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Great Britain

Mr Slef Goes to Westminster

2007-10-15 (Permalink): This coming Thursday I will be at the Parliament and the Internet conference at Westminster. It will discuss topics including:

  • The impact of internet social networking on politics
  • The challenge of next generation broadband
  • The issue of 'bad' Internet traffic and P2P *
  • The fostering and preserving consumer, citizen and business confidence in the on-line world *
  • The regulation of premium rate services
  • The future of voice over IP services

What messages on these or other hot topics would you like to send to our lawmakers?

I think I'm most likely to attend the *'d sessions, but I should have friends in others and there's often time to bend ears informally too. Discuss it on- list, off-list, in forums I read, on my web site's comments form - just let me know by Wednesday lunchtime, please.

Event backers: apComms, Microsoft, Symantec, Broadband Stakeholder Group, EURIM, PITCOM, Internet Services Providers' Association, ITSPA. My trip is sponsored by Turo Technology LLP. More event information

mChicago (James Taylor) commented:

"Mr Slef. I hope you enjoy your trip to Westminster, and I would like to hope that you share my view on the effect of online world. I don't think theres one category in particular this comes into, but the point is this:

The online world is no different to that offline - activities and doing things virtually are the same as doing them "in real life".

One of the sectors you quoted was:

  • The impact of internet social networking on politics

Over the past year, there have been events where (especially young people) have done things online that they would not have dreamed about doing in any other media.

Racism, Sexism and verbal assault over IRC, MSN, blogs or even in games, is the same as doing it over the phone or even in public.

Copying online, is a simple as clicking - and because its all simple and doesn't seem illegal, because no one would ever know, a lot of people don't consider it to be illegal.

I don't think that many people are aware, and can completely understand the allure of the near anonymity that the internet offers. And I don't think enough is being done to make people aware that their actions online are in reality actions in real life.

Yours faithfully James Taylor aka. mChicago"

Related: the Earl of Erroll is unhappy with the Government's dismissale of e-crime concerns [BBC].

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Never a frown with Gordon Brown?

Finally, Gordon Brown has eventually become the eleventh Prime Minister of Queen Elizabeth II, as expected for most of his ten years as finance minister. The opening of his first speech was drowned out on the BBC by helicopters, but it continued with

"This will be a new government with new priorities. [...] meeting the concerns and aspirations of our whole country. [...] I want the best of chances for everyone. That is my mission. If we can fulfil the potential and realise the talents of all our people then I am absolutely sure that Britain can be the great global success story of this century. [...] I will try to do my utmost" (full text from ePolitix)

but there are lots of questions left open about what his utmost will be. From whether we'll see more co-operative ministers, through environmental and free-software-related policies, to just how the "clunking fist" will deal with the "trojan tory" David Cameron leader of the opposition, it's all unknown just now.

I think he's the first PM who could use a Stranglers track as his theme.


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Is pro-corporation bias really normal for France?

2007-10-04 (Permalink): I was reviewing a French non-profit organisation (a 1901-law association) and I was surprised to see that physical people got one vote, but corporations got two votes.

When I questioned the pro-corporation bias in the vote allocation, I was told that it is totally usual for a French NPO. Is that true? Does the land of égalité normally not have "one member one vote"?

It occurred to me that I've no idea - I've never thought to look at this before and I've not found any good reference on it. Can some kind French readers clue me in, please?

Christian Perrier commented on his own site that "this is certainly not common".

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West of England

Is the Councils' Rubbish Consultation Biased Towards Burning and Bio-


An email forwarded to me by a neighbour about the Rubbish Or Resource consultation says:

"Did you know that the Councils in the area that used to be Avon want to know what you think about how they should spend our money to deal with our rubbish? They've got together and produced a plan for the West of England and want your views by Friday March 23rd.

North Somerset Friends of the Earth think this consultation is rubbish because it's been badly publicised (did you know about it?) and it seems the Councils have already made up their minds. Their plan accepts that the only way to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill is to dispose of it by burning it or digesting it biologically rather then by promoting the "3Rs", Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Their plan describes seven types of treatment facility and then prioritises them with pyrolysis/gasification and burning (sorry "Energy from Waste") as their favourites. Call that choice??!!"

Read more at GoWeston

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North Somerset

Planning Farts

Two semi-related things. Firstly, I just got notice that North Somerset Council are going to let North Somerset Housing pointlessly tarmac over a square of grass near us. Planning application 07/P/0464/F claims to provide 3 additional car parking spaces, but it tarmacs 7m width of grass while marking 6m width of current tarmac as no-parking: a net addition of 1m! Not enough for even one additional car!

Now they've made this officially-acceptable reasoning, I reckon it will feature in a planning application for building more houses on the village's green spaces. How about: you can build a new house as long as you mark an existing house as uninhabitable?

Secondly, Clevedon residents are petitioning the Prime Minister to stop Tesco expansion as reported in the Mercury. Expanding the Tescopoly in Clevedon will harm what already looks to me like an endangered town centre.

OK, it's not the PM's responsibility to stop one store expanding in one town, but it is his government's planning policies which are aiding and abetting the continued growth of unsustainable 'big box' stores. I can see Clevedon from my office window. I'd need binoculars to spot Morrisons, but I think Tesco is visible with the naked eye already from the top of Worlebury hill.

Every Little Hurts but they just keep on rolling like Renard, not noticing the pain.

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Last Monday (5 Feb), I observed a meeting of Kewstoke Parish Council

I mentioned the forthcoming North Somerset Cycle Forum but most of the public contributions were about the Cygnet Hospital. The hospital was accused of breaking promises given last year to the village and the police, namely:

  • letting patients roam the village without supervision;
  • chopping down screening trees they said would be left to grow and leaving dead wood on obstructive trees they said they'd cut; and
  • now seeking to take drug rehab patients.

They also have faulty light timers, floodlighting neighbouring houses from 1am to 6am every day. That's both antisocial and wasteful. A terrible way for Cygnet to keep their neighbours awake. Is it any wonder that there's an outcry?

Regardless of what I think about the above promises, Cygnet should do what they said and not behave antisocially, or be punished. Fine them a century per night per house for the lights and they'd soon fix them, I'm sure!

There was also some comeback on the Kewstoke toll road farce. The district council's panel has asked the officers to reexamine the options, after they noticed the creative accounting of including road maintenance (which must be done whether or not the road has a toll) in the toll cost.

There was a reporter from the Mercury present, so maybe this will appear in their edition later this week.

Election Day

Like much of the UK, it's election day in Kewstoke. There's no vote for Kewstoke council because there weren't enough candidates to make a contest. 10 candidates for 11 posts, I think. I was approached by a couple of people and asked to run (quite strongly in one case) and I seriously considered it, but I only moved to this village six months ago, I don't know how things work yet and there are many other things I want to do in the next four years (the term of office AIUI).

I was also approached by one person at a recent meeting and told that I should have stayed in Norfolk! Of course, that made me feel that I should run just to mix them up, but no, I'll stick to my decision. That comment did tickle me, as I only went to Norfolk to university - and stayed a bit too long. I'm not from round there.

There is a vote today for North Somerset council and it's been interesting to compare the campaigning: no doorstepping or hustings from anyone (unlike in King's Lynn), three Conservatives leaflets, three Liberal Democrat leaflets but I didn't even find a web page for the Labour candidate. It's also been interesting to see the campaign coverage in the press: Weston and Worle News have been quite good, while the Mercury seems to prefer gibberish stories like the EU makes our post late.

I'll go along, vote and watch for the results, but I suspect this green village of farms and tourism is safe Conservative Hold territory. Although there's been some new building of a largish house estate in the ward, which I suppose might change things.

How's election day going elsewhere? I see Conservative Norwich City Councillor Antony Little has already posted the sort of partiality we all know and love...

Update: As I predicted, this seat was a comfortable Con Hold. The surprise is the "Conservative landslide" (and maybe the Mercury being stung by criticism to be the first town news service with the results). Official results map

Elsewhere, I see Green and Conservative gains in Norwich and West Norfolk counting the next day and generally botching an online results service as usual.

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  • 2007-03-09:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to promote the use of Open Document Format within the UK government.

Government documents must be available for tens if not hundreds of years. Currently much electronic documentation is stored in proprietary formats, such as Microsoft's .doc format. In order to allow future generations access to these documents it is imperative that they be in a fully documented standard. Open Document Format (ISO/IEC 26300:2006) is now the international document standard and as such should be supported by the Government.

The Weston Mercury - News: Council chief probe costs £34k

This happened in North Somerset and I remember something similar happening in West Norfolk. When will councillors stop using expensive lawyers to defend themselves at the taxpayers' expense?

opensource - epetition response

Ambivalent reply from the PM's office.

Town and parish councils

Kewstoke is used as a case study, but the link goes nowhere now...

The Irascible Professor-commentary of the day 02-08-07. Movie star teachers.

I've given up watching hero-teacher films. It's really not like that. I guess the oppressive bureaucracy of state education, with pressure from executive teachers to fiddle the student numbers, wouldn't make a good film.

The Irascible Professor-commentary of the day 03-06-07. Why I hope mhy children won't become educators.

Don't let your children grow up to become salesm^Wteachers.

NO2ID:newsletter 66

"Saturday, 10th March - King's Lynn street stall to advertise forthcoming public meeting, from 10am. Volunteers needed! Contact or text/call James on 07778 966395."

Tories want to free (software) Whitehall

The shadow chancellor gets all over the BBC as a result of his party's latest conversion.

Neighbourhood Fix-It

Another better-than-local-councils system from MySociety.

Concerto for blunt instrument: Ode to the No Longer Active

"We held a place for you // But you were busy // You've been so busy lately."
  • 2007-05-23:

There's a TV Show about Bolzano adopting Free Software with English subtitles in-vision. It's quite good, emphasising the double win of more freedom and fairer costs. Tip to Graham and you might want ytplay

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Comment form for non-frame browsers.

Comments are moderated (damn spammers) but almost anything sensible gets approved (albeit eventually). If you give a web address, I'll link it. I won't publish your email address unless you ask me to, but I'll email you a link when the comment is posted, or the reason why it's not posted.

This is copyright 2007 MJ Ray. See fuller notice on front page.