Jan 072024

The 𝕏-verse has been splattered with Tory messages about this month’s cut in National Insurance; many of which have been amusing tagged with context pointing out that this isn’t a tax cut. Oh and if you see a Tory tax calculator, don’t try it – it’ll dishonestly add you to a Tory mailing list.

  1. National Insurance isn’t quite a tax; it looks like one, smells like one, but isn’t quite. The NI contributions are added to a fund out of which certain benefits are paid – chiefly state pensions. See: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/657ae7f1254aaa000d050d2e/Great_Britain_National_Insurance_Fund_Account_-_2022_to_2023.pdf
  2. There is already a stealth tax rise due in April; a ‘tax cut’ that’ll be obliterated in three months is nothing more than a token gesture. Quite possibly a political stunt aimed at encouraging voters to vote Tory in a May election (if it occurs).

We can expect many, many more Tory lies on social media as the next election approaches; always pay attention to the “added context”.

May 172017

It seems rather strange when you discover it, but Windows Update sometimes lies about what updates have been installed. I am not sure how often this happens, but it does happen from time to time. Which with WannaCrypt rampaging around is somewhat unfortunate.

What seems to happen is that Windows Update gets confused about what patches it has installed – it’s internal database gets corrupt. One possible fix for this is to remove the database :-

net stop wuauserv
cd %systemroot%
ren SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old
net start wuauserv
rd /s/q SoftwareDistribution.old

When using Windows 10, you may well have to start (net start wuauserv) Windows Update services before stopping them. Once you have removed the directory, the next time you run Windows Update in the gooey, it will spend some time rebuilding it’s database and hopefully will then pick up the missing updates. No promises but this worked on at least one server that had unacknowledged missing patches.

Of course without a proper vulnerability scanner it may be tricky to determine when Windows is lying about being fully patched. The best bet is to assume it is lying whenever something like WannaCrypt comes along.

The other possibility is to look into something like Autopatcher which is intended for offline updates – you can download the Microsoft updates and use the tool to patch Windows computers from the downloads.

Feb 042010

It always good to see statisticians give a good hard kick to those who put the word “lies” into the saying “lies, damm lies, and statistics” … the politicians. In this particular case the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling has been making comparisons between violent crime statistics from the 1990s and the year 2008/9 using the police recorded crimes statistics. The UK Statistics Authority has said (unfortunately it is a PDF document) something more or less along the lines of “you can’t do that” (in an astonished and shocked tone of voice).

According to the UK Statistics Authority, the method for recording crime statistics in police stations was standardised in 2002/3 leading to a marked increase in recorded crime that year due to the change. Indeed they point out that all published statistics on police recorded crime clearly emphasise the fact that the figures cannot be naively compared with values before 2002/3. The statisticians claim that crime figures should be obtained from the British Crime Survey.

The UK Statistics Authority is worried about politicians using statistics to mislead the public and discredit official statistics.

How does Chris respond ? Basically by saying that he doesn’t believe the BCS and that the increase in reported crimes are too big to be explained away by changes in the recording method.

Who would I rather believe ? Who would you rather believe ? A politician ? Or a statistician ? No contest really; statisticians may not have the best reputation, but at least they do not inspire the same level of disgust as a paedophile like politicians do.

The interesting thing is that people believe that violent crime has gotten worse over the last decade. As to why they believe this I don’t know, because from personal experience I can tell you that violent crime has decreased dramatically over the last decade. Back in the day, I used to be off down town most Saturday nights (and often Fridays too), and almost every night out there would be some sort of fracas varying from a bit of a scuffle in a pub, to an all out street brawl with police helmets flying. These days ? I tend to stay home a great deal more, and there is almost no violence that I can see around.

The whole reason for statistical surveys is to go beyond personal experience and belief, to get much closer to the truth. And when you have that statistical survey you do not throw it away because you do not like the results. You have to change your beliefs. Ordinary people can be forgiven for not doing so, but a politician in the position of Shadow Home Secretary has a responsibility to do his or her best for the country.

Let us examine the “lie” accusation a little closer. Using statistical data in an inappropriate manner such as comparing reported crime figures whose recording methodology was different, is just as much a lie as a school child yelling out “You smell”. It also helps to discredit statistics as a whole, because the public is given the impression that one set of statistics says one thing and another says another – which is not the case at all.

Hard for a Tory whose lies are told in the undoubtedly unselfish goal of removing the present Labour government.