tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:/posts JL 2018-11-02T23:54:48Z tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1339480 2018-11-02T23:41:45Z 2018-11-02T23:54:48Z BBC Complaint - Planned Marr interview of Aaron Banks This is a copy of a complaint I've submitted to the BBC about their plans to interview Aaron Banks (the Leave.EU funder now under investigation by the National Crime Agency).

The Marr show is the wrong place to cover Banks. It is too general and get to know you to interview someone accused of serious crimes. A live interview where he can’t be fact checked and be asked to provide evidence is a mistake.

]]> tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1306543 2018-07-27T07:30:00Z 2018-07-28T00:22:48Z Three Jewish Newspapers Discredit Their Case Against Labour

There appear to me to be absolute inaccuracy in their characterisation of the Labour proposed code of conduct which I will detail below. Essentially their one specific claim of what is acceptable is clearly and specifically forbidden in the Labour rules.

Short version is that the case against Corbyn and Labour regarding these definitions seems at least exaggerated and incorrect statements are made about specific examples casting doubt on the overall thrust. I do believe that there is a genuine problem to clear up in the Labour party but with such inaccuracies in reporting of basic facts it becomes harder to accept the extraordinary claims made without appropriate supporting information or evidence. This isn't to say that there might not be some room for improvement but the current document definitely doesn't seem to be something that should be triggering the level of outrage that it is unless people haven't read it and are basing their opinions on what they read in the inflammatory press.

I'm not in a good position to judge the general situation and would generally place a lot of trust in those media organisations better placed but when the factual details I can check are so wrong it makes it harder to trust them for the big picture and whether there really is a problem with the code and what it really won't catch. I also fully accept that there is antisemitism in Labour and want it to have strong and robust rules and practice to deal with it, this is purely about the best mechanism to do that and whether the criticism of the leadership is fair and valid; if I felt it was I would be having to change position on certain things but for the following reasons I still believe that the criticism of the leadership is overblown and exaggerated.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1297661 2018-06-27T23:48:04Z 2018-06-27T23:48:04Z Labour, Brexit and OFOC

I’ve been meaning to set out my views about the Labour’s position on Brexit and the in my view frequently unfair and very often plain wrong views of it from much of the hard remain community (to which I myself align). Yesterday there was an excellent and civil discussion between Femi of OFOC and Owen Jones who is closely aligned to the Labour leadership.

I am a Labour member who has also funded OFOC but was very frustrated recently by the attack posters they created aimed at Labour shadow cabinet individuals that I felt were highly counterproductive.

The thread is here, you may want to focus largely on Femi and Owen’s comments themselves.

My summary of the key areas of disagreement are:

  1. The extent of the damage any Brexit would do and how it would prevent Labour making their desired changes to the country.
  2. The likelihood of a remain success in a People’s Vote.
  3. The possibility of a People’s Vote triggering a far right surge.
  4. The effect on the path of the Brexit process that Labour coming out explicitly for a People’s Vote would have.

Now on some of these points I lean more to Owen’s view and on others to Femi’s view.

I agree with Femi on both the extent of the damage Brexit, that it would be a devastating impact to the country and hamper any government operating and implementing policies in an ongoing economic crisis and European negotiations over then next decade or more.

On the far right surge I don’t feel well qualified to assess the effects but I think the threat of that is not a good reason to avoid a policy that is better in other ways. We should be facing down these movements not bending to them. I’m sure Owen’s concerns are genuine and this needs monitoring and other grievances of left behind areas tackling because it is the right thing to do.

On the likelihood of winning a People’s Vote I sit between the two positions. I think it can be won for Remain but it is far from a done deal and there is a huge amount of work to do to be sure and it is definitely not a risk free course. Possibly because of geographic, social and social media bubbles there appear to be a large number people in the remain and FBPE community that think a victory in a PeoplesVote is a sure thing, now some may be bluffing to build the case to get the vote but I believe too many believe their own hype in this area (I don’t think Femi falls into this category).

Owen makes a number of good points about the challenges of winning. In my view the polls are still far too close, many remain 2016 voters think the vote should be accepted, many people are unaware of the extent of negotiation mess and upcoming crisis which is obvious to those of us in the remain social media loop and there are few signs of massive defections. Owen also suggests that the lack of support from Tory leadership will make the remain campaign harder, but in my view the anti-establishment factor may counterbalance this effect. There are forces acting in the opposite direction, the greater knowledge about the deal and the true nature of Brexit is also a huge advantage. In 2016 many different visions of Brexit were offered, some outright impossible, others just incompatible; when the deal is done (or not done) the reality will be much clearer it will no longer for Brexit supporters to jump between visions (even mid-interview). It is also likely that there will be closer monitoring (if not restriction on) political advertising online that will also help the remain campaigns. There is also a much larger more motivated population ready to campaign which (if they can keep there tempers under control and work on persuasion rather than harassing) could like Momentum really help on the ground.

From my point of view winning support should be remain’s priority, both to be ready when we get a People’s Vote (I’m optimistic on this as I’ll explain later) and to apply pressure to get the People’s Vote but it can be won.

The part of the debate where I’m completely on Owen’s side is I really don’t understand how Labour switching to Remain now actually helps remain. I’ve seen people tweeting (not Femi) that Labour/Corbyn could stop Brexit right now and I really can’t see a mechanism for them to do that or make any substantial impact until the autumn (and even then only with Tory rebels and/or DUP). I’d love someone to explain to me either here or on Twitter exactly what the effect of Labour backing a People’s Vote now. In my view it would be seriously counterproductive to the cause of the Peoples vote and I’ll set out why.

What if Labour come out for People’s Vote tomorrow?

Several things will happen if the People’s Vote campaigners get their way with the Labour party.

Firstly, the story from the government, leave campaigners and the right wing press will be that Labour is sabotaging the negotiation and is the cause of the bad deal that will happen. Clearly this is complete rubbish but that doesn’t mean it won’t stick. There will be a full on and sustained attack at a level that has not yet been seen and it will be substantially effective.

Secondly, it will make a People’s Vote a policy owned by Labour and that will drive the varied voices now calling for it who are now breaking into the mainstream media will increasingly be pushed aside for representatives of the Labour party rather than having both.

Thirdly, it would cause the split in the Labour Parliamentary to grow in a way harmful to remain. Labour kept all but a very few onboard for the meaningful vote amendment but fifteen voted against the EEA despite the whip to abstain. It is very likely that sort of number could be critical in the final vote at the end and the more that can be done to coax them over the line the better. This is a critical issue I’ve seen none of those pushing for Labour to move for a People’s Vote immediately address. In my view the best chance of bringing them across (and bringing more of the Leave/undecided public) with Labour to the People’s Vote or at least to vote against the deal is to move after October European Council when the deal should be on the table (or the failure to have a deal on the table can be called a failure).

Overall I see Labour moving too quickly as being harmful both to Labour and Remain/People’s Vote. As I said above if anyone can show me a positive possible alternative result I’d be very interested for the moment there seems to be a belief that Jeremy Corbyn has an almost magical power that I really don’t understand.

It is worth noting that there are different groups of pro-Brexit MPs in Labour. There are probably at least 3 who would vote against Labour even if there as a vote of no-confidence in the government, some who are instinctive remainers but in very Leave constituencies who may have made personal promises at the last election, possible 

How will we get a People’s Vote?

In my view the crunch will come in the autumn when the government comes back with a deal (or fails). I think it is inconceivable that there will be a deal which meets the 6 tests that Labour have set out and as opposition they would take any opportunity to bring down the government (and this is likely to be the only one until 2022) so Labour leadership will bring as much pressure as possible. The key issue in Parliament is not the Labour leadership but will be:

 - the number of Tory MPs who will rebel

 - whether the DUP can accept the deal

 - the number of Labour anti-EU rebels

Despite this I think we will get a peoples vote because I can’t imagine the any deal that Theresa May can get from the EU will retain the support of both DUP and all of her party. I may be foolish for this belief but I do think that there must be twenty or thirty Tory MPs who are both aware of the damage that the deal will do and prepared to do the necessary to act in the interests of their country rather than their party leadership when push comes to shove. I can fully understand them waiting until the last minute in the hope that their leader will prevent it from being necessary.

My expectation is that there will be a vote of some form against the deal and that will lead to some chaos. Labour will push for a general election but I expect that the Tories will resist this. It is possible that the government will move for the People’s Vote claiming they are doing what is necessary to deliver the will of the people as originally expressed in the 2016 referendum but in reality it is a win-win situation for the government. By offering a People’s Vote they deflect the need for a general election and whichever way the referendum goes they benefit; if leave win the government are absolved of responsibility (to a large degree) for the results because the public has taken the final decision and if remain win the government can say “shucks, we did our best, sorry Leavers”. Now it might not be as explicit as the government proposing the People’s Vote but they could still let it be know that they don’t mind being defeated on such a vote to a few of their wavering MPs.

My Biggest Fear

Now the real threat may be the government doing a deal that covers only a bare minimum of areas and pushing the real and critical decisions back into the transition period when there is no option to remain. This scenario would I think have Labour resisting (not sure how many would rebel though) but I fear that the not-quite-rebels in the Tory party would fail to stand up. It may also be that this worsens the chance of winning a People’s Vote as the promise of the unicorn may still exist. I think the risk of this may be slightly reduced by the big businesses becoming more vocal in the last week.

I’m not sure what action we can take against this except hope that the EU does not allow a deal that will be acceptable too much of the Tory party and that enough Tories do stand up and do the right thing. I think many will, they know that it will be a historic disaster and won’t want to be part of it although if there is any hope of a good result they will wail.

What I Really Want to Know - Femi, OFOC, FBPE let me know your HOW

How Labour/Corbyn can stop Brexit or even help remain/People’s Vote by acting now is a complete unknown to me. I’m not saying that there isn’t ways that it helps but I don’t see them as important.

My Plea to FBPE

Keep calm, our job is to persuade people that Brexit is bad idea and going badly. The hard line Brexiters can be gently baited but for more moderate people whether Labour, Tory or even UKIP try to win them with gentle persuasion rather than getting angry or abusive. Look to Femi’s excellent example. We need those people. The other action you can take is personal messages to your MP (Best for Britain’s advice).

My Demand for Labour

I don’t need a policy change from you but I do demand that you interpret the six tests that you set out strictly, that you demand that all are passed and and if any are failed you act to block that deal in any way you can. Even if Labour is in power you must not carry through a lesser Brexit at least without a further democratic mandate.


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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1296296 2018-06-27T12:32:08Z 2018-06-27T12:32:15Z May’s Trump Opportunity

Theresa May is unlikely to to be able to talk Trump around back to the international system of rules and organisations and back towards human rights. She is also unlikely to be able to talk him down from the trade war that he has declared with the rest of the world. Without the USA as a trustworthy partner the precariousness of the UK’s currently planned place outside the EU is crystallised and it could become a moment of opportunity to change course.

The opportunity comes in how she responds, either in the closing press conference of the visit or within the days after Trump departs. This is an opportunity for Theresa May to say something resembling the following and potentially go down in history as one of this country’s greatest Prime Ministers (unfortunately from my point of view preventing a Corbyn government).

Things have changed the world is not the one in which a majority voted for Brexit, and this presidential visit has made clear to we no longer have a reliable partner for free trade across the Atlantic, that nationalism and even facism rising across the world and the current US government. Given this changing world it is time to rejoin forces with our strongest allies for a rules based global order, democracy and human rights. It is no longer even clear that we can rely on the systems of the WTO to enable trade to continue effectively.

Given this I have today spoken to my fellow leaders across Europe and received agreement to withdraw the Article 50 notification which I have now done. This means any Brexit will be substantially postponed and for the next few years we will return to our full place in in the EU to strengthen the values we hold dear across the continent of Europe and beyond. We will remain in the EU until at least the next election in 2022. 

Now this does not mean the end of Brexit. We will keep DExEU operating to plan in detail how to implement Brexit effectively. We have learned a lot from the negotiations so far that will assist in this planning and legislation will be prepared so that when a future Parliament decides to proceed the bulk of the legislation can be in place before we again start an Article 50 process. They will also be producing a series of different proposals and the OBR will provide associated forecasts for their impacts especially in the run up to the next general election. The full information will be available for all parties and the public to read an understand.

I realise that this delay to Brexit will be disappointing and frustrating to many of you; this was not the news I wanted to deliver to you but global circumstances have changed and we must adapt our plans. Let me be clear, this is not the end of Brexit; all parties will have opportunities to set out their plans in their manifestos for the 2022 election based on the reports produced by DExEU and the OBR.

The collective sigh of relief that would come from across much of the country including virtually all of industry would audible from across the Atlantic although there would be a scream of rage from about fifteen percent of the country and the right wing press but I don’t believe there would be any substantial civil unrest and the papers would soon return their attacks to Labour. There would be a Tory leadership challenge but I think Theresa May would survive. In Parliament either the DUP or the Tory Brexit ultras would have the power to bring her down but to what end? The outcomes would either be Theresa May with a bigger majority or a Corbyn government for whom Brexit would be a low priority and if they did pursue it (unlikely I think if they went into an election more Brexity than the Tories they would lose).

Well, I can dream can’t I? While I think this is possible and would be good for May, the country, the government and Europe it is still a vanishingly unlikely fantasy and I’ll be out on the 13th July joining the protests against the criminal in the White House. 

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1205958 2017-11-18T01:43:20Z 2017-11-18T01:43:20Z Errors I have made

There are a several inappropriate things I have done that still haunt me although none were done with malicious intent. Details concealed to protect the other parties. If any of them read this I give my apologies and want the relevant people to know that I regret these actions and hope that they didn't have significant impacts on them.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1204556 2017-11-11T00:20:53Z 2017-11-11T00:20:53Z Can Brexit actually happen?

TL;DR - Not impossible but probably less than 50% chance.

As I see it now it will be very hard for any government to deliver an actual Brexit through the Houses of Parliament. It is hard to see how the current government could reach a good negotiated outcome with Brussels given the red lines announced about the needing power to make external trade deals combined with the need for a frictionless Irish border and what are the likely red lines of the DUP. On the other hand a no deal exit will bring down the government, whether for an interim coalition, a new election or possibly a referendum on the no deal outcome.

On the other hand it is also fairly hard to see how Brexit could be completely avoided, some scenarios outlined may provide a path to remaining or a very soft exit. 

I'll try to set out some scenarios but these are turbulent times and it is pretty much wild guesswork but I want to illustrate how hard it will be for Brexit to actually be delivered.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1191719 2017-09-17T22:57:48Z 2017-11-18T01:50:14Z Steve Keen - Where I disagree

This post is about me capturing my thoughts about the work of Steve Keen and the those areas where I don't completely agree. It is because I largely agree that I am bothering to write this and explore the areas of weakness I think I see in his arguments and proposals. I don't intend to include a full summary of his main theories, there are numerous videos on Youtube that can be viewed that do a better job of explaining them than I would do and you can also find his manifesto (although some of the ideas may have progressed since then. I'm also in places going to suggest work that I think should be done, I have no expectation that Steve Keen or anybody else will do this work because I would like to see it but it is what I think would help convince others.

I'm a big fan of Steve Keen's work. Both `Debunking Economics` and `Can we Avoid Another Financal Crisis` are excellent, I support his Patreon and have been to a couple of his talks. I'm completely convinced of his core contentions about the nature of banks and their creation of money, necessity of government deficits and the critical importance of private debt and particularly it's rate of change to the economy. I especially like the data based work that showing the corelations and the simulations using highly simplified, understandable models that produce dynamic behaviour that seems to show similar behavior to the real world. His descriptions of mainstream economics are almost unbelivable to me, I struggle to understand how anyone puts up with the limitations of equilibrium analysis as anything other than a massively simplifying assumption to calculate limits of possibility and that they don't include banks and debt in their models is fundamentally incredible but does appear to be true.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1114399 2016-12-10T18:23:27Z 2016-12-10T18:28:48Z My Actions Since the US Elections

I'm extremely concerned about the election of Trump and what it means for democracy and liberty across the world especially coming on top of the Brexit vote in the UK (I'm British and live in Britain). I felt the need to step up and do something, more than just voting at election time. These are my choices, there is no one true way to fight for the future and resist the apparent regrowth of facism (and its less loaded names of Populism and "Alt-Right") across many parts of the world.

Despair and hopelessness is not the answer, those of liberal, left and even centre views must stand up and take actions where they can, however small. Complacency and hopelessness are both forms of acquiescence and will only enable those looking to create hate and division.

I wrote previously about the causes of the Brexit vote and how I felt that I should have done more, now I'm actually taking steps, small though they are. I plan to up my efforts further as the next election approaches.

How much action you can take will clearly depend on capacity, financial, time and emotional and it is important to focus on and look after the people nearest too. I'm not asking anyone to follow my actions but it would be great if you did. Also to focus on the local and within reach and trust that others will take action within their countries.

Concrete Actions

  1. Joined the Labour Party. I agree with the current leadership more than with any in my adult lifetime and we need more than ever to build institutions that can offer real alternatives for change and developement of those parts of the population most left behind, and in particular to reduce inequality.
  2. Supported the #StopFundingHate campaign with Tweets to and in response to John Lewis and others. I've also emailed BMW (I have a car on order) asking whether they advertise in the Daily Mail, Express or The Sun expressing my concern about the pattern of hateful, dehumanising othering of migrants refugees and foreigners generally.
  3. Joined Liberty. I should have done this years ago. I've admired the group for some time and particularly found myself agreeing with almost everything I heard Shami Chakrabarti say on the radio while she was running it. The tipping point was their "See you in court" tweet about the outrageous Investigatory Powers Act (was IPBill until passed, now IPAct) that legalises surveilance powers (and hacking powers) that would make the Starsi envious. I've also set up a regular payroll giving donation to their charitable arm the Civil Liberties Trust.
  4. Also triggered by the IP Act I've switched back to Andrews and Arnold internet for their robust attitude to filtering and surveilance. I moved away for a time when I moved house due to get subsidised installation from BT, moving to Plusnet for FTTC service a year later, I was out of waged employment trying to get some of my own projects off the ground and the costs Andrews and Arnolds at the time were too high for the daytime data I needed. They now have a Terabyte plan at maybe 50% more than I was paying but it has the benefit of IPv6 as well as the freedom (and costs) of not being a BT group company.
  5. I emailed my MP (Michael Gove) to request an appointment at his constituency surgery as I want to express concern about the data sharing with the US under the Five Eyes inteligence agreement (UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and ask him to push for data sharing to be minimised and targeted as once it is sent there is no way to have it deleted if conditions with the US worsen. He has said I should write to him expressing particular concerns that he can pass on to the Home Secretary. I haven't yet done that though I intend to browse the codes of practice and construct a response though I don't think it will get very far.
  6. Bought the Better content blocker for both iOS and OS X.

Existing Political Actions

There are other things that I do that are not new, I don't support any Murdoch entities so I would not have Sky or buy The Times or Wall Street Journal. I also extremely minimise my use of Facebook. I do exist on Facebook but I only log in every couple of months and have explicitly (excluding the information revealed by who my network is) posted less information to Facebook than in this one blog post.

I did become a Guardian supporter last year but I withdrew in disgust at their position on the IP Bill. I'm still considering whether to disregard that to support their journalism and campaigning generally. Owen Jones in particular has been doing some good reports.

To Those in Positions of Power

Especially if you are in are in a position of power and influence consider what actions you can take now to create the frameworks for human rights protection. Dispose of unnecessary personal information. Also think about how you could best throw a spanner in the works if necessary, whether by resigning, operating incompetently, delaying responses, causing additional work. Also decide now what warning signs to look for that there is a real problem. It won't be a sudden obvious change from valid constitutional government to dictatorship it will come fairly slowly with progressive steps and shifting goalposts and norms. What once would have seemed outrageous and impossible will seem like a small shift and you must remember what the situation was, can be and must be again.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1078652 2016-08-03T22:18:11Z 2016-08-04T02:24:03Z Tactical Political Lies

There is a dangerous form of political lying where the aim is not to have the lie believed but for it, corrections of it and discussion about it. This post is about the art and power of the lie, it isn't meant to reopen Brexit discussions but be a warning for future cases.

We need to recognise that in a world where everyone is seen as liars that there is no longer shame in lies. We need to fear the world where the middle ground between groups is seen as truly moderate or the location of truth especially when one or more sides are extreme.

Why the Brexit Bus slogans were a success

  1. They weren't a complete lie, there was a gain of truth in a bucket of deceit as it did represent the amount that would go to the EU if the UK didn't receive a rebate.
  2. "Balance" meant the media felt it had to find something the Remain campaign had said that wasn't 100% accurate to report along side it, even though it wasn't the central message on the side of the campaign bus in 6ft high letters.
  3. If you aren't used to government spending and how it compares to actual NHS spending it sounds like a lot of money. And even the corrected to post-rebate figures it still sounds like a lot of money. Creating these discussions about whether it is £170 million or £350 million per week was a victory for the Brexit campaign.
  4. Hundreds of millions is the most that people can really picture and in some ways sounds more impressive than £18.2 billion. Making it a weekly or daily figure made it more effective than just giving the annual total (£18.2 billion is £350million times 52).
  5. The secondary point that the money "could" be spent on the NHS creates at least three additional points of debate to take up airtime. Firstly that the Brexit side can't have any power over that, secondly what else it might be spent on (this brings the assumption at least for the argument that the money could exist) and finally whether it is what any particular politician would spend the money on.
The Brexit campaign changed the slogan from £350million per week to £50million per day to bring it back into the news again. That it was a lie had been pointed out and discussed, they chose to stick with it even when repainting the bus. They chose to reinforce and keep the lie rather than step away, they didn't care that the lie was called out, it was meant to be!

The bus in £50m per day form.

Trump

I feel the Trump statements about Mexican criminals are a very similar case although it may have been less calculated. The response to a claim that most were criminal the media then reported the inaccuracy by providing data on the numbers that do commit crime which while provably not "most" (a very long way from it) may be a big enough number that persuadable voters still get the impression that many are. The existence of a discussion of the number of illegal immigrant criminals is a victory for the anti-immigrant candidate, the more air time it takes the less other stories get, healthcare.

Proper Response

While I recognise the effect and the nature of these lies I don't know what the response should be, either from the media or the opposition. The left I feel is mostly too honest to practice this trick and different wings within the left would attack each other if they used it. I think the best that they can do is to put pressure on the media not to spend more time than absolutely necessary covering the issue.

The media is the part with the power, they need to get better and resisting the manufactured story, quickly point out that the information is incorrect and move on rather than getting rounds of pundits to discuss exactly how it is wrong. If one side to an argument is lying more than another then they must say so.

Interviewers and presenters have to feel confident to call out lies the very sentence after they they have been uttered, and not feel the need to give a right of reply. Only that way will politicians avoid the lies during discussions. As it is it seems that if they put at least two lies in a sentence one, if not both will go unchallenged.

Watch and Be Aware

Vigilance to lies and deliberate deceit is all we can really do but unfortunately they are effective.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1069131 2016-07-02T18:19:37Z 2017-06-24T02:51:11Z Blame for Brexit


Short version

Boris and Cameron
Leave campaign lies (Boris and Gove)
Right Wing Press (Mail, Sun, Express mostly, also Boris)
Broadcasters interpretations of impartiality
Politicians blaming Europe
Governments since the 80’s allowing increased inequality
Myself

Long version

I’m angry and disappointed about the vote for Brexit even a week later. I still hope that it won’t actually happen but I struggle to see which political leader might stand up and say it shouldn’t happen (or engineer a situation for another referendum). I have a long list of people that I’m angry with about getting us to this situation. They aren’t principally the people who voted, I’m more disappointed and sad about that but those both who have lied to achieve the referendum result and those who built the situation that led to the result.

The principal blame must lie with the immediate causes of the referendum and the result. Two Etonian, Bullingdon boys have brought us here, despite neither (I believe) actually wanting to leave. Both gambling the country’s interest for either their own or their party’s benefit. David Cameron feeling the need to offer the referendum both to hold some unity within the Conservative Party and limit the impact of UKIP in the election. I think that he almost hoped for another coalition with the Liberal Democrats who would have blocked the referendum. Boris Johnson on the other hand calculated that campaigning for remain would boost his popularity with the Conservative membership. He expected to lose but with a higher profile and having been on the correct side for most members. He saw that as the route to the Conservative leadership when after winning the referendum David Cameron stepped aside in a couple of years time. They should both be ashamed of themselves for taking such a big gamble with the country, with people’s livelihoods and lives. Their actions, more directly than others I will list led to this, which make break the union (with Scotland), diminish Britain in the world and do much harm beside. I feel no pity for David Cameron, he gambled not just with his future but with ours, not for the country’s gain but the Conservatives. Besides this both these characters will come up again in this blame list for other aspects of the blame.

The Leave campaign told mendacious lies and gave misleading information throughout the campaign. Most clearly the £350 million per week for the NHS. Not only are the payments to the EU less than that (after rebate) but much of that amount is spent in the UK in various ways anyway. In addition to the outright lies there were huge amounts of wishful thinking expressed as fact, the assertions that the UK will get a good deal with all the benefits and non of the responsibilities of a European state which is simply unrealistic; access to the single market will have a code whether it is free movement of people or a potentially increased contribution to the budget. They also accused the Remain campaign of “scaremongering” but the interesting thing is right or wrong the estimates now the vote has taken place are at least as bad suggesting that the estimates were really believed. Boris, Gove and many others are smart enough to have known that much of the campaign was based on lies. They fought a dishonourable campaign and it is isn’t OK. They should feel ashamed of the lies and I hope that they will be held to account by the leave supporters but I fear it will be forgotten or excuses will be found.

The press, particularly The Mail, The Express and The Sun but also to lesser degrees The Times and The Telegraph have day after day for several decades been publishing negative stories about Europe, some spun, some given undue prominence and some outright lies. Of course Boris also has personal responsibility in this area too, almost having invented the genre of borderline truthful stories and even complete lies, to the extent that he was sacked from The Times. The power of Murdoch and Dacre is undemocratic and damages civil society. In my view there need to be real constraints on the concentration of media power. Despite falling circulations the papers have a significant impact in setting the agenda for TV, Radio and online news. It isn’t just the impact of individual articles but the daily drip of xenophobia, anti-European and anti-immigrant stories and headlines that distorts views.

The broadcasters and their interpretations of impartiality are also to blame. The belief that if one economist or businessman speaks for Remain that one must be found to speak for Leave. If the overwhelming majority is on one side there should not be a need to provide balance, in fact balance is bias when it isn’t representative. There was similar with regard to the fact checking on broadcast TV of the campaigns. There seemed to be a need to balance the comments between the sides event when the mistruths were imbalanced. e.g. Leave’s £350m pledge is bad maths. In’s claims that it will cost everyone x per week is well within the range of most forecast but some disagree. They need to be stopping every interview or speech every time a lie is told, they need to give numbers of lies that can different for each campaign or candidate in an election. Too many were left with the belief that they “are all as bad as each other” and that isn’t good enough. Broadcasters must be clear about who is lying most and ideally call out each specific lie. If that interrupts every interview then so be it, politicians will learn that lying in those situations doesn’t work. There is also an education problem about the EU that the broadcasters could help with, there seems little awareness that the most power lies with the member states in the Council of Ministers where the elected leader of each country has a democratic say and much of the rest lies in the European Parliament and between the two they appoint and direct the European Commission. It is a democratic institution and while not a perfect seems like a better attempt at democracy than the UK Britain with the over-mighty Commons, the unelected Lords and the monarchy.

Politicians have been blaming Europe, for all sorts of things for decades, often when it is only an excuse. In other cases I suspect that the British government has laundered unpopular policies it wants to introduce through the EU so that it can be blamed despite the fact that the British government introduced it. The other unhelpful behaviour is the treatment of negotiations where the presentation is of battling over red lines and Prime Ministers acting as if they are saving us from something awful rather than discussing how by working together they can make things better for every country. The EU policy is rarely explained, justified and celebrated by the politicians.

Much of the Leave vote came from disadvantaged areas, there are large parts of this country that have been left behind as economic growth has focused on the richest and on London and the South East. Much of this is the result of government policy and inaction over my entire lifetime, at least back to Thatcher. The destruction of industrial communities, the high unemployment (acceptable cost for low inflation), sale of government assets, particularly the council house stock that has been hugely depleted without adequate investment to rebuild. This then plays into the immigration issue because housing is expensive and council homes unavailable. Solving the employment issue and people feeling prosperous is going to be harder especially with increasing automation of many jobs. My blame in this area definitely includes New Labour which always allowed itself to be too constrained, it felt the need to join the attacks on those claiming benefit, to penalise and in place vilify. They failed to rebuild the social housing, preferring to support home ownership and the rising debt that went along with it leading to the credit crunch (the Torys had the same policy and would have done no better).

And the final person I blame is myself. I didn’t actively engage with the remain campaign, I didn’t go door to door. All I did was wear an IN sticker when was being handed out near work, send a couple of tweets (probably ineffectual as most followers agree or are outside the UK anyway), discussed it at work (between a number of us we persuaded one wavering voter) and with some friends (I don’t think I shifted the couple of leavers although may have reinforced a couple of votes). I could and should have done more which is why I’m on the list.

Short version

Boris and Cameron
Leave campaign lies (Boris and Gove)
Right Wing Press (Mail, Sun, Express mostly, also Boris)
Broadcasters interpretations of impartiality
Politicians blaming Europe
Governments since the 80’s allowing increased inequality
Myself
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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/1068384 2016-06-30T00:36:50Z 2016-06-30T00:42:35Z British Political Parties need Reformation

This post is going to be somewhat broad brushed, I’m aware there are fine degrees and other issues. I’m also not expecting this to happen,

There are three key policy areas from my point of view, Europe (in-out along with immigration), Austerity and civil liberties (vs security).

Current status

Labour is split between a real left wing party that believes austerity as it stands is unnecessary and harmful (Jeremy Corbyn, the unions and a majority of party members) and in the New Labour wing which is the majority in Parliament. They are largely EU positive although some on the left are concerned that it is too much under the control of big business. On civil liberties they have been fairly weak at least since New Labour with a high willingness to favour security over liberty although there are fair numbers who do care about civil liberties.

The SNP are very similar to the Corbyn wing of the Labour party with the obvious exception of their wish for full independence for Scotland.

The Conservatives share a belief in austerity but with varying positions on the extent of public services and spending if the economic times were better. Their instinct is generally to cut taxes before investing in improved services. There is a huge and obvious split on the EU, with a majority of members anti-EU and split roughly in half in Parliament. On civil liberties most lean towards the security side but there are notable exceptions.

The Liberal Democrats are largely grudgingly accepting of austerity, pro EU and lean to the civil liberties side on security issues.

UKIP is obviously anti-EU and anti-immigration, they mostly favour security over civil liberties and I’m not up to date on their economic policy. Farage is very financially

As I write the Labour party is tearing itself apart. MPs have been briefing against Jeremy Corbyn continuously since before he was elected by the membership, union members and paying supporters (I’m one of these). The fundamental issue is whether Labour is to be a party of the left, opposing austerity, skeptical of foreign military interventions or to continue the New Labour direction of aiming for the centre, prioritising victory to then be in position to slightly mitigate the effects of globalisation and rising inequality rather than attempt to achieve true social justice.

Imagined Alternative structure

In my personal view there needs to a party articulating a true left position, opposing austerity and fighting for true social justice. This is critical for several reasons even if it is hard or impossible for such a party to win a majority as without it the other parties are pulled relentlessly to the right. Without a party holding a realistic leftwing position there is no centre for the New Labour type parties to triangulate themselves to, and the risk is that the Conservatives move further right to distinguish and differentiate themselves. It is also essential that there is a party prepared to stand up and argue for the marginalised, whether those on benefits, refugees or other migrants.

Given all that I think that a more natural arrangement of parties would be for the Labour party to be Corbyn’s and the membership’s left wing party fighting for disadvantaged, for greater equality and an end to austerity. I can imagine it cooperating closely on many issues with the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru.

The Blairite, New Labour wing has more in common with much of the Conservative party. I feel that  a centre-right (although they would think themselves the party of the centre) party could be formed; lets call it the Popular Party. I’m picturing it taking maybe 150 of the current Labour MPs and 100 Conservatives. I could imagine it becoming the official opposition, possibly in a highly pro-EU stance working with the Liberal Democrats. If it didn’t oppose Brexit it would push for a close relationship even if some element of free movement was required.

Then comes the bulk of the Conservatives, largely anti-EU, very keen on privatisation and business deregulation. It would probably subsume many of the non-racist elements of UKIP.

Now while this may better fit the political views across the country and Parliament than the current status the first past the post electoral system acts against it and major party realignments are rare and usually harmful to the parties involved. Having said that anything seems possible at the moment and I feel that there has to be a split in the Labour Party. Whether the Conservatives also split may depend on how unpopular their next leader.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/940196 2015-11-28T01:56:53Z 2016-08-04T02:34:30Z Bombing Syria

True statements

  1. ISIS deserve to be bombed.
  2. The UK can bomb ISIS in Syria.

But that doesn't mean the UK Should Bomb ISIS

Whether to bomb ISIS is the controversy at the moment and I've been shuffling around on the fence for some time. On the one hand ISIS are clearly dangerous, vicious, evil and if they can be destroyed or defeated it will be a better world. On the other bombing is never clean, surgical or free from collateral damage; non-combatant men, women and children will die.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/940152 2015-11-27T23:47:41Z 2015-11-27T23:47:41Z Shoot to Kill

I don't think anyone is suggesting that a terrorist using automatic weapons on the public or police they should not be stopped as quickly as possible and if it costs the terrorist's life very few tears will be shed.

A shoot to kill policy is different, it is a preference for dead bodies over arrests and trials and this should never be the policy in civilised countries.

I would describe my view as being that the policy should be shoot to protect and to save lives. Where shots are taken there are likely to be deaths but they are not the aim or the policy.

History

For those too young (or insufficiently British/Irish) to be aware there was considerable controversy about whether a shoot to kill policy was in operation particularly with the SAS with regard to the IRA and was particularly controversial when the [3 IRA members were shot dead in Gibraltar](http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/events/three_ira_members_shot_dead_in_gibraltar).

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/940203 2015-11-27T22:00:00Z 2017-11-18T02:17:25Z Language About Terrorism and ISIS

Cowardly

This is just an asinine description for suicide bombers. These are people expecting to die for their beliefs. There isn't a shortage of descriptions that really can be applied to them, vicious, barbaric and murderous to suggest just three. To use the cowardly just devalues both language, whatever arguments you are making and any other words.

ISIS is Islamic

ISIS is clearly Islamic,(Very Islamic) they talk about Islam all the time and they follow large parts of the Qu'ran to great precision.

BUT

Islam is not ISIS. There are clearly a wide spread of views amongst those regarding themselves as Muslims and a vast majority are opposed to ISIS. That ISIS exists is no more the responsibility of most Muslims than the existence of the Westboro Baptist Church is the responsibility of a Church of England congregation in the UK (it isn't their responsibility).

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/793162 2015-01-08T14:48:54Z 2016-07-02T00:25:14Z Some things I Think

Some of these things I don't normally say mostly because I'm don't want to offend people but today je suis Charlie and if people are going to take offence at this they should be offended. These are some things that I mostly don't say where I know or think that there might be people who disagree or might be offended. Comments are enabled for you to express your disagreement.


Father Christmas doesn't exist (OK I only avoid saying this around children).

God doesn't exist. And this statement shouldn't be more shocking than the previous one even if you disagree.

Unquestioning belief is harmful. If you are on a mission from god how can that be reasoned with and debated.

If you believe in god I find it hard to see how it can be anything other than unquestioning (pre-renaissance god or gods might have appeared logical).

Unquestioning belief combined with power is scary (I'm thinking Tony Blair and GW Bush here in addition to those with power in ISIS).

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/782547 2014-12-13T00:54:34Z 2017-11-11T01:00:42Z Reading


Text preserved in case Tweet deleted or 

"Ever realised how fucking surreal reading a book actually is? You stare at marked slices of tree for hours on end, hallucinating vividly" - @KatieOldham


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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/648159 2014-01-30T16:54:13Z 2017-07-20T09:17:53Z Svbtle vs. Posthaven I’m giving Svbtle a try having used Posthaven for a few months. This is a quick comparison of how I find the two and a little commentary on some of the alternatives I’ve considered but haven’t yet tried. See this post on Svbtle.

Background

I’m fairly new to blogging, I’d been meaning to set up a blog for some time either off based on an existing open source blog/cms or creating my own basic one in Rails or Django but I hadn’t got round to it. I liked the attitude of Posthaven when it appeared, we will charge you money but you get to keep your name for life and I think it came out of the experience of one of the founders losing control of Posterious and it’s shutdown.

Posthaven Summary

  • Costs $5/month for upto 10 blogs
  • GUI post editor (a little clunky but it works)
  • Commitment to long term platform
  • Comments supported

Advantages

  • Permanence/business model
  • Manage multiple blogs including anonymous and/or private blogs and posts.

Disadvantages

  • Some of the Posthaven features require Facebook, Twitter, Scribd, Google Analytics scripts in the page and these are loaded (with associated privacy issues) on all your pages.
  • Not yet any way to theme/customise design which I don’t need for my general blogs but may want for special ones. # Svtle Summary
  • No cost (or business model)
  • Clean (bare) design

Svtle Summary

Advantages

  • Clean UI very clean (bare but I like it) page design.

Disadvantages

  • Lack of business model, no confidence in it staying ad-free and free in even the short/medium term.
  • No hit count - only Kudos.
  • Seems to add editorial subheadlines for you “Read this first”, “More by Joseph” # Alternatives
  • Wordpress is obviously the monster but feels over complicated and reportedly nasty to write plugins for so I personally wouldn’t want to get too deep into it. You can get it hosted or run local.
  • Medium which might be worth a look but requires a Twitter login so I haven’t tried. I also got put off by many of the articles on HackerNews that were linked to there being poor.

Self hosting

I hadn’t got round to getting set up myself so this would sort of defeat the purpose but there are a few options that I would consider.

  • Ghost seems like quite an interesting option that I should look at although it is Node so I might need to learn some Javascript if I was going to modify it at all. Hosted cost $5/month even for a single blog. Officially it only supports SQLite and MySQL - Postgres works but isn’t high enough priority to delay releases.
  • Octopress / Jekyll is probably where I should be going in the short term. I could self host or push to Github pages for this sort of thing and it supports Markdown which I am increasingly comfortable with.
  • Something hacked together with Rails or Django. No time to get it set up or support it in future.

Conclusion

I’m not quite happy with either for different reasons, will probably self host in the future.

The scripts from Google and Facebook will probably cause me to move away from Posthaven fairly soon. I use Noscript to avoid them when I am browsing and I would prefer not to impose them on readers as that would be hypocritical (although it does work fine without them if they are Noscript users).

As for Svbtle while I quite like the design and using Markdown but the lack of current business model bothers me and I’d rather migrate at my time of choosing than when they announce some new policy.


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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584125 2013-06-14T16:35:22Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z Assorted interesting Hacker News comments

RMS and Ubuntu

Dismissiveness and starting a cable TV service

More Ubuntu and RMS

Lego and sexism

Rails and Django comparison

FRAND, competition law and patents generally

API copyrightability

Commercial use of GPL software

Nominet money grab (direct.uk)

Youview

What patents are maths


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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584112 2013-05-29T15:28:38Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z H.264 is OK, webm is not the answer for most people

[Originally a comment on hacker news on 29th May]

H.264 / MPEG4 part 10 / AVC

Yes it is patented which is a definite disadvantage compared with a theoretical[4] patent free codec but it has some real advantages.

1) The standard is controlled and defined by a collective industry group under the auspices of ISO. [1]

2) Most of the major players in video technology at the time took part in the standardisation so are committed to FRAND patent licensing terms. [2]

3) In almost all cases and commercial business models (that do not involve Free software) the MPEG-LA H.264 patent license is really very reasonable and unlikely to cause problems to an otherwise healthy business. Note that the license Google has to the MPEG-LA pool of patents while free is NOT compatible with Free software.

4) Any companies not in the MPEG-LA pool that popped up now with demands really would trolls in the original sense that they have sat under the bridge for a long time waiting for a juicy opportunity rather than being upfront earlier. I don't think that this would help them in a legal case although there is no guarantee that they don't exist. [3]

5) H.264 is really quite good although the latest codecs are showing what can be done with further development and processing power.

6) H.264 decoding (and often encoding) is cooked into a massive amount of existing and deployed devices in ways that cannot be adapted to VP8/VP9 by a software update.

For now H.264 is the no brainer option for any commercial system although multi codec support may be worthwhile in some cases. If you want patent free I recommend MPEG1 as I believe any patents on it should now be expired or at least expiring very soon if they were granted a long time after filing. I'm glad that Firefox has backed down and will now use the OS codecs to allow playback of H.264.

[1] The OOXML case shows that this isn't foolproof but in my view it is a better option than the standard being controlled by a single company even if the controlling company publishes the source code. This applied to Microsoft when they offered VC-1 as a free alternative to H.264 (there is now an MPEG-LA pool) and to Google now with VP8 and VP9 now. Google is the new Microsoft and has fully learnt the lessons of "Embrace, extend and extinguish".

[2] Not Free software compatible but better than nothing. And even Google's license to the VP8 patents from the MPEG-LA pool does not seem to grant Free software compatible rights.

[3] There is a greater risk of people popping up with claims against VP8 or VP9 as they are newer and less prominent. The MPEG-LA's call for a pool of patents has helped draw out those patent owners and many have joined the pool and reached terms with Google (although Nokia and maybe others haven't.

[4] Realistically for patent free greater than 20 years old is the answer so it probably needs to be MPEG1.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584114 2013-05-14T15:36:50Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z Language affects perception. Perception affects reality.

In response to the comment "Who cares about semantics." on Hacker News I wrote:

Language affects perception. Perception affects reality. Especially in human constructs like law and culture.

But I first had the thought and the phrase "Language affects perception. Perception affects reality." in my head well over ten years ago without writing it down.  I doubt it is original.


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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584115 2013-05-13T15:40:37Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z How much digital manipulation can a photograph have?

[Written as comment on Hacker News in response to this article.]

I think it is slightly unfortunate that the topic of the photo triggering this debate is a controversial political topic with many contradictory truths, claims and counterclaims of distortion and deceit. In this case there seems to be legitimate journalistic photography of the event that should be the focus of any debate about the event itself.

The real issue with this photograph are whether the digital processing applied exceeded that which is appropriate for a photography competition. Specifically there seems to be a suggestion that it may be composite of different photos from the same event although that seemed far from proven to me.

What do people feel are acceptable digital edits to be applied?

1) Global filters/brightness/contrast/sharpening

2) Similar filters applied to local areas to to ensure all wanted areas are properly lit and visible

3) Actually touching up/smudging or otherwise directly manipulating particular pixels.

4) Actually combining different photos (e.g. you have ten photos but someone (different) has their eyes shut in each one so you grab one face and merge it back onto the correct body).

Personally I don't see a single clear line where you should stop so I think that it should probably be spelled out in the competition rules.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584116 2013-04-18T15:51:10Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z What happened to Japan's electronic giants?

[Text below extracted largely from my comments on this Hacker News discussion about this BBC news item although there is slightly more there it needs the context of the thread which I can't pull into this blog post easily (or legally given copyright laws).]

There is some truth in this article but it misses some of the really key factors.

  1. Value of the Yen. The Yen is seen as a safe haven and has been at almost ridiculous levels (considering trade balances and government debt) at least since late 2008. This is crippling exports (and/or profitability) in these price sensitive markets (TV's, computers, phones) as even though much production is abroad they still have massive cost bases in Japan.
  2. Development of Korea. LG and especially Samsung took the place of the aggressive upstarts driving down prices and then building up the quality as Japan once did to the West in markets such as cars. It will be interesting to see what China's development does to Korea in 15-20 years. So far the aggressive pricing from Korea has kept Chinese TV brands from prominence but that may not last.
  3. As Japan prospered and incomes rose it became uneconomic to manufacture commodity items there. Outsourcing and offshoring production damages the feedback and development loop between production and design that enables efficient optimum design of products. Also they narrowed the parts of the supply chain that they supplied to focus on the high value ones that could still be profitable but that costs control and foresight into important developing areas. e.g. Samsung could develop LCD panels in exact form factors to fit their devices and to use them as structural elements in TVs getting a jump start on Sony. (Sharp had[has?] their own panels but the quality wasn't uniformly high and they were overly dependent on their home TV market anyway).
  4. There is very little profit in many electronics items. TVs especially are not a source of profits (maybe Samsung makes some but it is hard to tell from their annual reports). Aggressive and falling prices, unstable panel supplies and the fact egos and ecosystems are on the line means that the once stable profit source of CRT TVs has been replaced by an LCD bloodbath. Even in mobile phones only Apple and Samsung are really making money (along with a number of component suppliers getting their slices).
[In response to a comment about Sony having missed the boat on the idea of connected devices and the ecosystem that "Google and Apple have done so very well."]

[Sony have, movie studios, TV studios and record labels] however they lacked the internal structure and strategy to really deploy them effectively. Plus someone would have had to choose a suboptimal strategy for their division's financial results if they were to avoid selling some rights or exclusivity externally but to use it for joined up strategies. (Or the low profit hardware arm would have had to paid commercial rates.)

It also surprisingly gets harder in many ways to negotiate for other rights when you have your own studio/record label and who wants to only watch/listen to Sony content. Anti-trust law may be a factor in this (as a content owner Sony couldn't legally do an Apple and tell their competitors what pricing model to accept) but also it changes the tone of the negotiation and attitude of other parties when they are your competitor.

And finally just when the network technology and the products are getting to the point where a useful internet delivered content ecosystem can be established somebody high up the organisation decides to split the platform and bend over for Google in order for the honour of making the Google TV for US only under ridiculous contract terms based on Intel hardware costs and to be supported by a dreadful marketing campaign it still sows FUD amongst content partners.

geon > I don't see why being a competitor would make it impossible for Sony to build a media store. It worked for Valve...

Firstly I didn't say it would be impossible just potentially harder than if not a competitor.

I don't know the history of Steam that well but my understanding was that it started as an easy way to get their own games. Yes Sony Music could have done the same (maybe they did but I can't remember) but a store with a seemingly random selection of about 25% of pop music doesn't make a great hit in the era of Napster and when they are still pushing DRM (which Steam also uses).

I don't believe that as a company with about 25% of the music market could legally impose pricing conditions on it's competitors (Valve may allow flexible pricing but iTunes did not at least at the beginning and I don't believe was such a proportion of the market at the time).

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584119 2013-04-03T16:10:24Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z Can anyone here give (and defend) an example of a good patent? - I'll play

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5482547

I'll play: US20080002776.

Although I no longer work for the BBC and have already received my bonuses for the filing and granting (after I left the BBC) of this patent I have a personal curiosity as the core inventive step was (I believe) mine although it was greatly extended and improved by others with greater domain knowledge in MPEG encoding. As far as I know it was a novel idea and wasn't obvious in advance to experienced video encoding engineers.

The original idea was to treat encoding losses as errors/defects that can be fixed or patched by additional data distributed separately. This was extended to arbitrary enhancements and changes and potential implementations, consequences and techniques.

I believe that there was a real non-obvious inventive step in considering encoder losses as patchable bugs. Given that idea alone a (suboptimal) implementation is relatively easy to create but was not obvious if the task being discussed is using the early 2000's Internet to deliver better video quality than broadcast (SD) TV could.

I am not aware of any current usage of the ideas in this patent or what licenses the BBC may or may not have granted.

[Comments and responses here.]

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584120 2013-04-02T16:09:57Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z CEO Pay - Productivity Multiplier

Comment on Hacker News.

The range of potential CEO productivity effect is much greater than that of most employees and I suspect is a multiplier effect on the whole company rather than a simple addition. The worst case is a negative effect on a scale that bankrupts the company. On the positive side if a great CEO gets 1% more productivity out of their staff than a good one that difference in a company employing thousands is worth paying upto 1% of the total salary budget for a great rather than good CEO (if that is what they cost in the market and you can identify them).

There are big issues about how you identify great CEO's but there are real reasons to pay massively for the best.

The other factor is that people (CEO's, traders, salesmen) who can directly point to profit/income that they are responsible for can more easily show their value and in many cases claim a portion of that rather than a wage based on more normal market competition.


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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584128 2012-11-15T16:42:20Z 2014-05-14T15:25:37Z Why is no-one attacking the Smart TV space with gusto?

[Original Hacker News comment.]

I used to work for Sony in TV Product Planning and the Business Development for TV platforms in Europe.

> Why is nobody attacking this space with any gusto? Boxee, Roku, Apple TV, Google TV, YouView, Windows MCE and various no-hope proprietary platforms (Samsung - you'll never build a platform anyone wants to build on. Please give up).

It is hard. Smart isn't what people really want from TVs. They want content (games may be a exception but games consoles have that mostly covered for now). The interaction is too indirect (opposite of touchscreen) and the TV screen is shared with everyone in the room making even less suitable for interaction.

To be an interesting content platform you need real scale so Samsung should be interesting as they probably sell 20-30% (haven't been following recently) of TVs globally. If you have compelling content it makes massive sense if you have a working revenue model. If you don't have strong content I wouldn't bother.

> Will someone sort this out? We need a decent open Smart TV ecosystem.

No we need (fairly) dumb TVs able to play various sorts of local and internet content streams with standardised interfaces allowing content selection on tablet devices. DLNA/UPNP has the local network side quite well covered but the TV companies fed up of their zero margin business are trying to get some revenue on the content side and it a complex massive job getting good local content available globally.

andybak > Maybe I'm abusing the term 'Smart TV' but what I mean in the short term is something fairly close to your last paragraph BUT with some way for 3rd parties to innovate on the platform.

Your argument largely consists of 'people don't want that' or 'it's the wrong format' which sounds suspiciously like how people described smart-phones pre-Apple.


Why would anyone want information services or casual games (apart from those to be played with others in the room) on the big screen rather than the phone/tablet?

In the pre-iPhone case there were lots of people wanting information services on phones (on the move especially) and people trying to provide solutions greatly limited by available technology and bandwidth prices (no wifi on phones at the time either). People were trying to read books off phones, listen to music and do many things including some apps even when the capabilities were extremely limited.

Its really not just a "people don't want" argument but TV prolonged screen interactions don't generally fit into people's lives except in a very few narrow scenarios watching, sharing and showing content. In all these cases controlling with a smart controller and interacting offscreen really works better than indirectly manipulating a big-screen GUI.

If we imagine a TV with unlimited computing power what would it be used for? Well it would replace games consoles. It would offer smarter ways to find content (but the availability of content is probably at least as important) and better search isn't generally a game changer in this market.




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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584126 2012-11-15T16:35:45Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z Sony's decline

[Original Hacker News comment.]

I worked at Sony until about 18 months ago (European TV Product Planning and Business Development getting content onto the TV Internet platform).

This data makes it look like it could be going down quicker than I thought but it did have major problems and no clear route through them.

I think a lot of the engineering problem is that now the growth has gone there isn't large amounts of fresh recruits bringing new ideas. It also isn't THE place to work anymore which it once was in Japan (think Google 8 years ago levels of cool). The engineers are now mostly managers and outsourcing large amounts of development (particularly software to India). Manufacturing is outsourced so the benefits of having deep understanding of production and being able to optimise the products for that just isn't there. These combined outsourcings may be essential for short term survival but rob further from capability to differentiate and innovate.

Exchange rates are also killing Sony (and the other Japanese manufacturers). Massive proportions of their costs are in Japan and inflexible but their income is significantly in dollars and euros. They would be much better off if they spread their costs to regions where their income is.

The end of CRTs removed Sony's price premium in TV and Samsung at the high end and LG at the low end are brutal competitors in an industry where no-one is making money. However it is almost impossible to escape the TV industry as that would completely kill all the Sony franchise retailers (and with it a lot of other electronics sales) and any potential position as an entertainment platform/gateway company. It would also be a big admission of defeat and a lot of jobs would disappear.

A lack of real leadership has been a core problem but I'm not sure there is any way to fix it now.

Don't get me wrong many of the products are still really good and even competitively priced but that doesn't mean Sony is profiting on them. In TVs I think the processing on the mid-high models is better than most competitors and the internet services are pretty competitive but there is a lack of nimbleness and imagination to really take a lead in anything other than picture quality. The PS3 is a good value product these days.

Thinking about it some more I think the best chance of surviving into the medium term is some cataclysmic shift in exchange rates (maybe not so improbable given the Japanese Government debt). An effectively free drop of 20% in Japan based costs would give quite a massive boost that might give time to attack other problems but isn't enough on its own (assuming Sony's debts are in Yen as the value of many assets would also fall which could put them under before they could benefit from trading against the stronger currencies).

Japan printing itself out of debt might be quite a good move although clearly not without its costs amongst savers.

Anyway getting well out my expertise here.

elchief > Man, I had a Sony Wega CRT, and I seriously couldn't tell the difference between it and the first incarnation of 720 flatscreens.


Yes the first flatscreens were rubbish and for interlace SD video the best type of screen is a CRT (the screen, the encoding and the transmission technology were all built around each other to actually gain benefit from the weaknesses).

However the deinterlacing, upconversion and motion interpolation are massively different now to the first models. Plus content is available in HD (progressive) formats and you can get 1080P models.

A 40" LCD can be moved by one person and a 36"CRT would probably need two people to move it at all, was full of nasty chemicals, used more power and takes up more space in the room. If you still have a CRT that you use much it is probably worth replacing it, the phosphors will be substantially diminished in brightness so power consumption will need to be higher to achieve the same colours/brightness as before and HD video is truly here now.

Progress is amazing (even if there are the odd dips on the way). I joined Sony just as they were killing the non flat screen products.



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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584129 2012-09-27T16:58:35Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z Apple TV - The market challenges

In Hacker News discussion "TV will be Apple's Undoing"

TV won't be Apple's undoing but it also isn't obvious that they can win big there.

It is a complicated business with a number of interlocking players at different levels and vested business interests. It is also a global business with rights packaged up at a very national level and sold with exclusive deals.

While the biggest MSO's in each country (cable, satellite and terrestrial operators depending on the market) have the scale to lock in key content/channels to exclusive deals it will be fairly hard to break into the market in a devastating way. At the moment they have the scale and the revenues to do exclusive deals with the content creators (that they don't already own) to keep a large proportion of their customers from leaving. They (not the content creators/owners) are the big bullies in the market and would be hard and expensive to topple.

An AppleTV (including screen) if it does happen will need to be a good enough content offer for most people or it will not be a massive success. If they still have to use their cable box it can't be a game changing user interface because you are looking at the STB interface most of the time.

It's not impossible for Apple but it also won't be easy, particularly to go global. It will cost money to get content which might break Apple's principles and set a bad precedents for them. They also can't go that expensive because while I'm sure the UI will be better Samsung/Sony and some of the others really aren't that bad and the cosmetic designs don't leave that much room for minimalist improvement.

The business case for Apple is far from clear for me at this point but it would be a way to take the war to Samsung that would cost Samsung far more than a billion dollars even for an Apple relative flop. The collateral damage might kill Sharp unless they supplied the panels and would be another knife in Sony/Panasonic/Toshiba that they could do without.

batista > Funny, the said the exact same thing about mobile...

Nearly true but I think the situations are really different - the rights packaged up and sold with exclusive deals didn't apply in a relevant way and there wasn't the same level of complexity.

Carriers were essentially indistinguishable from a customer viewpoint. There was no significantly different content depending on which carrier you used or at least nothing that you would care about if you had an iPhone. This does not apply between broadcast platforms. The exclusive deals any carriers had for content were small scale apps or information services not multi-billion deals for packages of content for particular countries.

Apple played divide and rule between the carriers brilliantly working with a single operator in each country. In some countries that might work for TV where there are well balanced alternative platforms but in others it won't work because there is a dominant player who won't give up control and the challengers are too weak to help Apple much.

In TV there are the content originators (movie studios, sports leagues, independent production companies), one level of aggregators that commission and purchase from the originators and bundle it into channels and another level of aggregation by the service/delivery/billing platforms (MSOs). And then it is sold to the customer. These divisions are not clear and ownerships ofter cross levels.

In mobile it was fairly simple with carriers being the clear centre of the business, buying and subsidising phones and running the infrastructure. There were a couple of platforms running across different phones such as BREW and JavaME but they were more feature tickboxes than major market players.

This doesn't mean it was easy for Apple but the fact they had at the time a truly revolutionary product and reality distorting leader AND there was level competition between the carriers meant that they could pull off an amazing industry changing deal. They had to pull off this deal once in each country not with dozens of different rights holding players (they don't need them all but one deal per country would only be enough with the dominant MSO and probably wouldn't be on good terms as the MSO would know that there is a risk that Apple would want to cut them out when they were big enough).

I also didn't say that it was impossible for Apple to break into the TV market in a massive way but I certainly don't think it is easy or that there is a clear route to massive success. I certainly don't believe it is possible at their current margin levels for either hardware or content but it will be interesting to watch.

I used to do what was really a Business Development and Product Planning role for Sony's European TV Business so I have met with many cable, and a few terrestrial and satellite operators in Europe to persuade them to make their content available over their networks to consumers TVs with CI+ (think European CableCard but not quite such a broken model). Later I worked with many channel operators to bring them onto Sony's Internet TV platform so I do have some understanding of the TV business.

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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584132 2012-08-04T17:10:40Z 2013-10-08T17:26:25Z MS Surface Pricing Strategy

[Original Hacker News comment.]


Initial price is critical because initial reviews and overall reputation will be based on that. Nexus 7 shows that pricing cheaper doesn't harm the product perception if it is clearly a good product.

The other issue if pricing is deliberately set with particular reference to the iPad is that it might need readjust everything when the next Apple product arrives.

The main thing they need to do is show that it a really great product. If it is better than the iPad at three things but there is on dodgy aspect that is what everyone will hear about.

Who is the target market for the Surface? Those who would otherwise get a Netbox/laptop? Existing iPad owners? Current Windows users with no tablets? Mainly business?

I think if they want to hit the non tablet owning consumer they need to offer better product than the Nexus 7 at pricing just a bit higher. I don't think that they can match price with the iPad for that market unless people are treating it as PC replacement (which is dangerous ground for Microsoft but may be the correct self disruption move in the innovator's dilemma.


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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584149 2012-07-31T18:51:50Z 2013-10-08T17:26:26Z Starting a CS degree without programming experience

[Hacker News Comment]

But you do study Philosophy, Medicine, Economics, Archaeology and Anthropology and many other subjects without having studied them before. The subjects that are not (or are rarely, or badly) taught at school often expect people with little existing knowledge but a strong interest and an enquiring mind. Computer Science falls into this category. Also if you think of Computer Science as being primarily about programming rather than the maths, theory and science of computing I don't think you fully understand computer science.

I chose to do Computer Science because I wanted to properly understand computers. I had essentially no programming experience although I had tried a couple of times but hadn't found the right way in, (QBasic by Example didn't work for me and I didn't discover K&R or a C compiler which I think would have worked better for me). At the end of my degree I was definitely not a great programmer but I could program in Java and ML (taught in the degree programme) and C/C++ and the WIN32 APIs self taught and used for my final year (significant scale but poorly structured) project.

There people on the course (at a very famous university) who really couldn't program at the end of the course but knew the material and official answers well enough to get good degrees. There were also many that started with good programming skills but it was certainly possible to learn enough in the three years to be able to start work and do useful programming and build experience.

Something that surprised and disappointed me at University was how few people seemed to really try to take advantage of being there and learn generally within and beyond their subject rather than being course and exam focused (not just CompSci but all subjects).

Am I a great programmer? No, but I've only spent 15 months within a professional development team, another couple of years on demo level and proof of concept software in an R&D environment and the last year self retraining in iOS and Rails development following five and half years in Product Planning and Business Development.

Who should you hire? I don't know but some simple programming tasks I. The interview stages are probably a good idea. If you want someone who is just a programmer maybe someone incurious is a good bet if they have the skills you need now but whether they are self taught or university educated I think the big question is whether you want someone to fill a particular role now or for the future growth potential that they have. If you are only interested in the fully capable now rather than the trainable (and mouldable to your company way) you may miss out onbetter long term bets.


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tag:blog.jtl.me.uk,2013:Post/584148 2012-07-06T18:48:50Z 2013-10-08T17:26:26Z Samsung

[Hacker News comment]

They are a copycat but one with brilliant industrial design capabilities (not just a nice product but efficient to assemble), a ruthless competitive streak, most complete supply chain of any CE company (screens, semi conductors and god knows what else). They buy their way into retail with high dealer margins and slightly different models for each retailer/carrier so that the dealers/carriers push them until they are dominant.

They also form part of the supply chain for most of their competitors so they can gain an information advantage.

In the TV market I think where they really took the lead in product development was with the ability to redesign the panel packaging to use it as structure for the TV and then to design for thinner a thinner bezels.


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