17 Sep

USS, what happened with the pensions after the strike? #USS #UUK

There was a strike, the employers backed down, a lot of the VCs were sympathetic, a Joint Evaluation Panel was setup, they just reported**:

There is a lot of pre-amble.. but the TL;DR that the JEP panel has adjudged the required contribution to be 29.2% to fund current benefits (minus the 1% match).  Thus 3.2% extra compared to now, but 7.4% less than the USS proposal for 2020*.

However this is not binding, and UUK are still trying to push through the very large increases to pensions, hence the site consultations and online consultation.

If you are going to one of the site consultations, you may want to read the report and ask some questions:

This is a very clearly written overview and a good place to start: https://twitter.com/cupofassam/status/1040555604442591232

It would be good to respond to the online USS consultation, and say what you think.. I shall say I like the JEP recommendations, since they’ll cost me no more than 1%..

https://dmtrk.net/2PRX-RKEZ-20B8RM-FGHI7-1/c.aspx

[* This compares to the current rate of 26% (18% of salary paid by employers, 8% by employees) and the rate of 36.6% from April 2020 which is proposed by USS, based on the valuation as it stands.]

[** Here is the link to the report: http://www.ussjep.org.uk/files/2018/09/report-of-the-joint-expert-panel.pdf It is over 100 pages, but the summary at the beginning is very helpful.]

14 Jul

UCU success, Lords of Waterdeep is great fun, had a good BBQ

UCU wins right to strike for migrant workers

After months of campaigning by UCU, including most recently the threat of legal action, the home secretary Sajid Javid has announced that he will be changing the immigration rules to ensure that migrant workers will now be able to play a full part in legal strike action without fearing the impact on their immigration status.
This is a big win for all trade unionists, not just those in UCU and it has come about as a direct result of our campaigning work. Thanks to everyone who wrote to MPs and in particular to members from overseas who took strike action despite these concerns.

Lords of Waterdeep is great fun

Paul, Andrew, Nigel, Alex and I had great fun playing Lords of Waterdeep on Friday night. It was really nice to boardgame, which is such a prep-free form of gaming opposed to rpgs. The game has just enough bells and whistles and ins and outs to be intriguing but with an essentially simple core engine.  I wanted to play it after I was rather delighted to hear that the new D&D adventure is Waterdeep:Dragon Heista guide to Waterdeep and a city heist adventure creation engine. I love city gaming, so it got me all fired up to explore Waterdeep in boardgame form.

A boardgame and a can of beer

Gaming and Lager

a boardgame

Lords of Waterdeep

BBQ

We had Conor, Kate, their sons Eugene and Tristan with Emmanuel, Catherine and their daughter Farai round for a BBQ. It was a very very hot and sunny day and the BBQ went well and Farai had a dip in the tub, and the boys really enjoyed Super Mario Smash Bros on the Wii. I got a bit faint and dizzy a few times, I need to keep an eye on that.

 

02 Feb

USS pension deficit assumptions

Context: The University Employers wish to remove the defined benefit element of the University pension scheme USS, claiming it is running an unsustainable deficit and they are not willing to shoulder the burden with staff to fix it.
If you are a UK academic in a USS pension University, you need to read this:
Unless we challenge the basis for the deficit calculation, we lose people. It becomes an argument about who bears the pain. Of course staff don’t want to pay an additional 2.5% for a pension that will be worse than before.
Our argument has to be that this pain is a fiction, if an artfully constructed mathematical fiction. The “problem” is a mathematical projection of a worst-case scenario constructed on dubious assumptions.
Key facts:
. the pension scheme’s assets grew in real terms by an average 12% pa for the last 5 years
. the scheme is growing as more people are enrolling
. the scheme could continue on a money-in-money-out basis without action for 40 years
On the deficit calculations
. actuaries from the Cass Business School have challenged assumptions of 4% pa salary income over the next twenty years and increases in projected lifespan that are not supported by current empirical data
. the best estimate (median, mode and mean for an approx Normal distribution) projected outcome is +£8bn surplus
. the chance of it being in deficit by 7bn or more is the same chance of it being in surplus of £23bn or more.
Tom
#ucu #uss
27 Oct

Hello Old Fiends

Been a while hasn’t it? Welll I am still here, plugging away at the PhD thesis, although many other tasks and reports and proposals have bumped into the way.
On the PhD front I am now at Chapter 8, maybe 33% finished, and I hope to have it nailed by mid November.
Then Chapter 9, Reflections, or as I like to think of it “Now I read it again, how would I have done it properly”..
Then Chapter 10, which in truth I hope will write itself.
I want a bound softcopy for the supervisors in their hands before the Christmas vacation..
Other things we/I did:
Went to Thailand for the International City Logistics Conference: freightandlogisticsnews.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-10th-international-conference-on.html
Went on a cruise to Norway and it was rainy: www.facebook.com/tom.zunder/media_set?set=a.10154918642471453&type=3
Seen my lovely grandson Ollie Bear less than I would like 🙁
Ann retired..
The CHARM project ended, and probably so did any further work with the EU.. 🙁
Shacon 2017 was great. Furnace 2017 was hohum for me.
BREXIT rumbles on like a senile blue colossus, whilst everyone with any sense just looks on, including me, sorry to say.
Ah well. No wonder I feel down..
But life is good, Ollie Bear is lovely, Matthew has come home and completed his Masters, and is living in Cambridge with Alaa and applying for graduate schemes. Ann is fit and healthy (well apart from her foot) and despite putting on kilos of weight, and grinding my teeth and suffering from rolling cluster headaches.. so am I…. am I?
Tom

15 Dec

Final flight for UK’s Harriers at RAF Cottesmore

So, this is it. The last day. Michael led the final flight off the Ark Royal, but today he’s not flying but on the ground. The weather is onot good, low fog and poor visibility, but this is the end of the Harriers in the UK. I’ll update the blog through the day as the news reports come in, and then mark this as a memory, to look back on in years to come.

Final flight for UK’s Harriers at RAF Cottesmore: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11996936
Struggle at the top over decision to scrap UK Harriers: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11997084
Harrier Jets Make Their Final Flights: http://bit.ly/ef2wLS

And now, the best bit for us proud parents:

Interview with Mike Carty: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12003381

10 Dec

Operation Leakspin..

Well it seems Operation Payback imploded. It made a pretty good impact at first and then as their command and control infrastructure was destroyed then they ended up aimless. Whilst I have a regard for their jolly antics it’s like smasing a window, it has an effect once but after that it’s power is lost and anyway.. stopping people using the ‘Net is not a long term strategy, altho’ not a bad one to have up your sleevem since the governments (and let’s not kid ourselves who is behind these big DDOS attacks) use them as much as leaning on private companies. Maybe Paypal and Mastercard and Visa will think twice next time before dropping customers who haven’t broken any laws and certainly haven’t been tried of such. BTW did you know Mastercard take and process money for the KKK, declared a terrorist organisation in the 19th century by a US federal judge.. and in 1999 in South Carolina..  I digress..

A much better approach is the new Operation Leakspin which is both charmingly honest, strangely sexist (Gentlemen?) and yet the right way to go. The best way to fight censorship is more free speech not less. Mind you.. I’d keep the ammo handy..

leakspin

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09 Dec

Cyberpunk is here and it’s not all shiny

This is the future that Gibson wrote of all those years about. Largely dominated by megacorps, but with fringers nipping between the gaps. Maybe it’s better, since the fringers are one step ahead for now, and although Twitter is a corporate entity, it’s going to be very hard for them to shut down clever use of their service. Some people may setup alternatives, indeed there is much talk of darknets.. but they sound more like ghettos than areas of freedom. The biggest freedom would be to break the centralised nature of DNS.. and boy would that be both liberating and (from an architecture point of view) scary.

09 Dec

I am Julian Assange

 Something bad happened. Governments around the world, and the U.S. government in particular, decided freedom of speech was no longer allowed on the internet. WikiLeaks was the target. They put massive pressure on EasyDNS.net, Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and PostFinance (Switzerland) to cease business with WikiLeaks. They all caved in, choosing to side with the elites rather than holding true to the principles of freedom. Governments launched DDoS attacks on the WikiLeaks website and forced it offline, while demanding the founder be tried for treason. Others called for him to be assassinated.

fingerSomething wonderful happened. The little people recognized that their freedom was being stamped on by the governments. They grew angry. The Governments had blocked every method of donating to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks pleaded with them to clone its site, to reproduce it in the thousands so that the Government DDoS attacks would be futile. They responded. As of now there are over 1,300 clones up and running and growing every hour. The Government DDoS attack have failed. WikiLeaks is still accessible to anybody who wants – and they have a choice of over 1,300 places to access WikiLeaks.

Something wonderful happened again. The little people decided it was not fair that the commercial companies had betrayed them. They decided to act. Just like DDoS attacks had been launched against WikiLeaks, the little people launched DDoS attacks against PayPal. Mastercard was taken offline for a day. VISA was down for hours. EasyDNS.net enjoyed only sporadic access to the internet. The Swedish government website was taken down due to the attacks. Next in line are Twitter, who are currently suppressing the #wikileaks tag from appearing in its trending topics and who have banned the account of #anon_operation – the little people that were involved in keeping twitterers updated on ‘Operation Payback.’

The government is stunned. What they thought as being smart – the taking down of WikiLeaks and finally grabbing control of the internet – has provoked a backlash from the ordinary punter who have taken the route of a Governments worst nightmare. They have self organised, loose collections of people that voluntary offer bandwidth and their computers in support of the ‘payback operation.’ The little people, instead of sitting down and being quiet, have given the proverbial middle finger to the Government and the companies that acted with gross unfairness.

operaton paybackWhat you are witnessing is the beginnings of a war. A war over the freedom of the internet. On the one hand you have the Government. They want to tell you what sites you can access, what you can read, they want to monitor you to make sure you are doing nothing that displeases them. You’ll know you are on their side if you agree that WikiLeaks should have been taken down by the Government. On the other side, are the people that want to retain the privacy and freedom currently afforded by the internet, without the sinister big-brother eye glaring down upon their every typed word.

Today it’s WikiLeaks. Tomorrow, it a complete record of everything you’ve done online stored for five years and anything the government deems against its interests, taken off-line.

So what can little old you do? You can spread the word. Make sure everybody knows about the undemocratic actions of the companies listed. Contact EasyDNS.net, Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and let them know what you think of their actions. There is only one thing more they fear than the government – YOU. YOU are their business, their lifeblood. YOU are how they make money.

If you have a blog or website, repost this article. We’re giving you permission right here, right now to repost it. Or write your own. Everyone needs to get involved in spreading the word. The little people don’t expect to win this battle, but there is always the next one.

You can do more though. If you have a server, consider hosting a mirror of WikiLeaks. The more people do it, the more we’ve won. You can find instructions here.  http://213.251.145.96/mass-mirror.html

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