Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nick Clegg's big error of judgement

I was disappointed to see Nick Clegg reject David Cameron's offer of, if not friendship, at least a working relationship.

If my analysis is correct, Cameron realised that with Labour's declining strength, there was (and perhaps still is) an opportunity for the two main parties in contention to become the Conservatives and Lib Dems. I would support this outcome because I think the Labour leaders clearly did not represent the working class during their last 12 years in power, but acted selfishly, dramatically eroded civil liberties and ultimately bankrupted the country (not for the first time).

The fact that Nick Clegg threw Cameron's offer back at him shows he is not leading properly.

Clegg should have said something like: "The Lib Dems have much to offer and many unique points, though we welcome the Tory party support in working with us in fields where our objectives/policies correlate to see Britain improved."

The Lib Dems must up their game for the good of the country and prepare themselves for the possibility of having a real chance of winning two-four elections down the line. If they cannot break out of the "protest only" mindset, then this opportunity will be lost.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

University clearing is unnecessarily tough.

Back in January this year I posted that I thought the government had made a mistake by reducing/capping the number of university places. My argument back then was that by increasing places you can encourage more students to go to university and develop their skills and take young people out of the job market. I made it explicitly clear that it was a much better investment than a lot of what the government was spending its money on.

Consider how tough clearing is right now:
a) More applications from existing students for MAs/PHDs
b) More undergraduate applications to universities
c) Grade inflation and more people achieving high marks
d) Restricted growth of places enforced by the government

This is unfair and I really feel for anyone hunting for a place. If I were searching for a course, I would contact the universities I had applied to and see if they can offer me anything and if not, get a league table of the universities and phone up each one until I'd got a place. Also I would consider being flexible about what I wanted to study.

The UCAS website and hotline can help.

TIP: Always phone a university you are interested in (you can normally find their telephone numbers on their websites) and don't just rely on listings in newspapers and such. There may be unadvertised places available.

Good luck.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Firefox reaches 1 billion downloads

Congratulations are in order to Mozilla following their announcement that Firefox has been downloaded 1 billion times in total and that market share is now around 31%. Now onwards to 2 billion!

The full story can be found here.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Trial without a jury - how is this acceptable?

The BBC and The Sun are reporting the story that for the first time in England and Wales a trial without a jury will occur.

This is simply unjust. It is one of the fundamental rights that defines our society.

Monday, May 25, 2009

BBC clip on the ANPR database

The BBC has an interesting video on ANPR here which eloquently summarises the pros and cons of the system.

As you might expect, whilst I can acknowledge the benefits of the system in all manner of crime fighting, I fear the scheme is the precursor to things like road charging, extended congestion/emission charging and additional driving laws/restrictions with far tougher enforcement.

Moreover it enables the government to comprehensively track innocent people travelling - whether to go on holiday or on a business trip or simply to meet with friends. Add this to the extensive public transport surveillance infrastructure, air and port surveillance and additional general monitoring cameras and suddenly it has become extremely difficult to travel without being recorded.

This is not necessarily a bad thing if we can trust the people working in the government to behave responsibly and not lose data.

However if we were to get people in the government willing to abuse their positions and compromise national security and individual liberty, then the flood gates open for stalkers. All it would take is a few well positioned people and suddenly people in government protection would become vulnerable (as they frequently travel by car). Violent partners with connections could conceivably track down their relocated Exs and their children. Debt collectors could hunt for evaders and company activities could be extensively scrutinised, perhaps by competitors.

Sometimes it is important to be anonymous and have privacy for legitimate reasons, not simply to cover up your expenses, for example. So a message to the Labour party, not that I expect it to be heeded at this late hour: if you want to protect yourself, protect others.

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