The Fiona MacCarthy

The Fiona MacCarthy

What pleases and annoys

Instinctive, impulsive, and logical but always passionate and reflective of what I feel here and now.

Individual blogs are in most recent, first sequence and are also grouped in various "categories" which are just to the right & down a bit should you prefer to search that way. Please feel free to add a comment.

Blog restarted November 2017

Penguin play

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, June 10, 2012 09:35:16
We have a very cute and cuddly view of mother nature with our personal favourites eg dolphins, rabbits etc and a near common dislike of rats or sharks etc. To insult a human we may use "snake" "rat" or "shark".

But a century ago it was more intense and when a scientist with Captain Scott's polar team observed cases of necophilia, homosexuality and other activities by Penguins it was decided not to share with the general public. More from the BBC this week.

A diversion to Wikipedia quickly shatters any illusion of the straight hetero non fetishist mother nature and quite rightly so. Its silly to think that we are far removed from other animals on this planet and wrong of science to continue to popularise hetero animal behaviour, although there has been a large increase in recent years on research. Very useful for procreation but not reflective of the diversity of life.

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Obama data mining

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, June 10, 2012 09:22:33
President Obama of USA reckons the next election will be a close one and indeed his shifting platforms indicate his hunger to win. Remember the speech about closing Guantanamo which Al Jazeera still uses, but he forgets.

In the last 2 weeks his campaign has employed 150 techies to find out more about the views of the American people so that he can target messages direct to them as individuals or at least as groups of individuals.

I like the idea of a personal touch but having garnered my vote I fear that my views will be lost in the aggregation (if I was American). Voters will learn to identify and resist this sly tactic. I prefer the old fashioned we will do this campaign and compare with the other guys enabling me to select the least bad.

More from Drudge and its link

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Nigerian bombing

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, June 10, 2012 09:10:05

It gets far lower profile when it happens in Africa: plane crashes, bombings the tragedy of death.

News this week of another bombing, this time of a police station killing 5 and following up on the bombing of a church last week killing 12.

The perpetrators are Boko Haram an Islamist terrorist group whose name means no Western education. They exploit the divide between the Islamic north and Christian south although the rift of grievance is also driven by the sense of the country’s oil wealth benefitting the South, more than the North.

Religion and oil are not the only driving forces of violence in this complex country whose borders were defined by the former colonial powers and outbreaks of violence because of tribal differences can and do occur. Boko Haram adds an extra dimension of complexity preying on the divide, promulgating fear and negating an image of a great country.

More from the BBC

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Murdoch & Media

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, May 13, 2012 11:58:50
Murdoch's media empire is too powerful.

Politicians are too weak.

But are we so gullible?

The arrival of career politicians with plans for soft directorships, books and other post parliament money making opportunities with a thin veneer of blurred party philosophy has been a feature of the past decade.

The biggest selling newspaper in this country has a bigger circulation than the top 7 french dailies. And then our papers are controlled by self made millionaires from Sark (non banking barclays with Telegraph) to Moscow (Leb of Indie) to Oz (man himself). There are too few media moguls and would prefer more mini-moguls.

It is clear from Leveson hearings that the politicians view the media as a child the cookie jar and have lost their independence, sold their souls and acted with reckless immaturity.

But the electorate are no bunch of fools. In the recent good times we became careless with double holidays, rising property prices and cheap clothing etc from China. That is now changing across the country as household budgets creak, employment is uncertain and as inflation erodes further.

The ballot box is the most useful substitute for a guillotine on the inept politicians and we are not fooled by current antics.

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Lost Liberals

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, May 06, 2012 09:35:56
They had a good name for local politics and the last national elections put them in the role as kingmakers. Backing Cameron seemed a good way of gaining power the nectar of every politician.

But it was also a poisoned chalice as the voters turned on them in a bigger way than the Conservatives and punished them for badly spun politics. They now risk disappearing as a power player although the dissatisfied electorate may have more surprises. Winners in the local elections were the non voters who by their inaction mean that the winning Labour only won 12% of the votes available (40% of a 32% turnout). The next most significant winner was UKIP who probably benefited from unhappy conservatives.

I have never liked the English political voting system of winner takes all which means that the big parties compete for the middle ground so that the differences in their agendas become less and less significant, squeezing out the Liberals.

Labour would be further ahead if it had a credible financial spokesman rather than Ed Balls who was such a keen supported of Brown's borrowing binge in the good times pre-recession. Voters take a long time to forget and forgive.

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Kragga Kamma

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, May 06, 2012 09:14:57

Kragga Kamma

From South Africa this week covers the story about how 2 tame cheetahs turned on a woman who had apparently intervened to protect a child all of whom were in the cheetah enclosure. The key word here is “enclosure” because why were such tame pussycats confined. Answer: they are wild animals who up until now had not done anything like this. Too often in life we assume that the past is a predictor of the future and with animals we take big risks.

Imagine the domestic pussycat some 50 times larger: can you tell it what to do?: the expression like herding cats comes to mind also as an analogy.

We should show more respect to nature's other animals

More from the Port Elizabeth Herald

This blog slightly out of sequence in my efforts to tackle the news alphabetically as if it had a hint of predictability

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Killing of civilians continues

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, April 29, 2012 10:19:49

Our vision of the world is blinkered and the murderous harm of what we have unleashed has settled down to approx 10 murders per day for the past 3 years.

We have washed our hands withdrawn our troops and signed up the oil wealth sharing deals, but the killing machine rumbles on hardening hearts, stunning sensibilities and creating more chaos.

Total civilian deaths in Iraq are in excess of 106,000 to date as reported here

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Jamie and Junk

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, April 22, 2012 10:08:28

He has been consistent in his preaching about the damage of junk food on children over some 10 years. In the Observer today he is given a platform to criticise how some schools (academies) are given free reign on what food they provide. In a wordy article there is one interesting statistic that a vending machine can generate profits of £14,000 per annum. No wonder they are so popular.

If food is to be provided in schools it should be nutritional and junk should be banned. However this misses the point when one considers that there are less than 200 days in a school year and for the other 170 days approx the parents can feed their kids what ever they like. Properly educated parents is the problem not the vending machine

More from the Observer

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Illogical Independence?

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, April 15, 2012 11:52:35

The Economist magazine has come in for a lot of criticism for its recent article on Scottish Independence; a question to be decided by the Scots in the next year or so in a referendum.

The issue is itself is well covered and analysed to the normal high standard but the cover page has a map of Scotland with place names of Edinborrow, Glasgone, Aberdown, Ben Novice, and Indisarray etc etc. More suitable to the satirical Private Eye I think than a serious discussion.

A few key issues in the debate: It is too late in time for Scotland to benefit significantly from the already declining oil industry and a £30billion cost of decommissioning bill to be shared 50/50 with the taxman of whichever regime is not often mentioned by the pro independence movement. Oil is well over $100 a barrel now but has been down to $10 in the past 10 years so extrapolation of revenues is not easy or is too easy. Scotland's financial services comes with a big bill that needs to be allocated by the civil servant bean counters too. A lower company tax rate might compete with Ireland but the EU's diminishing love of Ireland tax setting rights might not extend that far. The Scots will need to make a new agreement with the EU and independence from London will be replaced by serfdom to Brussels

The conclusion is that there is little economic rationale to independence from London but life is not just about money. The article is also weak on what Brussels will extract from any agreement.

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Harmful Hacking?

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, April 08, 2012 07:26:50

The UK Home Office is today reporting how its website came under hacker "attack" last night making it inoperative. Inundated with thousands of simultaneous messages it was unable to respond in a situation refrred to as "Denial of Service".

Anonymous, a hacking group claim responsibility saying depending on source as to whether its a protest against the deportation of a hacker to face charges in the USA or its in protest at Government plans to intrude on the privacy of our electronic communication. The attackers warned of this on April 4th clearly a challenge in advance to the brains at work on Easter Saturday (public holiday weekend) and have promised to return on saturdays. More from the BBC

Some 500 Chinese government websites were "defaced" this week. Regularly we are told of attacks by the Chinese government on Western Governemnt websites either for disruption or to find security weaknesses. Russia has made a few attacks on the Baltic states although denied (of course).

Sky News have admitted hacking email of private citizens although justifies it in the public interest for the 2 cases admitted to. Its sister companies made similar admission of guilt claims (in terms of low numbers) when the News of the World scandal broke. More from Independent

The word "hacking" means different things ranging from invasion of privacy of an individual, to denial of service attacks on high profile websites to the stealing of private details most probably financial eg credit card etc. It is however a most effective way of achieving results particularly when we are so dependent on electronic media.

I find the stealing of personal information (eg financial) to be wrong as it is for criminal purposes. The intrusion into the electronic communication of citizens is also wrong and should only be done only with the specific approval of a judge (UK circumstances). The only reason the govenment does not want all the details of the messages is the volume of details and the technical hassles of doing so on such a massive scale, but in time they will have the technical ability.

Attacking government webistes is also wrong but the rebel in me cannot help but support protests when I am aligned with the motives and decry them when they disrupt my life. Should they result in the loss of life then that is clearly wrong and hackers should be aware of the risk. Hacking does have the benefit of revealing system weaknesses and forcing improvements in security: a most welcome thing. All in all its not a simple black and white topic

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Golf and Ginni

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, April 01, 2012 09:01:52

A bunch of blokes get together to play golf and ever since 1933 too although not ncessarily the same fossils. No harm in that and just odd that they exclude women to this day.

However as the club is Augusta and a major sponsor of a competition is IBM, the tongues are wagging as to what will happen next. Why? Virgina (Ginni) Rometty is the recently appointed CEO of IBM and the preceeding 3 CEO's who were also golf players have been members of Augusta. Will the club allow a woman member to join or will they maintain tradition. Will IBM continue its association with a bunch of gender bigots.

I think IBM should have had more foresight when it git into bed with Augusta years back but I hope that Augusta see sense and opens up its membership. The lads still have the privacy of the washrooms.

More from ESPN

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Fatality in Florida

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 25, 2012 12:33:42
Unarmed man aged 17 shot and murdered by another in Florida. The murderer claims self defence and received a bloody nose although details are not clear. More from Reuters The possibility of a racial motive is attracting attention but human rights are more critical to this story.

I believe that we have a right to defend our own property and to kill the intruder if necessary but empowering civilians as individuals to patrol residential areas is a stupid application of policing. Two or more working together properly trained would be better. This story from Florida is worrying.

My interest arises as last night on my way home I observed 5 police vehicles closing in on and arresting a suspect for Breaking and Entering. Stepladders and crow bars were the main components of his toolkit and the absence of a willing customer paying client list an impediment to his defence . While the drama unfolded I observed a bloke running away. Phoned the police and within 30 minutes had a call back to say an arrest had resulted although could not link directly to other bloke. It would have been wrong for a gun carrying me to challenge such an individual on suspicion just because he was running and wearing a hoodie. Same in Florida.

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e-mail, electronic communication

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 18, 2012 11:47:46
What a wonderful invention. And what a dangerous one too, in particular the "send" button. It must be one of the few times when we might wish for a pop up question to ask "are you sure" and maybe some wizardry that would look at the words, the syntax, and maybe CAPS etc and say to the writer "are you REALLY sure?.

My interest this morning stems from a my "creative writing" course yesterday where electronic communication was compared with long hand. A certain generational divide split our small group. There was a time when computers were is separate rooms, big and bulky. The proponents of long hand seem to consider these as the representative form of e-comms, where editing is awkward and inflexible.

I prefer the electronic form as it flexible easy to use and even in more places than ever before with smaller more flexible tools and devices. Long hand is not dead but it has been improved by electronic media.

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Dressing to Die

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 11, 2012 09:59:21
From Iraq this week comes news that the Interior Ministry is concerned about the trend towards Western clothing including tight jeans, t-shirts, body piercing other than ears and clothing with prints of skulls. Clearly in the mindless minds of some all are closely associated with Satanism from the USA.

Their response is to encourage community police to stone these wicked miscreants to death for daring to dress this way. But its not totally cruel; They first publish a list of names of the guilty giving them a few days to mend their ways. At least the Shi'ite clergy have condemned the practise.

It is ironic that in a broken society where police are murdered in dozens at a time, corruption blossoms, broken infrastructure and self serving corrupt politicians that time can be spent on death sentences for those who dress differently.

More from Reuters today

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Chinese Chat shows

A-Z week by weekPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 04, 2012 05:45:23
I do not enjoy the UK Saturday evening TV scheduling particularly after staying home last night. It is manufactured to a tedious formula where every smirk, grimace and smile is scripted to perfection for pungent picture hungry cameras.

China has a new chat show that pulls in some 40 million viewers on a Saturday. Its distinctive twist on programming is to interview the soon to be executed convicted criminals. It is seen as a deterrent to those of evil plans, by the State and the show's producers have had their wrists slapped for allowing the BBC access in a programme to be shown here this week.

I was particularly touched by the story of an openly gay man convicted of murdering his mother and violating her body. China is a society not yet relaxed with homosexuality or non standard gender stereotype, but this man, a murderer had an impact on the show's host far beyond the norm of this programme. There was more to the story than the simplicity of the show's narrative, but maybe my opinion is being manipulated by the story in the Daily Mail today.

Would the show work here?: No but I'm sure its been discussed. What deterrent is a reality show on soft sentencing, interviews in celeb mags, ghost written biographies followed by a life of welfare benefits interspersed with further appearances on Jer Kyle's daytime heroes before the cycle repeats.

Capital punishment is morally wrong, its evidence as a deterrent weak, prone to errors and inequitable to the poorest, least educated in society. Its appeal as a tool of justice is in its simplicity and for short term desire for revenge.

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