Archive for January, 2017

@guardian time to create a defence to cyber warfare

January 25, 2017

There appears to be a lot of concern about cyber warfare but no plan of action.

May I suggest a line of attack?

It requires our politicians to forego the desire to foster the interests of businesses and help them in their quest to find new ways of extracting profit from the masses.

I mean that The State should protect the domestic computer market and its customers.

I’m not referring to legislation against malware but in removing our vulnerability to it.

There are freeware programs (spybot, ccleaner, malware malbytes, AVG antivirus etc.), which do a good job of reducing viruses on business websites by helping to reduce the wild populations.

How much better would it be, if we had a cyber version of the NHS?

A State run (MI5 in alliance with some of the freeware companies ) UK computer Health Service (UKCHS), where professional teams monitored the latest hacks, viruses, trojans etc. and created counter-measures.

There must be many small business’s, which do not have the expertise, or finance, to defend themselves from ransomware etc.

One of the bugbears, of even large organisations, is the use of DOS attacks. These rely on a myriad of domestic PC’s infected with Bots.

The UKCHS would, potentially, be able to inoculate and clean out this source of pestilence. This, last, assumes a globally accessible service, which, in turn, means it’d be able to monitor the earliest manifestations of any malware and variants.

The icing on the cake would be, if the UKCHS could create a rival platform to Microsoft Windows.

We have supported Microsoft Windows by relying on it in our schools and by its pre-installed presence on domestic PC’s.

God knows how much cash flees these shores to fund The USA Treasury (America first?) and Bill Gates’s  lifestyle.

The problem with Microsoft Windows has always been its design flaws, aimed at controlling consumer access to software and in mining our data.  (I read that It enabled the USA to have access to high level USSR secrets).

Every new generation has gone out with backdoors and other exploitable faults, which has fostered a subculture of hackers (antagonistic to Microsoft charges) intent on discovering them.

Add in unintentional flaws, such as the millennium bug, which was present in several generations of windows and which caused a global panic.

How many hours are spent, by all users, installing updates to patch up a designed-in vulnerability, which has then needed further patches?

A platform, free from intentional vulnerabilities, would be a lot easier to defend from cyber attack and it would pay for itself in reduced downtime.

 

musings on salary cap

January 14, 2017

I had already considered the need for a salary cap, as mentioned in some older blogs. The fact that Corbyn and his team have hit on this, as a solution to inequity, has caused me to commit sume of my own musings to blogdom.

It’s not intended as a fully thought-out plan. Just a contribution.

In an era when we have marriages and partnership’s, no longer conforming to the classical concept of a family unit, it is time to re-evaluate income tax structure.
We no longer have the male breadwinner and the stay at home housewife, so it’s time to treat all citizens as stand-alone taxpayers.
The family allowance was to encourage the creation of a stronger nation, at a time when workers and soldiers were of importance.
This no longer applies, as technology is increasingly replacing muscle power.
In fact, the problem of a geometrically increasing overpopulation demands that we should take measures to gently resist it.
Everybody is entitled to receive consideration from the whole of Society and to return it in equal measure.
In terms of taxation, this means everyone legally defined as an adult (of sufficiently sound mind and body to make a useful contribution to Society *), should be remunerated in proportion to their contribution to Society. This can not be decided by committee and must relate to market forces. The only problem with market forces is that they are corrupted by monopolies and cartels.
The only way to defeat the conniving of bureaucratic committee’s and avaricious cartels etc. is to limit the range of remuneration (a cap on income).
The bottom of the range must be a citizen’s pension, for those unable to contribute to any useful extent. This should cover the cost of basic needs, which humanity insists should include a modicum of joie de vivre. (Gandhi is supposed to have said that you can judge how a nation treats its people by how it treats its animals.. joie de vivre).
The next rung must be to reward those in employment that can, or would be done, by anyone. I would say that this would include employment such as shop assistant, call centre operative, porter etc. but Society should decide.
Society would also have to decide how many tiers of employment there should be and the appropriate pay increments.
First Society needs to decide on the top of the range of pay and this will be the real problem.
For me, any person’s income must relate to how much greater his, or her, contribution to Society is, than someone on the lowest rung.
Consider a few of the, at present, highest paid.
{Don’t quibble about the exact values being quoted, they are extremely rough guestimates but carry the essence of the position being presented}
A premier league footballer, for instance: In my lifetime, such a salary has gone from 5x basic wage, to 500 x  basic wage. This is a reflection of the joie de vivre that they contribute, to a much larger number of people, but also to their political muscle, or market forces.
How about an M.P.? Their basic pay is only about 4x basic wage. Add in allowances, golden pensions etc. and it’s probably nearer 10 x basic wage.
A banker? their pay is just obscene, so skip it for a minute.
A C.E.O. of a multi-national? Paid millions with some paid hundreds of millions. Again, skip for a minute.
A pop-star? Internationally known pop-stars rake in more than banker’s, although they do add joie de vivre to millions. Only problem is they decide how much each person pays for it, so effectively in a monopoly position.

How do you decide their worth?
Few have the skills of Wayne Rooney but he does give pleasure to many, for a few hours, each week, of the football season.
On the other hand, how does he compare to a G.P.? A person with skills, years of training, making a huge difference to the lives of several thousand, as and when needed.
I think most would say that a G.P. earns his salary and possibly more.
This pay is about 5x basic wage.
So does Wayne Rooney contribute 100 x more to Society than a G.P.?
It seems to depend on replaceability and the amount of positive interaction with other people.
It’s all very subjective and would need to be put to a public vote.
Simplest would be rate to these jobs in terms of swapsies.
How many G.P.’s for one teacher, road sweeper, nurse, surgeon, M.P., banker, CEO, farmer, shepherd, coalminer, etc.?
At the end of the exercise, we take the figure, which is the largest multiple of the basic wage.
Let’s say it’s 100 x basic wage.
We set a tax system which starts with zero tax for those on 2 x basic wage and goes up to 100% at 101 x basic wage (a cap). That’s not a mistake. If you are being paid 101 x basic wage, you can reduce your tax rate to say 50% (whatever the top rate is), by a simple tax donation of the excess. It would be up to the individual to ensure that they don’t get caught cheating, e.g. by taking payment in kind.
The last would require an end to all bonuses and allowances for business expenses. No farmer’s Range Rovers, no business man’s entertainment in strip club’s, no private jets etc. for PM’s and CEO’s.
Some leeway might be excused for accidental oversight’s but only upto 1 x basic wage.

This is just a skeleton view, which those capable of deeper thought could flesh out and those on obscene pay would want thrown out.

Some attention has to be paid to those unable to make a significant contribution. Ignoring young entrepreneur’s and the likes of Bruce Forsyth, most non-adults, disabled and elderly would qualify for the basic wage.
Now, another problem arises. Ever since “Cathy come home”, popular support has been in favour of supporting the unmarried Mother, or “single parent”. Previously, “having a bastard” was almost a sin and so Cathy had been cast out by Society. In order to take the moral sting out of the situation, the “bastard” became “the innocent child, who didn’t ask to be born”. Abortion was still illegal and back street abortions (the film “Alfie”) were morally repugnant.
It became social mores that all children should be supported by the State, if the errant father couldn’t be hunted down etc.
The CSA apparently does a wonderful job of persecuting and prosecuting those fathers, who are happy and willing to support their progeny but offer little service in terms of the feckless and prolific, who service equally feckless young women who see State support for single parents as a means of avoiding responsibility for their own lives.
If each child received the minimum wage, there would appear to be a problem but only if their single parent had control of it. Instead, each parent could be given control of one child’s wage, whilst the wages of any further children would go to the local Council’s care fund, giving them a co-parental duty of care, when needed..
A single parent could have more than one child but would have to treat the Council care officer as a partner, supporting when needed, or stepping in, if the parent was unable to cope.
Families, who were able to fund their progeny, from their own income, would merely need to show it through regular school attendance etc. (i.e. by not becoming a cause of concern to local authorities).
Errant father’s could still be pursued by the CSA but, on the assumption that they were on min wage, could be conscripted into some form of Community support…. depends on what could be made to work!

Businesses would also need to be capped in some form, perhaps in terms of the number of subsidiaries, or divisions, or partnerships. No one person can usefully be said to control hundred’s of diverse businesses, in diverse locations operating in various fields of commerce.
In any work group, you have one leader, an aide and four or five co-workers. Any bigger group has non-contributing members, or a clique working in opposition to the leader. The leader of a group can only really oversee about 30 people. This is, co-incidentally, a typical teacher’s class size. Taking this further, in school terms, each faculty has upto 9 teachers, with some heads of Department, under the head of Faculty. The headteacher may have a group of Assisstant Headteacher, Deputy Head teacher and Senior teacher’s, each overseeing a few faculties, pastoral heads (one for each year group, with 6/7 form teachers). Essentially groups of six.
Any boardroom, committee, cabinet etc., with more than six people, effectively has a load of makeweights (and they know it).
Continuing with the Secondary school model, any business with more than about 1200 (a cap) shop floor employee’s, is too large and should be split up, under a new tier of management. However, no new tier should coninequity trol businesses with no direct link.
No single person, or group of persons, should own so many businesses that the hierarchical salary structure takes their pay above the income cap for individuals.
Obviously businesses can hire very clever people, who can invent ways and arguments to try and circumvent such control but the spirit of the cap

Various blogs 6

January 11, 2017

11/1/17
Why do the rail operators want to get rid of guards?
The likeliest answer is to save money for improved share dividends.
The unlikeliest answer is that savings will go to improved facilities, or fare cuts.

The service to the public is reduced and made yet more impersonal.
The Public also loses, because of reduced tax revenue and an increase in benefits payments to the now unemployed guards.

It is in the interests of the Government to increase employment, so why are they not supporting the strikers against the money-grubbing of the operators?

As always, Tories are pennywise and pound foolish, blinded by the dogma of keeping the peasants in line and toadying to the money men.

Giving Billions to those behind HS2, whilst saving a few million by severely cutting hospital beds

5/1/17
Has Defence Minister Harriet Baldwin latched onto a new form of Laser?
Back when President Reagan hit on his own Star Wars defence systems, they quickly realised that shiny metal missiles reflect light.
They also move incredibly fast, making them hard to target.
I’m sure the Pentagon spent a lot more than £30 million trying to overcome these problems but they had to concede defeat, as did the Russians, who invested in a ground based Maser.
Swapping one Americanism for another, I expect that Harriet Baldwin will find herself not ahead of the curve but behind the eight ball.
30/12/16
Whilst focus is rightly on “Anna” in the Secret Slave case, it disturbing that the story of the other women in the house is being ignored.
The original report says that these other women colluded in keeping “Anna” enslaved, because they were also subject to intimidation and beatings.
Why are they not also being defended?
Why is there not talk of taking action to prevent their abuse?
Socialism is about treating everyone equally.
This has led to the creed of respecting cultural diversity but in doing so, we have committed ourselves to protecting behaviours, which have legitimised the actions of “Malik” and other’s like him.
Such men could never be described as Socialist, Christian, or, I presume, Islamic.

28/12/16
The Tory plan to demand photo ID is annoying in a number of ways.
Initially, because it’s smacks of an attempt to, once more, enforce the national ID card.
It is also resonant of the way that many poorer voters (mostly black) in the Southern States of America have been denied a vote, because of the cost and the bureaucratic hurdles put in place.
Then there’s the core issue of the validity of photo ID as a means of security.
The two photo’s of the Tunisian assassin, recently shown throughout the Media, are so different that I wonder if they are the same man.
Such photo’s are, often, so unlike the person presenting them that few photo ID’s are given more than a passing glance.
Apparently, the Tunisian assassin found it easy to procure three legitimate (?) passports in different names.
They are neither secure, nor feasible, when dealing with even local elections, which often rely on volunteers working in adverse, makeshift conditions.

17/12/16
A 101 yr old paedophile, sent to prison, was reported to show no remorse.
It strikes me that he may have shown gratitude.
What other person of that age can be guaranteed immediate access to medical aid, should he need it.
Free heating, regular hot meals and constant care.
Outside prison, he would have to fend for himself, risk losing his home and while away many hours in solitude.
It’s another Wonderful Life story for Brian Reade

14/12/16

This was from Twitter. Nothing on TV.
It’s the sort of thing that is more relevant (to those affected) than who’s won Strictly, or X-factor.
http://www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information/traffic-information-services/highways-england-post-incident-bulletin/january-2016-post-incident-bulletins/december-2016-post-incident-bulletins/m6-closure-northbound-lancashire-monday-12-tuesday-13-december-2016/

14/12/16

The report on the lives of the children in North Korea is so depressing and so hard to deal with.
As individuals we can do nothing and we look to politicians to act on our behalf.
The UN seems totally incapable of anything other than passing votes condemning such regimes. Although in this case a demand of all nations to totally ostracise North Korea and expulsion of its representatives might have an effect.
There will be calls for further action but what?
For instance, Paddy Ashdown has called for action on Aleppo but I fail to see how a few more bombs in that region of The World helps.
Nothing will change in these places, in India’s sweatshops, Brazil’s favela’s, China’s industrialised regions, Africa’s desert regions etc. until politicians slough off their reliance on the rich and end exploitation of the vulnerable.
We won’t see it in our lifetimes and we won’t even see it in our own country whilst we have a political system that can cut taxes on the rich and care services to the poor.
Happy Xmas, to all
11/12/16
Sunday morning BBC1; I’m watching Fern Briton telling Michael Gove that homework is counterproductive and I’m loving it.
As a teacher, I was compelled to set homework, whether, or not, it was helpful.
I was compelled to mark, grade and record it in a particular way and then punish pupils for not completing it, regardless of their ability, home circumstances, or any other consideration.
Consequent discipline problems, alienation and disaffection made attempts to interest pupils in my subject grow less possible, even amongst pupils with an aptitude for it.
Before Blunkett set down rules on homework, I could set homework when and where it would help.
Some homeworks would merely need a tick of approval, some would need chasing, some would need detailed examination but it was as I judged suitable for each pupil.
It would be nice if politicians could lose interest in Education and left school’s, teacher’s, parent’s and those with an investment in it, to get on with it.