How to find information on candidates in Irealnd

So yesterday I talked about how hard it is to get the information on candidates running for election you need to make an informed vote. In this post I’d like to describe some of the current methods you can use to get information on which candidates are running and if they have been previously elected, what they have done when in power.

1. ElectionsIreland.org

Elections Ireland keep a record of all elections happening in Ireland, so you can search for your constituency and find all the candidates running, you can then click on one of the candidates and find out which if any elections they have run in and how they did. If you don’t know your constituency just type the name of a candidate you’ve seen a poster for around where you live and you can see which constituency they are running in.

2. KildareStreet.com

If the candidate has ever been in the Dail or the Seanad you can use KildareStreet to read about anything that is recorded (debates, questions &answers) in the Dail or the Seanad. The website is uses software created by MySociety, a UK-based charity, they pull in the data from a Oireachtas website. You might ask the question why not just use the Oireachtas website, well give it a try and you’ll find it very quickly. KildareStreet is built to be easy to use, to make the information accessible, the Oireachtas website was built to achieve the political goal of transparency.

3. Election Literature websites

There are two eleciton literature websites out there, one is run by the same people who run KildareStreet, electionleaflets.mygov.ie
The other seems to be a little more successful irishelectionliterature.wordpress.com
The idea is the same, if you receive a leaflet from a politician, you can scan or photograph the leaflet and send it to either of these sites and they will post it up for everyone to see. It creates a record of the leaflets so that politicians are accountable for everything they’ve said in the past and also allows you to read literature was never put in your door.

4. Dailwatch.ie

Dailwatch allows constituents to put public questions to their elected representatives and then keeps their answers, very handy when it comes to election time. It also keeps a track of all the votes that happen in the Dail and displays how each politician voted on their profile. The idea comes from a German charity called ParliamentWatch.

5. VoteWatch Europe

VoteWatch Europe does exactly as the name suggests, you can view the voting record of each MEP.

 

If you are aware of any other sites that give information on candidates please comment below and I’ll add them to the post.

 

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It’s harder than it should be to make an informed vote

This is the first election I’ve actually spent time researching the individual candidates before voting, there are 17 candidates so as you can imagine it took quite a long time, and even though I spent Friday Evening, most of Saturday and Sunday evening on it, I still made some mistakes which I found out once I sent and email to every candidate informing them that I had written and published the blog.

I don’t have time to do this for the European election unfortunately and that’s a problem a lot of people have we just don’t have the time to research the candidates properly.

That’s not the only problem, often the electorate aren’t actually educated enough on how local, national or European governance works, the candidates often give out very little information on what they plan to do once they have been elected and often this information even when they do send it out can be hard to find.

Which results in our current situation where candidates spend thousands of euro on posters that show their face, name and party affiliation. This shouldn’t be influencing our vote! I should be able to get enough information on my local candidates to make an informed decision within 2 hours and we should really start talking about how we can make that happen.

I’ll finish off with a fantastic video made by a vlogger calling out MEP candidates on being misleading, running on issues that aren’t related to the job they are running for and lacking solid promises

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Potential future councillors of Pembroke South Dock

So if you are looking at this post you are probably wondering the same thing I was, who should I vote for in the upcoming election. We really should have started looking into this earlier, maybe next time. It’s actually a lot of work to research each of these candidates and I really can’t find an easy way of finding out information about them so I’m probably going to prioritise candidates that give out the most information on the internet.

This post reflects my experience of looking for a candidate and my political views, it’s not intended to be an unbiased guide to candidates, I may get some information wrong, I didn’t try especially hard not to, if you find it useful, please take the time to say thank you in the comments. It will make my day :)

Here is a list of all the candidates running in the upcoming election, I took this from elections.org, I reordered their list though so minorities, women and less powerful parties/independents were at the the top, for no particular reason whatsoever! Why is gender important? Because of this: thejournal.ie/local-elections…

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Trans and Proud

 

It can be extremely difficult to be proud of being a transgender person. People have been telling me for a long time that transgender people are freaks, that we are delusional and that we shouldn’t be accepted because it might encourage others to do the same.

When you receive a lot of messages like that you can internalise them and almost believe them about yourself, and even if you don’t believe them, you might believe that the people around you believe them and sometimes, you’re right.

I’ve had people throw things at me, like someone threw a newspaper that was on fire, another person through a leg of a chair, kids have thrown stones. I was at a chipper when someone warned my boyfriend who was talking to someone else from the trans community that he wasn’t actually talking to a woman. There is nothing quite like being outed in public. Friends have been assaulted, chased, refused entry to bars et al. I’m actually doing pretty well relatively speaking, I have a good job for one thing.

Passing becomes the ultimate goal, to be fear from the anxiety of someone being able to tell that you are in fact transgender. You start policing the tone of your voice, your appearance, your attitudes, how much you smile, your gait, the topics of conversation you’ll engage with, how you laugh and so on. Passing reflects the oppression that is happening all the time for trans people and no matter how well you pass, someone might still find out the truth about you, the horrible truth, that you aren’t just another person, you’re different and you’re weird.

I don’t mean weird as in you have a quirky sense of fashion, I mean weird as in your identity is diagnosed by a psychiatrist.

 

It’s not just me either, particularly when it comes to family, transgender people will tolerate a huge amount of rejection before they admit that their family are actually at fault, before they will say that they worth more than the treatment they get. I know that many people find it hard to recognise their own value but what I’ve seen is trans people telling other trans people to be more understanding of family members who have treated them horribly.

And the level of policing of gender that goes on within trans circles and towards trans people can be more than I ever see in cis spaces. We didn’t give up most of our social status to get out of one box only to trap ourselves in another, did we? Surely the process of transition should be about self discovery, not taking the pre planned route.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen amazing acceptance and wonderful support from the trans community too. I just wanted to illustrate how much it gets into your head, how you actually become transphobic yourself because you are surrounded by it - people teach you to hate yourself.

People usually pick up on me being trans by my voice, if not by my appearance, and so I’m usually rather shocked when someone doesn’t pick up on it, maybe delighted is a better word. It’s become a mixed feeling though recently when it happens. I feel happy and then suddenly, I feel sad that I was so happy about my invisibility. The best feeling I had recently was when someone said after I talked about being raised as a male, “but your so pretty”. I don’t think I’ve gotten a better compliment in quite a while, but it nags at me. I want to be proud of who I am.

I recently wore a t-shirt that talked about trans to a roller disco I go to regularly. When I first went to that roller disco I was afraid to talk to anyone because they might read me as trans. I barely said a word, and when I did people wouldn’t be able to hear me making the whole experience excruciating. People would come up to me and ask me if I’d thought about joining roller derby or invite me to come talk to the roller derby girls and I would just be really quiet, try to say as little as possible. When I’d go to the bathroom, I’d rush in so that no one would try to say anything to me, or notice I was there, and rush back out, washing my hands as quickly as humanly possible. Kids were a big worry because they will actually outright ask you if you are a boy or a girl and I don’t know how ignorant people are about transgender people, they might think I’m a paedophile.

But recently I wore a t-shirt that said Trans Education Advocacy. I’m so fucking brave, you have no idea. Two of the people that work there know me by name and I’ll sometimes just go up and talk to them like it ain’t no thing. I’m still terrified, but it’s getting better, cause I want to be proud.

 

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Useless Eaters

I think the new self service machines in Tesco are great, they are quick, I’m not embarrassed about giving them a pile of random change or paying for whatever the random change at the bottom of my bag doesn’t cover with my credit card and I think it’s rather cool that a human doesn’t need to do that anymore, I doubt it’s a fun job.

Where the problem begins is that the human that previously filled this role must now figure out what role they will fill in the future because in our society they have to fill a role. If you don’t fill a role then you lose social and economic standing.

Imagine yourself in that situation for a moment, what if you aren’t needed anymore by society? I mean think about what that must feel like, you are surplus to requirements. All you do is consume resources that you have no hand in producing, you are in effect a useless eater. This is a real thing, there aren’t enough jobs out there for everyone.

It’s not something we can allow in our society, it leads to social problems like increased  addiction and participation in the shadow economy (black market). We must address the issue and provide the same opportunity for others that we would want for ourselves, that means a job where you earn enough to pay rent, food, a little discretionary as well and it means opportunity to advance your skills.

How are we going to do that though as more and more the requirements are met by machines? I don’t know but it’s a problem that we should be talking about.

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We’re biological robots

The brain is where decisions are made, everything that makes up you is contained within it. Alterations to the brain such as damage to cells or changing the amount of chemicals can alter how you make decisions.

This video shows some practical experiments that show that you can alter how someone judges the actions of another.

It’s a somewhat terrifying thought and it’s hard to “get your head around” because we are talking about our own existence, our malleable, temporary existence.

It’s as hard to cope with as the concept of there being no afterlife but it opens up just as many avenues for exploration into how we think about our lives.

For example, it opens up the idea of determinism in humans.

What if you took a brain and controlled all input (all 5 senses, oxygen etc.) and measured all output. Then you made a complete copy of that brain, not something we are capable of doing right now but we may be able to grow one in the future. Down to the cell, path, chemical these brains are the same. Now we change the inputs, we should expect the same output as long as our controls are working.

We could repeat this same experiment with a software replica and it should provide the same results. Meaning human behaviour could become entirely predictable providing we can also accurately predict inputs.

That’s a scary thought, I’m sure someone could make a sci-fi based on that idea where the world is controlled by someone who can predict how we will respond to things.

However there are other implications like how does this directly affect how we see free will? If we are predictable, deterministic creatures then are we responsible for our behaviour. Well just as we aren’t responsible for our environment, we’re not responsible for our brain itself.

However once you try to establish whether we are responsible for our own actions you run into a problem. We are our brains, we are not responsible for that. However the brain having been formed is then from that moment the cause of any decisions it makes, so we are the cause of our decisions. Responsibility only arrives at the point where we establish a society with others.

Society must be able to manage our actions even if we have a poor decision making ability, if it is not good at managing our actions it will fail. However this doesn’t necessitate justice.

Take the example of Michael Stewart whose story you can find here. He was a person with schizophrenia who killed his mother. The society that he is part of had to prevent him from hurting others but there was no benefit to punishing him. 

What about when we look at those who commit crime and are what we’ve decided to be mentally healthy. Well just as when Michael started taking his medication he became less violent the same thing can be applied to a whole community but instead of drugs, we change other factors. Economic inequality, education, population density, climate etc. can all affect crimes rates.

So what does that mean? Well it means that we need to think a lot more about human behaviour and in particular the concept of responsibility. We need to think about how we judge the behaviour of others and what responses are really appropriate for the benefit ourselves and our community.

 

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Open letter to RTE regarding transphobia in “The Center”

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Dear RTE,

As a person who was born and raised in Ireland, I’ve been watching your shows since I was a child. We all had to be really quiet when our parents put on the RTE news, when you told us what was happening in Ireland and internationally. You informed our world view and we really trusted in you. Things have changed a lot since then, I’m no longer a child and I had to go through something really difficult, something I didn’t want and my parents really didn’t want. I had to transition. We didn’t want this because we had been informed, not just by you, but by countless other forms of media that transwomen were ugly freaks. To us, a transwoman was like Frankenstein’s monster, hated by everyone no matter who she was inside.

I was amazed the first time I met other transwomen how wrong that view was, they weren’t freaks and most people didn’t treat them like freaks. Our generation of Irish people are all grown up and they don’t see things the way that you do, at least I assume that you see us that way because that’s the way you represent us in your show.

I want to convey how upsetting it is to see this, especially now that I’ve transitioned, living every day as just another woman.  But it’s really hard. You’d really have to live it to understand. You’d have to go to the female changing room for the first time absolutely terrified that you’d be thrown out but find yourself welcome, or avoid going to the bathroom because you are afraid of being shouted at or beaten up. You’d have to have someone question your gender, throw things at you on the street or have family tell you that you’re wrong about who you know you are.

You won’t ever get it, and I don’t expect you to, but I expected better than this. This is my worst nightmare. This is how I fear people will see and treat me. This is the inside of my panic attack. This is how my parents imagine my life, and why is that? Because of shows like this! You should have known better, and I know you wouldn’t dare make the same crap about LGB people.

Would you at least say sorry? You’ve done transwomen and the Irish people a great disservice, it’s the least that you could do.

Eva Lacy

If you agree with the letter please sign this petition

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Things to do regarding authentication in web apps

Links in emails you send me should log me in

As long as the only security you provide to reset my password is my email address stop sending me emails with links that don’t automatically log me in. Particularly when it comes to “click to unsubscribe” and “verify your email” links. They make me think your application is made by people who hate me.

When I forget my password don’t send me a new one

Instead of sending me a new password, send me a link that is a one time log-in that brings me to a screen that allows me to change my password. If you send me a long password I will forget that I have to change it to something I will remember and next time I visit your site I will have to reset it all over again.

Allow multiple forms of third party authentication

It’s so much faster and easier to click on a button then to type in my password, I’m probably logged in using 3 different services already. Also passwords are one of the worst forms of security, if I log-in with my google account which has two factor authentication set up then it’s a lot safer than using your password system. Plus if you system gets hacked, you haven’t salted my passwords correctly and I’m lazy and use one password for all my accounts then you won’t need to worry about someone breaking into my internet banking.

Hash and Salt all passwords

If your system gets hacked and someone looks at your user table they should not be able to pull out a list of plain text passwords. If they do there is quite a high probability they will try to get access to every email account on the list. You don’t want that to happen, it hurts your reputation. It hurts the users’ trust in you. Don’t just hash it either, hash it and salt it, otherwise someone will use rainbow tables and you are back to square one.

If I want to use a 143 character password full of weird characters LET ME

There is no reason not to. If you are thinking that you have limited space for such a password then you clearly aren’t hashing the password which actually worries me more.

Don’t use secret Question & Answer

I think this post explains it better than I could. If you require more security than just email verification then you need something better than secret Q&A because you are just reacting to a security hole by creating a bigger security hole.

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Creating software copy protection and hacking it

An important part of monetizing your work is creating a situation where people are willing to give you money.

One of the ways, in desktop software, to create that situation is to prevent your software from being used or used fully without giving you (enough) money.

This blog post is going to break down how that works into it’s different parts and then provide you with some sample implementations of copy protection along with their weaknesses.

Here are the some types of restrictions:

  • You do not get the software until you have paid (your website could prevent download of any software till you have paid for the product)
  • You cannot use the software in certain ways you have not paid for (the trial software could limit the use of the product, or you might buy a license for one machine)
  • You have a time limit on how long you can use the software (trial period)
  • Users cannot access the source code

Here are some ways you can tell if the user is a valid user

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What twitter said about SlaneGirl

So I was ignoring the #SlaneGirl controversy until she ended up sedated in hospital.

Then I hit the twitters and started engaging people who were slut shaming #SlaneGirl

What I’d like to show you is what people said on twitter about her.

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