In July 2012 I asked Richard Herr from the University of Tasmania for the correct term for the current Tasmanian Government. The subject of what makes a government a minority or a coalition majority came up today on Twitter (#politas). Since it’s related, I thought I’d share what he told me.
Good evening Mr Inkson,
The present Government is still a minority Government as it does not have a formal commitment of a majority of the Members in the House of Assembly. Technically, at least, three Greens sit on the cross benches – not with the Government. The emergence of more open “confidence and supply” agreements, however, there can be some difficulty for the public in seeing the old, much clearer, distinctions.
I hope this helps a bit.
Richard Herr OAM PhD
School of Government
University of Tasmania
For the record, this was my question:
Just wondering what your take is in this definition debate. Everyone – Labor, Greens, Liberals and the media – seems to refer to this is a minority government.
I think that the 1989 and 1996 Governments were minority governments, since the Greens supported confidence and supply but didn’t actually form government. But the Greens are a coalition partner in this Government and hold ministries! Doesn’t that make it a majority Labor/Green government?
Or does the hung parliament of 2010 dictate the term? The Government was only formed after a post-election agreement was reached, so does that make “minority” the correct term regardless?
The twentieth anniversary of the Hottest 100 inspired a “best of the last twenty years” version, the winners of which were announced last weekend. As always, there was much angst as to what appeared, what didn’t, and where they ranked. As with the “hottest of all time” count from 2009 the the biggest criticism of this latest poll seems to be the lack of women.
I’ve read a number of articles giving reasons for why this might be, and each of those may be correct. I’ve also read some things about how and why popularity isn’t a good metric for quality, and they’re probably also correct. What I’d like to question is whether the Hottest 100 is even a good measure of popularity, full-stop. Although I accept that the results are skewed towards the particular section of the community that votes in the poll, I don’t even think they accurately represent the opinions of that group.
I believe that the wrong voting system creates this problem, and the sheer number of tracks from which listeners can choose exacerbates it. When the Hottest 100 began, there was no way around this – the current method would have been the easiest way to process phone votes. Today, voting is done via the Web, so it’d be pretty easy to switch to a more appropriate system.
The problem with the current system
I’ll be using the recent vote as my example, but it’s a similar case for the annual events. Listeners were asked to pick a maximum of twenty tracks out of the tens of thousands of songs that might appeal to their demographic as a whole. They were not given the opportunity to rank those songs – each track listed in each ballot would put a single vote next to that song. A total is calculated, and the winners announced. Unfortunately I don’t have access to the ballots themselves and I can’t prove that the voting system skews the results, but I suggest that it’s a possibility.
The poll was topped by Oasis’ Wonderwall. Now, it may very well be that a plurality of listeners thinks that it’s the best song of the last twenty years. But it’s also possible that a large number of listeners voted for a bunch of other songs as their favourites, and put Wonderwall somewhere else in their lists for nostalgic reasons, perhaps as a shout-out to a fondly-remembered time in their lives. Tweep @NatalieGaronzi made this point somewhat more pithily.
There are a few Hottest 100 number ones that I (perhaps cynically) presume had been given votes for novelty reasons, despite their voters not necessarily considering the song the top track for the year. The flat voting system means that if enough people do this, the song can win. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Like the Condorcet voting method, it will favour candidates generally acceptable to the majority over candidates passionately supported by a minority. Depending on your definition of “hottest song”, this may be fine. Condorcet, however, at least allows the voters to rank their choices.
The problem with the number of tracks available
I like Radiohead, they have a mountain of quality songs, and I love a few of them equally. Paranoid Android, Karma Police, How To Disappear Completely, Everything In Its Right Place. So, I guess I could vote for all of them. But then, I love lots of different types of music and I don’t think I like Radiohead enough to give them four votes out of twenty. So, I decided to choose between them. Out of this lot my favourite is probably How To Disappear Completely, and I voted for it knowing it was unlikely to feature in the final count, so should I have voted for Paranoid Android or Karma Police to boost their votes?
Picking on Oasis again – they had the one song feature, and it topped the count. Radiohead had two songs (Paranoid and Karma) feature at 13 and 35. Numerous other bands had two or three songs appear. Is it possible that prolific, long-lived, well-loved, consistently-good bands suffer in such counts? I love PJ Harvey and voted for a few of her tracks. But it was hard to choose only a few. Are there other PJ fans who were in the same boat and chose differently to me? Maybe not, maybe I’m inventing problems here. But I think it’s a possibility worth considering. Oasis has many popular songs, but none stands out as obviously as Wonderwall.
To solve these problems I would like to see the Hottest 100 allow voters to rank their songs, and use an STV-based proportional system such as Hare-Clark to tally the results. Let the users select as few or as many tracks as they like (perhaps limited to the number of vacancies to prevent people going overboard and crashing the system), and give them the ability to drag and drop them into the order they choose. The formulas for calculating quotas, surpluses, and exclusions are pretty straightforward, let computers do the work.
This would also go some way to alleviate the ‘number of eligible songs’ problem. Since I can vote for as many songs as I like, I’d vote for all four Radiohead songs somewhere in my list without too much concern for wasting my vote. I’d vote for all of the PJ Harvey songs I like and still have plenty of room for my other favourites.
Alternatively, some form of run-off voting system could be employed to whittle down the list first (perhaps to 500 or so) and then in the main vote the listeners would be restricted to those tracks alone. But this would create its own problems, and I would much prefer to kill two birds with the solution above.
Perhaps nothing I’ve suggested here would make a difference. Perhaps Triple J listeners genuinely aren’t fans of women in music, and maybe they genuinely love novelty songs. But to fix the voting system would at least remove these doubts and give us a clearer idea. Tracing preference flows would also provide some interesting metadata. Are fans of Mumford & Sons also into Of Monsters and Men? I bet they are.
Finally, it may be that I’m trying to wedge the wrong voting system into the wrong paradigm. If any psephologists read this, feel free to poke holes in it, but I’d love to hear some alternatives.
I’ve been using a Mac a bit lately and, since I type with the Dvorak layout, I like that Mac OS provides a mixed-mode. This mode reverts the layout to Qwerty only while special keys (Control, Alt, Option etc.) are held down.
Although I can touch-type Dvorak, I don’t rearrange the keys on the keyboard and I usually have one hand on the mouse when pressing key combos. In these cases it’s much easier to be able to see the keys I’m pressing, and to take advantage of combos made with Qwerty in mind (such as X, C, and V for cut, copy, and paste).
Having enjoyed this on the Mac, I then went looking for something similar in Windows. And here we are.
I’ve long wanted to set up my idea of the trinity of home computer hardware, and I finally got around to doing it a couple of months ago. I previously posted about procuring a small server for NAS/backup purposes and mentioned that I had a new mac laptop for general use, and this “steambox” was the final piece of the puzzle.
I already had an Acer Revo that I was using for XBMC purposes, and after enjoying playing a few lightweight games on it I thought a more powerful (but still small and quiet) box would be a great way to play controller-compatible Steam games in its “Big Picture Mode”, as well as using it for XBMC, Netflix, and AFLTV.
I chose the Silverstone SG05 case because it was the smallest case I could find that would fit a full-sized GPU card. The other components were just whatever I thought were the best bang for buck at the time. I didn’t bother with an optical drive (installed Windows via USB stick) and I took the GPU card out of my old desktop.
There’s not a lot else to say about this except that I’ve been using it for two months, and it works beyond my expectations. It was a bit fiddly to get everything in, but not as bad as I thought it’d be. I shouldn’t need to open it again until I upgrade the video card in the next year or two. Its best feature is that it’s incredibly quiet, I can barely hear a thing from it. Just out of the box it’s quieter than my fan-modified NAS, and it’s much, much quieter than my PS3. This is one of the many reasons I can’t see myself buying a console again. I’m loving playing Steam games from the comfort of my couch.
I’ve added an IcyDock Duo Swap to the 5.25″ bay. I use its 3.5″ bay for rotating HDD backups, and its 2.5″ bay for the system SSD. Having the OS drive in a hotswap bay is pointless, but it kept the case neat.
There is a fifth SATA port on the motherboard, but to use a sixth drive I was required to use a SATA to eSATA cable and poke it out to the eSATA port at the back of the case. I also found the case fan a bit noisier than I liked, so I replaced it. Concerned by the possibility of buying an incompatible PWM model as warned by this article, I used a non-PWM fan and set the RPM manually.
In order to make the drives hot-swappable I was required to install a modified bios and alter some advanced configuration settings.
Ubuntu-server 12.10 is installed, along with Sick Beard, SABnzbd+, and Deluge. At some point it may also host an XBMC database, so to handle these services better I’ve upgraded the box to 8GB RAM.
Both AFP and CIFS are used to allow my MacBook and HTPC to connect to it with ease. I briefly played with NFS but couldn’t get the bindings and permissions to work correctly. I like that the client machines use their own native mechanisms, anyway.
I’ve also made it a printer server by installing CUPS, and I made it work for iPads by installing Avahi, roughly following this method.
I played around a bit with software RAID via mdadm (the advertised integrated RAID is only FakeRAID), and it works well, but ended up just going straight with the various HDDs I had sitting around. I don’t need redundancy, I just wanted backups of my documents and photos.
Local backups are made using rsync and rotating external HDDs in the DuoSwap. Automated external backups are performed using the excellent little tool encrb to upload encrypted data to a private server.