And they laughed at me for being such a big fan of Stargate! Ha! I bet they’re sniggering on the other side of their faces now that scientists have discovered an earth-like planet only 50 million light-years away, orbiting the Sol-like star, Mu Arae.
I suspect this discovery is more significant than the scientists realise. I suspect, in fact, that they have discovered the home-world of our esteemed and beloved Prime Citizen, Bertie Ahern.
Jaysus, dat was some ride.
Why do I think this? Well, it seems to be our nearest Earth-like neighbour, its gravity is such that its inhabitants are likely to be short, thick-boned and squat. Furthermore, to judge by what our Prime Citizen said yesterday, he can’t possibly be from Planet Earth, but must come from a parallel reality just slightly skaw-ways of our own. The Bertieverse.
Did you hear the shit he was talking about the electronic voting machines? I’m sure everybody remembers the e-voting debacle presided over by Bertie’s moronic minister for some-crap-or-other Martin Cullen. No? Oh, really?
Well, it was like this. They bought a big pile of computers from this Dutch company called NEDAP. They were special computers you see, and all you had to do was push buttons to select whoever you wanted to see elected. This was great for Bertie, cos, see, it meant Ireland was all modern, see, not like in the dark old days when we made a mark on an old-fashioned piece of paper with an old-fashioned pencil. Oh, and an old-fashioned pile of votes in a box that you could count again if you thought somebody was attempting electoral fraud, but that would never happen in our modern democracy, would it? Not according to Bertie, anyway.
OK. So here we had these special computers which were really just PCs with no keyboards, and they were programmed with this special Dutch software, but the special Dutch programmers wouldn’t let our people see the special Dutch source code, even though we were paying for it, and our civil servants said No bother, Boss. That’s fine!!
The fucking fools.
What? You call that a voting machine???
So they used it in a couple of elections. Oh, did I mention PR? No? Silly me. Unlike, say, in Britain, we don’t have a first-past-the-post electoral system. No. We have the single transferable vote: proportional representation. Which means that the NEDAP software has to do all sorts of things it isn’t used to, like tranferring surpluses, and lots more besides, and it’s very important to be sure it’s doing it right. But of course, as we couldn’t look at the code, we couldn’t really tell.
Now, people started to object to this. They started to say, well how the fuck do I know my vote was counted at all? Where’s the paper trail? they started to say. And where’s the verification of the software, they asked.
That was when Bertie called us Luddites.
Bertie Ahern: Soldier, Statesman, Poet and now Software Expert, found himself confident in dismissing all the IT professionals who spoke out and questioned the new Dutch voting system. All the people who were concerned to protect our democracy, Bertie found himself able to dismiss as Luddites. Not to mention people like myself, who aren’t IT professionals but aren’t stupid either.
Minister Martin Cullen explains his plans for the system
What do you think happened? There was such a public clamour, the government had to set up a commission of investigation. And what do you think the commission found? Yup. The whole thing is a crock of shit – that’s what it found.
So the special Dutch machines went into storage, where they remain, and so far the whole ridiculous saga has cost €62 million. How about that? But I’m not finished. After the commission reported, a Dutch team used the data it produced to hack the very same machines in Holland, proving that the system was far from secure and could easily be subverted by any unscrupulous person with sufficient access to it.
NEDAP’s chief software engineer arrives from Holland
Now. Fast forward to yesterday, when Bertie told the world that Ireland was the laughing stock of Europe for using paper and pencil to hold elections. He was embarrassed because the French had used e-voting in their presidential elections, and we were still stuck in the distant past.
What Bertie either neglected to say, or didn’t know, was this.
The French used mostly paper and pencil, except for a pilot test on 1.5 million voters.
They used three different suppliers of machines on trial, including NEDAP.
They weren’t operating a proportional representation system like ours, but a straight first-past-the-post system.
There’s great concern in France about electronic voting due to the same worries as we have here in Ireland.
I dunno. Push a button, see what happens!
Now. Did Bertie acknowledge any of this? No.
When asked by the Opposition politicians about the waste of money on a useless system, did he hold his hands up and say Sorry, lads. We made a shit of it?
Well then, did he blame his idiot minister, Cullen the fool, for wasting €62 million of taxpayers’ money?
Eh, that would be a No.
Who do you think Bertie blamed for wasting all that money?
That’s right. In spite of the fact that an independent government-appointed commission reported that it’s a big pile of crap, he blamed the Opposition politicians for objecting to the system. He didn’t blame the people who bought it without knowing what the hell they were doing. Oh no. By speaking out against a flawed, anti-democratic system that was riddled with weaknesses and open to electoral fraud, the Opposition were somehow responsible for wasting all that money. They were supposed to let Bertie implement this big pile of wombat-droppings so he could strut around in front of his urbane European colleagues and feel a little less like the thick lumpenprole he is. And the rest of us were supposed to lie down and shut the fuck up. Bertie knew best.
Were the cretin Cullen or his civil servants responsible at all? Ah God no.
This my friends, is a terminal case of hubris. This is a man who has forgotten that he is only a man and not the Sun King. Now, unfortunately, we have as an Opposition a crowd of complete muppets, so I don’t know what to advise you. I suggest you vote everybody out.
Eh, let’s see. Just hit B for Bertie, right?
This ludicrous outburst by the Prime Citizen reminds me of something else. Did you know that you can walk into a bookie’s office now and you can watch a computer-generated horse race, with little cartoon horses and jockeys running around a make-believe track, all coming out of a computer chip? I swear to you, it’s true. Maybe that’s how Bertie would like to see our elections.
Our new President: Vlad the Impaler.
This is the planet Bertie inhabits.
This is Bertual Reality.