Credit ratings and sovereign debt, the FT and using your dark side for good

September 26, 2011

Hello again!

We are going to take a brief look at a new topic which has been widely reported. Credit rating agencies and sovereign debt. Recently Standard & Poor’s downgraded America to AA+ from its very precious AAA credit rating, which was a severe blow to the US. Italy has suffered with the same problem, and (to state the obvious) so has Greece, and it’s all down to the amount of government borrowings (sovereign debt) that each country has accrued. It affects a country’s ability to borrow more money and more importantly – it can and might well do in the near future – bring down other countries with it if it were to default on its’ borrowings, so a less than perfect AAA credit rating is a much higher borrowing/lending risk and a cause for concern.  The European Banking Authority has published a 2011 EU-wide stress testing exercise and the BIS has produced its September Quarterly Review, showing a weaker outlook for the economic climate. At the Business Insider they have published a list of the Euro banks’ exposure (derived from the BIS) if Greece defaults on its debt. Business Insider are also following the Goldman Sachs elevator tweets. Here’s one of the latest in this highly entertaining saga, which I am following.

I have been a registered user of the FT e-version for a quite a while now, and was very pleasantly surprised to receive a new e-mail service from them this week. It’s called the Best of the FT – and it’s a new-look monthly newsletter for registered users. It’s free – of course – or I wouldn’t highlight it for you. The FT says “This issue we spotlight the FT Trading Room, highlight the FT’s Future of Banking Global Banking in depth series and showcase the very latest FT special reports.
Plus latest FT headlines, hidden gems and must-reads.” Register yourself and enjoy all the reports that are provided from a diverse selection of articles, special reports, banking and finance, luxury goods, country reports and much more. KPMG has been selected to lead the probe into the UBS trading scandal. I read it in the FT.

I have previously written about LifeHacker because I have learned so much from reading this particular blog. Back in August there was an article called  How to use your dark side for good, written by Adam Dachis. The article takes us through many ways to put us (the good guys) at an advantage when we are at the potential mercy of the bad guys. Adam says “For example, it’s unquestionably useful to understand whether you’re a good victim and what makes you a good target. If you know why you’re being selected by the bad guys as a good mark, you can look at the different methods they may use and consider how you can counteract them.”  He’s used some good visual examples (Pinnochio and the not-so-friendly bunnies from Wallace & Gromits’ The Wererabbit, for instance.

Finally Guido Fawkes highlights a Sara Teather stand-up routine at conference, that was so not funny it was just sheer embarrassment, and it made me cringe. I should stick to politics if I were her, because comedy is definitely not her forte.

That’s all for now. Back again soon.

 


The “Google Generation” of researchers, the legacy of Project Gutenberg and the ultimate insult

September 9, 2011

Hello again, I did say I’d be back again quite soon – and here I am.

I have just responded to a colleague on Twitter who couldn’t locate a specific article, and it’s a bit of an eye-opener, even though it doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

Once upon a time I took a contract position in a University teaching information literacy – which included beginners to advanced Internet research as one of the topics. It was a popular module and well attended by the students, but the first time I taught this particular topic, I was expecting the students to wipe the floor with me, after all – this is THEIR generation – isn’t it? They didn’t – far from it. I sparked their imagination with the huge array of search strategies and tools for the job at hand. The article I sent to my colleague is about a report sponsored by JISC and the British Library entitled The “Google Generation” not so hot at Googling , after all and it’s written by Nate Anderson.

How’s this for a front cover? If they wanted shock factor – they achieved it. That’s just horrid!

The report is called: Information behaviour of the researcher of the future, and you’ve got the url to read this fascinating study for yourself. But I liked Nate Anderson’s comments about plagiarism and instant gratification because it mirrors a blog about young employees searching Google to sort out their corporate tech problems instead of calling the help desk. ServiceDesk360 posted the blog Young employees ignore helpdesk, search Google instead. Bomgar, who researched this corporate behaviour, says these employees are known as “Millennials”. Hmmmm…..I could call them something but it wouldn’t necessarily be “Millennial”.

The founder of Project Gutenberg , Michael S Hart, passed away recently. If you don’t know what Project Gutenberg is – you may be reading the wrong blog. Apparently there are 37,000 e-books freely available and that is a sheer amazing  legacy to leave to the world.  An article in The Atlantic says: “In an obituary on the Project Gutenberg website, Hart is remembered for the depth of his commitment to literacy. But the early texts speak to a core civic hope that is related but distinct: that there is power in ideas and that by spreading them we could make this country better. Sure, the number-one most downloaded book on the site is, by a long shot, the Kama Sutra, with more than 25,000 downloads. But Michael S. Hart, and by association his project, were about something much bigger than that.”  Thank you so much Mr Hart for leaving such a great legacy to the world;  rest in peace.

The Ultimate Insult has arrived in the form of an article twittered by another colleague Arthur Weiss.  This time I am definitely not at a loss for words. Disgraceful!  How dare the US government and their “security logistics” tactics get in the way by banning firefighting heroes from attending such an important event – and on the 10th anniversary of this sad occasion. They lost people too. This is unbelievably disrespectful. Firefighters – ignore all and do as Arthur says: Just turn up anyway.

9/11 – show some respect and include the firefighters.

You may or may not know that I have data coming in from quite a range of resources, including those from MI5 and the FBI. The FBI has a Gotcha section and recently they highlighted Operation Double O. I cannot believe anyone could be stupid enough to carry out a robbery, blow their nose and then leave a dirty tissue for forensics to play with the DNA.  Have a look at the podcast.

There’s more to come – but I’ll leave you with this for now. Back again soon.


Miss Demeanour, the elevator Twitter that’s irritating Goldman Sachs, and anarchy in the UK

September 1, 2011

Hello again! I hope you are having a good Summer! Mine’s been extremely good since I had the pleasure of the company of Miss Demeanour last Monday Bank Holiday at Wheels and Wings on Dunsfold Aerodrome, where they film Top Gear. It’s a fabulous day out if you love aeroplanes, racing cars, classics, motorbikes and anything with a wheel or a wing.  Here she is:

Miss Demeanour

What a babe!

I was so hoping to see the Avro Vulcan XH558 fly again, but hydraulics problems grounded her for the entire event. Miss Demeanour filled that gap with her amazing display with the Hawker. Thanks to the pilots for the Hunter-Hawker air display. It was truly awesome! Miss Demeanour is owned by Jonathan Whaley, and – apparently – he packs the (replicant coloured) parachute himself for the final landing. See above. Most girls dream of having a man who colour co-ordinates this well…………

The Hunter-Hawker display above and below we have – A DeLorean! Apparently there’s 6,500 DeLoreans still around somewhere!

Back to the Future. Check out the Seagull doors!

I always look for the darker side of social networking, and the uses that it can be put to – only from a researchers’ perspective – I hasten to add, especially in this day and age. Did you hear on the vine that Goldman Sachs have a rogue Tweeter in their midst, who may be riding the lifts/elevators in order to eavesdrop on conversations and tweet them? The New York Post reports that Goldmans are trying to find out who is twittering on Twitter feed @gselevator, and they have even unsuccessfully attempted to force Twitter to freeze the account. Is Goldmans being a total twit (as in twit/twitter – oh forget it…) to worry about this in the first instance? Hey – what’s a bit of reputational risk banter in the elevator amongst the heavily-wedged few?  Maybe the ones who boast of their privileged excess in times of hardship for the benefit of the rest of us should learn to keep their mouths shut instead. The diversity of social networking just never fails to amaze.

Around where I live, we’ve had a spot of bother from rioters, who have totally destroyed Croydon and then attempted to trash Sutton a week or so later. I was sent the Looter’s Prayer, which is indicative of our times and was posted on Facebook by my colleague, Arthur Weiss.

“Our father, who art in prison, my mum knows not his name, thy Riots come, read it in “The Sun” in Birmingham , as it is in London , give us this day our Welfare bread and forgive us our looting, as we are happy to loot those who defend stuff against us. Lead us not into employment but deliver us free housing, for thine is the Facebook the Blackberry & the Twitter, forever and ever… Innit !!!! ”

Apparently, the manager at Waterstones Bookshop in Sutton commented on the rioting that was attempting to break out in Sutton with: “I’m going to keep my shop open. At least if they loot my store, the bu**ers might learn something”.  Very well said! 

One of my sons came home a couple of weeks ago and told me that one of his friends had visited his doctor because of teenage spots. The doctor went online, Googled “spots and teenagers” and printed off a page from Wikipedia and handed it to him. I understand that doctors earn circa £100k p.a. and if that’s the best they can do for their over-inflated salary then I’m at a loss for words.  Actually, I’m rarely at a loss for words, but that’s irrelevant. Anyone who is anyone knows that Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed data because anybody can update it.  It is proved that people purposely update Wikipedia with utter rubbish. Do our GPs need educating? It surely looks that way. I suggest this doctor takes a look at Mumsnet.com or the BBC or even the NHSDirect web site where information is somewhat more reliable.

TTFN, as my Grandfather used to say. I’ll be back again, sooner than usual with some more commentary when school starts.