Skip to main content
Ex Cathedra

Above me, a dust storm has virtually closed the airport and the hotel reception is crammed with suitcases and tough-looking men with baseball hats. Either the Vogon Heavy Constructor Fleet has landed or these are Texan oil men or rig crews perhaps, either going to or from Iraq.

I'm writing this from the 'Internet cafe' at the conference centre in Bahrain this morning. I have to deliver a keynote speech on Middle Eastern eGovernment in an hour and rumour has it that Iran's President Khatemi, who is visiting Bahrain, may step in to listen.I rather doubt it, as I'm sure he has better things to do, Middle Eastern peace being a good place to start.

Bahrain is, as, I expected, full of American service people. Hard to miss at the country's best traditional Japanese restaurant last night but then I discovered that America's legacy to the region isn't peace but the 'Doggy Bag' instead. With no exceptions, as I ate my Sashimi, I watched each of the American service couples ask for 'Doggy Bags' in turn.

This is a new experience for the Arab world, maybe it will catch on, like Coca Cola, McDonalds and 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'.


Popular posts from this blog

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…