Your Privacy Preferences Don’t Look Right

What if I sent you a note like this:

“Dear Friends,

I’ve decided to change your privacy preferences. They don’t look right to me.

I’ve gathered them over the last few years and look after them for you.

Just click here and I’ll make your online experience better. Better still, I’ll work out what, “better”, means for you.

Anyway, here is a cat on a skateboard and some hate fuelled drivel. Just click to agree.

Yours, WhatsApp and Facebook

You may have been asked whether you agree to allow WhatsApp to provide Facebook with your phone number recently. You may have read posts like this from me before. Usually when the FB family do something like this. If they won’t give up,  neither will I.

You can opt out for now, though not entirely.

Can you think of anything more personal, more fluid and situational, anything more private than your privacy preferences?

The idea of someone else even storing your privacy preferences let alone telling you what they should be is quite ridiculous when you think about it.

Given the lack of alternatives at present, your main option is to delete your FB and WhatsApp accounts while we work out how to do this properly. I am hovering over the delete buttons on mine, wondering if they are worth the trade off.

False Choices

Have you noticed how Great Britain is when we are a United Kingdom?

How our diversity has given us medals in more disciplines than any other country, more disciplines even than the USA?

How we have done that as the proud sum of our parts while still remaining a part of bigger things?

How we do those things when we think “And” as opposed to “Or”?

We are Greater when United, looking out and playing our part, being British, European AND World citizens.

Spare me the false choices.


When I face problems, usually at work:

Sometimes I just know what to do, I have seen it before and know how we can fix it.

Often I don’t quite know what to do, but do know we can work it out and that it is safe to carry on while we do so.

Other times, when we are just making things worse and we can’t fix it immediately, I  want to say,  “stop”.

Even when I want to say that, I know we can’t always actually stop.  Sometimes we can choose not to start or to slow down.  Actually stopping is surprisingly hard and tends to happen when things get so bad we grind to a dysfunctional halt, rather than through any conscious choice.  There are exceptions.

When I look at the world, I conclude we really should stop and think right now.  It is tempting to make one of my lists, but I won’t. It all goes a lot further than our choosing to leave the EU, while destabilising, that’s just a symptom of the problems we face.

And of course it won’t stop, even if I shouted, very loudly, so we are faced with the option of carrying on while we work out what to do.  That will take a lot of hard work, thought, policy, law, strength, communication, wrenching changes, tough decisions, responsibility and leadership.

When things are really bad, when I want us to, stop, the one thing we can always do straight away is this.

We can pause, briefly, to remember who we are, what we stand for and how we behave.  Then choose to behave that way, but perhaps a little more obviously, more boldly than usual, turning up the volume, choosing to do so in circumstances where at other times we might keep our mouths shut, do nothing, let it pass, not make a fuss.

A few weeks ago I wrote I Am A European, since then I could have written further posts about my various other identities. I Am British, I Am English, I Am A Yorkshireman (though born in London and living in Hampshire) and I Am A Global Citizen.  I am all those things.  Most of all I Am a Human Being, and so are you.

Right now, having stopped to think,  I am cranking up the volume a little on who I am.


I woke up with an odd feeling this morning.

We were out last night, for dinner with friends. The mobiles stayed at home. We had a lovely time.

We got back to the news that Boris Johnson is our Foreign Secretary. A friend had contacted me while we were out to ask what I thought of that news, knowing I’d not be impressed. I said I’d sleep on it.

I woke up with an odd feeling. I felt a little sick, slightly alarmed and realised there are some people I’ll now struggle to look in the eye.

The feeling is shame, I am ashamed of someone in my government, the one who represents me abroad.

For the record, I understand the rationales. They don’t make me feel any better, the silly games are not acceptable.

I’m still ashamed.

After The Leavers Have Left

I’ve been scratching my head, coming to terms with the idea of the U.K. voting to leave the EU.

Broadly, I’ve concluded that we were asked a silly question, we know what that leads to.

I also smiled this morning when the upside of another apparent frustration dawned on me.

It’s not true to say that ALL the leavers’ leaders have walked away, but there are fewer of them around, whether through choice or the brutal political process.

A routine frustration in the discourse since 23rd June has been the refusal by Leavers to engage in debate.

“It’s done, accept it, move on”, “Accept the will of the people”,  etc.  While annoying, that refusal to engage, also points to a refusal to do the hard work to follow.  While that too is annoying, it also means that the Remainers get to shape the future because it isn’t, “done”, not by a long way.  Now that’s the bit that made me smile.

I’m not talking about the decision, but what it means, how it is implemented.

Implementation means taking that one decision and unpacking it, line by boring line, making all the thousands of other decisions that have to be made.

Where will we land with:

  • Regulations, tens of thousands of them, done?  Not really…
  • Financial contribution to the EU, it won’t be zero
  • Movement of people, it won’t be none, it might be less than now, they’re all welcome in my view, but perhaps not quite so fast
  • Agriculture policy and subsidy, no idea!
  • Data Protection, do we move all the data and shut down the data centres?
  • Housing, goodness knows where all those British ex pats are going to live?
  • Research and educational exchange, you know, where flat screen tellies and X-Boxes come from
  • Tariffs, I’m guessing we’d like to keep the car factories and ports open?

And so on, it all needs sorting and it is a VERY long to do list, every item is a negotiation.  It’ll take a lot of work, take a long time and may not be all that different from what we have now once it’s done, especially if the Leavers now broadly really can’t be bothered (“It’s done, move on!”, “Ooh look, cake and X-Factor!”).

I’d expect at least 52% of the effort will fall to Remainers (just a random number, plucked out of the air you understand), to set the tone, lead the way and make the future.

We would not have chosen so reckless a path, one so prone to events, but least we will get more than our 48% of influence, simply by hanging around after the event to help clear up after many of the leavers have, er, well, left. A behaviour that should hardly come as a surprise.

Perhaps instead of getting all chippy that the Leavers have left, we should be rather pleased. I suspect we may end up, if not a member of the club, pretty much where we are now.

Have they gone yet?😉

Mistakes We Knew We Were Making

We are all very busy.  We have terribly short attention spans.  We have bread and circuses to anaesthetise us.

This is quite long, you might need to print it out, take it somewhere quiet and turn your iPhone off to be sure as to get all the way through it.

In super summary, it says, stop and think about whether we are getting this right.

For many years I have worked in environments where I make and have seen made a lot of decisions.  Very often we get it wrong. Very often we carry on regardless, to save face, because we’ve already spent £x or because we don’t want to make a fuss.

Tired old cliché, but we learn from mistakes, we have to make them, it makes us who we are. That is fine.

It is the mistakes we know we are making that are not acceptable.

Thank You Scotland

The Scots are about to demonstrate an important principle.

We plainly can’t ask the Brexit question again, just because 48.1% of us think we got it wrong. That’s not how democracy works.

But then the Scots are about to do just that. Ask the independence question again.

They can, because there is new information, a material change in the circumstances. Fairly obviously, that’s that Britain has decided to leave the EU and they don’t want to.

Given the margin on the 23rd which while clear was still small, it’d be interesting to see what constitutes “new information” for Britain as a whole.

Will the exposure of some of the suspected lies count? I say, “suspected”…

Will the effect on the Union dawn on and shock people? I said previously how worried I am about NI.

Will the reality that emerges in negotiations count? The fairly obvious fact that we won’t get what we want.

What might really make the difference, driven by those emerging facts, is a dramatic opinion poll, say a 58/42 In/Out split. For now, let’s not rush, if we are still happy to leave as a nation in a few months, I’ll roll with it, we will work it out, crazy though I think it is.

The thing is, democracy is an iterative process, as the Scots are about to demonstrate.

Thanks guys.