delicious bookmarks recovered

I found my delicious bookmarks, and decided to remove the easily identified as gone away and expose the tags, on the way, I removed those without descriptions. The links came from from ~3525 to ~1800. I was fascinated by del.icio.us when I first discovered it, and used it as a micro blog. This is how it now looks in wordpress, but I need to put the anchor text, descriptions & tags through an ascii to html converter. The code is on github, in repo called delicious tools. The next stage is to allow them to be queried using the tags (or not, if I think it's worth it). The wordpress plugin on broken links continues to identify those that are broken, and I usually unlink them. If interested, 'read more' …

Fallout from a Road Trip

Fallout from a Road Trip

The press have been full of the story of Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham (from London) while he was isolating due to CV19 infection. “Led by Donkeys” have their own inimitable take on this; they took it to Cummings’ London home. However, he has been supported by various members of the Cabinet, including the Attorney General, probably in an act of prejuidice, in the legal sense, and capped off last night, by Boris Johnson who took the daily press conference, for the first time in a while and, not for the first time told the nation to fuck off. It seems that what Cummings did is responsible and legal. Johnson also restated that the Govt. planned to re-open the schools, starting with the youngest, against the will of most parents and most school workers. Johnson’s press conference was followed by an extraordinary hostile tweet from the Civil Service twitter account, allowing us to draw the conclusion that Johnson is “arrogant & offensive”; I mean it’s not exactly news.

What the Tory Government fail to recognise is the elitism and arrogance of this behaviour. A number of twitter users have expressed their anger and sadness that they were able to see, visit and comfort their dying relatives, even when living much closer than Cummings’ 500 mile round trip. It took me a while to realise how important it is to spend some time with the dying to properly say goodbye. As a child, I had been protected from family deaths and had thus learned not to see them as important events; I even almost missed saying good bye to my mother, through choices of my own, and can now see how important the visits to my dying father in the ICU were. My solidarity goes out to all those who have lost relatives and others precious to them during this crisis, I know that my grief would have been harder to overcome, if I had not been able to see my Dad although I only know this looking back helped by the insights and grief expressed by those writing today. The grief will hurt for a longer time then if they’d been able to visit them. I am sorry for your loss. …

Politics matters, even against a disease

Politics matters, even against a disease

It would be odd not to comment on the CV19 pandemic. For various reasons I have been looking back at my blog and remember at one stage it was a semi-public diary. Because it’s my blog, this is quite abstract and very political, I hope that my readers are keeping safe with their families.

It would seem that the worst of it may be over in the UK, provided that there isn’t a second wave. The best, most understandable charts are held at the FT and I have posted a screen grab of the their chart as at 19th April 2020. These charts and the Govt. numbers underestimate the deaths cased by CV-19 because they only count those that died in hospital; those who dies in care homes or at home are not counted.

The figures are probably double the official ones.

 

Within the Labour Party the fight for the tone of Starmer’s Party continues with some, including, it seems, him saying that we need to be a responsible opposition, which it seems to mean is not to oppose. The role of Labour in Parliament must be to act in the interests of people’s lives and safety; the Govt’s response to the COVID19 outbreak must be held to account, and where wrong opposed. The lack of preparedness, the lack of speed, the lack of PPE, the failure to test, all in breach of WHO guidance, the stupid exceptionalism in refusing to co-operate with EU & WHO are all failures, and the constant lying are things that as an opposition we should be challenging and where it makes a difference seeking to get changed.

The lack of tests and lack of hospital staff PPE is a continuing disgrace, to which there are simple answers. NHS Staff are dying. At least the Tories have postponed their Immigration Bill, but the current Brexit transition laws on immigration and citizenship are driving EU citizens back home, which is critically effecting the NHS ability to operate.

Much of the so-called economic security measures are problematic. Firstly, for the wage subsidy there is too much discretion left to the employers, whether to declare work essential and whether to apply for furlough subsidy. Firms can only get the subsidy if the workers are not working; instead of furlough, some people are having their hours & money reduced which is causing real hardship. People, even vulnerable people, have no say in whether they have to work i.e. if their work is essential. This is all compounded by the shit level of statutory sick pay, which the companies often avoid by using bogus personal service contracts. Some companies fear that the lockdown and consequent slump will cause their companies to fail and have started redundancy programmes, where again the statutory minimum is unsatisfactory for the low paid, often being less than their notice entitlements, and certainly less than their bosses’s. (The notice period for consultation was reduced from 90 days to 45 by the Tories).  The support for the self employed/personal service companies is weak and the paperwork requirements onerous as is the furlough scheme. Not the least of its half arsed provisions is that this is only available to companies with a three year trading record and it only protects the average profit over that period; so it’s a bit amusing for those that have been hiding their income in a bloated expense budget, but less so for those with marginal profitability or companies started more recently.

Other factors increasing the misery is that Universal Credit is appallingly low, and there is a five week waiting period for it. This is a problem well known to anti-poverty campaigners, the only upside is that a bunch of people who have never considered themselves as possible benefit claimants are now learning what hostile environment means as they have to put themselves through the degrading application process.

Another under considered fact is that the Courts are hard to keep safe, they’re old and under cleaned and they have reduced their capacity s a response to CV19. This means that those unfairly dismissed will have difficulty getting justice as their representatives and the courts struggle to adjust with the extra work and reduced capacity caused by lockdown. The Tribunal notification deadlines should be extended.

Another group of workers who will suffer are those with less than two years service who will be denied any redundancy payments or any protection against unfair dismissal and will thus be more likely to succumb to threats to make them comply with reduction of hours or made to work in unsafe environments. Since the lockdown is to isolate the disease, these failures risk everyone’s health.

In the long term, we should be looking to see,

  1. Sick pay & Redundancy increased and made state payed
  2. The two year service requirement for unfair dismissal to be abolished.
  3. Universal Credit’s waiting period to be abolished, actually this should be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch

The final piece of the jigsaw, is aggregate demand. It’s one of the reasons we should be subsidising wages during the crisis, the economy will not recover if people aren’t spending, and the poor spend more of their next £1 than the rich. The government is doing this through monetary quantitative easing (QE) i.e. giving money to the banks; they have rejected a universal basic income as in Spain, increasing Universal Credit payments or even a people’s QE. …

Asymmetric Games

Asymmetric Games

Dungeons & Dragons is undergoing a renaissance, possibly most visibly by the podcast postings of the team at “Critical Role”. While their youtube hosted podcasts are not necessarily particularly accessible, partly because they are not scripted, because there’s too much talking at the same time and the episodes are extremely long, they are easy to find and their DM, Matt Mercer, is a great story teller, who seemingly never forgets that the story comes first. I first followed the story of Force Grey. …

I’ll take the high road …

I’ll take the high road …

On a high note, I am glad this week’s election campaigning has ended with some serious policy announcements by Labour, on free internet involving the renationalisation of parts of BT, by John McDonnell and also by Jeremy and earlier in the week, free life long access to higher education led by Angela Rayner. The Manifesto will be agreed tomorrow so let’s hope we can keep this on a high note. It’s quite hard because so many people want to see the election in the gutter.

I have a problem because it’s so easy and not always unamusing. Oh OK! I have to go there! … …

Help Labour win!

We have a General Election coming, here’s what you need or can do to get involved. Help Labour return Vicky Foxcroft as a Labour MP in Lewisham Deptford. The timetable of events is here, on Lewisham Council’s Web site.

  1. If not on the electoral roll, register to vote before the 27th November i.e , here…I didn’t know you could vote if homeless, but it seems you can, If you can’t provide an address, you are advised to contact your local Electoral Registration Office i.e. Lewisham Council for advice before the 27th Nov.
  2. Register for a postal vote here …, before 17:00 pm the 26th Nov; you’ll need a printer
  3. You may apply for a proxy vote until 4th Dec.
  4. Join us, in Lewisham Deptford on the doorstep, find out where & when here …,, we also run phone banks for those who can’t or don’t want to knock on doors, contact us via this web form.
  5. Put a poster, or posters up in your window, or garden, tell us here …, you’ll need to say that you want a poster and tell us where to deliver it.
  6. Donate to Labour’s campaign in Deptford here …
  7. Join the Party here …
  8. Donate to the national party here…
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