Sod off 2012

I have never been one to rue the knell of passing time. There will be no Passing Bell tolling for me anyway but this past year could well have caused me to summon tollers to be paid at standby rates.
The major event of the year has been realisation that whatever it was I had in the adventure chest has gone. We plotted a two day trip to Edinburgh to take in a few Festival sights, some general tourist actions and some fine food. We accomplished the food with the aid of taxi services but the other aims went out of the window as just too physically demanding. I had the falling over spell at the end of the year. This resulted in the sort of scar some women are said to find sexually attractive; best of luck with that is all I can say. I have had to learn to do nothing suddenly lest my world spin. Rising from a seated position has to be undertaken as if one were a pig leaving a particularly warm and attractive slough. I, who could challenge Newcastle Man’s short sleeves in a snowstorm, now curl in my Slanket in front of the fire and haunt out the source of every draft regardless of temperature or velocity.
Another agree-related irritation is that my doctors seem to have given up on me. Whereas we used to attack illness as a curse in itself we now seem to have degraded efforts to merely masking the symptoms with pain killers et al. There has been one unexpected benefit from this policy. The memory is fading; words that are on the tip of the tongue hide and refuse to come out into the open when bidden. I have almost total recall of events long ago and far away but now, just occasionally, find myself in, say, the kitchen with no idea why I have gone there. I have accepted that this is beyond treatment other than by recourse to my Memory Book. The bonus is that my long-standing history of varying depth of depression has gone away The tablets I had for that are unused and in the cabinet. I doubt I shall need them again – my advances into La La land some to have resulted in a state of bliss as to what happens now, tomorrow or any time at all really.
I still get night horrors but these seem to be more than balanced by what I think of as spirit visits. I will be asleep in bed but feel the sensation of a dog climbing onto the bed and settling down as my now departed pets so loved to do. Sometimes I will come fully awake and can ‘see’ the dog and we will have a conversation and love-in as we used to. It only ever involves my two dogs and not people who have gone before. I have no religious beliefs. My maternal grandmother was a Spiritualist who was allegedly very prolific as a medium at the start of the 1900s. My mother possibly limited my contacts with Grandmother Edwards who had apparently suggested I had inherited some of her gifts, I did keep a record of the dog homecomings and these seemed to suggest they occurred at times of stress. The night terrors, on the other hand, were especially vivid and horrific; mainly of attacks upon me by other unknown humans that continued even though I would be wide awake with my eyes open and conscious of being in known surroundings.
So, on balance, 2012 did little for me in real terms other than to bring a realisation that no one lives for ever. If one accepts that tag that he who dies with the most toys wins then I have a full toy cupboard but I recognise the corollary that he who has the most toys still dies. 2013 will be devoted to dealing with my wish that my end comes swiftly and with no complications. My abiding horror is that I be condemned to end up drawing life from a 13 amp socket like a condom vending machine in the malodorous lavatory of a down-at-heel pub. Final Directives and Do Not Resuscitate instructions are in place. Self-harm is not an option – I investigated jumper-suicides and witnesses spoke of screams on the way down which suggested a change of mind when still some two floors up so concern that I might also chicken out too late keep me away from that quasi-solution.

There is an App for that

As it is the Festive Season, my son is visiting from his Workplace-Home of Frankfurt. I was given a demonstration of his new company wheels which is a high piece of the BMW craft. It has just about every add-on option the company offers; I was shown 3 forward facing cameras and a rear view camera which recognise traffic signs, obstacles in the road and maintain a safe interval from other traffic when in cruise control mode. Basically, the thing could drive itself if one so wished. Mt initial thought was thank God BMW were not as advanced during the years 39-45. This expanded into why are we so advanced in so many controls but, obviously, so backward in more significant matters which affect us all?

Governments have access to vast masses of data from a multitude of sources. Store loyalty cards report what we buy, where and when. Oyster cards report our movements which are not picked up on cctv. Car journeys are recorded from number-plate scans in addition to the street cameras. Our internet communications are monitored by contact certainly and there is the overall right of know the contents where the government mentions terrorism. This same ogre can be used to monitor financial transactions. As to the past, we know which violin string Nero was playing as he watched Rome burn and vast masses of seemingly arcane information. What data we have from space research is so vast we do not know what we have got. But, despite all this – and the sources I have not even considered – we really do very little with it that can improve our daily lives.

What we need is an Application. Most will be familiar with the small programmes operating within mobile phones commonly known as Smartphones These permit the user to connect to Internet services and perform functions more readily associated with computers. Anyone who has just peeked into the Applications market will know just how clever these can be and how seemingly easy they are to write and use. The impetus that drives Smartphone Applications (Apps for short) needs to be harnessed for a far more useful development; that of running our daily lives.

National prosperity is based upon national economy. Prosperity can be defined as an economic state of growth with rising profits and full employment. This does not come from clever marketing but from clear rules. For example, Germany benefits from labour market policies such as retirement at 65, flexi-time, school to work apprenticeships and job training and job matching. Countries in Northern Europe with a poor economic experiences lack these controls; retirement around 60 as in, for example, France and Greece suffer the burden of providing pensions for the early retired.

So, we set up an app that takes all the economic data into consideration and then takes over the machinery needed to exercise the controls required. The only human involvement would be in supervision. Fiddling and adjustment would be a factor but not more so than corruption is with our present systems. If there is a rigid This Is The Way procedure, corruption is so much easier to detect as it is a deviation from the norm Those who retire behind mutterings of 1984 can be reassured. For example, one could agree and input what amount of earnings a high-flyer might be permitted to retain and set his taxation level accordingly. Similar controls would be applied to middle and lower level earners. No one lives in isolation; the man making a fortune in oil trading may be benefiting from the devotion to duty of s member of the Armed Forces and should pay a commensurate share to the serviceman’s costs.

It is not necessary that all nations agree to work to the App rules. If they know a better hole they should go to it. The drafting of the App should ensure that a nation using it will do better than those run on the current method of which way is the wind blowing consideration.When I had religion, I used to declaim at this time of year “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed” Somewhere in Luke I think. We can even cater for those whose nature just makes them object to anything centralised and formal. The writers of the Blast em Up games would develop an App called something like Bad Bastard II. This would range from slapped knees sanctions to the release of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I see Human Rights as being a right to enjoy silence, artistic stimulation, food and medicine and education. None of these come naturally but even now we cannot guarantee them so something needs to be done.

Anguish following an error

The terrible case of the nurse who seems to have taken her own life after being innocently involved in a senseless prank will run and run – Royal connections will see to that. For years to come, any opportunity to rehash her story will be taken and we will see it at every birthday of the child to come.I cannot believe that we know all there is to know at this time< She was employed by a hospital used by high ranking individuals able to pay for the very best service and attention. She must have been used to handling demands from aristocratic types as to the condition of the sick under her care. The basics of Data Protection hoops that the likes of me have to jump through would surely have been in abeyance – can you imagine asked HM her name, the first line of her address and a post code or her mother's name. Yeah – right!
I anticipate that we will hear much more at the Inquest. There just have to be other factors waiting disclosure. One can certainly imagine the hospital ,aking it clear to her that they were less than impressed. If what we know now is correct, she must have qualified for instant dismissal arising from gross misconduct. If she were, regrettably, treated in his manner one wonders what support or counselling was offered. Many are taking blame to the Australian end of the so called joke. We need to be a little careful here – remember the names Ross and Brand.

Hard cases make bad law

I have wanted to write about the SAS sniper who was tried at Court Martial with illegal possession of a weapon and sent to military prison. He has now been released after appeal to the Courts Martial Appeal Court. My concern is the degree of involvement of the media in having his case reviewed which centered on the apparent justice of dealing with a hero in this manner. Doubtless, the SAS Black Mafia were working behind the scenes as well. What price law and order if trial and punishment were given over to the media?
The laws surrounding the possession of firearms are very complex – look hard enough and one will find all forms of if and but. This, for example, comes from official directives http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/d_to_g/firearms/#a13 “The public interest will almost always require a prosecution whenever there is sufficient evidence to show that an adult has committed a firearms offence.However, there may be occasions when the public interest will be satisfied by action short of prosecution. These will usually relate to the physical or mental health of the defendant or victim” Our sniper did have such medical history.
This brings me to another concern. I have no official transcript but our man made a guilty plea which seemingly focused on his not knowing the pistol had been included in his effects by regiment personnel after he left Afghanistan is a real hurry. This is a normal thing; such effects would have been in excess of any flight allowance and would have delayed his journey. So, he had bad service from them in their failure to deal with the weapon and ammunition There may be corroboration of this seemingly laissez-faire attitude in reports that Honesty Boxes left for dumping contraband were soon filled with ‘strange’ weapons. Here is a valid comment “The moment he stashed the pistol and collected the Ammunition he went from Hero to Zero in a Nano second. The pistol on the top shelf of his wardrobe and the Ammo in a clear plastic box in clear sight in a room. He should have ditched it all in one of the Honesty Boxes located around the Hereford base. Boxes with a No Questions asked”. Further there is this One of the very last paragraphs in the Judge advocates Speech before sentence… “We have not dismissed you or reduced you in rank as on the information before us we consider that you may still, with your specialist experience, be of use to the army in the future. We would invite those who will have to consider your future in the army in due course to bear these sentencing remarks in mind”. He should have used all these factors in a plea of mitigation. He was a senior NCO in a Regiment that makes demands upon it’s personnel only answered by high moral attitudes.
So – I suppose I should fall back into the Least Said Soonest Mended camp. Rather surprised it hasn’t been linked in to the Levenson wrangle.

Last stage of the Seven

For many years, I suffered from depression. It all went back to an incident in my late teenage years but only became an issue some 24 years ago when my working life became less intense but more stressful. My Board director retired and I was inherited by the Finance man. He was the sort of emaciated ghoul that comes to mind when the word ‘accountant’ is spat out at midnight at some deserted cross-roads. He knew nothing about premises management other than what could be presented in ÂŁ and P and after a while he got to me and my depression lifted its hoary old head after some 30 years of peace and quiet.
I presented myself to the Company doctor – God bless the power of BUPA. We discussed causes and tactics; he stated that depression is not cured but the problem can be ameliorated chemically or by life-style. His description of the life style was good. Lots of exercise; I was already in the gym Monday to Friday before and often after work. Small treats – sounded good. Stay away from revisiting the incident that had caused the problem; that was easy as the girl was no longer in my life. This brought the depression down to being occasionally miserable. The next disturbance was retirement to which I did not settle well and this was aggravated when my lovely old dog went up the Golden Stairs and my exercise dropped away. Time for the chemical route. I adjusted the prescribed level and things were back to misery now and then but no Black Dog.
About a month ago I messed getting a prescription for my depression medication and went without for some 3 days. I noticed no ill effects and did not resume the daily dose when the script was filled. This caused me to reflect on the doctor’s words re a cure – was I making medical history? No unfortunately. I am in that advance ground for dementia – forgetting words that are on the tip of my tongue, not remembering where keys and things are or why I had gone from one room to another. And therein lies the answer to my apparent cure.
Now I am in la la land I care not about whatever is the tap root of the depression. I think this is a real advance. I have even tested it by going back to the presumed trigger event of the depression. No Black Dog. I have measures in place which will – I hope – stave off dementia for quite a long way. At my age, six months is a long way.

All I want for Christmas is …..an app

Around this time of year, the household becomes a bit like the HQ of some secret organisation. I may walk into a room where a telephone conversation is in progress and there is an instant and obvious change of topic. The email of others is opened up at irregular times and outgoing traffic is increased. If shopping I get led through strange aisles – comments of “Isn’t that nice” and dropped. Catalogues from Mulberry and Aspinall get in amongst the morning papers. It is not very covert – the aim is What Does He Want For Christmas? One of the complications of advanced age is that I have most things I could want and I can afford DIY when it comes to buying things for me.
Recent acquisitions include a pad (Nexus7), a smartphone (Samsung S3) and an Apple Mac laptop. There is the desktop as well. Cognoscenti will know that this toy-box is a bit of a cumbersome mix of OS; Android, Mac and BrokenWindows™ Inc.Exposure to Android made me think – it is fairly new and seemed to offer things that were lacking, or hard to locate, in the other OS.I could live on the pad alone all the while I can get a wi signal. This has all been floating around in my mind like some Journey Into Space and has solved the What does he etc. question. What I want is an app that will run on my Droids and simplify my life as it veers toward Dementia Land. There are myriad apps already covering almost every topic under the sun and as many more in the waiting room to be authorised by King Android. I am as likely to get exactly what I want as I am to find a set of tails in a off the hook ready made tailors.
Simply stated, I want something that will consolidate all my e-mail services into one simple and single web page. I have four in all and the Android mail system makes a pretty good fist at consolidating them in one place but is not what I would choose if asked the What does He Want.. question. I want to be able to see enough of a mail to know if it is of interest such that I need to open the full message. When and if I have read it, I want to be able to deal with it from within the full message area. Save it to archive or dump it. If archived, it will still appear as ‘new’ for one more day so as to give me scope for second thoughts. Mail that I do not open to full message is trashed as soon as I close the page. I can tell from very little of a message if it is spam or rubbish. Mail that has survived this filter adds to the address list. Sent mail and received mail would all be on the one page; differentiated by colour. Tagging would be a neat feature. All servers would be run together, by time and alphabetic sort of the title.
So, questioners, go to it. If it should be that there really is an app that does what I want – spill the beans please.

Woe, woe is me

We here in UK appear to be going to Hell in a handbasket. Internationally we are in trouble with the dissent about the EU – a major trading partner. Our special relationship with America has gone. We are in bad odour with most of the oil producing states. Our position on the UN Security Council is ineffective against the power of veto. Our economy is shot to pieces and we have no wriggle room on costs arising from the actions of others.

Internally, we are no better. We have a coalition that has not melded and time is wasted on petty disputes between the two parties.The Prime Minister is a loose cannon; he makes proposals that have not been fully examined and has been forced into a number of U-turns that further limit his acceptance. Much of the legislation – planned and introduced – gives every appearance of being a Tory wish list put together in opposition without any real examination of the cons – it is all pros.

Our society is at loggerheads – immigration, social opportunities and whatever it was that fuelled the recent riots. Education is in disarray. Our Health and other social services are on their last gasps. Everything is demanding more expenditure to end up doing less. Banking and credit are both doing their own things. Our morals have fallen – politicians fiddling their expenses and allowances. We have young children being abused in some sort of meat market that went without action because of perceived racism. We do not appear to be providing for the future of our citizens. Solutions have a time line of two or more years between approval and effective deployment.

So – what to do? I suggest the first thing is to cut down on the Punch & Judy politics so very apparent in PMQs When faced with a uncertain and dangerous future in the 1940s we had a emergency government. Reduced to just a few departments, decisions were quickly made and, more important, put into effect. “Action this Day” This unit would decide priorities and confirm actions. We should co-opt captains of industry to ensure it was run as a business and not a talking shop Ideally, we should deal with our international problems at the same time as national matters. This would be difficult as considerations in one area would impinge on planning elsewhere but it would be worse than useless to press on with all due speed until we have got our domestic problems sorted out. Some matters would have to be evaluated gainst the criteria of cost benefit. For example, what is the problem with immigration; just say sorry the shop is shut. If EU don’t like it then just delay all negotiations. Make it clear that we will use all our resources to quash anything counter-productive. We have more important items on the agenda. If, for example, the higher earning object to higher tax brackets and threaten to leave – let them. Make it difficult for them to move money and assets abroad. We are better off without them taking up time and resources negotiating against a government decision.

The Monarchy. HM The Queen and her consort deserve to see the autumn of their years in comfort and should be retired. Charles is a busted flush. Age alone determines that he will be fir for retirement before he can achieve much and he should stand aside with Wills made King. They still have the power to impress on foreign tours; it should be possible to deploy them in their Nation’s interest without making them some sort of trade attache.

Yes – dramatic; maybe even despotic. We have seen what happened when we had the occupation of St Pauls forecourt. If we are not to see our country turn into some Karachi slum, we need to act and not just leave it to inertia