Monday, January 31, 2005

The US and democracy.

The electoral college is a sham.


Let us assume a 50% voter turn out for 5 candidates. This is how it breaks down:

(I know in practical terms it doesn't work this way, but the best way to show the limits of a system is to take it to extremes)

You need 8.65%(17.30% of those who turned up) of the votes to become president.

All you need to do is win in these states (In order):

  1. Wyoming

  2. D.C.

  3. Vermont

  4. North Dakota

  5. Alaska

  6. South Dakota

  7. Rhode Island

  8. Delaware

  9. Montana

  10. Hawaii

  11. New Hampshire

  12. Maine

  13. Idaho

  14. Nebraska

  15. West Virginia

  16. New Mexico

  17. Iowa

  18. Nevada

  19. Kansas

  20. Arkansas

  21. Utah

  22. Mississippi

  23. Connecticut

  24. Louisiana

  25. Alabama

  26. Oklahoma

  27. Colorado

  28. Minnesota

  29. Oregon

  30. Kentucky

  31. South Carolina

  32. Missouri

  33. Tennessee

  34. Massachusetts

  35. Wisconsin

  36. Maryland

  37. Washington

  38. Arizona

  39. North Carolina

  40. Indiana

and you get the electoral college votes.

This is because the lack of proprtional represenetation. Consider Wyomin has a voting population of approx 275,000 and 3 electoral college votes, giving you 92,000 votes to get one electoral college vote. Were as Texas has 12,165,200 votes for 34 votes meaning a vote requires 358,000 voters.

So you list all the states and order them by the electoral college vote/voter number proportion, win enough of them to get the 269 required electoral college votes from the top down and bingo.

In other countries you get seats which override the states and are based mainly on population. It would be hugly improved if:

  • the number of electoral college votes reflected the population of each state

  • Votes were cast at the electoral college in proportion to the way the votes where cast.(A couple of states are already doing this)

  • Option preferential voting was introduced.

How we do it.

In Australia we use preferential voting, so at the end of the day the person the majority prefered will get in, based on seats. It doesn't matter how many candidates there are. Voting is compulsory here, so we get a 95% voter turnout. So a candidate needs 50% of the vote in a seat to win. An Australian political party can win with 25% of the vote (50% of the votes in 50% of the seats). We do not vote for the Prime Minister at all; the party with the most seats appoints the Prime Minister.

I would nice if we did vote directly for the prime minister so ultimate say goes to someone with 50% preferences. Or maybe we vote in a President who has power over the Prime Minister as head of state(and not the Queen's Representative that we use now).

Friday, January 28, 2005

Ingres Is Not Competing with MySQL because...

MySQL doesn't have stored procedures!

Holy cow!


It does in version 5.0!

Ingres stored procedures do not allow you to return a result set.
So I cannot get around the MAJOR limitation (one of the MAJOR limitation, for there are several) where the command:

help table tableName

doesn't run through a JDBC or ODBC connection. Why? No idea! So I thought I'd try this:

create procedure sp_help (objectName as varchar(255) ) as
select column_name from $ingres.iicolumns where table_name = :objectName

But no, won't work (but does betray which database I learnt first). Can only select into a local variable and cannot output it into anything. This means that Ingres procedures are design to execute business rules and retain data integrity. This puts the business rules on the database server where they do not belong, at all, ever. So take away the primary function of stored procedures and you are left with nothing. Ingres doesn't have real stored procedures. MySQL version 5.0 does. And it's built in help commands run through JDBC/ODBC etc.
No limitations there.

Ingres is not long for this world, either that or release 4.0 will be so different from release 3.0 that it brings it into the 21st century.

Throw in the speed gains you get from MySQL, the ease of administration and configuration, the choices and the huge support network, I'd agree with CA that Ingres is not competing with MySQL, MySQL is so much better.

The worm and MySQL

By the way the worm that exploits MySQL is not a hole in MySQL but a hole in how it is installed. The same thing can be done with Ingres, you just need the super user password for a windows installation and you're away. You can dump blobs to a local file as well.

Simply avoid an easy to guess root password, do not open port 3306 to the internet, do not have the root able to login from anywhere but the localhost, any of these will stop it.

And it's Ted Turner saying this...

According to a report from Asscociated Press Ted Turner has accused Fox of being a propoganda arm of the GoP.

Ted Turner!

FOX must be bad if Ted Turner is accusing them.

Ted Turner!


It's been a large number of years since I gave any credance to CNN being an impartial news service, they tended to be too much pro-republicans(Actually being pro-either way is a bad for a news service) for my liking. SkyNews and BBC World seem to do better.

It's a bit like Hugh Hefner accusing Larry Flint of publishing porn. Yes he is, but Kettle/Pot!

Friday, January 21, 2005

A conversation between President W and Medge

George W Bush: At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders.

Medge: So World War Two wasn't about defending America's freedom and Pearl Harbor didn't happen?

George W Bush: From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

Medge: Not according to the constitution of the United States. In fact the consitution of the United states specifically states that God or whatever has no place in politics. I always figured the US considered everyone to be equal, regardless of who they look like.

George W Bush: Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.

Medge: If this is related to the above comment let me draw you attention to that period between you nations founding anf the civil war, where the use of slave labor contributed to the mighty wealth of the US.

George W Bush: So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

Medge: Which simply means you want to establish a military presense in all areas to protect the oil

George W Bush: Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities.

Medge: Unless those minorities are not christian and white.

George W Bush: America's influence is not unlimited.

Medge: But it will be once you get your way.

George W Bush:America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

Medge: Unless it is Saudi Arabia

George W Bush: We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people.

Medge: Unless it is Saudi Arabia

George W Bush: America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies.

Medge: Unless we put them in a military jail.

George W Bush:We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery.

Medge: Unless it is Saudi Arabia

George W Bush: Liberty will come to those who love it.

Medge: And American Style liberty to all, even if they don't want it.

George W Bush: All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors.

Medge: Unless it is Saudi Arabia

George W Bush: Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens.

Medge: Would that be the Have or the Have Mores?

George W Bush: From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfil, and would be dishonourable to abandon.

Medge: So neither then

George W Bush: I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes.

Medge: Look for that evidence children, George W here will hide it away. Particularly if it is a little bit embarrasing.

George W Bush: You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs.

Medge: Except in Iraq

George W Bush: Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.

Medge: But you can get out of it if you are rich enough.

George W Bush: America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.

Medge: And you know the company that will be paid for that work.

George W Bush: In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of labouring on the edge of subsistence.

Medge: Unless you are a US citizen living under the poverty line, or on social welfare about to have all of that cut.

George W Bush: And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time.

Medge: Another reference to THAT company

George W Bush: To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society.

Medge: shouldn't that read "To give every American shareholder..."

George W Bush: By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.

Medge: He is washing his hands of all those naughty poor people.

George W Bush: Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self.

Medge: Slow down the Einstein, I'm not sure I follow you logic there.

George W Bush: Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills.

Medge: Umm, ...

George W Bush: America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof.

Medge: Unless it is Saudi Arabia

I didn't address the whole 'tolerance' and 'equality' stuff, as that was too obvious. All in all it was a pretty speech but we know it has no substance, no real truth. At the end of the day he will invade Iran and treat them like he treated Iraq, he will push the deficit to record highs, the ecomony will strengthen because of the insane spending, and leave a complete mess for the democrats next time round. The rich will get richer, the poor poorer, there will be greater homelessness and social disorder.

And a prediction from left field, he will send in the troops to fire on US citizens under the banner of "Freedom" and "Homeland Security" when they rise up against the administration.

Liberty for all in the United States of Haliburton.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

No worries, I'm back!

Today's topic:
Adelaide Drivers
I have had a car park in Adelaide for three days now, so I am driving to work again. Yeah! Unfortunatly this brings me up against Adelaide drivers. Now amongst my social group I am considered to be a very good driver, considerate, calm, law abiding etc. I've driven around the UK, the US, NZ and a large part of Australia so I have been exposed to a number of styles and I know my driving to be average at best; but compared to Adelaide driver I am a smegging genius. I worked with someone who got their license in Norway. There they tale you out onto an ice sheet make you drive and the instructor slams the hand brake on with no warning. If you loose control you do not pass.

For any one from overseas wanting to drive in Adelaide remember we have slightly modified rules:

  • Give way rules apply to others.

  • Yellow lights tell you that you might have time to get through.

  • When traffic light turn red, you have two to three seconds to fly through them.

  • You can turn right against a red light if you have waited long enough for your turn.(We drive on the left here)

  • Indicators are there to tell people that you are about to hit them.

  • If you car can do 80km/h then that is the speed limit in a 50 zone.

  • It is perfectly ok to fly passed someone doing 20km/h over the speed limit if you are then going to have to do 20km/h below the speed limit in front of them.

I would love to get half of Adelaide to drive in LA or New York or Minneapolis or anyone of dozens of US cities I've driven in.

  • If you jump a red light there you hit someone.

  • If you change lanes without indicating you hit someone.

  • If someone indicate that they want your lane and you ignore it, you hit someone.

  • If you slow down to merge on an interstate, you hit someone.

  • If you are in the least bit timid, you hit someone.

  • If you are too aggressive, you hit some one.

  • If you don't give way, you hit someone.

  • If you are not alert, you hit someone.

And the clincher:

  • If you hit someone in LA they might pull a gun.

Remember these people are not bad drivers they are very good drivers, they assume you know what you are doing. Most people in Adelaide do not.

You have to drive properly there. And in the UK, and in Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane. Canberra not so much and NZ there is no one on the road with you.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Is this actually legal?

A positive blog entry!
Bought a new camera on Thursday. A nice digital (Canon EOS 20D) Bean and I had been looking around for a while, checking reviews and finding prices. The stores where this camera was cheapest were all sold out but we did find it at our local camera house store at 120 Grenfell St(Twin City Camera House). They patiently waited while we played with the demo model, placed all sorts of lenses on the thing, took lots of photos and finally said yes we'll have one. Can you match this other stores figure. After some umming and ahhing we agreed on a cash price and the deal was done. It was really nice to talk to people who understand what you want, when you want it and how much you expect to pay for it all.

The only problem is, we are aware that the other lenses you can get would be great too, so the expense will go up. I am also looking to get a digital video (Sanyo VPC-C4) when it becomes available. Will most likely go to the same place.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Cigarette Butts Are Litter Too

Cigarette Butts Are Litter Too

Just because you go through a lot of them and they are small doesn't make them not litter. Stubbing it out on the ground is one thing, leaving it there is unacceptable. It is littering, if that doesn't make you change your ways remember littering is illegal and on top of all that you will be fined for doing it. Put it in a bin, or if there is no bin around keep it until you get to a bin.

Teaspoons Are Washing Up Too.

Just because you go through a lot of them and they are small doesn't mean they don't need washing. Stiring you coffee with the sugar spoon is one thing but chucking the resulting spoon in the sink and leaving it is unacceptable. Teaspoons are in limited supply and it is always me who goes into the office kitchen to find no clean teaspoons.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Code going the other way

It might be simple code but...

One of the ways for Australians to get into University is by sitting a STAT exam. There are two type of STAT exams Multiple Choice and Written English. The Multiple Choice version is the most common and QTAC takes on the results from the examinimg body(Acer), stores them correctly and submits the results to the central body(TISC). It doesn't deal with the Written English results at all. I had to write a quick java application to convert the result file from Acer into something TISC could use. Simple process. QTAC heard from TISC that we do this and wanted the app for themselves, so I sent it to them. With a list of jars that were needed and I even sent them the jars themselves (log4j, edbc, etc.) They used, it worked without any issues, they didn't call me, email me or anything. It just worked.

I am a little proud of that!