LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
24 March 2018
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Sacré Bleu

De La Rue – quelle irony, not French but a British passport company renowned
for its quality, loses the new-improved-blue-anti-EU British passport contract to –
oh guess – a Franco-Dutch firm, Gemalto.

The Daily Mail naturally went mad saying ministers hated "our country, its
history, culture and the people's sense of identity"…Tory MP Priti Patel called it
"a disgraceful decision", "perverse" and a "national humiliation" – a few
examples of frenzied nationalistic outrage.

“Wait. This is totally un-democratic. We want our distinct dear-to-our-
nationalistic-hearts blue passports to be produced here, here in our little island.
We told you we wanted blue. Blue, blue, blue. Not bleu! Oh dear. Did I just
speak – erm – French? Au secours! I mean help!”

De La Rue manufacture on the global scale – 40 countries – the biggest
commercial company producing passports. Their £490m contract was underbid
by £50m. De la Rue has been producing British passports for the last eight, nine
years. Ignoring it also made the new – annoying - £5 note.

The boss Martin Sutherland, has – erm – has ‘invited’ Theresa and Amber Rudd
to come to its factory in Gateshead to explain why the contract has gone to
Europe. Gateshead voted by 57% to 43% to Leave. Smiling in French. Oh must
we say ‘quelle ironie’ again? Oui.

Gemalto will only produce the blank pages and the cover…De La Rue the rest by
the way. This will save £120m by the way.


In His Own Words

Let’s start at Harvard. Let’s start in a dormitory room. Spoiler alert: rip off…rip
off.

You know the story. In late 2003, sophomore Mark Zuckerberg asked another
Harvard student, junior Eduardo Saverin, to deposit $15,000 in a bank account
that would be accessible to both of them. Zuckerberg promised the cash would
go toward the servers needed to host a site that Zuckerberg wanted to develop.
Eduardo agreed.

Eduardo gave the impression that he was connected to the Brazilian mafia. As
you do as a junior at Harvard. Zuckerberg wanted to “make something cool”.
You certainly wouldn’t ever link ‘cool’ with Zuckerberg would you? Assuming that
was the point. “I just wanna be one of the cool guys. Look at me. How can I do
this? Do ya think if I wear a t-shirt all the time? What d’ya think?”

He asked Eduardo to work on three things: "To set up the company, get funding,
and make a business model." But then Eduardo ran unauthorized ads on
Facebook. Nooo. Ads on Facebook? Nooo. And the ads were for a startup he
was running entirely on his own. It was a job boards site called Joboozle. All
right. Not the best name was it?
                                 

Zuckerberg rebuked Eduardo in an email:

“You developed Joboozle knowing that at some point Facebook would probably
want to do something with jobs…that will end up competing with Facebook and
that's pretty bad by itself. But putting ads up on Facebook to advertise it,
especially for free, is just mean.”

Mean? “I’m just going to cut him out.” Zuckerberg did his best to ‘cut him out’
behind his back using dirty tricks, but – here’s the fun bit - Eduardo won hugely
in the end. Most of his $10 billion still comes from his little $15,000 investment,
without any involvement. Zuckerberg’s plan was to reduce Eduardo’s shares
down from more than 30 percent without diluting the stakes of the other
shareholders. That is just mean.

Zuckerberg’s first leaked chat log: "Yeah, so if you ever need [information]
about anyone at Harvard, just ask…I have 4000 emails, pictures, addresses,
[and] SNS." The friend response: "What!? How'd you manage that one?"
Zuckerberg: "People just submitted it. I don't know why. They 'trust me.'" He then
said, "Dumb f***s." The guy, I mean ‘cool dude’, exudes charm.

Uh oh. Zuckerberg's commentary could cause him even more legal and social
worry, with those recent reports that point to accusations of data harvesting and
manipulation by Cambridge Analytica. As you know, former Cambridge
Analytica employee, Christopher Wylie, the guy with the dyed bright red hair
you’ve seen on TV, was the whistle-blower on the company and accused
Facebook of allowing Cambridge Analytica to access and harvest around 50
million users' personal data through personality quizzes. Both Cambridge
Analytica and Facebook deny misconduct. Ha. So will the ‘cool’ guy in the t-shirt
be trusted again? Ha.

Evidently, now worth $68 billion, Zuckerberg went on to rip off six more people.
But you get the point. Mark made his mark – sorry, really. No mea culpa by
Zuckerberg for five days after having to be dragged by one of his t-shirts to
publicly admit: “’Mistakes’ have been made.” Really?

Brian Acton, who left WhatsApp in 2017, three years after Facebook bought the
business for $11.4 billion has left a message on Twitter: “It is time
#deletefacebook.” Your move.


Data Dilemma

Downing Street told us that Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL, had
contracts with the Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Foreign Office. Further
evidence has emerged that shows the MoD made payments to SCL as recently
as 2015. Goodness me.

Boris Johnson met CA’s chief executive Alexander Nix “on the advice of Foreign
Office officials, at a time when Britain was scrambling for routes into the Trump
administration”. Alan Duncan and ‘officials in No.10’ also met Nix. Oh really.

SCL was started in 1993, launched publicly in 2005 as Defence Systems &
Equipment International (DSEi) –  which just happens to be the world’s largest
arms fair. Their pitch included a demonstration of how the UK government could
use the media to trick the British people into the thinking a chemical plant
accident had occurred which threatened central London. Scary.

Now they claim to have conducted behavioural change programs in over 60
countries. They pride themselves on ‘defence and social change’. Scary.
The Daily Mail surprisingly reveals that Theresa’s government had been ‘plotted’
with Cambridge Analytica only three months before calling a snap general
election in 2017. Naughty.

Oh there’s more…always more. Invoices which show the DUP paid AggregateIQ
– closely linked to Cambridge Analytica – for both EU referendum (£32,750) and
March 2017 NI Assembly election (£12,071). And then there’ the US
involvement, collusion that is.

As it happens, as you know, Brussels has new tougher rules on data protection
due to take affect this spring. It is now drafting new moves to levy a 3% turnover
tax, with a reformed sales tax due further down the line. That Brussels.

Spoiler alert: The end of hackers is imminent due to a new method of coding. No
really. Recent developments by the HACMS (High-Assurance Cyber Military
Systems) program at DARPA has allowed computer scientists to use
mathematical proofs to verify that code – that is up to 100,000 lines of it at a time
- is functionally correct and free of those nasty bugs.


Break Point, Bojo.

Boris refused to actually admit on the Andrew Marr Show that the party was the
recipient of £160,000 for a game. Yes. One game of tennis.

Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of former Russian deputy finance minister Vladimir
Chernukhin, paid out the £160,000 in 2014 for a match with Boris and
CallMeDave. I see; two for one. At the time, CMD refused calls to give back the
money at the time. And why exactly did the multi-millionaire refuse? Well, Dave
claimed: it was “not the right approach”. Is that a tennis term then?

Still willing to buy the Tories, Chernukhin, now a British citizen, also recently
paid £30,000 to have share a meal with Defence secretary Gavin Williamson.
Not exactly money well spent was it? Dinner with Gavin – oh yawn.

And lest we forget, the Tories splurged their wealthy donors' millions on private
jets, make-up, five-star hotels - and a LOT of smoked salmon. And that included
Theresa’ hair. They spent £1,462 giving Theresa that helmet hair style. The
make-up artist was on call for more than 17 hours on Theresa’s disastrous
election night. Well, that was £1,462 well spent wasn’t it?

Evidently her long-suffering hair dresser followed her from 7pm to nearly 1pm
the following day. For that hair? Really? And we thought the only long-suffering
one was the one who spends five hours a day on Ex-Waity’s didn’t we?

Theresa’s hair dresser’s employers, InParlour, were paid £975 for the nearly 18-
hour shift, as well as a £244 out-of-hours surcharge and VAT on top.

You remember that Theresa admitted last year she "shed a little tear" when she
realised she had lost her majority. “Make-up!” And - newly-released spending
figures show she lost 13 seats despite outspending Labour by £7.5 million or
69%. Oh well.


Soap Opera Sigh

Spoiler alert: so not. It’s EastEnders, so what can we expect? More mind-
numbingly borrrriiiiinnnnngggg – did I make my point?

Oh look, it’s “Oh look at my cleavage,” idiot Kat and hysterical, screeching
moronic Jean. Bad enough you say. It gets worse. Alfie. That tediously
cheerlessly cheeky chappy Alfie Moon, aka cheerlessly cheeky chappy Shane
Richie is to make a ‘shocking’ return. When doesn’t a ‘much loved’ character
not make a shocking return? And who exactly loves these three tedious tiresome
characters? Oh dear. I so look forward to that lovable rogue inevitably eating  
crisps with his mouth open. Lovely.

We’re promised he won’t be moving in for the next 30 years, but even 30
seconds is too much. And lest we forget, the Kat&Alfie spinoff was so popular.
Remember? No, I didn’t think so. It was Redwood and no, I never watched it
either as it clearly was created as telly torture.

So happy to see the worst soap writers are still with us. Indulge me please: Jeff
Povey and Pete Larson as mentioned previously. And you always know within
the first five, OK, three minutes the episode is down to one of them.
Arghhhhhhhhhhh. Now an unfunny comedy – not even a farce. Even with the
return of John Yorke, who was recruited to save the soap opera, informs us that
Kat&Alfie are loved by all. No, John. No. Wrong!

But on a positive note, possibly living in false hope here, the University of
Central Lancashire has launched a soap degree course, No really. There will be
its own Coronation Street-style outdoor set. The degree will also give soap opera
enthusiastic students the chance to gain work experience on soaps like Corrie,
Emmerdale and EastEnders.

The University has fast-track BA-Hons Continuing Drama degree to be offered
for the first time this September. It will be completed in two rather than the usual
three years.

“It will focus on creating the next generation of producers, directors, sounds
engineers, editors, writers and camera operators, giving them the practical skills
and training they need to stand out in a very competitive industry.”

The newly trained sound engineers might want to do something about all that
annoying mumbling.
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