E-democracy conference, Strasbourg

Earlier this week I attended a Council of Europe conference on participation and electronic democracy. It was a very interesting event, attended by people from most Western European countries (no Central or Eastern Europe, although Estonia was mentioned as an example of good practice at the national level). The EU, EP and OECD were also represented, all of whom had their own worthy statement of ambitions, and occasionally promises of money.

Thoughts from the conference, in no particular order, after the jump.

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I’ve just been seeing what search terms led people to this blog (“Spinach Poisoning” is always popular, I should make that post more interesting).

Two close together, one from the Netherlands and one from the UK, showed a new and disturbing trend (of two). The second was comparatively reasonable: “Stephanie Flanders married children”. The first, however, was “Stephanie Flanders nude” for which, following research, I see I am the second Google listing.

Sorry to disappoint, guys, but they don’t really do that sort of thing on Newsnight…

Travel notes: Strasbourg

To Strasbourg for the first time, for a conference at the Council of Europe on democracy and participation (more on which in a separate post).

My trip did not begin well, with a late change of plan at the Brighton end requiring a last-minute change of travel arrangements and an overnight in the Mercure Gare de l’Est Château Landon before catching the 0644 train to Strasbourg. The Mercure hotel was pleasant enough in terms of fittings, but the room was SO HOT I could barely catch a minute’s sleep, and with only six hours from arrival to departure, I got on the train the next morning feeling very much in need of a café noir and a croissant. In another blow, the train was a Corail express to Munich, and the cafe was run by DB, whose coffee was poor and whose croissants were non-existent.

Finally, when I arrived at Strasbourg, twenty minutes late, I ended up going to the wrong place – to the European Parliament building rather than the Palais de l’Europe where the Council is based. They are only across the canal from each other, but without the magical blue badge of a guest at the Parliament, you have to make a 500m detour along the towpath to cross the water. Add to that the contradictory directions given by well-meaning people in the Parliament building (who assumed I had a pass), and you get an hour wandering around in the hot sun with a heavy suitcase and an increasingly tetchy frame of mind.

Happier tales after the jump.

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To see ourselves as others see us

In France for a conference, and reading the paper on the way, I see le Figaro has a special feature on English football in its sports section. The general tone is summed up by the headline “L’Europe du football aux pieds de l’Angleterre”, and the three-page feature has profiles of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in advance of the Champions League semi-finals.

Extracts after the jump.

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Former Exeter board were indeed useless criminal bastards

Apologies for a parochial post, but the following can’t go unremarked. The former board of Exeter City Football Club (of which I am an owner, kind of) have pleaded guilty to fraud that left the club on the brink of extinction. They are also the people who brought Michael Jackson and Uri Geller to the club, but regrettably it is not a criminal offence to make a football club a laughing stock. If it were, more than a few managers might be behind bars.