Category: musings

Divided Kingdom – the Referendum

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Buckingham Embroidery

The referendum is over; I’m so very disappointed right now. The United Kingdom, collectively, has decided in its referendum; that a fraction over half the country would prefer to leave the EU, rather than stay. Most people, including the leave campaigners, seem fairly taken aback by this, some of them going as far as to say if they knew it would really happen, they’d have changed their mind. The less said about such protest voters the better.

Buckingham Embroidery

I have never felt less British; indeed, I woke today feeling that the term ‘United Kingdom’ meant nothing to me anymore, those last few strings emotively tying me to that term have been cut. I feel profoundly sad that the remain campaign focused so much on the negative things, and failed to sell the vision of a prosperous, cultural, united Europe. The Europe of people and places and diversity, where we felt proud to be European in that way and felt like we were part of something bigger. I feel that those who have already benefited from the best parts of the EU, as well as their lifetime of free education, strong pensions, have now decided that because too many new people seem to be arriving they want a new generation to be pulled away; a generation that overwhelmingly fell on remain when they voted.

Problems and promises

On the face of it, it exposes a series of problems that have long festered in the subtle corners of the UK populace. A feeling of superiority over the rest of the EU being the chief amongst them, but also of deep disconnects between the various factions of society. But here’s the thing – leaving the EU is not going to solve any of those things, how could it?

The leave campaign meanwhile are already equivocating on their grandiose policies of hundreds of millions for the NHS, and immigration controlled. No no, they aren’t really sure about that, maybe it was just a lie. Instead, here’s what I suspect we will get:

  • More austerity
  • Snooper’s Charters
  • Confusion and disruption at the least, removal at the worst, of many of the funding streams provided by Europe – particularly for charity and voluntary sector
  • (Confirmed already!) disruption of the human rights act and similar laws
  • Serious questions over the function of the Good Friday Agreement
  • Resentment from our European neighbours

The issues facing the UK around immigration, economies and such are not UK problems; they are global, and the idea we can turtle up and hide until it all blows over is crazy. Globalisation is not reversing. But now its time for leave to put their money where their mouth is; time to show us all – and no, this isn’t the time for us all to “join together and get on with it.”. Please understand how patronising that sounds, and how inconsiderate. You were the ones that wanted to leave, its you that needs to make that first step

First referendum of many?

I said earlier I have never felt less British. I feel now a Scottish referendum is due, and potentially a border poll. I would support both, and I’d vote for a united Ireland at this stage if they could sort their health system out. I’d quite fancy the idea of a United Celtic Coalition of Ireland and Scotland, but its probably unlikely, sadly. So I don’t know, I don’t know if the breakup of the UK is now inevitable – but it would be quite ironic if it was, given the DUP position on the matter, no?

To be angry for a minute – I feel like this is a travesty, and those of you who voted for this, I think you will be very very wrong.

School days and reunions

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Yesterday, my old school, RBAI or Inst as it’s more commonly known, held a dinner to mark that 2015 is 10 years since we finished upper sixth there, leaving with A-levels, hopes and dreams.

I have loads of fond memories of Inst; the friends, teachers, learning my love of science (particular thanks to Mrs Muise and Mr Lynn here!), cricket, chess, swimming class with the torture of Mrs Eakin. Chilling at lunchtimes in the quad, or later in the sixth form centre. I won’t miss the rugby practice on cold and wet Saturday mornings, but regret not trying harder in sports – the glasses and not being able to see didn’t help; yay for contact lenses now!

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My photography skills were not the best back then...

However, despite the great memories and growth I experienced there, I didn’t go to the dinner. I kept myself as ‘maybe’ on the event, and asked around those friends I still socialise with, checking who was attending. In the end, there were too few of the people who liked me attending – and a few too many of those who didnt like me much based on how they treated me. A shame, but I felt like if I’d gone, I’d have been going back to a time where certain cliques excluded me, and I wasn’t up for doing that.

I’m sure now all is different with them though and they would think or act differently – I’m a massively different person 10 years later too. Instead of being a shy kid, hiding that he was gay and flinching everytime he was called it in the playground as a taunt, fearing discovery, I’m now a happy, out, engaged, confident man who has a good job, great friends, a loving partner, a black belt, and volunteers for the LGBT community. I hope that everyone else from school is equally enjoying their lives 10 years on.

So, looking back, I’ve lost touch with too many great people from school, which is a real shame – particular the ‘further maths’ crew – and so if anyone wants to catch up on the last 10 years, laugh about school, talk about what’s going on, have a pint, or all of the above, you don’t need a dinner at Inst to do it with me; just give me a shout sometime. It’d be great to hear how you’re getting on.

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In honour of Belfast’s crisp sandwich café…

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Crisp Sandwiches

I have decided upon tonight’s dinner!

crisp sandwiches
It has to be Tayto when it’s cheese and onion!

Yeah so if you don’t know, a café has opened in Belfast today, after the success of London’s cereal café, that serves crisp sandwiches in lots of varieties, deli style.

It sold out of its stock in hours from what I’m told.

Meanwhile, it made me nostalgic… So I’m eating it now!

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New year, more blogging!

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Zuki Photodog

So with only a few corrections still remaining on my thesis (Yay!) I think it’s time I did a bit more of my other interesting things! I plan to tweet more, do more app development, more photography and more blogging!

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The dog with a camera!

I’ll aim for at least once a week for blog stuff – starting tomorrow with the two rather different films I saw in the past week, Big Hero 6 and Taken 3.

Later!

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‘Right to be Forgotten’ EU ruling

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This week, an EU court ruled against Google and made a judgement that it and other search engine providers must accept requests by a person to remove links, specifically if that link is to data that “becomes outdated or inaccurate, even if that information was accurate when it was first published”.
Lies?

Obviously, some are calling this a huge victory for individual rights, whilst others are saying it amounts to censorship akin to Chinese filtered search results. And, both are right.

Let’s deal with the individual rights here – it means that if someone published information on you, say, being involved in a company that becomes unpopular due to a big legal case, and you subsequently leave the company, you can ask for the information about you to be removed as it is no longer accurate; you don’t work there any more. This can prevent a now inaccurate piece of information being used against you, say, in future job applications. The larger question is not in the accuracy test of the information, but in the ‘outdated’ bit. When does information become outdated? Isn’t history timeless in itself?

Privacy advocates insist this stops organisations and companies abusing customer data, and hands back power to the individual. But on the censorship angle, Google and co. have a point – do we get to have information removed from listings just because we don’t like what it says about us?

There are lots of angles here – some say that if you commit a crime and that is public record, you shouldn’t be able to have this information removed from listings in results for your name. Equally though, part of our justice system is that you serve your time and your conviction is spent, it should no longer count against you. Some say that this argument isn’t even relevant as the law doesn’t apply to these circumstances. It’s an interesting one particularly because I don’t think society has quite cracked the ‘forgiveness’ side of crime yet.

I think part of the problem is, no-one really understands what data this DOES apply to. The right of citizens to control their own data seems relevant to me only when it is data they have personally created. You should not, for example, be able to request removal of an article that embarrasses you, simply because it uses your name. This would be a massive censorship problem – for obvious reasons. But, if it’s data you personally created, shouldn’t you be in control of it already, such that removing it from listings isn’t required?

This uncertainty is all because it isn’t being made apparent who owns what data. Do you ‘own’ a tweet once you send it? Does Twitter? Who ‘owns’ a Facebook status update? If you ‘own’ them, then delete them, and issue takedown orders on those reproducing your work without permission. If you don’t own them, citizens should be made aware that when they submit these statuses, they surrender all ownership of them.

And that’s the crux of it for me – it’s about making sure that the customer data is safe at the end point, not the search engine. Compel the Facebooks and Zyngas and forums and YouTubes to stop selling data so freely, and stop caching old customer data after it has been deleted by the user. Force Google to remove only ‘cached snapshot’ pages on request, and tell citizens their issue is otherwise with the endpoint, which must ensure it’s information is up to date (otherwise libel?). Stop the sites that chronicle tweets from disrespecting tweet deletions, for example. A whole raft of proper measures can be taken to allow citizens the power to control their own ‘right to be forgotten’, because data they actually created is theirs. That, ultimately, makes much more sense that simply hiding results from listings, whilst not removing the data from the Internet.

TL:DR – you don’t have a right to remove pages just because they mention your name, or because you did or said something stupid, regardless of how outdated it is. You do have a right that data you created can be destroyed by you (you own it), and those not disrespecting that deletion should be compelled to do so (copyright?).

I don’t think the judgement will stand too long in its current form.

– Zuki

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