As governments change, so change the blogs

Two similarly themed items here. The first one – this post over on Comment is Free wondering whether it makes sense to lament the decline of the right-wing libertarian (or bloggertarian) blog. The second item – Left Foot Forward’s observation that Liberal Conspiracy and their own site are now beating the main right-of-centre bloggers in their Wikio rankings. Wikio measures inbound links rather than unique visitors and both Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes are still significantly ahead in that regard. …

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Political Innovation No7: Breaking the monopolies that control the way schools are designed

This is a cross-post by Ian Fordham – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here. I’ve been following the Political Innovation project quite closely over the last month or so and the innovation that I would like to propose represents a synthesis of many of the other ideas in this series. I work in the field of Education and in particular School Design. With a decade of significant financial investment by government (and emotional investment from teachers and parents) …

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Does Glenn Beck really have blood on his hands?

Here’s a question for you: In continuing to employ Glenn Beck, does Fox News really have blood on its hands? Beck peppers his ‘libertarian’ populist screeds with conspiracy theories, and in one recent case, a nutcase – claiming to be inspired by him – is targeting liberals for assassination. Many of his followers are plainly deluded, and he doesn’t seem to apply any standard of evidence gathering to his journalism. Depressingly, it appears that followers of pundits such as Beck …

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Three ballots on the same day

So despite Peter Robinson’s concerns that it will confuse voters if the ballot on voting reform, it seems that the AV Referendum will happen on the same day as both the Assembly Elections and the local council elections – 5th May 2011. Following the totally unpredictable SNAFU around local government reform, readers will recall that the plans to condense the current twenty six local authorities down to eleven super councils next year has meant that Councillors in NI have been …

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Political Innovation no6: Citizen-control of personal information

This is a cross-post by William Heath – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here. If the big political innovation of the moment is to give power back to people, then a good place to do it is with personal data. Whose data is it anyway? Whose health, whose education, whose identity, whose shopping history, bank details, travel plans, creditworthiness? Yet all these personal details, which affect us, are stored on hundreds of state and private-sector databases. If I …

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The Slugger Awards (media) pitch: The Thinker and Explainer Award

Northern Ireland has no think tanks. This is a problem because Think Tanks perform a number of valuable roles. They take the complexity of academia, interpret / translate it for politicians and use it to help frame policies. They make complex issues more understandable. This is a role that the media could adopt with more enthusiasm than it does. OK – newspapers sometimes call academics for a quote. Sometimes they will go to some lengths to explain a complex issue …

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Great Big Political Quiz – give us your funny team names

The tickets for the Great Big Political Quiz Night are selling rapidly – get yours to avoid disappointment (form below). We’re also going to be dishing out a few spot prizes. For instance, we know that one or two of you have hilarious team names planned *clutches sides at the very thought*.There will be a prize for the best one on the night. We also know that one or two organisations are very bullish about their plans to snatch the …

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Skepticism in Belfast – local group planned.

The ‘Skeptics in the Pub’ idea is a one that has been spreading globally in for a while with a growing number of regular local events including plenty in England and a well established Dublin group. A branch has now been established in Belfast and the inaugural meeting will be at the Duke of York next Tuesday (12th) at 7pm. While it’s key aim is to provide an organising hub for Rationalists and Secularists, in the case of the Westminster …

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Voice recognition. In a lift. In Scotland.

It’s Friday, so it’s time to lighten up. I’ve been encountering a lot of Scottish accents recently. Then Mick forwarded this to me: And on the subject of Caledonian comedy, am I alone in regarding BBC’s Still Game as the most underrated sitcom of recent years? Paul EvansLiving in London, working as a trade union official in the film and TV industry (opinions my own). Author of “Save Democracy, Abolish Voting” (published by Demsoc in November 2017). Personal website with …

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Service announcement: Minor Facebook / Twitter-related tweaks to Slugger

At the top of this post, there’s a lovely new ‘Facebook Like’ button and a ‘Tweetmeme’ link on the left. These are designed to help you flag up anything you read and like to your followers as well as giving our contributors a bit of feedback. These things only work, of course, if you’re on Facebook / Twitter. Looking at the poor quality of spelling and punctuation in the comments thread, we know that you are all crying out for …

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Political Innovation no 5: Government information? Get the public to provide it!

This is a cross-post by Lauren Currie – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here. For too long, policymaking has been monopolised by civil servants, self-serving pressure groups and sensationalist journalists. We get a vote once every four or five years and we’re expected to be satisfied with that. Public services are too important to get lost in headline issues, and too big to leave to those who have the time and energy to write letters or sit on …

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Cheap flights explained

I probably wouldn’t usually use Slugger to just post up funny things seen on the internet, but seeing as ‘budget’ airlines business practices and the politiking around City Airport have been a theme here, I thought you’d enjoy this from Fascinating Aida: Paul EvansLiving in London, working as a trade union official in the film and TV industry (opinions my own). Author of “Save Democracy, Abolish Voting” (published by Demsoc in November 2017). Personal website with link to other writing …

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Political Innovation no 4: See Change – opening policy research to the public

This is a guest cross-post by Ivo Gormley – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here. Although Government claims to want our participation and wants us to appreciate its policies, it hides the evidence on which it bases its policies in fat documents and reports that are hard to read and only available free at special events at think-tanks around Whitehall. If we want participation in politics in a way that goes beyond choice we need to share policy …

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Political Innovation no 3: Assertion-flagging: for less partisan, prejudiced blogging

This is a guest cross-post by Andrew Regan – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here. Most political bloggers are motivated to fight what they see as bigotry, prejudice, and ill-informed, unjustifiable assertion. This is a fine and noble cause, because the spreading of false beliefs – without the evidence to support them – is bad for all of us, as is the displacement of informed argument by mere rhetoric. All the more so when the perpetrator is powerful …

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Political Innovation 2: The politics of buying things

This is a guest cross-post by Dominic Campbell – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here: Well, you wouldn’t still be reading had I called it the politics of procurement now would you? (no, stop – don’t go!). No-one who engages with government procurement comes away impressed with it. It’s a process that wastes £billions and rewards process over outcomes. Yet we all know that, deep down, it’s a symptom of a political problem. It is a system set …

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Political Innovation no1: Towards Interactive Government

This is a guest cross-post by Tim Davies – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here: The communication revolution that we’ve undergone in recent years has two big impacts: It changes what’s possible. It makes creating networks between people across organisations easier; it opens new ways for communication between citizens and state; it gives everyone who wants it a platform for global communication; and it makes it possible to discover local online dialogue. It changes citizen expectations of government. …

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More Alex Higgins

Further to Eamonn’s tribute to Alex Higgins, David Gordon has posted this video on Facebook and I thought it deserved a wider airing here. On a weekend when so many people – bafflingly – are glued to the awful pointlessness of Formula One, this is a reminder of what a decent spectator sport looks like, thickly overlaid as it is with the emotional highs and lows that always accompanied watching Alex at his peak. Unusually for a frame of snooker, …

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Slugger’s comment thread rebuild – redux

You may recall that – a few weeks ago – I posted an idea on how we can add value to Slugger’s comments thread. It met with a mixed reaction, and while some of you liked the idea and saw possibilities in it, there were also some extremely perceptive objections. As a result, we have ruled the idea out of bounds. We are keen, however, to try and give Slugger more of a community dimension for a number of reasons, …

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“Night vision goggles and a f***ing sword”

It’s Friday again. And as the little hand sweeps towards the big five, we can briefly consider how seriously internet trolls should be taken. Perhaps it’s time for a reassessment? 4chan is an image-sharing site. I think that it would be safe to say that it lacks some of Slugger’s moderation rules. Some of the regulars on 4Chan’s boards put the N into NSFW. It is haunted by a hidden army of b/tards. A /b/ – according to the Urban Dictionary …

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Friday thread: Improving Slugger’s comments

One of Slugger’s virtues is its comments thread. Unlike a lot of blogs, Mick applies a certain standard and trolls, threats, sockpuppetry and flamebaiting are generally discouraged. This isn’t done perfectly or consistently because it’s a big job to do and involves hours of unfunded work. We do the best we can under the circumstances – and at least half the job is done when people find themselves occasionally clipped. For the most part, commenters are better-behaved on Slugger than …

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