Ranting and raving and carrying on

Just a few random thoughts about random stuff. Warning - may contain profanity

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Location: Toronto-ish, Ontario, Canada

Just a guy... Bit of a geek, but who isn't these days?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


I just spent 45 minutes preparing a rant about Microsoft and Bill Gates and why I think Windows is so crappy. But I deleted it because, quite frankly, Microsoft's poor attitude towards the world is a well-established matter of public record, thanks to the court system. I think most people just don't give a damn, except when their computer crashes.

Anyone who knows me knows my feelings on the matter. I'm actually not so much a Linux bigot as an "anyone but Microsoft" bigot. Of course, that's how Ontario got an NDP government back in the 1990s - the "anyone but the Liberals" vote. That's actually a pretty bad way to vote, particularly if you're in a system with more than two parties.

Basically, in the US, there's Republicans and Democrats. You can probably count on about 1/3 of the population being die-hard for one or the other, so an election down there relies on convincing probably 50 million voters you're better than the other guy.

In Canada, though, there's about 4 or 5 major political parties, each with probably somewhere from 5 to 20% "diehard" support. So you probably only have to convince a few million voters to vote for you. First you have to convince them to vote, of course - election turnouts in Canada are pretty abysmal these days.

But it means that it's pretty easy to win a "majority" government with a minority of votes. Suppose, for example, that a party got 40% of the vote in a majority of the ridings. Well, since there are probably 4 or 5 candidates running, 40% is enough to "win" the riding. Given that the voter turnout is probably only about 60%, the party only actually got about 24% of the "popular vote" in the country. They received less than a quarter of all possible ballots, and less than half of all cast ballots, but they will run the country unopposed for the next four years. Ain't democracy grand?

Of course, sometimes the system gets even more screwed up. With the election last summer here in Canada, nobody got enough votes for a majority government - basically, for the next four years (assuming it lasts that long), we'll have "government by mutual back-scratching". If the Liberals want to get something done, they'll have to get someone else to agree, in order to have enough votes to ensure the bill passes.

That ought to prevent anything useful from being accomplished.

On a somewhat related note, the provincial Liberals (or "Fiberals", as some have taken to calling them) have managed to piss me off completely. As of November 1st, eye exams will no longer be covered by Ontari's provincial health insurance, unless you're under 19 or over 64. Nice. Really fucking nice. And these guys are better than the Conservatives how, exactly? At least the Conservatives told you they were going to slash and burn. The Fiberals got elected on a "we're not the Conservatives" platform, then promptly borrowed every play in the PC playbook. When do we get to vote again? I feel the need for a regime change - somebody call the Yanks!

Note to strategists in the US - that last part was a joke, meant to be funny. Please don't invade Canada - we kicked your ass last time, it would be embarassing if we had to do it again. Huh, when did Canada kick the US's ass? The war of 1812. We're the reason that presidential inaugurations are held outside in the middle of January - we sacked and burned the White House, and it wasn't rebuilt in time for the 1816 inauguration. Since then, they hold them outside, just in case the Canadians come back. (I'm sure some Americans are claiming they won the war of 1812 - how and why do you think it started?)

Ok, this is enough for one day. I gotta go find some lunch soon!