Monday, May 30, 2011

Will SamCam catch the "Dreamscape Flight" home?

You have to love a bit of mindless churnalism from the mainstream media, right? Especially when they fail to spot a rather obvious joke and then palm it off as something that is true. So here's something to make you chuckle - well maybe.

On Saturday, Guido Fawkes posted that,
the PM was on a crack-of-dawn flight to Ibiza this morning. He paid for premium boarding. Sam flew out yesterday, again on Easyjet taking the baby but leaving the rest of the kids at home. She also took Friday’s Easyjet 3043 which leaves Stansted at 6 a.m. and is know[sic] as the “Sunrise flight” in tribute to the legendary rave organisation.
On Sunday, the Daily Mail wrote up that,

The Prime Minister flew out on the 6am easyJet flight 3043 from Stansted – known as the ‘Sunrise flight’ in tribute to the legendary rave organisation which organised all-night dance music parties in the countryside of southern England during the late Eighties.

Whilst the Daily Telegraph noted that,

This time the Camerons are understood to have taken Easyjet's 6am departures from Stansted - known as the "Sunrise flight" in tribute to the raves of the 1990s.
At some point you would've thought they might have done their research on that little "tribute" and realised that it's a reference to event promoters, the PR officer of which was one Paul Staines aka errrr Guido Fawkes.

You might have thought the hacks would've also noticed that Sunrise stopped in 1993, two years before Easyjet were even formed, and 6 years before they started flying to Ibiza. Or maybe, just maybe they would've checked the flights to Ibiza and spotted the lack of choice about flying times?

It's either 6am (landing around 10am local time) or nearer 10pm (landing around 2am local time) - a no-brainer on which is preferable especially when you have baby in tow.

Yes indeed, apparently the "Fourth Estate" genuinely believes an early morning flight to Ibiza in 2011, on a route that first appeared in 1999, is nicknamed after one of very many many raves that went on a decade earlier that just so happens to have had a PR officer who was also the source of the claim of the "tribute" nickname.

Anyone with a half a brain ought to have spotted the rave reference was a piss-take, so I believe the appropriate words in the contemporary Interweb lexicon are "epic fail".

Incidentally, should any hacks be reading this, the late night flight to Ibiza is named the "Dreamscape Flight" in tribute to a place where ecstasy chomping ravers fall asleep whilst listening to music at 200 bpm.... honestly.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dear Prime Minister... you're talking bollocks

I see our dearly beloved Prime Minister has made a passionate defence over the International Development aid budget. This was after the Daily Mail woke up to an argument the some made even before the Coalition was formed that you cannot credibly call for austerity at home and talk about tough times whilst simultaneously ring-fencing and increasing how much money you piss away to foreign countries in aid.

Now naturally, the knee-jerk reaction to making this sort of argument is that you are in some way "callous". One of the other thing you hear is that we're a rich country and so should do it. To that I say bullshit. We're not a rich country, what we are is in fact a country that has less debt that countries we're giving money we don't have away too. If you're operating in the red and giving away money to others in the red then you're not rich at all, you're just skint and shuffling credit around.

The fact is, there is nothing callous about reeling in aid spending whilst you get yourself back on your feet. As I said back in March 2010, if Cameron or whoever stood up and said "you know what, we're in a bit of strife ourselves at the moment, and we really can't afford to do this right now" everyone in the country of the non-tribal idiot persuasion would, I imagine, nod and say "fair enough". After all, if you had £1000 and you're total bill were £1000 you;re not going to say "I think I'll give £100 to charity".

It is not callous, it is not uncaring, it is simply deferral until you're have a sound footing to start doing it again.

We've heard a lot about cuts in the last years. Some of it has been true, some of it hasn't. The thing is it doesn't matter either way, if people think their losing something at home whilst pumping money we don;t have abroad to the same cut value they're not going to be up in arms of outrage if politicians say "actually we;re going to server you, not those for the moment".

David Cameron's obsession with detoxifying the Tory-brand is blinding his judgement. If he just took a moment to lead instead of following what he thinks would be the outcome he would, I think, find that much of the country would follow him and respect him.

It's a very simple question with an even simpler one word answer. Do you give money to charity when you have none? You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who says yes I think. Sadly though I don't think Cameron is strong enough to take that view. He likes to talk the talk about making "tough decisions" when it comes to his own country, but doesn't have the balls to do it when it comes to others.

Now before anyone does predictably call me callous and uncaring I say this. I'm not saying that foreign aid should be scrapped. What I'm saying is that we should only be spending on it when we can actually afford to do so, and not at the expense of whatever spending can be achieved at home. Get the finances and house in order first, then come back to the issue later.

Through the human rights looking glass

Morning all, I've been rather busy this week tying up loose ends and projects before starting the new role I mentioned a few weeks ago (long notice period you see). Anyhow, I have but one question this morning and it can be summed up in just three letter.

W.... T.... F?

So..I heard about this potential story the other day and thought much the same but never really thought it would end as it has. I, rather naively you might think, thought common sense might prevail.

I am of course talking about the news that a man who was convicted of burglary and dangerous driving resulting in an eight month prison sentence has been released after a month after winning an Appeal Court claim on the grounds that sending him to prison breached his human right to family life as he was the sole carer of his kids.

I must admit I;m still having a bit of trouble computing this, and hopefully more coffee will help. Apparently the affect of Daddy going to jail on the kids is now more important than the justice or victims of his offences. Now.. I don;t know about you, but I would've thought seeing Daddy going to jail for doing something wrong might actually be an important lesson to the kids of what happens when you break the law, but apparently not.

You might also be asking "errr where's the mother?"... she's not dead or anything. The five kids have been staying with her at the weekends for the last month and at the burglars sister's during the week. Apparently though that wasn't good enough better to free the guy huh?

Now here we have, once again, the irritating reality of the "human rights" agenda, but also we have a brilliant illustration of the problem of determining rights on the basis of holding the quality of "human" rather than the quality of "being a citizen of civil society".

You see, if you think about it, "human" rights, as defined in the Human Rights Act and the ECHR are ultimately flawed because they often sit in opposition with one another. On the one hand a burglar can have the "right to a family life" (Article 8) but it is in opposition to Article 5 relating to prison for committing crimes.

Worse still though, Article 8(1) which this burglar has used is even held in opposition to Article 8(2)
1: Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2: There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
So sending him to prison for the "prevention of disorder or crime.... for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others" is allowed... or is not in this case.

It's becoming increasingly clear that the ECHR, written against the backdrop of 20th Century horrors is now becoming a rather silly document. The problem though is that its politically difficult to withdraw from it (and replace it with something else) however sound the course of action might seem. This is mainly because if you withdraw from "human rights" you're instantly a pariah and clearly in favour of torture.

We're not going to Hell in a handcart, we got there years ago and it's become so normal no one seems to notice anymore. What I don't understand is why so many of the other signatories to the ECHR don't have the problems we do.

Monday, May 23, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Why Mr Speaker took the risk about the name being said

Why did this happen? Football revenge, plain and simple. Can't you see? It was a set-up!

Dr Who's Fleshy Dopplegangers are REAL!!!!

Comparison shot via here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Football star" screwed by his lawyers

Jesus wept. If I were a famous footballer with an injunction to stop people publishing my name in relation to an affair I would hope that my lawyers would not be foolish enough to advise me to sue Twitter Inc but it seems some lawyers are as been well reported.

Of course, the lawsuit will mean money for them whether they win or lose, so it's in their interests, yet, perversely it seems to me me at least those are the only interests they're really serving, and they're certainly not serving their client to the standard he has served his team-mates with the ball over the year.

As TechCrunch noted quite astutely about suing Twitter Inc in the Washington Post,
Oh yes. They [the lawyers] are going there.
You see, the clue is in the "Inc". Twitter is not, as most will know, a business based in the UK but is actually based in the US.

That is significant for one major reason. The "football star" has just made a two-bit story about himself global, and attacked a business in a nation where freedom of the press and speech is enshrined into the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

We're talking about a nation where the "press" has been defined (Lovell v. City of Griffin as "every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion" (that would cover Twitter Inc), and also where for written words to be libel they must be false (New York Times v. Sullivan).

It is now just a matter of time I would've thought before the footballer is being named widely as suing Twitter Inc in US media - at which his injunction will become utterly worthless. And let's be fair, do he and his lawyers really believe they can overturn the First Amendment?

Seriously, the "football star" is either a complete idiot who believes he can win (possibly), or he's a complete idiot that has been convinced by a bunch of lawyers that he can win against a US entity with no UK presence.

Of course, there might be an argument to be made that Twitter Inc is being sued in a UK court which means the US Constitutional arguments are irrelevant. But even if they are, what happens if they were to win against Twitter Inc? Can a business based in San Francisco be compelled to pay damages? Unlikely.

All that is going to happen is his name will be plastered across media that UK courts have no control over. The exact opposite of what he wants. Even if the UK courts come down on his side he loses - and all because he didn't like people talking about him in what is essentially a cacophony of noise akin to a busy pub on a Friday night.

Note: Comment moderation is on. Everyone knows his name but posting it in the comments won't get through.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Government and Opposition agree on less than two years for rape

So, let's get this straight. The Coalition and Ken Clarke have put a document out for consultation (also known as "floating a policy for a reaction first" and a classic Labour trick) which includes changes to the American concept of plea bargaining introduced by Labour, where you get less of a sentence if you put your hands up straight away the minute you get nicked for an offence you are guilty of.

Clarke et al would like to offer a 50% reduction in a sentence across the board from crime if you plead guilty. Not in my opinion a very good idea personally, but then I don't agree with plea bargaining at all unless we increase the statutory prison terms by the same amount the we intend to reduce the sentence by, but that is neither here or there.

As a result of Clarke's proposals, and massively commented upon in the media, this could, technically speaking, lead to someone being given the statutory 5 years for rape (not common see footnote), getting a 50% reduction to 2.5 years, then if they're good, being let out on licence with a further 50% reduction at 15 months.

Shocking isn't it? Just 15 months for rape. The wishy washy liberal bastards are soft on crime, not like those hardened realists in Labour and women's groups (because men never get raped don't you know) who are rightly outraged by this disgusting move, is it any wonder a Labour MP said Ken Clarke "supports rapists" yesterday on Radio 4?

No, those hard-nosed Labour types are "tough on crime". They think that rapists should server a further 5 months then be let back out on the street to terrorise their victims.

That, I'm afraid, is the reality of this synthetically outraged argument dripping with moral indignation.

As it stands you see, if one applies the uncommon and technically possible logic of the morally outraged horde, you currently could get 5 years, have a third taken off for pleading guilty early, so that's a 20 month reduction leaving 40 months to serve, then, if you keep your nose clean (assuming you've not been beaten to death inside) you could be out in 20 months on licence.

Dizzy Reality Check:
  • Headline in proposed world: LESS THAN TWO YEARS FOR RAPE!
  • Headline in current world: LESS THAN TWO YEARS FOR RAPE!
Yes that's right kids, the idiots of political policy and political commentary are arguing over five months, where the end result in both cases, if we apply the theoretical possibility of what could happen, is that rapists serve less than two years before they're out on licence.

If you were ever unsure of spotting fake and intellectually fatuous outrage, then look no further than this bunch of disingenuous childish pricks trying to point score over the relative merits of two near identical and thoroughly weak positions.

Footnote: Whilst 5 years is the starting point, the average sentence is actually 8 years, and the sentencing guildelines make clear the different levels of seriousness within an offence. It seems obvious to me that if we have 50% plea bargain reduction we should double the starting point for a sentence anyway, but that's just me.

Update: Please note that I am not particularly interested in the "gaffe" element of Ken Clarke's comments yesterday. That was, I think, merely a classic example of mangled a valid point. The more substantive issue is that all sides are arguing about a theoretical sentence that is pretty much the same.

For Vera Baird and Ed Miliband to pretend that they're outraged by 15 months when they support, by virtue of having introduced a theoretical 20 months for rape, is nothing short of lunacy and a brilliant example of what is wrong with politics.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The first millisecond.....

Apparently this is what the first millisecond after a nuclear explosion looks like.

From Wikipedia via Reddit.

Tory MP supports paedophiles... no wait... what?

Did you know that Nadine Dorries believes all children suffering sexual abuse from paedophiles are to blame themselves for it and in effect deserve it because they didn't say no? That might come as a shock to you but its what some are saying about Nadine Dorries - the replacement for Hazel Blears in the "Marmite MP" stakes.

There's even a petition calling for her to reisgn as she must clearly support paedophiles given that she thinks children that are abused would not be abused if they just said no to their pervy Uncles.

Anyhow, back in the world of objective reality where the absurdity of straw man politics is highlighted for the retarded thinking to which it belongs, let's take a look at what was actually said compared to what many think was implied by what was said. On television recently, Nadine Dorries said:
"If a stronger ‘just say no’ message was given to children in school then there might be an impact on sex abuse … if we imbued this message in school we’d probably have less sex abuse."
Now I'd say there are two ways of interpretting the meaning of what was said. On the one hand, if you are, for example a college lecturer in further education, you might say:

These comments amount to shameful victim blaming and have no place in modern politics. There is no grey area in sexual assault - a child cannot give informed consent and to suggest that a child giving consent in someway causes the assault is deeply offensive to the victims of these assaults.

The other option of course is to notice the bold highlighting in the Nadine quote that says "might" and "probably" and, instead of jerking the knee upwards ask the question, why "might" it do such a thing? What argument "might" there be that "might" see one thing have an effect on the other?

Let's think about that for a minute. When it comes to sexual abuse of children, which is horrific, wrong and morally evil, one of the key factors you often hear about in anecdotal reporting is that the abuser will often exploit the sexual ignorance of the abused. We all know the drill and have seen it portrayed in documentaries and other media all too often.

The abuser says things like "this is our secret", "this is a game" etc. In doing so they exploit the victims ignorance about what is and is not appropriate behaviour. So what "might" the consequence be if children were taught about "abstinence" in relation to sexual activity, which, in effect is the same as teaching them that certain parts of their body's should be, and are, off limits to others?

Might there not be an unintended consequence that children - unfettered by sexual ignorance - would no longer be as easily exploitable by those who seek to do such things because there would be a greater awareness that certain behaviours are simply not on?

Of course, it wouldn't stop or have an impact where things like fear and violence are used, but "might" it have impact on the level of sexual abuse, or at least an impact on the discovery and prosecution of sexual abuse?

We often hear about how the trauma to a child alone is terrible enough, but we also hear about children who have been abused believing what is happening to them is "normal".

Education therefore "might" have an impact. Not because the child might say "no" and it won't happen, but rather because abusers will no longer be able to rely on the ignorance that the victims have about the appropriateness the actions they're being forced to do.

Then again, perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps Nadine Dorries MP, mother of two, really is a vicious Tory bitch who thinks sexual abuse victims deserves all they get because they don't say "no". Mind you, I think I'd have to smoke an immense amount of crack to come to that conclusion.

Note: I expect that because I know Nadine Dorries there will be those of paranoid nature that will dismiss this post on the grounds that I must be writing it after taking orders from her. Such claims are of course bollocks. The post exists because I find it quaint that child abuse has become a political football and rationality has been thrown out of the window.

I should also add that I don't believe in God, don't go to Church, and have no issues with teenagers shagging like bunny rabbits. I also don't have any issue with telling kids to try not to shag like bunny rabbits either though.

NHS IT could have worked... maybe

After so many years the National Audit Office has finally said what so many already knew about the National Programme for IT in the NHS and the so-called "electronic care record". It's rubbish, a big waste of money and unlikely it can ever achieve what it originally set out to do. In the NAO's words,
"This is yet another example of a department fundamentally underestimating the scale and complexity of a major IT-enabled change programme. The Department of Health needs to admit that it is now in damage-limitation mode."
Now I can't argue with that, the system as proposed was a monster, and whilst it's design may have appeared simple i.e. central database with medical records that every NHS front-line service can access and update, where they've failed is realising that the programme was akin to painting the Forth Bridge. Even if they'd had infinite money and infinite resource by the time they'd have finished the system would be out of date with technology.

The thing is, it could have been so good, it could've even worked if they'd realised not just the scale, but also acknowledged a flaw in their starting assumptions. You see, in principle, the idea of being able to live in London but walk into a hospital in Manchester and that hospital have access to your medical records is not, per se, a bad one. Actually, from the point of view of pure efficiency its a no-brainer how handy such access would be. However, ask yourself this question.... how often would it really be needed?

If you take a pause for thought before getting excited by the wonderful national brilliance of an integrated national system, just think for a moment about how often people really move around great distance when it comes to healthcare. Many people stay in the same town all their lives and may move house but are still in the same geographical areas covered by the same PCT (or whatever the area healthcare coordinator is called at any given time). There will of course be people that get treate3d at different hospitals because of certain conditions, but they are the exception rather than the norm. For the most part people stay local.

This is where the Blair Government got it wrong. This is also where the proposed architectural solution went off the rails. You see, if you assume everyone is constantly moving around then the appeal of a centralised record system sounds more and more like the solution. Never mind the difficultly in migrating already existing data from a multitude of different systems, once you get the idea in your head of the need for a big national system to solve a problem that is not really there you're not going to stop and think about it anymore, you'll just go ahead, and that is exactly what they did.

So how Dizzy, you may be asking, could it have worked you smartarse? Well, without wishing to use too many political clich├ęs, if they'd gone for a bottom-up approach instead of a top-down, and thought about acting locally to affect nationally, rather than acting nationally to affect locally, they could have made the system work. If they'd acknowledged that the "moving patient" was an exception but not the norm, then the scale of the "national" infrastructure would and could have been minuscule, and the amount of investment at a local level with the divergent systems could have been reduced too, here's how.

There are only a few key pieces of information you really need in national infrastructure to make this work, and none of them actually include personal medical records. Everyone treated on the NHS has an NHS ID number, so you need that. Of course, not everyone knows their number without digging out the card, so you need some data to cross-reference it, i.e. a name, DOB and perhaps an address. Finally, you need to know where they're being treated, in other words, the system needs to be able to know where their records are being stored locally. There could be multiple locations but it simply needs to know.

At a local level, what you would have would be whatever system the local level wanted to use, which would, inevitably, also contain the same core information about a patient i.e. NHS number, name, address, DOB, but it would also contain the medical records for that patient. Now, however that system might look, what would need to be developed at the local level is a means of exporting that data to a single file format, and that single file for each customer, which would contain human readable information like pdfs etc rather than information held in a database schema, could be stored in a separate local system that the national system.

So, the situation would occur thus. You are treated at your local doctors and local hospital etc. Each night the local system updates its nationally connected system with a single data file contain everything mapped to an NHS ID. Around the same time the national system queries all these locally held but nationally connected systems and asks the question "do you have any new NHS IDs I don't know about?". If the answer is "yes" the national system updates the "where are the records for NHS ID X stored with the new location?".

The result would be a system where, if a new patient appeared, you could query the national infrastructure like a telephone directory. Rather than asking for the record, you ask where the records are, and you go off and get them yourself. Now, don't get me wrong, this system is not infallible, it is by no way perfect either. What's more you will have to find way to avoid having repeating data.

The point is, instead of having a centralised database with all the information on it and having to go through a lengthy migration by which time the system you've built is not fit for purpose, what you instead have is a system that is decoupled and local, but has the scope to provide information and talk nationally on the odd occasion that it necessary by making the "national" but be a type of middle-ware lookup-layer. The real beauty of this approach is it fits well with an agile type framework and gradual roll-out. You would be able to deliver workable solution rapidly with pilots, and introducing new local systems would not require intensive and massive data migration work for which the resource cost would be huge.

Of course, none of this is going to happen so I'm not sure why I wasted my time writing it :-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Code

According to Sky News Newsdesk on Twitter,
Coded warning issued of Irish Republican dissident bomb in Central London.
Now, here's something that always bothered, baffled and befuddled me.

What's the code? Who decides the code? How does the code get delivered to the people that need to know the code? Is there some sort of honourable back-channel communications between MI5 and the IRA/Splinter groups where they decide that if someone uses the word "orange" at the same time as saying there's a bomb then it's genuine?

I understand, I think, why the warnings are coded. It is so you can filter out the hoax call from the real thing. As I say though, that means at some level, somewhere, there is a gentlemanly chat where each side decides on what the code should be doesn't it?

I don't expect an answer from anyone on this. It just always makes me chuckle when I imagine terrorists and spooks agreeing on certain words to ensure the latters threats are considered credible.

Update: Just found this.

The procedure for organising codes has been long established. Codes alter periodically by agreement between the Provisionals and the security forces, both sides knowing that a failure in communications could be catastrophic. The IRA pass on a chosen name to the Gardai in Dublin, who in turn give it to the RUC Special Branch in Belfast. From there it is disseminated to forces on the mainland. Liaison is also held with a number of news organisations.

In Northern Ireland, however, the complication is that the IRA are not the only bombers. Because of the number of factions, up to six code-names could be in use at a given time.

None of the paramilitaries who wants to establish a bomb code is turned away.
I wonder if you can apply online in this modern world?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nadine/Bloggerheads - the saga continues/ends

Via Nadine Dorries' blog,
Today I had a meeting with Bedfordshire Police. They informed me that under caution and recorded on tape at Guldford[sic] Police station, Tim Ireland, of bloggerheads, has been issued with a warning under section two of the harassment act.
For those wishing to read further here is Tim Ireland's response which I shall not quote due to its length nor summarise lest I be accused of manipulating it in some way or falsely interpreting it to deceive you. You are free to read it and make your own judgement.

Note: Comment moderation is on. Any comments relating to judgement of what has been written may not be approved as I do not wish to being engaged any further in dodgy allegations of smearing/misrepresentation/deception call it what you will. I'm also out for the rest of the day so may not approve anything until tomorrow.

The Kelly Conspiracy... again

Oh Lordy, here we go again with the "David Kelly" conspiracy. The Mail has a story todfay titled Mystery of the helicopter that landed at scene of Dr Kelly's death after his body was found.

Yes that's right people, we are now in the world of the "black helicopter", which makes me wonder if Paul Dacre has a secret hideout in the Mid-West stocked with water rations and guns ready for when the New World Order strikes.

It seems rather clear that yes, there are some odd questions about evidence and happening on the day Kelly died, but the one question I rarely see being asked is, if he was murdered by some shadowy conspiracy then what was the motive?

Seriously, I don't doubt that intelligence services the world over don't engage in a little "wet work" from time to time, but they've usually got a reason for it (note: not a justification but a reason for the decision to order a hit), and I just can't see one here.

Kelly had said some things to Andrew Gilligan. What he said has been poured over extensively and it didn't bring the Government down. Instead of asking the "ten questions" of mysterious things as the Mail and others do about events on the day etc and assuming a darker meaning, they ought to be searching for what a motive might be first, lest you end up in la-la land.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Huhne's slopey shoulders

Having just got back to the UK after a break, I was amused to see that the Lib Dems are getting all cocky and go in for the "slopey shoulders" approach to policy they helped formulate in many ways. Thus I come to the rather odd banner image on Chris Huhne's website which has this picture of him.
Now, can somebody, anybody tell me what in the name of all that is Holy is going on with his shoulders or lack there of?