Tag Archives: Richard Branson

Merely a starting point

There is an interesting article at the Guardian, which we were treated to mere 6 hours ago. The article ‘Virgin awarded almost £2bn of NHS contracts in the past five years‘ seems to be rubbing people the wrong way. We see (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/05/virgin-awarded-almost-2bn-of-nhs-contracts-in-the-past-five-years), the setting where in “one year alone, the company’s health arm, Virgin Care, won deals potentially worth £1bn to provide services around England, making it the biggest winner among private companies bidding for NHS work over the period“. In the end, the NHS either privatises to a much larger extent, or the service stops. It is basically that simple and it is only the beginning. Even when we give the right amount of empathy to Sara Gorton, the head of health at the trade union Unison, as she states: “The company has been so keen to get a foothold in healthcare, it’s even been prepared to go to court to win contracts, moves that have cost the NHS dearly. While the NHS remains dangerously short of funds, taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be wasted on these dangerous experiments in privatisation“, is that really the case? The fact that Virgin got the contract was mainly because it could be done cheaper. I warned for certain settings as early as 2014, that certain steps cannot continue that way, changes are essential. In addition, as late as January 2017, I mentioned (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/01/15/the-views-we-question/), in the article ‘The views we question‘, issues like: “the document, released in December, aims to address the need to bridge the local NHS funding gap of £267 million which will exist by 2020 if services stay the same in the region” gives rise to even more worry. Not only is the NHS a quarter of a billion short in roughly 1080 days in Coventry and Warwickshire, to survive they have to move? How will that aid the people in Coventry and Warwickshire? Will they end up with any health care at all, or will the local Romani Gypsies with oils and herbals need to be relied on? You think that I am exaggerating? If so, please feel free to inform me on how those two places Coventry and Warwickshire, with 340,000 and 550,000 people end up coming up short by £267,000,000 in three years? Well if advice comes at £343,000 on private consultants, that shortage might be reached rather quickly, but that is not the story is it? The story is how funding has failed and how much more it will fail over the next three years. So, as such, is my view as I personally see it of an essential judicial public inquiry that far-fetched?“, it refers to an article in the Coventry Telegraph, so with the question on how we can save money, which was billed at £343,000 , starting with common sense might have been a first solution. In addition (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/02/17/behind-the-smiling-numbers/), in ‘Behind the scenes‘, we get a few truths that really hurt and that was February 2016. The Guardian then gave us: ‘Income tax must rise 3p to stop NHS ‘staggering from year to year’‘, so, how much more taxation was captured for the NHS? Remember that was 2 years ago. In addition, I had issues (to some extent) on the path that Lord Kerslake took with his papers. And all these papers and consultancies (none of them free), the proper setting for mental health care was not properly set in the dimensions of cost and forecast, now add to that the setting of taxation delays and we see that the NHS is collapsing on itself, a collapse that is increasing in speed and that is merely the last two years. So in all this, someone at Virgin woke up and called Uncle Richard and asked if he was interested in making a few billion more. The setting was always falling in this direction, and most of it was not due to the tenacity of Richard Branson, but due to the political inaction and to an even larger extent the political follies seen (NHS-IT being the main one). Consider that it took me 8 hours to figure out a technological solution that could change the entire infrastructure of data, merely because I was willing to look at the larger picture and rearrange a few settings, the solution was printed in the History of Scotland, it was THAT simple. Yet none of those IT experts had a clue, or they did but the political engine would not consider adherence to change making it a bigger folly.

Now we see: “Precise details of all the contracts are difficult to establish because neither the Department of Health and Social Care or NHS England keep a centralised record. Virgin’s when it announced plans for six branded clinics offering a range of services. However, it was only in 2010 when it bought a stake in an existing provider, Assura, that it began to show greater ambition in the market“, which shows both the data folly as well of a massive lack of transparency on the health care part (optionally parts of the NHS as well), that shortcoming is the first setting into cost cutting and it is also a direct link to where services could be bettered. The second part was seen in January 2017 with ‘Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Commons health select committee, criticised the government for blaming GPs for the crisis” as well as “She said in a tweet: “Pretty dismal stuff for govt to scapegoat GPs for very serious NHS pressures. Failure to understand the complexity or own responsibility.‘, the central setting was ‘Failure to understand the complexity‘, a part that was shown to a larger extent going back to 2016, even in 2015 and 2014, there were clear signs of non-comprehension in all this and the IT folly, which the Labour government was able to grow to £11.2 billion merely added to the pressures, whilst in addition to all that is also minimised options left for the NHS. all that squandering came at a price and it seems to me that both Sara Gorton and Paul Evans seem to steer in their lanes, but are equally ignoring the setting that the opportunity for Virgin grew due to a lack of flexibility in the organisations (slightly speculative) and the political branch merely added fuel to the squandering fires. Then finally the Lord Kerslake paper, which I opposed to some extent with the equations that they had in regards to the 20 OECD countries. Here I mentioned ‘Perhaps his Lordship could give a slightly more detailed explanation for the remark “Health spending needs to rise at least in line with GDP. Arguably, we may need to go faster if we want to match European funding“. Considering that the Netherlands and Belgium are next to one another and their budgets per person are apart by a mere 49.404%‘, I believe that it is not merely the stretch of the ‘holier than thou‘ GDP, I believe that there are additional elements making the comparison for the UK not merely dangerous, I believe them partially to be unusable (well a bit more than just partially). In all these settings there has been delay on delay and in the end Virgin had to step in. The funny part is that this also opens up data and reporting centres where Virgin has a much larger trove to work with. It would end up that a new VirginAnalytics could be what Dunnhummby was for Tesco, although with a data growth close to 500% of what Tesco allowed for, there is a decent setting where Virgin creates new levels of data cohesion giving the NHS an actual first time where there is a better level of reporting transparency as well as a better quality of Dashboard presentations, which will grow Virgin even more and also allows Virgin to skim the cream of the NHS sections that will be more profitable in the mid-term range of investments, opportunities grown from political complacency as well as political indecision.

So whilst people are going emotional with slogans like: ‘Not His to Seize‘, they all forget that the NHS and its political branch did this to themselves, Uncle Richard merely picked up the pieces and made it all work. This is getting even more traction when we consider the Lancashire Post where we saw almost a month ago “Opposition politicians have demanded an urgent inquiry into the way the authority awarded a £105m child health contract to Virgin Care, only for the decision to be blocked in the High Court. County Hall is continuing to consider its options after the ruling two weeks ago, one of which could be to re-run a part of the procurement process which the judge ruled fell short of the standards required

The article (at https://www.lep.co.uk/news/inquiry-call-over-lancashire-county-council-105m-virgin-care-health-contract-1-9241205) gives rise to questions not only on the awarding of contracts, but on the entire setting on investigating the amount and not to mention the fact that the contract was awarded whilst there were two NHS trusts on it, it shows that it not merely transparency. With ““We are in a real mess and the Government needs to intervene,” said Labour leader Coun Azhar Ali“, it implies that the NHS (as well as the local government) is to some degree riddled with incompetence. I cannot come to any other conclusion. The setting we see with “Coun Fillis added: “The Conservatives in Lancashire have been stopped once again from privatising public services, in this case our children’s health services“, is on Labour, not the Conservatives. The governing party decided to push for public health privatisation, and opposing it might be valid, but that legal invoice is still due, so crying over it with ‘tide of mounting legal costs, which the people of Lancashire will have to pay for‘, especially when you consider that “in view of the ridiculous comments from LCC’s Labour group, it should be borne in mind that the decision to seek tender for the provision of health services for Lancashire’s children and young people was actually taken by cabinet in February 2017, and both Couns Ali and Fillis were members of that cabinet“, so basically it was a decision that has suddenly hijacked by a minority and they are crying for the setting of cost? Go cry me a river, please!

It is in that setting, where politicians (especially labour) was lax with spending, squandered billions upon billions and they thought the Virgin train would pass them by. Now as this is not the case, not only do we see larger changes, there is the valid concern that mere niches are saved and a much larger setting still goes into the drink. If there is one setting that might change it is by taxing every person an additional £1 per payslip to save the NHS. It seems like a little, but with currently 32.2 million people working, that could add up to £65 million per fortnight. It might not be a lot, but it is a start and with that start you can begin to create momentum for the NHS that is by the way separate from all other funding due to the NHS. The question will people accept it? I reckon that when the NHS actually starts getting healthier, they will live with the loss of £1 each person, each payslip. It might have been pennies, initially, but that was 2 years ago, now we either act or lose a lot more and this is with VirginCare in place. Without it, and with the lack of restructuring the losses will be close to monumental, the simple impact of inaction, we can argue that the Conservative government is taking the easy way out, but is there any alternative? You merely need to look at what we can call a hijack by both Couns Ali and Fillis to realise that there are two in a setting that is much larger and those loses and those legal ramifications as well as the actions that followed is more than a sign of the times, it is a sign of high cost and zero impact desperation, that whilst actual working actions to get the NHS in a better place was ignored to one side and mismanaged on the other side by Labour in the 1997–2007 frame.

At present for Virgin, VirginCare is merely a starting point that can go a much larger route within the next 4 years, in the end, without an NHS, what will people do? I wonder how many remain in denial of that setting, yet it has been a more and more realistic setting. The simple setting is that almost two trillion in debt means that annually at present £68 billion is required for interest alone. Even as Net borrowing is down to almost 28% of what is was in 2010, the setting is that there is a massive debt and it is impacting everything (and the NHS not in the smallest setting). Only be diminishing that part can the UK move forward, which is a lot better than the EU is seeing at present, their debt will make them slaves to the banks for decades. You see, linked to all this is not merely what the government has, but the fact that “The 28 member states of the European Union (EU) have a total debt burden of €12.5 trillion, which could be even bigger, according to the latest figures from the EU statistics office, Eurostat“, in light of the UK being one of the big four, it implies that the rest of the EU will have to deal with the €10.7 trillion debt. How quick do you think they will be able to deal with that? That is why Brexit mattered, in light of the NHS being cut to a bare minimum, it is more and more a setting that Europe could more likely than not end up with not having any healthcare at all, so where would you prefer to be? In light of all that, Virgin might end up with a large gain, but at least there will be some healthcare, a part that too many are ignoring. Would it have been better to keep it all in the NHS? No doubt, but if you want to eat at the Ritz, you better have a fat wallet and the governments from 1997 onwards have all been part of blunders that ended the UK at minus 2 trillion, did you think that was going to go away because the news did not make mention of it? Consider Forbes who gave us not only that French and Italian health care is really good under normal conditions, in Italy (regarding the article), “I have never heard of a child waiting for surgery on his arm.  He would have been placed on the operating room list and he would have been fixed as soon as feasible. There are plenty of more serious surgeries, like cancer cases or even cardiac care, that are put on hold for months in these types of healthcare systems“, the article (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/benjamindavies/2018/08/05/a-broken-arm-in-italy-waiting-for-surgery/#20de8a1f29b6) shows the setting in Italy, in addition, in France we have a similar setting and all over Europe there are similar pressures.

Getting back to the corporation in question, is VirginCare a force for good, or the opposite? I believe that it can be a force for good, but we need to realise that the people can only be treated when we consider that flexibility is required. The lack of resources that is already in play is one part, the political games that we see, whilst relying on the emotion of others is the second part and when the people realise that they have been had by the likes of ‘both Couns Ali and Fillis‘, and many others like them, when it comes out on the waste of resources that they enabled for, will these angry people picket at the front doors of these politicians, or is that not sexy enough?

So when we see the Virgin setting with: “We welcomed inspectors back on 4 July and they were very positive at the further progress we’d made since January in implementing our improvement plan, and gave us positive feedback about the improvements to the practice. We are awaiting the publication of an updated report in the coming months which will reflect this most recent visit“, we see that there is positive change, that there is progress. It will take time, because those expecting this change to be overnight, they are truly looney tunes. If you wanted immediate change, you should have gone after certain politicians as early as 2013, so don’t cry now, not when the choice is now limited between a crewcut and decapitation. The NHS setting is close to that extreme, and has been for some time.

 

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Tubing it along

There is news, news that has been about a few weeks and I have kept an iLook on it. In one part it is as techofreak as it gets, so I should be on board the moment it launches, it is so versatile that it has no other option than to change lives on a global scale, yet there is the issue that it is so new that it is a little scary. That is the reality of all new technology; consider the first 10,000 Facebook accounts, the first 100,000 internet users. It all starts in a small geeky way and this will be no difference. It had more presence in the Saudi Arabia Vision 2030, so that is why I took another look. You see, the entire matter is not merely where it is, but it is how the technology is adapted, that is the first part in all this. To set this in the proper light, we need to take a step back. In the UK they have the HS2. So when we see the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-16473296), we see “The initial plan is for a new railway line between London and the West Midlands carrying 400m-long (1,300ft) trains with as many as 1,100 seats per train. They would operate at speeds of up to 250mph – faster than any current operating speed in Europe – and would run as often as 14 times per hour in each direction“, so when we consider London – Birmingham we see ‘1 h 25 min’, as their fast option at present, which at 117 miles, makes the HS2 a 45 minute saving, so how many billions is that going to cost? Now consider that each one technical glitch will cut the 45 minutes. Now, I am all for progress, now when we go by two numbers we see “a projected cost of £56 billion, up from the initial cost of £32.7 billion in 2010“, we see that 8 years ago, they had it wrong by close to 100%, so we see a waste of £56 billion plain and simple. The UK could fix its schools for that amount of money and overall, there is absolutely no reason to go that distance, it is just too short. Now we get to the next stage of travel.

Welcome to Hyperloop!

Now as we see this in the Saudi Arabian setting it changes, you see when we look (at https://www.tahawultech.com/news/virgin-hyperloop-one-unveils-vision-2030-pod/) we see ‘Traveling from Riyadh to Jeddah would take 76 minutes (currently over 10 hours) utilising the land bridge for both passenger and freight movement, positioning KSA as the gateway to 3 continents‘ as well as ‘Traveling from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi would take 48 minutes (currently over 8.5 hours)‘, so here we see a clear forward momentum. Not merely 45 minutes gain, but gains that take away 90% of the travel time, now we are talking improvements! I never quite understood the HS movement, not in the UK (where there is some benefit) and even less in the Netherlands where the improvements are as shallow as it gets, all this ‘good for the economy‘ whilst I think it greased the careers of certain people, and in the end nothing for the citizens, and the less stated on the Dutch government joke called Fyra at a mere €11 billion loss, it is not a lot if you say the amount fast!

So even as we are burning ourselves all over Europe on high speed trains Hyperloop technology is different, you go by tube (as literally as it gets) and within that tube you have the option to truly accelerate, the nice setting that this will reflect on cargo and passengers alike, so it is also versatile. So when we read “The hyperloop-enabled transportation sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will stimulate economic growth and diversification of Saudi industries, according to Virgin Hyperloop One. It will also nurture the manufacturing and innovation sectors, and spur job growth in support of the country’s Vision 2030 plan increasing the GDP 1-2 percent across the Kingdom“, we are not seeing the whole picture. You see it is almost a lot bigger than that. The currently planned £380 billion mega city Neom would be an optional first as well, so Riyadh would be linked to Neom, which now is set to connect Egypt and Jordan, it also opens the doors almost directly to Sharm-El-Sheik as well as the Israeli city of Eilat, all golden opportunities which allows Saudi Arabia to grow the economy in Riyadh on a much larger foundation than ever before. In all this Cargo and passengers are set to near exponential growth, especially in the short term. So we have near direct connections between Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the centre of all this. It will not take long for these nations to grow all kinds of alliances and commerce will flourish like nothing we have seen before and Virgin, with its Hyperloop One is in the centre of this growth. Even as Europe is trying to get something similar rolling, we see that France is alas out of cash for such an endeavour (at present) ‘Hyperloop gives cash-strapped French cities hope‘ (at https://www.thenational.ae/business/economy/hyperloop-gives-cash-strapped-french-cities-hope-1.726967), it is a stretch, but it makes a lot of sense for France to get involved in all this, in their setting Hyperloop makes sense, especially regarding cargo (cheese and wine settings anyone). So when I see “TransPod’s technology is based on magnetic propulsion and electrified tracks, moving pods through a vacuum tunnel designed to reduce friction. As with most Hyperloop projects, the bulk of the estimated costs are for deploying infrastructure. Co-founder Sebastien Gendron estimates his company needs €20 million (Dh88.1m) in financing to complete the Limoges project at the current stage, and says he’ll raise half of that from private investors“, in all this, I am surprised that no one there called Ubisoft (more specifically Christian Guillemot, Claude Guillemot, Gérard Guillemot, Michel Guillemot or Yves Guillemot), they have the cash and more important, to be the founders of something this futuristic that will be moving through France with the Ubisoft symbol would be worth its weight of a train in gold I’d imagine.

So back to Saudi Arabia, the one part I do disagree with is ‘in support of the country’s Vision 2030 plan increasing the GDP 1-2 percent across the Kingdom‘, you see, once the line is in place, it will spur the economy in more ways, beyond tourism and beyond cargo, for close to double that prediction. A system that far ahead will also spur infrastructures growth as the rest of the world will be lagging behind, especially where engineering is concerned. They all claim they have ‘the technology‘ yet at present there is a lot more reliability that under these settings it will only be running in the KSA in a more serious setting in the foreseeable future and that is where the advantage grows, in addition, when the travel times are shifted to those degrees, emergency surgeries, medical disasters when Hyperloop technologies transfers and adjusts in more than one perk, we will see both the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centres in Riyadh and Jeddah grow abilities to attain options because they are now less than 2 hours apart. That transfers to all manner of services, when they are no longer separated by time to that degree, it will drive a lot more than the ones we see at present. and let’s not forget, this is merely the first degree of Hyperloop, as the engineers figure out a lot more than is currently possible, the growth will blossom further, and as we see forward momentum on this scale, we understand that there are risks, you when the gain is not 45 minutes, but 90% travel time is reduced the picture shifts a lot further on a larger scale. Even as we were introduced to ‘tube’ transport in Logan’s Run in 1976, we never imagined that it would be an actual solution, not until now do we see that there are places where it is more than a solution, it is the drive to move forward on nearly every field.

So even as I accept that we are not there yet and there are all kinds of issues down the line, movement is now a given, and even a some used the London underground map and added some Hyperloop fun to it, the setting is not that impossible on some part of those tracks. It is a part where all technology can move forward, we merely have to adapt parts of it. Consider that change as new venues of technology open will up, and there is serious cash to be made for all the players in this field, you merely have to find the niche where your solution fits.

That is where Vision 2030 is now becoming a driving force, not merely because there is $500 billion to be found, but because those who do get their working solution in place, for those there is a lot more to be made over time, Saudi Arabia is merely the pilot, it is the global setting where profit becomes a very serious opportunity, it will drive the now nearly born new Nouveau Riche generation to a very new level with amounts the previous generation never ever dreamed of.

When you sit down and consider the map, we do not merely see Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, we see that Saudi Arabia has the opportunity become the axial for those three continents, an option we never would considered as realistic when Vision 2030 launched 10 years ago, now that picture is shifting and with the growing technologies as Saudi Arabia is embracing these new opportunities we see a shifting picture, even as oil might be funding this, the reliance on it is fading a lot faster than we thought possible, not merely through Hyperloop, but through the changes all the technologies enable one another with and that also gives new directions, because it is no longer about volatility  (as Saudi Arabia was accused of by others in a previous blog), it is about stability and the enabled stability that these solutions bring.

For in the end making money will always win over waging war, that has been proven for the longest of times.

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Pinata whacking Couper

There is a little mean streak in me, you see, it started with Tesco, and it actually started a little earlier. But the gist is that when it concerns PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) I tend to take a swing at them whenever possible, I just roll that way. So there I was looking at ‘PwC charges more than £20m for first eight weeks of Carillion collapse‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/21/pwc-charges-20m-eight-weeks-carillion-collapse-final-bill) when I realised that when I wack those boys I usually have good reason and supporting documentations to test my latest sledgehammer on a member of their board of Directors. In this article, when I saw “MPs have accused the accountancy firm tasked with salvaging money from Carillion on behalf of its creditors and pensioners of charging “superhuman” fees, after it racked up a bill for £20.4m in eight weeks” it took a mere 3.2 seconds from spitting in my hands and getting ready to swing that hammer at Kevin Ellis (yes all the way from Sydney, my arms are that long). I held off and went ‘wait a minute!

You see, I always had as I saw it good cause, but who are these MP’s thinking that they have good cause? The first is Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP in charge of the business select committee. So she mentioned that ‘superhuman’ part. What does she know? The Wiki claim states that she is an economist. So how much does one charge for 112 consultants? You see at £199 an hour we get £891K for these people working a mere 40 hours a week. As it is the UK, they are more likely to work 60 hours which gets us at flat rate £1.3 million a week which leaves PwC with an overhead of a mere £100K whilst I have not taking into account any additional expenses and they tend to get high. I reckon that these people are likely to make a lot more than 60 hours a week, that is the result of “£2bn to its 30,000 suppliers” and as the article states “a week to employ 112 staff to keep the company running and to honour government contracts” we do not see the inclusion of any additional staff that was not hired and that is still assigned via PwC. So that took a mere 6 seconds to realise that I was not getting to whack Kevin Ellis. Leave it to a Labour MP to spoil a perfectly lovely Friday morning feeling. Now, let’s also realise that my calculations could be way off, there are so little actual facts in the article (I am not blaming the article here) that there are hidden traps all over the place. I think that Rachel should have gotten up from the right side of the vibrator that morning, as we need to realise what an amazing mess Carillion is. The oversight had fallen short on so many sides, with the mention of pensions and a shortfall that is close to a £1,000,000,000 should be a much larger issue and the fact that this had fallen short implies a level of what I regard to be criminal negligence that is unheard of. We merely need to look at ‘Carillion’s pension crisis defies magic legal cure‘ (at https://www.ft.com/content/5041d10e-1a1c-11e8-aaca-4574d7dabfb6). So when we see “Yet in the seven years before its collapse, Carillion made contributions to the fund of just £280m while paying out dividends worth more than £500m“, my first idea is to look at the auditors and the accountancy firm. So how much overview did Rachel Reeves give regarding KPMG? We get part of this when we see ‘Why didn’t anyone working with Carillion say it was going to fail?‘ (at https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/carillion-kpmg-auditors-audit-hbos-financial-crisis-self-regulation-deloitte-a8185356.html). Here we see: “In March 2017, the giant audit firm KPMG signed off on the annual accounts of the construction giant-cum-outsourced services provider Carillion, saying they gave a “true and fair view” of the state of the company’s affairs. For this work, KPMG received a fee of £1.4m. This followed £1.4m of fees recouped the year before. In fact, KPMG had been Carillion’s auditor every year since it was founded in 1999. You don’t need to be an accountant to work out that that adds up to a very lucrative client relationship” that whilst we get the news that a mere four months later “its contracts to provide services were worth a remarkable £845m less than they had previously been valued on its books” that is an amount that exceeds whatever Richard Branson has in his wallet on his best days, so how was this overlooked? So as Rachel Reeves was kind enough that the value of KPMG is not good enough to audit the contents of her fridge, she should also be aware that this entire audit is not merely the outstanding invoices, there is a decent concern that the audit of KPMG has been unable to correctly assess issues for 17 years. So there is a real need to set up the correct framework to be able to take a long term look to the matters as well as the ability to set the right data dimensionality so that the data does not need to migrate over and over as more is found. I would think that an MP who part of the ‘the business select committee’, as well as a graduated economist would know that. You see as an experienced IT worker and a data analyst, I saw that coming a mile away.

So here I am partially standing up for PwC (so how fucked up will my day become?), news at 23:00. So when we get back to the Financial Times article and we see “As a House of Commons report has noted, Carillion’s growing borrowings were not used to invest in the company. In fact, while the group’s debt rose 297 per cent between 2009 and 2017, the value of its long-term assets grew just 14 per cent“, can we agree that there is a side that is terribly wrong here? These matters should have been clear in the KPMG reports, which now clearly overthrows the statement “they gave a “true and fair view” of the state of the company’s affairs“, I think that we can all agree that this part has been debunked in 30 seconds flat. In addition the Independent gives us “Moreover, KPMG was not the only auditor of Carillion’s numbers. Its 2016 report relates that it had a special “internal” auditor too, in Deloitte, with which it worked even more closely than with KPMG. So why didn’t Deloitte pick up on the dodgy contract numbers?” For me that is an interesting side as I have never seen anything dodgy in Deloitte. The fact that they might be part of the mess (unlikely though) is also cause for concern. More important, as I personally see it, it will be up to PwC to get that part out in the open. What was the exact assignment of the internal auditor, what data was presented, what data was accessed and used and who was part of the entire reporting stage of this internal audit? It would show more players in all this and could optionally give a better path in seeing the navigations that the decision makers in Carillion were involved in.

That is a part that we need to realise and consider.

There is another concern that the Independent brought to light. With: “Previous probes by the FRC have produced nothing but clean bills of health for auditors. “In nearly every major financial scandal we’ve had since the financial crisis, the FRC decides none of its charges have done anything wrong,” notes Jim Armitage, city editor of the Evening Standard. Worse, these rulings come with no reports or published evidence, making a mockery of the FRC’s claims to “promote transparency”” we might think that it is merely the FRC, yet what Wall Street taught us is that the entire 2008 joke gave rise to an 8 trillion write off, whilst no actual laws were broken, or at least none that could be proven, so in that regard, if that happens again now, we can clearly look at the House of Lords, point fingers and tell them to improve laws immediately and hold any MP and minister accountable for naming and public shaming. It might work, but I doubt it. You see, until there are large and unforgiving prison sentences, whilst also remove all the rights of ownership to those involved in Carillion, nothing will change. I have seen people setting the ownership of their large estates to their wives and then deny that they had any outstanding financial responsibilities in more than one country. Until these matters are settled this game will continue because greed will always win in the end.

So when we get back to the initial article we get “Kelly, who said his personal rate was £865 an hour, said PwC’s costs would gradually fall as more parts of Carillion were sold and staff from the accounting firm stopped working on the project. He said the firm initially had 257 people working on Carillion, with a bill for about £3m for their services in the first week after its collapse“, we see where part of the costs went to, so as my calculations was based on smaller settings we see how easily these costs were attained and the end of it is not in sight. Rachel Reeves should have seen this clearly as she had access to data I still have not seen. I think it is much more interesting to look at “Finance director Richard Adam, who retired in December 2016 after nine years at Carillion received almost £1.1m in salary and bonuses in 2016“, which we get from the BBC. So if we get to see the wrongdoings of Richard Adams, this is a reasonable speculation as the entire mess goes back a lot further than 2016, will we see these same MPs demand the auctioning of the goods of Richard Adams to make up for the losses of Carillion? You see the article stated MPs, not singular. Rachel Reeves might have been the visible one, but I want to see all those names, because when we consider the BBC news (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-42703549) as it gives us:

  • The £350m Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Sandwell: opening delayed to 2019 due to construction problems.
  • The £335m Royal Liverpool Hospital: completion date repeatedly pushed back amid reports of cracks in the building.
  • The £745m Aberdeen bypass: delayed because of slow progress in completing initial earthworks.

We need to ask questions on several MPs all over the field, all over the UK apparently. These three alone show a £1.3 billion issue are so out in the open that these three alone will constitute evidence of a much deeper required accountancy dig. Three issues shown last January and these three alone gives rise for me to think that PwC will be able to charge a lot more and in addition, the entire settling and selling could take a lot longer than some expect it to take. So these elements are the setting for additional costs, so those MPs might claim that there is a case of ‘milking the Carillion cow dry‘, but they better be ready for me to take a look at more than these three projects, because I will ask openly on their failings to get a handle on matters, because I am 99% certain that these three projects alone will lead to a dozen others all over the UK and if there are no clear memo’s from those MPs in regards to Carillion, they will be named openly to give rise to their shortcomings (perhaps also what was between their legs), because if you do not have the balls to go against the larger players, you should not be in office at all. Yet, that might be merely my warped expectation of elected officials.

Carillion is a clear mess that had been going on for a much longer time than some expect. You see, that part is seen in ‘cracks in the building‘, ‘construction problems‘ and ‘slow progress in completing initial earthworks‘ it implies optional failings going all the way back to the foundation of the works that were possibly never correctly done in the first place.

So I might still end up treating the bosses of PwC UK as piñatas, but at present there are plenty of other targets and so far (remember I say ‘so far’), in this particular case PwC seems to be in the clear (darn!).

 

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Vestal Virgins of Health

We tend to get nervous whenever Richard Branson gets mentioned. I am not sure why. You see (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/29/richard-branson-virgin-scoops-1bn-pounds-of-nhs-contracts), we see two parts. The first is “Richard Branson’s Virgin Care won a record £1bn of NHS contracts last year, as £3.1bn of health services were privatised“, the second is “Its growing role has prompted particular anger among anti-privatisation groups. It pays no tax in the UK and its ultimate parent company, Virgin Group Holdings Ltd, is based in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven“, my two issues here are ‘So what?‘ and ‘What did you expect would happen?‘ You see, the solution I had in mind is still not in the roll out and as such Richard has a few issues to deal with soon enough, but the larger extent is not the solution to get it on the rails, it is that both sides of the political isle have been sitting on their hands for over two years and the previous labour administration wasted 11 billion with no results to show. I have shown over half a dozen times in the last year alone that actions were needed and Richard saw options to fulfil the need, so as we read: “Privateers continue to win huge new NHS contracts“, we need to realise that the NHS can no longer make it happen and that the health care costs in the UK will go up, all largely due to politicians not seeing eye to eye on the solutions needed.

So when we now look at the need for the people we see that not only is the interpretation of the mess wrong, the issues that we saw last February (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/28/labour-nhs-jeremy-corbyn-hospital-theresa-may) is still not improving. With “Labour’s failure to counter the right’s message has left more people blaming the NHS crisis on migrants and patients’ bad lifestyles than Tory underfunding or rising numbers of older people“, this too requires scrutiny, because the coffers are empty, all sides in the UK were impacted, so that includes the NHS. In addition, when we see “Whoever follows Corbyn will now find it ferociously hard to regain that lost NHS ground” we see that the message got lost in many ways, because it is about owning the issue and resolving it, not to win lost NHS grounds, because that is merely a conversation on things that are nice to have and the patients will still die as the ‘conversation‘ continues. It is largely too late for conversations, it is time for actual solutions. I am not of mind whether Virgin Care UK is the right step or not, but it is an ACTUAL step being made, which is every time better than merely talking to the press on how hard things are. The people in the UK have had a few years of that with no resolution into any real solution. So as the papers go on regarding the death of a bullied girl and eating disorder services, we seem to forget that the two extreme (yet not ignorable issues) are not the centre piece, it is brought as the outliers in the game that is actually larger and has a few other problems that are digging itself to the surface. So as we see the blame of neglect, we forget to ask the question in regard to “Becky Romero, 15, was let down by ‘gross NHS failures’ an inquest heard“, yet where were the parents? Where were HIS/HER responsibilities? And when we see “The troubled school girl was victim to more than a decade of bullying before her death earlier this year“, what EXACTLY did the school do in the end? It is not a secret that the service is massively underfunded, it is not an excuse, it does not clear the NHS of any blame, but it seems to me that the school had already massively failed this student, and where are they in the dock? Where are the parents in all this?

It seems to me that there is plenty of blame to go around and the NHS has been given the black card for a few times too many. If anything, we could state that Parliament itself might be seen as the guilty party as they had no funds available. The buck gets passed around and around and there has been way too much of that.

In my view it is time that the parents themselves are getting the responsibility to some degree. Now, this is not fair and there should be a better way, but should child care and child wellbeing not be with the parent? I know that there are exceptions, but it seems to me that there have been too many exceptions in too many places and ways and the NHS is no longer able to meet the challenges it faces. Changes will be needed in the immediate and even to the longer extent for now.

So is Virgin Care the solution?

As I stated before, there is no way to tell, but it is an active step in resolving issues, which is better than looking at it and whining about shortages to the media whilst no actual actions are taken, except for planning stages that cost thousands of pounds and merely result in a report. You see, it was only 2 weeks ago that we saw “One CCG – NHS Surrey Downs – accidentally disclosed in its October public finance papers that its liability over the case was £328,000“, in my view it was not an accident, or the mere fact that it might have been shows not merely a flaw, but a larger lack of competence in this regard. Like any firm it went to court after the firm was confronted with “a “serious flaws” in the way the contract was awarded“, yet the petition was all about Branson being rich and not bout the NHS chapters screwing up AGAIN, whilst also dragging its feet regarding confidential issues. So as we get misinformed on 2 million versus the Branson estimated wealth of 3.5 billion, whilst in the same setting forgets that the NHS bungled issues for a decade and as such they can no longer get things done and private options are all that remains, that is a business decision and as such, business decisions are a game that come with rules and regulations.

In all this there is a side that people seem to ignore. You see, if Virgin Care UK gets even as little as 10% of their contracts done, with passing grades, we see that a for profit organisation has been able to do what the NHS no longer could, showing that a harsh overhaul had been overdue for well over a decade. I showed part of that earlier this year in both ‘Choosing an inability‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/02/09/choosing-an-inability/) and ‘Healthy or Smart?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/02/10/healthy-or-smart/), two moments where we see the usage of funds that are debatable. Now, whether it should have been done is not the question, what is shown is that the NHS is so short of cash whilst the privatised versions are optionally now making a profit. Considering that Richard Branson is in it for the cash (to some extent), showing that it can be done is merely meat for the grinder showing that the NHS has a few more logistical flaws than any of us are realising. As such there is a clear chance that we need to ask a multitude of serious questions at the address of the NHS and not at the setting of Branson incorporated, that is the evidence we might be harshly confronted with at the end of 2018.

The fact that the people at large are starting to realise that harsher acts are needed are an initial first in resolving the issue. The fact that the Daily Mail reported on Drunk Tanks, an issue I raised in 2014 shows the additional part that the actions by the NHS have been too lacks and too slow, it could be the evidence that drove Richard Branson in entering the UK care field more energetically over the last 5 years.

 

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Mouseketeers are Go(ne)!

Yes, we are today looking at the four small people who seemingly form the three musketeers thunderbirds style. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/03/four-men-given-life-sentences-for-plotting-lee-rigby-style-terrorist-attack) gives us a few items and it is interesting how the article does not mention certain items. They are Tahir Aziz, 38, Naweed Ali, 29, Mohibur Rahman, 33, and Khobaib Hussain, 25. Yet, ever as we see that they are from ‘the Midlands‘, yet we see no mention of any nationality. Is that not an interesting oversight? We see that two have met with Anjem Choudary, who is all about serving the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Yet here the Guardian remains down to the ground with a mere mention of Islamic State. The Daily Mail and the Stoke Sentinel are even less useful with their mention of ‘bought £20 samurai sword from Hanley sex shop‘, for the record, a samurai sword cannot be bought for £20 and the fact that a sex shop sold it is even more irrelevant. Here we ‘suddenly’ see ‘details’. The massive lack of facts is upsetting to me. The media is slowly becoming an increasing joke; in this even the Guardian needs to get scolded here! It is interesting as it was in equal measure that the opinion piece in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/07/anjem-choudary-hate-media-al-muhajiroun-london-bridge-terror-attack) gave voice to the issues with this certain social activist. It is the subtitle that gave us ‘Long before the attention-seeking al-Muhajiroun leader was linked to the London Bridge attack, Muslims despaired at the platform he was given‘. It is the start of the article that gives the goods that is one of many articles that tend to give the Guardian its value. With: “He wasn’t the infamous preacher of hate the media wanted him to be. He was a scrappy street agitator. Or, he was, until he got his big break“, we see that many see the difference, of what is truly an activist and what is merely a shouting bag of hot air. So as we see the four names with no nationality information, we see not merely the first issue, we see a collected set of facts not given to us, which in light of escalations in the middle east is important. For days we get the he said in Qatar versus they said in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. These four might not even be any of those, they might be of Iranian or Pakistani origin, it is so interesting how the press suddenly forgot the catchphrase on people and the right to know. So even as “The UK Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the Mail Online, tabloids prone to fits of sexism with some regularity. They all ran stills of Whittaker either naked or topless in earlier roles“, we see that according to what some laughingly refer to a journalistic integrity seem to regard the breasts of Dr. Jodie Who as ‘important facts‘ yet the full nationality (or nationalities) of the 4 with serious intent to blow people up, that part is not a given need, how revolting is that?

With the BBC giving us at least “They had attempted to join an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in 2011“, we might imply (speculative) that they were Pakistani. Yet are they merely Pakistani with UK residency, or with Citizenship. These details matter! They matter because it gives light towards and weight into the issues of home grown terrorism. With their not so bright approaches we might not see them as actual dangers as assumed to be Lone wolf terrorists, but with the fact that plans were underway, there is a clear case. It is nice to see that MI5 was on the ball and prevented it all (which is always good to read), yet the issue remains that certain ‘unknowns’ should never be so. As for the upcoming political excuse that they might have been trying to protect ‘innocent Pakistani’s’ is not entirely invalid, but the people need to know where the dangers are coming from. Now in the end, there is not a lot that the people could have done, yet when we watch the news and we are confronted with the nations banned by the Trump administration, and in succession, when we learn that the many terrorists who made it to their intended nations of target are not from those nations at all. Pakistan was not on that list, was it? Neither is Egypt who still has their fair share of Muslim Brotherhood extremists and in equal measure the few people in Jordan who are now starting to embrace Islamic State? They have options to move to America, not getting banned at all. All this we see and none of it makes the news. I know it is important to see that the bulk of Pakistani’s are not extremists or have terrorist tendency. The issue is that the press is keeping us in the dark too often and they are losing both integrity and are no longer regarded as reliable when it comes to the news. In all this the politicians have their part to play as well and are directly responsible for some of it. If they had the balls to actually stop the tabloid from being GST exempt because they should not be regarded as ‘newspapers’ we might have seen an increase of reported quality of events and as such would have had a dampening effect on the levels of fake news and innuendo in their version of reported events (the version the tabloids give us).

The media has let the people down on a global scale and that has to stop!

At present several media sites are giving us more and more information on the fact that Islamic State is now trying to increase pressures by attacking the Iraqi borders with both Syria and Jordan, meaning that we all have additional responsibilities. As Jordan was one of the first and in addition has grown into one of the largest support pillars for Syrian refugees, we can no longer sit idle. According to the United Nations, the total number of Syrian refugees in Jordan has surpassed 5 million. The immediate danger is not merely disease, hunger and lack of basic needs to survive; it is the dangers that those joining Islamic State for merely a meal could topple the Jordan government in several ways. The moment that this happens Islamic State will be at the borders of both Israel and Egypt, whilst Israel will be required to send part of its army to the farthest region of Israel to protect Eilat, which would also place two basis of the MFO in direct danger. The Italian contingent who patrols the waters there could become a target as well as SCC4 a mere 8Km from Eilat could be changed into an Islamic State staging post, one that has a large radio at its disposal, so there are certain dangers to be reconsidered as I personally see it.

How realistic is all this?

That is the issue with the speculation I bring. As the news of Islamic State gaining strength in Jordan grows, that threat would be very realistic. So the direct need for the UN to step in and set a lot of goods to these refugees becomes increasingly immediate. In addition, the Jordanians have been under increased pressure to deal with the refugees (feeding them mostly), as well as the impact on their own storage of mainly water. It is high summer there now and water has always been scarce in Jordan. It is driving local tension up by a lot. Now, for those not in the know (a perfect valid situation) water was always a scarce item in Jordan, so the opening of the first desalinisation plant in Aqaba was a relief for the Jordanians, especially as the Jordanian population was set at 9.5 million, now add 50% to that population (the refugees) and you’ll see that water shortage becomes an almost immediate issue in Jordan. The UN has been trying to assign $4.6 billion for support to Jordan in January this year, that whilst some parties know that it is a mere 70% of what they need. In the end, I am not sure how much has been achieved, yet as the news made no report of any success, we can assume that to some extent there has been no success for now and to the larger extent, we see that there has been no achievements at all, which is an immediate issue. So it is not the worst idea to send 250 containers and fill them to the brink with C-rations. Now we have all heard the news on that history and I actually lived on those C-Rations for a few days (I enjoyed them). The issue is that there is no food (read: actually there is a large shortage); there is real hunger, so I would think that sending food that will not go bad immediately would be at least a first step to lower tensions to some degree. Now, I agree we can all do better, but at present NOTHING is achieved and instead of having the conversation again and again is merely a joke, something needs to be sent, it needs to be done now. In addition, getting 50 bladder tanks with water over there whilst we seek longer term solutions is also a requirement. All these actions show the refugees that even if not perfect, things are getting done (to some effect), which leaves the people with hope and that diffuses the Islamic State recruitment drive, which is what this was about. So as we see that the NY Times is stating that Climate change and the Islamic State are the greatest threats, one of them can actually be dealt with to some extent in the short term, so in this I now claim that I made an initial step to solve 50% of the World’s Largest Threats. I also designed the concept of a new video game, but that seems a little over the top after solving a threat the world apparently fears.

So even as the India West reported 2 weeks ago “Shivam Patel, a Hindu sympathizer of the Islamic State, has been arrested on charges of making false statements on his application to join the U.S. military. The Indian American told FBI undercover agents he wanted to do “something bigger, better, and more purposeful,” including “dying in the cause of Allah” to support the terrorist organization“, I found a simple way to deprive Islamic State from gaining a thousand of more recruits. In finality to get it actually done, some governments need to actually act on certain needs!

All this by being direct, outspoken and precise, all things that the articles regarding the 4 arrested terrorists is not being done by the media. As we see the list of newspapers grow whilst they all merely mention things like ‘UK Court Sentences 4 Men to Life Imprisonment Over Preparing Terror Attack‘, in one case I see “plotting “Lee Rigby-style” attack on police or military, referring to the murder of a UK fusilier, who was stabbed to death in London by two Islamist terrorists of Nigerian descent in 2013“, we see no such descent on the 4 perpetrators. Is that not a nice oversight, the fact that they ALL did it, whilst the verdict has been given, and the rest of their details are missing is a larger matter of concern.

You see, it is not merely about the ‘musketeers’ in all this. Like common cyber sense, people need to start evolving observational skills. You see, the need here is actually a double edged sword in more ways than one. For this I need to quote from the Israel Institute of Technology. With the course sharpening observation skills we see “Skill at discovering new ideas, and delivering them, may be one of the most important practical job skills, in today’s and tomorrow’s job market. Creativity is an acquired skill, one that improves with practice. This course aims to empower individuals who believe they have lost their innate creativity, because they, their employers or teachers prefer the three R’s: replication, repetition and rote, to innovation” we see that there is a need to become more creative all over the UK, whilst the skills would also be the way where we start noticing the things around us that do not make sense. The UK government is relying on https://www.gov.uk/terrorism-national-emergency/reporting-suspected-terrorism to get there, but there is a larger flaw in the path currently in place. Too often the people are not aware because they were kept in the dark. Now, this path will means that it comes with leagues of incorrect reports, but in equality reports would be coming from places that were previously not flagged by the Police and/or MI5. As I see it there is a growing need that students as early as Year 12 where they start to be taught the observational skills that could lead to unforeseen innovation, it is the one need the UK has an actual dire shortage of. I have always and will always believe that the true innovator is merely around the corner as he/she did not consider something. When we see people like Jack Ma, David H. Murdock and Richard Branson, none of them ended up with any A-levels, but they had an idea, they noticed a need and as such they got cracking and are now on top of the world. These are three extreme, there are thousands more who got to a much higher point than most of us (including surpassing me) because they were observant to the need of those around themselves. It is this skill that is actually not taught at all (or at times incorrectly), often because it is not a business subject, yet the art of observing is in the foundation of resolving issues on EVERY level. It is a skill that should be harnessed for the upcoming generations, because it is the first one that gets the bacon and the niche market. It is that growth that we need and as such, it is equally a skill that helps prevent the larger harm to others becoming a success by all the unknown upcoming musketeers that are currently still at large.

I would offer as a thought that if the data offered by the news and other sources can no longer be regarded as reliable; we will need to learn to find the truth, the data and the insight ourselves. This thought is merely a thought, yet it needs to be taken a lot more serious than you think. In finality that evidence is seen through the Bloomberg article (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-25/u-k-s-terror-insurer-says-new-threats-create-gaps-in-coverage), you see, as I see it, the foundation of a stable life is becoming more expensive. With ‘U.K. Insurers Told to Adapt to Lone-Wolf Terrorism‘ we see “the view of Julian Enoizi of Pool Reinsurance Co., the U.K. government-linked body that backstops insurers against terror-related payouts. The spate of recent attacks in the nation’s capital and the suicide bombing of a Manchester pop concert in May highlighted shortcomings in coverage that need to be addressed, he said” it partially makes sense, yet I remember that in my policy there is no payout due to damage from unlawful combatants (or a nuclear explosion for that matter). The quote “Broadening cover would mean higher reinsurance premiums for Pool Re’s members, which include the local units of every major non-life insurer from Allianz SE and Aviva Plc to Zurich Insurance Group AG” gives rise to issues like premium rises, because as there would be payouts to lost earnings whilst there is no damage is one that insurance companies are dealing with and in fairness it has in impact on them. So as we see that insurances are evolving, e ourselves need to bolster new skills, not in the least to alert the right parties to take action and prevent serious losses to ourselves. Is that not fair too? You see let others solve it all is fine, yet if you remains ignorant to the largest degree is your anticipation of safety through ignorance valid? It might have been in 1969 where the greatest danger for a man in a park was a confrontation with a woman seeking love and sexual satisfaction whilst sharing a joint, those days of innocence are definitely gone, yet to us, we have not been asked and educated to step up to the plate. Many merely limited to be trained for a workforce of deadlines and the facilitation of greed. Now we see that the removal of creativity and the contemplation on the paths of innovation come with a much larger deficit. We can no longer meet the changed need and we move into the blame game. We see people blaming the police, because it happened, they blame MI5 because there were signals, whilst the people tend to ignore the optional part whether Jeremy Corbyn could be a larger threat to the UK than Salman Abedi was. In the end, it will be for others to decide. Yet if the people had better observational skills, is there a decent chance that the police would have been better alerted to the danger that Salman Abedi became? If the UK is valued at 68 million people, should the thwarted danger be merely dependent on 127,000 police officers and the 4,000 members of MI5? Or is the increasing need of properly informing the 68 million people and teaching them how to spot danger a much better solution as the years pass us by? If the world becomes more and more polarised in the application of terror and mass casualty methodology, is depriving options not a much better solution? Consider the simplicity of fighting fire. You do that by removing the fuel (flammable objects), depriving growth by not allowing it to breathe freely (replace oxygen with CO2) or covering the danger (powder extinguisher), lowering temperature is also an option (drowning with water). There are plenty of options yet it requires a clear mind and a trained mind to act. As we get Jordan the water it desperately needs we lower the temperature and the stresses that come with it, as we make sure there is food, the flames of hunger remain absent and as we are trained to spot things we allow for the actions to come earlier and prevent the damage to us and what is ours (generically speaking). Yet trained to spot things is also at times dependant on getting all the information and getting properly informed, so now consider the newspaper title I mentioned earlier. The mention of ‘bought £20 samurai sword from Hanley sex shop‘, has a few more implications. When you consider the BBC (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7331099.stm), the press did not inform us that any people from the shop were arrested, especially in light of “Legislation against selling, making, hiring or importing samurai swords in England and Wales has come into force. Those breaking the law face six months in jail and a £5,000 fine“, so as we assume that the sex shop did not have a receipt informing us that they sold Tahir Aziz a 24 inch Japanese steel dildo, can we assume more arrests will be made in the very near future?

I am merely posing this question for your consideration, have a great weekend all!

 

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Mayoral income £73,000,000

Yes, it is a grand day. A I see it, an optional first sign to some real life justice. As it is, some might remember some time ago, a holiday photo with three obese losers looking like they owned the world, with mention of sex parties (always a first to notice), cruises all due to high consultancy fees. They did not get away with it and now, one of its victims is claiming that large amount from the Lloyds Banking Group, more specifically due to the actions of its HBOS Reading arm. The victim here is the now former Mayor of Crinkley Bottom, the honourable Noel Edmonds. The only person who could be the look alike of Richard Branson, even more so when he wins his case as he will end up being in the same income and tax bracket.

The man who perfected the big pork pie, a meal that was designed by Sweeney Todd using politicians. In all this, we see the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/10/noel-edmonds-compensation-hbos-fraud-lloyds) give us the goods in all this. A 10 year wait that ended up lowering our former mayor in a lifestyle that most people dread to get into. Lost speaking options, the dissolvent of the Unique Group, pain, suffering, additional damages and legal fees. Yes, it must be a real win for the HR of Lloyds to see what the consequence is of hiring people like Lynden Scourfield, whilst applicants like myself were not seen as dynamic and assertive enough. That might be true, but as Lloyds is now having to post close to 200 million pounds because some people had a quarter of a billion lifestyle over several years, that part must feel really good for the HR that signed them into that lovely life style. To be quite honest, I hope Mr Edmonds will end u with way more than that as a message to the Lloyds banking group to clean house and have a strong and hard look at their hiring policies. If only to avoid giving away 60%+ to litigation and payments for really bad form of banking and investment, which with the upcoming US Financial Choice Act will be even more important, because as the victims there might not have a case in the US, any UK or EU bank involved will suddenly see a growing list of claimants on claims that they were connected to, but never instigated. I hope that they remember that in Torts, the claims end up on the desk with the party that is the richest. It might not be fair, but that is the rule of thumb in torts. I especially like the quote: “A sex worker told the court that Scourfield resembled the actor Danny DeVito”, which seems to be fair as they both played with ‘Other people’s money’, however M DeVito played a role and he did so brilliantly (some might go weak at the knees hoping that he got the girl in the movie, the lovely Penelope Ann Miller), yet in all this he played an honest game of setting the stage of profit. In real life (played by the despicable Lynden Scourfield), the truth is that he willingly left people in a state of destitution without a second thought, merely to have the lifestyle he knew he wasn’t entitled to. In this case drug dealers are much higher on my list of people to have regards for. So as we get back to one of the best liked mayors in the United Kingdom. In all this when we see “Edmonds’ move comes as Horta-Osório prepares for Lloyds’ annual general meeting on Thursday, days before the government will be able to claim that the 43% shareholding bought by taxpayers to rescue the bank in 2008 has been entirely sold off”, we need to acknowledge that the timing is pretty awesome. You see, António Horta Osório, AKA, the man with the Julio Iglesias smile gets the opportunity to set in motion a massive overhaul of morally reformations that have been overdue in banks ad financial institutions for the longest of times. As the business world it trying to move faster and faster, we will see new technologies in these financial places. Having blockchains in testing phases might sound nice, yet when we consider that there are others like Lynden Scourfield, the ante is upped by a lot because the damages will move from millions to billions. Consider that this was a six-year investigation by Thames Valley Police. Consider what happens when the Blockchain issues start tumbling, a technology that is barely understood to the degree it needs to be, if such technologies are pushed in too fast, the consequence would be that the Crown Prosecution Services might not end up having a prosecutable case at all. That is the upcoming next stage and even if we want to remain in denial, under the guise of ‘the technology is not here yet’, consider that the happy victims of Tesco ATM’s where they got double the amount that was withdrawn. Now, I am really happy for those people, yet what happened if it would have been the other way around? How could a person prove that they only got 50%? By the time the tellers were corrected, whilst no one could prove anything, the CPS would not be there either, because it will be about the evidence (lack thereof), as evidence is central, getting any of it in any new tech is increasingly more complex, will take years and not always will the victim get actual justice. It is in that light that we need to look at the banks too. I am not blaming technology for any of the crimes, yet when the people get to abuse a system too often without any consequence or accountability (read: the acts of certain Wall Street people), how can we move forward with any financial system?

Hence I am happy and hopeful for the Mayor of Crinkley Bottom, yet in equal measure I hope that António Horta Osório sees this as a moment to reflect on actual changing the mindset of the bankers in his corporation and adjusts the mindset of those that his HR department appoints a position to.

 

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What is the mission?

This is not about Russian jets, I feel that some members of the press are only now realising certain elements in that case (better late than never) and in addition, the second element towards the cauldron filled by the demons of idiocy will require a little more investigation (legal papers can be consuming, with an exam due on Monday that part must wait). What is interesting is the article by Keith Stuart called ‘Has video game reviewing become an impossible task?‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/nov/25/video-game-reviewing-critics-industry). He starts with: “four of the year’s biggest releases – Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Star Wars: Battlefront and Rise of the Tomb Raider – three stars out of five. All are decent in a lot of ways, all have intriguing ideas and look beautiful – but each of them is lacking in fundamental areas“, of course with my passion in there (fallout 4) that 3 out of 5 is not an acceptable rating (perhaps I am slightly biased). Now by itself, Keith is very much allowed to give that rating. It is his view, his review and as such I will not become an anti-Keithereen, however I still disagree!

I will skip both Call of Duty and Star Wars battlefront. Apart of not having played them, I am not a fan of either title, which is a massive issue when reviewing games!

Yes, you can remain neutral, you can look at a title academic, but how many academics can truly explain to you a poem or a painting? These items must be heard and seen, reading about them is often not a workable solution. In this, you must rely on the names of reviewers who are enthusiastic on that type of game. Yes, we can get a good indication of any game, but the non-fanatic will more often than not miss things, if that person did not miss anything, we must allow for the notion that the article gets to be ‘coached’ by the game makers. This is not something we want to see, especially when we consider the results from Ubisoft these last two years.

In this paragraph I will illustrate what I mean by giving a view, which will be revealed at the end (no peaking readers! see if you can make out what it was).

When I look to my left I see a man in pink, well groomed standing between a couple naked. They are outside and I notice the bunnies, a cat, blackberries, with blooming trees and a little pond in the foreground. When I turn to the right, I see what is either a gangbang or an orgy. I cannot hear the music, but there are plenty of musicians and no one in that crowd has any clothes on, I see a lady holding what seems to be a wine can, I noticed her firm breasts. She does not look happy, I think she is the waitress and this is the outfit of the evening. The other guests are enjoying the company of each other and they seem to leave the lady alone. In the distance I notice a mill and a castle burning. Perhaps this is what they are celebrating? I cannot tell! In front of me there is another garden party, none seem to be dressed. The people are talking and eating fruit. I see it all form a distance, I am not invited to this party.

You might find the paragraph weird, but the explanation will follow at the end.

You see, I do not disagree with the Rise of the Tomb Raider review, I would have given the same, but only because of the graphics, which are sublime to say the least. The game is not unlike the previous game, too easy to play and to finish, not that large in the end and repetitive and scripted items are too common in this game. I would state that this game is, to some extent, nothing more than a next generation version of ‘Dragons Lair’. I felt massively happy that I did not pre-order this game. When the game gets priced down to $29, I will most likely get it, because the graphics are truly amazing, no doubt about that. You see Fallout 4 is definitely 4 stars. As a fan I would like to give it 5 stars, but there are flaws and there are a few glitches (which is utterly unavoidable with a game of this size).

Now we get to a few quotes that bothered me: “The reviewer would then play it for a few days, often to completion” the second quote is to the point: “There were occasions where reviewers were forced to assess an incomplete version of the game, in which case the publisher would send a list of known bugs and beg that you ignore them, because they’d all be sorted before release“, I have been there several times. I had no issue with that, yet in the old days QA was a lot better dealt with by software houses, whilst the game makers are pushed by their marketing department to push out as soon as possible and rely on patches. So Keith is correct here, in the old days there was a straightforward process. In those days the makers were in charge, not its marketing department. Then we get “Nowadays, publications determined to get a review out on day one will be asked to attend special events, where access to the review code is strictly controlled and monitored” They did exist in the old days too, but they were pretty rare. In several of those cases it involved a gold master for let’s say PlayStation and only a developers system could run that, so going there was pretty essential. I had a few of those visits to London where I went to Virgin Interactive Entertainment. Whilst on the way back I bumped into Richard Branson and shook his hand, apparently it was Noel Edmonds (from Noel’s House Party), so I had that little embarrassing moment to survive.

This brings us to the event where Keith hits the nail on the head: “These days, you’re not a consumer when you buy a new game, you’re an investor. That’s a weird psychological leap to make“, I agree and I do not totally agree with the setting there. When we take a beta game as an early adopter (like Elite Dangerous) I get it and that is fair. When we look at a $110 full game that is incomplete and lacking it becomes something else. We again get to Assassins Creed Unity, which should never have gotten the 80% ratings that many gave, especially with the lack of stability, the bugs, the glitches and a few other failings. Any reference to ‘new console’ should be ignored as Black Flag did not have those bugs (as far as I saw). Personally I believe that software houses are more and more blocking reviews when their release is flawed, the fact that in light of AC Unity there were stories about embargos and NDA’s, which only made things worse.

Yet Keith has more gems to offer in the article: “Since the very beginning, game reviews have operated in a confusing no man’s land between arts criticism and product assessment“, this is where I agree almost completely. In my view it is a merging of both, without the console you cannot play, without the insight of the art you cannot comprehend, both are required. The third element here is the topic, the theme or the environment. You must have a certain feel for it, because without the third part the game will not be adequately be dealt with, the review of a product the reviewer did not understand. I will try to explain it. In those days we had ‘Myst’, which now seems to be ‘the Talos Principle’. If you have no patience for puzzles and mind boggles, you will miss out on the game. In my days there was Myst, I played it to some extent and the graphics were beyond believe, but I never got some of the puzzles, which meant that you become an aimless ‘clicker’ on objects, hoping that something will react. That takes away from the experience as frustration will set in sooner rather than later.

The next part is a little less agreeable. “Reviews would compartmentalise each game into its constituent parts – graphics, sound, playability – with each often separately rated in ever more complex conclusion boxes. This approach reached its logical conclusion with the 1980s magazine ACE, which reviewed games out of 1000, and provided a “predicted interest curve”, which attempted to map out the longevity of the game – like the lifecycle of a vacuum cleaner“, I disagree here. Yes Keith seems to state his view decently, but he forgets a little part here. When we see Rise of the Tomb Raider, we see a 30Gb game on a Blu-ray, yet the very first one Tomb Raider on PlayStation (one), offered 300% more gaming, challenges and puzzles on a disk no more than a CD (600Mb), when you know that you will be playing this for MONTHS longevity becomes a factor. And in those days there was no internet with cheats and walkthroughs, you actually had to get through the game by yourself, or with friends giving you clues (many false ones). In those days Lara was truly exploring stuff and as a result so were you. I still remember those final bosses and how one if the very first secrets in level one was one that I did not solve until much later. The massive increase of graphical quality should also not be ignored, that part has been continued, but as the games are now almost utterly flawless, the size of the game seems to be a mere fraction of that what was.

Yet, this is not a given, you see, RPG’s only became bigger, much bigger. Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 show this (as does Skyrim and a few others). I personally believe that the games are not more complex to review, for the most the makers are now too scared on any level of quality critique. So as Fallout 4 got 3 stars from Keith, the makers will have seen this game as a clear 5 stars (I remain at 4 stars), which is at the heart of the issue as well. Marketing fears the reviewer because they lose control at this point, which gets me to Ubisoft and their embargo and NDA. I have only faced one NDA ever, that was from Adobe and they had the valid reason as I got access to the product several months before release. So basically I could prepare the review and much closer to the release date (I believe roughly a month before the official release). I got the final product to write about and upgrade my initial article. That is a valid part. Game makers have for a larger extent lost the visionary part that the old makers had, which is also part of this situation. It is not just the reviewer, it is the product! Keith does go there! He quotes: “But unlike books or movies, games are now evolving platforms, open to updates and improvements“, again I disagree. The game in its core foundation should be the reviewed product. ‘The last of Us’ is an amazing achievement all by itself, ‘Left Behind’ is just an additional element which is totally worth the extra cash. The relaunch of Tomb Raider for all its graphical brilliance was not. There is another side to the quote of Keith and it does matter. When we see Skyrim his words do definitely hold meaning, but in another way. You see Skyrim was a complete product, people played it and then they improved upon it. Even today, 4 years after release that game is still being improved upon. Console players like myself miss out and for all the options I am jealous not having a decent gaming PC. That is seen in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCU862nVpJ0. Here we see some of the most incredible graphics. 4 years after release that game can be replayed and the amazement of graphical brilliance will overwhelm you. So here we also see longevity in another way. Bethesda created a game that allows people to enjoy the RPG world for a lot longer than we bargained for and as such we will anticipate an almost equal evolution and the first mods are already available. This takes care of the RPG, but I will not increase the score for that reason because it would not be fair to the other game styles. The issue is that Fallout 4 is massive, even as I relaunched the game, find places I missed the first time because I turned right instead of walking on the same road. Houses that are not on the map, places with some lovely items for my survival. More important, Fallout 4 is nothing like the previous version. In the previous version repairs was important, now guns will not break, but evolving weapons into something a lot more powerful (believe me, you will need that). The game has elemental differences which makes for an evolved game, which makes it partially a new game. My old tactics did not work as well as I expected which was awesome! Evolving new tactics is part of the fun. I heard that there is even an option to get through a big part of the game without killing the animals, how is that for a challenge? Yes, Fallout 4 is my baby so I give it a higher rating, not the highest as I am a realist. Yet my version does not invalidate Keith’s view.

Keith ends his article on strong curve: “All art forms are subject to erosion, but with games, that impermanence is now built in like a self-destruct mechanism. As a consequence, reviewing games is like reviewing a relationship: you only know what you have in that moment, and even then, nothing is certain or solid. Both the author and the reader need to understand that now“, it is a good view to have, but is it relevant? The impermanence is only founded on multiplayer issues. The solo part of a game remains a reality for a long time. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots can still be played and as long as the PS3 is around the game remains playable. Keith is right, Mass Effect 3 multiplayer will at some point stop, but with Destiny it is all multiplayer, so like World of Warcraft, the game will evolve, the servers will evolve and we will end up with an upgraded version, this does not invalidate the previous review, it would only validate the newest review. I also agree that reviewers need to adapt, but in all this I disagree with the title, reviewing a game is not an impossible task. It just requires the right editor with a good set of balls and mentoring skills, because the best reviewers tend to be younger and they lack journalistic skills. Now for the conclusion, I promised to talk about the ‘description’. I was looking at The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. I shows that I am not an art critic and I left out a few details too (on purpose here), yet what items would I have forgotten? That is the part that matters, that is why a level of passion for certain games are required. I will never review GTA because I personally do not like that game, it needs to be reviewed by a fan of that play style with a firm foundation of realistic reviewing. In all this do not forget that you do not have to agree with me and that Keith is from his point of view not wrong, I just think he was not correct, which is not the same. My view evolved from reviewing games all the way back to the VIC-20, the beginning of the 8-bit era, a lifetime ago.

And it is merely my view on the matter.

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