Stay out of local politics

Hopefully immigration Minister Derrick Burgess is hot on the heels of race relations expert Tim Wise to remind him that non-Bermudians are to stay out of local politics.  According to the precedent set by our Immigration Minister, Mr. Wise  should restrict his comments to discussing race alone and not offering his opinions with regards to any proposed legislation.

That is unless such remarks are a one way street and our government feels it is only necessary to give such warnings when foreigners promote opinions conflicting with those of the government.

Posted in Uncategorized

Proposed Belco Expansion

The proposed expansion of Belco’s Pembroke site with two new power stations is a grave disappointment. 

Anyone who has spent some time studying peak oil and the impacts it will have on fuel costs will likely hold the opinion that a 23 year investment in the addition of more diesel generators is a poorly conceived plan given the risk Bermudians will face of skyrocketing electricity bills due to rising fuel costs.  Further, with all the focus on global warming it is incredible to watch and Bermuda largely turns a blind eye to the amount of pollution we contribute to the atmosphere, of which more diesel generators will only make things worse.

While Belco has been keen to promote it’s interests in alternative energy, you’ll have to excuse this writer if he remains skeptical of the proposed sea turbine solution.  While the current to current system is a nice thought, it remains largely unproven and experimental.  At the time of the announcement there were no resources available with regards to designs, environmental considerations, modeling, pilot studies, or any sort of tests.  Even costs were a gray area and one could wonder how much success current to current has had in acquiring financing. 

Thus, while it is great to have Bermuda piloting a system, why should Bermudians be willing to accept an unproven single large scale alternative to diesel power generation when many other proven alternatives exist?  While there have been mentions of other technologies, the focus has remained with the underwater turbine.

By contrast, Bermuda happens to be a great site for wave power generation of which there has been much research, many varying technologies and even physical trials.

Examples include:

OceanLinx’s wave energy system which has been piloted in Port Kembla (New South Wales, Australia)

Ocean Power Delivery’s pelamis which has been piloted in the UK and is being commissioned by Scottish Power for power generation

Ocean Power Technologies’ wave buoy, which you can watch a video of below

 

Given the raft of alternatives available, it is disappointing to hear that Belco has thus far put all it’s eggs in one basket with regards to one technology that isn’t even close to being as well proven as other competing technologies.  Hopefully the wave technologies listed above have come under their radar as one’s that we could be aiming to adopt sooner to supplement our needs.  Thus enabling us to better diversify our power generation facilities away from simply diesel and take a greater step towards energy independence.

Posted in Uncategorized

St. David’s transportation improvements

While it is nice that the PLP have pledged to introduce dedicated mini-bus service to St. David’s, this service should have been an obvious inclusion in the introduction of the St. David’s ferry stop. 

The lack of details in terms of price, availability and accessibility leaves much to be desired because who knows what a dedicated mini-bus really means.   Indeed, mini-buses are already available in St. David’s, the real issue is that they are cost prohibitive.  Who wants to spend $4 to ride a minibus on top of the regular bus and ferry fares?

The lack of basic improvements to the overall transport situation for St. David’s when combined with the lack of updates on the government web site with regards to improvements still leaves a great deal to be desired.  Should the PLP be gunning for support from neglected St. David’s islanders, they’re going to have to do a fair bit better than last minute promises.

Posted in Uncategorized

Where’s Waldo?

IMAG0114

 

One thing that certainly still isn’t clear is what positive impact RFID will offer that will compensate for the $2.4 million price tag.   The argument as it stands is that it will save some $11 million in lost revenue of people who have invalid licensing.  Unfortunately, this sounds a lot like a solution look for a problem which will be demonstrated by the two following scenarios.

Scenario 1:  The current system

Police officers setup a checkpoint at the Aquarium to pull people over and do license checks.  This involves a covertly placed police officer with a notepad to look at licenses on windshields, write down license numbers and radio officers at the aquarium to pull them over.

The downside?  It’s blatently obvious that a checkpoint is setup at the aquarium whenever traffic backs up all the way to shelly bay market place.  The simple solution for a license offender?  Turn around.

Scenario 2:  The RFID way

Police officers setup a checkpoint at the Aquarium to pull people over and do license checks.  This involves a covertly placed police officer with a notepad and wireless RFID reader to detect whether RFID tags are working on windshields, write down license numbers and radio officers at the aquarium to pull them over.

It has the same downside of increasing congestion and in reality, you still need officers to make sure people have RFID tags installed and active on their cars.  If the tag removed, an automated scanner won’t pick up anything unless you replace the officer with a notepad with a car sensor of some sort, but then you wouldn’t be able to record the license plates in the case they tried to speed through the checkpoint.

Conclusion

RFID in it’s present form will save the expense of one officer and a notepad.  For $2.4 million it’ll take us an officers whole career to regain the invested cost.

So?  What have we learned?  RFID in it’s present form is a solution looking for a problem.   That is unless there are covert plans to introduce automatic speed detection, congestion taxes and automated parking after the election.  Of which these will only punish the law abiding citizens among us who actually go get fitted with RFID tags as those who don’t will still have to be caught the old fashioned way.

Mind you, many likely would be all for reasonable methods of introduction including automated ticketing for those traveling faster than 70kph, a 6 month trial of the congestion tax to prove whether the people prefer it to congestion itself and well, automated parking you can’t argue with that. 

The fear is that there is a grand vision that only resides in the minds of a select few and the rest of us aren’t important enough to be privy to the intentions until it’s too late.  Even worse, if RFID is used maliciously to track individuals.

Posted in Uncategorized

Slow moving trucks

One of the major contributing factors to morning congestion is heavily loaded trucks drive 30kph and need to slow to 20 on the turns.

Is it really necessary that such trucks be headed to and from town during the morning and evening commute at the price of increasing congestion for all?

Posted in Uncategorized

YouBoob

Someone explain this one.  One week the UBP is signing a code of conduct with the intent to make the coming election about issues and not personal attacks.  The next, they’re preparing to launch a satire based YouTube video to make fun of the Premier.  Don’t they know a joke isn’t funny if you try to convince people how funny it is before you tell it?  Perhaps the UBP will be smart about it and pretend like the video never existed in the first place.

Apparently whoever’s running the UBP election campaign missed two critical rules. 

One, if you say you’re not going to make it personal:

4) Avoid using language, in word or in text, that is defamatory or inflammatory, or that threatens or incites violence against any other person or group of persons.

Then you announce you’re going to make it personal, it makes you look dumb.  That is unless making fun of someone isn’t defamatory but that’ll no doubt be up for debate amongst the people when the actual video is released.

Two, it’s common knowledge that telling people how funny a joke is going to be before you tell it will make people defensive and render the joke much less funny.

4. Do not tell everyone how funny your joke is beforehand. You’ll make your audience defensive and your laughs smaller.

What have we learned?  First, don’t contradict yourself by saying you’re going to focus on the issues and then deviate from that plan.  Second, don’t ruin the joke by describing how funny it is before you tell it.   Perhaps, the UBP’s real joke will be to pull a PLP and claim the meeting notes video never existed and that the media is out to get them.  

Posted in Uncategorized

Car-sharing revisited

In a recent article in The Royal Gazette, Premier Brown is suggested to still be in talks with international business about how to have fewer cars on the road and ease traffic congestion.  Unfortunately, Premier Brown far too often takes a win-lose approach to solving the issues of our island and fails to recognize that innovative solutions already exist to curb the number of cars and congestion.  It’s called car-sharing.

Premier Brown’s recent suggestion that the PLP have kept their promises with regards to transportation may find at least a few people who disagree with him.   Disagreements aside, his other plans for transportation in the future may still be lacking, as despite offering free public transport, this writer (who has free access to public transport due to his conscription in the regiment) still doesn’t take it.  The reason has on numerous occasions been pointed out where service still needs improvement, and the month of or after the election would be a hard indication of promises kept.  Further, there is still the whole issue of taxis that GPS failed to solve, especially when you need to catch a flight.

Premier Brown should take a moment out of his busy schedule to read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or, if he finds himself too busy to read, he could always have his driver pop the audiobook version in the audio player while he’s being chauffered around in his police escorted limosine.  By doing so, he would gain the insight of habit #4 of thinking win-win when approaching various issues related to our island.  A win-win approach to solving the traffic approach wouldn’t look upon our international business to take a loss by being asked to solve our problems for us.  Instead, we should be looking for win-win situations where noone is forced to compromise and both gain the desired result.

As suggested all the way back in April, a win-win approach to solving our traffic congestion woes is to introduce legislation that encourages car sharing businesses.  Car sharing, which has achieved considerable success around the world, would offer individuals the benefits of being able to use a car such as getting groceries, having friends visit, transporting things purchased in town and even carrying kiteboarding gear when there’s a little wind.  All without the drawbacks of the high expense of taxi’s and the pains of actually getting one.  Many people, even those such as this writer, often get a car just as a means to satisfy these needs that present transportation solutions do not adequately address.  Car-sharing legislation should be an obvious win-win solution that Bermudians and ex-pats alike could take advantage of to solve our own traffic woes.

Premier Brown may think promises have been kept and indeed many things have been done, but yet there is still a long way we need to go.  We could be taking a win-win approach to solving the issues of our island and taking heed of innovative solutions that are being used elsewhere in the world to solve the issues of traffic congestion.  Car-sharing happens to be one such example.

Posted in Uncategorized

Pure democracy in action

Democracy as we know it is in for a shock.  A collection of at least 20,000 football fans have utilized the Internet to gather together and purchase a team.  How will it operate?  What are it’s goals and how will it change the face of democracy as we know it?

Earlier today, an Internet collective of football fans entitled MyFootballClub made motions to buy a 51% share of Ebbsfleet United , a football team in Kent, southern England.   The premise being to turn the collective of fans into owners and managers through the use of the Internet and pure democracy.   The deal will give fans the ability to vote on everything from team lineup selection to which players should be transferred.  The decisions made during matches themselves will be left up to manager Liam Daish and the players themselves, retaining a sense of order and leadership but balancing feedback for the day to day operations.  It is a move destined to change the way we look at sports, team ownership and the face of democracy itself.

The power of the Internet has reached out and placed in the hands of football fans around the world the ability to manage not a fantasy team, not a game but a real live football team collectively.  Their decisions will shape the course of the future for the team and likely have a large hand in it’s success or failure.  It is pure democracy in action.  If this is what the Internet is bringing to sport, what can one wonder of politics itself?  For indeed, it is the prime benefactor of democracy.  How will the Internet move to change politics and our own democracy?  Could we live to see a day where they have a greater hand in the course of our future?  Where we have a greater hand in management of our society while electing leaders to manage the finer details?

Can a football team be managed effectively and successfully by a collective?  If so, could the same be said of a government?  No doubt, this will prove to be an interesting experiment, one which could change the face of democracy as we know it.

Posted in Uncategorized

Party support survey results

The following is a completely unscientific 21 Square poll

What party do you support?

 
Summary
Value Count Percent %
I’m a UBP supporter 53 45.69%
I’m a swing voter who supports the party that best addresses the core issues of Bermuda 31 26.72%
I can’t vote 26 22.41%
I’m a PLP supporter 4 3.45%
I don’t vote 2 1.72%
 
Of 116 people who admitted to reading this blog by filling out a survey, nearly 46% consider themselves UBP supporters, 27% consider themselves swing voters not supporting either party, 22% can’t vote and 3% consider themselves PLP supporters.
 
Overall,91% of people said they don’t think the PLP presented clear and well thought out plans last election.  Interestingly, 97% of swing voters held the same view while only 91% of UBP supporters thought the PLP’s plans weren’t clear.
 
Of the UBP in the 2003 election, overall 72% felt they did present clear and well thought out plans for our island.  With PLP supporters being split at 50% and 58% of swing voters feeling the UBP’s plans were well thought out.
 

In the 2003 election, do you feel the PLP focused more on race than they did on issues? 

Overall, 86% of respondents felt the PLP focused more on race than on issues in the 2003 election compared with 95% of respondents who felt the UBP focused more on the issues.  Interestingly, none of the PLP supporters felt the PLP focused more on race than on issues while one felt that the UBP had.  When asked about the 2007 election, 96% of those polled felt that the PLP would focus on race over issues while 96% also felt that the UBP would focus on issues instead of race.

When asked about party performance over the last four years, 95% of people we unsatisfied with how the PLP has performed in the role of leadership while 76% are unsatisfied with how the UBP has performed as opposition.  Half of PLP supporters were unsatisfied with the PLP’s performance while all were unsatisfied with the UBP’s.   Of swing voters, 94% were unsatisfied with the PLP and 87% were unsatisfied with the UBP.  Of UBP supporters, 98% were unsatisfied with the PLP’s performance and only 40% were happy with the UBP’s.

Why do your support your party?

Summary
Value Count Percent %
They best represent the issues most important to me 54 46.55%
I don’t support a specific party 42 36.21%
They represent my political ideologies 19 16.38%
They represent my race 1 0.86%
 
Of reasoning for party support, PLP supporters were divided evenly over issue representation and political ideologies.  Of UBP supporters, 68% relied on issues, 30% relied on political ideologies and 2% or 1 individual admitted they supported the UBP based upon race. 
 

How did you vote in 2003 and are you likely to vote for the 2007 election?

Summary
Value Count Percent %
I voted UBP and will vote UBP 56 49.56%
I can’t vote 29 25.66%
I didn’t vote and will vote UBP 15 13.27%
I voted PLP and will vote UBP 4 3.54%
I voted PLP and will vote PLP 3 2.65%
I didn’t vote and won’t be voting 2 1.77%
I voted UBP and will vote PLP 2 1.77%
I didn’t vote and will vote PLP 1 0.88%
I voted UBP and won’t be voting 1 0.88%
 
 
Of PLP supporters, 25% said they can’t vote while the rest voted PLP and will vote PLP in the 2007 election.  Of UBP supporters, 78% will continue to vote UBP while 15% who didn’t vote in 2003 will be voting UBP.   Swing voters prove interesting with 52% having voted UBP last election and having decided they will continue to do so next election.  24% didn’t vote and will vote UBP.  10% voted PLP and will be switching to vote for the UBP while 7% voted UBP and will be switching to vote PLP.
 

Who do you think will win the 2007 election?

Summary
Value Count Percent %
not sure 54 46.55%
U
BP
36 31.03%
PLP 26 22.41%
 
When it came to predicting the outcome of the election, many people thought it would be too close to call.  PLP supporters were 100% certain that the PLP would again be victorious while UBP supporters were a little less certain with 42% believing the UBP would win and 13% believing the PLP would win.   Of those unable to vote, 39% believe the UBP will win whilt 19% believe the PLP will win.  The majority of swing voters were unsure of the outcome with 32% believing the PLP would win and only 10% believing the UBP would win.
 
Thanks for your participation and please continue to do so in future surveys.
 
Posted in Uncategorized

Open Democracy: Maternity leave

Could our leadership take a page from the open source software community by opening up our democracy?  What is open democracy?  How is it different from what we have today? What does it have to do with maternity leave?  How can we use it to achieve better governance?

Open democracy is a form of governance that values participation over power.  Acquiring it’s ideals from the open source software community, it capitalizes on the the power of online communication in order to change offline politics.  It changes traditional governance from being top-down into bottom up by giving the people greater involvement and a greater voice.

Traditionally, in the run up to an election political parties will spend a great deal of time composing their ideas on what they think you want to hear.  In leading nations, these ideas are typically compiled into a platform or manifesto describing a high level plan of what that party intends to accomplish during their term if elected to office.  The problem often encountered, however, is that this form of structure serves the political party in telling you what they think you want out of our leadership rather than you telling them exactly what it is you want.

A good example is the UBP’s recent proposal of extending maternity leave to 6 months.  6 months is great, but how do they know that that is what we want?  Maybe we want more?  Maybe we want less?  Maybe that’ll impact businesses too much?  Who should foot the bill?

This blog offered a write-up about it and intentionally took the devil’s advocate approach to use the comments to flush out all sides of debate, thus offering the best range of options in order to compose the best assessment of the stakeholders and the issues.

An extension of maternity leave brought forth a number of stakeholders that would be impacted by such changes. 

Families intending to have children and their ability to offer the best care

Women not intending to have children and their ability to not be discriminated against

Businesses, especially small businesses, who could likely suffer under the added costs and lost availability of their worker

These stakeholders face issues that raised a number of questions:

How long should paid maternity leave be?

How much should employers be required to foot the bill?

How much should government cover of the bill?

How much leave should be offered without pay with job guarantees?

Should families be able to split their leave amongst maternity and paternity leave?

Should ex-pats be offered work permit extensions to cover leave time?

A great many interesting questions and no-doubt it would be very easy for this writer to simply give you his opinion and leave it at that.   However, is there a better way?  Rather than simply getting my opinion, why don’t we get all of your opinions on what should happen with regards to maternity leave. 

So lets do that.

 

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td.sg_tdx { }

.sg_multi_text td.sg_tdx,
.sg_matrix_radio td.sg_td1,
.sg_radio_options td.sg_tdx,
.sg_cont_sum td.sg_tdx
{
padding:5px !important;
}

div.sg_matrix_radio td.sg_td1 {
padding:5px !important;
}

table.sg_table tr.sg_tr { }
table.sg_table tr.sg_tr_alt { }

/* tables with 1st column of labels */
.sg_matrix_radio td.sg_td1,
.sg_matrix_textbox td.sg_td1,
.sg_matrix_checkbox td.sg_td1 {
padding:5px ;
}

/* Groups like Contact Form */
.sg_groupitem {
height:30px;
display:block;
margin:6px 0px 0 0;
padding-left:0;
text-align:left;
}
.sg_grouplabel {
display:block;
font-weight:bold;
font-size:95%;
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.sg_grouplabel label {
font-weight:bold;
font-size:95%;
padding:2px 0;
}

div.sg_groupinput {
display:block;
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/* Required Lables, Messages, Errors etc */
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}
span.sg_requiredasterix { color:red; }

.sg_error { background-color: yellow !important; }

div.sg_errormessage { /* div.sg_ErrorMessage is inserted where automatically by the template token */
background: #fdff4f url(https://app.sgizmo.com/images/surveys/error_alert.gif) no-repeat 10px 10px;
border:2px solid #ffb900;
color: #000;
margin:10px auto;
padding:10px 20px 10px 60px;
width:80%;
font-weight:bold;
}
.sg_counter { }
.sg_counter_error { color: red; }

.sg_starrate{cursor:pointer;}

.sg_customizedgroupitem {
margin:10px 0;
}

.sg_matrix_textbox table.sg_table,
.sg_matrix_radio table.sg_table,
.sg_matrix_checkbox table.sg_table {
width:99% !important;

}

Logo

Maternity leave

Page One

var sg_first_number = 1; 1. How long should paid maternity leave be?
2. How much should employers be required to foot of the bill?
3. How much should government cover of the bill?
4. How much leave should be offered without pay, beyond the initial paid leave, with job guarantees?
5. Should families be able to split their leave amongst maternity and paternity leave?
6. Should ex-pats be offered work permit extensions to cover leave time?

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function sgjsAddError(elementid,id,message)
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sgjsRemoveError(elementid,id);
eval(“if( typeof errors_” + elementid + ” == ‘undefined’)errors_” + elementid + ” = Array();”);
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error[0] = id;
error[1] = message;
eval(“errors_” + elementid + “.push(error);”);
if( typeof total_errors == ‘undefined’)total_errors = 0;
total_errors++;
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function sgjsRemoveError(elementid,id)
{
eval(“if( typeof errors_” + elementid + ” == ‘undefined’)errors_” + elementid + ” = Array();”);
eval(“var array = errors_” + elementid + “;”);
if(array == “undefined”) return;
var newarray = Array();

for(var i = 0; i < array.length;i++)
{
if(array[i][0] != id)newarray.push(array[i]);
else {total_errors–;}
}
eval(“errors_” + elementid + ” = newarray;”);
}

function sgjsErrorCount(elementid)
{
eval(“var array = errors_” + elementid + “;”);
if(array == “undefined”) return 0;
return array.length;
}

function sgjsUpdateElementErrors(element,msg)
{
var num = sgjsErrorCount(element.id);
var msgs = “”;

if(num > 0)
{
eval(“var arr = errors_” + element.id + “;”);

for(var i = 0; i < arr.length;i++)
{
if(arr[i][1] != “”)
{
msgs = msgs + “

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}

//alert(msgs);

if(msg != “” && typeof msg != “undefined”)
{
msg.style.display = ‘block’;
msg.innerHTML = msgs;
}
}
else
{

if(msg != “” && typeof msg != “undefined”)
{
msg.style.display = ‘none’;
msg.innerHTML = ” “;
}
}
}
//]]>

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Can we use such a method to achieve better governance?  Hopefully over the coming weeks we’ll be able to conduct more feedback sessions based upon our leadership’s intentions to give them an idea of just how useful public participation can be in governance and hopefully encourage them to consider embracing more aspects of open democracy.

If you haven’t filled out the Party Support Survey, please take a moment do to so.  The results will be posted soon and so far they’ve been fascinating.

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