Short Shorts

Short shorts

Why does everyone prefer mobile phones these days?

27/10/2020. I used to ask this question repeatedly a few years ago. I don’t do so any more, mainly because I’ve found that they are the best way to reach the person you need. And if you want to send a quick text message you can, something that few people set up on a landline phone.

There’s also another reason, more pertinent to the journalists amongst us. In that it is far easier to install illegal monitoring and bugging software in order to listen in to someone on a landline than it is on a mobile. Most people who are tech-savvy are aware of this weakness, which may be another reason for the decline in landline use.

There may be other factors also. I am only offering my own experience, and much of that in another European country. But I think the traditional landline-service suppliers are failing to deal with a real weakness, and losing market share as a result.

So, you likes of BT, Belgacom, Deutsche Telecom and the rest, if you want to retain your market position, do something to strengthen the prevention of easy illegal tapping of phone lines by every political subversive in the country, e.g. like alarming the phone cabinets in the street for example. Oh, and make it possible to send and receive SMS messages by default, not as an optional extra.

Otherwise more people will do as I do, and simply give up on the landline. Not that it matters that much to me, but I’d have thought so-called high-tech companies could see the problem and deal with it.

Print journalism dead? So are the distribution networks

18/12/2020. Journalists often bemoan the fact that the print press is dead, and that no-one buys newspapers any more. I’m not sure which is cause and which effect, but in parts of the country it is practically impossible to find a local newsagent able to deliver.

In an extended bicycle exploration yesterday of north-east Oxford, I failed to find a single newsagent within a mile radius of central Headington. Five years ago there were at least three; now the only one is the shop in the John Radcliffe 2 hospital, but this agent will not handle deliveries. If you widen the radius to 2.5 miles, then you can find one obliging traditional supplier of news and sweetmeets on the High Street near to Queens Lane. But on enquiry it seems that, ‘Headington is too far for our paper boys’.

North-east Oxford then is a news vacuum as far as traditional print media are concerned. It is shaming but not so shocking, as mainstream publishers now put the emphasis on quantity (of articles) rather than quality of content. And if most people are savvy enough to get the headline news on their smartphones, why should they buy a newspaper when it is no longer news?

Yet the point of the print media used to be the pleasure of reading an article or analysis by a good journalist, and having it on your breakfast table for maximum convenience. Most of the industry seems to have forgotten this. And if there’s no-one buying, then there’s no point in distributing either. So does an industry generating the instant ‘clickable’ story, with no background, no local knowledge and no analysis, destroy reader loyalty, undermine its distribution network and eventually cut off its whole raison d’etre. Not so surprising when the final collapse arrives.


Darwin’s Law in action – diesel drivers

11/11/2019. It’s been a while since I posted here (clearly), but I couldn’t help but be amused by something I saw today. Young woman driver, I estimate in her 20s/30s, rolls up to a house in Headington (an Oxford suburb), in a big old Volvo XC90 of the early 2000s era.

So the engine is left running while she goes inside to fetch her friends, two young women of a similar age, they climb in and drive off. The Volvo, apart from being way too large for Oxford streets, was also one of the old and dirty diesel variety – I could smell it from the upstairs window. Why she was driving such a polluting old vehicle in a medieval city like Oxford I do not know. Maybe she was just ignorant, even though I thought that everyone knew by now that diesels are bad for your health.

But it does amaze me how ignorant some people are about the risks of air pollution. Especially considering that even when I was young (some time ago now), it was generally accepted as courteous that you didn’t leave your engine running while stationary in the streets of Oxford, a town at the foot of the Thames Valley that is all too vulnerable to dangerous levels of air pollution.

Or maybe she knew and just didn’t care. Which means she obviously didn’t think much about her own future, and the increased risk of cancer and ill-health that driving such vehicles imposes, not only to those around, but also to her and her fellow passengers.

I shook my head sadly. It just goes to show that Darwin’s theory of evolution was right. Human beings are just glorified animals, and as in the animal kingdom the ignorant and the stupid will kill themselves off first. It is just a process of nature.


Sajid Javid – Britain’s next Prime Minister?

Update 20/10/2020. Oh how wrong I was then. Who new how powerful the Bojo cult was going to be!

04/06/2018. Very interesting to hear UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid today on BBC Radio 4. With the BBC these days being such an obvious government mouthpiece, he is clearly being groomed for the top job. He speaks well, says the right things, and gives good answers to questions. Come the next election, the Tories will have trouble finding a candidate better-equipped to stand against Jeremy Corbyn, who is slowly gaining ground in the polls. Theresa May is unfortunately seen as weak, many people cannot stand Gove or Johnson, and who else is in the public eye? And present Tory policies could have come straight out of the book of New Labour!

So I think we are being prepared for the promotion of Sajid Javid as leadership candidate for the next election. He ticks all the boxes – business friendly (ex-banker), capable (Home Secretary), sensible-seeming, and will get the Asian vote which at present teeters uncomfortably around voting Corbyn. I predict Labour will have a tough battle on its hands come the election – Javid is in many ways the perfect candidate, and he benefits from having the ultimate qualification, being a (stated) true-blue Tory. Watch out Jeremy!
Note. Unfortunately it seems the Daily Wail beat me to this story – they predicted it as far back as 2014?

European Commission preparing EU legislation to protect whistleblowers

05/03/2018. Vera Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equity, speaking to the LIBE Committee in the European Parliament, 05 March 2018.

She said, speaking of the recent killing of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in Slovakia, that she considers the rule of law as one of the things that really matter, not only because (if the allegations of EU funding fraud turn out to be true) it is taxpayers’ money which is involved, but also because this is a matter of citizens’ trust in the EU.

If the case is not dealt with satisfactorily, she said, then it would provide additional support for the establishment by 2020 of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which could try cases such as financial crime, including fraud and corruption, in the EU.

Countries such as Poland and Hungary should reconsider joining the EPPO, she said, since this is about a common goal of combatting fraud and corruption with EU money.

And she continued, “We have to be good in establishing the rule of law, we have to be good in establishing the EPPO, and we have to be much better in protecting honest people, including the journalists, but also whistleblowers, and I can only inform you today that we are finalising now the proposal for protecting whistleblowers, which will be legislation, which will be horizontal, and which I hope will increase the chances for honest people, in case they see some wrongdoing which is detrimental to public interest, to come and report and to have guaranteed protection. I think that this is a very, very important plan.”

EU Commission planning legislation to permit cross-border access to electronic data

05/03/2018. “… the Commission will soon adopt a proposal on cross-border access to electronic evidence.” Vera Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equity, speaking to the LIBE Committee in the European Parliament, 05 March 2018. The proposal is driven by requests from European law enforcement authorities. The long-term implications for privacy and citizens’ rights within the EU are less clear.

Print news dead? Some countries simply manage better

11/12/2017. I’m so tired of hearing the constant claims that print news is dead, and everyone wants to read online. It’s simply not true! What most people want is to have news and current affairs available in a convenient way. If that convenience is a printed paper at the breakfast table (as it used to be across Britain in the past), then that is what most would go for (it could also be radio, but that is another story). So while news corporations desperately try to shrink costs (and usually end up cutting their own throats by slashing journalist staff), they abjectly fail to do what they are supposed to do – go out and sell the paper, and ensure its distribution network. Personally I would sack such so-called managers. In some countries they manage these things rather better, and the print news sector thrives.
BTW, I note the Guardian is next to impossible to obtain in Brussels, and even when possible it is from the previous day.

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