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Ballot Secrecy in Britain

Dave Levy has got a good discussion going on at [blogs.sun.com]

…no ID is required to vote, you only have to assert your identity (Remeber this if you loose your polling card). If someone else has claimed your vote before you, then you will be given a pink ballot paper and your vote counted. Counting staff and the candidate counting agents can easily see if there are large numbers of duplicate votes.

On the other hand, lets see how someone could find out how you voted. They’d need the electoral register, (this is easy, its a public document), the counterfoils and ballot papers (these are kept in secure places which they’d need a court order to legally access). The electoral count does not sort the ballot papers, and the ballot paper was given to you when you turned up. Does your electoral stalker know when you voted? Otherwise, they’ll have to inspect all thirty to forty thousand counterfoils until they find yours.

…which is in response to something Robin Wilton wrote at [blogs.sun.com]

Although Dave is correct he does seem to have fallen for the fallacy of the individual, ie: that people care about in which direction a particular person has voted, and that this is a particularly hard thing to reverse (something that I don’t wholly agree with anyway, having made a career of sifting small bits of data out of apparently infeasibly large ones).

What is obvious is that at the end of an election there will be neat piles of all the votes made for Sinn Fein, the CPB, the BNP, UKIP, Greens, Animal Rights and other political parties which might attract the sort of people that a Government would like to watch.

A simple lookup-process then suffices to create a watch list.

Therefore I suggest that this is a somewhat oppressive measure that is a brake upon the democratic process, in that there is no knowledge about how the data of who-voted-for-whom may be used.

One possible solution: move to a proportionally-represented parliament where such political support could be balanced by the mainstream (“Yerr, oi voted 80% Conservative and 20% Green laast toime“, or somesuch) – but personally I wouldn’t like to have that as a lower house of Parliament; the measure would at least dilute charges of extremism against the individual.

I would like to replace the Lords with a large, strongly mandated and wholly “PR” upper chamber, but that’s a different matter.

American ID Cards: Now you can share in the fun, too!

For those who thought that it was only busted old non-arms-bearing monarchies that indulge in this sort of thing, comes proof that America is not too far behind in the pointless and stupid fascism stakes.


What’s all the fuss with the Real ID Act about?

President Bush is expected to sign an $82 billion military spending bill soon that will, in part, create electronically readable, federally approved ID cards for Americans. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the package–which includes the Real ID Act–on Thursday.

How will I get one of these new ID cards?

You’ll still get one through your state motor vehicle agency, and it will likely take the place of your drivers’ license. But the identification process will be more rigorous.

For instance, you’ll need to bring a “photo identity document,” document your birth date and address, and show that your Social Security number is what you had claimed it to be. U.S. citizens will have to prove that status, and foreigners will have to show a valid visa.

State DMVs will have to verify that these identity documents are legitimate, digitize them and store them permanently. In addition, Social Security numbers must be verified with the Social Security Administration.

What’s the justification for this legislation anyway?

Its supporters say that the Real ID Act is necessary to hinder terrorists, and to follow the ID card recommendations that the 9/11 Commission made last year.

It will “hamper the ability of terrorist and criminal aliens to move freely throughout our society by requiring that all states require proof of lawful presence in the U.S. for their drivers’ licenses to be accepted as identification for federal purposes such as boarding a commercial airplane, entering a federal building, or a nuclear power plant,” Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, said during the debate Thursday.

etc, etc…

If your birth certificate has to be verified as legitimate, digitized and stored permanently, then why bother issuing them at all? If ID cards will prevent terrorism, why does ETA still exist in Spain? Precisely how will it make life better, except for giving police yet another excuse to pull you over?

<IRONY> Now, a National Loyalty Card would be another proposition altogether, and very much in the American vigilante tradition, too! Texans could get bonus points for shooting liberals and other kinds of pedophile, thus saving the state the cost of potassium chloride. </IRONY>

…and the voice recognition folk will be having kittens…


Noisy neighbours have become a scourge of modern life, resulting in stress, sleepless nights and even violence.

Now Westminster Council hopes a new wireless microphone could help tackle the problem. It plans to attach the device to lamp posts outside houses, allowing inspectors to monitor sound levels.


“Noise monitoring and CCTV are just two of the initial applications, and the great advantage is that we can move these sensors to wherever they are needed.”

Westminster operates a 24-hour noise helpline with a team of inspectors who can issue on-the-spot fines to offenders. But inspectors had to be in the right placeat the right time for this method to work, said Mr Harrison.

Anti-noise groups today welcomed the initiative. “This is potentially a big step forward and really could help,” said Mary Stevens of the National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection (NSCA). “In a city like London noise is a real problem, and is making people’s lives miserable.

“Wooden floors, dogs and music all contribute, and over time it can really affect people. It starts out with a lack of sleep, but can lead to retaliation attacks and serious health problems.”

Mmmm… this raises so many interesting possibilities, like Blue Thunder but without the helicopter.

California to ban hunting over Internet

Does this include hunting script kiddies? Or maybe they’ll ban halflife?


SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — Wildlife regulators took the first step Tuesday to bar hunters from using the Internet to shoot animals, responding to a Texas Web site that planned to let users fire at real game with the click of a mouse.

iBook Shock Gleep?

OK – this has happened twice in the past three months, although the last time I was not really certain I’d observed it; I put my elbows down on the tabletop, hard, enough to cause a vibration shock to the G3 700 iBook upon which I was working.

There was an extended, low-pitched, piezoelectric-speaker-sound warning “gleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep” sound – no syslog messages, no nothing else.

I am wondering whether the replacement mobo that it received earlier this year, has one of those antishock things fitted but is not wired to anything?

Or: it could be just dying, which is fair enough seeing as it gets hammered and is soon to be replaced anyway.

Has anyone else experienced this?