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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Summer of 2015

Spain - Embalse Del NegratinWe’re currently spending our summer in Spain, having made some major changes to our lives. I’m no longer the National IT Chairman for the FSB – a role I held for 14 years without opposition. I decided in June that I’d spent enough time with the organisation and it was time to move on.

Maureen[4]Maureen is no longer teaching and we made the somewhat bold decision to clear off to Spain for the summer. Our old home in Wark is on long-term rent and Hollyberry Cottage is fully booked until our return in the winter. In the meantime the ESCO work I was doing for the EU had drawn to a close (at least for now – I’m sure it won’t be long before I see Brussels again).

Hence instead of making excuses for the British summer that never comes, we’ve been here in Andalusia (Andalucia if you’re from mid-Spain) now since July and despite some of the disturbing weather forecasts you might have seen for parts of Spain, we’ve had I think 2 days of rain and maybe 5 or 6 days of gloomy clouds all summer – the rest has been glorious – yesterday for example was 30c and sunny (general photos in this album). The last rainfall did a power of good for the lakes which are a bit on the low side this year, but wonderfully warm for it.

MIT BostonI spent a short amount of time in Boston this summer, invited by a Chinese group to help out at MIT and met some great people there. Mind you, the airlines lost my bags in the process but that’s another matter.

If you want to get into the whole Spanish thing – I maintain the Spanish Bedrock website where I detail our travels in the hope it is of interest to others… and there is also Facebook etc., the social media links are in here somewhere. Meanwhile on the technical front, the additional time this long break has given us has been great, I’ve been able to devote more time to various projects and learning on my tech website, something that just doesn’t work when you are flitting back and forth from one meeting to another.

Accordingly I’ve been learning all about Linux thanks to the Raspberry Pi 2 which has kind of forced me to make the effort – so my new home control project – detailed at http://tech.scargill.net has given me ample opportunity to start broadening my Linux skills – still very much a work in progress.

Spain

I guess most importantly we’re having fun and relaxing, something I’ve not done for a long time. We miss our friends in the UK but then that’s what the technology is all about – Skype, Facebook and other toys have changed the way people communicate, generally for the better though I am looking forward to face to face meetings with our pals on our return in November.

Spanish entertainmentThis morning, we’re off to Huescar for coffee and some bits and pieces then I have a day of wiring up to do, I’ve been re-designing the lighting here outside our cave and am trying to make the wiring as neat as possible. For now most of my updates are on the Bedrock site.

Boston

Pope Benedict XVI, Breeding and Freedom of Speech

So according to the pope, condoms ARE ok in certain circumstances – that is – to reduce infection (BBC website, 20th Nov 2010).

Very generous of him… but…

There is a lot I feel proud of in this 21st century world… our technological prowess, the fact we’ve managed NOT to bomb the hell out of ourselves since World War 2… and Cheryl Cole. But this guy… is it just me? It seems patently obvious that no matter what words these fanatics choose to use, the reason the Catholic Church is so against contraception is that they want CATHOLICS to BREED! He’s only mincing his way out of this because he knows the church is onto an absolute LOSER! We’ve TOO MANY PEOPLE, not enough RESOURCES!!

And now for something completely different… the BEST OF Harry and Paul on the iPlayer – BRILLIANT

While watching this brilliant comedy you might like to ponder how lucky we are to live in a country where comedians and others can say whatever they like. Consider for a moment Cheng Jianping, who repeated someone elses TWEET and added the words “Charge, Angry Youth”.  Pretty harmless you might say… but her angry words have landed her with “a year of re-education through labour” – which I’m sure is just the Chinese way of saying “brainwashing through physical exhaustion” – and the frightening thing is that we are so meshed in with the Chinese economy that if we wanted to take trade sanctions against them or indeed ANY sanction for this barbaric behaviour, we haven’t a HOPE.

British TaxPayer’s Money – Again

Today I received Northumberland County Council’s third attempt to give me a Register of Electors form. Apparently they tried a couple of times when I was on holiday.

Anyway, unable to see where the online version was, I duly filled in the form… only to discover something quite annoying on the back. The form is available in a variety of languages – you would THINK the languages of the European Union that we’ve signed up with – so French, German, Spanish etc.. but no. With one exception.  Languages available are: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi and Urdu.

Don’t get me started…

Pompous Papal

Pompous Papal adviser Cardinal Walter Kasper thinks landing at Heathrow Airport is like “landing in a third world” country. Well compared to the Vatican’s money, most places are “third world”, really. Well, don’t worry Mr Kasper, I doubt you’ll ever be invited again and if you do – I hope and trust we taxpayers won’t have to cough up a SINGLE PENNY towards it.

Just to make matters worse, he then apparently told a German magazine that the UK was market by a “new and aggressive Atheism”.  YOU BET. We’ve now had at least 2 generations who’s daily TV for those who can see past Coronation Street has included the likes of David Attenborough and other real luminaries showing us how the world REALLY works and how life REALLY came about instead of peddling a bunch of lies to those who don’t know any better. Many of us in the UK have moved well beyond the Vatican and their imaginary world and we’re all the better for it.

We’re paying (apparently $18 dollars – why Sky quoted dollars I’ll never know) for the Pope’s visit and yet less than on in 10 of UK citizens are catholic despite the popes views on contraception – shows how much notice people take of him – but think about it – are you religious just because you’re a Catholic? No of course not – British Catholics have had the same TV as the rest of us and I’d put good money on less than 1 in 20 of them actually being religious… so WHY ARE WE TAXPAYERS PAYING FOR THIS TRIP – I won’t WANT my money going on rubbish like this.

A word to the wise in the Vatican…. If you don’t like Britain and it’s ways – DON’T COME HERE – and as for the Vatican saying Kasper didn’t mean “any slight” – PULL THE OTHER ONE.

House of Commons Trip

House of CommonsAnd a very nice time was had by all. My first trip to the House of Commons Terrace since we kicked out the disastrous left.

Sadly cameras are not really on though I did manage a picture of the EYE… a really super night last week, weather was HOT in London, the FSB had it’s Summer Reception on the Terrace after first having the house speaker John Bercow open our new office in Catherine Place, we then went off to to our summer reception which was opened by Mark Prisk. There are some photos in the FSB’s press gallery of the event…

The speech was relatively short but interesting after which John Walker did his bit and then we got on with the business of meeting up with old acquaintances and some new. Shame however we didn’t have our two new leaders in – I’ve never met Nick Clegg face to face and that would be nice. The evening ended with a small number of us heading off to the nearest Indian. Lovely.

Never mind the Thieves, what about the Town Halls?

When I got up this morning to read the papers, I could not believe my eyes. Cameras on every street corner watching our every move is one thing.. but Town Halls checking our waste to see what colour we are is another thing ENTIRELY.

In the DAILY TELEGRAPH today (Thursday July 22, 2010 page 8 (26 years after 1984)) we read that NINETY councils have been secretly searching through household rubbish for “clues to families’ race, social class and wealth”. Can you believe this!!!

Just WHAT give these taxpayer-funded morons the right to spend their working hours doing this, I ask? This is nothing less than I’d expect from the RUSSIAN SECRET POLICE and it’s happening right here in BRITAIN!

Apparently, more than 10,000 families were targeted last year. NO this isn’t some unofficial socialist time wasting – this was OFFICIAL POLICY – GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE would you believe!!!

Government guidelines said “Ideally you do not want to inform the public of an audit taking place, as this could alter their disposal behaviour”.  Or, to put it another way, just FEEL FREE to go and do a bit of SUBVERSIVE SPYING on the taxpayers.

When I finish this, I’ll be writing directly to my local council to ask them what their policy WAS and what it is NOW. I suggest you do the same!

Election Fever

a cartoon by scargill

Update 22/5/2010 – well, I wasn’t THAT far off!!

TV Tax

Today, I bought my TV Tax.  Maureen’s been stuck in America for a while now as you can imagine thanks to the volcano and the post has been piling up so this morning I decided to go through and sort out anything urgent.

In the middle of it all were two extremely nasty letters from the Television Licensing Authorities or TITS for short, looking more like something I’d imagine coming from a bailiff…. “Enforcement officers have now been authorized to visit..” blah blah from a certain Michelle Tunstall of the TV Licensing Authorities.

You know what REALLY annoys me the most about this – there are countless channels out there, all supporting themselves with advertising or in the case of Sky with advertising PLUS a monthly fee (which I pay as Sky’s channels in general are infinitely better than the BBCs IMHO) the TV licence is nothing more than a TAX to support an archaic, TINY SEGMENT of the TV scenario – i.e. the all-pervasive BBC.

To ensure the continuation of jobs for the luvvies, they have positioned themselves so that it is impossible to buy ANY TV system WITHOUT being able to watch the BBC and hence be eligible to pay the licence. So if you rip up your aerials and ONLY have a Sky receiver, it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to permanently REMOVE access to the BBC so that you could legitimately claim to being UNABLE to receive BBC.  WORSE, because of the I PLAYER, if you have a computer with Internet access they can ALSO claim you can watch it that way. What other system other than something the CCCP or Chinese government might have come up with, could possibly be so all-pervasive as that.

If you think the iPlayer is good – I suggest you get someone to set up a VPN to the USA so you can see their equivalents… top quality USA sci-fi can be had in exactly the same way and THEY don’t pay a TV licence!!

The result of this is that the BBC is not SERVICE but a MONOPOLY and the TV license is not a license but a TAX. We are FORCED to pay £145.00 a year whether we want it or not – OR become a hermit with no radio, no television, no computer, no console…in short, no incoming communication at all.  Are the British public REALLY happy with this? 

Every now and then I try to imagine what it would be like to be stuck in a hospital ward or old folks home with only BBC and ITV to chose from. It fills me with HORROR. You have a choice of sport – in which I have ZERO interest, or soaps about boring people making boring conversations in pubs or working man’s clubs… or you can watch doctor who, in which a succession of testosterone-challenged men wandering around in cardboard cut-outs proving just how BAD acting can be and as for the co-stars – can’t they at least get hold of someone who doesn’t look like they’ve recently been run over by a BUS? We could not produce science fiction in this country if our LIVES depended on it and yet the BBC continues to pay, year in your out for this absolute RUBBISH. The only time they got it right was way back in the 60s when they took on Star-trek and they could not even manage that for very long.

£145 quid DOWN THE TOILET – just another tax, nothing more – it would have been better used contributing to my SKY bill. I hope this upcoming generation has the balls to get rid of this antiquated and unfair mechanism to extract more money from us – let the BBC stand along with the rest on it’s own two feet – they’ve had their share of public support – enough is enough. We should pay for what we want to watch – nothing more.

The Beginning of the End?

Are we looking at the first stirrings of the beginning of the end of the Internet as we know it – or will the co-called freedom groups finally now get off their backsides and start ACTING..

http://www.silicon.com/technology/networks/2010/04/22/peter-cochranes-blog-too-late-debill-p2p-is-already-engrained-in-society-39745731/?s_cid=104

The fellow writing it, Peter Cochrane is thankfully one of those few individuals capable of talking about this stuff without devolving into technical gobbledegook…

Peter refers also to this article… http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/apr/08/digital-economy-bill-passes-third-reading

Not sure we’ll get any joy from the next Conservative government if they were in league with this!

Are we seeing the first glimpse of the beginning of the end of the Internet as we know it, I wonder?

http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/news/leaked-acta-draft-treaty-reveals-plans-for-internet-clampdown

Digital Economy Act

I’m sorry – you may think – he just did a blog on this  – well, the more I learn about this act, the worse it gets… so please read on. And what’s even worse, most people I talk to have NO idea this new act exists.

The Digital Economy Act, or the “big boys browbeating government into supporting them and to hell with everyone else” act… is a novel piece of new legislation which states that an ISP (or Internet Service Provider) is someone who provides an electronic communication service that is provided to a subscriber and consists entirely or mainly of the provision of access to the internet and includes the allocation of an IP address or addresses to the subscriber to enable that access.

Let me translate that into English for you. The act therefore affects ANYONE offering free or paid WIFI to anyone else.

That includes but is by NO means limited to:

Parents

FON users

SMEs (ie almost ALL businesses statistically)

The above might include your local shopping area, cafe, hotel, B&B, airport, TRAIN you name it. Everything from the private individual upwards who installs a WIFI router for whatever purpose, from keeping the kids happy to providing a service for customers.

The above people with marked exceptions are no more likely to understand what an IP address is, than I could be expected to know how to operate on a brain tumour.

But it gets worse…. said potential criminals are supposed to notify subscribers (like a FON user would know who his “subscribers” are!) of allegations made by copyright owners that their accounts have been used for unlawful file sharing… and must maintain lists… WHOAH just hold on there, lists?? What, of complete strangers?

This misguided piece of legislation appears to have come into place, being signed by a tiny number of MPs while everyone else had other things to worry about (ie elections) and seems to me to have gone something like this. Big business pressures government to secure protection for the music and related industries to try to stop people ripping off their products.

At this point a little history lesson might be in order… In 56 now and back in the dark ages when I was a teenager, we used to go to record shops and buy records.  I can’t remember the date but Philips brought out something called the musicassette or simply cassette player. It became known as the musicassette because they did a competition asking people what this new mini tape player should be called – and people like me filled in the competition. I still remember receiving the first Philips player and a TON of cassettes as a prize. I’ve no idea if I was the only one – probably not. Any way, I digress.

 

One of the first things that was asked was.. what on earth would you use a cassette player for.  The response was – well, you’d want to record your friends and family singing, or maybe record a meeting or something.

Bollocks- there is a reason the 90 minute tape was the most popular, offering 45 minutes per side. It’s because they knew FINE WELL you’d record one album on one side and another album on the other side.  Is it also I wonder a coincidence that DYMO labels just happened to fit 2 on the end sleeve of the cassette cover.

Anyway, we all know the history – every single person I went to school with had one of these and we all copied each other’s albums and put them on tape – so we could listen to them in the car.

So then the music industry brought out the CD… and NERO brought out the burning software so presumably you could record your friends singing.

Then Sony (who produce records I may add) brought out the Walkman. It must have been obvious at the time that this would produce a very simple way for everyone to record from their CDs to their PC and copy the material to the Walkman… indeed not only was it obvious it was BLINDINGLY successful and so before long we had the file sharers on the web making millions of tracks available to share with others and millions of people started downloading music.

So now it seems the record companies and their friends have decided this is not good enough and somehow got together with the government who then passed a law that makes just about everyone a bona-fide criminal.

Let me be clear, I don’t download lots of music, indeed I mainly listen to Internet radio which once mastered means you’d never listen to the BBC again – but my lack of inclination to download is not because it’s against the law, it’s because I’m now dead old at 56 and most, but not all of the material out there sounds like poo to me apart from Alicia Keys who’s wonderful.

Mobile phones that handle WIFI are now coming out in numbers…. the Microsoft Smartphones, the iPhone, Blackberry and others.. and because the mobile operators are lying gits, offering unlimited access but then in the small print changing their minds – and because 3G in many parts of the UK is entirely PANTS, WIFI is UTTERLY important to this new generation of information seekers. We like to get our news in cafes and the pub, we do more and more and more things via the internet – and when tablets take off we’ll be doing that EVEN MORE…

And what do we find, an act that is guaranteed if anyone ever gets around to TELLING THE PEOPLE, to turn folk OFF from offering free or inexpensive WIFI…

It is therefore VITAL that individuals and companies GET OFF THEIR BOTTOMS and COMPLAIN about this bill and get it CHANGED. Write to OFCOM and explain why this is completely unmanageable – why it will DAMAGE our country and RESTRICT access to WIFI for completely the WRONG REASONS.

As if Nick Clegg needed any more bolstering after his world-class battering of the other two leaders on TV, he was recently asked THIS question

 

"Will you reconsider the Digital Economy Bill considering the manner it was pushed through, without proper scrutiny, the lack of MPs in attendance at the Bill’s hearing and also taking into account that some ministers have demonstrated considerable lack of technical knowledge on the consequences of the proposed legislation?"

His answer..

"We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their internet connections cut off. It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited."

Ok, so get onto your liberal candidate and find out what HE OR SHE is doing about this.. in fact, get onto your MP and ask why he or she (as is likely) did not even bother to VOTE on this issue – I’ll save you guessing – they probably didn’t have a CLUE what it was about – but don’t let that stop you asking!

The Lib Dems later apparently qualified the comment saying that they supported most of the bill – so clearly THEY have some friends in big business also.

I don’t know if you’ve thought of this – but regarding the many thousands of people the government now classes as ISPs – part of the deal is that they all LOG what we’re doing. So just as in the McCarthy era or the peak of the CCCP, the government will have succeeded in turning thousands of ordinary people into SPIES – but this time not for the government, but for BIG BUSINESS….. yes, that means that you ISP will know you are READING THIS be it your REAL ISP, your cafe owner, or your friend who’s letting you use their WIFI!