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Showing posts from 2009

The Road Ahead

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I can't remember a time when I read so many books over Christmas. This year, it's a consequence of having my Amazon Kindle reader and as I've written here before, the results are quite remarkable in terms of easy and immediate access to works of both fact and fiction. Not one for holidays, the Christmas break is a time when a can enjoy a a good book without the world outside intruding too much on a temporary truce from the reach of email and the telephone. I can even turn my Blackberry off!

For many of us, each decade is one of those periods in our lives that we can most easily recall. In 1970, I was in my mid-teens, in 1980, I was starting a new career and in 1990, I recall that Microsoft's Windows was starting to make its presence felt over IBM's OS/2 Operating System. That technology, still very much in its infancy, would be inconceivable to the teenagers of today, where even the lowest-end iPod Touch carries 8Gb of memory and computing is heading towards a virt…

Scattered About

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Well, that's another Christmas Day, past. I've been out this morning and would personally like to express my personal 'thanks' to the occupants of the house which regularly dumps its household rubbish next to the council bin at the start of the St Mildred's Bay car park. I'm sure those responsible and I could read out the names from their Xmas present labels, will be delighted to know, that with help from the ever present and voracious seagulls, the remains of their Christmas dinner and gift wrappings, are now scattered as far down as the beach. Strangely enough, I see, even the gulls won't eat Brussel sprouts.

Further down in the recycling area, people either can't be bothered or are not strong enough to lift the cover on the skip and have dumped bags of wrapping paper and boxes next to it. Yesterday, I shoved a whole load of boxes and paper to the back which was blocking the opening. So what happens next, is when the wind picks up, all the paper will…

Re-booting the Economy

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I've embedded a conference presentation from TED.COM by Juan Enriquez that I recommend watching, as it delivers considerable insight into the problems facing the global economy and the technologies that may soon shape our future.

Although he refers to the US recession, much of what he says in terms of leverage and debt applies to our own economy, as closely linked as it is, to the uncertain fortunes of the mighty dollar and a globalised financial system.



Slightly Cloudy

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After almost two weeks away, I see the battery life on my Amazon Kindle reader still shows half charge and that's after wading through Dan Simmons' novel, Ilium, and having started the sequel Olympos as well. If you can imagine, Homer's 'Iliad', Shakespeare's 'Tempest' and some advanced quantum physics, all shaken vigorously together, then you've the basis for a rather imaginative novel of both the distant past and far future. The great thing about the Kindle device is that I can also load for free, the complete Iliad, Herodotus' travels in ancient Egypt and a great deal more besides and so in a very short period, it's completely changed my reading habits.
I can see a near future where devices like this one actually have liquid crystal pages as the technology now exists. So you buy perhaps a six-page device or twelve-page device to suit your budget and the first page is wirelessly synchronized with your email, several more display word or PDF…

Climbing Away

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I haven't blogged for almost a week and so I'll start this entry as my Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi, flings itself over the desert coast and climbs away towards Bahrain and London Heathrow, several hours away.
I can't praise the quality of service on this airline enough. I'm sitting in economy and yet Etihad is superior to business class in most other airlines, such as Iberia, that I flew with last week to Madrid. The digital entertainment system, all touch screen, is quite remarkable with enough to keep me busy for hours; I watched 'Ice Age 3' and 'District 9' on the way out and I plan to start today with 'Dillinger' once I settle down after typing this.
The flight attendants on this new Airbus look as if they've freshly arrived from a beauty pageant. I suspect that if they were suddenly exposed to the harsh winter light and charms of Cecil Square, they might wither away instantly; like delicate tropical flowers. On the way out to the emirate…

Come Thursday

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With the prevailing fascination in ‘New media’, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and more, for political communication, Brighton & Hove City Council being one good example, I’m interested to see that I’m sharing a platform in Caceres, Spain, in December, with Rahaf Harfoush, the author of “Yes We Did: An Inside Look at How Social Media Built the Obama Brand.” Whether I will have a chance to chat over lunch on what we can learn from the Obama campaign over here I don’t know but I’m sure her presentation will be rather more interesting than my own talk on disruptive technology and ‘Cloud’ computing, which at present has rather too many slides and is likely to subject the audience to ‘Death by PowerPoint’.
Staying with Obama for a moment, I see an old friend has been appointed Obama’s interim Cyber-security Coordinator at the White House and I dropped him a note last week to congratulate him and ask him how he was finding it. “Very interesting and very busy” was the short reply.

Come Thurs…

Ted TV

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I've been trekking back and forth to the Chatham campus on a regular basis since September doing a course on education. It's a subject that interests deeply me for a number of important reasons both intellectual and political and in particular because of its vital importance to the future of our society and our place in the world of the 21st century.

Much of what I've seen so far is beautifully summed-up in this very good and humerous video lecture by Sir Ken Robinson. It's well worth watching. I also recommend www.ted.com which is a sort of intellectual YouTube, with lots of lectures by well-known people, such as Richard Dawkins, Al Gore, Brian Cox and many more.




One Plan and Another

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I'm presently struggling with a new university course and with it, the impact of technology on our society and indeed, its future. For reader interest, I'm putting up a YouTube video, 'ShiftHappens' which is well worth watching for lovers of statistics.

Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan have also written a book, 'The Plan - twelve months to renew Britain' which I'm trying to read and finish this weekend. Already half-way through, I would recommend it to anyone.

I've just ordered the first of Amazon's 'Kindle' readers for the UK, so I'm looking forward to a future of being able to buy and download many thousands of books, newspapers, periodicals and publications, wirelessly into the hand held reading device, which can hold thousands of books in its memory.




Night at the Museum - Almost

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The local Blogs seem very quiet at the moment. Either everyone has become very bored with the writing exercise or there isn't that much to report on the long dark slide towards Christmas and 2010.

Briefly, I stumbled across more evidence of the growth of our Police state this week, with two stories. The first from a friend of mine from Westgate, who visited the Natural History Museum in London and who like me, owns a Gerber multitool. In his case, rather like a Swiss Army knife, it was in his bag but the security lady at the museum concluded from the look of him, that he must be a dodgy character or potential terrorist, because she stopped him and asked him to turn out his bag.

Spotting the Gerber multi-tool, she said she would have to confiscate it as a weapon but he stood his ground and told her she had no right to do so. She insisted that she did and the Police were called. Ironically, when the Police arrived, expecting perhaps to find Osama Bin Laden, they took one look at the G…

Free Charlie Bronson?

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Just two days after the ecrime mid-year Forum in London, an unusual mission for me and my company, Airads, today, over Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire, organised by the supporters of Charles Bronson, with the message: “FREE BRONSON- ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”.

What can I say, other than it took a fair amount of liaison work between me and the CAA as well as the Police and Prison Governor at Long Lartin.

No Rule on How to Write

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I see that Computer Weekly has run my column on social media and the public sector:

"The great Ernest Hemingway once said: "There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges", so when it comes to finding a really good read, local government publications can normally be found somewhere near the bottom of any bedtime book choice. Not that town halls don't try very hard to reach out to the public in every conceivable way but by its very nature, even the brightest and most positive news stories from the public sector rarely attract the traffic they might deserve.

Most lately, you may have seen on the BBC Politics Show, criticism surrounding Brighton and Hove City Council, which advertised for a new social media officer with "expertise" on both Facebook and Twitter at a time when other staff are facing pay cuts. The council offered the reason for this appointment …

The Jungle Below

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An interesting six hours or so in the air on Friday.

First stop was Calais and 'The Jungle' the sparsely wooded area adjacent to the port, for a national newspaper, having a good look at what was taking place in the refugee encampment below. I was struck by how many blue tarpaulin-covered shelters there were, lean-to's huddling miserably together in a relatively small and dirty space and the presence of scaling ladders visible and badly concealed on top of several.

Most surprising of all is how close the industrial estate and coach park are to the 'Jungle', quite literally on the other side of the bushes.

Below, there was evidence of organised activity, with one large group of men visibly being directed by a single individual in a leather jacket. Where they might have been going I can't say but there was no shortage of lorries or coaches within easy reach of any passing travel interest.

Back on this side of the Channel, it was back to nuclear reactors, taking in Br…

Orwell Was Right

I thought I would try blogging directly from Microsoft Word this morning as I haven't tried it before, normally making entries, 'on the fly' straight into Blogger.com, spelling mistakes and all.



This morning's weather is such that there's no great incentive to leave the house, other than to walk a reluctant dog and this gives me a good reason to finish reading and marking-up Cabinet papers for next week and finish a two thousand word feature on last Sunday's flight to Milan and the Gulfstream G200 for 'P1' magazine; a bit like 'Top Gear' and I'm no Jeremy Clarkson although I've attached a quick clip of the landing for anyone who might be interestedin such things!
Having flicked through the Sunday papers, I've decided not to pull-out any stories that caught my attention other than remarking that it's TUC Conference time again and Trades Union leaders were reportedly treated to beer and curry with the Prime Minister this weekend in a…

Tiger Tiger

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Over at Leicester today flying a promotional banner for the "Tigers" rugby team. Leicester is only 138 miles from Thanet as 'The crow flies' but I'm sure it seem rather longer by road.

From the air and on a lovely autumn day like today, it looks like a very attractive city with lots of green spaces and a very accomodating airfield to operate from too!

With the evening now starting to draw in, the banner season will soon come to end or at least quieten down until April of next year. It still runs through the winter but becomes increasingly more of a probability exercise, each time I fly as the winter weather depressions and shorter days make flying more challenging.

Into Linate

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I found myself on a day trip to Milan on Sunday, as a member of the flight crew on a positioning trip of a GainJet Gulfstream G200.

Ninety minutes was all it took, followed by several hours of aviation hell, as I caught the 16:50 (delayed to 18:00) Easyjet from Milan's Linate airport back into Gatwick with all the other poor souls squeezed on-board.
From the cockpit of the Gulfstream, the view over the Alps was breathtaking from 37,000 feet, giving way suddenly to the flat plain of Northern Italy and then a sharp right-turn and a radar-vectored descent into Linate.

It's easy to understand why Manchester United Football Club and the super wealthy prefer executive jet travel whenever possible. Passport control and travel formalities are a polite nod at both ends and the interior of the aircraft is lavish in mahogany and leather with all possible comforts supplied.

This particular aircraft was scheduled to go on to Frankfurt in the morning and then Istanbul and beyond, finishing-up,…

The Hejaz Trail

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Not many people have heard of Charles Montagu Doughty, the great desert explorer and a contemporary of the equally famous Sir Richard Burton.

In 1876 the young Charles Doughty set out to cross the interior of the Arabian Peninsula. His goal was the "lost" Nabatean city of Madain Saleh the magnificent sister city to Petra in Jordan. Several years of his life were spent in what were later called his "wanderings": explorations of a terrain little known to Europeans, the discovery of the remains of the sought-for city and detailed accounts of what he discovered there, with particular attention paid to the local geology.

I've noticed that the BBC 2 documentary, 'The Frankincense Trail' with the embrassingly naive, Kate Humble, looks as if she is to visit this same spot in the northern desert of Saudi Arabia. I was once lucky to see this almost thirty years ago, while following the path of T.E Lawrence and the abandoned remains of the Hejaz railway; carrying a …

Joined-up Smart.Gov

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While ideas on trying to be as cost-effective and practical as possible with our ICT budget may have proved a little tedious for Thanet's Labour opposition during last month's council meeting, I see that this week's Computer Weekly has picked-up the broader public sector theme that: "We need to be more joined-up, increasingly smarter in the way in which we integrate different processes and innovative in the way in which we use our existing solutions and partnerships with other authorities."

When the Lights Go Out

With the year now accelerating into increasingly darker evenings, I read today that “Demand for power from homes and businesses will exceed supply from the national grid within eight years”, according to official figures.

Apparently, our problem, here in Britain is caused by the scheduled closure by 2015 of nine oil and coal-fired power plants victims of the EU directive designed to cut pollution.

In the next couple of weeks I have to visit Bradwell, Sizewell and Dungeness, nuclear reactors also scheduled for decommissioning and over the next decade, one third of Britain’s power-generating capacity needs to be replaced with cleaner fuels.

As it is most unlikely that any new nuclear power stations will be built before 2018, any drive for renewable forms of energy in particular the wind farms springing-up around our coast here in Thanet, is unlikely to meet the gap left.

The admission that Britain will face power-cuts is contained in a document that accompanied the Government’s ‘Low Carbon …

Deep Blue

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The last Bank Holiday of the summer and the weather looks to be a little unpredictable for the work I have ahead. Among the flying jobs between Thanet and the Isle of Wight, I have two marriage proposals, one wedding and happily no funerals!

If this blustery wind persists overnight, then two nervous suitors with big plans are going to be very disappointed and I'm doing my best to manage their expectations in view of the weather forecast.

I've always had an unfortunate tendency to pick interests which are weather dependent. in the early 1990's I ran Submariner Consulting Ltd and had an interesting time contributing to the development of the early industry surrounding mixed-gas deep diving; writing extensively for several specialist publications such as aquaCorps.

The picture on the left was taken on a dive on the cruiser Wilkes-Barre, which lies off the Florida Keys in over 250 feet of water and some other equally interesting adventures included visiting Comex in Marseilles f…

Something Faustian

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Reportedly "A black day" and "A gentleman's agreement" now join many others in the growing list of prohibited and/or politically incorrect expressions, identified at enormous public expense by quangos, tirelessly working day and night for a better and more equal society. Am I surprised? Of course not.

I'm not yet sure of the status of "White collar worker" or indeed "Black humour" but perhaps one of my readers has the answer?

As most of us know, our great nation totters on the edge of bankruptcy but Treasury statistics revealed by The Sunday Times, show that the UK's net contribution to the European Union will increase from £4.1 billion this year to £6.4 billion in the next financial year (2010-2011).

Can we afford it, certainly not. Would the public support it? Of course not and it's now only a matter of weeks before the Irish Republic are forced to vote again on the 'Lisbon Treaty' they only recently rejected. This time ar…

Miller Time

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I'm told the 'Blogosphere' has been busy today but in such glorious weather, I've been above it all, at a scorching Cranfield for much of the day.

After close to three years of unrelenting study, flying and fourteen written technical exams, today, I finally succeeded in obtaining the CAA's instrument rating to add to my commercial pilot's license and so in principle at least, I could perhaps apply for a job tomorrow flying tourists to Malaga; unlikely though as I'm getting on a bit now and there's a recession in the airline industry, as the anti-Manston group like to remind us.

No doubt, I'll discover elsewhere in the Blog comments that this too exists only in my imagination but the unrelenting stress of the practical flight test exam at least will stay with me for ever. I certainly don't want to experience anything like it ever again.

Time then to break out a very cold beer and catch up with all the paperwork I now have to complete and fees I have…

Crystal Ball Gazing

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If you want living proof that forecasting the future is best left to the experts, such as Nostradamus, then read my predictions for the Britain of 2010 in The Observer newspaper in January of 2001.

Gazing deeply into my 400mhz crystal ball, I rather lavishly forecast "This country is poised for a wealthy new era as the Venice of the information age" but never counted on the presence of Gordon Brown or the arrival of the worst global recession since the 1930's either.

As I was working with the Office of the e-Envoy at the time and if memory serves, had just returned from a mission to a bitterly cold South Korea the previous week, you can almost smell the optimism that still surrounded the arrival of the internet, that particular bubble still having a year to run before it burst!

One thing though hasn't changed and it's as true here in the outlying villages of Thanet as it was in 2001:

"Bandwidth is, he believes, a critical issue: 'We need to ensure that peop…

A Cut Above

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The expression that springs directly to mind is ‘SmartGov’ and for me at least, it describes what is going to be a very difficult time for local government in the years ahead.

I was fortunate to be present at the very beginning of the eGovernment revolution which changed the face of public services. Generous investment, the internet and the arrival of new technologies, gave the public unprecedented access to local government and streamlined, processes, such as planning and benefits, which had once been Byzantine and impenetrable.

In 2009 one might argue that local government now finds itself at the wrong end of two financial cycles. The first involves the growing costs of a ‘technology refresh’ and the second, the more serious implications that now surround the public sector financial crisis; the worst since the end of the Second World War.

Councils are now struggling to cope with the fallout from the recession and are facing the prospect of as much as a 30% cut in their central Governme…

Newport Revival

One of those days!

I had the Lowestoft Airshow to do this morning and there's a full council meeting this evening, so trying to fit in a 'spectacular' for the RMT Trades Union in between, presents a bit of a challenge.

Last night I was asked, if I could drop food parcels into the Vestas' UK, Newport, Isle of Wight wind turbine facility, which employs about 600 people in blade manufacturing and where 25 or so workers are into the fourth day of a sit-in protest. I explained that unlike the Berlin Airlift, the only thing you can legally drop from an aircraft in this country are poppies or cremated human remains, and as neither are particularly edible, that particular avenue for relieving the siege was closed.

This afternoon, I had another call from Newport. This time, would I fly a banner with "SAVE OUR JOBS - SAVE OUR ISLAND" past the facility at 6pm tonight to coincide with a visit and a speech from RMT Union leader Bob Crow.

Pulling the stops out, I can do it but…

Moon Mission

Following a walkaround the 'Pride' event in Margate this afternoon, I've just caught the end of a programme on the Apollo 11 mission on the BBC.



For me, the Apollo missions had an important influence on my life. I remember, age 13, staying-up all night to watch the landing. I was very much into the whole space 'thing' from Gemini on. For Apollo 11 I had a special moon mission pack which I studied religiously and included all the flight details and even some checklists and sadly enough, I can still recall some of the engine start sequences for the command module: "Inject prevalves on...." etc. At 53, I wish my memory was good enough to completely memorise the full sequences on the DA42 I will be using for my instrument flight test at Cranfield in the next two weeks. I have to confess that I've now explored the limits of my own abilities. Most commercial pilots take the IR exam in their early twenties and the ageing 1960's processor, which is now my …

Flying Through the Money Pit

Gradually reaching what I hope is the end of a very expensive instrument rating course at Stapleford Flight Centre; I've been doing it since March.

Having added somewhat to the size of the national debt, both in the simulator and in the aircraft, I'm rather hoping it leads to a future flying larger and more interesting aircraft but in the present economic climate, I'm not so sure! Have to stick to tugging advertising banners about!

Jury Ride

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Strangely enough, I was flying a 'Jury Team' election banner all the way along the M25 from Rochester to Reading yesterday, having had no 'takers' for my 'Save Gordon' campaign.

While I was in the air, I could hear the rescue services looking for the reportedly missing light aircraft from Cambridge to Lydd; a helicopter and the Coastguard Cessna from Manston (pictured). I rather think that the pilot, a Swiss, I hear, may simply have gone somewhere else and forgotten the strict rules governing letting ATC know of a change of destination. I hope so anyway

Based on today's election results, I'm wondering, like many other, if our Prime Minister will survive the week or perhaps go down in history as Labour's worst poll performer since Michael Foot. The PM who nobody voted for and the Chancellor and then unlucky Prime Minister, who supervised the greatest 'Boom to Bust' phenomenon since the Great Depression of the 1930's

With both Hazel Blears an…

Ace Cafe in Margate

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Quite by accident this morning, I found myself towards the front of hundreds of motorcyclists on the way in to Marine Parade at Margate for the Ace Cafe Bank Holiday ride-in.

You may recall that last year ws a complete gale-blown washout and this time, I jumped on my BMW this morning and decided to go and have a look at what was happening. As I reached the seafront at the Nayland Rock, I could see a number of bikes ahead but glancing behind me, I found I had picked up a small army of bikes that had obviously been rolling along the Canterbury road from London.

The very efficient marshalls shepherded everyone in to park along the front and by the looks of it this afternoon, a good day was had by all, the occasional shower and late thunderstorm aside.

The Harbour Arm was busy with different stalls and the cafes appeared to be doing a roaring trade. Next time, if anyone can whip up a full english breakfast for 1,000 bikers, they'll do very well indeed!

Hacked to Pieces

Just before I run off to fly a banner for Havering council over Romford, here's a link to an interesting BBC Radio 4. programme which was mostly recorded at the ecrime congress in March.

Jolyon Jenkins asked if he could interview many of the speakers at the congress and the result is a very good, balanced and intelligent layman's summary of the current state of hacking, the malware supply chain and the current vulnerability of all of us in the on-line world. I strongly recommend that you listen to it and perhaps modify your own online behaviour in line with the information it offers.

Copped

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You might have thought that the kind of the political smear campaign that came out of No10 last week was an isolated example but it clearly has its imitators here in Thanet.

Sometime before lunch, I plan to hand myself-over to the authorities having been revealed by a leading local fantasist and anti-Tory/Council Blogger, Matt Brown of Garlinge as ‘The Evil Hood’ that many of you will fondly recall from watching ‘Thunderbirds’ when you were young.

Investigative sleuth Matt, reports that I am “Connected to promoting casual sex, gambling and hacking as well as other "Black Hat" online practices,” which comes as a surprise to me. He mentions the “Computer Miss-use Act” which I’m not familiar with but which may be loosely connected to the UK’s The Computer Misuse Act 1990, which was created to criminalize unauthorized access to computer systems.

Now, according to Matt: “Has Dr Simon Moores taken to pushing gambling, casual sex and hacking? Are things so slow in the Air Ads industry…

Organised Time

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A rather long day away from home, that challenged the boundaries of the different 'hats' I wear.

The Times newspaper apparently want to do a story on Margate's regeneration and the many challenges that seaside towns face in general and so I'm trying to help the journalist along with the information she needs and perhaps a visit to the town next week. I should remind her that Ramsgate, the millionaire's playground of the far South-east is certainly worth a visit as well. She hasn't discovered ECR, Michael Child or even Tony Flaig yet but I'm sure she will in time!

Meanwhile, I've been buried in the depths of the ecrime congress watching a trickle of enquiries for aircraft banners trickle into my Blackberry. The season normally starts in a week and from now on, recession aside, the calls start coming in; starting with a marriage proposal over Brighton on Friday

Several fascinating presentations today, among them, Chris Kelly from Facebook (pictured), I forgo…

Thirty Something

There was an episode, in that classic political television satire, 'The New Statesman', when the Government was trying very hard to lose the next election, because it knew, the country was in such a mess, that the best option was to let the opposition take the blame for trying to clean it up. It would then make a swift return to power at the polls in five years, once that same opposition had become unelectable as a consequence.

I rather suspect that's the position that the Government finds itself in today. There's certainly talk among people I know, that a change of Government would be a 'poison chalice' for the Conservative opposition, with the economy on its knees and a legacy of ten years of misguided experimentation which has caused such damage to the fabric of our society.

The media are headlining a new warning from the Bank of England today which reports that the country is displaying early symptoms of being trapped in a so-called “debt deflation trap” wher…

Weddings Above

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I have been up and about over the big wedding in Hertfordshire this afternoon. I did shoot some video footage from above which I have now added to YouTube.
Everything went on time and according to plan and we seem to have featured on Sky News too, which is nice!More photos here:



The Price of Love

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It's Valentine's Day and the first in three years where the weather has been good. I should know, because Valentine's Day for me is normally a busy date in the flying season for my Airads business, as men - and sometimes women - all over the country propose or send special messages - pictured - to their sweethearts with a banner towed by one of my aircraft.

This year, nothing! Several enquiries and for the first time an attempt to pass-off a stolen credit card for a booking. the latter attempt was almost laughable, because my 'other job', as readers may know, involves a specialisation in crime and fraud.

Being suspicious about the telephone transaction for a flight over Bradford, I told the client, who was booking on behalf of someone else - sounds dodgy - I would call her back and then quickly used some subscription-based tools of my own to cross check her details, discovering that she should be 56 years old. As the caller clearly wasn't, I double checked the re…

Totally Jobs

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If you've nothing better to do on a dark February evening and feel tempted to Google the political archives, then you'll find that some twenty years ago, the UK's present workforce skills deficit was writ large upon the wall.

Gordon Brown's famous statement announcing British jobs for British workers has returned to haunt him this month but one has to ask why foreign companies, such as Total, think it more sensible to bus in their specialist workers from as far afield as Italy rather than recruit the necessary skills locally?

Back in the mid eighties, when I first dipped a toe in the political waters, I was asked to join Shirley Williams, Anne Sofer, Dr John Rae and several others in writing a House of Lords report on the UK's existing skills deficit. It was published as a Parliamentary White Paper (or was it Green, I can't quite recall) but it's in the archives somewhere because stumbled upon it quite by accident recently against a Google search against my …

A Long Sitting

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Time for a brief posting as outside, the world turns steadily whiter with the arrival of cold high pressure weather from the heart of Siberia.

In a week's time I could be finally free of written exams after two years. Over at Gatwick I have the last two remaining CAA theory exams to sit for my instrument rating, to add to all those that I previously sat for my commercial pilot's license. Ironically, I've probably sat almost the same exams before, Meteorology and Airframes, Electronics and Instrumentation but the CAA in its wisdom, rather than test on 'differences' between the ratings, (e.g polar streographic navigation) insists on throwing the entire kitchen sink at the poor candidate all over again.

Once the theory is out of the way, then it's fifty hours in the simulator and the real-thing before I can take the multi-engine flight test on instruments; likely to be the second most stressful experience of my life after having passed the original commercial flight…

Don't Shoot the Messenger

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Some three years ago, I caused a real fuss at the Irish Software Industry's annual conference when I made a speech that pointed-out to the distinguished audience - including a Government Minister - some of the facts behinds the country's 'Celtic Tiger Economy' image.

Ireland had been described as a 'Software sweatshop on the edge of Europe' by one large vendor but I rather suggested that the real figures had been massaged to suggest that Ireland was a thriving software development economy on a par with Israel and India when the facts suggested otherwise.

Anyway, I see today that the Register publishes some sad news about heavy job losses at the Dell factory in a rather critical editorial:

"Dell opened its assembly operations in Raheen, Limerick, in 1991. They have lasted just 17 years before the Irish tiger was shown to be just another costly overfed western European tabby cat which could be replaced by a skinnier Polish moggy. It's probably only because …