Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Revolution Will Not be Branded

Struggling through Russell Brand's tome whose basic flaws this review nails (poor writing, repetitios, long windied and not terribly funny).

However, there are several ill-matched tropes in the book, which for me, ultimately, completely undermine what might otherwise have been a useful contribution to the debate on what should replace western capitalist "democracy":

1. Mixing up his own already fairly public personal voyage with a rag-bag of quite interesting critiques of the situation in which we are in, largely by other people, distracts from the impact.
I don't care that he's a recovering substance abuser. It isn't relevant to the argument, no matter how much he tries to make of the analaogy between his own and societies' addictions. The personal solution doesn't work for society, and the social problems don't gell with his conspiracy of the illumiati-bus load of ultra-rich. You can't blame other people, no matter how wealthy for your own poor choices. Re-organising society from the bottom up isn't just a matter of better ad-blocking.

2. Repeated use of 4 letter words, both for emphasis (ok use of F word and invective/dismissal of individuals (not ok use of C word), will piss of a lot of readers who are  from a more genteel world, or perhaps are just women, or just think the author should use his imagination to come up with less lazy cusses (think, arab curses, for example - may your mother's milk be long life).

3. Religion - so I see where he's coming from with the personal/spiritual aspect of life - there's a brilliant bit in Ursula Le Guin's genius novel, The Dispossessed, when someone from the capitalist planet asks the visitor from the Anarchist neighbour world "so you don't believe in god?" and he retorts that they are perfectly capable of thinking in the spirtual mode - its just one of seven ways of thinking. (Wish Le Guin had listed the other 6!)

The problem is that he didn't get the same level of expert advice or even decent sound bytes on how you might link social, and economic re- organisation with a spiritual structure that doesn't just end up being the same old organisation with priests and temples, hedge fund managers and casino banks, presidents, senators, lords and  white houses.

Oh, and he picked the wrong kind of yoga.

Some further thoughts
i). Brand is somewhat in-awe of "experts, to the extent where he magically places Naomi Klein and Thomas Piketty together on a pedestal - as far as I know, Klein is no more "quafid" than Brand to comment (this is not a criticism of Klein (or Brand) - anyone can read up this stuff) but Piketty has "paid his dues" so is an expert (for what its worth) - what makes Piketty and Klein worth reading is that they put their evidence up for inspection - their books are copiously well supported by facts.

ii) Crucial point is that its clear at some points (about midway through the book, for example) that Brand doesn't live the dream quite - when talking about Bankers Bailout he doesn't join up with the discussion of cancelling indivuduals' debts - the argument used by the right wing is that "if we cancel everyones' debt, they will just stop working so hard, and run up more debts". So if that argument applies to the Hoi Poloi/Jane Q Public/The Great Unwashed, how does it not then apply in spades to bankers? The austerity imposed on great swathes of Europe in the name of sorting out the crisis, which was largely bought about by covering failed casino banks and stupid lenders (not borrowers) is one the most awe-inspiring con-tricks of all time. As some of the smart people are quoted as saying in the book, it was transfer of wealth from the poor (who were also borrowers, to the rich who were already coining it from gigantic bonuses and outrageous interest rates.

The Shakespear line  "neither a borrow nor a lender be" sure is bad advice. Pick one, and make sure its a lender. (Brand does quote various olden time cultural and religious proscriptions against lending, to, errr, give him, errr, credit :)

iii) the book should be free (as well as buyable) - this is known not to affect sales of good books, but sets an example - my colleague, Ross Anderson, wrote the best book on security engineering, and got his publishers agreement to make it free online too without any detectable negative impact on sales (in fact, likely the reverse).

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A year cutting kindle in, ok so far

So just over a year ago, I bought a kindle primarily so that I could travel on holiday for 2 weeks with carryon luggage only (to avoid paying cheapo airlines a rediculous fee for a checked bag) - I now mainly read on my kindle (paperwhite, in case you care) due to slightly weird eyesight that makes contrast with a modest backlight's the years reading - a few books are ones I'd read but wanted to re-read (nostalgia on hols) and I have read a few things on paper ...though I share this stuff with anyone else in my household (kindle account lets you have a decent number of devices with concurrent access)....

you want views on any of these, just ask -

Russell Brand

Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored 
John Lydon

Eichmann in Jerusalem (Penguin Classics) 
Hannah Arendt

Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age 
Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 
Graeme Simsion

WE (Timeless Wisdom Collection Book 
Yevgeny Zamyatin

Head of State 
Andrew Marr

James Ellroy

Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else 
James Meek

How to Speak Money 
John Lanchester

The Children Act 
Ian McEwan

The Bone Clocks 
David Mitchell

Carmilla [with Biographical Introduction] 
Le Fanu

How Not to be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life 
Jordan Ellenberg

Across the Spectrum 
Marion Zimmer Bradley

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage 
Haruki Murakami

Hack Attack: How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch 
Nick Davies
Update Available

A God in Every Stone 
Kamila Shamsie

Eleanor Marx: A Life 
Rachel Holmes

Upstairs at the Party 
Linda Grant

Infinite Jest 
David Foster Wallace

How to Build a Girl 
Caitlin Moran

The Woman Who Died a Lot (Thursday Next Book 
Jasper Fforde

One of our Thursdays is Missing (Thursday Next) 
Jasper Fforde

First Among Sequels (Thursday Next) 
Jasper Fforde

Something Rotten (Thursday Next) 
Jasper Fforde

The Thursday Next Collection Books 
Jasper Fforde

I Shall Wear Midnight: (Discworld Novel 
Terry Pratchett

Wintersmith: (Discworld Novel 
Terry Pratchett

A Hat Full of Sky: (Discworld Novel 
Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men: (Discworld Novel 
Terry Pratchett

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Book 
Robert Galbraith

Hotel Florida: Truth, Love and Death in the Spanish Civil.. 
Amanda Vaill

One Three One: A Time-Shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel 
Julian Cope

The Three 
Sarah Lotz

Nnedi Okorafor

In the Light of What We Know 
Zia Haider Rahman

Nick Harkaway

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys,.. 
Viv Albertine

The Thrill of it All 
Joseph O'Connor

The Bees 
Laline Paull

This Book Will Save Your Life 
A.M. Homes

The Machine 
James Smythe

Ancillary Justice: 
Ann Leckie

Capital in the Twenty-First Century 
Thomas Piketty

Europe In Autumn 
Dave Hutchinson

Frog Music 
Emma Donoghue

Richard Powers

The Luminaries 
Eleanor Catton

The Muslims are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the.. 
Arun Kundnani

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch 
Lewis Dartnell

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk-taking, Gut Feelings and.. 
John Coates

Swimming Home: Shortlisted for Man Booker Prize 
Deborah Levy

Phil Klay

The Edible Atlas: Around the World in Thirty-Nine Cuisines 
Mina Holland

The French Intifada 
Andrew Hussey

Cat out of Hell (Hammer) 
Lynne Truss

The Black Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel 
Benjamin Black

Singing from the Floor: A History of British Folk Clubs 
JP Bean

Geek Sublime: Writing Fiction, Coding Software 
Vikram Chandra

Worth Dying For: (Jack Reacher 
Lee Child

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most.. 
Luke Harding

Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and other.. 
Keith Houston

The Muller-Fokker Effect (Gollancz S.F.) 
John Sladek

The Reproductive System (Gollancz SF Library) 
John Sladek

Roderick (GOLLANCZ S.F.) 
John Sladek

The Time Traveller's Almanac: The Ultimate Treasury of Time.. 

Plastic Jesus 
Wayne Simmons

Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the.. 
J. Craig Venter

Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace 
Ronald J. Deibert

Gut Feelings: Short Cuts to Better Decision Making 
Gerd Gigerenzer


Eminent Hipsters 
Donald Fagen

Doctor Sleep: Shining Book 
Stephen King

Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 
Terry Pratchett

Flann O'Brien

The Goldfinch 
Donna Tartt

The Circle 
Dave Eggers

My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall 
John Major

Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
David Plante

Bleeding Edge 
Thomas Pynchon

Margaret Atwood

The Other Typist 
Suzanne Rindell

Rachel Joyce

The Long War (Long Earth 
Terry Pratchett

Dust: (Wool Trilogy 
Hugh Howey

Shift: (Wool Trilogy 
Hugh Howey
Update Available

Wool (Wool Trilogy) 
Hugh Howey

The Year of the Flood 
Margaret Atwood

Zadie Smith

The Adjacent 
Christopher Priest

The Testament of Mary 
Colm Tóibín

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics.. 
Jonathan Haidt

Theatre of the Gods 
M. Suddain

Kiss Me First 
Lottie Moggach

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) 
Robert Galbraith

Max Barry

The Panopticon 
Jenni Fagan

Bad Monkey 
Carl Hiaasen

Neptune's Brood 
Charles Stross

Sunday, September 21, 2014

DevoMax ++ - Bring Back Elected City Governments

The repeated mantra about why Scotland came close to voting for independence seems to be that it wasn't about an increase in the broadbase support for Scottish Nationalism per se (or the SNP in particular) but much more increasing distrust of the UK's centralist, and hardly representative powerbase - for example, in the FT "the depth of popular discontent with Westminster rule. "
or the Guardian "a much broader loss of faith in the ability of existing institutions of governance to protect people against unaccountable power." [ some data:- on why people voted, and who )]

That's right, I think. In this intelligent, well-mannered, informed and empowering debate, the Scottish made the right choice, because they will now wield more power in the UK than their population superficially should allow. But this is because they spoke for a lot of the rest of us (in what was going to be the R-UK:-) - and hopefuly this can continue.

Cameron has proposed a stupid solution to the West-Lothian question, that matters pertaining to the R-UK would only be voted on by R-UK MPs in Westminster. Wrong. Probably constitutionally wrong, but pragmatically untenable in any case (where are the borders in matters of state within a state, to be drawn if other than arbitrarily?).

No, the solution is DevoMax for all. And bottom up. And start with Cities (where most people live). London needs an elected body (not an elected anti-body like its Mayor who is coloured the opposite of the majority of boroughs). How can a city of 10M people with a GDP and population that would make it the envy of several EU countries, not have an elected government? The one that used to exist (the GLC) was dismantled by Thatcher in a piece of vindictive politics  that made no sense in terms of practical organisation. London needs coordination, but not through a set of residual bodies and a dctator, but via democratic coordination. Bring back the GLC.

What goes for London obviously goes for any large city, certainly Birmingham and Manchester on. The home counties can go figure. They also have reason to feel under-represented in any case with lack of resource for country transport, agricultural policy etc etc

I like that the Scots showed they don't all hate us. I love them, and I don't think it was about that. They hate our "Lords and Masters" in Westminster, and so do I right now. Bunch of chancers who don't care for other than the Big Money lobbyists who take them on nice holidays. I like a nice holiday myself, but I have to go earn it. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Western Intelligence Caliphate

The animated infographic in the wikipedia article on the Caliphate is quite alarming, but then its history. More alarming still is the fact that despite the West's "awesome" and shocking weaponised internet, it is abundently clear that they really hvae virtually no power (or knowledge which would lead to power) to tackle the Existential Crisis that is.

Why is this?

Well if you ask me (and I know you didn't) it's largely down to a continued failure of understanding people, and a continued belief in technology (and capitalism, which are basically a dual anyhow) which is sad, given how many times we have had demonstrated, recently, the limitations of both.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


In a fairly thoughtful article by danny finkelstein, the argument is made that the recent Gaza Offensive was the only option open to Israel in the face of continued missile attacks from Hamas. The points are made
1) what government would survive its own electorate's anger if not responding this way?
2) would any international response to Hamas have occurred in any case, had the Israeli's held off?

Well the answers to these questions are in the nature of the problem - it isn't amenable to  "point solution" - sorting out such problems (e.g. Ireland, South Africa etc) requires a process - the process involves steps, which sometimes go backward. Since 2000, Israel has repeatedly only taken steps backwards. Before then it had taken a few tentative steps forwards.

Two answer the questions 1&2, the reality is that Israel has put up with more deaths in the past without such a vicious response, and now as it improves Iron Dome, it can minimise these without disproportionate retaliation, largely against civilians in punishment for having the temerity to vote for Hamas (which was largrey a response to Israel's earlier intransigence in any case). And the international community would respond - not necessarily to support Israel directly, but you could easily imagine the forces for reason in the Arab world pressuring Hamas or even replacing it with more moderation in the presence of some visible positive steps from Israel.

Not any more (for a while at least). In fact, sadly, quite the reverse. As the shared religious text has it "ye reap what ye sew".

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Big Bad Food

latest debate about Big Food making Big People - article about this in press recently says "government regulation of food industry would be interference in the free market" as an excuse for not intervening in the advertising of causes of obesity to children (amount of sugar hidden in some goods) - the market for food is not free, and even if it was its already regulated for safety for short term problems (e.g. food poisoning / sell by dates) so why isn't this just part of the exact same regulation? Misrepresenting things too is normally not regarded as something that happens in a "free" market....

usual disclaimers apply - if you aren't a free thinker, when you read this, you may find it difficult to digest:)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

3rd world war

the rise of the right across europe in the recent elections is a bit scary - when you look at their sophistication, but also their historically rooted, and yet mutated motives, the psychic resonance with the past is worrying:

1. we were all ripped off by the international bankers - we (e.g. Precariat and Middle Class) bore the brunt of the (nonsense) austerity measures, when productivity and risk in the real world were good, and only the casino banks were really in trouble - instead of solidarity against the old school evils of untrammelled capitalism, we now have the spectre of the far right who are anti-intellectual (sorry, but I doubt they've read Daniel Kahneman or Thomas Pikkety)...couple with

2. the enemy is no longer the banker who is a jew, but the muslim who has become a fanatic. Who made him that fanatic? We did, but not objecting to the demonisation that the Blair/Bush new liberal nutters unleashed on our behalf

Reading The Muslims are coming and The French Intifada, for example, one can see that this was by no means inevitable. Even now, some peace and reconciliation process is conceivable. But not by the new righter-than-right by any means. These guys are much more dangerous than they realize.

Who has really failed us? both the small "c" conservatives and the liberal left. Both have been obsessed either with the axis of evil, or running scared of the IMF. Both are spineless, gutless, and (in the words of Marx) we should combat their liberalism as it has led to this appalling state of affairs and affairs of state, and it is not funny.

I predict more than a riot.

Friday, April 25, 2014

creeping precariousness

reading the precariat charter and its increasingly obvious why the usual tension between conservative and socialist parties is failing everyone. to translate this into UK University "employee" terms, the increasing casualisation (e.g. uncertain contracts of research assistants, unspecified hours/duties of faculty, not to mention anciliary staff - e.g. in our canteen on zero hour contracts) isn't being fought by any political incumbent group...

pathetic lip service by the tories and even more pathetic by labour, just doesn't cut it-

here's a simple example why even (what Guy Standing calls the "Salariat") the senior academics aren't immune from this creeping evil:-

each year, I fill in a Time Allocation Survey, where I  am given a random week to choose, and I write down the hours I spend on a variety of tasks, loosely grouped into teaching, research, administration, including preparation etc

so then this is collated and normalized to some standard euro-week (e.g. 37.5 hours) to avoid revealing the fact that we're working more than legal hours (under working time directive etc)  - for me, I can't find a week in the last 10 years of filling in these forms where I see less than 65 hours.

I don't mind "working" 65 hours  - actually, (as per Standing's book) a lot of this time is "ludic" or something some people wouldn't regard as work, but do pay me ok for - on the other hand, a bunch of stuff people do regard as work (pointless timesheets for euro projects) is not accounted for in my list of duties

lets not even get started on billing my time on research contracts

then there's the erosion not just of our salaries, but of the terms&conditions (e.g. pension scheme - our pathetic union bargained away parity with civil service and medics 25+ years ago in exchange for retaining a final salary pension - well, good luck with that thin end of the wedge, and that's going too slowly).

The conservatives who welcome this flexibility do so under some false notion that the ability to move jobs at a moments notice, or be moved, more like, means people are motivated to work harder - no evidence whatsoever of that - the uncertainty just means people spend more time worried/stressed, which is the opposite of conducive to effective thinking/working.

The socialists think that everyone should be doing labour, and have no respect for the fact that most people spend most their time doing things that matter, but aren't 19th century industrial revolution style factory-make-work any more, so the majority of our effort (e.g. caring for relatives, counciling stressed colleagues, helping plan stuff, clearing up after a staff party) is not accounted its social value.

The charter (linked above) calls for a new Voice for this (i.e. a renewal of collectives that can speak (and presumably bargain) for us - this is interesting - the various movements (indignados, occupy etc) are namechecked as emergent pieces that might lead to such a thing, which would be good - one thing (seeing the many people going through UK University right now, exiting with debts higher than I ever had in my life, with, in some cases, several years of unemployed or unpaid employment to look forward to), the constituency for such a movement is not  the proletariat anymore (if there's much left of such a thing anyhow), but contains a large fraction of pretty well educated people (even more so in, say, Spain and Greece).

Interesting times....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Global Eyes-ation & Stuff

Latest readings from the University of Fenland include:
1. How to rebuild the world from "scratch" if not everyone and everything is destructed:- The "knowledge", but not for london cabbies:)

2. Arguably more useful, and certainly more, how to cook&eat your way around the cuisines of the world - a bit quirky, in the best possible way, and v. funny
The Edible Woman^H^H^H Atlas

3. Do you know the origins of the terms Bear and Bull, as in markets? It seems no-one is sure, but it seems also that they correlate with Anabolic and Catabolic
processes in the human body, in a Bad Way, (as in the oscilliation between dog and wolf (Quebecois for Crepuscule too - entre chien et loup)) - read
the dog ate my home loan:)

4. Any book that accuses the labour party of a century of stupidity, but is somewhere to the left of karl marx must be worth a read - this is better than that - its radical in the best possible way:
feeling precarious?

5. Barely fictionalised accounts from the front line returnees - this is the effect:

6. while this is most of the cause - a cause not worth fighting for at all - the muslims aint....coming, that is

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bibliometrics and Science - Failure to Understand the Basics of the Discovery Process

SO I've read yet another well meaning article on bibliometrics (like the H-Index) and why they might be ok for evaluating groups or sub-disciplines (disagree) but they are definitely not ok to evaluate individuals (agree, but for different reason).

This time, this paper on Bibliometric Indicators of Young Authors in Astrophysics: Can Later Stars be Predicted? hit the twittersphere, hence caught my attention.

Look, all these papers treat the research publications world like some high school statistics project. Ok, why not raise the game a bit.

Let's suppose that scientific discovery is a complex natural phenomenon. Let's suppose there is such a thing as progress :-)

OK so what would the time series of discovery look like? My simple minded hypothesis is that it is (like many other natural processes in a complex world) a self-similar arrival process.
So how do we characterise such a time series? well, it isn't captured in a single statistic like "mean", or even two (mean + variance) - the point of such, essentially fractal structures in time, is that they are characterised by very complex descriptors, and, crucially, prediction is hard - exactly why the weather, and associated phenonomena like flooding, and volcanic eruptions, are hard to predict on an individual basis, although, collectively, we can model broad trends. Surprise surprise (literally and figuratively:)

So science doesn't depend on a random walk in a well structured but sparse or even poisson point random space, where walking faster gets you more results. Nor does success depend on hard work (more sweat, more kudos). While a slightly more random walk might get you an inherently more surprising result, it isn't necessarily going to yield more results. And more work only pays off after the discovery, when you want to present it properly (I am sure history is littered with holes made out of discoveries that were cool, but so badly reported they were ignored and lost).

So predicting the next big discovery by a specific scientist is a bit like saying that a raindrop is going to fall on a particular rain gauge at a particular minute of a specific hour on a special day. OK if you are the bookie setting the odds, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Monday, April 07, 2014

writing like its in the bag

there's this type of informal writing that just missing the goal, the target, like it wants to enagge with you visciously, but the speaker hasn't quite got the peg to hag the metaphor upon, and some words are just de trop, perhaps naive manque.

normally, as if there is such an as if, the problem comes around to framing, err, the problem - sometimes, the audience is abused, left holding their misapprehensions in their handbags, but usually, its just that the writer can't. that is. write. for sh. it stand's to reason, isn;t it, that some people just don't have the gift of the grab-all, the momentricious blue steel glare made of pure glyphtitude, that indietinguished suits you SIR epidemic enthusiasm for exapansionist gestures. oh dear, there i gove again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Towards an Inviolable Internet

Resilience and Privacy - Jon Crowcroft 18.3.2014

Building an inviolable Internet

1. We want generational computing:-

Sublime reason
i) According to Vikram Chandra (geek sublime) there are 300,000 Sanskrit manuscripts
on palm leaves...  vanishing at the rate of several a day due to corrosion

Trivial pursuits...
ii) my life bits  - formats, kids - grandma's degree from st Petersburg 1971 etc

=> Resilience - tolerant to faults/flaws -> Integrity

2. We need information resource availability and correctness "5 nines" & better:

i) the internet is my memory bank
my house deeds
my bank
my shopping
utility controls

ii) and a source of end of endless pub disputes about facts

=> Availability

3. We have been sold centralised systems (the Cloud)
which aren't incented to do 1 or 2....

i). we can suddenly lose data if a central company goes broke (loss of generation)
ii) our DSL line is down or cell phone coverage is poor...(loss of availability too)

4. We'd like Confidentiality - privacy....(why - see later)

i) Central cloud services are tempted to mission creep
targeted adverts and analytics (market research undermine confidentiality
accidental breaches leak massive data sets to the entire world

ii) Government mission creep leads to massive surveillance

Q. Are there alternatives?
A. Yes

1. Encrypt all human related data when stored as well as when transmitted
=> trustworthy encryption software
=> key management complexity
=> can we extend encryption to "safe" processing?

2a. Own the storage - whether in home, pocket or cloud
=> payment if centralised [because central cloud server no longer has analytics/advert revenue)
=> what are costs?
actually, a lot less than you think -
take google+facebook revenue/number of users (conservative (high) estimate
=> 3 euro per month  << internet access bill for broadband or cellular
=> could bundle with network access
=> Problem - central site is still open to
Coercion, Corruption, Connivance with Big Bad Agencies...
(coerce to weaken crypto or reveal keys etc etc), so how to tackle, decentralize:
2b. alternative:
Decentralise - i.e. peer to peer
=> what are the incentives?
actually mutual benefit, but
could pay (much less than 2a, due to lack of need for big servers
soem electricity cost increase to home server (<< 2a)
=> what are risks?
store some other person's bad or embarrassing data
=> efficiency
interesting approach is to "code" data so k/n is sufficient to recover all
much lower overhead than central (full) copies
=> Mutually Assured Destruction
Eternity service was envisaged e.g. to store
e.g. BBC + VOA + Al Jazeera on same servers
can't remove one without removing all:)

3. regulatory, legal and economic  control of breaches (sever penalties)
you would have different terms & conditions with central encrypted storage provider
or peers...

4. Ethics:- "You have nothing to hide, so you have nothing to fear"
This statement is nonsense -
The problem is that something on the Internet is not just not hidden,
it is effectively broadcast. This is problematic

a). Social
It is human nature to present different persona to different people
Removing this right is psychologically toxic

People have different points of view - this is normal

b) Personal
We live and learn - we have the right to make mistakes
(even to commit crimes and misdemeanours)
and have them forgotten (mainly) - many such
"embarrassments" -
minor drugs offences, terminated pregnancies
treatment for STDs, depression

c) Government (and law) change

Do you want to go back to the chill of not discussing socialism in McCarthy era USA (the real cold war)?

or civil rights in southern states?

or workers rights in 1930s England?

or if you are right wing libertarian, the removal of coal miners excessive union power under Thatcher?

or the government of South Africa having discussions with  Mandela in prison about handover of power , or of England with IRA about northern Ireland peace agreement?

d) Who polices police?
LovInT incidents

Worse - again, one click leak of all data  -
could release location of abused partners
to dangerous men, or of people under witness protection programmes
or of information that was gathered for intelligence,
but not intended as meeting laws of evidence (i.e. insufficient
for court, but bad enough for newspaper).


Recent revelations mean that the governments (esp. of UK and US) have
"weaponised the Internet" against civil society.
They have broken the social contract about
what is reasonable to do, and the Internet must be fixed

To do so will mean that it becomes much harder for government agencies to track genuine bad guys - this is their fault - had they stayed within bounds of lawful intercept and civil society's understanding of that, there would have been no need to make the Internet and the Cloud inviolable.

The NSA and GCHQ  have forced that requirement on civil society and will have to work with the consequences. That is, after all, their job.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I beseech you from the Vowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken about Big Data

A. Just because you already have our data in the bAg, doesn't mean that you shouldn't delete it forthwith and cease and desist messing with our privacy

E. I bEg you, stop beggaring us, by selling our Big Data cheap (we care what you do with - use in the NHS, fine, use for Big Pharma, without and decent cheques and balances, no way)

I. My data isn't bIg - i am small and insignificant - so why include me? havn't you heard of the central limit theorem (and the statute of limitations:) ?

O. All this data, without a purpose is just a bOg, a swamp, a mess - where are your schema?

U.  much of the data is bUg ridden. just because you collected it off of the Internet doesn't tell you much about povenance, validity, accuracy, timeliness, etc

So as with Cromwell (an with apologies to Rimbaud), I beseech you from all the vowels
Bag, Beg, Big, Bof Bug off our data.

Friday, January 17, 2014

mashups and simulations - time travel and robot laws

two ideas from the Free Plotware Foundation today - two for the price of 1

1. in the future, there will be artists who compose mashup installations from pieces of your life using time machines to segment and re-loop, add paradoxes, and alternate paths as they (and maybe you) wish - this will be the most popular art form of the 20th century until it is destroyed accidentally by an A bomb

2. it turns out that we live in a simulation - we knew that. but who knew that god's programmers were playwrights?

basically, the gods give us a bunch of ethics (think "the 10 commandments")
and then ask the playwrights to see what goes wrong in one of two ways:
i) communication failure (comedy)
ii) semantic error in node's code (tragedy)

the reason is that the universe is too short lived to run any verification of the systems of ethics, so they try them out in lots of random settings instead (la cage au folles, the duchesse of malfi, - did you know that in some ethical frameworks, Macbeth is a hilarious comedy?).

Think "Asimov's 3 (nay, 4!) Laws of Robish" only writ on a bigger canvas:)