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Showing posts from 2019

Addictions. Porn, Drugs, Alcohol and Sex. Don't prevent it, make it safer.

In 1926 New York, during Prohibition, 1,200 people were poisoned by whiskey containing small quantities of wood alcohol (methanol). Around 400 died, the rest were blinded. The methanol they drank was in the moonshine they had bought illegally. In fact it had been added by law to industrial ethanol in order to make it undrinkable. Prohibition existed to protect everyone from the 'evils of the demon drink'. However, people still wanted to enjoy alcohol. So bootleggers bought cheap industrial alcohol and attempted to distill it to remove the impurities the state had added, but the process wasn't regulated. The state was inadvertently responsible for the suffering - although it was easy for them to blame the bootleggers and to justify escalating the war. This didn't stop the bootleggers. In fact it forced them to become more violent to protect their operations, and even less cautious about their production standards. Volumes of illicit alcohol, and therefore proportionat

Jeremy Corbyn might be our next Prime Minister

Update: OK, so I was wrong.... We ended up with the largest Tory majority since Margaret Thatcher. In fact I got it badly wrong. Interestingly more people voted for Remain supporting parties than Leave, but our voting system distorts who gets into power. However, the points I make below are still valid even if I wrongly predicted how strongly brainwashed the British public had become about being able to 'do a deal with the EU... and therefore expecting their newly elected leader, Boris Johnson, to "get on with it". He won't, because he can't! Free Trade Agreement for goods and services means we forever follow the EU's rules We can't agree to do that (it's why we left) So no FTA [My original post starts here] On the day of the Brexit referendum in 2016, I realised I'd had enough of being a Tory party member. Indeed I had, until that day, been a donor to party funds, such is my fear of socialists destroying yet another economy by promis

Society Needs Uber - Not Just for Rides.

When you get in a mini cab, don't just sit there looking at your phone. Chat to the driver! He or she has a story you need to hear as you make your way to a warm home in the suburbs, an expensive restaurant, the theatre or a concert... which your drivers and their families can only ever dream about. It's not only courtesy to respect them as humans rather than vehicle accessories, it's an opportunity to learn about other countries, other cultures and to take a glimpse into what it's like to be a 'have not'. It's about respect and empathy. By banning Uber from London, its socialist mayor, Sadiq Khan, is ironically removing one of the most powerful opportunities for privileged classes to meet and get to know, albeit briefly, the very people he is dedicated to helping. When else do we have the opportunity to hear their stories? We're trapped in a metal box for up to an hour or so. Instead of rudely ignoring them, we should be finding out why they're mi

A Personal Evolution

I recently gave a presentation using my personal career journey to illustrate how the acquisition of experience over time enabled me to become increasingly useful to a broadening variety of businesses:- Education to Employment to Entrepreneur to Mentor to Angel to Non Executive Director There is plenty of overlap between each of these chapters. I have, and continue to form my own companies, invest in lots more, and mentor even more. So it's not a simple consecutive flow. However, what it does represent is an accumulation of sufficient experience and confidence to progress through each stage before exploring the next. There's no way, for example, that I could have been a successful entrepreneur without having first gained experience by working for someone else. Equally I didn't have the breadth of experience of other people's companies to feel confident about investing in them without first getting to know many of them through mentoring. Per

Advice for Buying Software Solutions

I have been building companies in the software services sector for over 30 years. Basically there are two types of companies selling such services. Those who offer proprietary products (ie everyone gets the same thing, today usually known as Software as a Service or SaaS), and those who offer bespoke solutions (ie they will build what you need... or at least you hope they will). India for example is  awash with firms offering bespoke development. SaaS is far cheaper to buy and use than Bespoke and will be easier and more reliable to operate long term. But SaaS offerings usually won't do everything you require, and they're all available to your competitors. However, commissioning bespoke software is complicated to do well and always painful. There are countless examples of governments spending fortunes on projects that overrun and sometimes have to be cancelled. It happens a lot in industry as well, but you don't hear about them for obvious reasons. The bigge

Tourist scams permitted in the heart of London

Anyone who walks across Westminster Bridge next to the Houses of Parliament in London will have experienced small groups of people playing the betting game that uses three cups and a ball. The ball is placed under one cup (apparently), the cups are moved around, and passing tourists are invited to guess which cup the ball is under. Most people apparently guess correctly and have their money doubled... these are members of the same gang as the person doing the trick. At some point the gang will be told that the trickster has palmed the ball and will be waiting for 'the mark', probably a tourist, to make their guess in the belief that several 'ordinary' people before them have made easy money. They always lose, perhaps not with their first bet - so suckering them into making larger bets, but the whole theatre is designed to extract money from gullible tourists. It's a very old con trick. In Romania it's known as Alba-Neagra . The team members also have names. Th

Norman's Autobiography

The following is an unfinished autobiography written by my father who passed away earlier this week at the age of 93. Cheerbye Dad (you were the only person I knew to use this expression). You were a huge influence on my life. Thanks for taking the time to record so much that I never knew about your own life and those of our immigrant ancestors. Dad's the one in the middle ;-) The HorBraJacSac Saga by Norman Horwood  9th June 1926 (or possibly earlier!) - 27th June 2019 The Families' Backgrounds. We have four families; Abrahams/Horowitz/Horwood; Bralofsky/Braley; Jacobs and Tchaikofsky/Sacof. Taking my pair, the (Abrahams) Horowitzs/Horwood and the (Bralofskys) Braleys. They escaped from different parts of "Mittel Europe" at different times. Abraham and Rachel Abrahams, nee Gess, (Horowitz), had been in England longer than the Bralofskys, having come here from Lithuania in about 1897 as a married couple without children. It is certain that Abraham