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Hi! My name's Alister. This is my website. It started off as an experiment in 1996, and never really stopped.
Wikipedia Article of the Day
13/3/'14
Gävle goat
Wikipedia Article of the Day
11/3/'14
Vennbahn
Wikipedia Article of the Day
8/3/'14
Jane Digby
Wikipedia Article of the Day
6/3/'14
Guard llama
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21/11/'13
Returning to Twitter for Doctor Who-related tweetery. Anyone else watching An Adventure in Space and Time tonight? #savetheday
Wikipedia Article of the Day
4/6/'13
Pheasant Island
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1/6/'13
Finally got around to convincing T-mobile that I'm an adult. Now I can access ALL the sites (including Twitter)!
Wikipedia Article of the Day
1/4/'13
John Turmel
Wikipedia Article of the Day
29/3/'13
Vermin Supreme
Wikipedia Article of the Day
27/3/'13
Capitonym
Back when the United Kingdom was having a referendum on preferential voting, I was very much a supporter. However, I've recently discovered that there are plenty of quite bright people who just don't understand how the system works.

The European Elections will be held four weeks from now, and they also use a system that's more complicated than simply "the person with the most votes wins".

The system used in Britain (and, indeed, most of the EU) is party-list proportional representation using the d'Hondt method. Wikipedia gives a detailed description of the mechanics of the system. However, people without a background in maths might have trouble following it.

So, here's a simpler explanation.

When you vote for a party list, you're giving one vote to the first person on the list, half a vote to the second, a third of a vote to the third, and so on. The people with the most votes win.

For example, let's look at the results of 2009's European Election in Scotland.



I've numbered the top 14 (15th and beyond includes candidates for parties not listed here). Scotland elects 6 MEPs, so the people numbered 1 to 6 were elected.


But what about tactics? That's where things get more complicated.

Proportional representation is supposed to remove the need for tactical voting. However, the way it's done in the UK isn't as proportional as it could be. The country is divided into several constituencies, each of which only elects a few MEPs. The fewer candidates to be elected, the less proportional it is, and the more tactical you can be.

For example, I've received a leaflet from the Greens claiming that they can beat the Liberal Democrats and win Scotland's 6th seat.

You can see in the results above that George Lyon of the Liberal Democrats came 5th, not 6th. You'll also notice that Elaine Morrison of the Greens came 9th, so doesn't appear to be much of a contender for 6th. However, it's not that simple.

While Elaine Morrison came 9th, the candidates that came 7th and 8th did so with fractions of votes. So, while the SNP's Aileen McLeod was only 7,924.17 votes away from 6th place, the SNP would have needed 23,773 more votes for her to actually have won the 6th seat. The Conservatives' Belinda Don was 22,029.5 votes from 6th place, but they'd have needed 44,060 more votes for her to have won the seat. Green Elaine Morrison would have needed 34,485 more votes to win the seat. Therefore, despite being in 9th, she's actually in a better position than the 8th-placed Conservative.

Meanwhile, from the Liberal Democrats' perspective, they would have had to have received just 20,036 fewer votes to have come 7th and missed out on a seat. It's very likely that this will happen this year.

So, the Greens are well-placed to win the 6th seat, but not quite as well-placed as the SNP. However, the Greens stand to gain a lot if they can get out the message that a vote for the Liberal Democrats would be wasted. Which, I imagine, is why they phrased their leaflet the way they did.
Wikipedia Article of the Day
26/3/'13
Human positions
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5/7/'12
Objective-C has overtaken C++ as the world's third most popular programming language. The cheek! http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/cont…
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20/5/'12
To clarify: That's how much it would have cost, not how much it did cost. #allyoucantweet
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20/5/'12
£45.30 #allyoucantweet pic.twitter.com/EbzSf9HE
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18/5/'12
As it stands, this will be my last full weekend in London (though three more partial weekends to come)!
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16/5/'12
So, apparently The Scotsman has above-average readership in Harrow. Nothing to do with me... guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/…
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16/5/'12
1. Trends tells you someone has died. 2. Go to Wikipedia to find out who that person was. 3. Remove them from the "Living people" category?
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9/2/'12
Windows 7 BSOD! Lost a little work, but worth it for the nostalgia.
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16/1/'12
Best. Song. Ever. youtu.be/4xKjGqefH7U
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1/1/'12
Happy New Year, everyone
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25/12/'11
Merry Christmas, everyone!
I've somehow managed to make it through the whole of 2012 without writing a new post. So, what's been happening?

In March last year I was offered a job at Toshiba Medical Visualisation Systems Europe, so in June I moved back to Edinburgh to work there. This is the third time I've lived in Edinburgh. As they say, the third time's the charm!

I've started learning Swedish for no worthier reason than to better understand Sweden's cultural output. I used to struggle with languages at school, so enjoying learning a language is an entirely new experience for me. It probably helps that, as a native English speaker, Swedish is one of the easiest languages to learn.

I've become involved with EMPS again. See the films section for a recent prize-winning production.

Two of the aspects of Edinburgh I wasn't looking forward to seeing again were the long nights and terrible weather in winter, so after Christmas I took a three-week trip to Australia. This took in the east coast from Sydney to Brisbane, as well as Tasmania and Melbourne. This was also part of my mission to visit every inhabited continent before I'm 30, with only South America left to go. In fact, if you count the Americas as one, my mission is complete!
Wikipedia Article of the Day
27/11/'11
Stack interchange
Wikipedia Article of the Day
21/11/'11
Well to Hell hoax
Tweet
3/11/'11
5584 words in, and my oh-so-serious novel has descended in to farce. Yippee! #NaNoWriMo
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1/11/'11
First day, and it's already less than 100 words short of my entire last attempt. Double hurrah! #NaNoWriMo
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1/11/'11
Got almost half way to my target daily word count before I even hit "save"! Hurrah! #NaNoWriMo
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8/10/'11
Successfully moved into me and @zara_p's new place, with the help of @andrewlatheron!
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7/10/'11
Lots of people waiting for the train, waiting to head into London on a Friday night. Needless to say, I'm the only one with a potted plant.
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1/10/'11
And I guess 48 years is quite enough time to prevaricate! #DoctorWho
Tweet
20/8/'11
Saw the headline "Waiter linked to Turkey killings" and thought "Well, obviously." Oops. Capital T.
Occupy Harrow
29/11/'11
In October, I moved to Harrow, north west London. This is the first time I've lived near a tube station. Years ago, I would have taken the Underground to see London's most amazing sights. Now, I take it to go to the supermarket. Oh, the glamour!

I've added mini-updates to the main page of the site, so it's a one-stop shop for news, tweets, OpenJazz updates, and sporadic Wikipedia Articles of the Day. It's like a one-man social networking site, assuming you're bad at spotting oxymorons.

In other news, I now have my very own entry on IMDB, thanks to Anne LaBarbera!
Sarah
4/5/'12 05:50
Hi Alister.eu

Check out my show on Harrow Community Radio. I'd like to welcome you as a new Harrovian! Hope you have a happy weekend and maybe tune into my show on Monday. I'm looking for people who want to join my happiness campaign in Harrow.

Cheers
@happyharrow
Tweet
9/8/'11
Looting has spread to Aberdeen! youtu.be/pgcCR-koJ6g
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8/8/'11
Also, I've checked, @zara_p is not in the area.
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8/8/'11
Should probably explain that Rye Lane is the main shopping street in Peckham. It was/is on fire, and there's apparently been looting.
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8/8/'11
After last night's riots, I was ready to gloat. "See? Peckham's not that bad!" Rye Lane is now trending worldwide.
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2/8/'11
Regretfully, did the weeding today. Have just destroyed several mini ecosystems. Also, turns out I have a nettle. Ow.
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30/7/'11
Why pretend it's a person? I'm talking to a) a sophisticated machine with a large database of answers, or b) an idiot with no manners.
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30/7/'11
T-Mobile website sales chat. Am I talking to a bot? A lazy/overworked human with copy & paste? A human assisted by a bot?
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15/7/'11
Up late, ironing my hankies. Clearly, the madness has set in.
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2/7/'11
It's the mid-point of the year. Happy new half-year!
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23/6/'11
Happy 20th, Sonic!
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14/6/'11
Notorious for spending his unethically-obtained fortune on a homophobic hate campaign. URL says it all: ipetitions.com/petition/notos…
Tweet
11/6/'11
And, let's face it, Wikipedia basically runs the planet.
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11/6/'11
Once again, eligible to vote in Wikimedia board elections. Once again, don't feel I can make an informed decision.
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25/5/'11
I've just watched An Officer and a Gentleman. That final scene is a health and safety nightmare!
Tweet
20/5/'11
Me and @zara_p's train is due in 16.5 minutes. Somehow this has been case for the last half hour.
Tweet
15/5/'11
Azerbaijan will host Eurovision in 2012. I think it's safe to say Armenia won't be hosting in 2013.
Tweet
8/5/'11
Thinking back to my trip up the Empire State Building last week, managed to get vertigo. In the basement.
Tweet
5/5/'11
Don't think I've ever voted so late before. Polling station quiet, despite local election and it being 7:30pm. Oh dear. #yes2av
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3/5/'11
3,500-mile commute this morning.
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28/4/'11
Sitting on the plane waiting to fly to a republic. Enjoy your royalist hysteria, folks!
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26/4/'11
In less than 48 hours' time, I'll be in New York, New York! So good, they named it once and also named the state once!
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22/4/'11
Reading suggested ethnicity abbreviations for census from ONS. Includes "Nord Ar Med Eur", where "Ar" stands for "Aryan".
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6/4/'11
Finally, a bright side to @LondonMidland's appalling service - a beautiful day to spend sitting idly in the sun!
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10/3/'11
Got home during the daytime! Yay!
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9/3/'11
Census form arrived today! Q15: How would you describe your national identity? Um... #2011census
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8/3/'11
http://youtu.be/szZsKdJYR-A #internationalwomensday
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28/2/'11
Not parody. I repeat, not parody. http://youtu.be/sCO5szDnSI8
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24/2/'11
"Willy Wonka needs more cowbell... NOT an alternative voting system" http://av.argh.tc/o-matic/ #argh2av
So, there's been a lot of turmoil about lately. There's been rioting throughout England. There've also been quite a few people telling whoever will listen what they think of the rioters. Consequently, there've been many rants and counter-rants about who exactly is to blame for the destruction. It goes something like this:

Alice: The looters are bad people, and they must be severely punished.
Bob: The looters are predominantly socially excluded individuals and their actions are a consequence of our society's failings.
Alice: What are you talking about? These people had a choice, and they chose to do bad things.
Bob: How can you possibly think it's that clear-cut?

And so on. It's pretty polarised, and the "Alice" characters are vicious fascists. Right?

I don't think so. I've seen some terribly harsh things written about the rioters by friends who are ordinarily fairly progressive. They've been buying into the idea that the rioters are sub-human and deserve whatever can be inflicted on them, short of corporal or capital punishment.

Meanwhile, I've seen one friend refer to these others as bigots.

Now, before anyone invokes friendship divorce proceedings, take a step back. The riots are still fresh in people's minds. There's been massive, immersive media coverage. We've all been able to see the destruction to people's property and livelihoods, and the general fear and misery that's been inflicted. It's only natural to be angry, and it's only natural to direct that anger towards the rioters. However, anger fades.

Until that happens, I'd advise everyone to be very careful about what they say.

I, however, will opt for mildly inappropriate humour. Look, this guy's looting a lute!
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26/1/'11
Am I the only one who saw the #SOTU hashtag and went "Flash! Aaa-aaa! Saviour of the Universe"?
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15/1/'11
Happy birthday, Wikipedia!
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9/1/'11
Watching K9 TV series. In the future, everyone in London will have a slight Australian accent.
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26/12/'10
Despite much drama, made it home in time for Christmas! Thanks for the rescue, mum & dad! And Merry Christmas everyone!
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24/12/'10
Train assigned, 80 minutes late. Standing room only, lots of luggage. Train de-assigned, everybody disembarks. Train re-assigned. Gaah.
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24/12/'10
Guy in the seat in front of me reeks of pot, but I am on the train to Brussels.
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24/12/'10
On the first train of the day!
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24/12/'10
Ugh. 3:30am. Have now been up for an hour.
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18/12/'10
PROPER snow!
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11/12/'10
Hey... on the 24th, I'll be waking in Watford, brunching in Brussels and lunching in Luxembourg. Awesomely alliterative!
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10/12/'10
Surprised to discover I'm averaging only 1 mince pie per day.
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3/12/'10
Okay, Google Maps has had the M25 labelled as the "Autoroute britannique M25" for at least a week. Technically correct, but... what?
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29/11/'10
'Tis the season... for people to start pointing out how much I look like Harry Potter.
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9/11/'10
There's going to be a Harry Potter theme park less than 3km from where I live!
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7/11/'10
It must be Christmas. Why else would I have just bought some Rudolph slippers? P.S. Skweeee!
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6/11/'10
Ugh. Station without ticket barriers + forgetfulness + maximum Oyster fare = unhappy Alister.
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3/11/'10
Got home to discover fire engine parked outside house, worryingly.
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26/10/'10
Stopped to buy the i this morning, missed train. If it's supposed to be for overly busy people, is charging for it going to work? #ilaunch
I have now been living in England for a whole year!

I've been taking a look at the site's stats for last year. After OpenJazz, the most popular search phrase was "Doctor Who clipart". Apparently, a non-insignificant portion of this site's visitors end up looking at some low-quality clipart I threw together when I was 13. Sorry, folks.
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