Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A lot of votes wasted 

MUCH has been made in recent days about the county council election backlash against the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, about the UK Independence Party’s stunning performance and about the resurgence of Labour in Weymouth and Portland.

But this backlash also has a different side to it as those attending the recent county election count in Weymouth Pavilion Ocean Room found out.

Council staff sorting through boxes of votes had to discard voting paper after voting paper and not all because of confused residents voting twice and other simple errors.

Observers felt that many spoiled papers were down to a wider backlash against all things political.

Papers had to be discarded for rants scrawled across them, for crosses put by all the candidates, for bitter remarks that the voter was voting for “none of the below” and many similar general protest reasons.

Two prime examples – one successfully making their point and the other failing miserably – involved a voting paper where the resident was clearly frustrated that their support for UKIP couldn’t translate into voting for them because the resident’s county division had no UKIP candidate... so they altered their voting form, created a new voting slot at the top of their form, marked it “UKIP” and then voted for them! It was rejected.

By contrast, another voter scrawled a single giant cross right over every candidate on his voting paper. On the face of it his vote was invalidated, but election rules are election rules and the intersection of their “cross” met in the middle of one candidate who was duly awarded that vote whether the resident had wanted it that way or not. Didn’t do the candidate any good. They still lost!

Whatever the discard reason, I reckon there were scores of wasted votes on the night.

Eternal pain awaits hackers... if only

MAY eternal toothache stab their every waking moment, may their hair drop out and may a place in Hell lined with cockroaches and the memoirs of Julian Clary be specially reserved for them.

I speak, of course, of the piece of offal from Turkey who hacked my email twice in one morning and used its information to send out 81 emails in my name.

A cold and detached response would be that my computer was only out of action for a few hours while an expert cleaned it and installed even more safeguards and a new password, but I don’t want to be cold and detached.

I want to hurt, I want to maim and rail and I want to make expansive arm gestures while calling on the Gods to supply all the hacker’s details to the Turkish Inland Revenue.

It would do no good but it would take away from me this furious frustration that I can’t get my hands round their neck.

My expert did mollify me a bit, saying he could solve any future hack just as easily, but that’s not the point.

It’s the gross invasion of privacy, the fact that for an entire morning loads of my contacts got emails which weren’t from me and the knowledge that, given enough effort and computer power, there is nothing anyone can really do to totally stop a hacker.

I’m now told there are many thousands like me both in this country and in New Zealand – including numerous computer users in Weymouth — whose BT-Yahoo connection has twice been victim of a hacking spike in the last two months from hackers in Turkey and Russia, so watch out.

Swans had better get to Weight Watchers

I HAVE come to the conclusion that swans are getting fatter in Weymouth.

It may just be an illusion but these gigantic birds do seem to be flying lower and lower.

Perhaps it’s the first flush of spring growth or perhaps particularly rich food offerings from pedestrians near Radipole Lake. Whatever the reason, swans seems to be having more and more trouble keeping themselves in the air.

The result is that a casual walk becomes a bit like a warfilm scene where the hero dives for cover from a fighter plane’s strafing run.

You can be going along enjoying a walk when a sort of laboured wheezing noise slowly gets closer and closer followed by one swan, sometimes several, flogging themselves through the air over your head.

One lot the other day came over me just above roof top level, necks straight out, straining to get through the air and creating quite a spectacular sight, but I really think they need to consider going to Weight Watchers.

Us humans are going to have to regulate how much food we offer them because many more beakfulls of rich weed or rich tea biscuits and swans will be down to pavement level with pedestrians hurling themselves to the ground to avoid white squadrons struggling to stay airborne.

And it has all just proved too much for one swan. Driving over the aply named Swannery Bridge I joined traffic which had to swerve round a huge bird which was waddling slowly along. At least it was in the inside lane, the right one for a left turn to get back to the lake.


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