What would it be like?

What would it be like to be well, I wonder?

What would it be like to wake up in the morning
and actually wake up instead of feeling groggy and hungover?
What would it be like to be able to open my eyes when I want to?
To get out of bed without wondering if I will be able to stand up?
What would it be like to not have the crushing weight
of fatigue forcing itself down on my shoulders?
What would it be like?

What would it be like to be free of pain –
for my legs not to ache as though I have just run a marathon
when in fact I have not left my bed in days?
What would it be like for the aching, burning, endless pain to go away?
What would it be like to go without the constant headache,
to skip the frequent migraines,
to get rid of the pain in my sinuses?
What would it be like?

What would it be like for my head to remain clear,
even for just one day?
For my mind to be my own instead of refusing to obey me,
forgetting words, failing to finish sentences,
refusing to pass my ideas from thought to keyboard?
What would it be like to know that I could go to work and do my job
all day without having to give up half way through?
What would it be like to tell people I will do something
and know that I can actually do it,
that I won’t crash out in pain with broken promises?
What would it be like?

What would it be like to be well?
I don’t know what it would be like. I can’t remember any more.

Police intimidation to coerce details from protesters

Yet more evidence has emerged that the police are abusing their power and using threats of arrest to intimidate protesters into giving their details for an unoficial database of protesters, and being arrested, processed and de-arrested if they do not cooperate. This is from a personal account by Adrienne Campbell posted on Viva Lewes.

We were politely asked to move, and given a five-minute deadline. I moved just 30 seconds before the time was up and was grabbed by three coppers who demanded I give my name and address. I refused, believing this was my right. They told me that they would arrest me if I didn’t give my details. I refused. They tried to handcuff me; I resisted. They twisted my arm behind my back and marched me, bent over – very undignified – to the police van where I was handcuffed and arrested. My shoulder and my pride were hurt. I was told I would be ‘de-arrested’ if I gave my details. After a while I did, to a police video camera, and was released. Presumably I will now be joining the rising numbers of people logged on a protesters database. My information is this kind of intimidation is illegal and I will be taking legal advice.

This behaviour by our police is outrageous and there is no excuse for it at all. This is abuse of the law, plain and simple. I urge you all to write to your MP and ask for this practice to be stopped.

Previous articles on this subject

Police abusing our right to protest

Section 14: Police try to order you around

Guest post: Lobbying your Political Representative

Are Google evil now?

I got an email from Google today. It wasn’t good news. Here’s what it said:

After reviewing our records, we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we’ve found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google’s share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.

AdSense is the Google service that lets you put adverts on websites and receive money when they are clicked on, and also to put a search box up and get paid when that is used. It doesn’t pay very well, but I was hoping to make a few pounds a month. I actually have two AdSense accounts, one used on my business web sites, and one on my personal sites. I received the same email about both.

So why have Google shut down my account? What is this so-called risk of generating invalid activity? ComeradeFury and PsychoticLynx both sent me the link to this story that has the answer, What it’s like being sacked by a computer.

The writer of that story read through all the terms and conditions of Adsense to find what he could have done wrong (as Google won’t actually tell anyone) and he found the odds overwhelmingly stacked against actually managing to do everything right. One thing in particular stood out though. AdSense customers are not allowed to influence whether people click on their advert or not.

In the sidebar I have a small piece of text that was above the advert, telling people how to support me in writing this blog. It recommends my computer business, and my Amazon affilliate link, and it also at one point mentioned that you could click on the ads if they were relevant.

I think that is the reason my account was shut down. Because I happened to mention that it would help me if people clicked on the ads. It seems overkill – I wasn’t advocating endlessly clicking everything that came up, just using the ads if something useful was there, however it was a violation of the rules. What is more frustrating is that because I used my business account to show the adverts for a day while I was waiting for my personal account to be activated, I have lost that too. That means that the ads and the search box on the start page that my customers use will no longer earn me anything. Worse than that, Google have confiscated the few pounds that I had accumulated in those accounts and returned them to the advertisers.

I am unhappy that I made a trivial mistake that has cost me money and made life harder for me. I am furious with Google because it seems that there are no second chances. Once the computer says no, that’s it. I would love to boycot Google, but how could I? I use so many services with them. Search is just the tip of the iceberg. (And the alternatives are not nearly as good.) I use Google Analytics for my websites, and Feedburner to keep stats on how many use RSS to read my blog. I collate all my email in Gmail, I synchronise my Android phone with their calendar, contacts and email, I use Google Maps and Lattitude, Google Reader, Google Docs. I have spreadsheets from Google Docs embedded in websites. I use Google Checkout to take payments for my business, and to pay for apps for my phone. I put videos on Youtube, because, well, where else does anyone look for videos these days? At the time of writing I’ve had 636,357 views of my Youtube videos, and those videos are still creating clicks for Google, generating income for them. I don’t want to give them any more money until they live up to their motto of “Do no evil” but there’s no way to avoid them. Google is too big to do no evil.

Inconsequential messages?

A post on Facebook from my brother in law alerted me to something that John Humphrys said about twitter.

“Educated men and women are devoting vast amounts of their time and intellectual energy sending entirely inconsequential messages.”

Yes, it’s true. People do tweet about inconsequential things. Just like people say inconsequential things on the telephone, or in the pub, or in a million other ways. Unfortunately, this has entirely missed the point. Twitter is used for a myriad of things, and even the inconsequential messages are not really inconsequential.

What twitter does:

  • Alert the world to important news from disaster zones and oppressive regimes
  • Get information from people in need of help to the emergency services in relation to the above
  • Raise awareness of causes, be they disasters, missing people, or protest movements
  • Inform and co-ordinate protesters in oppressive regimes
  • Allow planning and co-ordination of protest groups in less totalitarian environments too
  • Keep people informed hours, even days ahead of mainstream news

Those are some pretty important things, but that’s not all twitter can do. What about:

  • Learn from people of many different skills, specialisms and roles, from many different walks of life
  • Provide business networking, leading to real opportunities for jobs or new customers
  • Access to experts to help solve problems in business or personal life
  • Allow customers to force business to react by posting negative experiences
  • Allow business to interact directly with customers and potential customers for research, customer service and to provide information
  • Allow governments to release information to the public easily
  • Allow the public to talk directly with politicians and get a response

And finally:

  • Those “inconsequential” messages – social chatter, moaning, commiseration, joy, depression, support, and friendship, forming real relationships between people
  • Allow those that cannot leave the house to talk to other people and engage in all of the above

I have personally either witnessed or been involved in every one of the points raised above. None of the above would happen if people were not using twitter for inconsequential messages as they wouldn’t be on twitter otherwise! Twitter changes lives and saves lives. The last point in the list above  is a lifeline for myself and for many other sick and disabled people. If you still think that inconsequential, we might have to send someone round to sort you out. I can probably find someone through twitter for that.

UK Uncut on Newsnight

UK Uncut were featured on BBC Newsnight this evening. I recorded it and uploaded to Youtube to make sure that it reaches a wide audience. (iPlayer is restricted to the UK and only keeps programmes for a week.)

UK Uncut on Newsnight (Part 1) featuring a report on UK Uncut organisation, protests and the CS Spray incident. The documentary film was made by Fat Rat Films, and you can view that seperately on Vimeo.

UK Uncut on Newsnight (Part 2) Studio discussion with Tony Smith from UK Uncut and Richard Baran from the Institute of Directors. Please note that the police claim to have provided medical attention after using CS spray is false.

More information on UK Uncut

UK Uncut website

UK Uncut on Facebook

Twitter: @ukuncut #ukuncut

More on the CS spray incident

More attacks on the right to protest: CS spray

More information about CS spray and UK Uncut

Just in case you don’t believe your ears about what Paxman said at the start of the UK Uncut segment, here it is again.