Entries for February 2009
February 8, 2009 at 9:55PM Quick notes: Changes afoot
There are a few changes that’ll be happening around these parts mighty soon. Let’s start with some site news:
- I’m killing comments on the site. Frankly, I hardly ever get any non-spam comments, so the facility’s really little more than a waste of time and energy. I may reenable them some time in the future when I’ve a better method for handling them, but until then, they’ll be kaput. [Update (Feb 12th): done - it’s no longer possible to post new comments, and all spam has been cleared.]
- I bought a server! I still have to get two harddrives and a set of rails for it, and install an OS, but I have it, and when I’ve the new software ready to power the site, I’ll be moving it onto that.
- I’m rewriting the code that powers this site from scratch. I’ve hit some paralysis caused by my new design, which I’m not at all happy with, so I might just shelve it and go with something a bit less ambitious and concentrate on the site’s code instead, like I should be.
Other bits and pieces:
- I’m abandoning awesome as my window manager. As of v3, it’s started to diverge far too much from what I liked about dwm, so I’ll likely be going back to using that instead. I don’t really feel like forking and maintaining v2. Well-named as it was, it just isn’t for me any more. Pity. For now, I’m back to using OpenBox and ROX-Session, which feels a little weird after using a tiling window manager for so long! [Note to Revence: no, I won’t be using Xmonad - it takes too long to build it, GHC, and all the other stuff it depends on. dwm is just fine.]
Update (Feb 21st): I missed a few bits of the comments code for dealing with spam, which is why some may have seen an error page on the weblog’s frontpage. My bad. It’s fixed now, and I stripped out yet more junk.
February 23, 2009 at 2:13PM If programmers had to make planes
Painfully true to life:
February 27, 2009 at 1:37PM Discouraging clientelism in Irish politics
Ireland is a country of just over four million people, with a parliament consisting of 226 members in total, with 166 members in the the lower house and 60 in the upper, so for a nation of our size, we’ve a disproportionally high number of public representatives for a country our size.
The constitution places upper and lower limits on the number of representatives in the lower house in article 16.2.2, specifically one representative for every 20,000 to 30,000 of the population. The use of electoral constituencies is implicit in the language of the article, but does not specify the shape of those constituencies, nor whether they can overlap--these are all matters of statute rather than basic law.
As things stand, Irish politics is riddled with clientelism, with our politicians overly focused on getting elected again the next time an election comes around, so they spend far too much time acting as delegates from their constituency rather than as trustees of the best interests of the nation as a whole, which is what they ought to be. We need some way of breaking this cycle, and I think I’ve a way.
My idea is that fully one third of the representation should be elected nationally from a single national constituency. Doing this alone would be technically feasible due to so through an act to amend our electoral law, but the one sticking point is the use of the single transferrable vote (STV)--three-, four- and five-seater constituencies are enough of a pain to do the count on, never mind a massive national constituency that can elect over fifty TDs!
The use of STV is codified into the constitution. This has been a good thing because it’s avoided the situation where Fianna Fail could change the electoral law to use first past the post (FPTP) to get a permanent majority of the seats in the Dail. For a national constituency to be practical, a constitutional amendment would be required to specify the method used for electing from that constituency. In my mind, a party list system appear be the feasible method.
Do I think this would solve our problems? No, but I do think it would be a step in the right direction towards governments that worked in the best interests of the nation rather than themselves.
[I’ve reposted this article on Irish Election, so head over there if you want to discuss it.]