The s*** storm which is Brexit

There is a really good opinion piece I read recently in open democracy from a leave voter. Who although holds on to her believes why she voted to leave but can’t bear to see the massive s*** storm which is about to tear the United Kingdom (ha!) apart.

The economic arguments for Brexit have been destroyed by a series of shattering blows

Take the deal, or maybe its pride which stops the UK from doing so?

So I argue, as a Brexiteer, that we need to take a long deep breath. We need to swallow our pride, and think again. Maybe it means rethinking the Brexit decision altogether.

Certainly it means a delay when we can think about it all in a period of calm. Europe is offering us this opportunity. President Tusk is ready to offer a year’s extension. I say: grab it with both hands.

I’ve been thinking for a long while its time to stop this craziness with a 2nd vote but those who voted leave will cry fowl or say we have undermined democracy. However deep down I think there are some critical reasons why this must happen…

The author pretty much writes the reasons in her post.

  1. Independence is it really worth the battle?

I respect those who say yes, all this is worth it to pursue a dream of independence. It is a noble dream. I share it. It is founded on Britain’s historic role as a proud nation that has repeatedly fought for freedom and liberty. I, too, am conscious of our magnificent history. In the 18th century we stood against the Bourbon dream of European hegemony. We liberated Europe from the Napoleonic domination of continental Europe at the start of the 19th century. And faced up to Nazi Germany in 1940.

But this is not 1939 or the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. History gets made and remade all the time. The European Union is not a dictatorship, as contemptuous of national identity as Napoleonic France. Nor can it be compared to Nazi Germany – a foolish analogy which has become an ugly cliché and displays an unforgivable failure to understand the true horror of recent European history. Nor is it any longer a socialist project as envisaged by Jacques Delors, let alone an evil empire, as some have characterised it.

Of course our looming privations and national isolation would be thoroughly worthwhile if we were confronting such a continental menace. Let others call us ridiculous: we would have a duty to stand alone. But is such language appropriate in a century when all our EU partners are democracies, and none poses the remotest threat of taking up arms against us? Donald Tusk, who will lead the EU heads of government when they meet next week to decide Britain’s future inside the union, is not Hindenberg. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, is a genial, shrewd elderly man who (like me) enjoys the occasional drink.

I readily accept that the European Union is a dysfunctional body beset by all manner of problems. But the lesson of the last two years is that we are much better off working inside the EU (where we are greatly respected; it was British civil servants, remember, who wrote the rules of the single market) for reform and not as a hostile neighbour.

2. Will there be a United Kingdom left?

Moreover, there is a second reason for why I have changed my mind. The threat to the United Kingdom. This hits me like a massive punch in the stomach. When I cast my vote in 2016 I believed that the European Union was, if anything, a threat to our own union…

Like almost everybody else I underestimated the importance of the Good Friday Agreement

But I did not foresee that Brexit would threaten the continued existence of our kingdom as a union. I reckoned without the separatists within our nation who would push us apart, and seize on Brexit (as the Scottish nationalists are doing) as a reason to break up.

3. The vote was illegally and heavily manipulated – FACT

My third unhappiness concerns the integrity of some leading Brexiteers. We are learning more and more about the deceit and illegal tactics which accompanied the Leave campaign. Late last month, on a busy news day, Vote Leave dropped its appeal against a £61,000 fine for electoral offences committed during the referendum.

Allegations of illegal overspending are deeply worrying. Britain’s data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, fined Leave. EU and Eldon Insurance, an insurance company run by Leave’s Arron Banks, a total of £120,000 for breaking electoral marketing laws. The National Crime Agency is still investigating suspicions of criminal offences committed by the unofficial Brexit campaign during the referendum. Banks’ alleged links to Russian money are even more worrying. There have not yet been serious enough attempts to answer these questions.

Everyday I can’t watch the news to see the s*** storm getting darker and darker. I’m sure in many years things will get better but I currently estimate it will be 15-20 years.

39 days till Brexit and we still don’t know whats going to happen…

Its super depressing and even with 39 days left till Brexit, we still don’t know what on earth is going to happen. Even Jon Oliver can’t express how painful it is to watch the news everyday and see the PM of the UK trying to act strong with a crappy deal and following the will of the UK people.

Its a crappy situation the PM stepped into but I’m far from forgiving as she could delay article 50 and delay this clusterf**k. There is no way we should be allowed to leave without clear plans and a proper deal, if thats what we must do (I of course don’t buy it, I want to stay in the European union and always have done).

All I can do is put my head in my hands and think about how to escape the UK.

EU referendum last minute thoughts…

Who Will Be Able To Vote EU Referendum?

Its only 35 minutes before I’m actually allowed to write about the EU referendum or Brexit if you prefer. I wasn’t going to post it but decided I should.

Purdah is the pre-election period in the United Kingdom, specifically the time between an announced election and the final election results. The time period prevents central and local government from making announcements about any new or controversial government initiatives (such as modernisation initiatives or administrative and legislative changes) which could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election. Where a court determines that actual advantage has been given to a candidate, this may amount to a breach of Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986.

Its an old law and the government admits it needs updating.

Just over 6 years ago I woke up in hospital after a bleed on a brain, it was right after the national election of 2011. I asked what happened in the election, as I had lost about 3 weeks in between. Someone (my sister or Ross I think) told me the liberal democrats had joined with the conservatives. I honestly thought they were joking or I had slipped into an alternative reality and would wake up at some point.

I am deeply worried, I will wake up on Friday morning and find myself in yet another alternative reality. I can’t believe we are even having this referendum to be honest.

I’ve pretty much stayed out of the debate back and forth and just listened. I even listened to a few German’s talking about the EU referendum at popathon 2016 which was fancinating, listening what our europe friends have to say about it. As you can imagine, being a young progressive type, you know where I might stand on this all.

Having a chat with family and some friend, some are considering voting leaving. When asking why, it seems to come down to gut feeling. This is when I realised this is a asymmetrical debate, one side are arguing with facts from experts and the other are arguing with their gut. It reminds me of the election in america between Bush and Kerry. Bush was arguing for votes based on religon and Kerry something quite different.

There is something which transends some of this, its part of the Maslow hierarchy of needs, cooperative behaviour. Rosie’s blog sums this up.

When you team up with others, it’s because you believe it will be mutually beneficial and for the best overall. That’s not the same as expecting it to be brilliant for you at all times. There will be times of hardship, and you might be called on for help. Then at some point, the favour will be returned. Making a commitment means sticking it out when times get tough, in the knowledge that it will be for the best in the long term.

There is no point joining a partnership if you plan to jump ship at the first perception that things are not currently 100% in your favour.

This is basic game theory. In a repeated game (like living in the world), the best strategy is cooperation. Even if it looks like defecting will give you an immediate advantage, this is short lived and outweighed by the long term advantages of having an alliance.

I said a while that we needed to appeal to the things which that side stand by, I think cooperative behavior may be a start but I heard recently something which seemed to appeal at a much more gut level or basic needs level.

Brits don’t quit… Is this enough?

We shall see

Adam Curtis’ #Bitterlake today on BBC iplayer?

Adam Curtis’ Bitter Lake  (previewed on Charlie Brooker’s yearly wipe) is on BBC iPlayer today from 9pm. I don’t think I’ll be watching at that time (find it interesting there is a time, but I guess there has to be one), due to the Techgrumps podcast. But I’m sure to check it out soon enough.

Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events. But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis – leaving us bewildered and disorientated.

Bitter Lake is a new, adventurous and epic film by Adam Curtis that explains why the big stories that politicians tell us have become so simplified that we can’t really see the world any longer.

Funny enough today I started the morning with this related playlist…

I was a little peed off that the doc about subliminal advertising’s results were split across podcasts… Could have done with a warning really! One for the physical playlist.

Think who pays is meaningless?

So many people say, who cares who pays on the first date. Is it really a issue at all?

Well I’d direct them to the story of IT worker – Kishore Nimmala. Found via Tim Dobson

Mr Nimmala, from Leyton east London met Ms Sultana on dating website Zoosk. They arranged to meet-up for drinks in the West End on February 15. The IT worker said the evening was proceeding well and they had enjoyed two rounds of drinks by 11.30pm. Mr Nimmala paid for all the drinks spending £54 in total.

He said that when he asked Ms Sultana to pay for the next set of drinks she said she had not come out with any money as she had assumed he would be paying for the evening.

As a result, she cut the evening short and left.

Now if the date ended there, it would have been a crappy date agreed, and at least he could learn something from that experience. But of course it didn’t end there…

But he followed her to Charing Cross Tube station before snatching her phone in a bid to get her to stump up cash towards the drinks. He told the Standard: “I’m just very happy to be cleared.

“But it’s not just the money (£1,200), I have been struggling mentally for the last seven months. I could have lost everything had I been convicted. I feel like I never want to go on a date again.

“I don’t think you can get the right person online. You don’t know who you are talking to, I mean, I ended up in court.”

He added: “She said we would drink and dance all night, but she wanted me to pay for everything and I didn’t have enough cash to buy more drinks so she got upset.

“We had a heated argument. She took my money, I took her phone, but I never wanted to steal her phone and keep it.

“I just did it to get her attention and to get some money back. Then she started screaming very loudly, so I panicked and I ran (with the phone) for a few metres. When I turned back, the police were there and they arrested me.”

Yes he should never have followed her and took her phone! He should have cut his loses and walked away. Who pays is bigger than most people imagine and the politics wrapped up in the emotional issue is like a land mine. One day you will stand on it, and you will remember it forever more.

Mr Nimmala, who works on IT systems for major firms including banks, said the legal proceedings have cost him £1,200 in lawyers’ fees. He also said has not been on a date since February after being left emotionally scarred by his experience.

My general thoughts is if shes not going to buy some drinks on a date, then seriously its not going anywhere. You may be taken for a ride, get out quickly. A good relationship should be equal and both sides should contribute. This reminds very much of Nguna’s comments that she expects the man to pay for everything and she wouldn’t take her purse with her.

95 Theses of Geek Activism

In the vein of the cluetrain manfesto, Devanshu posted a great post with 95 points about geek activism. Honestly there pretty awesome, but here's my favorate…

  • Violating a license agreement is not theft.
  • All corporations are not on your side.
  • Everything will enter the public domain some day- even Mickey Mouse.
  • Trusted computers must not be trusted.
  • Proprietary data formats must never store public information.
  • Fair use is a good thing.
  • Use multiple operating systems regularly so you truly understand interoperability.
  • Data mining will not stop terror.
  • Express your opinion in public
  • Blog
  • Security is a trade-off- what are you willing to give up?
  • Use Creative Commons
  • Understand the difference between civil disobedience and breaking the law.
  • Support the free, public domain archives of information.
  • Undermine censorship by publishing information censored in oppressive countries.
  • Voicing your views in a Slashdot comment thread is good, in your own blog is better, but in places that non-geeks frequent is best.
  • Have a global perspective in ideas of geek civil liberties, intellectual property rights and so forth. Do you like your country’s policies in this respect? Can you help people from another country?
  • Read more
  • Make sure that if a vendor locks you in, you lock them out.
  • Linux is no longer a philosophy- it is a good piece of software. Use it if it fits your needs.
  • More information available to the most number of people is a good thing.
  • Vote
  • Read our modern geek philosophers- read Bruce Perens, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling and even Richard Stallman. Read Schneier to find practical reasons why stupid security mechanisms are stupid. Read them even if you disagree with them- it will help frame your point of view.
  • DRM only keeps an honest user honest.
  • Be proud of being a geek, a gamer, a privacy advocate, promoter of free speech and an innovator without fear of litigation, of government or restrictions on liberties- a geek activist.

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BBC Persian filtered out of Iran, what can we do?

When ever the great firewall is mentioned, everyone thinks of China. Even I have to add myself to that list. Interestingly I read a blog on globalvoices (need to find link) which was talking about the fact that filtering happens all over the world and China just happens to be the most high profile one at the moment. One of the things eating up most of my time at work has been the new BBC China site. It has no news content on it at all and it does not link to any news content, which sets its self apart from most of the other 32 language sites we run. This should be acceptable enough to not trigger any alarms on the great firewall china has deployed.

The same certainly does not look true of Iran's firewall which seems to be simply filtering BBC Persian full stop. Hossein Derakhshan has a little about the filtering and i've find some other stuff online. But this is a subset from a much larger email which got sent around

Based on past procedures, the committee in charge of deciding which websites should be filtered has announced a list of sites to the ICT (Information Communication Technology) Ministry to have them blocked and the BBC's Persian news site is one of the sites.

I won't even try and attempt to stake a view on if this is good or bad. But I will say like China information has funny habit of getting around these things. Which leads me on to one of the most interesting moves we've made recently in the Syndication space.

Now for those who do not know I work for the BBC World Service and here comes a disclaimer (thanks Ben). The views stated on this site are mine and are not endorsed by the BBC World Service. Although I am a new media developer for the BBC World Service I am not paid, hoodwinked or coerced into boosting the BBC World Service on this website. Nor does this blog form any part of their marketing strategy. I'm a big fan of Full text syndication but understand why the mainstream media do not use it. So it gives me great pleasure to say that today the Persian feeds were modified to output more content than a little teaser today (the full list is available here). This is not full text, but not your usual one line affair. I have to say its still work in progress and could be changed at any time. But looks like one in a range of innovative solutions for people seeking well written and timely farsi (persian) news content around the world. I would urge anyone who uses the feeds to give us feedback positive and negative. As it might influence what happens in the near future for not only Persian feeds but maybe other language feeds?

Lets hope I still got a job when I go in tomorrow. Although I don't see why not when both the filtering news is online already and the RSS feeds are for public consumption. I won't be suprise if someones already blogged about the change but I've seen nothing yet. Saying that I don't read Farsi.

And at long last some coverage. Iran blocks BBC Persian website on Zeropaid and Boingboing. 2 days after writing this blog post I was worried about the fact I was writing about what we were doing in the BBC World Service about this block. Well besides almost fulltext RSS were now rolling out almost full text daily news email in Persian. So I would say (not the bbc'of course), there's multiple ways around this block. It will be interesting to see if the take up of the Persian RSS and Persian email news will dramaticly increase now there is a block. Humm I wonder if there is anything else we could/should be doing?

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