Monthly Archives: January 2015

I, for one, welcome our new foreign masters

Today the Scottish Nationalists – who might possibly hold the balance of power after this year’s UK election – have explicitly announced what they’ve been strongly hinting since the referendum.  They will come down from the moral high ground they have hitherto occupied, and start to exercise their constitutional right to a share in the rule of England.  That is, in addition to their legitimate minority share in the rule of the UK (and indeed EU), of which England and Scotland are both parts.

Let’s be clear.  I don’t want to be ruled by the SNP.  I particularly don’t want to be ruled by their socialist economic policies (though the alternatives look pretty bleak, too).  But I have applauded the SNP for taking the moral high ground in the past, unlike the utterly corrupt Labour party who first created our constitutional brokenness and have always abused it.  I applauded the SNP for their heroic efforts to rid us of this brokenness (e.g. here and here).

Now I applaud them once again.  The moral high ground is in practice ambiguous and impractical: that is all part of Blair’s terrible legacy.  And it is far too broken to apply sticking plaster as the Tories now seem to want, or to kick back into the long grass as Labour are desperate to do.  How better to try and combat those things than by provoking the constitutional crisis that’s been inevitable since Blair?  How better to do that than for Scottish MPs to highlight unfairness to the English?

And their choice of issue looks like a stroke of genius, encompassing not just (inevitably) the Westlothian Question, but also the Barnett Formula.  The latter is of course one of the complexities that renders both their former moral high ground and the Tories sticking plaster hopelessly impractical.

Dodgy Data

Oxfam grabs a headline with a report telling us the richest 1% will own half the world’s wealth in 2016.

As with many reports coming from lobbying organisations, this one provokes scepticism.  Not outright dismissal, but a “really“, and a need to know what they’re actually measuring before I can treat it as meaningful.  It also provokes mild curiosity: how rich do you have to be to be in that 1% (not least because I have a sneaking suspicion it includes a great many people who our chattering classes don’t consider at all rich).

The Oxfam report itself is a mere twelve pages and disappointingly light on data.  If there’s any attempt to substantiate the headline claim then I missed it.  But googling “World Wealth” finds this report, which tells me total world wealth is projected to be $64.3 trillion in 2016.  OK, that’ll do for a ballpark calculation.  $64.3 trillion between 7 billion people is an average of about $9k per head.  If the top 1% own half of it, that’s $32.15 trillion between 70 million people: an average of $459k per head within that top 1%.

That’s £300k.  There must be a millions in Blighty with that much in housing wealth alone (and others correspondingly locked out).  Not to mention in other high-cost countries around Europe, America, Asia, and I expect even a few in the third world.  All above the average of that fabled top 1%.

But of course housing isn’t our only asset.  In Blighty and around the developed world, a big chunk of our wealth takes the form of Entitlements.  One such in the UK is the Basic State Pension, which is worth £200k, and even the poorest Brit is entitled to it.  It seems you can be in that top 1% without being rich enough to buy a house in Blighty!

Hmmm.  Oh dear.  Maybe Oxfam’s spin isn’t really very meaningful at all.  Except perhaps to highlight how incredibly egalitarian we are within Blighty – and probably all developed countries – once you include the effect of government actions.

I won’t be going to FOSDEM

Belgian cities full of trigger-happy armed troops, with orders to shoot to kill, and a recent track record of doing so.

In reality, probably a lower risk than regular vehicular traffic, even for those of us with an ample beard and a big backpack.  Though surely a far higher risk than the supposed terrorist threat.  But that level of security theatre is hardly welcoming to visitors.  Since I have the choice, I’m staying away, and withholding the support that might be inferred from my travelling to Brussels for a weekend in the near future.

It’s a bit of a shame: I missed last year’s FOSDEM too due to family commitments.  Maybe next year?

[edit] That last sentence is a bit disingenuous, insofar as it suggests this is a big change of plan.  In reality I hadn’t decided one way or the other.  I’ve been doing that of late: I only got around to signing up for ApacheCon in Budapest the day before it started!

Je suis Voltaire

David Cameron

You disgusting hypocrite

It should go without saying, but let’s say it anyway: I join the rest of the world in condemning the terrorist attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

I’m not familiar with the publication, and all I know is what’s been reported in the media coverage of the attack.  I’m sure they’ve published offensive things, no doubt often for very good reasons.  Maybe sometimes also gratuitously so, which would be indefensible unless with an apology for poor judgement.  But even if they were completely wrong, nothing justifies gunning them down!

Here in Blighty we were treated to a clip of our beloved Prime Minister expressing sentiments with which we can all agree.  Alas, some of his fine words sit uneasily with his government’s less-than-fine actions.  What I found utterly jarring and what prompts me to comment were his words: “… and we stand squarely for free speech …“.

Ahem …

No you don’t: you have demonstrated that you stand squarely against free speech.  On your government’s watch, people have been imprisoned for having the wrong book, or for being an arse on twitter (the latter looks like a close analogy to the very Free Speech you claim to defend).  Your government shows no signs of rolling back Blair’s police state, but rather looks to extend it, and our culture has moved so far into totalitarianism that a supposedly-serious documentary programme this week on the BBC can be outraged by free speech where it exists elsewhere in the world!

OK, dragging some poor sod through our courts isn’t the same as gunning them down.  That more genteel and sophisticated option isn’t available to private individuals, so while the difference is real, it isn’t a simple case of civilisation vs barbarity.

What a hypocrite!

p.s. There’s another case been in the news recently.  Some footballer who’s been to prison, and whose attempts to return to work have been thwarted by a successful campaign of terror.  That is, real terror: it seems prospective employers have been scared off by credible threats of extreme violence.  Now that situation (of credible threats) is precisely where the State should have a legitimate interest in taking action against the culprit(s).  Will they?

Where do I find lost files and mail settings on Mac?

OK, today the macbook lost my mail.

That is to say, instead of Mac’s mail client launching normally, showing me my folders and connecting to my servers, it gives me the setup wizard.  It won’t even let me bypass the wretched wizard and launch the mailer.

OK, I haven’t lost anything irretrievable (except perhaps some long-forgotten drafts), but I’d really rather not do battle with that wizard again: so much frustrating guesswork to find the settings that’ll talk to imap and imaps servers.  Are my settings somewhere I can retrieve them?

It’s at this point I realise how hopelessly irrelevant my Unix knowledge is when it comes to a Mac.  There’s no lost+found directory.  “ls -la ~ |grep -i mail” (and variants) turn up nothing.  Neither does a look in Mac’s /Applications/ turn up anything that looks remotely promising.

More frustratingly, neither does Google.  My attempts to google this question just turn up screenfuls of how to do things using the Mail GUI.  The same mail client that refuses to launch without the ritual incantation of the setup wizard.  Grrrr …

Dear lazyweb, Anyone know where in the mac filesystem I might look?  MacOS announces itself as 10.7.5.

The apple in winter

I know I’ve blogged before about the macbook’s dead wifi.  That’s now a worked-around problem: it generally serves as a desktop-substitute at the treadmill, where it can use wired networking.  And if I want to use it elsewhere, I can connect it with USB+4G.

I don’t think i’ve ever troubled the blogosphere with a lesser but nevertheless very annoying problem: the macbook’s inability to hibernate in winter.  I set it to sleep in the evening, then when I come back in the morning it’s unresponsive to anything on the keyboard, or any mouse click.  Sometimes the screen is screwed too; other times it’s a perfectly normal but just unresponsive password screen.  Nothing short of powering it down and hard reboot will revive it.  That’s both frustratingly slow, and sits very poorly with the number of applications – particularly browser tabs – I keep alive.  Past experience tells me this problem goes away with the warmer weather in spring, but not for quite a while.

Any tips for using a macbook in winter?  Keeping certain apps open will prevent it sleeping so it remains warm and active indefinitely, but that goes against my principle of not wasting more electricity than a standby-state for overnight or longer periods.