An Undemocratic Democracy

The United Kingdom, is one of the oldest continuously functioning democracies in the world.   There are other contenders but many countries have dipped in and out of democracy over the years. Greece was almost certainly the first to embrace democracy but have dipped in and out over the centuries.  Now the title probably rests with somewhere like Iceland, Faroes Islands, Isle of Man or possibly the UK depending on your particular definition.

Whoever the winner, the point is that the UK has been democratic for a centuries and you’d expect them to be pretty good at it.  However sometimes a UK citizen can look at the political system and see there’s something very wrong.

Firstly there’s the voting system, it is perfectly possible to get millions of votes without a single representative elected into Parliament.   Sometimes there’s a sigh of relief where some extreme party can effectively be ignored despite garnering a sizeable following of voters.  Other times it just looks profoundly unfair, consider the Green Part getting over 1/2 million votes and one member of parliament against the SNP (Scottish National Party) who got less than a million and have 31 members.  It’s enough to drive you to drink, if you do then you might enjoy this article about the drug Selincro.

There’s lots more examples and outside the two main parties, there’s few political parties who consider the current situation fair.   However even within the elected representatives strange undemocratic situations seems to occur with remarkable regularity.  Take for example the Brexit situation that currently is causing utter chaos within the United Kingdom.   The current Prime Minister Theresa May decided she didn’t have a big enough majority for her preferred version of Brexit so called  an election to increase it.   Unfortunately this didn’t go quite to plan and now there is complete disarray, with her majority disappearing.

In fact now within the British Parliament, no-one has a majority for anything.  The ‘hard Brexit’ people have lost supporters because of a backlash against those who wanted to remain, the ‘remainers’ have lost supporters from a switch of voting from UKIP.  The people who sit in the middle are perhaps the only hope, with maybe a drift from both sides reluctantly recognising the futility of the situation.   The situation changes daily though, and political students would be advised to invest in a solution like this to watch the changes on the BBC News.

Maybe democracy will triumph in the end but at the moment it’s difficult to see.  Many complain that the UK democratic system was sidestepped by using a simplistic referendum in the first place.  The issue was a complicated decision with a myriad of options was reduced to a yes/no vote which was completely inadequate.   Which is why we find the shambolic situation now with a divided country run by an unpopular leader with similar views.

Further Information: Bypassing region Locks – Video Proxy

Just ‘Lost’ without a Netflix IP Address

Would it be fair to say, that people become more relaxed and accepting of life’s little obstacles as you get older?   I think maybe it is, the angry young man turns into something a little bit calmer and relaxed.  After all if you’ve survived a few decades you’ve inevitably learn a thing or two – never buy anything from your doorstep or if something’s free then there’s inevitably a catch somewhere.

Lost on a Netflix IP Address

For me personally, I can accept most little setbacks relatively easily – after all I know they don’t just happen to me and there isn’t much I can do about them.  Yet again, utter annoyance and frustration is always there bubbling under the surface.   It arose the other week when I and my good lady settled down for an evening’s TV watching , our chosen series the Science Fiction show Lost.  Now every body else seems to have watched this about ten years ago, but we’ve only just found it.

Finding the Right Netflix IP Address

However when we signed on to Netflix to watch episode 54 out of 70 something, I couldn’t find it.  It had completely disappeared from the Netflix subscription, not a word or a warning for those of us who had spent the last few weeks ploughing through this confusing box set.   After some internet sleuthing I discovered that it had been removed but only from certain regional variations of Netflix including the UK one I was using.   It seemed I had the wrong Netflix IP address, typical.

However it still remained on others including the US version which seems to have much more than the UK version of Netflix.  Anyway the cross part soon receded and problem solving was the order of the day – here’s the solution I found in this video, how to spoof ip address to watch Netflix.

It’s actually quite straight forward, to switch between the different versions of Netflix you just need to change your IP address to match the country you need. So for the Canadian version you need a Canadian IP address, for the US one you need a US based address and so on. You can’t actually change your own IP address but you can bounce your connection off something called a VPN server and have a Netflix IP address which obscures your real address from view.

I suppose you could call it Netflix by proxy watching with the help of a third party.   So in the video they make a connection to a US based VPN server, which then routes you to the US version of Netflix. It works just as promised and ‘Lost’ is there happily sitting in the US Netflix movie list!

It’s an interesting situation though, digital products like a Netflix subscription change depending on where you are. Netflix is better than most though because at least your subscription is normally accessible – if you pay for a UK TV license you’ll lose access to all their channels the moment you step outside the UK. Unless of course you invest in a British BBC VPN of course that you enable to access from anywhere!

Troubles in Mozambique

The trouble with being an economist who writes about Africa is that it has a habit of making you look stupid very quickly indeed.  Even when you try and keep up, I use a VPN like this to regularly connect when I can’t visit,  I’m sure I’m not alone having written a piece full of optimism and economic good news on an African country only to see it all start to fall a part only a couple of years later.  Africa has a habit of doing this, turning the positive around very quickly usually it has to be said as a result of some pretty incompetent leadership.

Mozambique is the latest African country to seem to snatch economic disasters whilst heading for seeming prosperity.   The economy was growing, almost 7% a year for nearly a decade, there was gas discovered off the coast of the country and investors were flocking to the country to help exploit it.   Investment was heading for other areas too, attracted by the political stability,  $850 million of state sponsored bonds in the Tuna fishing industry was eagerly purchased at exceptionally high yields.

Ironically it looks like the ‘tuna bonds’ were the first mistake leading to a growing scandal that looks like destroying the growth of the last few years.  Indeed on January 16th, Mozambique announced to the chagrin of the rest of the world that it would default on it’s international debts.

So why has the government fell into such economic chaos so quickly?   There are some mitigating factors, the global fall in commodity prices have played a part and caused a slowdown in growth to a still respectable 3.4% in 2016.  However as usual the main reason is the economic mismanagement by the government, if you weren’t a citizen of Mozambique it could almost be seen as laughable.

Take the huge investment in the Tuna fishing industry, the state funded industry unfortunately never caught many fish certainly nowhere near enough to repay the generous yields owed on the supporting investment bonds.   This is not actually that surprising because the majority of the investment raised was not spent on fishing boats but rather the sort of boats with guns on the front.    The bonds were hastily swapped for government ones when it became clear they were unsupportable yet almost immediately the Government also admitted that it had hidden further loans of $1.4 billion guaranteed.  This is a huge amount for a country the size of Mozambique and represents almost 11% of their GDP.

Not surprising this sleight of hand dismayed international organisations with the IMF and other donors freezing their existing support.   This is a disaster for a country that despite it’s economic progress still relies heavily on international aid to provide even basic functions and services.   Mozambique’s debt now represents over 110% of it’s GDP and some experts thing even this is optimistic,  however the country is now engaging in a phase of ‘restructuring’.

This is of course merely another way of saying our debts are out of control and we need to bailed out quickly something that the IMF are probably reluctant to do. Missing payments on existing debts is not the way to attract additional funding for obvious reasons.   Few of the existing bondholders are likely to trust the government  after recent events and even the IMF has now insisted on a full of audit of all it’s debts.   There is also the question of where all the original loans and investments have disappeared to as well.

John Williams

Spoof my IP

The Dangers of Digital Law

Laws are in general supposed to make us safer and more secure, I think most of us would agree.  However there are areas where this is not the primary concern and even some where the opposite is true.  This is almost certainly the case in one of the older digital based laws created in the US called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) better known as the DCMA Act.

mobile-630289_640-1

It sounds safe enough at first glance but there’s a huge flaw at the very heart of this legislation which could seriously undermine the safety of the internet.  It sounds rather dramatic but it’s certainly a possibility with the increasing reach of devices connected to the internet – particularly the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) .  The problem is that all of these devices from smart phones through TVs to toasters and fridges all contain software embedded in them in order to communicate across the internet.  Software of course often contains bugs and flaws which can constitute a security risk, in fact there have been many reports of these ‘smart devices’ being used in DDoS attacks.

That’s where the problem lies with the DCMA Act, which contains a law stating that flaws in these devices cannot be disclosed without express permission from the manufacturer of the device.  Consider the issue, a security researcher or ethical hacker discovers a security flaw in a device, they cannot release this information legally and the manufacturer is unlikely to want to publish it’s own security problems.  What happens is that the flaws remain and don’t get fixed, and almost certainly then get exploited by computer hackers.

In fact there are situations where DCMA makes it not only illegal to disclose a software fault but also to fix it.   There have been test cases, most famously brought by John Deere tractors where it has been stated that it is illegal for owners to attempt to fix their tractors instead being forced to return them to dealers instead.  This is because the tractors like most equipment now contain a certain amount of software which control the devices bringing them into the remit of the act.

It’s of considerable concern to all of us, the devices we have bought are not really our property and the issue is extending to all sorts of situations.  We can’t use third party disks or cartridges in printers and game consoles because the manufacturer controls the software and access to that device even after we’ve bought it.  With digital services it’s even more extreme with media giants like Netflix enforcing blocks on proxies and VPNs as described in this article – The Great Netflix VPN Ban.

It’s a dream come to true for the manufacturers who are able to implement specific profit maximizing business models which are extremely restrictive to the end owners.  Control of the device is effectively kept with people who created it not with the people who bought it. Don’t think you can do what you like with that HP printer, because you can’t the law says so!

Further Reading:

Using Residential VPN services: http://www.theninjaproxy.org/technology/is-a-residential-vpn-service-essential-now/

Do I have a Digital Nationality?

Where are you from?  What do you consider your nationality?  For most of us it’s fairly straight forward – we are born, live and even die in a single country.   For others it’s a little more complicated, born somewhere, grow up somewhere else – living a life spread among a variety of countries.   Picking your nationality isn’t always as simple as looking at your passport.

This is further complicated now because of the way we live part of our lives  in the internet ether, most of us have a digital identity too.   You might think it doesn’t matter, after all when your online everyone is just an electronic presence at best a series of numbers making up your IP address.  However here’s the issue, your internet address is part of your identity and seriously impacts what you can and can’t do online.  Your digital nationality might not be something you’ve considered however nearly every web site and online service you use does consider this piece of information.

nokia-623939_640

The simple fact is that a US citizen using the internet does have a different experience from a Mexican, a European or a Turkish web user.   What you can do, what you can see will vary extensively simply based on that one piece of information – the location of your IP address.   This is your digital nationality and if you don’t believe it, try visiting China and try surfing the internet – you’ll be amazed at the difference.

The global giants who are dominating online multimedia are a perfect example, Netflix for example provides an account which is usable in over 160 different countries.   However it changes based on your location, in fact it varies hugely depending on your physical position.  Unfortunately this means that in many countries, Netflix has nowhere near as many movies available compared to connecting from a US location for example.  It’s so different that many people use software to spoof their location and access a different version, something that has led to this scenario – Netflix Blocking VPNs and Proxies.

Is this all fair? Should your online experience be affected  your location.  Your point of view will probably depend on where you are based – people in the US and Europe for example generally have a much better time online.   Just for illustration, Turkish web users were blocked from Facebook and Twitter for several days last week as the Government decided to restrict access.

There is no doubt that your digital identity is something that we all now need to consider.  To many people think that they are not linked to their online experience,  that they can remain totally anonymous without any privacy tools in place.  Every day millions of people download stolen digital goods like software and movies from torrent sites, thinking that they are safe and untraceable.  The truth is that anonymous torrenting although possible is actually fairly difficult to achieve and it certainly needs some technical tweaking to hide both your identity and location.

The reality is tinged with an element of sadness that commercialization and the need for control is starting to take over the digital world.  In the early days of the internet, your nationality and location was largely irrelevant – we were all just citizens of the world when online.  Those days though are now long behind us and it is imperative that we realise that when we post those funny clips or visiting those controversial websites that these are being linked to our online, digital profiles.

Introduction to Scientific Research Methodology

The true scientific method, or indeed the respected tradition of scientific research, is significantly more dynamic and enthralling than it first sounds. Your first problem might be something mundane like your spellchecker might not recognize scientific terms.  It may be that a particular piece of supporting research is not accessible due to a content filter and you need some tool like an online ip changer. Then, scholarly means utilizing the scientific method. Instead the scientific method ought to be followed.

research-1029340_640

The observation is done first so you know how you wish to go about your own research. A critical situation to remember in this stage of the scientific method is the fact that once you develop a hypothesis along with a prediction, you mustn’t change that, even in case the results of your own experiment show which you were wrong. You cannot PROVE the hypothesis with an individual experiment, because there’s a chance that you simply made an error somewhere along the manner. Use appropriate ways of showing data.

Neil Z. Miller reported the following about the scientific evidence the Pertussis Vaccine is believed to be somewhat safe then. An unique case of the real experiment may be the clinical trial. The design of the clinical trial is extremely much like that of the legitimate experiment. Using steroids is actually a severe treatment and can lead to negative side-effects.

Proper scientific research attempts to test the result of a single change in a method by trying to check or screen out the effects due to other changes. The last motive to sample is the fact that testing might be destructive. The 3rd motive to sample is the fact that testing the whole population often produces error. The next motive to sample is it may not be possible to test the whole population.

A hypothesis is just a testable prediction about what will happen given a particular array of conditions. The very first scenario is one where the scientist isn’t attempting to measure an answer to alter, but rather she or he may be attempting to understand the similarities and differences between two subjects. A very intriguing correlation can be observed between the Biblical reference of the formation of the super continent and also the supporting scientific evidence. They’ll be able enough to bring to bear their very own scientific imagination to be able to use regression for a tool to investigate problems about real life.

Ecological validity denotes the degree to which research may be used in real-life situations. Many scientific investigations largely employ one method, but different methods could be combined within a study, or perhaps a sole study might have characteristics of over one method. There are only two standard forms of research linked to the scientific method. What forms of experiments necessary is contingent on the research topic.

Obviously, there are a number of approaches to categorize research methods. Surveys-this is utilized in empirical or exploratory form of research, typically used in business studies. Experiments-this is utilized in exploratory type research. Research design may be exploratory or conclusive.

Research techniques might be applied to a broad selection of issues or regions of research. It will help control variables which may influence a study. Scientific support for the start of time plus matter aren’t the only occurrences that have been noted in research. Surveys in many cases are classified as a form of observational research.

When some people today consider science, they consider formulas and facts to memorize. This method is easily the most significant part science–in truth, it’s called the Scientific Method.” For this particular stage of the Scientific Method, it’s very important to use because many sources because you can find. The Scientific Method is a means to make certain that your experiment can give a superb answer to your own precise question.

Further Reading:  Hans Wolfmann, German proxy and Research methods, Bulcrum Press, 2012

Internet Marketing – Building a Amazon Kindle Business

The Amazon Kindle has opened up a huge area of opportunity for internet businesses. The Kindle has revolutionised the way that millions of people buy their reading matter, which can be instantly delivered to their device minutes after purchase.

Never listen to anyone who says you cannot make a profitable business out of selling information. This is simply a matter of deciding you’re going to do it, and then you put your mind to it and make it happen. When you publish the right info products, you can use them to advance your cause or just sell for a profit. And this all leads up to doing business with Amazon at their Kindle Store. There’s a lot of competition in all niches, so don’t let that bother you and just do what you want to do and make money.

kindle-750305_640

You can find excellent cover designers that will not charge a lot, and this is an important investment. This is all about marketing, and your design will help or hurt your sales so it’s smart to do this. Amazon has all kinds of uses for your cover, and this actually helps them make more money from your book. Most people who are new to IM have not the slightest idea about designing or even using graphics software, so just outsource this to a professional. There are more places you can market your Kindle book, and this means outside of Amazon. Find all the good forums that allow signature links, and then just join them and start posting. There are mailing lists and other places where you can build blogs or buy advertising. JV possibilities are all over the place, and this also includes social media.

There are some restrictions

You should also think about having your ebook proofed by someone who does this for a living. A proofreader’s primary job is to find grammar, spelling and syntax errors, and this is not the same thing as hiring an editor. A proofreader doesn’t spend much time critiquing the quality of your content, so if you want to make sure that your content is error free-in terms of spelling and things like that. If you’re on a budget, then you just do it yourself and do the best you can and it should be all right.

Sometimes you can find markets are restricted even for digital goods, you may have problems accessing sites for marketing and advertising purposes. These are normally due to geographic restrictions based on your IP address. However using a VPN you can access any of these sites, similar to these instructions about how you can use American DNS for Netflix.

Hey, ebook publishing is a lot of fun even though it’s work, and Amazon Kindle makes it easy to do. Amazon is very affiliate friendly, and they were the first to do affiliate marketing on the web. Don’t forget that you can just keep going and writing ebooks and selling them on Amazon. If you don’t fancy writing your own, sign up for an Amazon affiliate account and start promoting popular titles directly – you’ll not make as much money on each sale but Amazon volume can certainly add up.

Gerald Maximans
http://identityvoucher.co.uk/

Education and the Velvet Revolution

Peace education stands as one of the most undervalued and underfunded points of our educational system that is world-wide. If we look at the typical education curriculum at elementary school, or a high school , which is where youth are most impressionable, any site of compulsory non-violent schooling is almost entirely non existent. Regardless, we often find compulsory history classes, which describe every single war in detail, including its death toll, its generals and all the other players.

rose-578028_640

Yet given this educational dilemma that is lopsided, once in a while an enthusiastic humanitarian comes to champion a brand new form of instruction about peace, rather than violence.

The Revolution was named “Velvet” due to its soft and non-violent method of peace.

The power of this movie lies in the way it can capture the essence of the Velvet Revolution and how power shifts when individuals the youth, stand up against protest and repression in a non-violent way. The solidarity of the Czech people was so overwhelming that it forced them to bring in new leadership, namely Vaclav Havel, the leader of the revolution and basically crippled the government.

Broken educational systems could no doubt use this picture as a model to teach students at all levels of education about non-violence’s tremendous impact on world history and it. There’s a host of information online yet it doesn’t make it onto the curriculum of most of our schools, lots even on social media, but again you’ll often find facebook blocked in these situation.

Once peace and non violence become “required” curriculum in schools, especially for teens, we’ll begin to find a shift in our belief system regarding what alternatives are accessible to our issues. If a kid has just seen violence, at home, in history books and in the media, then that kid will act accordingly. If a child sees and is educated peaceful approaches to solve disputes and problems subsequently teens will naturally choose this path for resolution.

James Elsworth

Author of How to Watch BBC Abroad

Will Falling Oil Prices Stimulate US Growth?

Over 75% of economists said their sector or company will feel the consequences of the petroleum cost fall, with 18% anticipating a negative impact, and 57% expecting an optimistic impact, based on a survey in the National Association for Business Economics Monday released.

“By a three-to-one ratio, it is favorable,” said James Diffley, a senior manager at IHS Economics as well as the survey’s chairman. “The 18% though signify those businesses that benefit directly from petroleum and gasoline.

Economical fuel is anticipated to provide a boost in 2013 to the market as consumers turn about and spend what they are saving in the pump. Gasoline costs have dropped to close to $2 a gallon, and therefore are poised to drop below that, among the speediest declines.

gasoline-prices-206098_640
But it is crucial to remember that some of the additional stimulation may be taken away, Mr. Diffley said, as petroleum and gasoline companies scale back investment and development. Other occupations will suffer changes in the supply chain for pipe fitters and tool makers, as just one example.  Other reports are difficult to assess simply because of the problems in assessing if they are genuine, many digital businesses for instance – especially those which hide their identity with fake details – like here.

“That takes off several tenths of the percentage point on the increase the market could have gotten,” he said.

Economists reported enhancing conditions at their companies in the fourth quarter.  These

NABE said only rising prices were reported by 16%, compared with 25% in the July and October surveys. And 65% said they anticipate no change in the costs their companies will charge in the first quarter.

And more than half said economists expect salaries and wages to rise in the following three months, compared with.  Sales increase improved somewhat, with 54% of economists reporting increasing sales compared with.

Ninety three economists-who work for private sector companies or industry trade groups-reacted to the survey, that was conducted from Dec. 18 through Jan. 8.

Additional Reading

The Growth of Economic Inequalities in the USA

A new year is upon us, and there are numerous stories of economic recovery across the world.  However beyond basic growth rates, there is another measure which often reflects more about people’s day to day lives.  I’m referring to wealth inequality and in the USA, it often feels more like the great depression rather than a booming new decade.

The depression of course took place in the 1920s and in those times, as usual the wealthy were pretty much shielded from the worse effects.  In fact during that decade, the wealthiest 10% of the population owned about 84% of the total wealth.  The situation evened out over the next few decades with that figure declining before starting to rise again in the 1980s.  However we’re now reaching levels that are very similar to those of the 1920s with the majority of US wealth held by a small proportion of it’s citizens.

car-160343_640

The statistics are now more accurate so in some senses a direct comparison is not always completely relevant.   However the overall result is the same, the level of wealth inequality in the US is extremely high and only heading in one direction.  You can see some aspects if you watch news and documentaries on the local media.  It’s certainly interesting to view the different perspectives – for US readers try watching the local news from the UK – you can use this, or vice versa for European readers.

Fortunately when these inequalities are combined with a growing economy, the effects seem less severe.  The US is doing pretty well, with unemployment heading to a new 6 year low and the job market consistently expanding.  However when you realise that the richest 0.1 % control as much wealth  as the poorest 90% you realise this is not a fair and equal society.

The rich are in fact getting even richer, while the poorer sections of society are increasingly stepping into levels of significant debt in order to simply survive.  Real incomes are growing, but at a much higher rate for the wealthy than the poorer levels.  In fact with under 1% income growth, it’s not getting much easier for those at the wrong end of the income ladder.

Of course capitalism has always produced such inequalities, but the argument goes that the growth in income actually is down to new businesses and opportunities for all.  However the studies suggest that the growth in wealth is not coming largely from entrepreneurial spirit but merely reflects the fact that the wealth is held in shares and bonds which naturally are worth more as the economy recovers.  Unfortunately this is unlikely to help bring many benefits to society at large, it will just make the rich, well richer!

 Further Reading.