Oct 092019
 

You probably will not be surprised that I do not agree with the hypothesis that blocking Brexit is “undemocratic”. Twitter trolls are rampantly gaslighting anything that looks like it supports blocking Brexit by accusing anything that criticises the current Brexit process as undemocratic.

In the referendum, I voted remain but would be quite content to see Brexit under the deal that was promised by the Leave campaigners. I would still oppose it and immediately it was complete would be campaigning to re-join the EU.

But we don’t have a deal that resembles what was promised (the fact it was an unrealistic promise is irrelevant); the EU has declared a deal looks to be impossible and there are reasonable suspicions that the government is angling for a no-deal Brexit.

Which is not what was promised.

And according to the government’s own realistic (not worst-case) scenario of what would happen with a no-deal Bexit, would include significant economic disruption, shortages of food, medicine and other essentials, and possibly rioting in the streets.

The referendum was legally an advisory result which means that it can be ignored by Parliament according to our democratic constitution. And yet Parliament is not ignoring the result – it is insisting that the government makes a deal that Parliament approves of, or seeks an extension – neither blocks Brexit.

And here is so much that was dodgy about the referendum that if it were binding, it may well have been overturned by the courts :-

  1. Collectively the leavers exceeded the spending limits sufficiently to collect in the region of £300,000 in fines. That inevitably had an effect on the result – campaigners wouldn’t spend money if it wasn’t effective.
  2. Numerous reports have emerged indicating the Russian interference with the referendum.
  3. Leaver lies. The trolls would have you believe that the remainers also lied, but I have yet to see anything credible that would lead me to agree. And even if they did, lies invalidate the result.

Recent opinion polls show a clear (if narrow) majority in favour of remaining within the EU :-

If you are going to say that ignoring the referendum result is undemocratic, then I’m going to say that ignoring the will of the people today is undemocratic. 

And finally, to repeat myself, Parliament is not blocking Brexit. It is instead requiring that Boris the Bodger produces a deal with the EU that Parliament can approve of, or that he seeks an extension; the only people suggesting revoking article 50 (without another referendum) are the Liberals after an election.

Oct 082019
 

I was reminded of something recently when someone was using a gooey; they hadn’t made any changes, but clicked “Ok” after reviewing something. A bug in the gooey resulted in a whole bunch of DNS CNAMEs being removed.

The fault is of course with the gooey for having a silly bug, but it was also a reminder to reduce risk whenever you have root (or equivalent).

  1. The “Ok” in a gooey should be read as “Please make the changes I have asked for”; if you are not intentionally making changes, why click on it?
  2. One of the reasons I switched to zsh was that I’d heard of accidents involving wildcards, so I wanted the feature that expanded wildcards within the shell before activating the command.
  3. If you are looking at a configuration file, why are you using an editor? Use view rather than vi, and if you are in vi quit (“:q!”) rather than save and exit (“ZZ”).
  4. If you have an account with special rights , don’t browse the Internet with it. You should have two accounts – one for ordinary stuff and one used just when you need additional rights. That’s two long and strong passwords to remember; life is hard; get used to it.

But this is more than just a few tips for reducing risk; it’s about an attitude that goes beyond simply being careful and towards designing your work flow in ways that reduces risk.

Old Metal 3
Sep 282019
 

It is quite possible I have commented on this before now, but I felt like a rant and I’m too lazy to search through the old posts to see if I’ve ranting on this subject before.

Windows, Icons, Mouse Pointer … or the gooey. Icons are an integral part of the gooey experience. Or so we are led to believe.

But really aren’t they just a little bit shit?

And I should clarify, I am not talking about file icons – pictures of folders (although given the lack of physical folders these days, a bucket might be more appropriate), and pictures of the kind of contents to be expected within files. Although I’m sure there’s a rant to be had with filesystem browser icons, and I do think they can be a bit silly, this rant isn’t about those.

It’s about those silly little icons in the toolbar of an application … or similar ‘functional icons’ which when activated perform some function. All it takes to misinterpret the icons is lacking the perspective of the icon designer, and then they take on a whole new meaning.

For example, the browser I am using to write this has a bunch of icons just below a strange “V” symbol (because it’s uncool to use a sensible word-based button like “Menu”).

The next stupid icon is an arrow in a circle – obviously intended to indicate a function to rotate the web page (although it’s actually to reload the web page), the left and right arrows are obviously a way to navigate between tabs, and there’s a cloud icon; no idea on what that one does.

In ‘normal’ applications there is of course the classic floppy disk icon, which just about everyone has attacked because it is just such an obvious target. Who uses floppies these days? And how many people under the age of twenty actually know what a floppy is anyway?

And my DAP has an icon that looks like two snakes getting friendly – no idea what that is supposed to represent although I believe it has something to do with “shuffle”.

We have a perfectly adequate way to communicate; one which we spend years learning how to use. It’s called writing.

What’s wrong with writing? Well there are two problems :-

  1. There isn’t much in the way of space inside of an icon to get too wordy.
  2. Words have to be translated which can get expensive.

When you come down to it, pictorial icons are just a half-arsed solution to save money.

Tower Stonework
Sep 272019
 

There are those (amongst the lunatic fringe of the Bexiteers – see this) who believe that the Supreme Court decision this week on Boris the Bodger proroguing parliament was an anti-Brexit move and undemocratic.

Nothing could be further than the truth; indeed it is possibly more important than Brexit. To quite from the Supreme Court summary of the judgement :-

It is important, once again, to emphasise that these cases are not about when and on what terms the United Kingdom is to leave the European Union …

https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2019-0192-summary.pdf

It was about the so-called “unwritten” constitution (which is actually far too many bit of paper all over the place), and ensuring that Britain’s governance (not government) was in accordance with constitutional law.

Britain’s governance consists of three parts :-

  1. The executive (the Prime Minister and the government they appoint) who is appointed by Parliament.
  2. Parliament (the only part of governance that is democratically elected) which creates legislation and supervises the executive.
  3. Finally the Judiciary (and the Supreme Court) that judges whether actions are legal, illegal, or unlawful.

The Supreme Court by declaring that the proroguing of parliament was unlawful, decided that the purpose of proroguing parliament was for the government to make Brexit arrangements without the supervision of parliament. Brexit can and must be delivered with Parliament’s blessing – anything else is undemocratic.

But more importantly, this was about a prime minister ignoring the will of parliament and using an instrument of state in a way that was never intended. This was effectively an attempt at dictatorship.

So in the end the Supreme Court decision was not about stopping Brexit but stopping a dictatorship now (which admittedly would have been a particularly limited dictatorship) and in the future.

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