The 5th May has the potential to be one of the most important days in the political landscape of Britain for many years to come, as a referendum is to be held on whether to stick with the current ‘First Past the Post‘ (FPTP) voting system or switch to the Alternative Vote (AV) system. The sytems in a nutshell work like this:
First Past the Post (FPTP)
An FPTP ballot requires you to mark one box of your ballot paper with an X to indicate your favoured candidate. The ballots are counted and the candidate with the highest number of votes wins.
Alternative Vote (AV)
An AV ballot gives you the option of ranking your preferences in a given election. Instead of indicating your favourite candidate with an X, you would use the number 1. You may then, if you wish, place a 2 against your second favourite candidate, a 3 against your third favourite and so on until your apathy levels reach maximum or you run out of candidates. If a particular candidate has more first preference votes than the other candidates combined then we have a winner, otherwise the second preference of the last placed candidate are used and so on until someone has a majority.
Let’s have a simple example:
Three candidates are vying for 15 votes. Alan gets 4 votes, Brenda gets 5 votes and Charlie gets 6 votes. Under the FTPT system Charlie wins. Let’s say that Charlie’s policies have divided the electorate greatly and Alan and Brenda are running on similar policies to each other. In an FPTP system this doesn’t matter as Charlie doesn’t need a majority to win, however if the ballot was done using AV, and assuming that Alan’s voters would prefer Brenda as a second favourite, then Brenda would have won with 9 votes.
So what are the pros and cons of each system?
FPTP gives a clear winner. This has been attributed to a strong government, and less likely to give a hung parliament, whether this is true is a matter of debate. FPTP is also easier to count and is a well known system. By comparison AV is only used to elect a government in Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, although it is often used for things such as student government elections.
AV will allow more local support for MP’s although it is debatable whether this has anything to do with a government. Fringe votes are also likely to have more effect under the alternative vote, since these are the votes likely to be redistributed, leading to questions about the ‘fairness’ of this and whether the votes from the fringe voters are the ones that a should be determining governmnents.
Since the proposed version of AV allows optional ranking of candidates, an interesting question is whether people would use the rankings, and what are the implications if not.
An important consideration is the wider issue of electoral reform. This has been offered as a compromise between the current system and other systems like proportional representation and single vote transferral. Regardless of whether you vote Yes or No to AV on May 5th will we get to look again at these other options.
Two magpies crossed my path on the way to work this morning. Now I’m not typically superstitious but I had been planning on uploading the first of my new music podcasts today (OK, I had planned to put them up at the weekend too but I love me some procrastination), and I suppose this could be seen as a good omen.
And yet a better omen became apparent through twitter. 6 Music has been saved. Faithful readers (and the people monitoring my web use) will recall a klaxon call from these very pages, rallying music lovers everywhere to fight for the only radio station playing even half-way decent music in the UK. Well the BBC trust have seen sense and agreed that ‘the case has not been made’ to close the digital station due to “significant public support for the service”.
I can think of no better day to try to launch the first stuporcollider podcast, highlighting new music. So with that in mind…
[Sneaky Neil edit] If you wanna download the mp3 of the podcast, you can do so here. Because we love you.
The BBC and I are no longer as close as we once were. First there was that whole homeopathy thing, and now they’re threatening to kill off 6 Music. Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC and all round twat has been steadily decreasing the cultural value of the once-proud institution, and now he is recommending the closure of 6 music and the Asian Network by the end of 2011.
For the last 6 months or so I have been listening to podcasts of some of the finest new music, and classic, iconic songs from people that actually understand music. Radio 1 is at best an infuriating alternative and at worst a festuring turd polished up and sold to you as popular music. You’re not 3008, I won’t poke your face and it’s definately not Bonkaas, it’s shit. FACT.
The report states: “Given the strength of its popular music radio offering from Radio 1 and 2 and the opportunity to increase the distinctiveness of Radio 2, the BBC has concluded that the most effective and efficient way to deliver popular music on radio is to focus investment on these core networks.” I tend to agree more with Eddie Argos; “The record buying public shouldn’t be voting.”
Surely the whole point in championing new, independant, music is precisely that it isn’t yet popular since the record labels hosting the talent can’t afford the publicity and air time for a radio 1 heavy rotation that seems to go hand in hand with chart success. Some songs I’m not going to like despite how many times you play it, ok. I think the RATM thing over Christmas showed that there IS a musical revolution happening, sick of Scowell’s chokehold on our music, and this is why 6 music is so important.
Luckily the gallows are not on the horizon (metaphorically and musically) for 6 Music just yet and there is plenty we can do to help save it:
- Listen to it. Pretty obvious really but some estimates already suggest thet the listening audience has already doubled since the news first broke. If you can listen to it through the iPlayer, even better, as this is one of the key measures of the stations success
- Sign the petition to BBC Chief Sir Michael Lyons.
- Use 36 Degrees’ template to contact the BBC trust
- Email your thoughts to :-
And if none of this works?
Turn off your radio…
I like B-Movies.
Probably more than ‘actual’ movies. To this end my effort in the great ‘Stuporcollider Literary Challenge’ will hopefully feel a little like the b-movie. Perhaps with less cheesy dialogue but who knows.
I like Emo.
But as the token emo of the group I have to ‘rep for my hood.’ Or whatever it is the kids are saying these days. To this end I will probably have drawn out introspectives from the somewhat emo protaganist. Bear with them, there will be killings aplenty right after.
Ultimately, it’s going to be an allegory for attitudes towards sex, relationships, promiscuity and gender roles, through the time honoured medium of monster gore fest.
So without further adieu, I give you Chapter One of:
That’s the only way she can describe how he sounds. No trace of the jovial lilt she loves, it’s all been replaced by the low rumblings that now emanate from him.
“Please Bek.” He sounds like he’s in pain. Struggling to fight. “Go.”
Wisps of terror start to tug at her, pulling her all the way awake. She sits up sharply, her unfamiliar surroundings adding to her ill feeling.
She remains sat upright, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the blankets of darkness around them; all the time aware of his frantically increasing movements.
“Jon? Honey, what’s wrong?”
In reply he lets out another animal cry, his back arched in a grotesque parody of a spine. As she watches she’s almost certain she can see a ridge begin to form just below his neck.
She feels bubbles of panic start to rise, threatening to engulf her; confusion and anxiety eating at her. She looks around the room, her night vision starting to give her focus, and sees her scattered clothes discarded at the side of the bed closest to her. They remind her of the night before, a night that had seemed to take so long to arrive but had been worth every moment of nervous waiting; moments that now feel so far away.
His foot brushes hers, startling her from her reverie. His foot feels unnaturally hot against her skin and stirs her to movement.
She slides her feet slowly over the side of the bed, and stands. As she extends one toned leg into her underwear she glances back at Jon. What she sees terrifies her. Tendrils of steam and smoke drift upwards from his prone form, his back a writhing, fluid, mass of ridges.
She’s acutely aware that she is in danger, not least of fascination, but it’s just a fleeting thought that’s replaced as quickly as it arrived by concern for her boyfriend, but she can do little more than watch as he starts to lift himself from the bed.
She steps back involuntarily, her legs tangled in her underwear she falls with a crash and a curse. The Jonthing’s head snaps up and slowly it turns to face her.
She looks up into the twisted visage of her boyfriend looming over her and feels complete revulsion wash over her. There is nothing that she recognises; just a domino mask of pain and hunger.
She tries to scramble to her feet but her sweaty palms slip on the laminate flooring. “Please…” she starts to say but the Jonthing stops her in her tracks. Its voice is choral, as though it is not just one voice but many.
“Thank you mother.”
Candiru by Gazz Hayes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
So Big Brother 10 started recently, allowing fuckwits to vote for other fuckwits, which does seem like a theme recently, but thankfully there is a reality entertainment experiment that stars normal people and is actually entertaining.
When I was younger I remember a show, I forget what it was called, but it was basically a national scavenger hunt where the contestants would be hunted the length and breadth of the country whilst having to perform simple tasks. One team of bounty hunters would recieve help from the public to track down the other team, who in turn recieved help completing their tasks and staying one step ahead of the hunters.
Finally someone has picked up the mantle for the internet generation, in the form of Facebook vs Twitter. Each team is set a daily task in a different city in the UK, and require the help of their friends and followers to complete them.
Yesterday the two teams had to perform a stand-up comedy routine using only jokes provided by their friends or followers. Today a set of photos need to be found. Choose a side and get involved…
Lending my support to Ado’s “Can it” campaign, behold as a laugh track very nearly ruins the greatest scene in British comedy history.
The thing about truley great British situation comedy is that the situation around which the comedy is developed is so painfully tragic. The example here is one of the best, though comedy from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s is full of it.
Blackadder goes forth was based in a trench during the great war, a situation which should not be funny, clever writing can make the situation funny, but great writing also never shies away from the true horror of the situation. I think that the greatest line in comedy history is “We lived through it. The great war, from 1914 to 1917.” It’s the type of line which takes a moment’s pause to truly comprehend, I hope that if it was filmed infront of a live audience then they didn’t pause to realise the tragedy within this line, if the laugh track was added at a later date, then it was a huge production error which nearly robs the scene of its plausability as a valid comment on the futility and horror of war.
It really makes sense, ‘cause that’s the name of my new campaign to try and get rid of canned laughter. [Laughter] You get it?? [Ado stares cheekily at the camera and pauses] [Laughter].
You see how annoying that was?? You do, don’t you?? Well if not, stop reading now and put one of your Everyone Loves Raymond DVDs on, cause this certainly isn’t the place you ought to be.
Ever since I started to develop my own taste in all things comedic, I’ve had this ever increasing pain in my head whenever I hear laughter over a TV show. Honestly, by this point it’s so raw I almost cringe when I hear it, especially over a lame line or something that’s just not a joke at all. Honestly, it’s like someone plunging a fork into my happy sack (not an innuendo), it drains all the joy out of me and I just want to turn off the TV.
I feel both insulted and enraged that the producer doesn’t assume I have the intelligence to laugh at the correct point in their show. Even shows that employ the “Live Studio Audience” device get on my nerves too… I mean has no-one heard of the Fourth Wall?? Is comedy somehow exempt?? Ok, in stand-up or panel shows I can accept this are forums that involve an audience’s presence, but not in a sitcom as it destorys the situation that I am led to believe the comedy is taking place in. Argh!!!
There are, of course, exceptions to every rule and this rule is no exception…
I still watch the likes of Alan Partridge, Blackadder, Red Dwarf and How I Met Your Mother (that’s in descending order :o) and love them to bits. I think this is because these are so exceptionally good that they completely overshadow the pain, like having a headache and then being shot in the knees, your attention is drawn away. However, I can’t help thinking how much better these shows would be without said humour response prompt. Much, much, much better I’d wager.
Realistically speaking (damn it) laughter tracks are needed, as some shows/actors are not funny and some people are idiotic enough that they need to be told when to laugh, therefore my proposal is thus:
I would like to be given the option to turn off the laughter track on, at the very least, any DVDs but, ideally, the actual broadcasts too.
DVD-wise, I feel this is perfectly possible with today’s technology and would be of minimal extra cost to any producer. The laugher track is added onto the soundtrack of a show in post production, so it could easily be treated like a commentary on a DVD.
Broadcast-wise, this may be a little more complicated, but would still entail very little cost at all. I have watched sports events where I was invited to press a button and change the commentary from regular TV, to Radio, to the ambient stadium sound, so why not this??
Is anyone with me on this, or am I out there on my own?? I really would like to know and, if this is something we’re interested in, I’ll start the angry mob process presently.
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