting pattern as rather traditionalist Anglican. That in itself is not sufficient to lose my vote, but it definitely contributes towards antipathy. I'm also vaguely annoyed that he has his own vanity publishing company. Sure, everyone's allowed a hobby, even MPs, but this reeks of part half-hearted hobby, part tax advantage.

The BBC reckon that, at least so far, we have candidates from the big three and BNP, making a Lib Dem vote really easy under the circumstances. Should the Greens or a far-left candidate stand then I become rather more conflicted.

I would like to join a political party, but cannot decide whether my sympathies are more Green or Lib Dem - and the only party I've seen which explicitly calls for World Authority is the Liberal Party in their "What we believe" section. However, they also call for withdrawal from the EU in its current form, which although is not a contradiction of the above, confuses the heck out of me. I fear I may get best value out of just sending money to the Electoral Reform Society instead.
From:daweaver
Date:April 13th, 2005 10:29 am (UTC)

Re: This is hardcore (2)

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Vaguely apropos of the discussion, picture | article
From:daweaver
Date:May 2nd, 2005 11:15 am (UTC)

Re: This is hardcore (2)

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Apropos of the notes above, I note that you have two independent candidates. Derrick Arnott (We Arnott Insured, Middlesbrough) is all in favour of secret voting within the House of Commons; Jackie Elder (Ind, Middlesbrough) is an independent on the borough council, and appears to be close to Old Labour.

There are also candidates from the BNP, Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, and UIP.

Good luck.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:May 6th, 2005 05:35 pm (UTC)

Re: This is hardcore (2)

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A plucky single-issue Independent standing on an extremely obscure point of democratic reform? Surely the thing that protest votes are made of. Unfortunately, I think that his proposed reform would eliminate some very welcome transparency, and several minutes' thought led to me concluding I couldn't vote for him.

The UIP candidate was a pensioner from Acklam who promised that, if he were elected, he would give the £55k anual salary to local charities. Nice gimmick and an easy one to offer to make.

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