Thursday, 23 May 2019

Corporations and Capitalism out of Control?

The Elites love money. They can't get enough. But are they reaching a tipping point: are they demanding too much?

Like I said in my previous post, there are too many people now demanding their billions. Old Money: the Devil needs to do the deal. It's damage limitation, it's maximisation of profits, it's good for business.

A population engaged in active resistance is not what the old money wants. It's interesting how ideas on the left and the right are slowly coming together.

Forget the faux-left, the Antifa types, they do not represent the true left. Antifa are actually ironically fascists, working for global corporations attempting to shut down dissenting opinions.

This is where capitalism and the big corporations are making a bid for world domination and the little people the poor sods at the bottom of the pile are feeling it. They can see the agendas at play in politics and big corporations are a crock of shit (at least for them). That Antifa are not anti-fascist, but instead corporate enforcers. That the environmental lobby is a tool of big business. That politics in the West has been bought and paid for. That the massive influx of immigrants is to bolster profits by creating a bigger audience to sell to. Even Islamic clerics use Smartphones and wear Rolexes... not very 7th century...

It's interesting how the true left are apart from the upper-middle-class leftie types that are included in Antifa. Then true left don't include the upper-middle-class college lecturer types that can spout effectively communistic principles whilst actually furthering the corporate agenda. The true left doesn't belong to Trade Unions with penthouse-dwelling leaders.

The true left (not the upper-middle-class enviro-lefties in the pocket of the elites) understand the corrupting influence of power and money. They see Trade Unionists eating  at the same tables as elites, they see the removal of benefits, they see the co-opting of the green agenda to promote corporate agendas. They understand where the money ends up. Certainly not distributed amongst the poor, that's for sure.

The true left go further and state that the corporatist enviro-bollocks is nothing more than an elitist grab for money and the permission to open up access to wealth and resources. And it's a compelling argument against the backdrop of the upward movement of money to the elites and the environmental damage done by so-called green fuels and vehicle systems.

Global warming is nothing less than a smokescreen that permits pollution of the environment by lithium extraction. Lithium for the batteries fitted to those supposedly environment-friendly electric vehicles. Or Cobalt and rare earth metals for the motors. All extracted from the Earth at great cost to the local environment. But I suppose global CO2 trumps pollution of local water sources or animal-killing toxic lagoons.

Global warming permits the appropriation of a significant amount of land that was former rain forest, to grow crops which become ethanol added to "green" fuels. Sustainability is the permissive word that allows the hack, slash and burn, but I'd rather sustain the rain forest rather than it being slashed and burned to accommodate farms and plantations. There's and argument to be had about bio-ethanol and the rain forest that preceded the farms was a better absorber of CO2. But rain forest doesn't make money: farms and plantations do.

The green agenda is now all about maximising profit: Hilly moorland that can't grow crops nor sustain animals and unproductive seabed suddenly makes a profit thanks to the installation of wind farms effectively industrialising the previously unindustriable, rain forest becomes a farm and earns money. It's about maximising the money production from every single inch of the globe's surface.

And then there's always underground. New Technology allows fracking to release previously unattainable fossil fuel resources.

The more you peer into the issues surrounding the environmental movement and their transition from protest movements to global corporates themselves, the more you understand the real reason for the relentless green push.  It's capitalism, corporatism and the relentless, unfettered push for profit gone absolutely mad.

Are we waking up to this now? Is the push back starting? The Euro elections today will hopefully be an indicator that the elites in Parliament have themselves gone too far. A warning shot across the bows before the next general election.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Boeing 737 Max 8 Fiasco Broadens

Being an ex-coder (yes, I learned to code and made a living out of it..) and also having worked for American companies I can sympathise somewhat with the issue of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and the issue of the MCAS software. I can also see how the issues surrounding the 737 Max 8 coding are pertinent to software systems in other vehicles, including cars.

First off, I pray that no one person messed up coding the MCAS system software and it was all written to specification. God help the person or persons on the MCAS team if they didn't code to spec.

I'm not a flyer, I'm a sailor. But in sailing, everything is duplicated or triplicated in order to add safety. Even when the threat is only getting wet (albeit miles from land) you still make sure that you have at least two means of propulsion. The auxiliary engine may be smaller and get you there slower, but it gets you there, rather than being stuck. You always take bungs with you just in case a hull fitting breaks or leaks. There's always a backup. When the risk is dropping out of the sky at hundreds of miles an hour and there's a greater risk of death, then the redundancy should go up.

Having been in many technical spec meetings, I can well imagine a scenario where the MCAS system input and output were specified without full knowledge of how it would affect the aircraft as a whole. For instance it's now known that if MCAS increases stab trim to maximum, it makes it virtually impossible to adjust the trim manually if you follow the "runaway stabiliser trim" procedure in the cockpit, due to air pressure pushing on the stabiliser. That makes it virtually impossible to return the stabiliser trim to a safe position once MCAS had done it's thing.

I've had very heated meetings where I've had to assertively point out the implications on software changes both in delivery times, cost and including changes to other parts of the software system affected by this single, apparently insignificant software change (nothing, including time, is free).
It didn't win me friends in management at the time, only when the system actually worked as promised, within timescales. But the testament to my skills is that a number of the systems I wrote worked from day one without issues and are still running virtually unchanged decades later. Pretty rare in software circles. But that's where understanding the system as a whole and outlining the issues correctly and coming up with a deliverable plan helps. After all you can code a basic system to run initially. The bells and whistles can always be added later as long as you write the code expecting them.

Now with Boeing, comes the revelation that their 737 Max 8 simulator cannot replicate the cockpit conditions when the MCAS is activated. It seems that the manual stab trim wheels in the simulator nowhere near replicate the forces required to manually move the stabiliser. It seems yet again to be an issue with software.

Thankfully being a simulator issue this time it's not fatal.

But it does underline the issue that software engineers need to appreciate the systems they are working on AS A WHOLE. Especially when (but not exclusively) interfacing with and commanding physical systems. You cannot commit a software system in isolation from the rest of the system, it cannot just be plonked on top of existing systems either, without reference to pre-existing systems, both software, hardware and the existing man-machine interface.

The same goes for autonomous vehicles being developed right now. We've already seen issues with the control systems that are supposed to avoid crashes. It becomes a very salient point, given that we are putting our lives in the hands of these systems both in the air and on the ground.