Election day ( NZ version )

After a bit of excitement earlier in the week with the US election today it’s New Zealand’s turn. Unlike the US where the vote takes place on a week day and most people have to fit voting in between work in NZ we have it on a Saturday in early spring ( and it is nice an sunny outside right now).

In NZ it’s also pretty easy to vote early or at any voting booth either in your electorate or outside it, so you can just pick whichever is the closest on the day ( although I have 2 places within 5 minutes walk of my house so I’ll probably go to one of them).

More about the NZ electoral system on wikipedia and elections.org.nz .

This year things are fairly interesting as it looks like there is a good chance there will be a change in government with the Centre-Left Labour Party being replaced by the Centre-Right National Party.

The government is actually ( and the new government will also probably be ) a coalition with one big party and smaller parties either formally part of the government or mostly supporting it.

In Labour’s case one of their big problems is that the New Zealand First party ( which is one of their partners) has gone beyond their previous populist position of bashing immigrants and otherwise pandering to their over 65 base to some very dubious practices including lying about donations, hiding them and then trying to give donors diplomatic posts or their industry government money. Which all might be legitimate in some countries like the US but in NZ is usually viewed as corruption.

Labour’s problem is that since it’s needs New Zealand First’s vote it has turned a blind eye to much of this and said it’s a matter for the courts etc. It’s also said it’ll probably keep the NZF leader Winston Peters in cabinet if it gets re-elected ( NZF is really the Winston Peter’s party since he founded and completely dominates it) . Labour is also perceived as a bit tired and running out of policies ( third-term-itis ) .

The opposition National Party while not looking stunning ( the leader John Key is a little bland and politically in-experienced) is at least looking a bit fresher ( I’m trying to ignore Maurice Williamson etc ) and while it probably won’t win enough votes to govern by itself it will certainly be the largest party and the big question is will it have a majority with it’s “Natural” coalition partners or will it have to reach out to more distant parties ( or failing that Labour might even be able to cobble together a wide ranging coalition) .

Personally I’ve been considering voting for National this year since I’m a generally right-wing on economic issues and liberal on social issues. The main things I dislike about National are:

  • Some knee-jerk recent policies to give welfare payments to mortgage holders who lose their jobs, I’m sorry but that is what employment insurance is for and discriminates against people like myself who rent.
  • Some ideas to change the electoral system ( not very defined beyond the don’t like the current one ) . I don’t like this because they will probably do their best to favour larger parties and also I dislike the fact that where somebody lives determines the worth of their vote. I live now and have lived previously in safe electorates where my local MP has zero chance of not being elected so my local vote doesn’t matter. On the other hand if I lived across the street ( really! ) I would be in an electorate which is competitive and my vote would matter quite a lot.
  • I generally dislike “tough on crime” policies of building more jails, longer sentences, reduced parole etc since I don’t believe they fix the problem. The things that will reduce the crime rates involve helping poor families and parents of kids that are likely to grow up to be criminals. These programmes are a lot cheaper per person ( verses $50,000 plus per year of housing a prisoner) and more effective in the long term but don’t have the headline grabbing that longer sentences does.

I also favour lower government spending in general ( except for my pet stuff like fibre networks and public transport  ) which I’m not sure National is committed to.

So I think this year I’ll be voting for Act again. I’ll admit they do push some of the anti-crime stuff I dislike but as a rule they are more liberal than National on social issues while I really like their policy of freezing government spending to the same level ( adjusted for inflation and population growth ). If National gets in then Act will be a coalition partner and I want to to have more influence over the government’s policies that it will have with more MPs.

Results from the election will be on the official website from 7pm tonight and also in the media ( eg the Herald ) . Personally I’ve got a little “Election Party” to go to at a friend’s place.


Merv Morrison – Days 2 and 3

After my dumb loss in round 1 I was being extra careful the on Saturday in rounds 2 and 3.

In round 2 I was white against William Zhang. I was playing a little passively but got a bit ahead before my opponent my an error on move 22 I I won the exchange (  I won a rook for a bishop ) and then a few moves later lost a Knight. After that it was just a case of cleaning up.

Round 3 was against a Monish Santhosh who is a young guy ( 7 I think ) playing in his first tournament ( he had a bye in one round for a point which is why he got matched with me ). Easy win although I did look at a position for a whole two minutes before I noticed my Queen was en prise.

Round 4 and 5 were on the Sunday.

First up I had white against Stefan Kolev. Stephan was on a provision 1200 rating but is probably a little above that. I was a little disappointed with this game, I lost a pawn early on and gradually got a worse position by making inaccurate moves. Eventually my opponent had a passed pawn on a2 which completely tied me up and allowed him to capture a bunch of my King side pawns until he had a won endgame and I resigned.

Round 5 was against George Trundle and was short but fairly interesting. White played a sort of Stonewall Attack although he didn’t really get a chance to develop it correctly. He brought out his queen a little early and I ended up winning a Knight when the queens were swapped off. I was then in quite a cramped position while he pushed up some pawns and made a queenside attack. However after he made an error and allowed me to swap off some of his attacking pieces he decided that his attack had run out of steam and resigned.

So after 5 rounds I was now 3 wins and 2 losses out of 5 games. Unfortuneately all my games had been against players rated lower than my current rating ( let alone what I hoped to be on) so it didn’t look like I was going to lose ratings from the tournament.


Linux.conf.au 2009 Sysadmin Miniconf – Last week for proposals

We just got into November which means that it’s just one week till proposals for the Sysadmin Miniconf at Linux.conf.au 2009 close.  We have a bunch already but still some space left ( since we have a two days space allocated ).

Have a look at our call for proposals page for details. One thing we are trying to encourage is a wide range of talks so even a 10 minute talk about how you did something is welcome.

Proposals close on the 10th of Novemeber so don’t delay.


Newspaper Links

Some links from the world on online newspapers.

The Christian Science Monitor today announced that it was going to stop publishing a daily print edition, switch to a weekly print edition and expand it’s online edition. I’ve been following a bunch of the the Monitor’s RSS feeds for a few years now and I find it’s independent voice ( it doesn’t tend to use wire feeds) interesting. See also the New York Times story on the news.

Journerdism has “10 ridiculously cheap, relatively easy, small steps you can take to change an old school newsroom culture to be more forward thinking and web friendly” . I’ve added Number ten to my todo list.

and Xark has 10 reasons why newspapers won’t reinvent news .

Nothing much close to home although I did see Keith Locke campaining on Saturday and took a couple of photos of him for Wikipedia. I mentioned that it’s a shame that the new Green’s Website has a default ( meaing “all rights reserved” ) copyright on it unlike the old one which allowed photos of MPs and other stuff to be used. I mailed their webmaster a few weeks ago but nothign back, maybe I’ll try again in a few weeks when things calm down after the election.