To thine own self be true

Archive for November, 2006

Last week’s opinion

Posted by Polonius on 27 November, 2006

I’ve only just come across this piece by Simon Jenkins in the Grauniad last week. What’s perhaps more remarkable than the article itself is the enormous number of, and near unanimity among, the comments that follow it.

It’s worth mentioning that I was pointed towards the article by Rachel from north London, who writes some good stuff herself.


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Too good not to share

Posted by Polonius on 13 November, 2006

Saw this news story last week, but had forgotten it. I’m lost for words.

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Bank fraud

Posted by Polonius on 9 November, 2006

The following is the text of a letter I emailed to the Grauniad two days ago. I guess they’re not going to publish it.

In today’s article “Online bank fraud up by 55%”, you tell of phishing
scams in which fraudsters, posing as banks, email people asking for
security information. These scams gain significant credibility from the
fact that banks themselves persist in phoning customers and asking for
security information.

I would like to think that the banks do this out of sheer stupidity, but I
fear they are more cynical than that. By encouraging customers to give out
this information to anyone who asks for it, the banks reinforce the idea
that, if the information ever gets into the wrong hands, it must have been
the customer who was responsible.

Surely it is not beyond the wit of banks to devise a scheme whereby both
caller and recipient can be assured of the other’s identity? But the
caller has the advantage, and must provide the evidence first.

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US and us

Posted by Polonius on 7 November, 2006

I’ve been following the build-up to the US mid-term elections on various blogs and it’s fascinating how different politics there is from the UK variety. I’ve long known that US politics was quite vicious, but I never really understood how the personal attacks related to policies. In recent years, Labour and Conservative politicians have tried to lower the quality of debate to US levels, but they’ve missed an important factor. In the US, there are policy differences between the two major parties; since Blair turned the Tony party into a clone of the Tory party, all they’ve got to argue about is personalities.

The other thing I didn’t understand about US politics was the importance of religion. In the UK, the influence of religion is more subtle, more insidious. I was surprised to learn that a really significant proportion of Americans actually believe the Old Testament creation story; in the UK, that would count as the lunatic fringe. Obviously I’d heard the term “religious right”, but I had no idea there was such an alignment between the Republican party and these religious nuts.

Knowing what I now know, the story of Ted Haggard is even funnier.

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