Sunday, November 29, 2009

Are You Stealing Intellectual Property?

ACS:Law, a law firm that specialises in protecting the intellectual rights of copyright holders has said it intends to send out 15,000 letters to people suspected of illegally downloading and sharing films and games. According to the BBC these letters include an opportunity to settle out of court for a few hundred pounds rather than be taken to court and risk paying thousands of pounds. As is rightly considered in the report, this sounds a lot less like enforcing the rights of intellectual rights holders and very much like a money-making exercise.

As I have said before, how will or do they know people are illegally sharing files? There is a suggestion in the report that information is gathered using special software that identifies illegal file sharing. I doubt anything like this exists. I suggest the software (if it exists) does one or more of several things. It identifies file sharing software (not in itself illegal). It identifies large file uploads or downloads. Neither is this illegal. It identifies encrypted uploads or downloads. Again, encryption is not, in itself illegal.

The software has not yet been tested in court. I doubt it will ever be. People who have been accused have either paid up and/or consulted a solicitor. None, it appears who have refused to pay have been taken to court, suggesting there is no real evidence.

Should I receive such a communication from ACS:Law or anybody else (and I predict there will be many) who jumps on the bandwagon my responses will be several.

Since I have a laptop and desktop PC, my son plays X-box games online and has a desktop in his room and my daughter has a laptop, my bandwidth usage will be quite high, I assume. So if the suggestion is my high bandwidth usage arouses suspicion of illegal downloads, they will get short shrift from me. If they claim they have acquired my address from my ISP I will want to know on what grounds they obtained a court order to get this information and investigate the possibility of a contravention of the Data Protection act. Because by requesting a court order, they must surely have investigated my internet usage to provide evidence to justify such a request.

I will make it quite clear to them that I cannot pay several hundred pounds to avoid court action, so take me to court where, if they win they will have even less chance of getting the several thousand pounds they are chasing.

And finally, if they do wish to proceed with a legal challenge and I win, in the face of all their 'evidence', the grounds on which I win will open the door for others to appeal their convictions (if they ever get any) and will provide a legal challenge for all other such prosecutions.

They ought also to remember this is Britain, not the US and cases are taken on merit, not money.

Who’d be a Teacher?

According to a BBC report new teachers cannot find secure jobs. Welcome to the real world. Ordinary workers haven't had job security for three decades. This is a result of the new world economy where profit supersedes people.

However, I must ask what the problem is? If the current advertisements on T.V. are to be believed, a teacher can expect a starting salary of £30,000 a year. Not bad, in my book. I wish somebody would offer me that sort of money for working my butt off in a manual job. So O.K., the issue seems to be they can't get these jobs. But the report goes on to say that 95% of newly trained teachers find temporary or supply work. Assuming temporary means short term contracts and assuming that as in real-world jobs this means showing ability, commitment and reliability results in an offer of a permanent position the onus is on them to show they are worthy of such consideration. As for supply teachers, I see advertised supply positions paying £100 a day and more. I would be happy to seek work as a supply plastics moulding technician at £100 a day.

What do they want? Jam on it?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bonus Crackdown- the Bankers are Crying. Ha Ha!

Former Bank of Scotland chairman Sir George Mathewson has said the government's move to remove bonuses for bankers that take unnecessary risks is a dangerous one. He claims that it may be an interference with the rule of law. His premise for this is that it is a dangerous move to interfere with contracts negotiated by willing parties.

Well, Sir George, when those contracts and bonuses cost innocent taxpayers and savers money, when it threatens the banking system as a whole while the perpetrators walk off rich(er) men, there should be control and I don't think it goes far enough. They should take back bonuses already paid and put a limit on bonuses either as a percentage of salary or a fixed limit (my preference).

Angela Knight, chief executive of the British Bankers' Association, said the UK had already taken steps to address bonuses and that any legislation had to take into account its impact on the UK as a global financial centre.

Sorry, Ms Knight and Sir George. You're just making excuses to keep your grubby hands on the cash.

And we don't hear you when ordinary workers are told wage rises must be kept below inflation. But then, that suits, doesn't it? Hold down pay rises and the money can be shared out amongst yourselves in big bonuses that bypass below inflation rises.

You'll never go hungry or be out of work unless by choice. You'll never worry about which bill to pay this week. You'll never go 16+ years with only two holidays and one weekend away, both only affordable because of the generosity of friends.

No, I'm afraid there are no tears shed here.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

What’s the Difference Between Russell Brand and a Mushroom?

Very little. Neither are funny and both thrive on horse-s***.

Russell Brand is about as funny as toothache. Like most so-called celebrities, he needs a gimmick to maintain his limited popularity and to maintain his public profile. When his stupid hairstyle was no longer enough, he created controversy by abusing a fellow performer (one who at least is able to create comedy and cause me to laugh) Andrew Sachs.

Now that the furore over that episode has died down he has said at a signing of his latest DVD that though he apologised for the incident, he found the subsequent scandal funny. More than I can say for you, Mr Brand.

This only confirms my belief that he is neither funny nor truly apologetic. If you look at the true greats of comedy, the like of Tommy Cooper who needed only to walk on stage to raise hysterics from the audience, or Frankie Howerd, Morecombe and Wise or Dave Allen it is not difficult to see that the modern trend in comedy to raise a laugh at the expense of undeserving innocent parties is the gimmick of second rate so-called comedians, a ploy to keep themselves in the public eye and to hide their lack of skill with controversy.

I may sound biased, and perhaps I am. (And perhaps with good reason.) But I have tried to watch Mr Brand. I just couldn't see the humour in his ranting. He tried too hard to be 'in your face' but without the finesse of greats like Bill Hicks who too was controversial, but raged against the establishment and its representatives and as far as I am aware never abused a fellow performer, always had a point to make and didn't use abuse for its own sake or to divert attention from a lack of talent.

Unfortunately, today's audience encourages such behaviour. The paymasters know it improves viewing figures and instead of the likes of Russell Brand becoming a non-entity in entertainment as would have happened in the past, the controversy keeps them in demand.

Thank heaven for the off switch.

Friday, November 13, 2009

You’re nicked, mate

Sandwell council fined a woman £75 (a fixed penalty charge) for feeding the ducks at a duck pond. Apparently, she and her 17 month old son were not in the designated feeding area. What a lot of rot! Another little Goebbels given a uniform and obeying his Hitler-like council masters.

Now, I might- the operative word being might- understand had the fine been for littering- throwing the bread on the ground or into the pond. Even so, it would be ridiculous. But to say it isn't in the designated feeding area, I ask what is the difference? The bread is going to be eaten by the ducks or swans or geese, they aren't aware of these 'designated areas'. Or are we to see Donald [Duck] in court for eating outside his designated feeding area? It just beggars belief. I certainly would have refused to pay and contested the fine in a court of law.

Well, Ms. Kelly and son, see you on the [DNA] database, you threat to society, you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why is Mandelson Politician of the Year?

Lord (ha!) Mandelson has been named |politician of the year by Spectator magazine's annual awards. I fail to see why. He is unelected, does not sit in the House of Commons and as a politician sucks. I've seen better policies on the back of a beer mat.

Come to think of it, wasn't he sacked or had to resign or something? Seems to me one need not be good at ones job. Just be controversial. Like Jedwood.

(now awaiting my bonus, thankyou.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Would You Give a Community Order for Child Rape?

A sixteen year old boy, who cannot be named was given a community service order for molesting a seven year old boy. Eight days later he abducted and raped another five year old boy.

I could go on and on about the stupidity of the law, the ivory towers of judges, deterrents, justice and revenge, etc. etc. But I dare say I will only be repeating what others are already saying, what you are already thinking. So I'll just say this is what happens when discipline is removed from schools, a country goes soft on crime and criminals are rewarded instead of punished.

Full Story

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We Know Who You Emailed Last Summer.

The government is to push ahead with plans to insist CSP's (Communication Service Providers) keep records of our online communications. This includes social networking sites like Facebook. Hell, it means any company or website that processes any communication online.

The government says it doesn't want to create a single database to hold these records. Just that the CSP's keep records of communications, not their content just a record of who communicated with whom, and that these records will be used for investigating and solving crime. Well, we saw what happened with similar anti-terrorism surveillance laws where councils were spying on people to see if they were living where they said and to catch dog owners not cleaning up their mess.

If you ask me, this isn't about crime in general. It is about specifically targeting illegal downloader's and if that is the case then they should come right out and say so. What other reason could there be? If the content of a communication won't be kept, what good is knowing a communication took place? The only reason I can think of is proving a communication with a known download site.

The other side of the coin, in these circumstances is supposing I email somebody and this communication is held for 2 years. What if some months later the person I emailed is arrested on a serious criminal charge? There is no record that I merely responded to an advert for a ladder for sale, only that the communication took place. So will that communication be ignored, making the law ineffective and irrelevant or will we see thousands of innocent people targeted merely because they sent an email?

Where is the evidence that this will have any effect on crime? This is just another draconian law designed to look like protection for the population in general but in reality will be restrictive and dangerous for the ordinary citizen whose worse crime is putting their bin out on the wrong day.

Monday, November 09, 2009

BBC Poll Says Free Market Flawed

According to a poll commissioned by the British Broadcasting Company most people believe the free market economy is flawed. There are also stark contrasts as to whether the fall of the Soviet Union and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall were good things.

Of course, there is no explanation of why people now believe these things might not be such a good thing. It could be that they feel a diametrically opposed political, social and economic system (somewhere else in the world) struck a balance. A balance that prevented financial institutions and the capitalist system from running amuck and bringing down banks, pension schemes and mortgages.

But I think it is not this that has brought about a differing opinion around the world. I think it is the same thing that has seen a hundred years of alternate Labour and Tory governments in Britain. It is the same thing that is the great flaw in democracy. A flaw exploited by the rich and powerful. That the majority of people change their opinions according to circumstances.

When the Soviet Union was a powerful counter-balance to capitalism it was seen as evil and counter-productive. Now it is gone, we have seen capitalism and the free market economy run wild and threaten the financial system of the world. While communism and socialism was a powerful threat, capitalists could not take the risks we have seen taken in recent times because there was an effective alternate system to fill the void. Without this alternate system, the risks could be taken and if they failed, as they did, the only option was to rebuild capitalism.

Much like the rampant capitalism that filled the void in communist Russia, socialism could and possibly would have filled the void left by a failed world economy. That is what the poll is reflecting. That is what the ('democratic') capitalists are afraid of.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

RBS- Taxpayers Bank or Not?

I don't get this. I'm no financial wizard. But the taxpayer has a majority holding in the Royal Bank of Scotland. Presumably, since I don't get asked, the government, in our name, takes care of the day-to-day issues. And presumably, since they gave them loads of our cash, they are keeping an eye on them?

And yet, I read 'Treasury seeks RBS lending proof'. The gist of the story seems to be that the RSB is claiming it cannot meet its lending target because businesses aren't asking for loans. So the treasury is asking RSB to prove this in the next four weeks, and to produce their loans terms and conditions to prove that they are not 'too harsh'.

So, we (for we, read the Government on our behalf) own this bank, yet we do not know how it is being run? We do not know the terms and conditions of the loans?

This shows gross neglect of duty by the treasury and by implication the government. It beggars belief that these things have not been scrutinised and modified if necessary. You just do not invest billions of pounds of your own money, never mind our money, without taking an active part in decision making.

Leaving it until now to ask for the information is ridiculous. We inject billions and leave the bank to their own devices, which created the problem in the first place.

At the same time I notice a government sponsored advertisement condemning benefits cheats as thieves. So you claim your £50+ jobseekers allowance and make a bit on the side, you're a criminal, fined and/or imprisoned and made to pay back the money. Squander somebody else's money to increase your bonus, walk away with a £multimillion, gold plated iron-clad pension and you can have a few billion more, but don't be naughty again.

Some things never change. The rich will stay rich, get richer and flaunt the law with impunity. The poor will stay poor, get poorer and flaunt the law at their peril.

It's the rich what gets the pleasure

It's the poor what gets the blame

It's the same the whole world over

Ain't it all a bloody shame?


Friday, November 06, 2009


With the US army officer killing 13 fellow soldiers and an Afghan policeman shooting British soldiers, both of whom were trained or being trained by the nation they purportedly worked for, one has to ask whether these people are 'sleepers'- individuals, perhaps part of a larger organisation put in place to commit these acts of betrayal.

I don't believe an army officer killed his comrades simply because he didn't want to go to Afghanistan. There are other, less lethal ways of avoiding such deployment. Neither do I believe an individual joined a police force in good faith and was recruited while serving.

It brings into question our reason for having troops deployed in an unwinnable war. By their very nature, the guerrillas in Afghanistan will, if apparently defeated, reappear when foreign troops are withdrawn.

Or are we to be there forever?

Lose/Lose- Video Game or Trojan?

A new game that deletes files on your hard drive has been described as a Trojan. The game clearly states the intention, so is it a Trojan or is it a game? If a virus writer clearly labelled his work a virus, called it destroyyourfiles.exe or iamavirus.exe, then does that exonerate him/her? I'd say no. A virus (in this I include Trojans and other similar destructive files) is recognised as such because of what it does. Warning a potential victim does not change this behaviour. In fact I can see that pretty soon a real malicious virus writer will use this as a social engineering technique to get you to download his work.

We all know spam exists because people respond to it. Well, it is pretty dammed certain that if I call a virus 'Iwillstealyourpasswords.exe ' and state clearly on the download page that my intention is to steal passwords from every computer it is run on, there will be enough people gullible enough to disbelieve it, download and run the file to make it worthwhile.

Like the 'Wet Paint' sign. There is always somebody who just has to know.

Full Story

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

‘No referendum’ Say Tories.

Now that the EU Treaty has been ratified by the Czech Republic Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague has said the Tories will not hold a referendum.

Quite correct. The treaty, love it or hate it will be European law by the time the Tories are elected, if they are in fact elected- as seems likely. A referendum will be pointless, as it and the UK will be unable to change anything.

However, anybody with a modicum of intelligence will see through this spin, ploy, political manoeuvring, call it what you will. They knew, when they announced they would hold a referendum that the treaty would or would not be ratified. The Czech Republic could not have held out for that long without a decision one way or another. If they had not ratified, there would be no need to ask the British people since the treaty could not become law under such circumstances. Now they have ratified, there is no point. Heads we win, tails you lose.

However, the Tories might have the courage of their convictions and ask the British people (if they are elected next year) whether they want to stay in Europe.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Brave New World

In these times of 'restraint' isn't it amazing the British government has found another £32.9 billion to put into Lloyds and RBS?

Why is it only we ordinary, poor folk have to tighten our belts and have public services slashed?

It seems to me if I squander my money; pay myself more than I am worth for failing in my job or fiddle my expenses I need only be sure I am already extremely wealthy or a public official to have UK Government PLC bail me out or turn a blind eye.

Where was the funding for Rover, LDV etc and where is the funding for the Royal Mail to keep people in jobs and maintain a state owned and managed mail? Or is keeping people in jobs, particularly service jobs diametrically opposed to the Government view of Great Britain LTD where we are all stockbrokers or bankers?

Of course, we cannot all be financial wizards and so must ask what is to become of those not inclined to such careers? I suggest you look at the veneer of the education system, purporting to make a good education available to all. The best education still goes to the wealthiest. Poke a little more through the thin skin of the education system and you will see that even a mediocre education is being priced out of the reach of ordinary people. With tuition fees and student loans (soon to be sold off to the highest bidder) families either reliant on benefits or in low paid jobs one can see that further education will soon be the domain of the elite. The producers of wealth (that's you and me) will be consigned to a life of drudgery and want. And our ability to advance reasonable argument against such inequality is severely curtailed by our lack of education.

Welcome to our Brave New World.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Marlon King

I don't know what you think, but as Miss Carr, his victim said Mr King should be banned from professional football for life.

For a grown man, a fit and able bodied man to punch a lady in the face because she rejected his advances that were to my mind a sexual assault is abominable.

And Mrs. King should really reconsider her relationship with him. Not only because while she is pregnant and presumably waiting at home with their three children he is trying to find a sexual partner in a night club, but because such violence could quite easily one day be turned on her.

As for his brag "I'm a multimillionaire, love... you're not even in my league." I can only say, neither am I, thank heavens. I would never stoop so low.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Harriet Harman – Don’t Sack Spouses

Harriet Harman has said that MP's who pay family members to work for them should not be forced to sack them.

Parents are not allowed to pay family members to help with childcare because such a system would be open to abuse. Why should MPs employ their families when they have shown they cannot be trusted to apply allowances legally, let alone fairly?

Sorry, Mrs. Harman. MPs have had it too good for too long, taken advantage of generous allowances and now comes the time to pay the piper. You'll find little public sympathy and your comment only serves to underline how out of touch you really are.

It proves to me my belief that the Labour Party has ceased to exist, along with morality and integrity in politics. Clawing at each and every straw to try to retain as much as you can when the honourable thing would be as a minimum accept the recommendations with what grace can be mustered in light of the abysmal and flagrant abuse of taxpayers funding.