|LETTERS FROM LONDON
|REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
29 October 2016
OK. OK. FBI files et al in regards to Hillary, but until they are revealed, one
company is gathering the most detailed data possible on every voter in the US.
Not just the usual, but their favourite colour, left-handed or right-handed,
toothpaste choices, how much change is in their pocket… Oh all right. I might
be exaggerating, but then again, maybe not. The company will know voters
better than they know themselves. It goes way beyond Dark Data.
Not really impressed? Well, the (latest) US secret has been revealed and it
involves the giant AT&T which plans to take over Time Warner and thus Warner
Brothers, CNN and HBO for a mere eye-watering $109 billion. America’s
second-biggest telecoms firm wants to take over its second-biggest media
company. More corporate merging domination. Just what the world needs.
FYI: AT&T already owns three-quarters of US landline switches, is the second
largest share of the US wireless infrastructure and mobile towers. “So” you say?
So, let’s do dates: It has retained collected data since 2008…it has used
surveillance before 2003. And it collects? It collects and stores details for every
call, text message, Skype chat – and any other communication that has passed
through its infrastructure back to 1987. A small gasp here?
AT&T develops, markets, sells – at a cost of millions a year to taxpayers –
through their (now not so) secret programme, Hemisphere.
According to The Daily Beast, “It searches trillions of call records and analyses
cellular data to determine where a target is located, with whom he (sic) speaks
and potentially why”. Data from Hemisphere is sold to police departments for
$100,000 to $1m a year.
And here you are tut-tutting, leaning back, arms akimbo, thinking “Never here.
They will never know which are my favourite socks. Pass a biscuit.” Think again.
You just know the UK surely doing the same – or attempting it.
But now China has out-manoeuvred the US. If you are very, very good, you can
be rewarded with points. “Huh” you say? How good? Father Christmas not
involved then? What’s good? What points?
Well, the Chinese government plans to institute a social credit system by 2020.
The government wants to build culture of “sincerity”, a “harmonious socialist
society” where “keeping trust is glorious”. Really. I’m not making this up. Really.
The clue is “glorious”.
This will affect all people and all companies. “If trust is broken in one place,
restrictions are imposed everywhere.” Oh dear. Everywhere. Privileges would be
denied, daily supervision and random inspections would follow. Any
transgression brings in the secret – not so secret – police.
The method? Every – this requires repeating – every piece of information
available online would be collected and then assigned a score based on their
political, social, commercial ‘credit’.
Wondering where one could go ‘wrong’? Anything from criticising the
government – naturally, to not caring for parents properly, to running a red light.
A red light. Oh this could get scary. So you would have to watch every aspect of
your life, while they watch every aspect of your life. More efficient than the
micro-chipping said to be the next US endeavour?
Behind Closed Doors
Oops. Theresa was caught out saying one thing in public about Brexit and
another behind closed doors. Surprised? Really? Oh of course not.
A meeting was recorded where it emerged the PM shared in detail her fears of
the economic damage caused by leaving the European Union. This was when
she was Home Secretary. Theresa (do you ever think of her as ‘Theresa’? Isn’t
it always TheresaMay?) warned an audience of bankers that international
companies could relocate from the UK if the voters backed Brexit.
The Guardian reported that she said: “I think the economic arguments are clear.
I think being part of a 500-million trading bloc is significant for us. I think…that
one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the
UK in Europe. If we were not in Europe, I think there would be firms and
companies who would be looking to say, do they need to develop a mainland
Europe presence rather than a UK presence? So I think there are definite
benefits for us in economic terms.” And now for the secret deal made with
Nissan; hey Theresa. So it’s: Brexit means Brexit then….
Cloak and Dagger?
You’ve heard/read the rumours: Christopher Marlowe was a co-author to
Shakespeare’s works. Everybody has jumped on the stage flailing their arms
since the 18th century – he was! he wasn’t! Finally, the debate is – or might be -
Marlowe will be listed as co-author of the three Henry VI plays in the New Oxford
Shakespeare. As you know, Marlowe was an established playwright and poet
himself, and was known to have at least influenced Will or even to have penned
most of his work. Endless arguments have not solved the dilemma until now.
Keep up. You must be wondering how did scholars determine this direct
connection. Even if not, I’m going to tell you. They used three kinds of tests that
analyse word use and word sequences within the text. As you do. Algorithms are
able to identify a clear pattern of the use of very common words such as "and"
or "the" or "of." Good so far. Another test looked at the way more significant
words or substance words nouns, ie; adjectives, verbs and adverbs can be
linked to an individual writer. The third analysis examined the order and grouping
of the minor function words within the text and linked it to known works by
Marlowe or Shakespeare. OK. You’ve lost interest.
Specialist, Gary Taylor, a Florida State University professor of English and
general editor of the latest Complete Shakespeare volume (Florida State?
Doesn't really create a lot of confidence does it? Nonetheless…) said Will’s sole
authorship of most of his best-known and most-loved works is not in doubt.
"All of the really really famous plays are, in terms of our research, clearly,
entirely by Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer's Night Dream, Hamlet —
those plays are safe." Safe he says. OK. The brand is still safe. So sole
authorship of most of his best-known and most-loved works is not in doubt. Your
Shakespeare mug is still authentic.
Now The New Oxford Shakespeare includes 44 plays, 17 of which are labelled
as in collaboration with other writers. Don’t panic if you are a faithful Bard
follower, Taylor said that even if occasionally Will “teamed up with other
playwrights to create some of his works, analysis suggests that Shakespeare
was always at the helm as the dominant writer”. See. No panic or indignation
Will turning in his grave? During Elizabethan times play writing was often a
collaborative process. So possibly not.
RIP: You Spun Me Right Round, Pete Burns.