The fallacy of democracy


News out of Ireland this week is that it is undemocratic to be given a vote on the future of your country.

Declan Ganley - whoever he is
Declan Ganley - whoever he is.

Declan Ganley, a millionaire businessman whose opposition to the Lisbon Treaty saw him become a TV star along the lines of X-Factor or something, said: “The Irish people had a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. They voted No. A higher percentage of the electorate voted no than voted for Barack Obama in the United States of America. No one’s suggesting he should run for re-election next month.”

Cute quote.

The argument is that once you vote on something, that’s it.  No more votes.  “No” means no.  Of course it hasn’t worked this way in the past as Deco and his fellow No to Lisbon-ites well know.

Divorce and Divorce II

In 1986, when Ireland was asked to vote on the existing prohibition of divorce, the country overwhelmingly rejected it by 63% to 36%; almost 2-to-1.  Rather “undemocratically” we were all asked to vote again on the same issue nine years later since the re-elected Fine Gale government of the time refused to accept the previous will of the Irish people.  That time the vote was carried by a margin of 9,000 votes or 0.5%.

I wonder how many people who were happy to be able to get a second chance to vote “yes” to divorce in 1995 are now crying foul over Lisbon II?

In 1983 the country enforced a constitutional ban on abortion that leaves Ireland in the company of the likes of Chile, El Salvador, Malta and Nicaragua as places with outright bans. Isn’t it about time we revisited that issue now? Or does “no” still mean no in this case?  I’m confused.

How about in a case where Northern Ireland has a referendum on the unification of the island of Ireland – if the answer was “no” would that be the final time we’d vote on that?  Would Sinn Féin (steadfast opponents of Lisbon II) concur to a second vote in that instance?

Unqualified voters

Divorce and abortion are social issues that everybody can relate to.  The Lisbon Treaty is a vague and complex document (seemingly open to no end of interpretations) of which a large number of people have – understandably – insufficient understanding.  It’s probably fair to say that a lot of people should be considered unqualified to vote on Lisbon given that lack of understanding.

Look how easy it is to manipulate those who are ignorant by scaring them with groundless pap such as that voting “no” will lead to a loss of jobs and isolation or that voting “yes” will lead to abortion, conscription to a European army (they’ve been wheeling that one out since 1973) and a minimum wage of €1.84 an hour.  How is that democratic?

Democracy in action

Ganley’s complaint that “no” means no is a nice catchphrase when the re-vote doesn’t suit your agenda.  It would be great if democracy was perfect but of course it isn’t.  It is tainted by one side or the other having more charismatic spokespeople, more funding, better media coverage, or just being superior at using the truth more economically.  It’s a bit imperfect, like the justice system I suppose – and that’s why we have retrials.

If we have a referendum every day and nobody is excluded from voting then this is democracy in action.  The result will always be the will of the people.  I have no problem with this.

I elected someone to vote for me

I’m all for a Constitution as it helps provide a country with a legal and moral framework.  But I don’t want to have to spend a Friday afternoon voting on a document that I will never truly understand.  I think the government should pass legislation like this without having to bother me about it.  It’s not like it fundamentally changes the core principles of the state such as neutrality, abortion or economic autonomy.  Right?

Or isn’t anyone sure yet?


The pitfalls of being an online importer/exporter

I stuck an ad up on Gumtree offering a laptop I’m not using all that much and within a few hours I had a response.  Easy money!

Daniel Lewis ( wrote me and said: “Thinking about what to have for a special gift to my colleage till i found your item, would Like to know if still available for sale.”

So I wrote back and told Daniel (since we’re on first name terms now) that it was a cracking laptop and so on.  His next response was lengthy and telling.

“Thanks for your returning my mail, As i have mentioned, i will be glad if truly you can be sincere with me, i am getting this item for special gift to my colleage which i need the item to get ther befor the 26th of sept and its should be sent to Walthamtow via Royal Mail International Singed For, Although i’ m suppose to take the item there myself but its will look more special having it direct and cause of my absent in town now, going for a complete project in Paris, you know what that means, i need a well seal packed for it,

More so i like to know the present condition of the item also, i will really appreciate if you can kindly post the item asap, which i will be offering you the sum of £70 for postage and packaging of the items to Walthamstow…

I would be glad and sincerely wish deal together through PayPal Online Auction, cause i believe its safe for both of us and so if you re really interesting in selling out the item to me, kindly get back to me with your Pay Pal Email and your Full Name when registering for the pay pal together with the cost of the item and the postage fee, cause i wouldn’t want any mistake in this transaction.

I await your quick response and don’t forget to send me along your phone # as well.”

Now I was 99% sure this is a scam.  And here are the reasons why.

1. His email address (

Daniel Lewis is a perfectly acceptable name for anyone (unless you do something stupid like add a “Day” in to the middle).  But it seems a bit strange that you would choose to completely misspell your name in your email address just because daniellewis@ was not available.

2. Grammar and other nonsense

Ever hear of 419 scams?  Well they come from Nigeria and are characterized by rather stilted English.  In Daniel’s message above the use of phrases like “I will be glad if truly you can be sincere with me” and “I would be glad and sincerely wish deal together…” reek of 419ness.

The circumstances that he gives for not being able to do the deal in person (which is the point of Gumtree) are contrived: he’s in Paris and his colleage (sic) is in Walthamstow.  He also seems completely unmoved by the fact that he is giving a gift to his friend that is advertised as second hand.

Then there is the ridiculous offer of paying £70 to ship the item – probably about 3 times what it would cost.  He could buy a new one for what he is willing to pay.  I’m sure if I had priced the laptop at one billion dollars he’d still be offering to wire me the cash.

Finally there is the “deadline” of the 26th of September which I guess means he’d pressure a naive person in to sending the item before the PayPal payment (which he would have no intention of sending, naturally) was made.

Funny thing is my family are from Walthamstow so it would have been quite funny to get the address and then have them turn up there to beat the shit out of whoever was collecting it.

3. Identity theft

He wants my email, my full name and my phone number.  He doesn’t need all this information to complete a PayPal payment.  Never tell anyone anything online unless you are able to beat the shit out of them immediately afterwards.

None of it added up but I needed to dig a little more.  So I went down in to his email and found that he sent it from the IP address  A quick visit to revealed…



It didn’t end there.  A few minutes later another message came, this time from who was even more direct: “is still available for sale…can you get back to me with your paypal email to make the payment for you now”

Less to go on here but a willingness to pay straight away?  No questions?  No meeting?

I asked IP2Location what was going on…


Use common sense online, work off the assumption that everyone is a thieving cockface and you’ll be just fine.

22/09/09 Edit: The Netherlandic IP above is actually valid and relates to the company themselves who run the website (they forward the mails on behalf of the “buyers”).  I have since had two more spams including one from the Southwest Tennessee Community College – he wanted me to send it to his friend in Nigeria.  Unfortunately he could not collect it himself because he’s on his way to Asia…ahhhh. Cockface.)

Football Manager 2010 price drop at Zavvi

FM2010There’s the usual pre-Christmas buzz about Football Manager at the moment but – as I blogged before – I absolutely refuse to pay over the odds for it.

After a month or so of websites advertising price points of £25-30, Zavvi decided to test the mettle of the impatient buyers who already pre-ordered by selling it for £17.95 with free UK delivery.  How many who paid maybe £10 or £12 more will cancel and re-order with Zavvi?

In a time where piracy is rife, to me the logic is very simple.  Charge less for the product and increase your sales.  I have now gone from a position of not buying it to buying it.

Support the consumer!  Buy from Zavvi!