Pursuing natural health & thinking beyond the superficial. Deconstructing Culture.

Posts tagged ‘Finance’

This is only the Beginning of What HSBC?

HSBC are known for having posters of people doing things with inspirational quotes about their achievement accomplished with the bank’s funding… But what the hell is this?

HSBC Avatar Blue People Artificial Intelligence Ultraterrestrials Extraterrestrials Aliens Blue Beings Cloning

A human (presumably) surrounded by Blue humanoid beings seemingly connected by wiring behind them and he’s modifying one of them!

They remind me Avatar (2009) and my post Who/What are the Blue beings, why are we inspired by them?

This is not the same as their usual posters showing people jumping for joy on holiday or opening their first business.

Creepy.

One of the Stingiest Bitches I’ve Come Across, And That Says Something… INQUEST NOT INQUIRY pt 3

We all knew £5m wouldn’t be enough for the victims of Grenfell Tower… And remember the council has £274m in surplus for failing to use their budgets properly as well as paying rebates to the highest tax payers because of it, might as well be embezzlement. Reminds me of the Hackney council 10m embezzlement some years back which was discovered when they managed to build a brand spanking new Town Hall and periphery [gorgeous] buildings yet rubbish was piling up on the streets… That said there was no ‘corporate manslaughter’ (or ‘murder’, since Kensington and Chelsea knew the risks of what they were doing all those years) involved because of it.

http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/grenfell-tower-families-to-get-%C2%A35500-government-payout/ar-BBCQupg

Families left homeless by the Grenfell Tower fire are to receive more than £5,000 to help them rebuild their lives, with £500 available immediately in cash, Theresa May has announced.

The cash payments are already being distributed by Kensington and Chelsea council to affected households, and from Monday payments of £5,000 will be put into bank accounts.

The money, which comes from the £5m emergency fund announced by Downing Street, may be increased if necessary.

May, the prime minister, said: “As we continue to respond to the needs of the community, our focus is on ensuring that all of those affected by this unimaginable tragedy get the right support as quickly as possible.

“My government will continue to do absolutely everything possible to help all of those affected through the difficult days, weeks, months and years ahead.”

The money will come from the £5m fund announced by May on Friday. No 10 said the £500 cash payment was already being handed out and further payments will be available from the Westway Centre and the nearby post office in Portobello Road. Help will be given to residents who do not have bank accounts.

May said: “As we continue to respond to the needs of the community, our focus is on ensuring that all of those affected by this unimaginable tragedy get the right support as quickly as possible. My government will continue to do absolutely everything possible to help all of those affected through the difficult days, weeks, months and years ahead.”

The move came as the official response to the crisis drew fresh condemnation from residents. In a statement to the Press Association, residents who met the prime minister in Downing Street over the weekend criticised Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation for its reaction to the disaster.

The group said: “In our meeting at Downing Street, we explained to the prime minister the anger of all residents towards the management of the estate over a long period of time, paving the way to this tragedy.

“With the exception of very few junior officers, the estate managers have been invisible in the aftermath of the tragedy.”

What the hell is that going to cover? Nothing. They have nothing; they’re starting from scratch, not even from scratch – they’re suffering from loss that they can never recover; loss of loved ones, home and memories. They’ve got no belongings except the clothes on their backs, having to look for/wait for missing persons/animals, having to wait for the dead, having to take time off work, having to sort out benefits, in need of counseling both legal and mental, possibly physical injuries to heal from, confused/grieving, overwhelmed and you think £5500 is going to mean anything? £500 in cash? Oh how charitable and responsible of you – the people of the country have done a much better job than that in one day than you and your stupid token fund and you’re the government, the place everyone looks to for regulation and ‘harmony’, peace and justice and all that. What a ‘joke’, a horrific ‘joke’. £500 won’t even cover temporary accommodation especially not in London, and where are they going for relocation, how will they pay for that? Food, clothing, household provisions, travel, medicine, furniture, funerals – all those basic essentials AND WHAT ABOUT COMPENSATION!? This doesn’t begin to even think about covering the orchestration that was done to them. The official establishments and have put them in debt and bankruptcy with this and you’re doing nothing but making their situation into a sinkhole. What about their loans, their ability to work; their whole lives have been turned upside down and you/your advisors/supporters think £5500 is ok. Butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth, I can’t believe your complete and utter lack of shame. You and everyone responsible/party to the tragedy should be humiliated at what’s happened, at what you’re offering; there’s no dignity in it at all. This is one of the worst incidents in modern history and the worst handling of it too.

INQUEST NOT INQUIRY pt 2 – Serious Corruption

Followed on from Governments and Bodies Can’t Investigate Themselves Impartially

It just gets worse and worse and worse and worse… People need to be stripped of titles, investigated, charged and convicted properly and companies shut down. Community cooperatives/management would have done better than local and central government on this.

http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/grenfell-tower-fire-mps-attack-kensington-council-for-failure-to-spend-%C2%A3270m-reserves-on-housing/ar-BBCOzNc

Grenfell Tower fire: MPs attack Kensington council for failure to spend £270m reserves on housing

The council responsible for Grenfell Tower, where at least 58 people are now thought to have lost their lives after Wednesday’s horrific fire, has been accused of carrying out “unacceptable” financial practises after it emerged the borough had stockpiled £274m of usable reserves following years of chronic underspending.

Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy, whose friend Khadija Saye was killed in the blaze, said very serious questions needed to be asked about why the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) was running a budget surplus despite repeated warnings from residents that the block posed a fire risk. The shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne said the council needed to “immediately explain itself” over why the funds were not used to ensure safe housing.

“If some of this money was spent on sprinkler systems and non-flammable cladding we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Mr Lammy told The Independent.

“Residents are saying that they feel as though they have been treated as second-class citizens because they are poor. It cannot be right that the council ran a budget surplus whilst families in their borough were living in such unsafe housing. That is simply unacceptable.

“The people of Kensington and Chelsea are angry and they have every right to be. We need answers and we need justice. Serious questions have to be asked about why the council was running a budget surplus when the Grenfell residents were warning about fire risks.”

Mr Gwynne said: “The council needs to immediately explain why these funds were not used to ensure safe housing for Kensington and Chelsea residents. There are too many opportunities for this tragedy to have been avoided.

At this time of intense stress and trauma, the least that these communities deserve are answers.”

In 2013/14, RBKC underspent by £30m “thanks to an overachieving efficiency drive,” according to Council Leader Nick Paget-Brown. [My Comment – this guy chats too much, he’s been allowed to why? https://fashionthatpays.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/grenfell-tower-conservative-tory-failures/%5D Instead of reinvesting the funds, top rate council tax-payers were subsequently offered a £100 rebate to account for the overspend.

“In deciding what to do with it, we have taken the view that it is simply wrong to discount from our calculations those whose money this was in the first place. In short, we think the right place for it is back with our residents,” Mr Paget-Brown wrote at the time.

While some of the reserve money is ring-fenced, the revelation follows claims that additional spending on the west London block could have prevented the tragedy that killed at least 58 people on Wednesday.

Questions were raised about the cladding that was fitted to the building during a 2015 refurbishment, which experts suggested may have helped the flames spread more rapidly throughout the tower than they would otherwise have.

Fitting a fire-resistant alternative would have cost as little as £5,000 extra to instal. The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association also said installing a sprinkler system would cost just £200,000.

“We have heard that the council gave residents a £100 rebate in 2014, when just £5,000 would have paid for non-flammable cladding on the outside of Grenfell Tower,” Mr Lammy said.

It follows claims by Labour Councillor Robert Atkinson the council was “bribing the electorate with its own money” after it “systematically and deliberately created underspends”.

“Our suspicion, based on past experience, remains that this council will bring in and hoard the people’s money in non election years (such as this) only to give it back as a pre-election bribe immediately before a council election – such as next year,” he said in a speech after 2017’s budget was announced.

“We think this council’s long standing practises of, every year, running huge underspends in its revenue budgets which it then transfers into Capital reserves is wrong, and, given the damage to services that has resulted over many years from the squeezing of revenue budgets it is not to put too fine a point on it – wicked.”

Mr Paget-Brown justified the rebate in 2014, saying it could not be ploughed back into services because it was a “one-off surplus”. Despite this, over the last four years, the General Fund at RBKC has consistently underspent, with draft figures for 2016/2017 showing a surplus of £10m.

The underspend figures come in contrast to those produced by the Borough of Islington, which has a similar demographic makeup to Kensington. In 2015/16, the Council underspent by £0.2m. In the same year, Newham, one of London’s poorest boroughs, underspent by £311,000.

The Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy details three reasons for a council to have reserves, one of which is to act as a “contingency cushion” for unexpected emergencies or events. But residents of the gutted block were growing increasingly angry over the council’s relief efforts following the fire.

Protesters stormed Kensington Town Hall chanting “justice” on Friday, carrying a list of demands they said authorities must meet. The Government was criticised for seemingly U-turning on a pledge to rehouse residents affected by the blaze within the borough, admitting on Friday that they may have to be relocated to other areas in London.

Despite the budget surplus, it appeared the RBKC was struggling to find accommodation in the borough for residents who were left homeless in the blaze.

Grieving relatives of the dead pointed to the repeated failures by those managing the properties to prevent such a tragedy on an unprecedented scale.

Residents of Grenfell Tower complained two years ago about the refurbishment of the building being done “using cheap materials” and workmanship that “cut corners”, The Independent revealed.

They later claimed the RBKC had done nothing to address their concerns.

It has also emerged that in order to save money, the council ditched the original proposed contractor, Leadbitter, for the refurbishment, and instead went with Rydon, a cheaper bid for the work.

In July 2013 the council’s Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee proposed to “market test the works through an open tender” after noting: “Leadbitter currently estimate the cost of the works to be £1.6m above the current, proposed budget.”

Rydon eventually completed the refurbishment in May 2016, for £2.5m less than the £11.278m quoted by Leadbitter.

Rydon has repeatedly said that all the refurbishment work carried out at Grenfell Tower met both building and fire regulation standards and was signed off by the council.

The Independent has contacted the RBKC for comment.

Another point is – usually businesses and institutions do their best to spend as much of their budgets as possible in order to justify them in the first place and make sure they get the same if not more funding in future, not less because they’ve been ‘efficient’. How did the money keep flooding in to Kensington and Chelsea despite not needing it because they never spent it?

And if they’ve got £270-4m in axillary, um isn’t this as deserving/qualifying a case as it gets? Why are the victims of Grenfell Tower only getting a measly £5m fund? Why is it even a possibility that they’ll be moved from their borough? Pay the f*cking private landlords b*stards, put ’em up in Buckingham Palace for all I care (yes I know it’s in Westminster) just stop being like some of the worst tyrants on the planet that you often advertise yourselves as superheroes and saviours against and go to war with and then moan about their people when you do the same to them and your own. Stop being like them and pay the price for your crimes against humanity, our animal companions and the environment.

Gallery

Seriously, Stop Bothering Me.

Japan tourists fingerprint purchases

Getty images

So Japan is rolling out fingerprint identification technology for everyday purchases:

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002859676
12:00 am, April 09, 2016

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Starting this summer, the government will test a system in which foreign tourists will be able to verify their identities and buy things at stores using only their fingerprints.

The government hopes to increase the number of foreign tourists by using the system to prevent crime and relieve users from the necessity of carrying cash or credit cards. It aims to realize the system by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The experiment will have inbound tourists register their fingerprints and other data, such as credit card information, at airports and elsewhere.

Tourists would then be able to conduct tax exemption procedures and make purchases after verifying their identities by placing two fingers on special devices installed at stores.

The Inns and Hotels Law requires foreign tourists to show their passports when they check into ryokan inns or hotels.

The government plans to substitute fingerprint authentication for that requirement.

A total of 300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments will participate in the experiment. They are located in areas that are popular among foreign tourists such as Hakone, Kamakura, Yugawara in Kanagawa Prefecture, and Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture.

The government plans to gradually expand the experiment by next spring, to cover areas including tourist sites in the Tohoku region and urban districts in Nagoya.

It hopes to realize the system throughout the country, including Tokyo, by 2020.

Introducing the system is part of the government’s efforts to increase the annual number of foreign tourists to 40 million by 2020.

It is also aiming to demonstrate the country’s advanced technology by having tourists use the system when they visit Japan for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Data concerning how and where foreign tourists use the system will be managed by a consultative body led by the government, after the data is converted to anonymous big data.

After analyzing tourists’ movements and their spending habits, the data is expected to be utilized to devise policies on tourism and management strategies for the tourism industry.

However, there are concerns that tourists will be uneasy about providing personal information such as fingerprints.

The experiment will examine issues including how to protect one’s privacy and information management.

Attempts to put similar systems into practical use are under way at a bank and a theme park in Japan.

In October last year, the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, introduced on a trial basis a similar system in which visitors can make payments with just their fingerprints at about 30 stores and restaurants.

An official from the theme park said, “The system has been well received by customers, including those with children, since it saves them the trouble of taking their wallets out.”

By the end of this month at the earliest, Tokyo-based Aeon Bank will become the first bank in Japan to test a system in which customers will be able to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines using only fingerprints for identification and omitting the use of cash cards.

“The system is also superior in the area of security, such as preventing people from impersonating our customers,” an official from the bank said.

Japan tourists fingerprint purchases

Governments/corporations going to all the effort and cost of research, design, manufacture, advertising, widescale cooperation between companies and services for biometric devices just to save us the time it takes to take out our wallets? (Or remember a password, use an alarm clock etc…) Absolute surveillance is more like it. Ok cash has been in the process of being slowly phased out for ages, and alternate transitional paper currency like stamps (which are no longer currency) and cheques/traveller’s cheques have lost their popularity to plastic and digital currency but now you want the kind of info it’d take to open a bank account or get arrested just for a regular purchase? No thanks. Want DNA samples too? Yeah paper and plastic are not environmentally friendly but neither are computer servers. At least some countries (like Japan) still have some coins with holes in them – you can wear your change as a fashion accessory 😛

I remember when people used to be scared to give out their name, sort codes and account numbers (in the glory days of cheques and that is less info than that on a cheque) without knowing that people couldn’t take money out that way, only add to the account (as long as you didn’t give any other info) – a potential hacker could give them money rather than steal! That said in terms of identity fraud direct debits can be set up with that info but it’d be responsible just to tell people these things when they have an account, why develop and roll out technology like this and then expect to keep all that data safe from themselves and outsiders, especially when it’s going to be accessed commonly/regularly?

This new system reminds of me of China’s social credit system:

How China Plans to Blacklist Financially Unstable Citizens

It’s happening in the U.S., too.

China has a problem.

No, not Donald Trump trying to savage it any time he comes within three feet of a microphone. It’s that enormous social shifts in recent years—like the forcible relocation of 250 million people from rural areas to urban environments—have transformed the country, in the words of its Academy of Social Sciences, from “a society of acquaintances into a society of strangers.”

And these strangers, it turns out, don’t think much of each other. Social trust is at miserable levels, leading to a shaky business environment in which half of all written contracts are blatantly breached.

Since part of the problem is the lack of a credit reporting system, the government has decided to establish one. But instead of only considering people’s ability to repay loans, this system will rank people based on their trustworthiness using all sorts of data.

This might sound exactly like the kind of thing you’d expect from an authoritarian regime. And as someone who has pondered the ways in which privacy is squeezed by an ever-expanding surveillance state, I was intrigued by this unholy alliance between Big Data and Big Brother.

But what really surprised me was not just the outlandish lengths to which the Chinese government will go to evaluate its citizens. It was that its tactics were surprisingly close to what is already happening here, as banks look for ways to lend money to—and collect fees from—people with no traditional credit history.

But first let’s look at what the Chinese are doing.

The glories of trust-keeping

Using an enormous range of information, from traffic violations to consumer patterns to social networks, China intends to give every one of its 1.3 billion citizens a “social credit” score by 2020.

A recently translated summary of the plan explains that the goal is nothing less than raising “the sincerity and quality of the entire nation.” That, it says, should help address everything from workplace accidents to food safety failures to tax evasion and production of counterfeit goods (putting Canal Street, every New York woman’s go-to source for knockoff Chanel handbags, rather under a cloud).

The plan includes recommendations for establishing “civil servant sincerity dossiers,” something I’d like to see applied to my local DMV, lots of talk about “professional ethics, household virtue and individual morality,” and encouraging companies to conduct “client sincerity evaluations.”

I’m not sure what that means, but it conjures visions of online retailers diligently making entries like, “Disappointing customer. Returned item saying ‘It didn’t fit.’ Strongly suspect she’s lying about being a size 6.”

There’s also a large public relations component, with the use of news media to “forge a public opinion that trust-keeping is glorious” and a raft of proposed holidays, including “Sincere Trading Propaganda Week” and “Quality Month.”

The pains of trust-breaking

Before you start worrying about the caliber of the other 11 months of the year, you’ll be glad to hear that there’s also a strategy for enforcement. This includes informants, blacklists, and the rather chilling promise that “those breaking trust will meet with difficulty at every step.”

Interestingly, the government is letting private companies, like Alibaba ( BABA 1.16% ) , the e-commerce giant that made $1 billion in eight minutes the other day, take the lead in a series of pilot projects.

Alibaba’s finance arm, Sesame Credit, has been issuing customers with social credit scores based in part on their purchases and hobbies.

As Sesame’s technology director explained, someone who played hours of video games “would be considered an idle person,” so less creditworthy, while someone “who frequently buys diapers” is probably a parent, so “more likely to have a sense of responsibility.”

Suddenly that puts Nicolas Cage in Raising Arizona, running from the cops with a stocking mask over his head and a package of Huggies under his arm, in a whole new light.

Rank your friends!

Although it seems that someone’s score, rather shockingly, may rise and fall with the creditworthiness of their friends and relations, companies are focusing consumers on the positive.

Sesame has even launched a mobile phone game in which users can guess whether they have higher or lower scores than their friends. What could be more fun than seeing whether your friends are—literally—worth hanging out with?

This may all seem crazy, in ways both scary and silly. But before we get too smug about how it would be unthinkable here, consider the recent news about credit agencies “exploring new ways of assessing consumers’ ability to handle loans,” right here in the United States.

These include scouring “phone and utility bills, change-of-address records and information drawn from DVD clubs, and suppliers of rent-to-own furniture.” And that’s just the well-known companies like TransUnion and FICO.

Start-up credit agencies and banks, reports The Economist, go even further, “piecing together scores by analyzing applicants’ online social networks,” monitoring their Facebook ( FB 0.23% ) messages and determining whether they are spending prudently.

(Here we pause as I put down my phone, from which I was just about to order a gravy separator from Williams-Sonoma ( WSM -0.02% ), in case I needed to separate gravy sometime. Suddenly, it just didn’t seem—what’s the word?—prudent.)

The credit agencies say that they are responding to a demand by their customers—the banks, which are looking for new sources of revenue and hoping to find it in people who previously had no credit score.

Building a better citizen

So while we’re not subjected to a government effort to “build a better citizen,” as the Chinese are, we’re not doing much to prevent the private sector from conducting not-entirely-dissimilar data-mining investigations into millions of people too young, too poor, or too new to the country to have traditional credit scores.

Ever since Target ( TGT -1.01% ) started using data-mining to predict whether female customers were pregnant (which explains why I received a can of formula, seemingly out of the blue, right before I had my first child), scholars have warned us about the many ways the private sector can use predictive analytics to figure out who we are and what they can sell us.

But even if it’s good business, there’s something odd about collecting all these disparate pieces of information—traffic violations, bills paid and unpaid, staying friends with your ne’er-do-well elementary school classmate, having children, playing Call of Duty: Black Ops III—and assigning the whole mess a single numerical score.

Reducing all aspects of social and consumer life to a single unit of value seems to fundamentally misunderstand the complexity of human experience. Maybe remaining friends with a childhood buddy with a poor loan history does reflect on your own financial creditworthiness. But that friendship might also point to other things about you—your past, your loyalty, or your willingness to help those in need—that cannot be assigned a numeric value along the same spectrum as whether you paid your gas bill.

Maybe an authoritarian single-party state can’t be that concerned with the dignity and autonomy (let alone the privacy) of its citizens. But at least the Chinese plan has been publicly circulated. Its “you will be trustworthy—or else” message might be a little alarming, but it’s not like it keeps you guessing.

We can’t really say the same for our own shadowy system of credit ratings. And if the market requires it, how long will it be before we all get evaluated based on whether our purchases are of the “responsible adult” or “idle slacker” kind?

Better start stocking up on the Huggies.

———————-

Caren Morrison is an associate professor of law at Georgia State University. This piece was originally published on The Conversation.

The social credit system fits in with the ‘I have nothing to hide so you can know absolutely everything about me before I even know and may never understand even if it puts you [and me] to sleep’ philosophy of those who accept it and the ‘ha ha you moronic little tiny puny pathetic people-oids, you only exist for me to watch, use and exploit’ philosophy of those who see each other as commodities.

Moving on to traditional spying aka espionage:

http://www.lbc.co.uk/china-in-dangerous-love-foreign-spy-warning-128970

China In ‘Dangerous Love’ Foreign Spy Warning
Tuesday, 19th April 2016 10:24

China has launched a campaign to warn people of the dangers of trusting handsome foreigners who might have secret agendas.

Titled Dangerous Love, the posters, issued to mark the first ever National Security Education Day, tell the story of a young Chinese civil servant, called Little Li, who meets a red-headed man at a dinner party.

As “David” woos her with compliments, flowers and romantic walks in the park, Li fails to realise he is a foreign spy.

The cartoons depict a scenario where Li gives David secret internal documents from her government office before they are both arrested.

In the final image, Li is shown sitting handcuffed before two policemen who tell her she has a “shallow understanding of secrecy for a state employee”.

China’s state secrets law is notoriously broad, covering everything from industry data to the exact birth dates of state leaders.

Information can also be labelled a state secret retroactively.

President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping revamp of the security apparatus, aimed at combating threats both at home and abroad.

But new security laws he has passed, or wants to pass, have alarmed Western governments, including the counterterrorism law and a draft cyber security law, amid a renewed crackdown on dissent.

On Tuesday, a Chinese man was sentenced to death for leaking more than 150,000 classified documents to an unidentified foreign power.

The man, a computer technician from Sichuan named as Huang Yu, worked for a government department which handled state secrets, but he was a bad employee and was sacked, a report on state television said.

Filled with anger, he messaged a “foreign spy organisation” on the internet and offered to sell documents he had obtained while working for his former employer, who gladly took him up on his offer.

The report did not say when or if the execution had happened, or where he was tried.

Here are the 16 parts of the comic (making up two side-by-side pages) translated, all images and translations from http://chinalawtranslate.com/nsed/

A foreign friend has organized a gathering tonight…You’re always trying to increase your foreign language level, why don’t you go with me? –OK.

A foreign friend has organized a gathering tonight…You’re always trying to increase your foreign language level, why don’t you go with me?
–OK.

My name is David and I’m a visiting scholar researching issues about China. I’m really interested in chatting with all of you.

My name is David and I’m a visiting scholar researching issues about China. I’m really interested in chatting with all of you.

Everybody please introduce yourself and say a little something about your work. Let’s start with this pretty lady. –Oh, OK!.

Everybody please introduce yourself and say a little something about your work. Let’s start with this pretty lady.
–Oh, OK!.

Xiao Li: I’m Xiao Li, I just tested into the civil service after graduating college and work in a foreign publicity (propoganda) department. David: OK

Xiao Li: I’m Xiao Li, I just tested into the civil service after graduating college and work in a foreign publicity (propoganda) department.
David: OK

After that party, David began to meet with Xiao Li often and gave her gifts.

After that party, David began to meet with Xiao Li often and gave her gifts.
DAVID: You’re pretty, sweet and exceptional; Honestly I fell for you the first time I saw you.

Having a handsome, romantic and talented foreign boyfriend is pretty good.

Having a handsome, romantic and talented foreign boyfriend is pretty good.

The two begin a romantic involvement. DAVID: Dear, what exactly do you do at your work? XIAO LI: I write internal references as a basis for central policies.

The two begin a romantic involvement.
DAVID: Dear, what exactly do you do at your work?
XIAO LI: I write internal references as a basis for central policies.

DAVID: Great! Lend me those internal references so I can take a look. This will really help me write academic articles. XIAO LI: I can’t, we have a confidentiality system.

DAVID: Great! Lend me those internal references so I can take a look. This will really help me write academic articles.
XIAO LI: I can’t, we have a confidentiality system.

DAVID: Dear, do you still need to keep secrets from me? I’m just taking a look to use in academic articles. XIAO LI: Unh, OK then.

DAVID: Dear, do you still need to keep secrets from me? I’m just taking a look to use in academic articles.
XIAO LI: Unh, OK then.

XIAO LI: This is a copy I made, give it back as soon as you’re done. DAVID: Relax, Sweetheart.

XIAO LI: This is a copy I made, give it back as soon as you’re done.
DAVID: Relax, Sweetheart.

What happened? David hasn't called me recently, and his phone is always off.

What happened? David hasn’t called me recently, and his phone is always off.

OFFICER: Are you Xiao Li? We’re from the State Administration of National Security. Please come with us. XIAO LI: What? What’s going on?

OFFICER: Are you Xiao Li? We’re from the State Administration of National Security. Please come with us.
XIAO LI: What? What’s going on?

OFFICER: Are you Xiao Li? We’re from the State Administration of National Security. Please come with us. XIAO LI: What? What’s going on?

OFFICER: Are you Xiao Li? We’re from the State Administration of National Security. Please come with us.
XIAO LI: What? What’s going on?

XIAO LI: I didn’t know he was a spy; he used me! OFFICER: You show a very shallow understanding of secrecy for a State employee. You are suspected of violating our nation’s law.

XIAO LI: I didn’t know he was a spy; he used me!
OFFICER: You show a very shallow understanding of secrecy for a State employee. You are suspected of violating our nation’s law.

A warning from the National Security Organs: According to Chapter 1 on crimes endangering national security, article 111 of the Criminal Law of the P.R.C.: Whoever steals, secretly gathers, purchases, or illegally provides state secrets or intelligence for an organization, institution, or personnel outside the country is to be sentenced from not less than five years to not more than 10 years of fixed-term imprisonment; when circumstances are particularly serious, he is to be sentenced to not less than 10 years of fixed- term imprisonment, or life sentence; and when circumstances are relatively minor, he is to be sentenced to not more than five years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention, control, or deprivation of political rights.

A warning from the National Security Organs: According to Chapter 1 on crimes endangering national security, article 111 of the Criminal Law of the P.R.C.: Whoever steals, secretly gathers, purchases, or illegally provides state secrets or intelligence for an organization, institution, or personnel outside the country is to be sentenced from not less than five years to not more than 10 years of fixed-term imprisonment; when circumstances are particularly serious, he is to be sentenced to not less than 10 years of fixed- term imprisonment, or life sentence; and when circumstances are relatively minor, he is to be sentenced to not more than five years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention, control, or deprivation of political rights.

Article 27 of Chapter IV of the Counter-Espionage Law provides that : Where extraterritorial institutions, organizations or individuals carry out, or instigate or financially support others in carrying out espionage activities, or where an institution, organization or individual within the territory linked to a foreign institution, organization or individual conducts espionage activities, and it constitutes a crime, it is pursued for criminal responsibility in accordance with law.

Article 27 of Chapter IV of the Counter-Espionage Law provides that : Where extraterritorial institutions, organizations or individuals carry out, or instigate or financially support others in carrying out espionage activities, or where an institution, organization or individual within the territory linked to a foreign institution, organization or individual conducts espionage activities, and it constitutes a crime, it is pursued for criminal responsibility in accordance with law.

The comments on that web page highlighted another (historical) poster:

American Propaganda poster against Japanese

I once saw a travel show documenting the exploration of Chinese culture by a UK celebrity (can’t remember who it was) in which was a segment about Caucasian men who work in China and purposely have Chinese girlfriends making them do humiliating things and ultimately thinking them golddiggers, even if they’ve been together long term. The main guy interviewed was also Red haired (natural Reds/Blondes being both exotic, unique and interesting to Asians, yet natural Reds maligned for quite some time in the West). I’d already learned that having local mistresses was common in many countries from empire/colonial and world war days but at that time I didn’t know it had continued to present day in China for migrant workers and xpats even if on a lesser scale. It added to generally being aware of the East Asian (Chinese sub-continent) female being the ‘no:1 exotic’ and people from some of those countries looking down on dark skin. Ask the US White males and Asian women you know and see how many of the former say they would like an East Asian girlfriend and how many of the Asian (anywhere from Asia) women say that Eastern Asian women are indeed the most desirable for both White and Asian (excluding Brown Muslims but including the Eastern Muslims) men. Whilst White people in the latter half of the 20th century onwards preferred/prefer to tan but there’s been a movement to re-appreciate the fair skinned and White women generally preferring darker men when attracted to the ‘exotic’. Then of course there’s the buy-a-bride trade. That doesn’t mean there aren’t women in the world who are looking for the ridiculous epitome of an ‘attractive man’ via his money, car, looks, flashiness etc and not all of them have sympathetic circumstances.

It’s ironic that governments dislike satire and political artists yet propaganda is the norm and apparently acceptable. Whilst this poster warns its citizens of business/state indiscretions it implies to us foreigners to dress dowdy and understated when visiting, since being good looking means we’re less trustworthy…

Did the world wars (and cold war) ever end? Anyone is capable of spying and gossip, it doesn’t help though when we get posters like the above or like those by the Met Police in 2009 (that for some reason are hard to find online unless hotlinked to their website) which implied people were better off because they reported neighbour’s trash and ‘strange activities’ including someone who was just looking at a CCTV camera. 🙄

People may be be better off looking up gang stalking and through-the-wall devices to be informed about spy/harassment/life invasion methods used to intimidate and control regular and ‘suspect’ people, and how easy it is to end up on a watch list.

Lastly here is an article about the crackdown on rich kids and vulgarity in reality tv:

China Cracks Down on Reality TV Kids, Live-stream Stars

China Cracks Down on Reality TV Kids, Live-stream Stars

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s top state media regulator, has issued new guidelines seeking to ban children from featuring in reality television programming. The new rules pay special attention to the children of established celebrity figures. The New York Times’ Amy Qin reports on the ban as the next step in official efforts to regulate China’s burgeoning online television industry:

The aim of the ban, said the state-run news agency, Xinhua, which first reported the guidelines on Sunday, is to protect the children from the pitfalls of “overnight fame.”

The regulations are the latest in the government’s continuing efforts to rein in the fast-growing online television industry. Last month, new rules issued by two industry associations, including one state-sanctioned organization, outlined a comprehensive policy that included a ban on depictions of gay relationships, underage romance, extramarital affairs, smoking, witchcraft and reincarnation.

[…] Some experts said the latest guidelines appeared to be aimed specifically at hugely popular shows like Hunan Television’s “Where Are We Going, Dad?” and Zhejiang Television’s “Dad Is Back,” both of which feature children of celebrities.

[…] Ma Xue, a Beijing-based reality television producer, said she thought the broadcast regulator issued the new guidelines “because they don’t want people to see differences between classes.”

“On these shows, if you are the child of a celebrity, then you become a celebrity by birth,” she continued.

“This could have a negative social impact,” she added. “You can’t have class differences starting from childhood.” […] [Source]

The posh lifestyles of celebrities have previously been targeted by central propaganda directives, and state media has warned against the “negative impact” that celebrity lifestyle can have on the masses. More from the AP on media regulators’ desire to limit programming that encourages fascination with lavish living:

It said reality show producers had been ordered to drop the “mistaken notion” that they should use well-known entertainers to attract viewers. “Do not permit shows to become venues for displaying fame and wealth,” the order quoted by Xinhua said.

[…] Chinese media regulators want to rein in programmes which they see as overly materialistic or encouraging the worship of celebrities who might compete with role models promoted by the ruling Communist party.

Viewers have increasingly turned to programming on more independent satellite television stations and the internet, where regulators have sought to impose stronger control over live streaming programmes usually featuring young women chatting, playing video games or simply going about their everyday tasks. [Source]

The South China Morning Post’s Ting Yan reports further on the growing popularity of streaming live programs, focusing on Papi Jiang (Papi酱), who has won online celebrity status—and a fat paycheck—through her live streams:

Jiang Yilei, her real name, lived a quiet life at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing a year ago, but now finds herself the mainland’s second best known web celebrity after Wang Sicong, the flamboyant son of China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin – according to the mainland’s IT industry flagship magazine Internet Weekly.

The arrival of social media in the mainland more than a decade ago and the increasing accessibility of the internet has allowed many ordinary young men and women to gain celebrity to massive audiences with their eye-catching opinions and comments.

Many are followed by millions of fans who are keen to catch whatever they do or say. Web celebrities often appear in newspapers or on television as conventional media has developed a fascination for them as well.

But compared to their counterparts years ago, the current crop of big name cyber celebrities are leveraging their fame to cash in, with the earnings on par with first-tier stars.

[…] Jiang is in such a position. After maintaining a steady following for months, she received 12 million yuan (HK$14.4 million) from domestic private equity firms last month. [Source]

SAPPRFT has reportedly set sights on Papi Jiang for her use of profanity, ordering her videos off of streaming sites until they are edited to accord with regulations. Newly-launched English-language state media outlet Sixth Tone reports:

According to a short news article by party newspaper People’s Daily, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), a government media supervision body, has told Papi Jiang to take her videos offline. The videos can be uploaded again when the coarse language has been removed and they adhere to regulations, the People’s Daily reported on its mobile app on Monday.

SAPPRFT decided to censor Papi Jiang “following reports from the public and evaluations by experts,” said the People’s Daily.

[…] Since Monday evening Papi Jiang’s videos were no longer available on Youku, her public WeChat account, and other websites, but could still be viewed on Weibo. Papi Jiang’s agent did not respond immediately to questions from Sixth Tone.

[…] In reaction to the news, Yang Ming, a business partner of Papi Jiang, told Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper that they “will continue to make videos in accordance with socialist core values.” [Source]

At The Beijinger, Tracy Wang translates Papi Jiang’s acceptance of the criticism from state censors, and notes last minute opportunities to view the profanity-laden videos before they disappear entirely:

Jiang, who has 11.2 million followers on Weibo and whose videos have been viewed 300 million times, posted this statement on her Weibo account:

“I’m a person who is open to criticism. Only those willing to accept criticism are able to correct their mistakes and head in a better direction. As a person in the media spotlight, I will pay closer attention to my language and my image, and will resolutely make amends to my videos according to requests, as well as attempt to deliver more positive energy in the future. If you have other issues with my work, I invite your further feedback on how Papi can get better and better.”

We checked several platforms, and there are only three Papi videos on Youku and only one video on Iqiyi. Her Weibo account appears to still be hosting some of the banned them, but god only knows when they will be scrubbed as well, so bone up on your Chinese foul language skills while the opportunity still lasts. [Source]

A few of her older videos have been uploaded to her YouTube channel, where they remain.

At Tech in Asia last week, C. Custer reported that all Chinese live-streaming platforms have become the subjects of a Ministry of Culture investigation for allowing models a venue to be “vulgar”:

The Ministry of Culture says that it has already dispatched investigators, and will publicly announce punishments once it has concluded investigations.

Live streaming is a fast-growing industry on China’s web. The most popular streamers tend to be professional gamers – a top Dota 2 or League of Legends pro can attract hundreds of thousands of viewers to a stream to watch them practice the game – but there are all kinds of other streams, too. Also popular are “lifestyle” streams, which tend to feature attractive women who talk and interact with their followers while wearing revealing outfits.

Still, cleavage isn’t a crime, and the games that are popularly streamed are all legal to play in China, so it’s not clear exactly what the Ministry of Culture is planning to crack down on here.

[…] If the Ministry of Culture punishes live streaming platforms, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see those platforms also adopt a set of similar measures [to major video provider that recently pledged to abide by a set of standards]. And punishment is essentially a guarantee; although technically the Ministry of Culture is still “investigating,” it would be a massive loss of face for the Ministry to allege wrongdoing on state TV and then ultimately find nothing. In all likelihood most of the investigation has already happened, and what remains now is figuring out how these sites should be punished. [Source]

Yes many children of rich people are privileged, that’s the point of being rich/successful – what parents rich or otherwise doesn’t want their children to be heir to their precious property/assets (if any) and have advantages [over others] in life? What to do about it? Take the rich and hence potentially more embarrassing out of the spotlight? (They are afterall ‘stars’ on the cosmic/divine Red carpet.) Hiding and pretending influential people don’t exist won’t prevent or stop anything e.g. class difference. That doesn’t mean [any] people should parade their children like a circus but in a spy/follower obsessed world we do need to know more about what the powerful/influential people are doing and how the ‘everyday person’ is involved but whilst we focus on gutter and paparazzi style media we don’t notice and even support the suppression, punishment and eradication of whistleblowers and victims (‘what makes them so special’ many ask ‘they’re full of themselves’ others say, ‘we love the dirt on public figures but finding out about corporate and security policy and implementation is a threat to national safety’ – if being a whistleblower or going through official complaints procedure – as opposed to ‘anonymous’ reporting – was an an enviable position to be in perhaps more people would volunteer for the role).

Yes females (including underage models selling older items) have traditionally been and are still used to sexualize consumer goods/services for promotion (and propaganda – sitting provocatively on a missile for example), there’s been a few high profile males in the West like the Milk Tray Man, the Diet Coke Guy, perfume and underwear models but they’re still tokens in comparison to the normalized used of the female body. It’s amazing how you see all these women with smooth, unblemished skin in these ads too – even in Dove’s (cosmetics) ‘real women’ campaigns (a photographer for which I knew showed raw images to as many male employees as he could at a different job whilst the female staff listened to their comments in humiliated discomfort), where were those representing the masses with scars and stretchmarks – why are they unattractive even less lovable whereas scars on a guy are battle trophies? Too bad the ‘ten a penny’, ‘dime a dozen’ ‘don’t be a prima donna thinking too much of yourself for wanting to be treated respectfully and not as a sex toy’ mentality prevails by both industry recruiters & technicians and consumers which ensures the exploitation of those in between regardless of their sex and gender.

I don’t particularly care about profanity as I try to listen to what people are saying both in substance and style but many get upset about it or the tone of delivery over the content – presentation is significant to people. Additionally I refuse to give up learning about the esoteric (including ‘witchcraft and reincarnation’ at the top of the article.) 😛

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Spring Equinox and its Meanings

According to the sky we in the northern hemisphere are about to enter a new year (tomorrow 04.30am UT/GMT). The exact time is dependent on your location e.g. whether you’re in the northern or southern hemisphere and whether you are in night/day time. Solstices (Winter and Summer) and equinoxes (Spring and Autumn) aren’t on the same day each year so akin to the phases of the moon (and effects of) and astrology there is a cusp i.e. usually a 3 day period but can be upto a week. For example when people look forward to/are wary of the full moon they should take into account the day before and after the event as well, but the cusp is also a proviso for comparing calendars. Dates/times vary depending on the calendar/system used too since their reference markers are different – solar, lunar, lunisolar calendars – and for people into astrology the type of system used e.g. what we consider ‘regular’ tropical astrology in the West or sidereal astrology. The signs start/end at different times difference between these systems.

The seasons as we experience them in our tiny section of the Earth have their own temperaments (we and our brethren plant and animal species that we know as ‘life on earth’ live generally on the surface of a planet, some further down like deep water creatures but even they are far from immune to the goings on of people above them, and if we go up a few miles without aeronautic equipment we’re practically useless and without further equipment we’re dead meat & unlikely to exist at all in the cold reaches of space. Quite marvelous and ironic really isn’t it, especially since mentally we haven’t come that far from thinking our planetary neighbours revolve around us and the rest of humanity let alone everybody/thing else still doesn’t really factor into our everyday, individual lives.) For example Spring in weather (effects of) comes earlier for some than others and some countries start celebrating in what many would consider Winter but it’s really in our self-imposed calendars that the year ends and begins at the deepest/darkest point i.e. Dec/Jan.

The ‘midwinter’ (predominantly in December) festivals most commonly known are from the Roman period, though the Romans and Greeks are additionally well known for their juxtaposed belief systems and when Christianity won the day it the Feast of the Unconquered Sun became known as the birth of a Jesus [a] Christ. Celebrations on and around the Winter Solstice are generally about the day/light defeating the night/dark, the sun chasing away the dark, it will return triumphant – like all those beliefs about day and night the sun ‘falling’ ‘rising’ ‘sleeping’ ‘dying’ ‘being eaten’ when it doesn’t, we just view it that way; this is the yearly rather than daily dose of fear of death and the dark. Divine, semi-divine and illuminated, sainted beings aren’t haloed for nothing; their auras are depicted as radiant, particularly the crown ‘chakra’ associated with crystal/christos higher consciousness energy.

The twisted use of the year end/new year as I likened them HERE to April Fools Day is strange firstly because 31st Dec/1st Jan (whether Julian or Gregorian) is not an Earth or astronomical end/new year other than saying the days will slowly get longer from here, but it’s hardly a comfortable starting point for seasonal activity and the ‘body clocks’ of flora and fauna (why festivals at that time use evergreens – they’re practical and have become our symbolic champions over what we fear). Secondly the twist was entrenched in the annual customs throughout Europe that for short time turned the class system on its head with rich people (masters/clergy) acting out role reversal with their servants/lessers. All a bit of ‘good clean fun’, benevolence, generous tokenism and goodwill apparently but of course a major trick/test of character would be if the servants cum masters could restrain themselves because they’d be servants again soon enough. A prank/practical joke is only fun to an extent and you’re not the butt otherwise it’s just hazing/bullying.

Midwinter and Winter events in general are about sacrifice, usually blood sacrifice which the ‘cult of Saturnalia’ has become known for, and easily linked to the additional slaughtering of farm animals who would be an extra burden in cold times and easier to store as body parts. (Giving up something for Lent being a much softer, socially acceptable version and on a more regular basis substituting bread and wine for body and blood though many people aren’t afraid of supporting their local or supermarket ‘friendly’ butchers.) What are Spring festivals about? Renewal, birth and rebirth (and of course in everyday terms all festivals are about partying, eating/drink until you feel or are sick, merriment, doing embarrassing things you might regret later if you remember or are made to remember, having as much sex as possible etc).

There are other or extra ways of commemorating the new year however; preparing for the end/new fiscal year and focusing on the annual government announcement of the new budget for example. Midwinter and Spring in current times both constitute a new year in a significant way and both involve scrimping/saving/spending/splurging. Ever wondered by the tax year ends/begins in March-April? The following quote is from a blogger who has done an easy to understand summary:

http://paullewismoney.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/why-does-tax-year-begin-on-6-april.html

Saturday, 5 April 2014

WHY DOES THE TAX YEAR BEGIN ON 6 APRIL?

The tax year starts on 6 April and runs through to the following 5 April. To find out why we need to go back a l o n g way.

Just over 2000 years ago, in AD 14, the first Roman Emperor Augustus died. Among his many legacies was the calendar we use today.

It was initially devised by his predecessor Julius Caesar. By the time Gaius Julius came to power the Roman calendar was in a mess. One reason was that it was a secret religious document controlled by the priest class and not subject to outside scrutiny. Their job was to make the calendar work and determine the dates of religious holidays, festivals, and the days when business could and could not be conducted. But they had done it badly for many years and Caesar inherited a calendar that was out of step with the seasons by a quarter of a year.

He called in an Egyptian astronomer Sosigenes and decided to put things right. He added 90 days to the year 46 BC to bring the calendar into line with the seasons so that the spring equinox was on 25 March and the year began on 1 January as it was supposed to do. Caesar decreed that in future the calendar would follow the solar year of 365.25 days divided into twelve months of 30 or 31 days apart from the 28 day February to which would be added the leap day every fourth year.

Two years later, on the Ides of March 44 BC (15 March), Julius Caesar was assassinated on the steps of the Senate. As was their wont, the priests who were left in charge of the calendar mistook the instructions and added the extra day every third year (they counted inclusively 1-2-3-4 so to them the third year was called the fourth).

This error went unnoticed for more than thirty years and was finally corrected by Julius’s successor, Augustus. By then the seventh month had been named after Julius and on Augustus’s death in AD 14 the eighth month was named for him.

Apart from that one change the amended Julian calendar with the same months of the same lengths and a leap year every fourth year has run continuously since the year 8 BC.

But one small correction was needed. The Julian Calendar assumes the year is 365.25 days long – hence the extra leap day every four years. In fact the year is very slightly shorter than that. So over many centuries the calendar began to get more and more out of step with the seasons. Towards the end of the 16th century it was almost two weeks ahead of the Sun. Pope Gregory XIII decided to correct it. He took ten days out of the calendar – which fixed the spring equinox around 20/21 of March – and decreed that in future there would no Leap Year in century years unless they were also divisible by 400. Taking out three days every 400 years would almost precisely align the new Gregorian calendar with the time it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun.

The change was made in October 1582 and much of Europe soon followed. But the Protestant UK refused to obey a Papal decree and no change was made in the UK or in what were then its Colonies and Dominions. So our calendar got further out of step with the seasons and of course our dates were different from much of Europe.

It took nearly 200 years before the British Government decided to make the necessary changes. The Calendar Act of 1751 decreed that Wednesday 2 September 1752 would be followed by Thursday 14 September thus removing eleven days and bringing the calendar back where it should be. It also provided that the new year would start on 1 January. Many people had reverted to starting it on the old Roman equinox day of 25 March. You can still find eighteenth century books published early in the year with two dates such as ‘1724/25’.

But there was a problem. Tax was due over a whole year. So if there were 11 fewer days in 1752 tax would be due 11 days early and over a shorter period. At the time the tax year began on that Roman spring equinox day, 25 March. It was called Lady Day and was one of four quarter days when rent and other payments fell due. So the Government decided that the 1753 tax year would begin eleven days later on 5 April to give the full 365 days over which tax was due.

That is still one day short of its present starting date.

That extra day was added in 1800. That year would have been a Leap Year under the old calendar but not under the new Gregorian Calendar as century years (except those divisible by 400) were no longer leap years. Again there were protests. If people were denied their extra day of 29 February then they would be paying the same taxes but over a shorter period than they expected. Once again the Government gave in and extended the tax year by a day so it ended on 5 April and the next one began on 6 April 1800. And that is where it has remained. In 1900 no-one demanded the extra day for the tax year and the question did not arise in 2000 as it was divisible by 400 and so was a leap year.

An apt example of British changes to the calendar for tax purposes in alignment with Spring activity in it’s dominion was in India. Following the seasons is a farming must and India was and still is has major agricultural industry. Savvy conquerors know that it’s easier to incorporate and metamorphose on already existing cultures if they want longevity, so the Hindu New Year festival (beginning of April, after Holi – a Spring festival) was best to start the financial year at the same time. Current thought tends to offer up the argument that Winter is better for New Year and selling to consumers and Spring for taxes and budgeting but as we can see it doesn’t stop some people being able to party and Indians have reasons for major festivity all year round. I don’t know where they get the energy, our populace is lethargic in comparison.

The meaning of ‘Lady Day’ is interesting too. In the ecclesiastic calendar Lady Day is also the Feast of the Annunciation (where the young teen virgin Mary who’d been married to a much older Joseph was told by a voice – don’t know whether internal or external – and we assume by the Christian ‘God’ (though some say by an angel) rather than any other of the gods at the time, Zeus for example (the rampant rapist and notoriously underhanded traditionally depicted big thunderous guy in the sky, bearded, robed in White archetype who disguised himself as Alcmene’s husband to sleep with her, her actual husband returning later and she apparently becoming pregnant by both in one night wasn’t above ensuring that his children would have demi-god powers such as conspiring with Athena to get the babe nursed by Hera and later he audaciously became known as Hera-Kleos/Hercules) or anyone with projecting, possessing and penetrating capabilities that she was carrying a special child. (The Abrahamic religions disagree on whether he was called/or even was a/the Son of God and whether he was a/the Messiah) and from what we surmise it was a great honourable vessel role rather than obligation/duty. I’d hate to think what would have happened to her had she miscarried or had complications). Jesus died/was resurrected at the same time of year.

People tend to believe that the announcement was of Mary’s conception therefore leading to the December birth date, there is controversy over whether that was his birth date. Regardless of whether or not people believe the story to be factual as it is told with or without the omissions/additions/changes over time, or bible numerical coding being more significant, theoretically there could be upto a few months leeway since it’s unclear whether the announcement was at conception or after (and assuming Joseph hadn’t made sure to consummate the marriage as most couples are eager to do regardless of period in history, married or not). I note that many females (especially those in the early years of menstruation when it’s irregular) don’t know they’re pregnant near conception, and conception to birth isn’t exactly nine months. Overall it’s very well aligned with the astronomical markers and in tune with older sol/sun sowing/harvest/sacrifice rites/ritual/ceremony/belief/symbolism (older religions from/stemming from the cradles of civilisation – Egypt/Mesopotamia/India – have the birth/death/resurrection of a divinity story too).

25th March (Lady Day and Feast of Annunciation) is also the fifth day of Holy Week which is before or overlapping Eastre – Easter being a series of festivals interestingly based on the lunar rather than solar calendar and associated with goddess culture. Bear in mind that Easter was and in some branches still is in line with Passover, when Jewish people broke away from Egypt.

EDIT – The Feast of Annunciation has been transferred this year 2016 from 25th March to 4th April but Christmas hasn’t been changed to 4th Jan 2017 😉 . (Strangely the usual Easter end of term school holidays have been transferred too from the two week period including Good Friday and Easter Monday national bank holidays to the following two weeks so 4-8th and 11-15th April off instead.)

Intriguingly enough the legal year previously began in Spring too; the traditions it was/is celebrated with, the dress, and the educational background and professional status of the ‘pillars’/’fathers’ (not specifically referring to the US ‘founding fathers’) and the translating scribes of law, education and science makes you wonder why those and church/religion are thought of as separate entities/ideals.

Now the opening of the legal/civil year is in October and the government summer recess takes place within the end of year and beginning of year period.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_year

England

In England, the year is divided into four terms:
Michaelmas term – from October to December
Hilary term – from January to April
Easter term – from April to May, and
Trinity term – from June to July.

Between terms, the Courts are in vacation, and no trials or appeals are heard in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. The legal terms apply to the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme courts only,[1] and so have no application to the Crown Court, county courts, or magistrates’ courts. The longest vacation period is between July and October. The dates of the terms are determined in law by a Practice Direction in the Civil Procedure Rules. The Hilary term was formerly from January 11 to 31, during which superior courts of England were open.[2]

Start of the legal year

The legal year commences at the beginning of October, with a ceremony dating back to the Middle Ages in which the judges arrive in a procession from the Temple Bar to Westminster Abbey for a religious service, followed by a reception known as the Lord Chancellor’s breakfast, which is held in Westminster Hall. Although in former times the judges walked the distance from Temple to Westminster, they now mostly arrive by car. The service is held by the Dean of Westminster with the reading performed by the Lord Chancellor.

The ceremony has been held continuously since the Middle Ages, with the exception of the years 1940 to 1946 because of World War II. In 1953 it was held in St Margaret’s Church because Westminster Abbey was still decorated for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Ireland

In Ireland, the year is, like England, divided into four terms:
Michaelmas term – from October to December
Hilary term – from January to April
Easter term – from April to May, and
Trinity term – from June to July.

With a Christmas, Easter, Whit and Long Vacation between them respectively. The Michaelmas term, and legal year, is opened with a service in St. Michan’s Church, Dublin attended by members of the Bar and Law Society who then adjourn to a breakfast given in the King’s Inns.

United States

The United States Supreme Court follows part of the legal year tradition, albeit without the elaborate ceremony. The Court’s year-long term commences on the first Monday in October (and is simply called “October Term”), with a Red Mass the day before. The court then alternates between “sittings” and “recesses” and goes into final recess at the end of June.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/lawreports/joshuarozenberg/3124242/Opening-of-the-legal-year.html they got it from: http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/judges-process-towards-the-house-of-commons-from-the-news-photo/83072506

telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/lawreports/joshuarozenberg/3124242/Opening-of-the-legal-year.html
they got it from: gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/judges-process-towards-the-house-of-commons-from-the-news-photo/83072506

Looks like Midwinter mass comes early for some people, they look like a parade of Santa Claus’.

Very few people do know how Tradition is supposed to go. There’s a certain mysterious ridiculousness about it by its very nature – once there was a reason why you had to [insert superstition/custom] but now you did it because that’s what was Done.

– from ‘Jingo’ by Terry Practhett

To me 31st Dec/1st Jan isn’t and end/beginning since it’s such a mixup – who says the end has to be the beginning anyway? What no rest for the not-so-wicked? Maybe God can manage resting on one day of the week (some think Saturnday others Friday i.e. Venus or Frigg Day – evening to Saturday evening others Sunday) but I couldn’t put up with the principle of duality and opposing archetypes let alone for eons through the belief systems of all major post-Vedic/cradle of civilization peoples. It’s like the Fools Day but in the Winter and the joke’s on who? (Even more so with weather modification technology, pollution and daily life stresses playing havoc with our environmental and ‘body clocks’.)

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A World Gone Mad, Lost Its Sense of Value

I’ve always hated the amount of money spent [wasted] on things like music videos, films/tv shows (and the way the news and documentaries have become entertainment in style) and things that distract us.

The pointlessness of it is so tiring.

This video brings me to tears.

The song was used as an ending theme to a film called ‘The Coming’ (2008) written and directed by Chad Costen, his first film which cost under $50,000. Still more money than many of us can hope to see or save in a lifetime but pittance for a film and yet like other examples I’ve seen of ‘cheap’ filmmaking (and music videos going into the million bracket) it fares a lot better than much of the mind numbing, sensory overload and badly written drivel that hits our screens. He acknowledges that it has production issues, some of which would make many modern audiences give up on too quickly but the content, story telling and improvement in filming is there as it goes a long. The ending is a bit cerebral and unsatisfactory for some but at least it’s interesting. I roll my eyes at filmmakers who claim they need tens of if not hundreds of millions to make a film now, even fully cgi animated ones in the US and then you see a European one made for less than 10mil at the same standard and sans the unnecessary big celeb vocals. That said, it’s still far too much, it’s like money means nothing to them to spend as long as they make a profit to put it into the next film and luxury lifestyles that fuel more desire for such living and forgetting those who really need it.

Outrageously ‘budgeted’ media also tend to lack imagination (unless it’s the news and they just want to make things up) – thought the time travel genre for example had become stale and everything done already? Think again.

Budgets are made to be broken? No (except for government departments and national events) but it’s not hard to come across contractors, regardless of industry, who when given a fund to use for a project (with in-built auxiliary amounts) will try to use as much of it as possible to prove they needed it. Using up the budget just to ensure the next one isn’t less.

There’s plenty of things to waste money on of course be it the latest gadget which will only decrease in value or fashion. I saw a stunningly attractive coat recently selling for a few thousand dollars (price increased because worn by celebs though overpriced brand labels and non-fair trade sweat shop labour are the norm) but if I really wanted it I could get a second hand taffeta/sari/cheongsam fabric coat, stick cheapo faux flowers on it and  it’d look exactly the same. Seriously, these things are aimed at people who have money to literally throw in a bin and set fire to – other than the vanity and ego in buying from such pricey fashion houses – I think that the designers are secretly laughing at their clientèle. ‘I can charge you whatever the hell I want and you’ll still pay for it!’ I’ve seen items in markets selling at ridiculous prices in department stores, yes the same quality. That’s another lie many people fall for, that the higher the price the better quality. BS. Some decades ago ok, all those vintage and hand-me-down clothes from the 40’s onwards that as long as they are kept well look almost as good as new. Nowadays we have throwaway fashion that whether looked after or not doesn’t last long. I remember a woman scoffing at me for saying the leggings she was promoting weren’t worth the price and doing the usual condescending thing about the quality – I held up a pair of ‘cheap’ leggings next to a pair of hers and showed her the fabric content and she realized. That’s not to say there aren’t brands that are in the higher price brackets that aren’t high quality, that take pride in the products, maybe even individual attention and have tailors with many years of experience who can in one glance tell you your sizes and start ‘fixing’ the clothing your wearing pulling/folding your sleeve cuffs, straightening your collar etc, but it’s not the norm anymore.

A food example? I used to buy high quality olives in multiple types (not the rubbery pizza olives you tend to find everywhere on everything) by the kilo and they lasted months. I paid £4-5 per kilo. Then one day at a Southbank (River Thames, London) open air exhibition which they have regularly (trust me the open air helps for things like the cheese show) they were selling the exact same olives, even the stuffed ones for £20 per kilo. Yep, 4-5x the amount and I wasn’t buying wholesale, I was buying retail from a Turkish supermarket in a multi-cultural area instead of the uber affluent Southbank area where the posh-ness practically oozes on one part and the poverty on the other. The people at the stall and customers were pontificating about how fair it was being based on weight and worth it 🙄 I told them what I thought and they offered me some free food to go away, I didn’t take it but I did sample a piece of ginger which for some reason no one else could tell was ginger (they’d been marinated).

Let’s not get started on property – HOW MUCH above labour and material costs did you say?!?!