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Paperless Fail

I have a slight problem in the way in which I conduct my life and the way in which it impacts my job.

For the past year I have been trying to go as paperless as possible, that means things like having utility and bank statements sent via email. For those businesses that don’t do email statements I scan them into my computer, file them away, back them up and shred the originals. If you want to see last January’s gas bill I can pull it up on my phone and show you. Likewise if you want to see a pile of shredded paper I can show you that.

The problem is that I have a new job (Something I’ll be writing about once my feet are under the table a bit more), and with a new job comes things like brand new ID cards, smart-cards, parking permits – that sort of administrative faff that is apparently essential but, for those of us not used to office work, rather annoying.

But why am I having problems? Well along with this faff comes the instructions on many of these forms that I need to provide ‘Two utility statements, a rent statement and a bank statement’, presumably to make sure that I am who I say I am and that I’m not trying to sneak away with a parking permit I shouldn’t have.

(As an aside – Newham’s business parking permit needs such specific forms of ID I’m surprised that they don’t also ask for security clearance from MI5).

All of which puts me in a bit of a bind because I don’t have any paper statements – I can show you my forms over the internet, on my phone or print them out for you – but if a bit of paper comes from my printer rather than the ones the energy companies use… well tough luck and try again.

This means that for part of today I have been emailing banks and utility companies asking them to send me a paper statement…

Paperless working – it only works as long as you don’t have to fill in any forms.

Story Idea

Thrown up here for very little reason.

———-

150 years after the last great war, a war in which nuclear, biological and technological weaponry razed the planet, the remnants of civilisation are held together by the wandering Asclepius Order – young doctors following the handed down traditions of healing.

 

The world is a dangerous place, bandits carve out kingdoms, paranoia is a way of life and the are still live weapons of nearly unimaginable power left in the dark places.

 

The Asclepius Order is part scientist, part scholar and part healer, they wander the wastelands trying to keep enough people alive in order to maintain a good ‘breeding pool’ of humans. Every life lost, be that devil or saint, endangers the mission of a restored earth.

On ‘Asylum of the Daleks’

OK, I didn’t want to write this, but dammit – it’s going around my head for the second night in the row, and hopefully by writing it down I’ll be able to get some sleep.

(This is a stream of consciousness first draft as it is now gone midnight and I need to be awake for work in six hours – I make no apologies).

I have a few problems with ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, While I initially tweeted that I shouldn’t worry about such things as it is ultimately a kid’s programme, unfortunately lack of sleep means I am compelled to write this.

(On the argument that Doctor Whio isn’t a kids programme, it is irrelevant to my points – if you want to argue about it you can do so here)

Rather obviously there are big spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the episode, I suggest you stop reading.

The annoying thing is – I was completely swept up in the episode, enjoyed it thoroughly, but it was only when I stopped to think about it I realised that it made very little sense indeed.

Here there be spoilers…

1) Wow, how easy is it to capture the Doctor, I’m surprised the Daleks haven’t done it before.

2) People who are controlled by the Daleks, ok, I like that idea, there is a fair amount of ‘body horror’ in this episode so I’ve no problem with it. But an eyestalk sprouting from their head? Really?

3) Parliament of the Daleks? Wasn’t it an Empire? Were those Daleks elected to represent some bit of space-time? And their leader is a Prime Minister? Next you will be telling me that they have some sort of village fete to raise money for their reelection.

4) So, there were some ‘Nu Daleks’, the brightly coloured ones with the big arses and a whole lot of older fashioned Daleks in that parliament scene. I seem to remember that in the first appearance of the day-glo Daleks exterminating the older Daleks for being ‘impure’. Did they suddenly change their mind when threatened by the parliament with censure and stripping of their expenses budget?

5) The Daleks are too scared to go down to the planet, but why not send the zombie humans instead? And they don’t want to kill the crazy Daleks because they are ‘divine’ in their hatred. But then a bit later they blow up the planet. Reckon the Dalek priests (reserved seats in the Dalek house of Lords?) were a bit pissed off at that.

6) Oswin, the girl who will be the new companion? I didn’t know that she was the new companion, so the ‘shock’ of that completely passed me by. The reason? She looks like a lot of other ‘dark haired beauties’ that populate TV, and despite seeing a picture of her new role I still couldn’t pick her out of a line-up. I fully accept that this is a problem with me and not with her, or her casting. The problem was – not knowing she is to be a new companion, I was fully expecting the big finish of her being essentially a brain in a jar.

7) For a planet full of insane Daleks, they just seemed like regular Daleks who’d let themselves run their batteries a bit flat. None of the Daleks seemed any crazier than the regular ones.

8) Deus ex machine (quite literally in this case) – Well, it makes me grind my teeth. ‘Ah – I shall erase your from their databanks, thereby saving your life’. Erm. OK. Then the crazy Daleks who were about to kill you will instead just decide to wander off because they don’t recognise you. It’s not as if the Daleks have a history of randomly exterminating people.

9) Talking of which… By removing someone from the Daleks database, they all suddenly forgot about him? But it’s not a hive mind? But they are organic creatures driving tanks? Why not reprogram them to take an interesting in flower arranging and sink clearance rather than that whole ‘extermination thing’?

10) Nice bit of unsettling dialogue ‘This is the fourth time we’ve had this conversation’ I really liked that, I liked the dancing Daleks. But then that was that – Amy remembers Rory, remembers why she thew him out of the house, etc, etc. I suppose that this was the bracelet reversing the changes wrought by the nano-machines, but it all seemed a little too pat.

11) OK, the big one – Oswin Dalek proves that she is a human who just happens to be stuck in a Dalek body, She does that by helping the Doctor, by flirting with Rory by damping down the Dalek impulses and ultimately by sacrificing herself for the Doctor and his companions. And the Doctor doesn’t lift a finger to save her. That is what annoyed me the most – the Doctor suddenly choosing to let her die because her body is that of a Dalek. Just didn’t ring right for me.

12) Wasn’t it nice of the Daleks to bring the Tardis with them when they kidnapped the doctor, low loading it onto their spaceship and sticking it in the same room as the Doctor. Jolly sporting I thought.

I think that’s it.

As I said earlier – I enjoyed the episode while I was watching it – which shows it’s real strength, the ability of it to suspend my disbelief. I also liked that it was essentially a ‘body horror’ episode for kids. zombies, and transforming bodies and the denouement of a ‘brain in a jar’. Quite a nice thing to sneak onto TV.

I think it annoys me because it could have been better, they certainly took long enough to write and make it (We are getting all of five episodes this year? Why not take a year off and give us ten? It’ll nearly be a series then). It also annoys me because I’m trying to put together a script myself and I’m going over it with a fine-tooth comb to make sure there are no plot holes, but it looks like I needn’t bother.

OK, sorry – pointless rant over.I shall regret writing this in the morning no doubt, but if it lets me sleep – I won’t be too upset.

Bloody Heroes

I like the police, I like police blogs and I’ve worked with them a lot. They, like the NHS, are being stuffed over by the government – numbers cut, pensions stolen, creeping privatisation. I know that there are a few knobs let’s face it there are knobs in any workforce. As I said to a student nurse this week, ‘It’s easy to be a shit nurse, and you won’t get fired for being a shit nurse, only for being a criminally shit nurse, but do you really want to be a shit nurse?’. the same goes for the police, doctors, teachers and street cleaners.

Sadly a lot of people concentrate on the shit ones. Like a lot of (ex?)bloggers I like to redress the balance occasionally.

I was at work and was asked for some advice – six officers had brought in a patient who, in the grip of their mental illness, had waved a knife around and then, as the police arrived had slashed his own neck. The police officers, without the chance to put on gloves, splash googles, etc, had then rushed him to disarm him and stop him from killing himself. It turns out that the patient had some nasty blood-borne diseases and the officer wanted to know if they were at risk. Especially as one of the other officers had open wounds from a previous arrest.

These men and women had put themselves at considerable risk in order to stop someone killing themselves. Heroes the lot of them – but I doubt they’ll be on the front page of the papers.

But you watch the government attack the police as they prepare to privatise them.

Training Children

A school has installed CCTV cameras in classrooms in a bid to avoid disputes between teachers and pupils and to tackle theft, the deputy head has said.

Mr Rush said that the reaction from staff, children and parents had been entirely supportive.

“The children are very happy here because they know they are on a school site where they are safe.

And this is the problem, that children ‘feel safe’ because they are under the watchful eye of a CCTV camera. They are being trained to believe that.

Likewise they are being trained that it is only right that your fingerprints can be taken so that you can borrow books from a library, that carrying ID cards is the norm and that you should feel safe now that you are put on a database as soon as you are born.

State control of your data is increasing and they people concerned have realised that ‘getting them while they are young’ seems to be the easiest way to slip these databases and surveillance systems in to place.

Seriously, look at the responses to the library fingerprints link – shouldn’t we be concerned that we are creating children who will accept anything for the sake of ‘safety’?

The question therefore is what can we do to educate children about the flaws in such systems?

My immediate thought is to make Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Doctorow’s ‘Little Brother‘ compulsory English texts. But what else? Perhaps ORG/FIPR/No2ID should start setting out their stalls at school fetes, and town shows, or start making child friendly websites?

But what else can we do?

I’m open for suggestions.

(And the first person to say that ‘if you’ve nothing to hide then you’ve nothing to fear’ will have their net curtains removed, their walls replaced with glass and be made to sign a declaration stating that they trust this, and all other future governments, as well as every soul that works for the civil service, the NHS, social services, transport your local council etc…)

Social network sites ‘monitored’

Social networking sites like Facebook could be monitored by the UK government under proposals to make them keep details of users’ contacts.

The Home Office said it was needed to tackle crime gangs and terrorists who might use the sites, but said it would not keep the content of conversations.

Civil liberties campaigners have called the proposal a “snoopers’ charter”.”


I’m normally the first person to moan about the government taking liberties with our privacy, but in this case I see no problem. After all social network sites only have the data that you wish to place on them. If you don’t want people looking in your living room you put up net curtains, if you don’t want people looking at your personal data you don’t join a social network site.

The government is attacking our civil liberties in much more insidious manners than just looking at data which we choose to provide to a website.

For example, there is a certain expectation of privacy when you send an email but the government want to snoop on them, just like we don’t expect our paper based mail to be opened and read.