Fun and Games.

I didn’t like the Windows 10 Solitaire Collection for several reasons:-
a) There was no way of resetting the score to zero
b) If a game had to be restarted, holding Ctrl + Z down together no longer produced a fast return to the starting point, but went back only one card movement. It was the same in effect as the “back arrow” – one card at a time.
c) Many of the games available in Windows 7 were no longer available. This didn’t affect me so much, as I only ever played Spider Solitaire or Freecell, but other users were affected.

Checking around on the Internet, I found that Microsoft had made changes to a later edition, and scores could be reset, so I resolved to update my games.

The first step was easy enough – remove the present games. There are various ways of doing this, but I opted for an easy one – CCleaner – and it was done in a flash.

Now it got rather tricky. It was theoretically possible perhaps to download and install an updated games package, but I connected in to Microsoft, made the appropriate requests, … and nothing happened!

So, I gave up on that, and looked for an alternative. Ah, there it was! “How To Get Classic Windows 7 Games In Windows 10”
http://www.intowindows.com/how-to-get-classic-windows-7-games-in-windows-10/

“Luckily, restoring classic games in Windows 10 is fairly simple thanks to Eldiabl0 at MDL forums. The Windows 7 Games for Windows 8 and 10 tool brings back Chess Titans, Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, Purble Place, Mahjong Titans, and Hearts games to Windows 10.”

Step 1 in the instructions takes you to a developer page which you wont be able to read until you open an account and log in – all perfectly painless.
Download the installer package, its about 170 Mb.

Step 2 Run the installer, and select the games you want to install. I deselected all the games that require an Internet connection, and installed the rest.

Note! If you read the comments at the bottom, a number of people seem to have lost their Windows 7 games after an automatic Windows 10 update. Reloading the games after the update doesn’t seem to work, so if you want to keep your Windows 7 games, you have to stop Windows 10 updating automatically! Use a personal firewall, or whatever you have to do to stop Windows 10 accessing the Internet without your knowledge. Luckily, my Wifi Hotspot does it all for me. Nothing goes anywhere until I allow it, and I can see exactly where it is trying to go.

My favourite game used to be Spider Solitaire, but I have now switched over to Freecell, as I have found a couple of tricks to improve my score.

As long as you haven’t moved any cards, you can select a new game by pressing F2.
Inspect the layout you have been offered. The deck is divided into 2 blocks; the lefthand block has 4 rows, each of 7 cards, whereas the righthand block has 4 rows, each of 6 cards.

As a requirement of the game is to clear one row completely, it is easier to clear 6 cards than 7. And to improve matters still further, if we have 2 aces in one row, we only have to find homes for 4 cards to get it clear.
So, keep pressing F2 until you have a hand with 2 aces in one of the righthand rows. This gives you a distinct advantage.

Of course, you will also have to inspect the hand to ensure that it is worth starting to play. If you cannot clear a row without using up all of the free cells, then you don’t have much change ot getting it out to completion. It is possible, however, to get that first row clear, and have all 4 free cells empty.
It is also possible to get all four aces out with the first card moved!

However, even though the aces are available, it is also necessary to consider the position of the 2’s and the 3’s, and a big part of some games is piling up cards on top of the aces. As a rule, I try to make sure they are at least no higher than the third position in any row.

By the way, as long as you have that starting advantage, with 2 aces in one of the righthand rows, the likelihood of success is very high. If it doesn’t seem to work out, and you get to a position where there are no more moves left, go back to the start, and start in another row. Repeat as necessary – it will probably work.

Just to show that it is possible:-
Score500

Happy Gaming!

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Operamail.com is no more, but Opera lives on!

One of the things that attracted me to the Opera browser in the first place was its offer of a free email account. It was not only fast and simple to use, it was basically better than any of the other free emails on offer, such as Hotmail, and Yahoo, in my opinion. In fact, I had a second account under a different name which I used mostly for my Greenpeace activities.

As for the Opera browser itself, Opera was always ahead of the game with new ideas, such as ‘Speed Dial’, and the ‘Page Source’, (Ctrl U), in Developer tools. As such it was an ideal browser for people developing their own websites, and I still use the ‘Page Source’ function regularly – though now for a different purpose. (See below).

Furthermore, Opera was very fast to implement changes in accordance with HTML and CSS specification updates.
In the early days, updates to Opera came thick and fast. As development continued new ideas were tried out, such as pictures of the websites’ front pages in ‘Speed Dial’, and subsequently discarded. The pictures were “nice to have”, but came at a cost of speed and storage requirement. The current version is 48.0.2685.39, and I have only known 1 update to have caused a problem in all that time. Something of a record, I would say.

At some points, there were major policy changes. For one, the Email facility was deemed to be no longer necessary, and arrangements were made for it to be taken over by another company completely – Fastmail, in Australia. The transition was completely painless, and almost unnoticable as far as the user was concerned. The original addresses at “@operamail.com” were still operating as before, but were now being handled by a company on the other side of the world. This arrangement continued for some years, but this year (2017) Fastmail gave notice that “Guest Accounts” would no longer be available after the end of August, and if customers wanted to continue with Fastmail, they would have to pay for the service. I elected to switch over to another account I run at Hotmail, and my Operamail accounts were no more.

Meanwhile, Opera had taken a major policy shift in that they were no longer developing their own browser independently, but had based their current design on Google Chrome, which they had adapted to look like their own browser. Again, to the user, there was no apparent difference, so apart from a little disappointment that Opera was no longer fully independent, it really was not a big deal.

Advert Blocker.
For those who want to live advert-free, Opera is the browser you need. Adverts are not only an annoyance, they also cost you money, as it takes your bandwidth to download them. Furthermore. downloads will take longer if adverts are included. The Daily Telegraph site in the UK complains whenever I visit, as it can see that I am blocking their adverts. No matter, since they introduced “Premium”, I visit that site less and less!

Turbo Mode.
This is a great idea for saving you bandwidth, which also saves you money. The requested data is first compressed by Opera, transmitted, and then decompressed by the Opera browser. The result is the same, but with a reduced bandwidth requirement to transmit the same amount of data. With a fast processor, any time penalty in display is certainly not noticeable.

Switch on Turbo Mode by going to “Settings”, “Browser”, and checking the box labelled “Enable Opera Turbo” at the bottom of the page.

VPN.
For people wishing to download films, TV shows, etc. from the Internet, there is always the risk that their computer can be traced, and that they could suffer a hefty fine, or worse. It is therefore strongly recommended that you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to do such downloading, which you would normally have to pay extra for. Not with Opera!

Opera now has a built-in VPN facility which can be switched in by going to ‘Settings’, ‘Privacy and Security’, and checking the box labelled “Enable VPN”. Secure proxy is provided by SurfEasy Inc., a company based in Canada. Note that:- Turbo mode can not be used if VPN is selected. When you are finished with VPN, you will have to go back into “Settings” to switch on the Turbo Mode again.

‘Page Source’.
The Pirate Bay has been causing some problems recently. Where there is normally a link showing a magnet, and called “Get This Torrent”, mousing over the link has no visible effect, and the linked file is therefore not available. Until 2 days ago or thereabouts, there was a second link alongside the first, in the same line, called “PLAY/STREAM TORRENT”, which required you to download a program called “Bitlord”. Mousing over the second link produced the usual result of a pointing finger, which indicates that the link is working, and the file is available.

However, when I did my usual check on software that was new to me, it didn’t take long to find the problems.
Bitlord. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)
https://www.2-spyware.com/remove-bitlord.html

WARNING: Do not download Bitlord. It has major adware and will slow your system down hugely.

Now when I look for a file on the Pirate Bay, the PLAY/STREAM TORRENT link is no longer visible. Perhaps the Pirate Bay has finally come to its senses?
Rendered

When we now look at the page source, however, we see that both links are still in place, even though only the first is visible in the rendered page, and is inoperative.
Source

Here is the trick!

In the source file, both links are operative, and can be accessed by mousing over and right-clicking. My Vuze program swings into operation without a murmur as if the link were perfectly operational in the rendered page.

So, the moral of the story is “Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet!” Use Opera’s (Ctrl U) function to look behind the scenes, and find out where the truth is.

Happy Browsing!

Second Wind.

DECEMBER 28, 2015. That was the date of the last post to my blog. It seems such a long time ago now, but circumstances have kept me away from doing anything more than a little maintenance now and again. Fortunately my Twitter feed is displayed on the left side of the page, and will assure people that I have not died in the interim, as luck would have it. But the accident I did suffer could have been a lot worse.

Its now been one and a half years since then, and I still have no memory of what happened. I doubt that I will ever recover that now, but it has made me a great deal more cautious crossing a road – even on a pedestrian crossing.

Subsequent to that, my computer started to play up. Nothing too serious – just an unexpected freezing of the program currently in use now and again. The problem was the “now and again” bit, for on no two consecutive days would it behave the same way. Some days it would behave perfectly well most of the day, then crash in the evening. The next day could be a real nightmare, with it crashing every 5 minutes or so.

In addition to which, as the computer had previously been damaged in a flood, the battery contacts were not doing their job. This mean that on every restart I had to enter the date and time anew. This gets very tedious, very quickly!

Eventually my monitor died, and had to be replaced with a new one. Then the computer finally gave up the ghost, and I took the plunge with a new motherboard, new memory and processor (64 bit instead of 32). The two hard drives, power supply, and the case I kept, – everything else was new. The power supply had a clean up, but only managed to hang on for about 2 weeks, then it too bit the dust. It was quickly replaced with a new 700 watt unit.

I also had to update the operating system, which was an unexpected requirement. The motherboard would have run the old one if I had been able to modify the installation files in time. I will look into that later, when I have a spare hard drive.

Since the rebuild, I have taken the time to find my way around the new system, instal what protection I could against malware, and of course, make sure that my Antivirus (Avira) is kept up-to-date.

As it happens, I am also using Zone Alarm again. You may remember a scathing article I wrote about it after it was first taken over by Check Point –
THE MONSTER IN THE MACHINE. JANUARY 10, 2012
Fortunately Check Point have got their act together in the interim, and it is all running very nicely now.

As you may expect, I am no longer running a copy of my blog on my own computer. It was an interesting experiment while it lasted, but is not a real necessity. I will manage without it for a while, and see how things go.

Contracting – Then and Now!

A group of cleaners at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been put under disciplinary investigation by their employers after raising the issue of their low pay in a letter to the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond.

“Foreign Office cleaners disciplined after writing to Philip Hammond for pay increase”
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/19/foreign-office-cleaners-interserve-living-wage

While being perfectly within their rights to seek better remuneration, it could be said that the way they went about it was by no means the best.

They should have first tried to handle with their employer, rather than go outside the company. This is true for two reasons:- a) both their employer and the contracting company would expect it to be handled that way, and b) the contracting company would not expect to take any action unless it could be shown that their employer was at fault.

In this case, the result was very bad for the contract workers.

Airbus A300This reminded me of a spell in Hamburg, Germany, in 1976, when I was working on contract for MBB, Finkenwerde. There was a group of us Brits working on contract there, but the group was split between two different agencies:- Premmit Associates, and Bothwick International. Premmit was the more experienced agency by far, which soon became apparent.

Payment was into a local bank in Finkenwerder every 14 days against signed time records. The problem with Bothwick was that they didn’t seem to be aware of the fact that public holidays in Germany were different to those in the UK, and several times this resulted in a non-availability of money in the bank. Representations were made to Bothwick, who promised to improve, but in fact didn’t. The situation reached a crisis point on one weekend when I had planned to visit my family in England, but had no money with which to do it!

Others suffered similar crises, especially families with children, who would suddenly find they had no budget for the weekend, as the payment had been delayed.

Of course, the people on contract with Premmit, had no such problems whatsoever, as Premmit was organised properly.

This presented a solution to the problem as follows:-

I requested an interview with the Personnel Dept. at MBB, (the client company), explained the situation, and explained the measures that had been taken to correct matters. The Personnel Manager was very understanding, and even offered to lend money to those left in dire straits until a permanent fix to the problem was available.

The fix was to remove Bothwick International from the list of approved agencies, and to allow all contractors who had been working with them to transfer to Premmit.

For the Germans it was simple enough. They did not want disgruntled contract staff on the premises – it would interfere with the work schedule. And time was always tight!

airbus-finkenwerder

As I had no intention of staying longer than the initial 6-month contract, I didn’t make the transfer, but most of the others did. The type of work we were doing was aircraft wiring diagrams, which was technically a long way below my normal work on computers. I couldn’t stay there too long without a permanent penalty in employment prospects, even though the salary was attractive.

(In spite of that, we found out that the German permanent staff workers were on a higher salary than we were, and they didn’t have the inconvenience of working in another country.)

In general, the agencies were not trusted by the working population. They were regarded as greedy swine who were taking an exorbitant rate out of our salaries just for being in the right place at the right time, or knowing a little bit more than the rest of us.

This made it almost compulsory to find out exactly how much of a rake-off they were getting from the client company, and anyone that took too much off the top soon found they were having trouble to find recruits. Word soon got around on the jungle telegraph, and greedy so-and-so’s were black-listed.

Agencies do have value, but not if the costs are too high. Agencies working with people abroad should be able to manage comfortably with a 21% mark-up. If working solely within the UK, the mark-up should be no more than 15%. If you find yourself working with an agency that is charging more than that, ask for a better rate. If you don’t get it – MOVE!

Enlightened agencies will have realised that to keep their clients happy, they have to look after the staff they supply. This is borne out by the present situation resulting from the Hamburg episode above – Premmit Associates, and Bothwick International.

You can find Premmit Associates at http://premmit.co.uk/index.html
The company still exists, some 40 years later, with the same man still in charge – Reginald Gourgey. The nature of the company may have changed, but its success depends on the vision and capability of this one man.

Bothwick International, on the other hand, no longer exists. See https://companycheck.co.uk/company/01148576/BOTHWICK-INTERNATIONAL-LIMITED/financial-accounts
where you will find that the company has been dissolved, and there are no accounts available.

Knowing the people involved, I find that this is no surprise at all!

TTIP is a ‘revolution against international law’, says UN Expert

This item is by Nick Dearden, 16 October 2015, and is available at http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/blog/2015/oct/16/ttip-‘revolution-against-international-law’-says-un-expert

Permission to re-blog has been requested.

Alfred-Maurice de Zayas

“Globalization cannot be allowed to become the grand global casino where investors rig the system to guarantee that they always win.” UN human rights expert Alfred-Maurice de Zayas doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the new generation of trade deals like TTIP.

He believes the corporate court system at the centre of the deal, which allows foreign companies to sue governments in secret “is tantamount to a revolution against law, it is retrogression in terms of legality and predictability, a no-man’s land of arbitrary arbitrations.”

De Zayas was speaking to the UN Human Rights Council and his transcript is well worth reading in full. He believes the privileges which big business is gaining through trade agreements like TTIP “constitute an attack on the very essence of sovereignty and self-determination, which are founding principles of the United Nations.”

The ‘corporate courts’ system is “a Trojan horse” threatening “a privatized system of dispute settlement, outside and contrary to … the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

And there’s more.

“Experience shows that many of the 608 arbitration awards that have become known, have overridden national law and hindered States in the sovereign determination of fiscal and budgetary policy, labour, health and environmental regulation, and have had adverse human rights impacts, also on third parties, including a “chilling effect” with regard to the exercise of democratic governance.”

Officially known as Investor State Dispute Settlement or ISDS, corporate courts bring us closer to a private international system of law which threatens the whole basis of human rights and democracy. De Zayas says:

“An international order of sovereign and equal States … must not be undermined by private attempts to replace it with an international order ruled by investors, speculators and transnational enterprises lacking democratic legitimacy.. international investment agreements are usurping State functions as if the only rights were the rights to trade and to invest.”

What can we do about all of this? We’re constantly told by the British government that hundreds of such courts already exist and we’re trying to defy history. De Zayas disagrees:

“termination of international investment agreements may be a complex task, but much less problematic than, for example, dealing with armed conflict. The world economy has had to adjust time and again to advance the cause of human dignity.

“So it was with the prohibition of the lucrative slave trade, the abolition of slavery and decolonization, which were replaced by other economic models. … eventually investor–State dispute settlement will be recognized as an experiment gone wrong, an attempt to hijack constitutionality, resulting in the retrogression of human rights.”

To start off, de Zayas lays down straightforward guidelines for the British and other governments contemplating deals like TTIP. First, “ISDS should be abolished” as it has no place in a democratic world. He believes states must defy corporate court decisions that violate human rights and even suggests appealing to the World Court to prove “the invalidity of ISDS awards that are arbitrary and manifestly ill-founded.”

Second, government need to “conduct human rights, health and environmental impact assessments” and give maximum transparency to the negotiations which “must not be secret or ‘fast-tracked’”. Deals must not involve “unreasonable ‘survival clause’”, something which surely covers the 20 years it would take a government to withdraw from TTIP.

Finally de Zayas urges states to work together against this corporate coup, because a “democratic and equitable international order can only be achieved by States in international solidarity”.

Why the British Establishment Wants Jeremy Corbyn Buried

By Graham Vanbergen
Global Research, September 30, 2015
TruePublica 30 September 2015

This item was originally posted at http://www.globalresearch.ca/why-the-british-establishment-wants-jeremy-corbyn-buried/5478905

and is re-blogged with permission of the author.

Flag_United_Kingdom

The term “the establishment” refers to leading politicians, senior civil servants, senior barristers and judges, aristocrats, Oxbridge academics, senior clergy, the most important financiers and industrialists, governors of the BBC, members of and top aides to the royal family to mention most, but not all.

The term in this sense is sometimes mistakenly believed to have been coined by the British journalist Henry Fairlie, who in September 1955 in the London magazine ‘The Spectator’ defined that network of prominent, well-connected people as “the Establishment”, explaining: “By the Establishment, I do not only mean the centres of official power—though they are certainly part of it—but rather the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised”.

Corbyn

Following that, the term, the Establishment, was quickly picked up in newspapers and magazines all over London, making Fairlie famous. Today, the term ‘the establishment’ is used generally in a negative sense and it’s easy to understand why.

“The British public has become deeply cynical about the political class at Westminster”, states a recent Financial Times editorial.

“Bankers feel they have an ethical duty to steal from taxpayers” – another reads

“Why are we subsidising the royal family at a time of gross inequality” says another headline.

There has been a rising tide of contempt and anger towards bankers, property speculators, hedge fund bosses, politicians and even religious leaders and the royal family.

For instance, membership of Britain’s unelected upper house, the House of Lords has soared from 666 peers in 1999 to nearly 850 today, well in excess of the House of Commons. The Lords is now the second largest parliamentary chamber in the world behind only the Chinese Peoples Congress. Whilst their chamber is 3.5 times larger, it’s population is 18 times the size of ours. The House of Lords is clearly an expanding repository of political patronage for the prime minister and is no longer fit for purpose or for a modern democracy.

It appears that those who lecture the working and middle classes about financial and moral belt-tightening are the very ones up to their necks in corruption and scandals of all kinds, including sex and paedophile rings to name but a few. The Establishment is now under fire.

In the past, these scandals were kept under wraps. They closed ranks to protect themselves. Top judges and police chiefs covered up for wealthy and powerful friends, including politicians. After all, they were from the same social class, shared the same clubs and sent their children to the same private schools, a grotesque example highlighted recently with David Cameron and Lord Ashcroft’s ‘Piggate‘ revelations.

In recent times, the rich have become much wealthier and everyone else poorer. Tories, Liberal Democrats and New Labour fell over themselves to please their friends in the City of London, a gang of speculators who stripped the nation of its prosperity and then paid themselves huge bonuses for having got away with it.

David Cameron is currently at the centre of this group, financed by the rich and super rich who was described in the commons “a dodgy prime minister surrounded by dodgy donors”, who turned a blind eye to tax avoidance by the rich and big business.

In order to keep the reigns of power, the establishment is frightened of one thing and one thing only – Democracy.

Extending real voting options to the poor would obviously present risks to their position. For instance, Conservative statesman Lord Salisbury told parliament in 1866, Giving working-class people the vote would, he stated, tempt them to pass “laws with respect to taxation and property especially favourable to them, and therefore dangerous to all other classes”. Today, you can hear exactly the same narrative against the new labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a scathing attack by media barons and corporate executives along with politicians and even military generals.

The establishment is characterised by those with ideas that legitimise and protect the concentration of wealth and power in very few hands. The establishment do not want democracy at all but a veneer of democracy must be provided.

It is because the establishment is made up of politicians who devise our laws, police to enforce those laws, corporate entities who are increasingly dominating economic performance (unpaid taxes for instance) and a smaller band of media barons who also set the terms of debate and the result of that debate that we see a closed shop network construct itself.

A conflict of interest of epic proportions. It is here that we find a common psychology and shared understanding.

The scandal surrounding the money laundering and tax evasion operations at HSBC exposes the links between a corrupt banking elite and a rotten political establishment. Lord Green, former head of HSBC, was at the centre of this tax dodgers’ row. He chaired HSBC until December 2010, when he became a Conservative trade minister and was given a peerage by David Cameron. You can see a major conflict of interest here unless afflicted with total sensory deprivation.

Lord Green was then given staunch backing by the Church of England. Needless to say, these preachers of great moral fortitude have a long tradition in protecting their own. Lord Green, a millionaire banker is a devout Christian and ordained Anglican priest. The archbishops of Canterbury and York said they were grateful to the former HSBC boss for his “contribution and expertise”. One could easily assume this to be a clan of hypocrites that have attacked politicians for failing to provide a “fresh moral vision”, but then act no differently.

Another religious entity, The Vatican, has large investments with the Rothschilds of Britain, France and America, with Credit Suisse in London and Zurich with Morgan Bank and Chase-Manhattan Bank and others in the US and UK. All of these organisations have been involved in global, anti-social criminality adopting fraud as the basis of its profit centres, especially in London.

The Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. She is a greater possessor of material riches (such as property and gold bullion) than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state of the whole globe. With covering up sex crimes, inappropriate behaviour among prelates, political infighting and the existence of a clandestine gay cabal at the highest levels, the Catholic Church has a long shameful history and is the epitome of the establishment.

The crimes of the establishment are racking up at an alarming rate. However, if you get caught without paying your TV licence fee, laws designed to catch terrorists are used by the BBC to ensure your good behaviour.

In the meantime, one can take the example of how the establishment works when it blames society for all it’s troubles as a diversionary tactic. The media have managed to make the British population believe that 27% of social security money has been fraudulently gained when the figure is actually 0.7%. The media barons, and there are only five of them in Britain who own 80% of printed media outlets, don’t live in Britain and none pay tax in Britain but they want to continue pillaging Britain and get away with it.

This same tactic provides cover for the government to impose austerity that has caused the biggest transfer of wealth from the vulnerable, the poor, working class and middle classes directly in a route north.

The establishment are largely responsible for a neoliberal ideology that is so damaging to society as a whole – It’s the business model that fits. They use the term ‘economic freedom’ as if this is to somehow benefit us all, which it rarely does. For example, almost universally, this philosophy is used to transfer state assets to profit driven business (privatisation) that has enriched the few and made everyone else pay.

If the political system remains committed to the type of capitalism that exists in Britain today, it will always end up justifying a system that produces a mega-rich and privileged elite. Hence, why Jeremy Corbyn is such a threat to the establishment.

Jeremy Corbyn looks like the first senior politician who will not be corrupted by the establishment. Bankers will not be funding the party. He will not support war. He doesn’t support Israel, He is not religious and doesn’t believe in the monarchy. He will be the first prime minister (if elected) for decades that does not, and probably will not support the establishment.

So frightened of Corbyn, the establishment is now mobilising their entire resourcefullness at him, evidenced by a threatened military coup – not quite akin to Chile in the 1970’s but an extreme tactic to say the least, one spawned from desperation for sure.

The crisis of extreme, out of control ‘capitalism’ simply exposes the rottenness of the system. British capitalism has become casino capitalism, based upon property speculation, banking and financial services. In fact, the services sector now provides 80% of business activity in Britain leaving millions without meaningful work or income.

Extreme capitalism means a concentration of wealth at one pole, and poverty and degradation at the other with the bit in the middle being eviscerated. This is where the establishment languish. Jeremy Corbyn does not fit in. The stakes are very high.

Copyright © Graham Vanbergen, TruePublica, 2015

The Greens – Was it a Surge, or a Bubble?

The so-called Green Surge has expended its energy without having achieved anything of significance other than moving a point on a graph up a few points – only for it to crash down to a lower position than it occupied before the surge started!

The fact that the choice of party leader is not the optimum is only one of the factors affecting this outcome.

There has been a concerted effort to make the choice of a Green candidate available in as many constituencies as possible. This has spread resources so thin that new resources have had to be generated by crowd-funding. The constituencies newly offering a Green candidate will continue to consume resources until the election is over. I ask whether it would have been better to concentrate on a more focussed approach as outlined below (from http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/james-blog/2393165/where-next-for-the-green-surge).

“If I was a Green Party member, and I’m not, I’d want to see a strategy for securing 15 per cent of the vote and a credible set of tactics for winning at least three seats and being competitive in plenty more.”

Having listened to some of the available interviews with Natalie Bennett on Youtube, I am appalled at the sheer ineptitude demonstrated. Not only is her speaking manner very bad, it is patently obvious that she does not know the subject matter in sufficient detail – to put it bluntly –
She doesn’t know what she is talking about!

For anyone being interviewed in the public domain, that would be a severe indictment indeed, but for a person that purports to lead a political party, it is political suicide. And if the party insists on continuing to support that person, the negative effects will spread much wider.

We have indeed seen this happen. The Green surge has dissipated, leaving hardly a trace behind it.

There is still some time before the election to make some amends, and I strongly recommend that the following approach be at least considered.

a) Immediately put Amelia Womack in charge of the party – if she is willing to take it on.
b) If she can’t handle it, find someone who can, and is willing!
c) Ask Caroline Lucas to do any TV debates that may be scheduled – she is the only one with the experience to handle that!
d) Take Natalie Bennett out of main stream altogether. She should not be one of the candidates in the coming election!

There is a significant advantage for taking these steps before the election. It is good to admit openly that a failure has been made, and has been corrected. It will generate trust, a valuable commodity for any political party, and will demonstrate that you are not afraid to take corrective measures when necessary.

The alternative is to do nothing, and then after the election has been totally lost, you can blame everyone for your own failures! This option is totally unconvincing, and is likely to send the Green party into political oblivion for a number of years.

Bite the bullet! Make the change now!

PS. I am curious. If you get the opportunity, find out what Natalie Bennett’s views on racism in Australia are. The only exception to the generally appalling treatment of the indigenous population seems to be if they are good at tennis!

The “Follower” problem.

For those of you running a straight blog, with no fancy technical additions, there will actually be no problem visible, for the simple reason that you don’t have one.

If, however, you have had the temerity to aspire to the next Geek level, and have added your Twitter feed to your WordPress blog, you will be seeing the same problem as I do:-

The Follower count is never updated!

What happens when the two systems are merged is that the Follower count for the blog is added to the Follower count for Twitter, and the combined count is displayed.

For Twitter users, the Follower count is quite dynamic. I am seeing increases of up to 10 per day, only to be followed by a decrease of 5 the next day, for example. You would expect the combined account to follow the same pattern, but it doesn’t:- it remains completely static as the count calculated when the two systems were merged.

The problem has been reported, and I am awaiting developments.

In the meantime, if you are absolutely desperate to display the burgeoning number of your followers, you can always disconnect Twitter, and then reconnect it – at which time your follower count will be updated to the latest status.

Just for the Record – 2!

The dictionary defines “War of Attrition” as ‘one whose outcome depends on which side can last longer’. In the case of Israel and Palestine, it is patently obvious that Israel, with its overwhelmingly superior forces, and virtually unlimited financial resources, (including those that it steals from the Palestinians), will be the eventual winner.

And to the people that have not yet realised it, I say that although the open warfare may have ended at last August’s cease-fire agreement, the war of attrition has never stopped!

Soldiers Uproot Farmlands In Nablus, Invade Hebron Communities
Torture Of Palestinian Detainees By Israeli Investigators Rises Sharply
Israel kills fisherman and reduces Gaza’s fishing space by 2 miles: Union
On International Women’s Day: 20 Palestinian Woman Still Held Captive By Israeli Occupation
Firing zone used to expand settlements, demolish Palestinian homes
Crushing Flowers: A Report Documenting Violations Against Palestinian Women #WomensDay
Israeli Terrorists Assault Elderly Palestinian Man In The Old City
Israeli Occupation Soldiers Attack Disabled Palestinian Teenager North of Jenin
The sadness of Gaza’s Swedish village
Gaza’s farmers on front lines of perpetual war
Israel demolished 50 Arab homes in the Negev since start of year
Gaza fisherman shot dead by Israeli naval forces
Israeli Occupation Forces Shoot 7-Year-Old Palestinian In Jerusalem
Israeli forces shoot, injure 5 teens near Ramallah
Israeli Occupation Navy Murders Gaza Fisherman
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinians in southern Gaza Strip
Gaza’s farmers on front lines of perpetual war
Settlers torch 2 Palestinian cars near Ramallah
Israeli authorities demolish Bedouin houses in Negev village
Israeli Occupation Forces Open Fire On Gaza Houses, Farmlands
Israeli Occupation Forces Shoot, Injure 2 And Abduct Three Fishermen From Gaza
Israeli Occupation Soldiers Setting Dogs To Attack Palestinian Youth Is Part Of Official Policy
Only five percent of pledged aid reaches Gaza
Displaced Palestinians living in uncertainty in schools
Gaza’s Power Plant shuts down due to fuel shortage
Murder holes and hooligan chants: images of Israel’s war crimes
Israeli forces arrest two shepherds in the South Hebron Hills
Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 fishermen off Gaza coast
Israeli Occupation Naval Gunboats Continue To Target Gaza Fishermen Offshore
Israeli Occupation Denies PLO Officials Entry To West Bank From Gaza
Israeli Occupation To Ethnically Cleanse Bedouin Naqab Village
Israeli Occupation Seals Off Palestinian Stone-Cutting Factory Near Hebron
Israeli Occupation Naval Gunboats Continue To Target Gaza Fishermen Offshore
Absurd! Israeli Occupation Forces Arrest Palestinian Student For Possession Of Geometric Compass
PA pays limited salaries as Israel withholds taxes
Israel police destroy Bedouin agricultural crops in Negev

The above list could have been much longer if I was really looking. In all truth, the plight of the Palestinians is dire, while their oppressors, the Israelis, get away with crimes on a massive scale with no effective restraining influence anywhere in the world.

The situation requires radical action. The occupation of Palestinian land must immediately cease, the freedom of the seas be reinstated, and the theft of Palestinian off-shore resources stopped. Move all Israeli settlers back off Palestinian land, and give the houses to the Palestinians.

It is to be expected that Israeli settlers would violently oppose such a move, extremists that they are. I propose a special area for them – in Antarctica, where they can cool off!

Notes:-
1. There were at least 329 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2014, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
2. More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
3. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.