Skip to main content
Above and Beyond

Thirty-six thousand feet above the desert of Saudi Arabia and I'm reading Hemingway's 'A Farewell to Arms' Love war and wounds in the Italy of the First World War. If you haven't read it you should G.

There are parallels with my great grandfather who also volunteered to become an ambulance driver for the Belgian army in 1914 before the British had even arrived.

In front of me, in the space between the aircraft galley and the toilet, and old gentleman is knelt on a worn green prayer mat, praying in the direction of Mecca. He finishes and his place is taken by a much larger and equally devout Arab, who a young woman wearing a headscarf on, steps quietly around as she opens the cublicle door.

The day should have started smoothly; after all, a first class ticket on any airline should ease the pain of modern travel. In my case events didn't run strictly to plan, as my ticket hadn't been paid for in full at the client end. A mix-up, I was assured but no ticket, no seat.

This was all because the client Government had upgraded me on a fully-booked flight to make sure I would arrive in time for my presentation on Monday morning but the ticketing desk at Heathrow had heard this all before and I watched as two Arab diplomats were turned away from the same flight. They were from another country, Morocco I think but the story was the same.

Fortunately for me at least, the airline still had the booking for the original Business Class flight I was booked on for Monday and offered me a seat and so I assume some poor soul was shunted-off the flight to make way for me.

When I finally boarded flight 103, an elderly Filipino woman was comfortably settled in my seat. She had an Economy ticket but had decided she preferred the view from 5F and claimed her heart condition wouldn't allow her to move further down the cabin. Eventually, the flight attendants managed to convince her that seat 18G would arrive at the same time as 5F and so she shuffled off down the cabin, taking my collection of business class goodies with her.



A little later having arrived at the Kuwait Sheraton, I'm glad I bought some large cigars at Heathrow. My old friend, one of the country's Minister's greeted me as I arrived, and I remembered his weakness for Havanna tobacco, reaching into my bag and offering him one immediately.

Steve Ballmer is making the opening address on Microsoft's vision of eGovernment in the morning, so I'm completely taken by surprise. My presentation title is also somewhat diferent to the one I have prepared, so I expect to be burning the midnight oil.

Comments

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…