Tag Archives: NHS

The new Monopoly game

Do you remember playing monopoly? Did you ever play it? I grew up loving it. I am not some realtor, some real estate dreamer beyond the dream of having my own place. Most of us are like that. Just the time when I was young and the family played that game, or plying it with a couple of friends. I ended up having several versions, including the replica original with coins, in a wooden box, just a cool thing to have. So when we consider this game, as the prices of the streets were shown in those days; we knew that blue was the highest an always out of our reach. I lived in a green property for some time, so life felt good, yet today, Yellow, Red, Orange, Purple and light blue are no longer in my view of affordability, in the best case, I might be able to get one of the brown coloured properties. This is how the market changed in a mere 22 years. From an optional 80% of the map to a mere 2 out of 16, that is all that was left to me. So when I read ‘Total UK wealth tops £10tn thanks to City and property boom‘ by Larry Elliott (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/aug/08/total-uk-wealth-city-property-homes-inequality-saving), I just had to laugh. I understand that he might be trying to have a sense of humour about it. Yet when we see “A booming City and rising house prices provided a double boost to Britons holding assets in 2016 as they pushed the nation’s wealth through the £10tn mark, according to a new survey“, the question becomes: ‘How much of that is NOT owned by foreign investors?‘ Is that a weird question or what? Even as we see “Since the better off held a greater proportion of these assets, 40% of the gains of rising share and bond prices went to the richest 5% of households“, is ‘households’ correct or should it read clients represented by British law and accountancy firms, representing foreign interests in the UK? With “The £3.9tn increase in the value of residential property and financial assets owned by UK residents represented a 59% rise, whereas prices rose by 39% and gross household income was up 37%“, we see again the ‘UK resident‘ part and when we take a look at the government (at http://www.ukimmigration.com/investor/uk_investor_visa.htm), we see that basically any person investing in any property (as the London bulk is well over £1 million, the threshold for foreign investors is reached), which beckons the call, when we start digging into UK residents versus UK citizens, how will this all end? Lloyds shows even more sense of humour with “Lloyds said its figure excluded non-residential property and assets held by charities and other non-profit institutions“, which clearly includes all the foreign investors and they are always in it for the profit. It is the final part that gives the new consideration “However, a continued low mortgage rate environment, combined with an ongoing shortage of properties for sale, should help continue to support house prices over the coming months“. This now gives the premise, have the current and previous governments been guilty of betraying the British people by setting the stage of ‘ongoing shortage of properties for sale‘, in this we see the historic part that former Prime minister Margaret Thatcher was the last of the prime ministers giving a rising and clear need for social housing. We see this in the 2015 article from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-14380936) where the amount of social housing went up in the beginning of her ‘reign’ to the highest ever recorded surpassing 150,000 right-to-buy, it took a small dive and in 1987 it got back to around 140,000, after she was succeeded in 1990, social housing took a steep dive to below 50,000 and from there it just went down and down. At the end of the labour reign in 2010 it was at the lowest stage ever, only now is there a small increase visible in that graph. Yet in the BBC article we also see a problem, even as it compares to 1918 where owner occupied is a mere 23%, the 2012-2013 part where 65% is owner occupied is as I call it ‘misrepresented‘ at 65%, because how much of that is empty and what part is foreign invested? You see, plenty of places in London are not offered for rent, but for lease, so who is the owner in that case and where does this fit in that graph? If we add the privately rented, we see that socially rented is a mere 16% (way higher than 1918), yet as we see the Thatcher numbers, who got the people there and how were the people kept out of affordable housing by not making that available. In Australia it might be as bad as the valid people in NSW housing are on the lists for a time in excess of 6 years. So how is that a solution to solving housing issues? And let’s not forget, when the housing is set and forced to become a larger contributor to social (read affordable) housing, what then remains of this ‘£10tn UK wealth‘ housing side? The fact that both sides of the political isle have been in denial and remiss to get any of that solved and Jeremy Corbyn claims to have a solution by pushing the UK in even deeper debt, deeper by the better part of a trillion pounds. So how does that help anyone?

Now, we might accept and understand that life in London is never affordable ever again, yet the political isles must equally accept that this change could constitute an infrastructure collapse. This gets us to some old news. In August 2014 we saw (at https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/aug/07/london-gets-24-times-as-much-infrastructure-north-east-england) the mention ‘London gets 24 times as much spent on infrastructure per resident than north-east England‘ which is a nice title, yet the dangers are shown soon thereafter. With “more than half of that total was down to the decommissioning of the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria – necessary, doubtless, but hardly an infrastructure ‘improvement’ as most people would understand it” we see only part of the danger. The quote “New analysis of public infrastructure spending by IPPR North lays bare the gap between how much capital expenditure there is in the capital than the rest of England” shows another part, yet the actual issue is not what is spent, but what is required to get something done. When we paraphrase it into “analysis of public infrastructure spending by IPPR North lays bare the gap between how much is required for the same amount of work in London compared to the rest of England” we see the dangers, when the infrastructure maintenance is 2400% of the rest of the UK, there is a danger, yet is it the correct one? In February this year, we see a partial repetition of the old Guardian article, yet with updated numbers it shows (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/20/more-than-half-uk-investment-in-transport-is-in-london-says-study) that London requires 50% of all the funds. In all this we are not given any reliable numbers, because in all this I do not see the comparison of £ per mile of rail serviced. Consider that London has 20 times the amounts of rail that most places have and he London rail when stretched can get a person from Waterloo station to Glasgow five times over (OK, slight exaggeration). Yet the message should be clear. As the infrastructure has less options with in addition less people being anywhere near it, the city of London is facing all levels of collapse. Another part was shown on July 17th in the Independent. The title ‘More than half a million social homes in England do not meet basic health and safety standards‘ is the first indication that social housing and infrastructure are beyond collapsing. With quotes like ‘almost one in seven of all social homes in England‘ are below standards, we see a dangerous escalation. So in this we see a mention of 224,000 houses where the most dangerous safety hazards (category one) is seen. It includes “exposed wiring, overloaded electricity sockets, dangerous boilers, leaking roofs, vermin infestations or inadequate security“, yes, the right and proper place to get your partner pregnant and start a family, would you not agree?

Even as we now see that the Grenfell disaster is a first step in looking into cladding, they all seem to forget that the cladding was done to appease the houses around Grenfell, in addition, the other failures and dangers are basically the non-cladding issues, so the mess is a lot bigger. when we consider the quote “Local authorities have a legal duty to act if a category one hazard is discovered, but hundreds of thousands are going unreported or ignored” we see a much clearer situation where government and city council members could be held accountable towards the transgression of ‘reckless endangerment‘ of lives, so in all this, what is the CPS doing? Has the Crown Prosecution Services made any start on taking a look at this, because these 244,000 houses would in theory represent 300,000 people working to some degree for the London Infrastructure, being it the underground, busses or other civil offices, if even 10% falls away, what happens then? How much pressure, increased costs and non-functional infrastructure remains for London at that point? It seems that the City of London has no way of dealing with such dangerous terms. As I see it, Lord Mayor Sadiq Khan has his work cut out for him. We should all agree that he did not cause this, but he can equally agree that it is on his plate at present and his success will be weighed against his ability to lower that danger and remove the hazards within his largely leased London city.

So as we look at the wealth boom, how exactly is it benefiting the UK and specifically London? As London becomes less and less affordable, as its ‘status’ as premium investment location continues, we might soon see a London that even the tourists can no longer afford. This is not a danger at present with the dropping pound against the Euro, so London is a great place to visit for Europeans. Yet the reality is that this benefit is merely short term, the dangers as the UK turns its economy around, which they will for certain, gives dangers that the dangers I predict are merely 5 years away. When that happens the tourism part will drop, not by a small part, but by a phenomenal amount (In my speculative view well over 20%), so whoever is investing now needs to get that part back in 4 years, they might be facing deadly competition for the few remaining tourists after that. The Time in 2015 talked about the tourism bubble and set it to greed, I think that it is not merely greed; in all this the infrastructure that is dangerously close to a collapse would be a much larger contributing item in all this. So as we see that the infrastructure is in a dangerous place, we need to wonder how the UK government will be addressing this. It is not like it is not a clearly visible issue. It is merely one of several critical issues that the UK faces. Yet in this, the housing part is also the contributing factor for other sides of infrastructure as well. We saw 3 weeks ago that the NHS has 86,000 posts vacant. Not only can they not be filled, even if there was a person available, the reality is that for nurses life in London has become largely unaffordable, which hits social housing as well as infrastructure, a clear visible item known for the better part of 3 years. As a conservative I would be willing to blame my political party, yet the BBC chart clearly shows that as the conservatives came back into office the social housing curve was moving back up (to the smallest degree). Now, there is part that was done by the previous labour government, but only to an even smaller degree. In this I will end with an article that the Business insider has in 2015, in it we see the minimum income per area, when we take a look is that only the cheapest place was affordable for NHS nurses, 54 miles from the hospital, anything nearer would require double the income they presently have, some places are forever out of their reach. Even whilst I know of some places in Swiss Cottage, Southwark and West Brompton, it is shy of the 86,000 places, it will not even give aid to 1%, or 860 places to live in. So, as some people are shrugging at the £10tn wealth value, or the imaginative issue that the NHS problem will solve itself. We need to realise that a few of these issues were interconnected and have been for many years. In this Labour and Conservatives are both to blame, they achieved nothing in stopping, or decently reducing the danger. So when you look at the Monopoly board consider the 22 places and which of these streets you cannot afford a place to live in. So how was this UK wealth any help in resolving the quality of life for those not in the top 5% wealth part, which amounts 98.85% of the UK population, foreign investors excluded.

Consider that side when the next rent is due, and more important, even as all the papers are shouting about rent drops, in the end, the rental price is merely increasing slower for now. With the rent being on average set to £1,500, the 12 month increase is set between £22 and £35 a month depending on your condition, so when you consider that if these people are lucky, their pay increase ended up being up to £61 a month, we see that the increase only takes care of the rent, it will not hold water to take care of the increased price of groceries or heating, so the outlook for the British tenant will be gloomy this Christmas. And before you start blaming Brexit, it would not have mattered one bit. If anyone tells you different, as I personally see it, they would be lying to you.

The people in Britain are seeing a new Monopoly board. Where you start with £800 and passing start gets you a mere £100, in addition add 15% to every street in the first 5 turns and add another 15% for the rest of the game. The final changes are 40% more due for any station and set utilities to 15 times rolled, regardless if it is one or both owned. Now we get a slightly more realistic version of the game as we live it today, so how far would you get in that version of the game? I might want to add that we would need to add 4 pubs, one for each side and treat them like the stations, yet the amount due is 10 times the rolled dice. It seems that our childhood monopoly is the one we still think we live at times, even as we never had any ambitions to own hotels, we always expected to get one house in one street sometimes in our lives; the reality is that this is no longer an expected reality. The reality is now that whomever owns and keeps a place, leaving that to the children is the only guarantee that they have any future at all in the UK, a reality that was not due to Brexit, but due to a government having other commitments, one that was to spending too much whilst not having any backup in place, it is the reality all in the UK face until well over 2040. I still believe that the conservative path to diminish the debt is the only way out and when we consider the news about the £40 billion divorce bill, that is not too weird, because at present Mario Draghi is spending 150% of that every month and getting out now seems to be a lot safer than being around when that collapses, or is that explodes into the faces of EU citizens? Most disagree with me on that, loads of them with economic degrees and that is fine. As I see it, the people all over are in denial of previous debts made and seem to imply that it is not for them to solve, so at your banks when you borrow £2500 every month to pay for things like rent, do you think that you will not have to pay any of it back? Do you think that financial institutions are that philanthropically minded? So as City AM announced on July 17thEurozone inflation fell in June, the European Commission today confirmed, easing pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB) to start tightening monetary policy at its next announcement on Thursday”, yet a week later we see “Draghi struck a dovish tone at the meeting in Frankfurt, with no firm date given to an announcement on the future of the quantitative easing programme, but investors were not convinced”, which we got on Friday July 21st. So as the spenders are all in denial on several levels, we see that their impact could be a disaster for London when that hits, I have stated in personal belief that getting out of that mess sooner would be essential for the UK. A mere week ago we saw (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-03/big-investors-losing-faith-in-europe-s-ecb-fuelled-junk-rally). Now we see the first mention, not of QE, but the mentioning of ‘ECB-Fuelled Junk Rally’, Bloomberg is now speaking almost the same parts that I have advocated against for many months. With the quote “Deutsche Asset Management has reduced holdings of European junk bonds in its 100 billion euro ($106 billion) multi-asset portfolios and JPMorgan Asset Management says investors should brace for a tough second half. BlackRock Inc. says risks for European credit are tilted to the downside and Nataxis SA recommends dialing back high-yield debt exposure” the large players seem to accept (read: come to the conclusion) the dangers I warned for, for many months, this is a dangers that Brexit should avoid. So, as some players are trying to delay it all, so that the UK gets part of that additional 2 trillion (as I see it).

These matters are connected, you see, when those players try to escape the sewers they will seek other parts that give rise to returns on investment that avoids their downfall, this is where the Monopoly game comes in. Because the reality is that this mentioned UK wealth of £10tn could be the escape hatch they need, yet in that the dangers to the infrastructure would only increase, I might be wrong in that view, yet it is merely my view. So feel free to disagree, providing you do not cry when I am proven correct yet again.

 

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How to pay for it?

Yesterday’s news is not new. We have all heard the options, the opposition and the recrimination. Yet the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/23/uk-arms-sales-to-saudis-continued-after-airstrike-on-yemen-funeral) gives out more to ask of those who are on the moral ethical high ground and as such we need to make considerations, from within ourselves and towards others choosing for us.

You see, I am not stating that they are wrong, or that there isn’t an issue. We need to ask ourselves whether we should take blame of responsibility of the actions of other governments. So consider the £283m. When we consider the 2017 spring budget, that one sale takes care of the Education and health bill for spring 2017 and potentially leaves us with enough to pay the Debt interest for that quarter. So, what will these campaigners do when they are opted for one (the deal) or the other which would be no health or education money? I always love campaigners who in a downed economy make demands and have no clue or no solution on how to pay for it all. It is a really lovely group of non-deciders in most of the events.

What would I do?

I would happily go to Riyadh with my new BAE business card and sell them whatever systems they need to keep their nation safe. You see, it is the right of any nation to defend their nation. The application of the weapons purchased is up to them. Guns do not kill people, people kill people, it is basic and as I see it the correct dimensionality of a situation.

So when I read “the UK trade secretary, Liam Fox, delayed signing a set of export licences and his officials prepared for sales to Saudi Arabia to be suspended. However, documents obtained by the Guardian revealed that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, advised him that the sales should continue, as he judged there was no clear risk that British weapons would be used for serious breaches of international humanitarian law“, like Boris Johnson, I see no real issue. The fact that he added: ‘serious breaches of international humanitarian law‘ as a condition was politically fair enough and perhaps a definite essential condition. It seems a little cowardly, but at what point would there be a serious consideration there? Even Iran might not fall into that category, leaving us with only North Korea, Al-Qaeda and ISIS as actual risk factors and we do not deal with these three anyway.

When someone states that I am wrong and there is a clear risk with Saudi Arabia transgressing there, my question would be: ‘Show me that evidence‘. After which I get a lot of speculative mumbo jumbo and no evidence at all. In this day and age we need to consider the choices to select which is fair enough, yet to give rise to campaigners on speculative events whilst they are willing to give silence in the case of Javier Martin-Artajo, Julien Grout and Bruno Iksil, willing to shrug the shoulders and walk away without anger or indignation. Such persons are all about feigned morality because there was no blood. So how many people lost their quality of life for a long time whilst JP Morgan Chase & Co lost £4.7 billion? You think that this was merely printed money, people lost all levels of hard worked gains, pensions, savings and other losses were endured. So as we read in that case “the Department of Justice said it “no longer believes that it can rely on the testimony” of Bruno Iksil, the trader dubbed the London Whale, based on recent statements and writings he made that hurt the case” (source: the Guardian), I feel like this was an orchestrated event. First get the accusations out, make a final thrust for your own acquittal and then write a little more making it all unreliable? Consider not what he lost (stated at 80%), but that he got to keep 20% of some $6m a year (paid more than one year), in addition, whatever the DoJ agreed to in 2013, which might be his house and a few other things. So he got to keep an amount that is exceedingly more than whatever I have made or will make for my entire life, a mere 2 years of his. So as we see about extradition issues, we now see that all three walk away.

This relates to the arms deal as the consequences of that part are merely speculative and it pays for a chunk of the government budget, so I will take a job there willingly any day of the week, presenting the technological marvels of the F-35 JSF missile which can be set to the bulk of the Saudi Arabian fighters. I will gladly take the reduced 1% commission and sell 5,000-10,000 missiles, after which I fly to Egypt and sell a few more. If that gets education and health funded in the UK for the entire year, so much the better! I will sleep like a baby knowing that education and health care are safe and set in stone to be funded. My presentations would be the best stellar presentations of them all. So F.U. (sorry for this instance of Post Enhousiastic Sales Drama) to both Raytheon and Northrop Grumman!

As we can imagine at times we need to take heed (read: listen to) campaigners, when the going was good (20 years ago) and we had several options to take a high moral stance, yet at present with a collapsing NHS, with politicians showing less and less backbone against large corporations on taxation issues, the United Kingdom has a responsibility towards its citizens, not just to keep them safe, but to offer some level of any future. Those campaigners seem to think that money grows on trees and have no idea on how to get things funded; in the UK the UK Labour party is perhaps the most striking evidence of all. As Jeremy Corbyn is now in denial on student debt issues, as he was intentionally vague during the election race. Of course apart from not winning (thank god for that), the realisation that he has no options, no methods and no way to get any level of budget done without raising the current debt by at least 50% and initially projected at 80%, the question becomes, how it would have ever been paid for as people like this, and campaigners against certain paths (read: perhaps for the right ideological reasons) have no way to deal with the national issues. Leaving people with much harsher debts, increased taxation and less social security as it can no longer be paid for.

I am not against ideology, I do not believe that dedicated pacifism is a cowardly stance; it is often quite a brave stance. Yet, it is equally often not a realistic one. We can all go to Hacksaw Ridge and be amazed of the events Andrew Garfield’s character went through, showing us some of what the real Desmond Doss went through, and we can admire his stance and his courage. Yet in the end, without the thousands armed forces in the 77th Infantry division, the battle would have been lost. It does not diminish the actions of this one highly decorated person, I am merely stating that the 77th held its ground and was victorious in the end, yet we should never forget that it is still regarded as the bloodiest battle in the history of WW2, with 50,000 allied lives lost and well over 100,000 Japanese casualties.

We make choices in war and in peace. I believe that every sovereign nation has its rights for defence, we cannot vouch for the articles of war in offense and that is not our responsibility. It is not for the salesperson of equipment to say and even the campaigner for peace needs to realise that there is a stance to take, even if it is a valid choice to oppose offensive actions, we must realise that any self-governing nation can deal with its enemies in the way they seem fit, when it becomes too unacceptable we need to accept that places like the United Nations will take the appropriate actions.

So how is this different?

It should not be, but it is. Ask yourself how you would act. We can always act holier than thou when we can afford it, yet when we are confronted with being hungry or to some degree making a questionable deal that is not criminal, and it is perfectly legal, but we cannot foresee the consequence. Is it still wrong to do it? Consider that we cannot predict the future and this is not merely a legal ‘more likely than not‘. It is about legally acting correct and morally acting optionally questionable, because that is where the stance is. Should we interfere with the right of Saudi Arabia to defend itself and act, or become judging and act towards denying them that right? This is the view I think that the campaigners are not taking correctly, too hastily and in judgement of ‘some’ moral principle. Now, I am not stating that they cannot do that, it is their right and their expression of free will, but in all this, they must also than accept the setting that they will have to voice: ‘We have decided to stop all NHS healthcare and education for the upcoming Autumn 2017, as we stopped the revenue that would have guaranteed it‘, that must then be in equal measure their acceptance in this. I wonder how the doctors, nurses and teachers feel at that point.

In this we now see another part grow. Even as we agree to some extent with the quote of “The terrible funeral bombing should have been a time for reflection and for the UK to reconsider its uncritical political and military support for Saudi Arabia“, we accept that ideologically Andrew Smith, spokesman for Campaign Against Arms Trade has a right and perhaps even a valid point, yet does he?

When we see “‘Incorrect information’ meant hall in Sana’a was mistaken for military target, leading to 140 deaths, says US-backed mission” (source: the Guardian) we need to know a lot more, the actual Intel, the raw data and the decision tree. When we also see “The air operation centre in Yemen, it added, directed a “close air support mission” to target the site without approval from the coalition’s command“, we can argue and question a few issue, yet in all, who authorised the action? How was the coalition command set up? If there was an approval at any level it takes the pilot out of the equation (read: likely he was never a consideration in the first place), so even as we see questions on the actions, even when we read “Dozens of citizens fell as martyrs or were wounded in this attack by planes of the Saudi-American aggression“, whilst the actions of the Houthi rebels are left in silence by too many, including the indiscriminate shelling of places. Any war is a place where it took two to tango, which does not absolve any side of considerations, yet in all I see often a complete lack of complete information, or better stated more precise and more complete information to the extent that was possible. Even now as Yemen is using ballistic missiles attacking a Saudi Oil refinery, as Mines are killing Saudi Soldiers, we see that Yemen remains active, shooting missiles close to 600 miles into Saudi Arabia, so as such, I think that the time of recriminations are over, they have been over for some time. Even now, merely 5 hours ago, we see that Nayef al-Qaysi, governor of the central province of al-Bayda was removed from office because of his ties with Al-Qaeda. Now, the source here is the Miami Herald, and others are voicing pretty much the same article. I cannot state one or the other, yet when we see these events unfold, giving rise to one or the other without proper visible intelligence is not a given. Yet in all this, when we take the original title and make this: ‘UK approved £283m of arms sales to Saudis to fight Al-Qaeda‘ (read: personal merging of different timed facts), at that point how many campaigners would we hear? Can we agree that if Nayef al-Qaysi has ties to Al-Qaeda, they would have been there for some time?

A piece of intelligence that I and perhaps many others would not have had last October, so should I not have sold these weapons to Saudi Arabia? I do not think that I had any valid opposition to not sell and whenever we campaign (even for the best and most valid of reasons) is always a loaded gun and that loaded gun is always aimed at the victims of these actions. In my presented case it would have been the people in need of NHS treatments and students. Any person proclaiming that they have the whole picture is usually lying to you, apart from the General of the Saudi armed forces there would be almost no other person in possessions of all the facts and even then we can state with a certain level of certainty that this person did not have ALL the facts. This is what makes the opposition to any debatable act a dangerous path. We can at best hope for acting in a non-illegal manner and that is exactly what happened in this case. It was a legal transaction, one that was essential for the coffers of the United Kingdom.

We need to learn how to compartmentalise. It is in our best interest to do what is correct and to do what our bosses want of us. When we try to grow beyond that cubicle we tend to speculate on what is best and even if we agree that thinking things through is never a bad thing, unless it is our responsibility we have to act according to our better angels, which means no in opposition of law. Is it not interesting that when that happens, more often than not these actions were greed based and those transgressors should be prosecuted by law, which in the case of hedge funds traders is almost 0%, so if we want ideology, it should be on the evolution of legislation to stop economic exploitation. Yet at that point, how many campaigners remain? I reckon that list slims down a lot, because economic transgressions are not sexy enough, or it is like a happy lottery ticket that nearly everyone wants and in case of Bruno Iksil when it amounts to 20% of many millions, I would love to get that lottery ticket as well, I saw a nice place in Cognac, where I would happily retire to. A mere €850K, which would leave me well over €100K a year to live off for the rest of my life, whilst the house (read: villa) had been paid for. I admit it is a lifestyle I would embrace if it was limited to one questionable, non-illegal act. It will not make me a criminal, merely a person not hiding behind some hypocrite high moral code of conduct.

Until campaigners get in the stage of life on how to pay for their daily meal and proceed on that moral high ground, that is the first step in filtering the actual ideologists from the hypocrites, an essential first step, yet in the end, they too need to accept that some sides of life need to get paid for and they cannot vote to make thousands abstain from essential needs. It is not fair and not pretty but that is the place that deep debts have pushed us all into, the mere acceptance of our to the smallest degree of changed options in upholding any quality of life.

 

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When the trust is gone

In an age where we see an abundance of political issues, an overgrowing need to sort things out, the news that was given visibility by the Guardian is the one that scared and scarred me the most. With ‘Lack of trust in health department could derail blood contamination inquiry‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/19/lack-of-trust-in-health-department-could-derail-blood-contamination-inquiry), we need to hold in the first stage a very different sitting in the House of Lords. You see, the issues (as I am about to explain them), did not start overnight. In this I am implying that a sitting with in the dock Jeremy Hunt, Andrew Lansley, Andy Burham and Alan Johnson is required. This is an issue that has grown from both sides of the Isle and as such there needs to be a grilling where certain people are likely to get burned for sure. How bad? That needs to be ascertained and it needs to be done as per immediate. When you see “The contamination took place in the 1970s and 80s, and the government started paying those affected more than 25 years ago” the UK is about to get a fallout of a very different nature. We agree that this is the term that was with Richard Crossman, Sir Keith Joseph, Barbara Castle, David Ennals, Patrick Jenkin, Norman Fowler, and John Moore. Yet in that instance we need to realise that this was in an age that was pre computers, pre certain data considerations and a whole league of other measures that are common place at this very instance. I remember how I aided departments with an automated document system, relying on 5.25″ floppy’s, with the capability that was less than Wordstar or PC-Write had ever offered. And none of those systems had any reliable data storage options.

The System/36 was flexible and powerful for its time:

  • It allowed 80 monitors (see below for IBM’s description of a monitor) and printers to be connected. All users could access the system’s hard drive or any printer.
  • It provided password security and resource security, allowing control over who was allowed to access any program or file.
  • Devices could be as far as a mile from the system unit.
  • Users could dial into a System/36 from anywhere in the world and get a 9600 baud connection (which was very fast in the 1980s) and very responsive for connections which used only screen text and no graphics.
  • It allowed the creation of databases of very large size. It supported up to about 8 million records, and the largest 5360 with four hard drives in its extended cabinet could hold 1.453 gigabytes.
  • The S/36 was regarded as “bulletproof” for its ability to run many months between reboots (IPLs).

Now, why am I going to this specific system, as the precise issues were not yet known? You see in those days, any serious level of data competency was pretty much limited to IBM, at that time Hewlett Packard was not yet to the level it became 4 years later and the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) who revolutionised systems with VAX/VMS and it became the foundation, or better stated true relational database foundations were added through Oracle Rdb (1984), which would actually revolutionise levels of data collection.

Now, we get two separate quotes (not from the article) “Dr Jeremy Bradshaw Smith at Ottery St Mary health centre, which, in 1975, became the first paperless computerised general practice“, as well as “It is not developed or intended for use in any inherently dangerous applications, including applications that may create a risk of personal injury. If you use this software or hardware in dangerous applications, then you shall be responsible to take all appropriate fail-safe, backup, redundancy, and other measures to ensure its safe use“, the second one comes from the Oracle Rdb SQL Reference manual. The second part seems a bit of a stretch; consider the original setting of this. When we see Oracle’s setting of data integrity, consider the elements given (over time) that are now commonplace.

System and object privileges control access to application tables and system commands, so that only authorized users can change data.

  • Referential integrity is the ability to maintain valid relationships between values in the database, according to rules that have been defined.
  • A database must be protected against viruses designed to corrupt the data.

I left one element out for the mere logical reasons.

now, in those days, the hierarchy of supervisors and system owners was nowhere near what it is now (and often nowhere to be seen), referential integrity was a mere concept and data viruses were mostly academic, that is until we get a small presentation by Ralf Burger in 1986. It was in the days of the Chaos Computer Club and my trusty CBM-64.

These elements are to show you that data integrity existed in academic purposes, yet the designers who were in their data infancy often enough had no real concept of rollback data events, some would only be designed too long later, and in all this, the application of databases to the extent that was needed. It would not be until 1982 when dBase II came to the PC market from the founding fathers of what would later be known as Ashton-Tate, George Tate and Hal Lashlee would create a wave that would get us dBase III and with the creation of Clipper by the Nantucket Corporation, which would give a massive rise to database creations as well as the growth of data products that had never been seen before, as well as being the player that in the end propelled data quality towards the state it is nowadays. In this product databases did not just grow with the network abilities within this product nearly any final year IT person could have its portfolio of clients all with custom based products all data based. Within 2-3 years (which gets us to 1989), a whole league of data quality, data cleaning and data integrity base issues would surface for millions of places, all requiring solutions. It is my personal conviction that this was the point where data became adult, where data cleaning, data rollback as well as data integrity checks became actual issues that were seriously dealt with. So, here in 1989 we are finally confronted with the adult data issues that for the longest of times were only correctly understood by more than a few niche people who were often enough disregarded (I know that for certain because I was one of them).

So the essential events that could have prevented only to some degree the events we see in the Guardian with “survivors initially welcomed the announcement, while expressing frustration that the decades-long wait for answers had been too long. The contamination took place in the 1970s and 80s“, certain elements would not come into existence until a decade later.

So when we see “Liz Carroll, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, wrote to May on Wednesday saying the department must not be involved in setting the remit and powers of an inquiry investigating its ministers and officials. She also highlighted the fact that key campaigners and individuals affected by the scandal had not been invited to the meeting“, I am not debating or opposing her in what could be a valid approach, I am merely stating that to comprehend the issues, the House of Lords needs to take the pulse of events and the taken steps forward from the Ministers who have been involved in the last 10 years.

When we see “We and our members universally reject meeting with the Department of Health as they are an implicated party. We do not believe that the DH should be allowed to direct or have any involvement into an investigation into themselves, other than giving evidence. The handling of this inquiry must be immediately transferred elsewhere“, we see a valid argument given, yet when we would receive testimonies from people, like the ministers in those days, how many would be aware and comprehend the data issues that were not even decently comprehended in those days? Because these data issues are clearly part of all of these events, they will become clear towards the end of the article.

Now, be aware, I am not giving some kind of a free pass, or give rise that those who got the bad blood should be trivialised or ignored or even set to a side track, I am merely calling for a good and clear path that allows for complete comprehension and for the subsequent need of actual prevention. You see, what happens today might be better, yet can we prevent this from ever happening again? In this I have to make a side step to a non-journalistic source, we see (at https://www.factor8scandal.uk/about-factor/), “It is often misreported that these treatments were “Blood Transfusions”. Not True. Factor was a processed pharmaceutical product (pictured)“, so when I see the Guardian making the same bloody mistake, as shown in the article, we see and should ask certain parties how they could remain in that same stance of utter criminal negligence (as I personally see it), but giving rise to intentional misrepresentation. When we see the quote (source: the Express) “Now, in the face of overwhelming evidence presented by Andy Burnham last month, Theresa May has still not ordered an inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the Department of Health in dealing with this human tragedy” with the added realisation that we have to face that the actual culprit was not merely data, yet the existence of the cause through Factor VIII is not even mentioned, the Guardian steered clear via the quote “A recent parliamentary report found around 7,500 patients were infected by imported blood products from commercial organisations in the US” and in addition the quote “The UK Public Health Minister, Caroline Flint, has said: “We are aware that during the 1970s and 80s blood products were sourced from US prisoners” and the UK Haemophilia Society has called for a Public Inquiry. The UK Government maintains that the Government of the day had acted in good faith and without the blood products many patients would have died. In a letter to Lord Jenkin of Roding the Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) informed Lord Jenkin that most files on contaminated NHS blood products which infected people with HIV and hepatitis C had unfortunately been destroyed ‘in error’. Fortunately, copies that were taken by legal entities in the UK at the time of previous litigation may mean the documentation can be retrieved and consequently assessed“, the sources the Express and the New York Times, we see for example the quote “Cutter Biological, introduced its safer medicine in late February 1984 as evidence mounted that the earlier version was infecting hemophiliacs with H.I.V. Yet for over a year, the company continued to sell the old medicine overseas, prompting a United States regulator to accuse Cutter of breaking its promise to stop selling the product” with the additional “Cutter officials were trying to avoid being stuck with large stores of a product that was proving increasingly unmarketable in the United States and Europe“, so how often did we see the mention of ‘Cutter Biological‘ (or Bayer pharmaceuticals for that matter)?

In the entire Arkansas Prison part we see that there are connections to cases of criminal negligence in Canada 2006 (where Canadian Red Cross fell on their sword), Japan 2007 as well as the visibility of the entire issue at Slamdance 2005, so as we see the rise of inquiries, how many have truly investigated the links between these people and how the connection to Bayer pharmaceuticals kept them out of harm’s way for the longest of times? How many people at Cutter Biological have not merely been investigated, but also indicted for murder? When we get ‘trying to avoid being stuck with large stores of a non-sellable product‘ we get the proven issue of intent. Because there are no recall and destroy actions, were there?

Even as we see a batch of sources giving us parts in this year, the entire visibility from 2005-2017 shows that the media has given no, or at best dubious visibility in all this, even yesterday’s article at the Guardian shows the continuation of bad visibility with the blood packs. So when we look (at http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/aug/04/bad-blood-cautionary-tale/), and see the August 2011 part with “This “miracle” product was considered so beneficial that it was approved by the FDA despite known risks of viral contamination, including the near-certainty of infection with hepatitis“, we wonder how the wonder drug got to be or remain on the market. Now, there is a fair defence that some issues would be unknown or even untested to some degree, yet the ‘the near-certainty of infection with hepatitis‘ should give rise to all kinds of questions and it is not the first time that the FDA is seen to approve bad medication, which gives rise to the question why they are allowed to be the cartel of approval as big bucks is the gateway through their door. When we consider the additional quote of “By the time the medication was pulled from the market in 1985, 10,000 hemophiliacs had been infected with HIV, and 15,000 with hepatitis C; causing the worst medical disaster in U.S. history“, how come that it took 6 years for this to get decent amounts of traction within the UK government.

What happened to all that data?

You see, this is not merely about the events, I believe that if any old systems (a very unlikely reality) could be retrieved, how long would it take for digital forensics to find in the erased (not overwritten) records to show that certain matters could have been found in these very early records? Especially when we consider the infancy of data integrity and data cleaning, what other evidence could have surfaced? In all this, no matter how we dig in places like the BBC and other places, we see a massive lack of visibility on Bayer Pharmaceuticals. So when we look (at http://pharma.bayer.com/en/innovation-partnering/research-focus/hemophilia/), we might accept that the product has been corrected, yet their own site gives us “the missing clotting factor is replaced by a ‘recombinant factor’, which is manufactured using genetically modified mammalian cells. When administered intravenously, the recombinant factor helps to stop acute bleeding at an early stage or may prevent it altogether by regular prophylaxis. The recombinant factor VIII developed by Bayer for treating hemophilia A was one of the first products of its kind. It was launched in 1993“, so was this solution based on the evolution of getting thousands of people killed? the sideline “Since the mid-1970s Bayer has engaged in research in haematology focusing its efforts on developing new treatment options for the therapy of haemophilia A (factor VIII deficiency)“, so in all this, whether valid or not (depending on the link between Bayer Pharmaceuticals UK and Cutter Biological. the mere visibility on these two missing in all the mentions, is a matter of additional questions, especially as Bayer became the owner of it all between 1974 and 1978, which puts them clearly in the required crosshairs of certain activities like depleting bad medication stockpiles. Again, not too much being shown in the several news articles I was reading. When we see the Independent, we see ‘Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to meet victims’ families before form of inquiry is decided‘, in this case it seems a little far-fetched that the presentation by Andy Burham (as given in the Express) would not have been enough to give an immediate green light to all this. Even as the independent is hiding behind blood bags as well, they do give the caption of Factor VIII with it, yet we see no mention of Bayer or Cutter, yet there is a mention of ‘prisoners‘ and the fact that their blood was paid for, yet no mention of the events in Canada and Japan, two instances that gives rise to an immediate and essential need for an inquiry.

In all this, we need to realise that no matter how deep the inquiry goes, the amount of evidence that could have been wiped or set asunder from the eyes of the people by the administrative gods of Information Technology as it was between 1975 and 1989, there is a dangerous situation. One that came unwillingly through the evolution of data systems, one that seems to be the intent of the reporting media as we see the utter absence of Bayer Pharmaceuticals in all of this, whilst there is a growing pool of evidence through documentaries, ad other sources that seem to lose visibility as the media is growing a view of presentations that are skating on the subject, yet until the inquiry becomes an official part we see a lot less than the people are entitled to, so is that another instance of the ethical chapters of the Leveson inquiry? And when this inquiry becomes an actuality, what questions will we see absent or sidelined?

All this gets me back to the Guardian article as we see “The threat to the inquiry comes only a week after May ordered a full investigation into how contaminated blood transfusions infected thousands of people with hepatitis C and HIV“, so how about the events from 2005 onwards? Were they mere pharmaceutical chopped liver? In the linked ‘Theresa May orders contaminated blood scandal inquiry‘ article there was no mention of Factor VIII, Bayer (pharmaceuticals) or Cutter (biological). It seems that we need to give rise that ethical issues have been trampled on, so a mention of “a criminal cover-up on an industrial scale” is not a mere indication; it is an almost given certainty. In all that, as the inquiry will get traction, I wonder how both the current and past governments will be adamant to avoid skating into certain realms of the events (like naming the commercial players), and when we realise this, will there be any justice to the victims, especially when the data systems of those days have been out of time for some time and the legislation on legacy data is pretty much non-existent. When the end balance is given, in (as I personally see it) a requirement of considering to replace whatever Bayer Pharmaceuticals is supplying the UK NHS, I will wonder who will be required to fall on the virtual sword of non-accountability. The mere reason being that when we see (at http://www.annualreport2016.bayer.com/) that Bayer is approaching a revenue of 47 billion (€ 46,769M) in 2016, should there not be a consequence of the players ‘depleting unsellable stock‘ at the expense of thousands of lives? This is another matter that is interestingly absent from the entire UK press cycles. And this is not me just speculating, the sources give clear absence whilst the FDA reports show other levels of failing, it seems that some players forget that lots of data is now globally available which seems to fuel the mention of ‘criminal negligence‘.

So you have a nice day and when you see the next news cycle with bad blood, showing blood bags and making no mention of Factor VIII, or the pharmaceutical players clearly connected to all this, you just wonder who is doing the job for these journalists, because the data as it needed to be shown, was easily found in the most open of UK and US governmental places.

 

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Sanity Check

We all need a sanity check at time. There has been a need to regard what we are offered and why certain people seem to try to start to regard fear and misinformation to set people towards the need of greed of some. This is the feeling I get when I look at ‘Brexit: ‘Real risk’ UK could run out of some foods after EU exit, government warned‘ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-food-supplies-shortage-warning-policy-failure-supermarkets-imports-eu-a7844751.html), it starts with the subtitle that gives us “Theresa May accused of ‘serious policy failing on an unprecedented scale’ by academics“. So what matter have they been raiding? Consider the EU nations and how things changed in the late 90’s. Now consider the foods and lives we had in for example the 60’s. We had no shortage of food, we could buy foods and outside of the UK, it was equally easy to buy a bottle of Worcester Lee & Perrins sauce. Some articles were not available (like Tripe), mainly because of the import laws already in place (and we all so loved to eat that in the first place). It was easy to get the Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas plum pudding. The entire exercise to spread fear and misinformation is actually getting to me. I am so sick on the implied creation of intentional chaos. So when you read: “A report from food policy specialists has warned the forthcoming break from Europe will lead to “chaos” unless ministers establish a clear plan on how a new food system will operate“. This reads like it will be the point that some food policy specialists will soon be without a job. Consider the need for sales and exports. Do you think that countries like the Netherlands, Belgium or even France have no export policies in play? These policies have existed for decades. So after Brexit there will be French cheeses and wines, there will be Belgium chocolates and Shrimps and there will be fresh vegetables from the Netherlands. The EU has had close to no influence; it merely seemed to digress towards red tape for the hidden unmentioned need of profitability for large corporations. There will of course be questions in some situations, yet do you think that the exporting corporations will not be ready for that? So when you read ‘without provisions in place‘, we see levels of fear mongering from people who are pushed by other people who are shy of the limelight, because we really have no need for those players fattening the invoices wherever they can, the EU gravy train is coming to a partial end and some politicians are getting nervous. All that easy income falling away, all those unwanted costs added to the prices of what people require to import. Yet the dangers of the single market are often ignored. In a single market may struggle to survive against their more efficient peers, yet how do we see places like ‘Walmart’ as an efficient peer? In that light we see that those with the approach of what should be regarded as ‘exploitative’ and being way too large, having the option to pressure their costs and buying at near 0% margin for the manufacturer has no benefit to competition, it merely makes the owners of Walmart rich fast, whilst there is no place for any number two players. That is the opposite side in all this, a side that the EU has been intentionally silent on for way too long.

The article refers to a paper which can be found (at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/newsandevents/2017/publications/food-brexit), the added PDF in there gives us “Set new clear targets for UK food security (food supply, quality, health and consumption) which go beyond mere quantity of supply by addressing ecosystems and social systems resilience“, this sounds important, yet in all this my question towards Tim Lang, Erik Millstone & Terry Marsden becomes ‘When was the last time you ate an equine burger?‘, the UK was part of this so called EU food security, and as such the professors from the Universities of Cardiff, London and Sussex might have forgotten about that 2013 events, where Tesco had 27 beef burger products laced with horses and pigs.

Also consider the quote ““In the EU, UK consumers and public health have benefited from EU-wide safety standards, without which there will be a risk of the UK having less safe and nutritious products“, we could argue that with 100,000 angioplasty events per year, that issue is a non-issue at present already, ye as it is hard to get any clear EU statistics (read: could not get any reliable figures) there is no quality view to get at present. In all this, when I see certain events mentioned, it is almost like there is a hidden P&G (read: Proctor & Gamble) logo behind all this. That is a purely personal and speculative view! In addition, as I write in opposition of certain points, this is an academic paper, it gives us clear sources and we can disagree with the view of these three professors, there is the issue that their view remains a valid view.

This gets us to two parts that mention the issues that we are going towards, in my view it is a view that should have been adjusted for at least 5 years ago, Brexit might be an element, but it is not the cause and after Brexit these systems have never been adjusted, there is merely the identification that the government in general should have started to make adjustments a long time ago. The quotes “The current food policy community is fragmented and divided. There is an urgent need for a more collaborative policy platform to be created involving all the main players. If the government fails to do this, others will need to take the initiative“, as well as “Meanwhile the NHS is becoming increasingly bankrupted, not least because of the growth of an aging population suffering a dietary-health epidemic; the critical significance of the food system needs highlighting in these debates“, it is interesting that I recognised this several day ago as a hindering issue for the NHS.

 

There is one part that the paper definitely gets right (read: it actually gets a lot more right). It is seen on page 14 with “These aspirations and policy principles should be incorporated in the new food legislation, which Food Brexit will entail. An estimated 4,000+ pieces of regulation and law are EU based“, this is one side that truly matters. The question becomes: ‘Is it merely ‘new legislation‘ or comparing the EU legislation against that legislation that was in play?’ and as such decide on the path of adjusting the original legislation, or create new legislation. This is something that should have been discussed in the House of Lords at the very least. It seems that not only it has not happened; there is no indication at present that this will happen any day soon at present, which is odd to say the least, it is not like the entire Brexit issue dropped out of the sky last night.

Still, even as the paper is valid and valuable, it is my view that the Independent is too much about fear mongering. When we see “Even a “soft” departure from Europe, in which the UK will remain in the single market or customs union, could badly affect the food and farming industries, they add“, so even if the UK remains in a single market, there are still dangers? If that is so, what the bloody use is a single market?

Another issue (as I personally see it) is seen in “The report, which is based on more than 200 sources, continues: “Prices, which are already rising and likely to rise more, will become more volatile, especially harming poor consumers.”“, in the first, prices have always been rising and that is not likely to ever change. The cost of living has been under attack in the UK for the better part of a decade. If you are not a well off banker, or some hedge funds investor, it is extremely likely that your quality of life has been stagnant. It does not matter whether you are a cashier, a barrister or a doctor; your quality of life has been declining for the longest time. It is merely the amount of quality of life lost that differs between the three groups. In the second, volatility has been equally an issue for the longest time. If that was not the case, the mere need for equine burger was never an issue. The EU at large has been under ‘profit scrutiny‘, which just emphasises the need for better food security all over Europe, a factor the EU failed since decently before 2013. In all this another article requires the limelight. With “It cites recent research by the British Retail Consortium that the absence of a trade deal could push the price of imported food up by 22%“, the question becomes, what (and where) are these numbers based on? The article (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/christmas-dinner-price-rises-by-14-per-cent-a7453591.html), is as speculative as the evidence that the photographed Turkey tasted nice. We just do not know. With “In October, the British Retail Consortium warned shoppers could face higher prices if the Government failed to strike the right Brexit deal with the EU” as well as “the UK could be forced to use World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which could cause the price of meat to rise by as much as 27 per cent“. In these two quotes the operative word is ‘COULD‘, none can give any evidence on the amount it raises (or if it rises at all); it is from my point of view with the emphasis of ‘merely fear mongering’. In the end, none of them acknowledge that the UK is a willing market with 68 million consumers. Show me one salesperson who would willingly walk away from such a large group of consumers and I will introduce you to a liar. All the fear mongering we see, and in the end we see a collection of large corporations like Mars and Coca-Cola that will accept the impact on their margins as they are trying to avoid a total loss of bonuses for a much longer period of time.

I will add the paper at the end in this article, because whether I agree or not to some extent, it is a good and proper academic piece and even as we might consider elements in different light, the paper does show clear indications that there are issues that require addressing and there are also issues that should have started to be addressed several years ago. There is a policy failure to some extend in some way and in a much larger way in other views of focus. The academic paper is not in question; the method of fear mongering that the Independent is playing with is a much larger issue that should be taken a look at.

So as the Independent is fear mongering food issues and the Guardian tells us ‘Britain ‘will be less safe’ without access to EU crime databases – peers‘, yet because before the Schengen mess there was no Interpol or information available, we need to realise that some things will require adjustment, that was never ever in question and in all this the events are not due for 20 months. Now, we can all agree that things need doing, yet has anyone considered that some of these current systems will be obsolete before the 20 months deadline (read: some already are to some degree)? The EU has no firm handle on data automation (as per collecting), or the impact that 5G will give to the data stream, none of the systems will be ready before the change and some will not even be ready then. It was only Yesterday when I found it essential to message Ben Wallace MP that his ‘Accelerator Open Call for Innovation‘ is missing an encryption topic in the data challenge. (at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-and-security-accelerator-enduring-challenge/accelerator-enduring-challenge), in this age of Ransomware and security flaws, the entire encryption challenge will be a huge one, as more cloud data is no longer safe in either data in transit or at rest, any security assessment system would require new levels of encryption. This is not merely my view, when we look at the works otien Lenstra, a cryptology professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, says the distributed computation project, conducted over 11 months, achieved the equivalent in difficulty of cracking a 700-bit RSA encryption key, so it doesn’t mean transactions are at risk and his 2007 article passed the deadline 5 years ago. Even now the larger military contractors like Thales are seeing Big-Data Encryption as one of today’s challenges, so how important would it be in let’s say 3-4 years?

So as we see food fears and so called ‘security‘ data issues, we see that some of the players haven’t even considered including the elements of encryption in some areas. The reason for that view is that encryption is not merely about adding some code, or encoding all data, it is a system of checks and balances, where recovery of corrupted data becomes increasingly important. For those not in the know (which is very valid) there was a virus decades ago called the DBase-virus, it came from the 90’s and decided to corrupt all the data in a DBase database. The clever part was that as long as the virus was there, the user did not know, the moment it was cleaned out, all the data was instantly corrupt, the virus was a cypher and decipher part. In these days of Ransomware, such systems require additional elements and they end up being part of the core, not merely an added element in the core, so when the paper gave me “data – cyber, information, big data, management and processing, sense making, visualisation, delivery, interoperability” as an element, whilst encryption was not part of it, whilst there were other topics like mobility and situational awareness (sensors and surveillance). It seemed to me that the crypto element was not just important, it will be vital and in that field a little innovation goes a very long way. Yet beyond all that, with larger computers and ever-growing large hi speed mobility, the need and application of encryption equally changes, so when we see the need for some European adjustment, we need to realise that not merely the policies are overdue plenty of revisions, in all this, Brexit or not, with the near daily events of data losses, we need to seriously contain certain dangers

So how of topic did I go?

From merely the food part quite a bit (seemingly), yet in all this, the policies and the data issues are connected. If we accept that some of these policies are all depending on the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), we see that the objectives, indicators of progress, the achievements and action points are also data driven (at https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Departmental-overview-2015-16-Department-Environment-Food-and-Rural-Affairs.pdf), now data will be at the centre of pretty much every part of life, yet from the paper that the three food boffins bring us (namely Lang, Millstone & Marsden), it will not merely a more dire need in reactive, there is an increasing view that the view needs to be transposed towards a proactive situation. The elements in that paper on Spending reduction (page 10) and workforce capability (page 13) imply that these two will impact the entire CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) in several ways, so to not go towards the fear mongering as the Independent implied with its 27% price rise, a proactive system that could counter or at least limit these events to a certain degree. The need has always been there, but the EU has gravy train driven red tape factory (as I personally see it) and as such too little forward momentum is seen and the UK parliament has been forever waiting for the EU to start something so they could be seen as a limited forward momentum party as well. So now is the perfect time to get something actual in place, but to rely on data that could be ‘mismanaged‘ by those trying to thwart the machine requires a much better digital transformation plan as well as a much better digital security and footprint approach, one that has clear boundaries of non-repudiation. Many of these elements either not mentioned, or ignored.

And here is the great part, I am not fear mongering, I am merely saying that things require attention and doing and there are still 20 months, yet doing something immediate is equally dangerous as 5G will impact on a global scale, so having proper preparations and having a system that is not set in stone, but one with certain levels of flexibility and options of evolution is much more important, so that we avoid having a massive invoice that requires paying it twice (or even thrice).

If there is one element of the entire Food report that I had an issue with than it must be ‘12. Keeping a close eye on our EU neighbours: it takes (at least) two to tango‘, there is nothing wrong with what is written, yet what I voiced earlier, the need to sell to the UK is partially ignored and the second partner in that tango is the provider of goods. The 5 scenarios read perfectly fine, yet they are all so based on the premise of the UK being the needy one, we forget that there are 27 nations all vying to get a leg up on the option to sell to 68 million consumers, it seems that the part is not that emphasised. In the end there needs to be a level of balance, yet I feel certain that once Poland is playing hard to get with the UK, I feel certain that Spain will jump up at the chance to get this market. It will not always be a balanced battle, but the UK has options and the newspapers at large have been overly silent on this part, which is why I am upset with the entire fear mongering thing. There was never an issue with being alert, but the papers at large have been completely negative again and again, focussing on the negative ‘could’ and ignoring the positive possibilities. In all this, I still personally believe that the largest players are all about the Status Quo as they have it and in that the one part that Nigel Farage got right, if this gives an option for the local smaller players to get an actual slice of the exploited market we might actually get some level of economy growing and in that, at the end the United Kingdom becomes an economic growth winner.

I think it is a mere sanity check that we try to get a level of alignment on the jobs that need to get going on and as such get a grip of what becomes a possibility, in that the ‘A Food Brexit: time to get real‘ report gives us a handle on what needs to be realised, but at times, although the report gives a really good view, as stated, my issue remains to some degree too much about the page 15 mention of; “UK ministers have failed to explain from where they expect the UK to import its food“, whilst in equality, the optional question “Which quality provider of foods is ready and willing to export to the UK?

In a world where export is essential to any government, is it not interesting that we do not see the latter version in the media, in a situation that amounts to pretty much the exact same premise?

A Food Brexit: time to get real

Departmental Overview 2015-16

 

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Thomas the Tank wreck

Parents will have seen a program if they have kids, they all love to see that cheeky tank engine. The simple life in the town of Knapfort, or is that Nap Forth? The complication of not getting uncoupled, and even as it was merely an episode one, the not so young population might remember the rap edition of this Thomas (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETfiUYij5UE), so in all this. Is it about the music or the story? Consider that, when we see the Guardian claim ‘Revealed: NHS cuts could target heart attack patients in Surrey and Sussex‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/14/revealed-nhs-cuts-could-target-heart-attack-patients-in-surrey-and-sussex). So when we see “Organisations in the area are considering limiting angiogram and angioplasty despite positive evidence for procedures” should we be surprised? You see, I have had one, I understand that it is at times essential and that it is needed to assess the situation. We might see: “Hospitals routinely use an angiogram to assess the health of a patient’s heart“, so there is not surprise here. Yet when we see “Patients at risk of a heart attack could be denied vital tests and potentially life-saving operations under NHS plans to make £55m of budget cuts in Surrey and Sussex, the Guardian can reveal“. Why is anyone surprised? You remember that vague promise from some politician named, I think it was Jeremy Carbonite? Labour was going to hire a thousand nurses. So with what money were they going to do that? The NHS is out of cash and out of options. Whilst we see the NHS being politicised, everyone forgot that whilst those optional solution bringers remain talking, not much gets done whilst they talk and whilst they contemplate the decisions that need to be made; no resolutions and the money kept on draining for another 5 months. So we might feel sorry to the smallest degree for Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, with the mention of “the secretive cost-cutting regime which the NHS is imposing on 14 areas of England in an attempt to save £500m – because it involves “draconian” cuts to services that will hit patient care“, which is fair, it is Draconian and nobody wants it, but as the politicians were shouting at each other time went on and nothing was done, the changes for long term gain were all not done, pretty much none of them. Perhaps Labour can help? Do they not have a leader named Jeremy Carbonite? Is Carbonite not a backup program? Perhaps he has a backup option? He was so ‘speechy’, so clear on what needed to be done. So, Jeremy, what would you do next? Spend more money? It’s gone, your Labour predecessors took care of that, to have an NHS, you need an actual economy, if your side had not wasted the massive chunk of a £trillion in total, there would be options to move the track. Did you think of that as you paraded your addition of 4 figure amounts of nurses, police officers and others?

Did you think that the governing party was not aware of the issues? Did you think that those who are governing are not aware of the fact that the NHS is ending far below the line of zero before the end of quarter three? When we see the quote “Hospitals routinely use an angiogram to assess the health of a patient’s heart. The number of people in the UK undergoing angioplasty has risen eightfold since the early 1990s to almost 100,000 a year, reflecting its growing popularity as a non-invasive alternative to a heart bypass“, we understand that it is routinely done (I had one), oh wait! I never had an angioplasty, I had an angiogram. So why is the Guardian just shovelling two issues together on a pile making it seem as one? Perhaps it is done to make it all a little more trivial? When we consider that an angioplasty is set at roughly £17,500, we see that this procedure alone would cost £1,750,000,000 annually, that is a lot of fish and chips repair, or am I trivialising here? So how much are the costs of an angiogram? One source gave me £5,529, so how many a year operations are needed of those and why was there one number, but not the other? It should be a larger number of ‘operations’ needed, but with the cost being merely a third, the impact is less severe. None of that part matters when it is needed, yet what does matter was given to us in 2010 by USA today. Here (at http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-03-10-heart-angiograms_N.htm) we see a point that matters. With “A troublingly high number of U.S. patients who are given angiograms to check for heart disease turn out not to have a significant problem, according to the latest study to suggest Americans get an excess of medical tests. The researchers said the findings suggest doctors must do better in determining which patients should be subjected to the cost and risks of an angiogram. The test carries a small but real risk — less than 1% — of causing a stroke or heart attack, and also entails radiation exposure“. Now, we get that it is an American source on US patients, and not on UK patients, yet there have been correlations in health care in many nations, so it is not without merit to state that there is the chance that the same issue to some extent in the UK is taking place. Now, in the NHS age where £500 million in cost cutting, is it such a stretch to cut the one procedure that is seemingly only actually required in 1% of the cases? I am not stating that it is a great idea, yet if we accept that we need to get £500 million down, going after the 1% group might be one of the better ideas. In all this Labour should not object, a truckload of their politicians have made a career out of going after the 1% group their entire life, so there should be a consensus on both sides on the isle on this subject! The quote that is hugely helpful is ““We have to rationalise cardiac investigations and treatments. There’s variation of 60% to 70% between hospitals. We’re looking into why that is. Who in future won’t get an angiogram? That’ll be up to cardiologists,” said one senior doctor“, which makes perfect sense and as we accept that there will be a group of people that goes through one way of treatment, some of this will be done because a doctor had a certain education from a certain medical school, another takes route 2. I am largely convinced that both paths have merit and are in the best interest of the patient. In addition, when we see the 60%-70% variation, what happens when we drill down deeper and set it against the years of practice of the cardiologist. Will there be clustering? I am not stating that any of them are wrong. Yet, is there a chance that a junior cardiologist would see a few more (perfectly valid) reasons to do the cardiogram? I am not stating, not judging, I am merely asking. You see, as stated by: ‘the Guardian can reveal‘, yet that part they did not reveal. Why not? Perhaps the data was missing, yet the article on how “NHS organisations in Surrey and Sussex are considering restricting the number of patients who have an angiogram or an angioplasty” it would have been nice to see more than merely quoting “I don’t think that these extra cuts are reasonable. You can’t justify £500m to the DUP while taking another £500m out of the English NHS“. When we see the numbers I see that £500 million can be cut from one side where the costs are implied to be £1.75 BILLION, meaning that here we see that cost cutting is met whilst that budget remains to get 72% and none of the other parts are affected.

So cutting 28% from a program, whilst one of the other considerations is ‘Shut beds or even whole wards in community hospitals‘. It is merely a good idea to contemplate what could be cancelled, postponed of even considered in other ways. Another part that is true, yet limited to merely a small paragraph is “Saving the £55m this year will prove to be a false economy that costs the NHS more money in the long term, warned Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust health think-tank” Now, we might think that Nigel Edward is talking politics to the people that hire his consultancy (which is fair enough), yet he has a point and the point he is trying to make has been proven again and again. Yet, the NHS needs a massive overhaul and for the longest of times, people seemed to have been merely talking about it. Is it mere complacency or is there more? Consider the American source 17 years old gave us a 99% not needed rate. There is no evidence (at present) that this is as high in the UK, yet when we see “rationalise cardiac investigations and treatments. There’s variation of 60% to 70% between hospitals“. In an age of cost cutting that 60-70% is an enormous amount of variation and until properly looked at that data there is no way to tell how valid it is in the end.

The article merely gives us a lot more questions than they answer. That is gotten from the final part with “A Department of Health spokesperson said only that “Given the NHS budget has gone up by £6 billion in the last two years in real terms NHS England and NHS Improvement are ensuring that local areas spend their increasing share equally based on best clinical practice.”“, and in addition we see the mention of Tory MP Sarah Wollaston and “while taking another £500m out of the English NHS“, whilst at the end we see “Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, declined to comment on the £55m cuts“. In addition there is “under NHS plans to make £55m of budget cuts in Surrey and Sussex“, so the article does not give us many things. Like why these two counties have to cut a little over 10%, the final part is given in the weirdest of ways. Now, it could be merely the reporter having a creative thought. If that is not the case, the entire issue in the NHS is a lot weirder and even more problematic than the Guardian could have revealed. The issue “The bodies made clear that they have to contemplate such controversial measures because NHSE and NHSI have told them to save the £55m. Despite already having “ambitious financial plans for 2017-18”“, so here we see part of a larger problem. We have seen for the longest time that the NHS over overspending, that the cash is gone and that cuts were needed, we have all seen that news for about 2-3 years and here we see “ambitious financial plans for 2017-18“. So based on what budget were those ambitious plans conceived, perhaps on a gurney with a few nurses (a somewhat speculative imaginative thought)?

The clarity of the problem has been there for the longest of times, the governing bodies need to take several matters a lot more serious, and in all this the shifting numbers, the mentioning of the blended events and numbers give rise to several other questions too. All this because certain numbers were thrown at the readers, yet the overall numbers called in questions from the very first moment and as such the article (in my humble opinion) merely stats that there is a lot more wrong at the NHS than most people realise, with all that, caught in the middle are the doctors and nurses. None are getting hired in addition and there are issues for the doctors two, so when they rightfully demand that these ‘ambitious financial plans for 2017-18‘ are being made public, what kind of a story will they receive? The tension should be an interesting one as the pay rise for health care workers was capped at 1%.

So as we conclude today’s event, we all need to take a long hard look at the decision makers in the UK NHS, they are seemingly wasting too much time of the preferential prospect of presentation, whilst the reality was never a given element of that presentation at all. The fact that there are actual issues rising to the surface of the NHS, whether already looked at or not, when we see the amount of issues linked to high variations, in an age where costs are cut to the extent they need to be, is it not weird that those numbers had not be properly looked at and reported on at least 2 years ago? The 2010 article is indicative of that to at least some degree. You see, if it had been, that that would have been evidence that could have been added to this article. The fact that it was not gives rise to the questions I added and in all this it took not that much time. Now in all fairness, to add 30% on a £105M cut. Yet in all this, there is still the issue with the £1.75 billion of angioplasty in the UK.

In addition, to add the amounts that are added, how was it decided where they would fall?

Now we get that there are issues in several places and some would state ‘It will be alright‘, and ‘things will get fixed‘. Yet from my point of view and from the issues presented there are merely more and more questions coming up and it seems to me that the growing issues with the NHS is due to inaction, not merely through cut backs. That is one actual clear given, the issue at that point is not how we can solve the NHS issues, it becomes how can we temper towards zero the amount of idle time and inaction, not in the staff, but in the governing and infrastructural sides.

The additional part that was not seen at present is the realisation that the NHS issue will tighten, and get worse for the next foreseeable future (up to 5 years), you see, the turnaround will take longer with every delay and the recovery from any delay will take longer with every delay we see. The second part that we will be shown with the time to come is that there is a growing concern that the UK aging part has been shelved with the NHS for too long, so in about three years we will see that the NHS geriatric division is not up to scrap and there will be additional increasing pressures on the NHS soon thereafter.

 

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Awaiting next week

Whatever happens, will happen. You see, the E3 is on next week and in this it will be the week of gamers. We will see presentations from the big makers and they will either wow or BS us. The interesting part is that this is the one week in the year where we either do not care or we cannot tell the difference. You could tell a little better if you are actually there, but that is not for all to do, unless you live in California that is.

The big players will give us on Saturday the 10th the EA press conference, the day after it will be for Microsoft and Bethesda to ‘wow’ its public. Monday will be Ubisoft and Sony, followed that day after by Nintendo and several small presentations with two unannounced AAA games. There is a chance that the new GTA expansion Gunrunners will take one of them. Tuesday till Thursday, from 19:30 (LA time), we will get the Giant Bomb Live (whatever that is). During those days we will get additional presentations some like Shadow of War (Shadow of Mordor 2) is set, and we will see demonstrations of games (titles not given, other than the platform they are on) and the rest is about seeing the stands and watching what wealthy gamers can enjoy in person. It is the chaos all gamers desire. There are already games in place, games by marketeers. You see Ubisoft is in a difficult position. When we see: ‘New Assassin’s Creed: Origins Leak Shows Main Character, Pyramid, And Bonus Content‘ we see a title that implies that either the issue of Ubisoft not knowing how to deal with security, which is a problem. Or, what is more likely is that its marketing department is dipping its toes in the water trying to see the feedback. The second is more likely as this is pretty much the last chance Ubisoft has to recapture the audience it lost from this franchise and that is a large audience. The fact that it is safer nowadays to just wait 8 weeks and buy the limited editions with 50% discount gives you the idea of their loss. In the old days those boxes would be sold out even before the first day of release was even close to happening, Ubisoft lost that much. The EA presentation is a hard one. When we consider what is confirmed, than they do have an issue, however, they might have surprises for us, which most tend to have. For EA it is a hard one, because they are kicking off E3 2017. Bethesda did such an amazing overwhelming job last year that EA is in a tough position, I am not writing them off, but until we see a gossip part of something truly amazing, EA might not rock-da-house so to speak. Bethesda comes the next day with several titles that will capture the minds of gamers. Several of them are all about shooting; at least one will be about shooting, stabbing and killing Nazi’s, so Blazkowitz is expected to be nearby. The Evil within 2 is announced through rumour, which is a nice surprise. After giving us a different kind of nightmare a few years ago, we will get to see what will make us fear what is under the bed this year. In addition Elder Scrolls online players will get to see more, so there is that to look forward to. The latest rumour is that there is a small chance that we will get a first glimpse of the new Elder Scrolls game, and a smaller chance that a tease for the next Fallout will hit our eyes in roughly 3 days 4 hours and a few minutes. We got a fistful of teaser last year with the upcoming god of War last year from Sony. The title is still not out, so we should expect to see more of that game, hopefully updated with an actual date of release. For the PS4pro fans, we should be hopeful to see David Braben show off the PS4 edition of Elite Dangerous, as this version is out on June 27th, which is less than 2 weeks after the E3. This E3 will be a lot more about DLC’s, so the Blizzard fans will get to see loads of upcoming stuff. The list of people awaiting the Diablo 3 addition is larger than the LA White pages, so this is something we hope to see the official release date on. Another reason to seek YouTube on the E3 events is to see the floors. When you realise that the booths of Ubisoft, Bethesda, Microsoft and Activision are the size of a department store, you know you will get to see unique things that the non-visitors will envy you for; especially, when you start forwarding the ‘selfies’ with a larger than life Butcher (Evil within, 2013). This is just one of several halls described, so when I say that the E3 is the gamers place to be, I am understating the need to be there by a fair amount. It gets even wilder when you realise that in another hall, the Sony stand is larger than the Bethesda and Microsoft combined, so we will very likely get to see a few more things regarding all things PS4pro.

In the end, do not just take my word, find the E3 events and watch the presentations. Those will show you for one what you missed out on and it will also be a first step in creating your upcoming Christmas wish list. So far the last three years have shown me what was coming and how much I was unaware of the games I really wanted. One presentation is unknown to be there, but the Subnautica early release on Xbox One was overwhelming. Not just as a game, but as the game grew and as we got more and more, the game will become an absolute must on the PS4, which is expected to be released in September 2017. Oh, and the E3 is not just software, hardware players like NVidia will also be present, so any new hardware development for PC graphics will be visible too.

So as we are awaiting the arrival of next week, for those who are a little over the bulk promises from political parties, the escalations in France and Germany’s move from Turkey, there is the option to just get into gaming and see where that leaves your sanity. In addition, as you get deeper into Call of Duty, you might find yourself more and more imagining these Nazi’s to be ISIS fighters; there is no war like the present I say. So as I leave Activision with the idea of a free DLC, so that we can practice. I also leave you with the comment of Josh Hutcherson in Red Dawn, where he states: “Dude, we are living Call of Duty and it sucks!

That is to make you aware of the difference between gaming in a lazy chair and an actual theatre of war. Because as we seek a little escapism from reality, which is good for the soul at times. We should not forget that the deadly reality is on several doorsteps; in addition, the implied changes I suggested yesterday were partially implemented by France less than 24 hours later. What were the chances of me predicting that? I offer the thought that this was not a game and the changes required in Europe seem to be adopted in France, which is good as they lack a level of security that the UK has due to the fact that it is an island. In addition, the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40195212) gives us more on Youssef Zaghba and more important, the fact that Italy placed Youssef on the SIS2 list, which now beckons the call on how Youssef actually entered the UK. If it was though the Netherlands (Ferry) or the smaller airfields like Rotterdam or Eindhoven, the question becomes how diligent are these checks? There are a few unknowns, but it seems that within Schengen, certain unchecked issues are now an actual security concern. So as we see certain implied accusations, we need to wonder whether Youssef was on SIS2, and if so when was he added?

These are all issues awaiting us for next week, one is all about recreation, one is about anything but recreations and the rest falls in the middle. We can argue, or have a conversation how the terror curve is an inverted recreation curve, yet in all this; the one element that I raised yesterday is now coming to the forefront. I mentioned that we need to think in new ways, we need a new approach to tackle intelligence solutions. The one part they all ignore, or philosophise around it, is that the better game designers have been developing at the edge of hardware possibilities and software creativity for years, a few literally for decades. It is not the worst idea for some of the larger players in the field of security find a way to have a serious conversation with some developers in regards to how creative solutions in data parsing could be found. Some of the larger developers have been doing just that for a decade or more.

As I stated, and I stand by that ‘we need to stop looking in the same direction and regard any box to be obsolete, we need to start being creative to the application of data and technology‘, it is that approach that got me to solve the NHS IT issue. The foundation took a mere hour to ‘solve’.

To those doubting me (always a valid option), I now have a few dozen I told you so articles where what I stated and those following learned came with a difference of weeks, not hours. So I reckon I have made my point a few times. When it comes to the upcoming elections, my larger fear is that Corbyn succeeds by swaying the people to dive the UK in a deeper debt, one that it cannot overcome for decades, it leaves the UK too vulnerable. So consider your choice, and also consider the bleeding hearts of Amnesty International. As they proclaim on loss of rights in Paris, they seem to leave the people in the dark on the dangers that France has faced a few times and how these dangers for now persist. There is a time and a place for everything, and for the most I have never opposed peaceful protests, yet these tend to escalate fast, and it only takes a few people to escalate it beyond proportions. In a time when a man attacking people with a hammer near Notre Dame is just another moment of extremism, is the question, should we protest now, at a time when groups get targeted by extremists? There is nothing stopping them to do this online, via Facebook or Twitter. As stated, it is not about the protest it is about the timing in the light of events as they are happening in Europe. Perhaps my thoughts are wrong on this, and you are welcome to oppose that. Yet with the amount of attacks, with the dangers as the flood of extremists is not known, do you want to be the person starting a peaceful protest, only to guide those who agree to a dangerous life threatening situation?

I do not proclaim to be wise enough to have the answer here; I am merely going on common sense here. So as we get towards and through next week. Perhaps at that point will the information be shown that I was right or wrong? I am happy to be wrong, I am less happy that me, myself and I setting the wrong stage costing the lives of others. That is fair too, is it not?

So as we see the throne of games evolve over the next week on the stages of politics, policies and PlayStation, we need to try and identify, what is marketing and what is BS marketing. The difference will impact the lives of many. It is easy to shrug it off when it is a $100 video game; it is less entertaining when it causes 15 years of austerity. I’ll let you decide on how fair that is, when in doubt, see austerity in action by watching the news on Greece!

 

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Opposed to Fry

The Guardian placed an interesting piece regarding Stephen Fry. This is a good thing, it is always nice to see the point of view of a truly intelligent person, even if I do not entirely agree. This is what happens in an intelligent world, one gives a good point of view and the second person opposes it, or agrees with it. In a true interactive dialogue, the problems of the world could be solved in such manner, which is why it tends to be really sad when politicians avoid that approach slightly too often. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/28/stephen-fry-facebook-and-other-platforms-should-be-classed-as-publishers) gives a few nice gems to start with: “Stephen Fry has called for Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies” to be reclassified as publishers in order to stop fake news and online abuse spreading by making social media subject to the same legal responsibilities as traditional news websites“, this is a good start, but here is also the foundation of my disagreement.

You see ‘Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies”‘ gives us a point, in my view Facebook is not an aggregating news agency. It is a social media outlet and as such, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, Reuters, CNN and a whole host of other providers push their articles to Facebook, often just a small eye catcher with a link to their web page. People can use ‘like‘ and ‘follow‘ and as such the news appears on their time line. This is mere facilitation. Do not get me wrong, Stephen Fry makes good points. In my opposition I would state that it makes more sense to go after the tabloids. Until they clean up their act with the innuendo and their not ‘fake’ but ‘intentional misrepresented‘ news, news that is miscommunicated in such ways to create emotional waves. They need to lose their 0% VAT option, that should be reserved for ACTUAL NEWSPAPERS. You see, these tabloids also use the social media as a projecting outlet. In all this Facebook merely facilitates. The second quote is “Fry accused social media platforms of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”“, I find it a lot harder to disagree with, although, when was the last time tabloids were actually truly fined to a realistic amount, an amount where the fine is set to the revenue of a week of published papers? You see when you have 2 billion users, you will get waves of fake news, or false information. There are no numbers, but consider that with 2 billion users, you are looking at 250 million to 1 billion added events per day, how can this be policed? Now, algorithms to police the use of certain words and that could help to some degree, yet the abusers of the social media system are getting clued in too. So they are getting good at avoiding triggering the software by avoiding words that flags them. In addition, when it is done via fake accounts, how can anything be stopped?

Fry makes a good case, yet I think he is not seeing the scope and amount of data involved. In addition, we see “At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly“, he is completely correct, yet the users of Facebook have the option to not watch it or to not accept it on their timeline. Doesn’t that make it a choice of freedom for the users of Facebook? I have in the past needed to block content from a ‘so called‘ friend, merely because of the amount of BS he was forwarding. It was fixed with a mere click of the button. This is not an opposition towards the point Stephen Fry is making, but an answer on how some people could deal with it. In this equation we have the number of people on Facebook, there is a variable that takes into account the amount of BS we get from tabloids, and you better believe that they are active, via ‘stories’ and via advertisement. The advanced options of granularity that Facebook advertisements offers is the reason why those tabloids want to be there and the tabloid group outside of the UK is massively larger than the disgusting size of the UK tabloids is and they are all offering their links on a global scale.

Can Facebook be held to account? Well, to a certain level they can, you see, the actual propagator of events needs a Facebook account. When information is limited to an audience, the impact is lessened. So as Facebook users can no longer send information to friends of friends, only to friends, we have lost an iteration, this could be the difference between 500 people getting the news (fake or real) or the impact that this news goes to 250,000 people, when the addition is that newsmakers can no longer forward it over timelines, but only to the one subscribed timeline, we will soon see a shift on the wave of messages. In addition, not only is the damage contained (to some degree), but as forwarding any post becomes an instance, there would be a much smaller list to police and the users forwarding the post would no longer be the facilitator, they would become the publisher. Facebook is kinda ‘off the hook’, but the user is not, they could to some degree be held to account for certain actions. It makes the events a lot more manageable. In addition, it could limit impact of events.

So here we see the optional solution to some degree. It must be clear that it is to some extent, because it merely drops the impact, it does not take it away. Stephen follows it all up by also making reference to the British Airways IT fiasco. We now see “Fry cautioned that the world’s reliance on digital systems would also inevitably prompt a cataclysmic cyber-attack and bring on a “digital winter for humankind”“, there is certainly a danger and an issue here. The question becomes which issue is in play? As we see Reuters giving us: ““Many of our IT systems are back up today,” BA Chairman and Chief Executive Alex Cruz said in a video posted on Twitter“, we need to realise that even as Terminal 5 was designed to deal with 35 million passengers, in 2015, the numbers give us ‘Terminal 5 handled 33.1 million passengers on 215,716 flights‘, this gets us the average of 91,000 passengers a day, for 590 flights. So there would be an issue for 3-4 days I reckon. That is just the one day impact. The issue that plays and the caution of Stephen Fry is that as we are unaware of why and how it happened, there is no guarantee that it will not happen again. One of the Guardian articles gives us: “The glitch is believed to have been caused by a power supply issue and there is no evidence of a cyber-attack, the airline said. It has denied a claim by the GMB union that BA’s decision to outsource hundreds of IT jobs to India last year was behind the problems“, which has two parts one is the power supply issue, which is a bit of an issue, the second one is outsourcing. The first one is weird, that is, until we know where that power issue was. If there is a server farm, the server farm would be an issue. At this point, the backup systems should have been working, which should if properly set up be in a secondary location. power issues there too? There are several points where the issue could impact, yet with proper setup and tested solutions, the impact should not have been to the degree it was. That is, unless this was done by the same team who ‘tried’ to give the NHS a new system about 5 years ago, if so then all bets are off. The outsourcing sounds nice when you are a union, but that would merely impact the customer service as I personally see it, so until I see specific evidence of that, I will call it a bogus claim by GMB.

The Stephen Fry issue was neither, he merely stated ‘digital winter for humankind‘, which is an actual danger we are facing more and more. You can judge that for yourself and test it. You merely have to switch off mobile data and Wi-Fi from your mobile for 24 hours. 99.992% will not be able to do that, we are that relying on getting fed digital information. We will offer a host of excuses; like ‘I need to be reachable‘ or ‘people need me non-stop‘. I see it as all bogus mentions of the fact that we are digitally too dependent. If you give these people the additional limitation of ONLY using the e-mail and office programs, the chaos is nearly complete. We are all 100% digitally dependent. That means that any damage to such an infrastructure will bring us distress. We then see “An extinction-level event … will obliterate our title deeds, eliminate our personal records, annul our bank accounts and life savings” which is only part of the quote, but this part has already been arranged for the people of the world, it is called Wall Street (remember 2004 and 2008).

The final part to address is the part we see combined in the article. “Fry also addressed the rise of big data, which has seen private companies competing for and using the personal data of millions for corporate gain, the gig economy of Uber and Deliveroo; the inability of governments worldwide to keep up with technological progress; and live-streaming services like Facebook Live allowing people to broadcast acts of violence and self-harm“, the three elements are:

  1. Rise of big data
  2. Keeping up with technological progress
  3. Live streaming towards violence and self-harm

There is no issue with the rise of big data, well, there is but the people are in denial. They are all about government and the optional alleged abuse of that data, whilst they give the green light to places like Facebook and other instances to do just that, and now they get to sell aggregated data. Yet, when we use a certain data property, where every person is 1, like a social security number or a insurance policy number, when every aggregated fact is founded on a population of 1, how aggregated are you then?

We know that governments are not technologically up to date. You see, the cost to get that done is just too high. In addition, governments and other large non-commercial organisations tend to not push or pursue policies too high, which is why the NHS had its Ransomware issues. We see Labour and socialistic parties on how it all needs to be about people programs, whilst they all know perfectly well that without proper infrastructure there would be nothing left to work with, they just don’t care! They need their image of creating jobs, whilst spending all the cash they have and pushing the government into the deepest debt to keep whatever lame promise they make and the next person gets to deal with the mess they leave behind. The lack of long term foresight is also the Achilles of IT, any IT structure needs a foresight of what is to be done next, by living in a fantasy ‘at the present’ setting, is why some politicians go into denial and in that case IT systems will falter over time and no one is set into the field of ‘let’s get this working properly’, the NHS is the clearest example, but not the only one, or the last one to buckle.

The live stream is the larger issue that has no real solution, that is until the numbers are dealt with. As larger facilitators get a handle of what is pushed online, resources open up to resolve certain issues. There will forever be a risk that certain live streams get through, yet the chances might be limited over time. In that, until the laws change, there remains a problem. Part of it is the law itself. The fact that a rape was streamed live, in it watchers saw Raymond Gates, who was accused in the attack and charged with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery and pandering sexual matter involving a minor. That person ended up with 9 years in jail, whilst he ‘enjoyed’ media limelight attention for many months. Marina Lonina, the person who filmed it all got ‘caught up in the likes’. The New York Times stated: “The defendants each face more than 40 years in prison if convicted“, yet in the end, yet the girl filming it got 9 months, the man doing the act got 9 years (source: CBC). So as we see, it seems that the act of live streaming is rewarded with an optional implied sentence reduction of 39 years and 3 months. So if the governments want to make change, I would suggest that they clean up their justice departments and get some proper convictions in place that will deter such live stream actions. In addition, if Marina Lonina would have been convicted with at least the 8 years in addition, so that she and the actual penetrator served the same amount, there might be a chance that live streaming of self harm will fall. There is no evidence that it will, but you get to solve the matter in small steps. Take away the ‘benefits’ of being merely the camera man or girl, the amount of events might drop too.

So here is my view and opposition of the parts Stephen Fry offered. He made good points and raising awareness of issues is always a good thing, especially if they are made by a person as renowned as Stephen Fry, but in all this dimensionality is still a factor. The response against issues (which I blogged earlier) on ‘tough new laws on extremist and explicit video‘, yet in all this, many transgressors will not get convicted and making it the problem of the facilitator, whilst the governments know that the law falls short is just blatantly stupid on the side of the governments. In the end, these people are not stupid, this track will continue for several years, whilst those politicians with: “the rules are not yet public and now enter what is known as “trialogue” – discussions between negotiators from the EC, the European parliament and the Council of the European Union“, gave rise to my ménage-a-trialogue label as this becomes a new EC gravy train which ends up coasting a boatload in lunches, meetings, hotels and flights whilst not resulting in any actual solution. Do you still think Brexit was a bad idea?

OK, my bad, this was not about Brexit, but the issue of laws and free speech have been on the agenda for the longest of times as ‘Strasbourg on March 24th, judges, journalists, lawyers and activists discussed the challenges facing the protection of free expression in Europe‘, there we saw that Helen Darbishire stressed on that event that “it is necessary that the judiciary in individual countries become more aware of European jurisprudence and standards“. If it is true that many countries are establishing regulations, transparency of public information is still far from being a reality. Yet when we consider that freedom of expression can be positive or negative and any hindrance of it goes via Strasbourg, the limitations faced cannot be pushed onto large corporations that facilitate. As the government leaves the field open to tabloids and even make them VAT exempt in the progress, a facilitator that comes with editors, writers and photographers, how can you push the blame onto a facilitation service that has been largely automated? And the worst of all, the governments pushing to place the blame in the other isle know this very well. As long as the debate goes on, they are ‘working on it‘ making the issue even worse.

So even as I oppose Stephen Fry to some extent, it was good and really interesting to read parts of his view (I was not at the event, so the Guardian might not have given me all he said), and as I read his view, I contemplated the views I had and tested them, that is what the views of an intelligent person does, they allow you to test these views against the views you have, which is awesome any given day of the week.

 

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