Sunday, July 31, 2016

Know Your Food

THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTS — President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that will require labeling of genetically modified ingredients for the first time.

The legislation passed by Congress two weeks ago will require most food packages to carry a text label, a symbol or an electronic code readable by smartphone that indicates whether the food contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Job For Trump After All This Is Over

It seems to me that they have to find a job for Trump after this is all over. The continuation of his entertainment value is needed to sate the tastes he has unleashed.

This is leaving aside the fact that he is a nasty man who publicly mimicked a disabled man - and that is the only reason anyone needs - ever - not to vote for him.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fifteen iPhones Each

Apple just sold their one-billionth iPhone. That's equivalent to 15 iPhones for every one of the 64 million people in the UK.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Alexander McQueen Cuts Up A Dress

There was a retrospective about Alexander McQueen on television about year ago.

A garment cutter at one of the Paris fashion houses recounted how McQueen came in, took a pair of scissors and cut up a dress that he described as boring.

The cutter was appalled until he saw the results and saw McQueen's genius in creating a new dress in a few minutes with a pair of scissors and all by hand.

Monday, July 25, 2016

US Filial Responsibility Laws

Never could I have imagined such a thing as filial responsibility laws in the USA - land of the 'look after yourself' ethos. But maybe it does fit well, because if the children don't look after parents when they can, who else is going to do it? The state?

From an article by Quentin Fortrell on MarketWatch
Some 28 U.S. states have so-called filial responsibility laws, which can be traced back to colonial times and (in theory) impose a duty on adult children to support their impoverished parents. Those states don’t include New York. Here’s a list of the other 28 * that do have those laws, even if they don’t practice them. One of those states is Pennsylvania, which did use filial responsibility to force an adult child to pay his mother’s bill. In 2012, Pennsylvania court ruled that John Pittas must pay his mother’s $93,000 nursing home bill after she moved to Greece. Otherwise, they are rarely enforced.

* 30 states in the U.S. have some type of filial responsibility laws in place. The states that have such laws on the books are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Running On Empty Money

Talking about his new book, James Altucher says at one point,

Wealthy people own valuable assets. The middle class and poor simply rely on salaries.


That's strange. One of the hallmarks of being middle class is that you have cash. You have this ability to take advantage of situations because you have cash to invest.

in my mind, if you don't have cash you are a worker.

Maybe it's a USA thing, but in the UK it's clear. Of course we have a pseudo-middle class living on borrowed money - but with average debt to available income running at 132%, that can't go on forever.

And if the average is 132%, think how high it must be for some people.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Stress Test Friday

The results of European-wide bank stress tests are due to be published on Friday.

Will any of them need to raise new capital?

How exactly does a 'bail-in' increase the stability of any banking institution? It is just more borrowed money.

Friday, July 22, 2016

How Many Attacks On iThemes Security!


On the Securi blog today, the company describes how iThemes uses them to protect the company from hacks. You may recall that iThemes was hacked a while back.

So in the blog today, Securi reveals how many threats iThemes suffers. It's 90 threats per hour - a total of 400,000 threats over a six-month period.

Sending Money Home


Sending Money Home Before Driving Into A Crowd

Debka cites Western Intelligence Services as revealing that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who drove a truck into a crowd in Nice on Bastille Day, and worked as a delivery man, sent $110,000 to his family in Tunisia days before the attack.

If that is true, then he was not a lone wolf.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tag Managers and UTMS

Google Tag Manager is a tool with which you inject page elements, javascript code, HTML code, etc. to your site. The purpose is to be able to understand what visitors are doing on your site. Use it in conjunction with Google Analytics, for example.

As Google says:

Why wait months for site code updates?

Google Tag Manager lets you launch new tags any time with a few clicks, so you never miss a measurement or marketing opportunity.


Urchin tracking modules - UTMs - are query parameters you add to your URL, which you then place in an advertisement, on Twitter, etc, so to know where people visiting your site are coming from.

Tag manager and UTMs are separate and do not depend on each other and their purposes are completely different.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Turkey And The EU

When Britain was going through its tug of war over the EU referendum, one of the hot topics was immigration from Turkey when that country joins the EU.

In 2013 I wrote about how the EU had made Turkey's accession to the EU conditional upon Turkey improving its human rights record. I said how pathetic it was that the country might improve its human rights in order to get into a club rather than that it would improve its human rights record to better improve itself as a nation.

In 2014 I wrote about how the EU executive was pushing for Turkey's accession to the EU. I suggested it was because of a fear that the country would be pulled into the vortex that is Syria and Iraq.

Now in conversation with Andrew Marr on television in March of this year, the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, said with a knowing look that it will be a long time before Turkey is accepted into the EU.

No sooner said than the news is full of the new deal that is being hammered out. Turkey will do its part to stop the influx of refugees from Syria in return for financial aid and a speeding up of its accession to the EU. Meanwhile, the newspaper Zaman has been subverted and taken over by State officials and the regime is becoming more and more repressive.

And now Britain doesn't have to worry about immigration from Turkey - at least if it can negotiate a deal with the EU that doesn't take it back exactly where it was when it was a member.

But still for me the big question is not about immigration but about allowing Turkey - a country that has a dreadful human rights record - to accede to the the EU.

Can't See The Wood For The Trees

Can't see the wood for the trees
In the darting movement of things
Can't see the whole of it
The soughing of the wind in the boughs.

This poem was inspired by a mindfulness class that I took. At the break, we went outside and I felt quite trippy and watched the wind move the branches in the trees. For a little while I could see all the movement rather than bits of it.

A Solution To Your Bulging Inbox

Written in response to complaints often heard that there are too many emails.

What's the problem? Bulging inbox? Can't handle so many emails? Well how many of them are one-to-one emails from people you know? I bet a lot of them are 'one-to-many' broadcasts from organisations. Organisations know that the inbox is a precious place. It is yours and yours alone. It is not a room you go to where you share space. It is yours.

On the downside, it can get lonely, all alone in your inbox. Especially if no one comes to play. But you know, the room you go to has its problems too. It is 'somewhere else' on somebody else's turf.

So while it might be fun, it's like going to a club or a pub - there comes a time when you just want to curl up on the sofa and read.

How did it come to this? Part of the problem is human nature: Give an organisation a website and it will make a sign-up page. But who could have foreseen ten years ago that every organisation would have a website where the sign-up page could be put?

You want solutions? You can't go to the organisation's website to view everything. Organisations are wise to that. They don't put everything on their sites. They put the special stuff in emails, and only in emails. Therefore you can't look at everything by doing a circuit of the websites or in an RSS reader.

You can unsubscribe, but then you've got nothing.

Here's a solution: Use a different email for all your sign-ups. At least use it for the ones where you are unlikely to want to reply to as 'you'. Visit your second inbox when you feel like curling up on the sofa with a good book.

Keep The Aspidistra Flying

My notes tell me I finished George Orwell's Keep The Aspidistra Flying in March of this year.

Orwell wrote it in the 1930s, so in the dark years before World War II.


The central character is a would-be poet hell-bent on self-destruction who works in an advertising agency. He hates life always kowtowing to money and he describes London in the evening as a vision of hell.

He quits his job and works in a second-hand book store on lower wages. He reviles the customers and he sinks into poverty. He wants to sink to be with the people who have no hope of rising or desire to rise.

He wants to get comfortable in poverty as the only way not to give in against the money that controls everything respectable and aspiring.

His long-time girlfriend gets pregnant and he gets back his job at the ad agency. He tells himself he always knew he wouldn't go the whole way and sink completely.

He learns to listen to the music of time and join in the human race.

The Buddha said something along those lines - of how he had starved himself in an effort to find enlightenment, but all he had got was thin and unhealthy.

Thinking about this idea of self-denial, I wrote in 2010

He said, “I cut up the cushion of my dreams.”
The other replied, “Yes, but why do you sit in such a hard place? This also is an illusion.”

Matt Frei on The Donald

Matt Frei did a report on for Channel 4 on TV in April, covering the phenomenon of 'The Donald'.

He interviewed Hispanics in Florida, Trump's ex valet (who only had good things to say about him), and a several political commentators. It was all pretty much what I had come to expect. That is until the programme got to one extract of Trump speaking at a rally.

Trump is talking about Putin. The way he introduced it, it sounded as though he had been asked about his feelings about Putin. But then you can never tell with Trump because he has this habit of introducing things into his conversation out of 'left field', and there's a sense that he is moving along in the way he wants to.

So in the speech he is giving at the rally he says that he has heard that Putin has had journalists killed. He says that may be true or it may not be. He goes on to say that he (Trump) would not have journalists killed. Then he does a slow turning motion with his hand held flat out in front of him, palm down. He turns his hand this way and makes a comment, then he turns it the other way and makes a comment.

It's the motion a person makes when they are saying they may or may not do something - they haven't decided. Maybe yes, maybe no. And Trump says, yes maybe, and then no he wouldn't have journalists killed. He's grinning. He's making a joke.

It's the kind of macabre joke that a torturer or a despot might make when they hold someone's fate in their hands. This man is trying to be president of the United States, and he's making a joke about having journalists killed?!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Keep Sending Me Snail Mail

Did you know that there is a Keep Me Posted campaign - asking Parliament to make it a requirement for account providers not to penalise users who want paper statements?

The campaign argues that on the basis of the surveys they have carried out, they can say that some people don’t have access to online services, or aren’t computer literate enough to use them.

Others simply prefer paper while others don't trust digital-only records.

I like paper statement for important records. What about you?


Keep Me Posted is a coalition of representatives from charities, interest groups and business.  As you might expect from organisations that are dependent on paper moving about, the supporters include Royal Mail, and private mail companies like Whistl.

But it also includes Money Advice, Age Scotland, The Countryside Alliance, The Stroke Association, and many others. Here's the page listing the representatives. It's a collection of logos rather than a printable text list, hence me excerpting some of the organisations.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Iraq - Discussion On Channel 4 News last night 7 July 2016

Discussion led by Matt Frei - with Emma Sky, who governed the Iraqi province of Kirkuk and served as a political adviser to the US military, Colonel Tim Collins, British Army Commander in Iraq 2003-4, the Iraqi journalist Nermeen al-Mufti, from Kirkuk, and Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, a Kurdish diplomat.

Matt Frei putting to Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States, that she saw the Iraq War as a liberation.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
We did see it as a liberation because Saddam was a warmonger. He created wars in the region. He was a destabilising factor. Eight-hundred thousand, maybe a million people died in the Iran-Iraq war. He invaded Kuwait. He killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of them Kurds. He used chemical weapons. Even today we discover mass graves going back to the 70s and 80s.So we see it as a liberation from a dictator.

Iraq as a whole could have been a winner. I don’t want to get into internal British politics and the debate over who said what in the UK context. But what hasn’t been part of the debate from what I have heard - and obviously I am in Washington - but I have been following events on the internet and on television - what I haven’t seen is that the Iraqi leadership needs to take a great deal of responsibility for what has happened.

Also, many of the Regional players in the Middle East did their utmost to make sure Britain and United States failed. Perhaps that is in the Chilcot report, but I haven’t seen that being reported by the Media.

Colonel Tim Collins
We had advisers who were targeted by Baathist militias and we dealt with them.
In the end the failures came down to disbanding the army and not listening to Iraqis who knew what we should have been doing.

Emma Sky
I don’t believe that any of this was inevitable. As Bayan said, there really was hope for a world without Saddam Hussein. The big mistakes in 2003 were dissolving the Baathist Party and the military, which collapsed the State and led Iraq into civil war. From 2007-09 was the only time in the whole war that the coalition had the right strategy, the right leadership and the right resources and helped bring all Iraqis together and tool Iraq out of the civil war.Iraq went back into civil war after the 2010 elections were so tightly contested. It is all about Iraqi politics and the Iraqi political elites themselves must take huge responsibility for what we see today

MarsEdit 4

I've been using MarsEdit for just over seven years. I started with version 2, and then upgraded to version 3 in 2010. Now, in 2018, I...