Monday, January 30, 2006

Links 30/01/2006

Sunday, January 22, 2006

List of "Web 2.0" applications

There are lots of innovative things being done with web applications. While the term "Web 2.0" sounds like a throwback to the old .com bubble, it is still interesting to see what's out there.
[via Digg]

Riots, racism and minorities II

While surfing the net I came across a story about an incident at a pool in Melbourne where lifeguards were beaten by members of a minority group. I previously blogged about the reactions of bloggers to the riots in Sydney which were triggered under similar circumstances, so I decided to see what bloggers were saying about this latest riot. I was, once again, not disappointed.

Once again, also, Australia provides an interesting contrast to South Africa, where there is very little racist scapegoating of the white minority when some members of that community are accused of a far worse crime:

"Three female employees of a dry-cleaning operation were put one by one and still alive into a large washing machine containing chemicals before being tied up and strangled, the Vereeniging Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday."

It is wrong to use the behavior of members of a group as an excuse to attack that entire group, and, once again, I think that South African whites are fortunate that attitudes towards minorities here are far more tolerant than they appear to be in parts of the First World.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gay group tries to contaminate blood supply

I think that homosexuality is a private matter, and, that gays should be allowed to have their "alternative lifestyle" without interference from outsiders.

However, I find the behavior of the "Gay and Lesbian Alliance" (GLA) to be disgusting. Assuming that the group actually exists - some gay groups are trying to spin it as a one man show- its members should be held accountable for their irresponsible actions:
"We want to force a complete shutdown of the system because if gay blood is not allowed, then it should be shut down," said Baxter"

It's bad enough for a high risk group to donate blood, but it is criminal for that group to deliberately get HIV+ men to donate blood:
"GLA's David Baxter said on Monday that it was extending its campaign to defy the SANBS rules and was calling on HIV positive gay men to lie about their health and also donate blood"

If anyone gets infected as a result of this ridiculous campaign, I hope that the bastards who infected him/her get charged with attempted murder.

See also.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Right lane hogs

Commuting to work on a busy highway, I have found that obeying the rules of the road and staying in the left lane, unless overtaking, results in a smoother, more comfortable, and safer drive than driving in the right-lane. I also doubt that I am significantly slowed down by driving in the left lane during peak hours.

I hate drivers who, for no reason, decide to hog the right lane and disrupt the smooth flow of traffic. Unless I am mistaken, there is no penalty for hogging the fast lane. Perhaps the authorities should introduce fines for right-lane hogs.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Matric standards

The matric pass rate in South Africa was 68.3 % in 2005. The minister of education said
"...that in 1994, the year the 2005 matriculants began grade one, 495 408 full-time candidates wrote the senior certificate exam and 287 343 passed. Eleven years later, 508 363 full-time candidates wrote the senior certificate and 347 184 passed."
Unless I am mistaken, that means that the matric pass rate went from 58% to 68% in that period. In 2004 the matric pass rate was 70.7 %.

While I am willing to accept that the matric pass rate has improved because of underlying improvements to the education system, I do have to wonder if standards have dropped over the years as well. That, along with the allegations of upward mark adjustments in 2005, make the matric certificate seem even less valuable than it was in the past.

We need to guard against debasing an already somewhat valueless (to most school-leavers) qualification like a matric certificate just for the sake of improving pass rates.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Is the ANC going to remove useless scum from Local Government?

The ANC leadership is apparently planning to do something about the poor quality of local government politicians, something which I complained about previously. [via]

I have an excellent test case in my own area, and it will be interesting to see if he gets nominated, given the new policy.