Blog Archive

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Lloyds Bank need to Fax Off, 4 Referendums, Autumn.

Lloyds Bank need to Fax Off

I was buying an online service at work recently and the payment service clearly wasn’t working properly as after I had put in all my card details it presented me with an error message. I tried again and got the same error. So I contacted the company (People Per Hour) and they replied almost immediately advising me to clear my browser cache, try with a different browser, etc, etc. So I tried again with a different computer and type of browser and got the same error message. So I emailed them again and this time they told me it was because I had failed security clearance and that I needed to send them my birth certificate, passport, bank account details, company incorporation certificate, shirt size, underpants size, recent utilities bill, driving licence, wife’s maiden name and all of my PIN numbers. They said I had nothing to worry about as they are registered with the Data Protection Commissioner. Laughter.

At this point I decided to check our company bank account and noticed that the transaction had gone through 3 times. So despite getting their lovely error message, the money was actually being transferred no problem! Things then got worse when I rang Lloyds, our bank, and asked them to cancel 2 of the 3 pending transactions. When I eventually got to talk to ‘the right person’ they explained what I needed to do to get the 2 wrong transactions cancelled. I needed to get the company I was buying from, People Per Hour, to send a fax, yes, a fax, to Lloyds bank with a whole number of authorisation codes and stuff they gave me. A fax. For a moment I actually thought she was joking. A fax. I was going to ask her what is a fax, but decided the humour would be wasted. I am prepared to bet a not inconsiderable amount of money that People Per Hour don’t have a fax (does anyone other than Lloyds Bank?). So thanks Lloyds for wasting my time. 

This is what fax machine looked like

Why didn’t you just save us all a load of time and tell me ‘Sorry can’t help you’. Or ask me to use my Telex or my Carrier Pigeon? I chucked out my fax machine about 15 years ago.

This is a Telex Machine that was superseded by Fax

And this is a Carrier Pigeon

4 Referendums

It is hard not to start to doubt whether democracy really does work as well as I had always thought. Four recent referendums for example, two in the UK, one in Columbia and one in Hungary together with the US presidential election campaigns make it harder to believe it’s all working. 

In the UK, for example, many people were influenced to vote for Brexit in the June 23rd referendum by a series of ‘facts’ peddled by the politicians that are now widely discredited (£350m extra per week for the NHS is one of the biggest lies). With prices rising fast following a 20% decline in the value of sterling, research by the British Election Study and published in The Economist shows that the number of people now regretting or questioning their vote now exceeds the 4% margin by which the vote was decided! The Economist also says that many of the poorer people who voted for Brexit are the ones who will be most hurt by the rapid rise in food, clothing and energy prices following the plunge in sterling.

Brexiteers claimed leaving would allow £350M to go to the NHS every week

The ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ 2014 Scottish Independence vote which was fairly decisive with a 10% margin to stay in the Union, may now be re-run following the Brexit vote, and the referendum in Columbia to accept peace with the FARC after decades of fighting and hundreds of thousands of deaths was defeated by just 50.21% to 49.79%!! Ironically, President Juan Manuel Santos Calerón who helped negotiate the peace and advocated a Yes vote, was the sole recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize despite his failure to convince his electorate!

In Hungary, on October 2nd, Victor Orbán’s government put this question to the people: “Do you want the EU to be able to mandate the obligatory re-settlement of non Hungarian citizens into Hungary without even the approval of the National assembly?” 98.36% voted No, 1.64% voted Yes to this leading question. However, as the turnout was only 44%, the result was rendered invalid. Yet this did not stop Orbán declaring an ‘overwhelming’ victory. I am surprised that an democratic government in the EU can get away with such a biased referendum question.

With just a week to go until the US presidential election I won’t say much until next month when the result will have been declared. All I will say is that the very fact the Donald Trump got to the final round, despite his obvious unsuitability for the job, once again says loads about our democracy which is clearly in need of some reform. When the experienced, moderate candidates are pushed out in favour of extremist bully boys without policies like Trump, alarm bells should be ringing throughout the free world. In this week’s Economist, the leading article and front cover ‘Liberty Goes North’ de-crowns the USA as the economy to emulate and gives the new crown to Canada, where Justin Trudeau has recently been voted Prime Minister and continues in the country's liberal and democratic tradition that has served it so well.

Canadian Flag

I love Autumn but I hate changing the clocks

I love the Autumn colours, sounds and smells. So far we have had a dry and sunny September and October and in the last week or two the leaves have rapidly been turning shades of gold, brown, orange, rust and yellow following their six months of green. During my Sunday morning walk to buy the paper, I can see the progression from one week to the next as the colours darken gradually and more leaves fall. As it is dry, my feet crunch through the dead leaves that pile up on the pavement and wherever the wind has blown them. As it gets damper in November, I expect the pleasant smells of rotting leaves will become more evident. Some of the colours are so striking I frequently find myself reaching for my phone to take pictures.

I love the reds in particular
I hate the last weekend in October when the clocks go back an hour. It’s not the extra hour in bed that’s the problem; it’s the fact that on Sunday afternoon after I changed the clocks, it was getting dark by 4.30 in the afternoon. On Monday morning, it starts to get light soon after 6am. For me and I suspect many tens of millions of people like me, it is neither an efficient use of winter light nor is it helpful in any other way. The dark winter afternoons and evenings are depressing and this change makes it one hour worse!

Down the road

Same trees 7 days later

"For God’s sake, go down to reception and get rid of a lunatic who’s down there. He says he’s got a machine for seeing by wireless!"
Daily Express news editor, 1925
James Logie Baird wanted to show off his invention: the television

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