Margin Call

Just re-seen Margin Call. What a fabulous film. Wll I say that, it took a second watching to come to that conclusion. It opens with an HR raid on a Bank’s trading floor, and of course they take their phones. It’s one reason why I have two. I don’t depend on my employer to phone a cab home.

It is a fabulous, well informed script, possible except their concentration on current packages and not the severance packages, although the first guy out’s package seems not so generous, although he gets to keep his options. His boss, gets offered a lot more, as do the Traders that perform the fire sale.

There’s a lot of paper and notebooks. The boardroom scene has some fabulous acting. The economics is shite, if you want a film that explains it, see the Big Short or Rogue Trader.

Margin Call


Labour Conference starts on Saturday! I thought I’d document my experience and lessons from the compositing meeting that I attended last year. I was badly stitched up last year and here are some lessons.

The motions to be included in the composite motion will be issued in a CAC report. Read them all, it will be a clue as to the dividing lines between the organisations. Some of them will be identical.

Work out who’s on your side and then make sure they’re represented by someone who cares. In my meeting last year, delegates were voting to exclude words in their own motion.

Take some words into the meeting, the front bench will. In our case, they used five words from our motion, one of which was “the”. Once in the meeting its too late to recover if they propose egregious surgery.

Speaking rights are valuable; you may be able to swap words for speaking rights, it was tried in our meeting but it’s not easy; you can only buy one vote in this way. (Two actually since there’s mover and seconder).

Understand the meeting procedure, Citrine is no help. The Chair, a member of the Conference Arrangements Committee, wasted time, took no amendment motions to re include excluded words and didn;t ask for votes against, since he knew that the majority of the meeting had voted in favour.

The Chair is not neutral, you need to understand their agenda and the new CAC doesn’t take over ’till the end of Conference.

However, and I wish I had known this last year, the meeting can agree to put more than one motion through. You might need to be a large Trade Union to get away with it but at least one of last year’s meetings put through two motions.


Antisemitism (in the Labour Party)

I have just written a blog article on one of the rule changes likely to come up at #lab17. Stories have been circulating about how the Labour Party might change its rules to ensure that racists are excluded and that racism is eliminated from the Party.

  1. The new rule proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement makes racists acts liable to disciplinary action and It removes the free speech defence from racists acts. It may also define holding beliefs as a racist act.
  2. Other policies of the Labour Party, the [potential?] adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism would make criticism of Israel an antisemitic act; the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee in it its report Antisemitism recognised this in its proposal to explicitly create a free speech defence for debate about Israel.
  3. I wonder where the rule changes proposed by the Chakrabarti Inquiry have gone. They would be a better basis on which to eliminate racism from the Labour Party.
Antisemitism (in the Labour Party)


Boris has written in the Telegraph about the state of the Brexit negotiations, and this is commented in at the FT. The FT leads with the timing, as Mrs. May is planning a big speech in Florence on the EU shortly. Many Tories are also drawn into commenting on loyalty and timing.

On the issue of substance, Boris repeats his usual drivel including contradicting Government policy and re-committing to the £350m/week on the NHS from saved fees. It worries me that the Tories are still looking at avoiding payment of our outstanding fees.

Of the three issues that EU insist are initially dealt with, citizenship rights, outstanding dues and the border with Eire. It’s the money that’s the easiest to comprise on. I believe that short of single market/customs union membership there is no good answer to the border question, but if the Tories want a deal, then they’ll have to compromise on the money even if only to get some room to be awful on citizenship.



I have just been using Whatsapp for a medium sized chatroom for a month or so.

I’d summarise my views in the table below.

Pro Con
Encrypted on the wire
Distributed Admin
No threading, no pinning, no tagging
No rules based archiving/deletion
Tight integration with user’s address book.
High storage usage if using calls, video and images

The good is that it’s encrypted on the wire but not one the device. It’s real time, so better than SMS. You can use a laptop with it’s superior cut & paste to use whatsapp. I’d add as a comment than its user interface can be a bit idiosyncratic. Chatrooms can have multiple admins, which can be good, but can also be misused. (Is this the same as Facebook, which can lead to groups being hijacked.)

The lack of threading, pinning, and tagging, makes conversations hard to follow. (I suppose we could create our own tags and then search on them as text strings, but messages can’t be tagged this way be the recipients, although they can be “starred”.) This can make threads very difficult to track as there will be often a couple of threads concurrent at any one time and once rooms get big the conversations become a bit unmanageable.

The inability to delete messages on the basis of time periods would be useful. I tried Snapchat and found that deletion on reading was a bit too aggressive for my needs.

Your correspondents need to be in your address book, which is reasonable in a 121 conversation, but in a multi-admin chatroom it’s harder to manage and everyone has to do it; it’s a high admin. cost.

Whatsapp stores its messages received on the phone, this includes any real-time voice messages, store and forward voice messages, videos and images, It’s why URLs may be better; I am not sure if the thumbnails are stored locally. People with old phones, large picture and/or music stores may find access to storage constrained. (It reminds me of the old usenet netiquette rules about respecting bandwidth and other people’s devices and costs.

I wonder if slack or google groups are better although Google Groups uses SMTP which is v.hard to encrypt in any usable fashion.



Here’s a little diary on last nights Labour Party General Committee for Lewisham Deptford, its main purpose was to prepare for Conference by submitting a “Contemporary Motion”and hopefully to begin to clear the motions backlog. There were seven motions waiting to be debated, some having being proposed last year. (It’s one of the contentions between the current CLP leadership and its opposition that their poor management of time is deliberate and designed to frustrate members making and developing policy. There hasn’t been a single ordinary motion debated this year ) .

Youth Violence

One classic trick to is to ask a guest speaker, and yet again, this was done. It was a pleasant surprise to here Jonathan Toy speak on youth violence. He has published a book “Silent Voices”, several years ago it would seem. He started by arguing that the central problem is trauma and he had stories to back this up. One sound bite, that I tweeted due to its resonance was that,

Kids carry knives because they’re scared.

Toy spoke of the discrimination, the loss of hope and the turn to criminality, mainly drugs and the inappropriate policing strategies focused solely, or largely, on enforcement. He told stories about the way in which ‘decapitating’ the gangs merely creates an updraught.

The presentation was interesting and the clearly based on deep experience and knowledge, some of it gained by his own admission on failure. Delegates to the meeting in a Question & Answer session contributed their knowledge on cuts in programmes exacerbating the problems, and reducing the care young people need. Bill Jefferies, said

…the good work of individuals can ameliorate the circumstances of other individuals, but those good works are not a solution to the problem. As the problem is not individual but social and so needs a social, collective solution.

In questioning, he was asked about the political will in the electorate for more understanding and less punishment, suggesting that strong enforcement is not just based on weak will and police management doing what they know. Toy is hopeful that the Lammy Review will be a starting point for change in programmes and approach. My concern is that this will take money and that is unlikely to be forthcoming under this government.

5 minutes about Parliament

The decision to invite a guest speaker meant that Vicky’s MP Report was truncated to 5 minutes. This is unfortunate as it was the first GC after the summer break and the 2nd Reading of the “EU Withdrawal Bill” had taken place earlier in the week with a small Labour rebellion leading to a comfortable Tory majority, as had the Tory stitch up of the parliamentary committee seats and Angela Rayner’s successful motion to stop the increase in Tuition fees.  MPs reports, where a CLP is lucky enough to have one, are important parts of the agenda and a critical piece of relationship building between the MP and their party. Five minutes is not enough time. I should add that Youth Violence is an issue of great concern to the constituency and its neighbours and one that Vicky has invested time and effort in.


Three motions were proposed, one opposing military exports to Saudi Arabia, to work to improve human rights in Saudi Arabia and that Labour establish a shadow Defence Diversification Agency to plan for the civilian reuse of Britain’s military engineering capabilities. A motion supporting the UK’s remaining in the single market & customs union, written in response to Corbyn’s Marr interview was also put to the meeting. There are some who believe that arguments for Labour to support the single market are designed by the Blairite rump in the PLP to weaken the leadership; I am of the view that what’s right is right and that the UK should remain in both and that if the Leadership have doubts then they should be told by the membership what it thinks. The final of the three motions was based on the Labour Campaign for Free Movement’s model motion . The mover of the last of these motions concentrated on the Government’s squeeze and tightening of the no recourse to funds and Lewisham Council’s role in immigration raids and deportations. These three motions were all carried with very heavy majorities.

The meeting then voted,  by a very small majority, to send the motion on the single market/customs union to Conference, as we are only permitted one.

Talking to first time attenders who had been warned about the bad atmosphere that can occur, they said it had been a good and interesting meeting and the warnings unwarranted. I wonder if that was due to the absence of Dromey, Cooper and Lord Roy Kennedy.



I was pointed at this article in the Washington Post on password security. It’s quite long and so I summarise:

  1. Length is better than complexity (More than 12 bytes)
  2. Simple transformations are no help (Don’t use 1st letter Caps and last character as 1 or !, mutt5nut5 is considered very easy.)
  3. Don’t reuse passwords for accounts that you care about! (A corollary is to delete the accounts on services you no longer use.)
  4. Write the passwords down in a secure place if you have too many, or use a password manager. (They are in favour, I am not so sure.)
  5. Don’t use personal facts about yourself (Bdays, Place of Birth, Pet’s names)

They have conducted some volume research by cracking and survey which they reference in the article and built a password checker based on these lessons but using it breaches one or maybe two of the rules I set myself in my Linkedin blog article “Password Vaults”. It’s on the internet, and we can’t read the code; that’s not to say it’s not a useful training tool.