Time to talk about Covid 19 and ethnic minorities…

A Face protection

There has been a quite a bit said about the fact ethnic minorities are more likely to catch and die of Covid19. The UK office of national statistics recently released a study which was quite shocking and hard to read.  Its a harsh reminder this virus was never a equalizer and as BBC newsnight said, shows the widening divisions.

t discovered that after taking into account age, measures of self-reported health and disability and other socio-demographic characteristics, black people were still almost twice as likely as white people to die a Covid-19-related death.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani males were 1.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males, after other pre-existing factors had been accounted for, and females from those ethnic groups were 1.6 times more likely to die from the virus than their white counterparts.

Personally I am taking a lot of sustainable steps to stay safe. I say sustainable because unlike some people who think we are going to revert back to the old normal, I know this isn’t going to happen. Without going into too much depth about PPE, contact tracing and an actual vaccine. If you want that, its worth listening to the Manchester futurists podcast which is going up in the next few days.

I’m washing my hands with liquid soap pretty much all the times, not touching my face (I know its really really hard but not impossible and I have managed it but don’t have long hair and have a deep routed thing about dirty hands) and I’m disinfecting everything I have touched and brought back into the house including my headphones, smartphone, pebble watch, keys, etc… However I am not using alcohol hand sanitizer, unless essential because it makes my hands so bloody dry I hate it!

Even before the recent theories about Vitamin D, I have been taking Vit D as its generally good practice for darker skinned people living in northern hemispheres.

I’m very conscious I am at higher risk being a black male, having a survived a bleed on the brain, asthmatic and all with high blood pressure. But I am however very fortunate to have a career which means I can work from home while living in a city centre where I can go out and get exercise and food. I’m not socio-economic disadvantaged thats something which I have going for myself. I have been getting Tesco delivery again (maybe once every 4-6 weeks again). Been avoiding the large supermarkets and going to local high street shops, Booths and M&S food market (This is certainly not true of a lot of people!). I do pop into Aldi but am always aware people are much less likely to social distance unfortunately. Especially around the fruit and veg isle.

There was a decision made not to wear a mask, when the one I ordered for the holiday to South Korea and Japan never came (according to Amazon its still on its way – 4 months later). Me and my partner decided we didn’t want to be the westerners not wearing a mask, when we still felt we could go. But for me personally I decided there was more risk in having a mask than not when out and about in Manchester. I expect there will be places in the future where I will have to wear face protection/mask to enter, and thats fine (maybe my mask might actually arrive) but till then taking the mask on and off is just much more risk than not touching my face at all. I’m also very conscious about not coughing, sneezing, etc in and around people.

Whats happening is no joke and clearly points to the horrible inequality. I’m very fortunate to be born in a country which (at least currently) has a national health care system.

But there are clear problems/differences and the people with the power to change the fate of millions are doing little about it! Some would say it could be to the benefit to certain governments even?

This is so much darker in the age of #metoo

Trigger warning… topics of a sexual nature in comedy in the video

Elaine’s date takes ‘it’ out before saying good-night. Elaine then explains the date to Jerry and Kramer.

Like watching a lot of 90’s TV (or older TV), there is a certain amount of cringe and headshaking. But generally Seinfeld gets away with it all for its progressive stance.

However I noticed this Seinfeld clip which seems so much darker in the age of . It was obviously bad then but the laughter adds a certain amount of extra pain to the whole clip.

 

Bezos’s possible trillionaire status is the worst of capitalism and inequality

There is a lot wrong with the world especially our western capitalistic society. The very thought/notion of one person being personally worth one trillion (in less than 10 years) is just unthinkable with all the problems in the world.

Bill Maher sums it up nicely in new rules. Although not a fan of relying on these rich white men to share the wealth, Jack Dorsey recent pledge did take me by surprise. Especially how transparent he is with it all.

The whole Bezos issue reminds me of the talks and books by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, especially the spirit level. (I still haven’t read the inner level yet)

In their influential 2009 book The Spirit Level, the epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett demonstrated conclusively the pernicious effects of economic inequality. In more unequal countries, outcomes are worse for almost everyone in areas such as public health, education, obesity and social mobility.

Demostration of inquality in action
From Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s the spirit level book, this cartoon is just perfect.

 

Louis Theroux shows the geeks have won, for how long?

Louis Theroux: Selling Sex

I saw this piece from the independent and thought it was fun to read. Mainly because I thought throughout is the geeks have won.

But what is it that makes him quite so alluring? After all, Louis is not someone who immediately screams “heartthrob”. He’s a slowburner. A man of the pulled pork variety. A lamb tagine. A put-it-on-at-80-degrees-and-leave-it-to-simmer. But if you’re patient enough you will see beyond his slightly gawky posture to a man with a jawline so square you could dice vegetables on it.

He reminds me of those slightly confusing crushes that develop so slowly you don’t even notice them. Like that nerdy guy you sat next to in history class. The one you initially disliked because he says “that’s an ad hominem argument” so often. And then he goes to university and gets a nice pair of glasses and you kick yourself when you see his girlfriend walk around the corner and she’s Suffolk’s answer to Natalie Portman.

Theroux is proof that humans often want what they’re not supposed to. Not all heroes wear capes; not all hunks wear six-packs.

Ok seriously now, I find this Interesting…

However although while talking to my partner about this, I remembered this kind of talk previously in the 90’s. Who remembers the new man? Which brought rise to Lad culture. Who could forget magazines like Loaded. Ironically I was listening to the independent post while I walked past the office of Lads bible.

There is a ton of paths to head beyond this (although I’m so keen on the language used), but I wonder if the time of the new man is actually now? During the last throws of toxic masculinity, the thankful rise of feminism and the realization we all need to evolve together.

The whole notion of gender is so broken and maybe unlike in the 90’s when we couldn’t even utter words or thoughts like transgender or transsexual. Now has to be the time, you only have to look at what Grayson Perry has been up to over the last decade.

What american’s think of socialised health care?

I did find this short video of voxpox’s on the streets of New York interesting. Not only to hear what they think of the NHS but also the difference between the people interviewed.

In US news and current events today, NowThis News hit the streets of New York to ask everyday Americans about the universal health care debate. A recent video featuring British people commenting on the health care system in America went viral, consider this video the answer. These people gave their thoughts on private healthcare vs public health care. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance is more available in the U.S., but without a public health care or National health care system like the U.K. or Canada, many people in the U.S. will still be uninsured and at risk.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2020)

Silicon Valley TV show

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by celebrity culture on lockdown or looking at the sorry state of instagram during lockdown.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

You are seeing aspects of this happening in litmus test of thoughts from 45 non-journalist students from 17 nationalities students about the post-covid19 mediascape.


China’s plans to fundamentally change the internet stack from the bottom

Ian thinks: China’s attempt to change IP by going to the ITU is substantial and quite terrifying even in the face of the misinformation warfare. For anyone creating devices/services/apps for the Chinese market, its a real wake up call.

The secret market for your web browsing data

Ian thinks: These secret markets/ecosystem for personal data has been revealed over and over again. But this reveal is based purely on our web browsing data but is no less scary

How much is data worth?

Ian thinks: The discussion about the price of data pops its head up again. Its a difficult question but its worth something to someone.

But I have nothing to hide? Really?

Ian thinks: Really good video summary you can share with friends and family, for those who “have nothing to hide…”

Sorry was that, EST, BST, GMT, CET or just UTC?

Ian thinks: A good balanced look at what would happen if we all switched to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time. Makes some very good points on both sides. Tom Scott, adds his views from a programming point of view.

Snowdon on the privacy woes of Covid-19

Ian thinks: Vice interviews Edward Snowdon about how the different governments are taking advantage of our fear around Covid-19

Lilian Edwards proposal for Contact tracing

Ian thinks: Lilian is very creditable and while everybody is concerned and focused on contact tracing technology. Shes approached it from the equally important angle of policy.

Abolish Silicon Valley and rethink our future

Ian thinks: I haven’t read Wendy Li’s book yet but she makes some good if a bit over optimistic in points. But shes got the scars to back up every point.

Time to talk seriously about Universal basic income?

Ian thinks: Good to see a view outside the silicon reality distortion valley. Discussions for the post Covid-19 future lean heavily on Universal basic income.

Always been meaning to read The Age of Surveillance Capitalism?

Ian thinks: The dutch broadcaster VPRO kindly posted their documentary with Shoshana Zuboff online for all the people who didn’t make it through the 500+ pages of her book. Not deep enough try the 2hr lecture.

Illegal zoom bombing is out of control

Zoombombing

This is part of the endless story of zoom, a story which is true as it happened to me and about 100+ other people.

The open rights group run an event every Friday afternoon related data privacy and ethics. Its been hosted on zoom for the last few weeks and the guests have been good. When I heard Lilian Edwards and Rachel Coldicutt were going to talk about a possible way forward for the debate around covid-19 contact tracing. I was onboard to watch again.

It centers around this proposed legal document which Lilian spearheaded with Rachel and others.

The Coronavirus (Safeguards) Bill 2020: Proposed protections for digital interventions and in relation to immunity certificates

I highly recommend you have a read…especially since some promises seem to be broken.

Back to the incident on the zoom call…

I joined a bit late but setup my chromebook casting to my TV via the chromecast. Settled in to watch while working on my Dell XPS laptop. As Lilian finished her presentation, someone drew a cock and balls on top of her final slide. Lilian laughed it off while the hosts the open rights group went about blocking, booting and changing the permissions of the zoom call.

As things moved forward, someone was attempting to draw a swastika on the video. Someone was using the zoom overlay feature or something but it was removed before it was fully drawn. It was about then when we moved to Rachel and before she could really get going someone hijacked the video and showed child abuse/porn. It was shocking and I couldn’t believe it. I looked at the chat room and people were equally upset. It lasted about 10-15 secs but it was just vile/horrible.

Someone pleaded that the hosts take control, and they replied they are ending the whole thing now. Then it was all gone. The lasting effect was felt and although I felt truly shaken by what I had seen, I also knew I had to reach out to others.

Since then, I called my partner for support, line manager to report what happened and check he wasn’t on the call too. I also wanted to check other BBC staff wasn’t on the call I knew. I had previously shared the link around our internal slack and with others interested in contact tracing. I’m lucky the BBC has a employee assistance programme, where I was able to talk to a trained professional who suggested I might feel some comfort in blogging about it (hence this blog)

I noticed while blogging, theres a twitter thread about the whole thing now. No ones blaming the openrightsgroup but this guide written by Michael J. Oghia. But there is a good list of all the things to lock down and change on zoom for anyone before it happens again. Its likely the people behind this illegal act were going zoom to zoom.

I recently noticed that a few organisations are using youtube for broadcasts and discussions, with another system for feedback and questions. It certainly cuts down on abuse compared to zoom and you can easily share the public link out. The idea of switching to jitsu or skype may not necessarily help solve this type of problem. But changing the way its done completely could.

18th April 2020 – 1am

I got a email from the Open Rights Group…

This afternoon an unknown actor severely disrupted our public online discussion about Covid-19 and we were forced to immediately end the call.

We were horrified by what occurred and would like to apologise for having exposed viewers to such horrific imagery. We are deeply sorry that this occurred on ORG’s watch.

If you would like to speak with us directly I am personally available to speak to anyone and everyone that was on the call.

We have reported the incident to the Police and are taking necessary steps to secure our systems. We will be reviewing the way we conduct meetings to ensure this is never possible again.

If you would like to speak to a counselling or advice service, the Police recommend contacting Samaritans. They accept calls from anyone on any emotional issue at this number 116 123.

Sincere apologies.
Jim
_______________

Jim Killock
Executive Director
Open Rights Group

How capitalism is supposed to work?

Thanks to Herb for sending me this clip from CNBC. The news anchor literally can’t believe what Chamath is saying. But there is so much sense in what he saying.  You can feel the old world thinking (pre-Covid19) talking out of the news anchor’s mouth.

Ironically if you put aside the new normal, big companies being bought by others is the way capitalism works. Its super clear capitalism has been warped to such an extent in favor of the 1% of billionaires.

So much for the American dream.

Could Covid19 be the Airbnb host shake out which was needed?


Updated: 24/4/2020 – Enough said

Some Airbnb hosts are a bit screwed right now. Although the platform has had some trouble before Covid19. I’m sure the platform will keep on going but its going change for some.

Airbnb, a home-sharing website, has seen bookings fall by 40% in big European cities as the pandemic halted trips. It may delay its IPO, which was expected to be this year’s biggest. But despite racking up losses of late, it is well-managed, cash-rich and, thanks to an unmatched global reach that puts up a high barrier to entry, likely to make money again once people get back to travelling.

The Economist

I do not feel sorry for those Airbnb hosts who bought all those extra house/flats for the sole purpose of renting on Airbnb.  They took the living piss extracting huge sums of money and ruined local communities as they did. This could be the world wide shake out of the Airbnb money making mania?

Post Covid19, I’m banking on the emphasis being less on GDP and more on human values.

Imagine a public service video conference service

Its pretty disheartening to hear about people who seeking/getting help for addiction being trolled. Business insider’s article about Trolls breaking into AA meetings held on Zoom and harassing recovering alcoholics. Speaks volumes about where we currently are with our technology and society.

Its easy to blame the people who would troll people who are seeking help and support. Yes but also Zoom are to blame? Well thats a very easy target and they are not doing themselves any favors although they recently seem to be sorting themselves out. The problem with default settings is a well known problem and the easy thing to do is switch to another platform right?

Looking at the list in the Guardian, its clear the amount which are profit making businesses just like zoom. Its not exactly their fault, the scenario of the public using your service for to run a help group wasn’t in the business plan.

Maybe its time there was a business which did have that in their plans? Maybe not a business at all? Maybe an organisation with public interest & benefit at the centre of its remit?

This is something I was thinking through with Herb the other day, as we talked through the problems with Zoom. Could an organisation like for example the BBC run a video conferencing system for the benefit of the public?

Wouldn’t this conflict with existing commercial businesses and be a problem? Nope not if done correctly. I used healthcare when talking with Herb.

The NHS is a catch all and provide baseline health care. If you want to pay for better/quicker healthcare you can pay BUPA or someone else. In the same way, could the BBC or others provide baseline video conferencing aimed to give everybody a free platform which is  basic but focused on important things like privacy, security, anonymity, etc. This means no custom backgrounds, no filters, no full HD, etc. Thats the realm of the  commercial providers.

I know its a thin line but we can’t such important public services be hostage to commercial factors/models.

There is another aspect to this, the public sector could finally double down on services which preserve privacy and security of the public with software which is audit-able, has levels of transparency and is decentralised & distributed in nature.  For example I was checking out Jitsi with its webRTC support. Jitsi meet might struggling if everybody is hitting the main site but as its self installable, suits a more decentralised model. A public company could easily set it up and run it for under-served audiences?

Thoughts?

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (April 2020)

After truth

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the amount of infected people with Covid19 or the huge amount of scams cashing in on our Covid19 fears.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with people rising to the challenge of 3D printing valves and open-sourcing the results.


Your living room has an agenda

Ian thinks: Christopher Wylie covers the natural progress of linked data, surveillance, iot, smart cities, data ethics and echo bubbles in a short diatribe. Taken from ANTIDOTE 2019

Doughnut Economics explained by Kate Raworth

Ian thinks: Kate made the link between human needs and the environmental demands to support life on earth, in such a engaging and simple to understand way. This is the kind of connected thinking which will drive forward much needed changes.

Hacktivists: From Anonymous to Luzsac to Occupy

Ian thinks: Great documentary about hacks, hackers, hacktivists and their political interests. Free to watch in full on youtube

Throwing out data ethics with the bath water in the age of Covid-19?

Ian thinks: Great examples of where data ethics has been squeezed or sidelined during a more immediate threat. Something we should all be aware of.

Summary of Open hardware fighting Covid-19

Ian thinks: There is so much about open hardware hackers doing incredible things to battle Covid-19. This short video sums up so many great projects in one go and gives some great advice for those wanting to help.

The local global revolution which was waiting for its moment

Ian thinks: Helena and Douglas discuss the importance of localism or decentralised, can serve and solve the problems of people. Douglas’s monologue about Covid-19 and how our current media is warping our perception is so apt.

The status-quo is over, the world after Covid-19

Ian thinks: I started to do a similar post but Vice beat me to the punch with this vast (USA focused) post highlighting the opportunities and questions we should have post Covid-19.

Stealing card details in a flash

Ian thinks: As our contact-less cards limits raise to 45 pounds per transaction. Fascinating to see with great convenience comes great opportunity for those who want to prosper quickly.

Nothing spreads faster than disinformation on the internet

Ian thinks: There is a formula for mis/disinformation (fake news if you must) and its been exploited to the max. This documentary highlights the problem stopping on news we all have heard including . Don’t have HBO, here is a Guardian review

Staying safe and staying humanly connected

Ian thinks: I couldn’t help but end this Covid-19 heavy newsletter with a positive video from Vox showing how we are staying safe and connected during this world wide pandemic. Very touching…

We were overdue a pandemic, public health is absolutely critical

There has been many signs of the current pandemic which is upon us now, in retrospect. Bill gates talk from TED is a popular one people mention. But there has been many more including this one, Fowl plague from how we get to next.

One of the questions in the FAQ is spot on.

At this very moment the USA has surpassed China with the most amount of people infected. It doesn’t take a lot to see the problem of a pandemic with no public health care system.

USA tops the Covid19 chart with most infected

Has a case has been made for universal health care providing a better defense against pandemics, as people are less likely to stay away from medical treatment over fears of the costs involved?

The case for universal health care was made in the years following the Spanish flu in 1918, when more people died at the hands of avian influenza than in both world wars combined. This event made it abundantly clear that, in the midst of a pandemic, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, insulated by health insurance or not: Everyone was at risk unless society was treated as a whole. This is, I believe, the strongest possible argument for universal health care; by definition ideas of individualism disintegrate in a pandemic scenario.

When I mention public health that extends to sick leave too as Vox’s video also explains so well.

Talking of Bill Gates, just this week TED did a follow up interview.

Jamie King’s monologue about Covid-19

https://stealthisshow.com/s05e08/

It was interesting listening to the most recent stealthisshow. Jamie King’s podcast is always a good listen and his monologue is right on point. Here is the text copy of the part I felt was most important.

…Of course, we also have the internet to thank for actually being able to continue distributing the show so far the internet’s continuing working just fine even if Reddit seems to be under duress and normally streaming services have had to downgrade themselves. BitTorrent also seems to be working great. And that’s the main thing making this lockdown less weird than it would otherwise be to continued functioning of the Internet because it just enables large part of everyday life to go on.

I wonder how much Covid-19 will contribute to a future rise in teleworking. teleconferencing repopulation of rural areas by people who no longer see cities as desirable and can manage to work as a distance. How much more of the world’s everyday functions will now in other words be swallowed by the internet.

Specifically, I find myself wondering as governments prepare for unprecedented bailouts of business and showing. Just how critical things really are even ordinary individuals, whether the future of money might well make a shift online too and just how weird it is that Satoshi Nakamoto had a vision in 2008 of a currency that could survive a moment exactly like this.

In any case the show must go on and steal this show will go on. But while the crisis continues, I think it’s important to direct the show’s focus towards the role decentralized technologies peer-to-peer collaboration, online and organization, etc etc can help us survive and even prosper. In the context of crisis and whatever comes next.

So the next interview I’m gonna do is with Gotana who’s project of using meshing Wi-Fi notes to create survivable. Bitcoin infrastructure looks to me increasingly crucial. I’ll also be posting that to make world the podcast. I’ve started looking at the ideas politics and technology of building a new sustainable livable human habitat for our future.

You can check that out at make world.io during these uncertain times. I’d love to connect with listeners more than ever…

The status quo is gone and its not coming back

Flattern the curve of health careI tooted/tweeted a few days ago…

We live in incredible times…
#COVID19uk

There is a lot of panic & uncertainty at the moment with the global pandemic of Covid-19.  But there is also a number of opportunities which are fundamentally changing our society, some good and some bad. To me its clear the status quo is gone, there is no way we can go back to the way we use to live (just like world wars). Simple things like our use of remote working is going to shape culture, society, human existence going forward; that is clear!

There’s been more chatter about universal basic income, but with a stronger emphases considering the huge numbers of people on low income, in the gig economy and self employed; hit hard trying to manage with the chaos. This could be the trigger for it to happen, at least in the short term.

Physical distancing and self isolation has forced those who scoffed at virtual connections into rethinking their position. People are understanding physical distancing is similar to a long distance relationship and similar lessons apply with social distancing. We are learning a lot more about each other, likely more than we do in the workplace. The idea of bring your authentic self to work applies even more when someone is looking through a webcam into your living room; mess, pets, family members and all.

Videoconf-whoopsie

The uptake of video conferencing has been huge and our reliance on the internet has been truly cemented with groups of people who used it ad-hoc finally embracing it out of necessity. Its actually become the number one way and this could have positive effects for the environment.

Online food delivery has really come into its own. On top of this contactless payments has really come into their own with cash being rejected for health reasons (yes I am very aware of the problems with cashless services however its a powerful counter point looking at the public health angle). Maybe this might finally convince America about the merits of a public health system? Ok thats not going to happen but now would be a very good time for it. Especially with so many americans just one pay cheque from poverty.

Our encroachment on nature urgently needs to change but we may have left it too late. Its clear the impact we made on the environment is biting back longer and harder. There are many who have suggested we are due a pandemic but are we ready for more of them one after another? Its also worth saying they will stick around and adapt/morph, so we really need to change our outlook. This could be bring us together more like a common foe (think Watchman) but you would have thought the environment destruction of our planet would have done that already? Flying has already facing a massive backlash but in the face of Covid-19, expect even more changes, if the airlines haven’t gone bust.

The  role of public service health and public service broadcasts has been very clear throughout but also the lack of resourcing them. Flatten the curve is a key message which people are getting their head around. Not just in the UK but across the world. Talking of public service broadcasting, this initiative: culture in quarantine, is pretty amazing and extremely quick for the BBC. There’s certainly some links to the digital public space.

The sheer amount of misinformation has forced the GAFFAs to do something but they are playing catch up on the trusted space to the public service broadcasters. Of course private companies have been throwing what they can to support people remotely working with lots of deals, even if the deals can convince/trap people in the long run? The calls for the end of public service broadcasting have gone strangely silent

John Oliver presents from a short staffed studio with no audience

Its absolutely fascinating to see the mainstream media shows adapt to the pandemic by using the exact technology bloggers, podcasters and videobloggers have been using for over a decade. We are watching news reporters from their homes and once we get over the first shock, it becomes the norm.

Its also around the time of crisis when data ethics is dashed to the wind. Its also when you see new laws sneaked in under the radar. Sometimes the crisis is a cover for what was always wanted.

However its been so impressive to see the local community driven support networks which have sprung up. DotEveryone’s Cassie’s recent posts is a good read looking at the tension for these networks, as theres a long way to go. (thanks Laura and GJB for the links). Douglas Rushkoff is right on the money with his conversation with Helena Norberg-Hodge, who talks about localfutures. All this nicely intersects with open source culture.

The term Stay Safe, Stay Connected is being used so much more than ever. It might be a halo effect but people are more concerned about each other than a month ago.But its perfect…

Stay safe, stay connected!

 

Lets cut the rubbish and talk about outbreaks in real terms

I’m hearing and seeing too much rubbish about the Coronavirus/Covid-19., including at the spa recently. I feel this is a good balanced talk about outbreaks, and there will be more.

Global health expert Alanna Shaikh talks about the current status of the 2019 coronavirus outbreak and what this can teach us about the epidemics yet to come. Alanna Shaikh is a global health consultant and executive coach who specializes in individual, organizational and systemic resilience.

This is something for many people who are reading too much stuff, guessing by the figures and filling in the blanks. Alanna makes too many good points about so many aspects of the current outbreak.

Step back and do the right thing, wash those hands and take some responsibility for your health care. Outbreaks will happen and its always just a matter of time. But that is not a reason to throw your arms up, blame different countries and bulk buy all the toilet roll you can get your hands on.