Sunday, 18 June 2017

Grenfell Tragedy - What Needs Doing Now

If I were at the heart of UK government now, here is what I would do.
1. Call in contractors to start erecting scaffolding around the surviving high-rise blocks containing suspected fire-risk cladding.
2. Order a supply of commercial fire extinguishers and start distributing them to the high-rise blocks still at risk.
3. Ask the tenants if they want to stay in the surviving high-risk blocks, after provision of the fire extinguishers, and ask if they want individual fire detectors installed, as an interim measure.
4. Move heaven and earth to relocate the Grenfell survivors anywhere I could, nearby, including army barracks and disused commercial and NHS buildings.
Have I seen any sign of these steps being taken, have you?
Why on earth appoint as advisor someone who refused to meet safety experts before this disaster occurred? Is the lady intent on executing a political death wish?

Whatever it takes, the lady once said, before …

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

May be, May be not, but questions need to be raised

The question I ask is this:  did the good lady execute a devious plot?
Keeping an open mind, let us look at this possibility in greater depth by asking some fundamental questions.
1.  Was the vicar’s daughter as stupid as she’s made out to be with her facile submission to the electorate of a dementia tax? Ignore the tears apparently shed in private; they could have been real at the prospect of having overcooked the egg.
2.  How powerful behind the scenes are the lobbying groups representing big, international businesses? Where do you think their objectives lie? After all, they have made no secret of them.
3.  In comparison, how powerful and sustainable is the electorate in favor of Brexit?
4.  If push comes to shove, in the face of what our unelected previously Remain sympathizing PM faced with a diminished share of the electoral vote, how relieved will the majority feel if concessions made to the EU negotiators are begrudgingly accepted by the latter, with substantial billions paid by the UK as sweeteners? In other words, the UK makes soft Brexit overtures to the German overseers and main beneficiaries of our munificence, and compensates with hush money the minnow nations for whom the UK is a major paymaster.
5.  How much would you bet on the PM NOT triumphing in the next few years, and overturning the popularity of Corbyn’s left-wing Labour party?
6.  Was not the recent 1922’s reception of the PM, with its 25 second thumping of tables, more of a triumphant, processional ovation than an expression of support for a failed leader?

I expect there to be much huffing and puffing as the UK and the EU negotiate from respective positions of weakness and strength, with billions being handed over needlessly by our team, suckered into a situation not of their culpability. Or was it?
     Not to worry though, we will be in good company, with the likes of the Dutch voters, whose referendum re the Ukraine was overruled by their leaders.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Maybe baby, I don’t love you

Theresa May blew the election with the dementia tax and her inability to think on her feet. She has opened the door to Labour and destroyed the UK’s negotiating position re Brexit. She couldn't have done better if it had been deliberate sabotage.
     If the Conservatives imitate Labour's manifesto that galvanised the young voters, it will look like copycat catch-up politics. In fact, it was clever bribery and an active younger membership called Momentum.
    David Cameron drove his traditional supporters away, as has May with her appalling tax disincentives.
     If they make Boris leader they will deter many voters by his zany antics, haystack haircut and posturing.
     How they get out of this mess that the PM created I do not know. It will be a disaster for Britain with so many inexperienced Labour MPs at the helm. It looks likely we have wasted a decade until the young realise their votes were bought as the huge debt escalates. Austerity is no bad thing with trillions owed.
     Going back to the politics of the Seventies, with nationalisation and so many spend, spend, spend Labour promises will cripple the country, which had so much to offer.
Yes, the young have so much to learn, as do untrammelled universities that apply such crippling fees on the aspiring young. As do our political rulers. There’s one change to make for starters, university fees. The rest will take ages, apart from not stealing people’s inheritance pots. Imagination, that’s the name of the game, and each generation…

Friday, 2 June 2017

The prospects for cyber crime

How much do you know about cyber crime? Is it true that it is the poor man’s atomic bomb? I would say it is more than that, it is the man in the street’s nuclear bomb.
     A recent program on the subject showed me how real and deadly serious this crime is. It is the most dangerous threat the human race has ever unwittingly faced, and the USA thankfully took up the baton to combat it with the National Security Agency, or NSA for short. It was ordered to go on the offensive.
     Unfortunately, its internal security measures lacked stringency. Consequently, a deadly virus referred to as Ransomware, allegedly of its making, passed into the hands of criminals. I am referring to the illegal encryption of user data, followed by demands to pay ransoms in Bit money, before the criminals will decrypt it. Bit money is itself an invention of the cyber world.
     Let me put the overall threat in its proper context for you. There are reputedly 50 billion devices attached worldwide to the internet.
     One of these is the Programmable Logic Controller or PLC, a rugged device used throughout industries of all types and varying in size from a small box to rack-mounted modular assemblies. They contain microchips and operate in stringent operating environmental, to control functions such as temperature, cleanliness, and power quality. To meet these challenges the PLC started to be developed decades ago in ways that permit its operation to be monitored.
     A 27 ton modern electricity generator was bought by a US company to test its resistance to cyber attack by a malicious computer worm called Stuxnet, which is self replicating and targets industrial computer systems. Within three attacks, it reduced the generator to a smoking, unusable, irreparable wreck.
     Its original target? An underground nuclear development facility in Iran.
     I ask you a question: is the biological Nano computer a reality? An answer was provided in 2011. It was reported that Scientists are one step closer to making a biological computer after having built basic components for digital devices out of bacteria and DNA. Some scientists believe that, in the future, small, biological computers could roam our bodies, monitoring our health and correcting problems they find. I wrote about this in The Time Slipsters.
     It is my understanding that it is now possible to activate a home PC remotely, even if not connected to the internet, without the owner’s knowledge. Imagine if your brain could be invaded by malware, via invisible waves, and attacked you.
     Impossible? Don’t bet on it. The PLC is used in the pharmaceutical industry, to control the manufacture of its products. I wrote about a product called tracer that a control freak called The Inlooker used to find out what people were thinking. I wrote, ‘as you read a document, it is looking back at you’.
     I often wonder if my Sci-fi is already reality.
Think long and hard about it what malware can do, and pray that the NSA is willing to act on our behalf before the 7 billion of us become less than 1 billion. I assume of course that the larger figure is acceptable to you. I don’t think it is sustainable.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Bile and decency in politics

When I watched the recent live TV debate pitching Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party in the UK, against Theresa May, the Prime Minister, I felt deeply troubled by the attitude of a section of the audience, which was hostile to the PM in particular.
     What motivates the TV producers and presenters to select these attendees? Is it a desire to humiliate our politicians? Do I detect prejudice in them, a desire to provoke hatred and bile in voters? Many in the audience hated with passion and seemed to have lost the capacity to think logically. Small wonder, given that the program presenters were equally keen to adopt a negative stance. They hammer home the prediction that Brexit will be disastrous. Is this not false reporting?
     Corbyn is an old style grand-slamming, fundamentally weak politician who has always been anti-establishment. Until recently, he has never held any position of importance, and is totally incapable of serving the country as its CEO. This factor has to be of prime importance, irrespective of his likable personality, since in his vain naivety he would happily take it.
     In my humble view, his only credible role was as a true radical. Now, he has the chance to introduce full democracy, by continuing as the Labour leader. He can best do this by acting in accordance with the votes cast by the majority of his constituents. If all the other MPs in the Labour party follow his lead, changes could be profound. Otherwise, if a fluke of fortune elects him to be Prime Minister, he will come across as a spendthrift ditherer, nice but dim, like Tim Farron.
     Now to Theresa May, who seized her chance to replace David Cameron and was rapidly elected by her MPs. Since then a number of them have tried to undermine her, hence the obvious need for another election.
     During the debate, she was often heckled and jeered by opposition supporters. She immediately stopped and listened, in polite decency. This trend is uncommon in politicians, and she would have been better off ignoring them.
     During the many years she was Home Secretary, she was criticized for not having got immigration down, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. What is forgotten is the key role played by the Libdems, junior partners in the coalition at the time, who blocked or watered down many of her proposals. The only reason they did this was to remind voters they were still there, in the wings of power.
     The man who often loudly claimed responsibility was the deputy PM, Nick Clegg, whose wife is a Spanish Human Rights lawyer, and he probably expected to go to the EU as his career progressed.
     Theresa May is so polite she refrains from indulging in the bedlam associated with politics. In fact, I don’t think she likes it much, standing on a soapbox and competing with others. I don’t blame her, after hearing their vacuous commitments and snide remarks.
     There are Brits amongst us who are determined to give away control of Britain’s sovereignty to the unelected, elite and pampered bureaucrats in Brussels, and are strident in their demands that we have a soft Brexit.
     Heaven help us if the voters choose any other party than the Conservatives, in enough numbers to put Brexit in danger. This outcome would be based on domestic concerns like the overbloated, forever underfunded NHS, whether fuel allowances should be paid to wealthy pensioners, school meals for all kids (what!), penalizing the wealthy, the burdens of an ageing population and countless other squabbles, like independence for Scotland. All of these presented by nonentities pitching for glory.
     It would be a kick in the teeth for the country. President Donald Trump is spot on about false reporting.