I retain that each time voting comes around my biggest challenge is having to decide who I distrust the least instead of the other way around. This has never been more true than it is now.
Brexit looms large over politics at the moment and it has left me with further contempt for our political system. That said, I still believe that voting is a civic duty which I should perform every time, for every time I chose not to vote, others will and I would rather make an active choice than idly watch other choose for me. Unfortunately this still leaves me having to make a choice and my current trust level is giving me a real headache here.
Theresa May has called a snap election having already triggered Article 50. So one way or another we will leave the EU. So far despite campaigning for Remain she seems to be steering a very hard right course in my view.That is simply not something I can vote for. I am and will continue to be an advocate for the EU and I would rather see the closest possible ties with the EU. This hard right turn is not something I can in any way support.
OK, so that’s easy right, I just don’t vote for her… well, maybe. You see, there is a strong possibility that she is being forced into a hard right thanks to her slender majority in the Commons. Her opposition is coming in the form of the Lib Dems, the SNP and a rudderless Labour not to mention her own MP’s who were Remain focused. With all this opposition her majority starts to look wafer thin. It is highly plausible that she has little choice but to appeal to the right of the party if she wants to get anything done.
It could well be that she has called this snap election at a time when opinion polls show her well in the lead. She could come away with a strong majority leaving her less at the behest of her hard right party members and she could steer a more centre ground course.
A more centre ground thing in my opinion would be a good thing. After all, when we had our referendum it’s not like the vote leave campaign won 90% of the vote, but that is what it feels like with the hard Brexit we are being offered. It might be that the hard Brexit deal on the table at the second is all negotiating fluff and bluster, but who can tell. The reality of the situation is we need the have the most amicable deal we can with Europe. Playing hard-ball with them only stands to damage us more than them.
The other by-product of a crushing Labour defeat would be to leave Jeremy Corbyn with no choice but to stand down. His political gamble would be shown to not be paying off and that would leave his position more obviously untenable than it is now. With him out of the picture the Labour party could make a break for the centre ground again and hopefully regain some seats next time around. Or if not seats, at least some of the requisite credibility that half decent opposition needs to actually oppose anything.
Of course, if my gamble on what Theresa May actually wants to do with a large majority is wrong then the last thing I want to do is vote for her. Anyone who isn’t basically a UKip voter should want to push back hard against the self flagellation version of Brexit she seems to be offering at the moment. If she really did want this mess then I would encourage the centre and left grounds in our political landscape to join forces and block her from getting anything like a mandate for this mess.
That said, unless there is a anything but a miracle we would just end up with Theresa May as PM with the self same slender majority she has now and again, a hard Brexit. If that left/centre miracle does happen however we will be left with Corbyn as PM. A man so authoritative his own party won’t follow him. And rightly so, his views on Europe seem to be about as laissez faire as they come.
So for me all of this boils down to what I think Theresa May really wants to do with her time in office. Do I think she wants to move away from the hard right views she is currently steering towards? Her views pre Brexit suggest she isn’t 100% behind her own party line at the moment. Do I think she will do a better job than most around her and dealing with this mess and actually she deep down is fighting for the strongest union that I would like to see? Or do I think this really is what she has settled on, WTO rules and a no compromise deal with us out at all costs?
As things stand the only option I have is to vote and take a chance. Who knows which chance I will end up taking though.
The thoughts and opinions of this man (Rory Sutherland) should never be ignored. He has some very interesting good ideas which need to gain more traction in the government today.
The following should be his latest TED talk embedded, I advise you to watch it. If you have not seen him before I also advise you to take a look at this video: www.ted.com/talks/rory_sutherland_life_lessons_from_an_ad_man.html
In recent weeks the news has been awash with yet more “statistics” and articles regarding movie piracy, particularly this rather disturbing bit of research that claims that the UK industry could be loosing £120billion per year (films software and music mainly).
How flawed this “statistic” is boggles the mind. They are assuming that every file that is downloaded would have been bought in full every time. This method of analysing the costs of piracy was shown to be more than just a joke, it is a fabrication leading people to the wrong conclusions.
Before I get to the movie industry I want to take you back to the music industry. The internet has come on a long way since the late 80’s early 90’s. For one thing is has got faster every year and it is this speed boost that gave the movie industry the head start it needed. You see, in the days of the slower internet movie piracy was never an option, it could take you weeks and cost considerably more than the price of the film to download it. However music files are much smaller in and were much more in the grasp of the ordinary person. With the onset of the MP3 player people started looking for ways to get more digital content. With an absence of anything official, illegal alternatives such as Napster (now re-opened and legal) popped up. People shared their content there for some time before the music industry got wind of it and had it shut down. But by then the damage was done, people realised the best way to get digital content (in this case music) was to download it.
It took the iTunes store to ever make a dent in that method. Where the iTunes store succeeded was it made music easy to find, readily available, granular and most importantly, sensibility priced. It was a hit and didn’t take long to be a major driving force in the music industry. There was however still one problem, Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM allows manufactures to lock content to only be able to do certain things. It can only be played on specific players, on specific machines by a specific number of people. People were also used to being able to download illegal copies without DRM or for more money go get the CD and make DRM free versions of the files. Recently the music industry finally “got this” and started making DRM free tracks available. The online music industry is moving on in leaps and bounds now, OK, there is a lot of catching up to do and some more tweaks to the system are still required, but it works and gives people a viable alternative to piracy.
Now with this firm and clear example ahead of it you would have thought the movie industry would have been more than prepared for the digital revolution to hit its market. Apparently that is expecting a little too much of them…
If you think back some time ago we had the VCR and the cassette that went with it. This had no concept of DRM on it whatsoever, it was a simple device that went from one side to the other. Yes, they put advertisements and notices at the start of the tape back then, but at the very least you could fast forward through them.
With the arrival of the DVD the industry took advantage and ended up not only getting, but abusing the ability to force people to go through content that could not be skipped or fast forwarded. To add insult to injury this content is mainly a lot of anti piracy stuff being targeted at the people who didn’t pirate the film. Not only do they force you to watch adverts etc, they are also big fans of DRM, using it to lock content onto the disk so it can’t be copied easily, locking which screens you can view it on (ever heard of HDCP?) as well as even locking some of the sound out on certain devices.
Now in our ever connected world these restrictions simply cause people further frustration and aggravation. What happens when I have a film on DVD and I want to watch it on some small device I can take on the train like the Archos? The simple answer is it is almost impossible. What happens if I would rather download my films and not have to go to the shop and buy them on disk. What happened to the iTunes concept for the movie industry? Well, the simple answer is they never made it. So, what would I do if I wanted to solve all these issues? In fact the answer is fairly simple, your pirate it. This gives you the content you want DRM with a method of delivery that works for most people instead of paying through the nose for content which doesn’t do what most people want. fact, only the other day did a study come out showing that DRM actually encourages piracy.
So, what is the final step in this picture? Well, in the last year or so content providers are starting to get this, they have realised the way in which films have taken off online and are finally starting to push back with solutions not laws. They are starting to see that the internet could be a very powerful delivery tool, but in my opinion they still missed the boat. They were too busy stopping people pirate they forgot why people did it, they did it because industry never provided the content people wanted in the way they wanted it, they ignored all the evidence and now they are quite literally paying the price for it. These should have been the companies leading the digital revolution, not trying to slow it down.
Yes, there has been change in the right direction, but if this comment by Sony pictures CEO Michael Lynton is anything to go by, they have a long way to go.
Pick a random item you would find in the home, workplace, local shops etc.
Decide if there is anyway you can do any damage to yourself or others with it. (clue, plastic bags are killers, as are stuffed toys, pens, kettles… you get the idea)
Tell everyone you can think of the danger
Then complain loudly when our rights and privileges are removed by the government on a daily basis.
Repeat and continue until bored.
Congratulations, you are a writer for The Sun newspaper. (This isn’t a good thing!)
“It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re stupid than to open it and remove all doubt” – Mark Twain
As if you needed any more convincing that the people at PETA were crazy, their president Ingred Newkirk has decided to post her will. You can find it here: http://www.peta.org/feat/newkirk/will.html
Just a couple of highlights:
“That the ‘meat’ of my body, or a portion thereof, be used for a human barbecue, to remind the world that the meat of a corpse is all flesh, regardless of whether it comes from a human being or another animal, and that flesh foods are not needed”
“That my skin, or a portion thereof, be removed and made into leather products, such as purses”
“That one of my eyes be removed, mounted, and delivered to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a reminder that PETA will continue to be watching the agency until it stops poisoning and torturing animals in useless and cruel experiments”
“That one of my thumbs be mounted in a downward position and sent to the person or institution that, in the year of my death or thereabouts, has gone against the changing tide of societal opinion and frightened and hurt animals in some egregious manner”
“That one of my ears be removed, mounted, and sent to the Canadian Parliament to assist them in hearing”
Personally I think all members of PETA should submit themselves for animal testing, because unless they have some advanced computer model they have been hiding from the rest of us, this is the only way to develop the drugs they themselves use every day. More to the point, lets see how willing they are to avoid animal tested drugs when their lives depends on them.
I am all for not being cruel to animals etc, however I also ask for a little sanity to be involved as to the wider issues of what they ask. Until that happens PETA will continue to be nothing more than a joke. Sea kittens anyone?
OK, the last few days events have been, well interesting.
On Tuesday I received an e-mail sent from my website via my contact form. The e-mail claimed to be from someone at the law firm Hewitsons asking for a response regarding a letter and e-mail sent to me on the 10th of December regarding me infringing copyright on something called the “Belbin SPI“.
First reaction: “What the hell?”.
So, I typed back an e-mail saying I had received no such e-mail and could they please re-send.
Wednesday morning I got a reply containing a PDF of the original that was apparently sent. Unsurprisingly it had been sent to the wrong place. I have always made sure you can’t trace my address, phone number etc from my site. In fact, you can’t really even get my e-mail. That said, I do have a contact form which by the very fact I replied to him, I do monitor.
The letter detailed a URL to a copy of the Belbin test I had on my blog. That link in fact comes from this blog entry made back in 2005. I wrote this having just done the Belbin test in college, and thinking it was quite interesting I took the document we were given at college and put it online for others to try out. The document I posted had no copyright notice on the bottom. Call me a little naive but I didn’t see an issue with this.
In the letter they firstly accused me of “passing off” my document as my own work and not their clients. The first thing I did was go back and re-read my entry. Although that entry is now different, the first 4 lines are the same. I explain in the entry who it was by and what the name of the book it was first published in. In my mind I don’t think that really counts as passing off.
Then they gave me a list of things they wanted done:
We are instructed to demand that we receive by close of business on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 the following:
1. a written undertaking that you will not hereafter whether by yourself, your servants, agents or any of them or otherwise howsoever
(a) supply or offer to supply services, not being services of our client, under, by reference to, or including the name BELBIN (or colourable imitations thereof)
(b) infringe our client’s copyright in the Belbin SPI
(c) cause, enable or assist others to do any of the aforesaid acts
2. the delivery up to this firm of all material (including without limitation, promotional or other business literature and hand-outs) in your power, possession, custody or control, the supply of services using which, would be a breach of undertakings in numbered paragraph 1 above
3. the names and addresses of all persons, firms and companies to whom the you have supplied services relating to BELBIN Team Roles using the Infringing SPI and/or the Belbin SPI
4. an accurate written statement setting out in reasonable detail the dates and numbers of SPIs provided by you or downloaded from your blog together with details of any remuneration received by you for providing these
After I spent some time pouring over that wonderful legal babble trying to decipher it into English I came up with the following: Remove the document.
You see, I can’t do much more than that of their list. This is the internet, I don’t know anything about the people who may have downloaded it. As an individual I am not required by law to keep access logs of my server and I can’t possibly have names and addresses. In fact, the only real thing I can do is work out how many times it has been downloaded and even that proved hard, I don’t have logs past 2006 and a lot of the early logs are incomplete or for the wrong site etc… (the web is a complicated place and I have moved the document around as I have changed sites).
The other reason I couldn’t do much more was because I had never supplied the document to anyone bar putting it online, nor had I ever had any money for this.
So, I removed the document (plus the other couple like it that they never mentioned, better safe than sorry). I then replied saying I had done all I could and would like confirmation that the issue was closed. I waited until yesterday lunchtime for a reply. I then phoned only to get through to voicemail. I called a couple more times before e-mailing again. This time I got an auto response saying he was out off the office that day.
This morning I finally received an e-mail saying that they were going to drop the issue and not pursue it further. They thanked me for helping and removing the document.
It has to be said, I am glad that is over, I never would have thought something posted almost 4 years ago would cause me so much trouble.
As a side note, I was rather unimpressed with the bullish wrong attitude taken by the Belbin company and their law firm. Had they simply used the contact form on the bottom of every page of my site instead of trying their hand at investigating my e-mail address and postal address they would have got in contact with me first time. I am also not impressed at such impossible demands made and the accusation that I was passing off the test as my own. They could well have been sending their message to someone without the technical knowledge to call them on the impossibility of most of what they asked. They would have been complete fools to go after me for this, things like this have been tested in court over and over and they simply wouldn’t have got anywhere. That said, they did give me a scare.
Are you running a Mac?
If so and you haven’t seen this trick before, bear with me.
Go to your applications folder, then the utilities folder. In there you will find an application called terminal. Open it up.
Then type “say hello world” without the quotes. If the sound is on your computer will speak whatever you put after the word “say”.
I know this is old hat to most people I know, but then again, if you are the average Mac user this will be like gold dust to you.
I think the next time someone asks me to fix their Mac I am going to script it to say “the matrix has you” at random intervals…
Oh the possibilities…
WARNING: Some links on this page may offend some (probably won’t, but may)
Censorship is a big thing on the web these days. We have always seen the Internet as freedom of information. You connect up to the tube and then you have all the information (good or bad) within your grasp. When the likes of China and Australia to name but a few start to mess with this model we all get slightly edgy. For a time Net neutrality was the chief threat to the freedoms of the web, but thanks to a recent political change in the US this is unlikely to come into play in the near future.
With all this in mind when Censorship starts to come home and starts to involve that cornerstone of Internet free speech Wikipedia we all start to get more than a little edge. This is clear by the number of articles I have read on this so far.
So, to the problem. If you visit the following link you should find it is blank:
This is because it has been classed by IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) as child pornography. It is a picture of a mostly naked prepubescent girl. Now traditionally this would be fine, censoring child porn by anyone’s standards should be fine. But in this case the album cover, although banned in many countries, was never banned over here. It has caused outrage a few times, but nothing significant. Yet suddenly our wise and mighty Internet filters have deemed it to be too much for us now, despite it being around and never banned for a number of years.
What makes this whole mess even more strange/farcical is that they failed with their censorship.
The following link is the secure version of the page on Wikipedia:
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Virgin_Killer (this one will almost certainly work for you)
This whole mess has made it into the public eye, for example, the BBC has this page on it:
Note on the right there is a related link to the Scorpions homepage. If you click on that (here) you will note on the left a discography, which in turn also has the banned image on it.
So what the IWF has shown is you can not censor the web and in by trying to censor information that has been in public domain for years, all you actually do is drag it up and draw more attention to it. People got over this in the past enough for most countries not to act, why do we suddenly need protecting?
I suggest you read this article from the times:
It is about how as a society we are becoming all too cautious, how we are scared to touch people, children in particular for fear of being seen as trying to abduct them or being classed as a child molester or something else not only perverse but also wrong. It is about how children are kept indoors for fear about what might happen to them outside.
I used to help in the Beaver Scout which is boys from 6-8 years old. I helped there for years and constantly came up against this fear. For example, you would never put yourself in a situation where you were alone with a child or even a group of children. we couldn’t hug them or comfort them (yes, little boys do cry), hell, even some of them games were made too complicated. For example, we had one game called tails where they had a sock sticking out the back of their trousers like a tail, then “catchers” had to run round and grab all the tails they could. This if fine, but what happens when a child can’t get their tail in correctly, do we just stand there and list instructions? In fact we used to get one of the female leaders to deal with it. They understood why we got them to do that, but still, we shouldn’t even have to think about such things.
I can think of many times in the past where I have been in town or a public place, seen a child seemingly on their own and not gone over to help. instead I have looked around to see if I can identify the parents. Even waited until they do turn up so as not to go over to the child. I fear that if I did just as that parent turned up I would be shouted at, branded etc just for trying to provide honest help. After all, how are they to know my intentions.
Of course this isn’t just our fault, this is fuelled by government. This about how much use the CRB is for example. All it says is that at that time I haven’t been caught doing anything wrong to children that could have me prosecuted. How many people does CRB actually stop I wonder. We are talking about convicted child molesters etc who then seek work with children etc. I am guessing not many. And even if it didn’t stop them, I have just said that you never get left in a room alone with children anyway. In short, the CRB is a worthless bit of paper that does nothing more than make us feel a little safer from something that doesn’t exist.
I feel for the children growing up in this mess. I would give them a hug and say it will all be OK, but I can’t…
I’ve just been watching the speech by Barack Obama as he officially accepted the candidacy for the democratic party in the US.
The American presidential election is something that is very important for not just America, but the world as a whole. Based simply on the fact that Barack Obama wasn’t George Bush I would have been more than happy to see him go into power. Having seen that speech and combined that with everything else I have seen him say, I want him to be president for his policies, his attitude and his down to earth commitment for change.
America, please don’t screw up this time, this is the chance the rest of the world wants you to take.