Fandango’s Provocative Question (11 November 2020)

For today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

Which is more important to you, privacy or security? How much privacy are you willing to give up for security?

Okay, this has got to be a split.

The obvious example is online. If you buy something from Amazon, you’re going to have to share your address with them, else your shiny new toy won’t get delivered. That’s a flippant example but it does show that, under certain circumstances, we need to be prepared to give some things away. A less obvious example might be when we go to the doctor’s surgery and they ask us for our DoB again. The problem exists anyway, computers just amplify it.

At the other end of the scale, people who are scammed invariably say “I didn’t think it could happen to me”, so there is obviously a need to be aware of how much information we give out inadvertently.

So, whereabouts along that curve do we fit? I guess that all depends on how adventurous we feel.

In terms of “big brother” security, I see two aspects to this: (i) harvesting the data, and (ii) converting that data into knowledge.

That the “knowledge” is invariably a bad thing (for the person whose data is harvested) I assume is a given.

Harvesting data happens, I’m sure, in bulk nowadays. Every government, every big organisation. But I don’t think many of them are any good at actually using the data. An example of somebody who was good at using it is somebody like Cambridge Analytica, but.. governments? I doubt it. Cambridge Analytica would have attracted the best brains and offered the best salaries (even if they weren’t so bothered about ethics) and the public sector just can’t compete.

Incidentally, did you notice how far-Eastern countries have not had so much of a second wave of COVID? Here’s Taiwan:

compared to the UK:

Would anyone care to speculate why that is? My theory is that this is a privacy thing – Eastern cultures are far more willing to accept state authority (and therefore give up some privacy) than western cultures. When their governments want to do something, people tend to fall in line. Heck, we elect free-marketeers as leaders so their whole ethos is to get economies trading again, even at the expense of more infections.

But I’ve been known to be wrong before.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (4 November 2020)

For today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

What do you think about what happened in the United States yesterday? Are you shocked or surprised at the outcome, if it’s even known as you read this? Or are the results of the election what you expected? And finally, are you happy or unhappy?

The last time I looked, when I first got up, the result still wasn’t in. But the result doesn’t really matter to me – what matters is that so many American people share Trump’s vision of the world. That will be the same, regardless of the result.

It’s not uncommon, on here at any rate, to hear quite a unified voice from US bloggers – there might not be absolute alignment but people are certainly pointed in the same general direction. The election shows that, however vocal people from America might be on something, half of their countrymen most probably disagree. So it serves as a reminder that their voices only represent a certain fraction of US opinion. I mean, that is true anyway, but the election serves as a reminder. The UK saw the same with Brexit – people could make a terrific amount of noise about their particular cause, but when push came to shove, they were in the minority.

The saving grace for me, it doesn’t really matter – in fact I think Americans are prone to over-estimate just how much the rest of the world cares. It’s disappointing – I think that the only credible result would have been one in which Trump’s ethos was decisively rejected and he has clearly done better than that – but it isn’t going to change life, not here at any rate.

Suggestion Box (2)

Here’s another suggestion. I’m on a roll this week.

When somebody appears on an advert, I think that the advert should say whether they are an actor or not. Quite simply, when somebody says “buy x” or “do y“, I think we should know whether they are being paid to say what the’re saying.

I don’t so much have a problem with commercial adverts, because it is obvious (to me) that these people must be actors (although what might be obvious to one person might not be obvious to another). But when somebody speaks on a particular theme, perhaps as part of a political broadcast, or from the government, say, and gives the impression they they are just a concerned citizen, I’d like to know whether that is true or not. Or when somebody comes on and speaks for a charity, I’d like to know whether they are being paid to speak for that charity. If the charity is using that image to tug on our heartstrings.

The only safe assumption currently is that anybody who says anything is being paid to do so, but this should be stated explicitly.

written for Weekly Prompts Weekly Challenge of 24 October 2020, Suggestion Box.

Suggestion Box

In the UK, there is already the concept of a minimum wage. It is there, in law, expressed as an hourly rate.

This minimum wage is something which has already been accepted as “the smallest amount that somebody can live on”. That’s why it is called “minimum”. The concept of a minimum wage is a done deal, it’s been in law for twenty years.

Why, then, do our furlough schemes pay people only a fraction of that?

Surely, if the minimum is the minimum, then it should be the minimum?

written for Weekly Prompts Weekly Challenge of 24 October 2020, Suggestion Box.

The Man in the Paper Mask

For today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

Do you blog anonymously? Why or why not?

I should start by saying, “yes, my name is Mister Bump”, and wouldn’t that be an entertaining post? No, if you hadn’t guessed, I blog anonymously, for specific reasons. I quite frequently trot these out so I should be able to be quick.

First of all, anonymous means name, address, and DoB. Things that would lead somebody to me. I think it’s useful to give out some context, so I have mentioned all of these, but pretty vaguely.

So, reasons for blogging anonymously are:

  • to protect my identity. I’m not comfortable with somebody turning up on my doorstep. “That’d be too creepy”, you say? I bet anybody who ever got stalked thought that, too.
  • to protect my family. Same thing, only more. Anybody who worked me out could work out who my family were. Creepy? See (1).
  • I thought, when I started the blog, that it would put certain subjects off the table. I wouldn’t want my wife reading about my morning exploits with the neighbour, say. As it happens, the neighbour prefers the post lady instead!

Seriously, when I started, I thought there might be personal things I might talk about on the blog, and be uncomfortable with my friends/family finding out. That hasn’t happened. Sadly, I am an open book. I talked about the shit with my daughter once, but that has been said to her face, anyway. No secrets. I self-censor.

  • The last thing, not personal, but releasing your identity is like getting a tattoo – once it’s out there, it’s out there for ever. There’s no going back. With anonymity, at least you have the flexibility to change your mind later.

Longer than I’d hoped.