Junkie News

Yay! I’ve measured and recorded my blood results each day as normal. The values have been pretty unspectacular, 9s and 10s mostly. However every reading gets entered on a spreadsheet – there are now something like 1100 of them – and I wrote a macro to keep a rolling average. It calculates the value over the previous 50 days. So, my average today would have included whatever was calculated 50 days ago but not Day #51, my average yesterday would have included Day #51, but not Day #52, and so on.

Because these few days of results were unspectacular, I was surprised to learn that my average for most of the last week has been sub-9 (mmol/l. That’s about 160mg/dl). That’s pretty much lower than it has ever been since I started measuring.

‘Course, all you non-diabetics can scoff, your sugar will still be half of mine! And, I didn’t see those numbers this week, but my current insulin dose will take me down into the fives, and will quite easily take me into hypoland if I eat a late meal.

On positive discrimination

It’s funny – one of the artists I follow on Facebook is Tracy Chapman. You might have heard of her -she particularly had a string of hits from the late 1980s. She is American but obviously the music travelled across the Atlantic.

I guess those early hits must have set her up for life, and I noticed a while ago that she was doing philanthropic stuff like organising concerts, where unknown wannabe musicians could perform. I thought that this was a nice idea, except she restricted the performing musicians to women. Tough luck if you were a wannabe-famous male politician, I thought, and said as much.

I was quite quickly reminded that women needed all the help they could get, and that the recording industry is very top-heavy in terms of its white, male executives. That might all be true, but how does positive discrimination  help the struggling male musician?

Funnily enough I saw this same effect once in a left-wing organisation, an event which brough out something which I thought was far more sinister. This group happened to mention that they applied some rules to election results, meaning that elected officials were split 50:50, men and women. Ironically, in this organisation, it was not at all uncommon for more women to be elected “naturlly” than men, so the rule had the effect of bolstering the numbers of male electees. I made a comment, more in mischief in order to gauge reaction, and was really quite surprised at the hatefulness of the reactions. The lesson I took from that experience was that dissent is not allowed (and that is the sinister aspect, forget your broad church!).  The irony there is that there is an argument for positive discrimination, an example being to enforce quotas of men and women, provided such measures are seen as temporary, until an equilibrium is reached. But nobody actually put this argment to me, something else which I found disturbing. It was kind-of, people knew that positive discrimination was good, but did not know why, or rather when, it should be applied. So I had nothing further to do with the group, which was a shame because, on probably 70% of the group’s policies, I was sympathetic, but they lost my support over their intolerance towards dissent.

It strikes me that if quotas are a problem, then yes, positive discrimination is a sticking plaster fix, but it doesn’t really address the underlying causes. I think we, at the very least, need to devote a big chunk of our efforts to solving these.

Next PM

This Tory leadership contest. I mean, I am reluctant to say anything since I’ve never even been a supporter of the Tory party, let alone a member. But isn’t it a good idea that its MPs get to express their preference, but that the entire membership gets the final say? The members can cast their vote, taking parliamentary preferences into account, but finally choosing somebody with broader appeal than just the Westminster bubble.

My only criticism of the process, really, is that their MPs whittle it down to a final two candidates before this members’ vote happens. Surely, if they just whittled the list down to a half dozen, say, then the MPs could still be able to express a preference, as they did yesterday, but the membership would have a wider choice in selecting the leader?

If you have many candidates, as there were yesterday, then you could use the MPs vote, just to whittle the list down into a “top six”, say. So, we’d know from a process such as yesterday’s, that Boris Johnson is by quite a distance the favourite amongst MPs, say. That seems totally fair enough. If you have fewer than six candidates, then every candidate could be put forward to the members, but you could still have an initial MPs ballot, just to sort out their preferences. The only time this system falls down is if there is only one candidate, but in that scenario, the one candidate would automatically be the winner, whatever system you use.

My half-dozen number here is pretty arbitrary. I’d see a number large enough to give a decent choice, but small enough that filling out the ballot paper does not become overwhelming. In parliamentary elections, it’s not unheard of to have a dozen or so candidates, so I’m sure six would be bearable.

I mean, if you wanted even more from your process, you could get people to express an order of preference, pick your top three candidates, say, although it’d be difficult for the Tories to use such a system internally, while at the same time resisting any proportionality in terms of parliamentary elections. But it boils down to a simple choice : would you sooner have a leader who, say, received 50.1% of people’s first choice, but 0% of their other choices, or would you sooner have someone with 49.9% of people’s first choices, but with >50% of people’s second choices. It seems to me that the latter person, more people would describe them as “acceptable”.

But, as I say, this is all centred around a party which I find unacceptable anyway, so not something I am prepared to get too animated about. These people, from the outset, have a different idea of representation to mine.