Monday, April 29, 2013

IT, as the government sees it

Today marks the start of government's new panacea for ending all the arguments surrounding unemployment benefits (Universal Credit scheme).
There has been a lot of argument, pro and con, over this new plan (when everything around you is failing, get a new plan!). The scheme appears to build on the system of tax credits as introduced by the last government which is designed to ensure you don't end up with less money by taking up employment, compared to what you may have been receiving when unemployed.
Personally, while I can see some merit in that idea, I think it is really a sneaky system of rewarding employers who don't want to pay a decent living wage.
Whatever, the scheme comes into operation today in Ashton-Under-Lyne in the form of a pilot.
I have no idea of the financial aspects of this new scheme but one thing about it which sticks out like a sore thumb is the "Claim on-line only" rule.
Let's imagine someone who has been working on poverty level wages for some time and can not afford broadband costs etc. Are they now expected to borrow money in order to make a claim? No, says the government, use your local library who usually will have internet facilities.
Would that, by any chance, be one of these local governments who have had to suffer savage budget cuts and the same ones that, in order to accommodate these budget cuts, have been closing libraries left, right and sideways?
As the scheme is rolled out nationally over the next couple of years, will the whole unemployment/social security thing end up being on-line? If so, this would surely lead to the closure of what Job Centres that still exist?
Still, the government persists in this blind faith in their mismanaged IT systems.
Remember the National Identity Card IT fiasco? Cost billions in IT costs before the government admitted it was useless and abandoned it.

The NHS has a lot of faith in their IT systems, hoping eventually to join up the entire nation from your local GP to the leading specialist hospitals. The theory is that all the necessary data concerning your health will be available at the click of a mouse to whichever health care official needs it.
Well, here's an example of how well the NHS IT system works.
This week, I received a letter from the NHS offering me an appointment to go and get my Aorta scanned to see if I was hiding any aneurysms. A grand idea.
Except the introductory letter starts off by explaining that this screening is being offered to "all men in their 65th year". As maths currently works, my "65th year" would have been that period between my 64th & 65th birthdays. So my 65th year ended almost 1 year ago. Another publication included in the post was a note telling me how this is offered for men approaching the age of 65.
How did they decide they should send me this letter and arrange the appointment for me?
I would guess their IT system had run through a database, seeking all males born at a certain time. This would then spit out the names and addresses and generate the letters, appointments etc. Their IT system obviously wasn't smart enough to "do the maths". Maybe their boffins don't understand that a person is in their 1st year of life until their 1st birthday arrives. They then enter their 2nd year etc. etc.
Worrying isn't it?
It doesn't stop there though. I recently and reluctantly had to go and see a GP about a mysterious swelling in my leg. The swelling was in the calf but while talking to the GP, I pointed out, more than once, how I had had a mysterious skin discolouration and a a change in tecture of the skin on the shin of the same leg. When this discolouration had begin to fade (after 4 or 5 years), the swelling at the rear of the leg appeared. Did the GP take any notice? Nah!
He arranged for me to have blood tests and an X-Ray. Then he had a sudden change of mind, realising he wasn't sure what sort of blood tests were needed! Once he made up his mind on this, I went off for the tests. A couple of weeks later, I phoned the surgery to say I was concerned that I had  heard nothing from them. "Oh, we don't tell you, you have to contact us to find out the results".
I see. So I went back and saw a different GP who told me there was nothing in the blood test results. She came up with a new theory and sent me to the local hospital for a chest X-Ray. The lady who took the X-Ray told me the pictures would be scrutinised by a specialist who would pass on to my GP surgery any findings and the surgery would contact me to let me know when the results were back.
That was a couple of months ago and I have heard nothing. I know what the response would be if I contacted them; "Oh, you should have called us". How would I know when to call when the hospital themselves couldn't say when they would be done?
What has this to do with their IT systems? Simple really. Spending approximately £12 Billion a year on IT systems, they could simply send an email or electronically generate a form for transmission to my surgery etc. The IT system in the surgery would flag an inbound update relating to patient X and tell the lazy cow behind the desk to call this patient.
Too bloody simple! They expect patients to telephone on a daily basis to see if they have any information. And, when told "not yet", to telephone again and again. Unless, of course the patient doesn't have a phone. What happens then?
If they are unwell, are they to be expected to get a bus just to arrive at the surgery only to be told to try again tomorrow?
Or maybe they should get someone else to do the inquiring on their behalf? We know how that conversation would run; "I can't divulge that information. Data Protection ...blah blah".
Maybe the NHS should leave their IT systems to manage the huge salaries of their "managers" and allow people to manage patient data.
NHS, DfWP or Home Office, the government's record is tragic when it comes to IT.
Sort yourselves out and stop throwing away the taxpayers' hard earned money!

Sleepwalking to Syria

Well, here we go again.
First we had the great Iraq WMD hoodwink.
Remember that? "Eye Rack has thousands of WMD and they can hit the UK in 45 minutes" blah blah.
Followed, many months/years and thousands of deaths by "Well, perhaps the intelligence was wrong".
And then the "If we kick out the Taliban from Afghanistan, we can capture Bin Laden and all the word's problems will go away".
Followed years later by "We really ought to get out of Afghanistan (because we are not winning)".
Then, there was Tunisia. "Hoorah! Tunisia has had a free and fair vote and elected a democratically chosen government".
Followed by "What do you mean, they elected an Islamist government???"
And then there was Libya.
"Now that's an easy target. Let's send in the cruise missiles and finish this all off".
Some time later, we have total anarchy in that country with grateful Libyans showing their gratitude by desecrating the graves of British soldiers.
Egypt? Yep. Same old, same old.
"It is time to ditch our best friend, Mubarak, and pretend to support democracy in Egypt."
Followed by "Oh shit! They have put the Muslim Brotherhood in power. Now what?"
(As I write, I hear Cameron offering weasel words on Radio 4 about having "learned lessons from Iraq...."
Total bullshit!

So, what about Syria?
A quick look at the history of that country will show how it was a fragmented, disorganised collection of  tribal and religious factions, all too intent on fighting each other, rather than trying to make a go of their new country.
In the end, Bashar Al Assad decided enough was enough and pulled the country together, using a mixture of sensible political decisions and some ear thumping. He ended up with a country that seemed to manage OK; some factions accepted that what he was doing was for the greater goo and there were a few who didn't like what he was doing, generally because he was preventing them from dipping their sticky fingers into the till.
Nevertheless, he did manage to achieve some sort of peace and stability.
When he died, his son took over and he began to ease up on some of the stricter aspects of his father's government. With typical Arab perverse logic, this caused people to kick over the traces and he was obliged to bring back some of the draconian measures he had been hoping to relax.
So, as could be expected, other factions protested this action.
Well, you can't please all the people all the time... etc
And so we arrive at the situation today. The many factions who want the largest slice of the pie for themselves began an armed insurrection, financed and armed by "friendly" governments in that part of the world. They are doing this for purely religious reasons; Assad's Alawi sect is a sort of watered down Shia sect, while those governments supporting the insurgents are Sunni. They are not brave enough to take on their larger Shia neighbours in Iraq & Iran so they are using proxies (suckers) to do their work in Syria.

And we come eventually to the governments of the Western powers.
They have been beating an anti Assad drum for many months now. Today, they have increased the stakes, accusing Syria of using Sarin gas against its own citizens.
Personally, I think this is complete twaddle; from what I have seen of the "victims" on an on-line video, they do not appear to be suffering from this or any other nerve gas. They were allegedly frothing at the mouth. And that was it. Well, if you are afflicted by nerve gas, you begin to lose control of bodily functions one by one. Muscular movement becomes uncontrolled, the victim becomes incontinent, losing control of bladder and bowel functions. This is quickly followed by a loss of control of the involuntary functions such as breathing and heart beat. Once you lose control of these, death soon follows.
From what I can gather from the news, in the recent alleged attack, one person was killed but this was hardly surprising as an artillery shell had dropped on this person's house. I could not find any reports of people dying in the clinics following the frothing at the mouth.
So, this no doubt explains the reticence of the US government when it comes to allegations of nerve gas use by the Syrian government. Basically, they don't know. But this is not stopping them from ramping up the propaganda war, either in Washington or in London.
I would suggest that the frothing at the mouth occurs more frequently in Washington and London!
Our 'leaders' are positively straining at the leash to have a go at Syria but are being held back by their own history over the Iraq fiasco, when they were caught red-handed using bogus evidence to start a protracted campaign of killing as many Iraqis as possible. So why is the US so keen to have a go at Syria? What did the Syrians do to upset them? Well, nothing really, other than being allied with Russia and Iran, oh, and standing up to Israel. In typical bully fashion, the Americans are saying "OK, I won't hit you because I am scared you will hit me back. So I will smack your mate instead".
And they also really should develop a better long term memory; Iraq was only the most recent war started on the basis of trumped up charges. Who remembers the invasion of Grenada or the Gulf of Tonkin incident?
During my time in Aden, despite the UK government having agreed a timetable for independence for that colony, the US government was the biggest  cheerleader for the anti-British terrorist groups in the region, maintaining a constant clamour at the U.N. against British 'Imperialism' (soon to be replaced by American imperialism).

Anyway, back to Syria and the uncertain future of that nation. This week, I heard an interview on the BBC with a person from the Al Nusra at a terrorist training camp in Jordan. During the interview, he was quite clear about his ambitions for Syria; he wants to take over the country and turn it into a rigidly Islamist state, operating totally under Sharia law.
Smashing! Just the job! Just what the world needs is another loony tunes nation.
This group is openly pro-Al Qaeda and could be seen as their proxy in the region. They are also gathering in Lebanon, presumably to continue their mischief in that unfortunate country.
Is that what the west needs? More uproar, killing and misery in that region? No. I don't think so, but that is exactly the recipe the Washington & London idiots are facing. The problem is; they either do not understand this or they are hell bent on maintaining instability and strife around the Middle East.
How long, I wonder, before we discover that the US and perhaps the UK, have been secretly arming (directly or indirectly) Al Qaeda's surrogates in the region? Remember, they have form here, having armed Bin Laden and his oppos in Afghanistan before it all went wrong.
As I said at the start, "Here we go again"!

Monday, April 08, 2013


It isn't their day, is it?
Minutes after having a rant about the adolescent idiot "working" for Kent Police, I was re-reading the news about the WPC with Norfolk Police who is suing a burglary victim because she tripped over a kerb, and discovered the following:
The same WPC has previously sued her own police force because she hurt a leg when a Panda car in which she was a passenger, left the road and rolled. Why not sue the plod that was driving the car? After all, it was he who was responsible for keeping the car on the road.
Possible answer; He doesn't have any money but Norfolk Police do.
But, it gets worse:

A detective inspector in Northumberland sued sued his force for £7,000 because "cannabis fumes caused him to start snoring, causing problems in his marriage". And he won!

An inspector in Sussex sued a landowner after he was butted and suffered broken ribs when a herd of cows had a go at him. He claimed the landowner hadn't done enough to protect walkers. What about the fact the whole thing arose from his walking his dog which pissed off the cows? If he was attacked by a herd of cows, it is reasonable to assume he must have been in a field. I wonder of he ever figured out that most fields, well probably all of them, have a fence. A fence is a device that ensures cows stay on one side and people stay on the other. Still, he got £10,000!

A PC with Grampian police sued for sore wrists! He claimed that handcuffs, used during a training course, caused extreme pain and red weals on his wrists. Suing for "extreme pain and subsequent depression", he won £108,000!

A WPC sued her employer, Lothian and Borders Police for £500,000 (yes, that's half a million quid!). What was her problem, you may wonder. Well, she claimed a riot training exercise left her with "a fear of sirens".
A copper afraid of sirens?

Looking at the last case, I can predict it won't be long before we get soldiers suing the MoD because those rifles make a big bang, or fire fighters claiming that excessive use of water has caused them to develop hydrophobia!

Finally, referring back to the Norfolk WPC and the kerb incident, think of this:
She tripped and fell over a kerb. Given that she claims she was injured and had difficulty walking, would she have had to crawl back to her car? And, if so, doesn't that make her a kerb crawler?

I'm off now to Basingstoke police station to see if there isn't a discarded crisp packet I can trip over to help supplement my pension.

Police Yoof Commissioner

A few days back I was amazed to hear an interview on Radio 4 with some 16 year old girl who had just been appointed Britain's first Youth Police & Crime Commissioner.
Amazed and annoyed!
I know I could be accused of being a grumpy old codger but I can not see how or why Kent Police need a young person to advise them on how to police. I am guessing here but I would reckon Kent Police have hundreds of thousands man hours of experience in dealing with wrong doing by both old and young in their county, yet some bird brained idiot saw fit to hire a yob to advise the police on their dealings with youth.
And I mean "hire", by the way. This schoolgirl is to be paid £15,000 a year to "advise" the police!
I think someone ought to report to Kent Police a case of a missing plot! Get a crime reference number and get the bobbies out on the streets to search for it because it has definitely gone missing.
While being annoyed during this interview on Radio 4, I couldn't help but allow another of my prejudices to creep in; what kind of parent would name their brat "Paris"? Having made my own assumptions (rightly or wrongly), I then went on to form an opinion of what kind of brat the parents may raise.
Well, it turns out the old codger's prejudices were not far off the mark after all.
It has been revealed by the Mail on Sunday that, prior to her being employed by the gullible electorate of Kent, she used Twitter a lot. Quite a lot, in fact. They discovered entries made by her going back a few years and they were not pretty.
The most recent tweet appears to have been one she made 3 weeks before accepting this non-job in which she said "I don't condone violence but I'm so pleased that my brother thumped the the fat little ****". I suppose, using the number of asterisks, we can guess what was the missing word!

A description of herself that she added said "I'm either fun, friendly & inclusive when I'm drunk or I'm an anti-social, racist, sexist embarrassing arsehole often it's the latter". (She would be a good fit for the police then).
I am not going to list all the homophobic and pro-drugs messages they uncovered but it is a pretty sickening read.

At the time of her appointment, the silly cow responsible, Ann Barnes, Kent PCC, said "I'm delighted Paris will be working alongside me to build a bridge between the world of young people and policing" plus a few other bits of drivel.
Bet you're feeling a bit silly now then?

Yesterday, in a sort of re-run of last week's broadcast, I was gratified to hear the stupid girl crying her eyes out while trying to plead her case that she really isn't racist, homophobic etc etc.
Now shut up and go and when you leave this new non-job, hopefully very soon, you will take the stupid cow who thought it a wonderful idea to hire you, along with the Chief Inspector from Kent Police who had a hand in the interviewing and hiring process.