Sending secure email – a basic guide

Sending secure email – a basic guide

Security

Sending secure email means you can send private encrypted messages between 2 parties. And I’m going to help you get set up and you’ll see why you should start to send secure email when possible.
PLUS: I’m also going to tell you the downsides of sending secure email.

What you’ll learn

  1. Why you should be sending secure email
  2. How to send secure email
  3. Disadvantages of sending secure email
  4. Finally, If it’s worth sending secure email

Although there is a difference between PGP and GPG, I shall be using the term interchangeably in this post. However, if you want to dig deeper visit the Go Anywhere page on the differences between PGP and GPG.

Why you should consider sending secure email?

In these days of government snooping and with Internet crime being on the rise it makes sense that you want to keep your private data private. Furthermore, unprotected Wi‑Fi networks are huge at the moment, with everywhere from cafes and supermarkets to taxis and busses all offering you free access to the Internet.

There are even plans in the USA for the government to create a “Super Wi‑Fi” network. While this would of course be huge but there are opponents to Super Wi‑Fi, although this would be a huge convenience for many but at the same time if it’s not handled properly it has the potential to be a windfall for cyber criminals.

Granted, these free Wi‑Fi networks are often partitioned away from the main business side of their Internet connection but you still have to ask yourself who is sharing this insecure access with you. To put it into perspective: You wouldn’t take all the security precautions off of you home internet router and allow just any passer-by to access your network, would you?

If someone did manage to get into your device over the Internet, you don’t want them reading your conversations with your closest friends or your bank manager.

If you do use public Wi‑Fi then Kaspersky has some basic free advice on using public Wi‑Fi connections

How to send secure email?

To start sending secure email you need to:

  1. create a secure public/private key pair.
  2. add your PGP key to your email client.
  3. get the public key of the person you want to send an email to.
  4. send a test email (optional).

Create a secure public/private key pair

Microsoft Windows
Although I don’t use Microsoft Windows myself, I have found Gpg4win in the creation of this post and it seems like a fairly straightforward piece of software.
However, if you have any other suggestions for sending secure email in Microsoft Windows then please leave a comment below and I’ll alter this post to reflect that.
MacOS
Again: I don’t use MacOS myself, but I have heard that GPGTools is a handy piece of software for these occasions.
Linux
In Linux I suggest following the advice from Fedora on Creating GPG Keys. Although it uses the command line I am assuming that if you are a Linux user you’re probably used to the terminal.

Add a PGP key to your email client

As the mixture of operating systems and email clients could be huge I’m going to pass you off to the OpenPGP website as it has a list of plugins to add PGP/GPG key to email clients. These cover quite a few of the various operating systems and email clients.

Getting your public key to other people

If you want to start sending secure emails you need to get your public key to the other person and here are just a few of the ways you can do that:

Public Key Server
There are several public key servers that anybody can add their public keys to. These allow you to search for your contacts and download their public keys. A major advantage to public key servers is that there are several email clients or plugins that automatically search for keys to your contacts. Examples of key servers are:

Add your key to your emails
Of course you could always take the direct approach and send a copy of your public key to anybody you email, attaching your key to at least the first email. A word of warning though; as I point out in the Disadvantages of using secure email section some of your contacts could find this annoying.
List your key on your website (if you have one)
If you are lucky to have your own website you could place a copy of your public key on your contact page. It doesn’t have to be a website though; it could be your Facebook profile.
Screenshot of my contact page with an option to download my public key.

If you have a website you can always add your key to your contact page.

Screenshot of the PGP directory with my address listed as the result of a search

Here is my entry in the PGP directory

Screenshot of a blank email with an option to attach your public key by clicking a button

With Enigmail it’s simple to attach your key to emails

Screenshot of my Facebook profile showing that you can add PGP keys

My Facebook profile showing PGP keys

Send a test email (optional)

Although you don’t have to exchange emails I prefer to send at least a test email before any sensitive data is exchanged. This means you can confirm that you have each others’ public keys and maybe even send a secure test message.

Screenshot of decrypted email after sending secure email

Result! This email has been decrypted as a result of sending secure email

Disadvantages of sending secure email

My aim is not to convince you that you should be sending secure email. Instead, it’s to give you the knowledge so that can decide whether you should be sending secure email or not. So with that in mind here are a few down sides to securing your emails:

What isn’t encrypted is the emails Subject and other headers; this means that your emails Subject and other information such as the sender and the receiver will still be visible to any snoopers on the line.
You can’t read the encrypted emails on devices that don’t have the appropriate private keys installed
If you quickly want to access your emails on a device that doesn’t have your private key or doesn’t support PGP keys then you will not be able to access your encrypted emails from that device.
People may not want the hassle of setting up their own keys
Although you may have a public key there is no saying that the people you want to communicate with will even be willing to go to the trouble of setting up a key.
Your attached key shows up as a .asc attachment
Letting people know you have a public key can often be a pain! I currently add my key to at least the first email that I send to a person. That way they know I have one available. The problem is whether you want to send your emails with an attachment the receiver won’t even recognise (.asc)… of course you can always compress the attachment so that it has an extension like .zip but that can cause a few additional security concerns. However, if they do open the .asc key file in a text editor all they will see id garbled text anyway.
If you lose your key your emails are useless
It’s essential that you keep your key(s) safe as you can’t access your emails if you don’t have them. However, the good news is that revocation keys are easy to create. These can invalidate your key should you lose it…again, you will need to keep this key safe.
Only the contents of the email are encrypted; not the email itself
This means that any attachments you send will be encrypted as well as the body of the message. But what isn’t encrypted is the emails Subject and other headers; this means that your emails Subject and other information such as the sender and the receiver will still be visible to any snoopers on the line.

Is it worth sending secure emails?

I personally think that despite the disadvantages, it is worth the hassle and the positives out-way the negatives. In addition, as a Software Engineer/Web Developer I can use my public key for other tasks such as signing code that I add to a public project or I can easily set up authentication using my key instead of passwords.

Milk, Milk, Milk!

Milk, Milk, Milk!

Opinion

Don't want to read my thoughts? Go straight to the synopsis/TL;DR

Ok, so Grandad is on his high horse again! This time it's about milk.

For several years now farmers have been paid a dwindling price for their milk. It is now at the point where up and down the country farmers are taking the situation into their own hands by taking all of the the milk from supermarket shelves.

There are 2 questions that we should be asking.

  1. Are we willing to pay more for our milk if it means keeping British dairy farmers in business?
    Please fill in the simple poll form to the right and we will see the general consensus together
  2. What can we do to help the farmers out

Are you willing to pay more?

Here's the £64,000 question: Are you willing to pay more for your milk if it supports UK farmers? Currently many of them are going out of business as they are paid less for their milk than it takes to produce it.

What can we do to help UK farmers?

I've tried, oh how I've tried

That's right: I've already tried to get more farmer friendly milk.

Attempts

Tweets: I have sent a number of tweets about this subject and I have to say that the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers have been no help whatsoever.

Here are some examples

Research: I did a bit of research into how to get more “ethical” milk but there was hardly any information out there at all. All I could find were suggestions to visit Farmer's markets etc. This is all when and good when you aren't working every day but it's quite hard to fit in with a full work schedule and a family. We did try and we at least found our local farmer's market (which is awesome by the way). The problem is that they only had about 5 x (2L) bottles of milk at a time and we need that many per week.

The one thing I did discover is that Marks & Spencer pay the best price to the dairy farmers that they use. For this reason I bought our milk from M&S for several weeks until I stopped taking Rowan to school and then it was again inconvenient for me/us to get it from there. As this press release states:

An image of a glass with milk being poured into it

Just a glass of milk

“This increase will be welcomed by all M&S dairy producers. The M&S milk pricing model, Milk Pledge Plus, provides us with a transparent and fair price that reflects the cost pressures we face. It returns a market-leading milk price in exchange for market-leading farm production and health and welfare standards, and is a great example of a retailer working with producers in a mature way to deliver consumer benefits from a supply chain in a sustainable way.”

Milkman: My latest effort is to try and find a local milkman (or woman of course) who can deliver the milk to us. Whether that be delivering a job-lot weekly or daily.
I have emailed one milkman (with no reply) and I'll email more tomorrow.

Do you have any suggestions

How about you folks out there? Do you have any suggestions on how to get milk that will not bankrupt our National farmers?
I don't want to pay pittance for milk for high corporate supermarkets who drive their suppliers out of business. I saw in a BBC interview earlier an Asda spokesman say that it was the farmers own dairy that they owned that set the price. Whilst this may be correct it is big corporations like Asda who drive the price down with their massive buying power.

Synopsis TL;DR

The UK farmer's are being driven out of business because supermarkets use their “super” buying power in order to drive their purchase price down.

There is no-where near enough information out there about how to go about giving our farmers the business that they need. I have tried several methods of acquiring milk from more “ethical” sources but as yet I have not found a decent sustainable alternative for the working family.

I am too busy to travel miles and miles in order to pick up milk. I want to pay more so that I can give more value to the farmer's of this great Kingdom.

If you didn't read the rest of the article then I urge you to fill in the little poll on the right of this page in the sidebar. It will help us to find out what percentage of my readers would pay more.

Lastly: As I want as many participants in the poll as possible don't forget to share this post so that together we can get the widest possible coverage for the poll as possible.

Thanks; and once again it's over to you.

And Another Thing #5…Mo Farrah

Opinion

OK, Let’s get this straight: I consider the BBC's Panarama program to be “The Sun” of the television world. It puts out programs that scaremonger and offer little in the way of any type of evidence except circumstantial.

With this latest issue they have accused Alberto Salazar of doping along with one of his main athletes Galen Rupp.

Since they aired this episode one of Alberto's main athletes, Mo Farrah has been caught in the middle of these doping allegations. One can see in his interviews that he is very stressed and he has today said that the pressure on his 5 months pregnant wife is extremely painful.

The last two weeks have been the toughest of my life – with rumours and speculation about me that are completely false – and the impact this has had on my family and friends has left me angry, frustrated and upset. In particular, the media pressure on my young family and my wife, who is five months pregnant, is extremely painful, especially as I'm away training for some important races.

I would not be surprised, nor blame Mo if he decided to compete for Somalia. Although the British public are behind Mo the British “press” have done nothing but harass him. On tonight's BBC news at 22:00 they showed a clip of Mo being harassed by a “journalist” forcing him to drive in an unsafe manner with one arm covering his face. I am not linking to this video on purpose.

Whether or not this was a BBC employee or a freelance scumbag they should be ashamed of themselves. If it IS a BBC employee then serious questions need to be answered about their tactics and if it is a freelancer then the BBC should not be enabling and perpetuating this behaviour!

Had he driven over the journo's foot he (the scumbag journo) would be the first to be claiming compensation (well…the only one in-fact).

Have the British public learnt nothing?

Time and time again the press have harassed our public personalities and yet we (by whom I mean they) still buy the “news”papers even though they criticize both the techniques and results!

Rant Over!

General Election 2015 thoughts

Politics

2015 General Election

Well…one word! Bugger!

In the past 48 hours the Conservative party of the United Kingdom have won an overall majority (ie first past the post) victory in the 2015 General Election.

Also the Liberal Democrats it has to say have been trounced losing most of their seats with the resultant resignation of Nick Clegg. I personally think this is a great mistake although I totally and utterly respect his position at the head of a political party with such a low amount of votes.

My fear is that it is only now, with 5 years solely under a conservative Government will this country realise how much work the Liberal Democrats actually did whilst they were in a coalition with this Government during it's previous term. I fear that as a country as a whole we were not made aware of the actual amount of work that Nick Clegg and his party did in order to keep the planned Tory cuts in check.

Now with no coalition allies in place to try and keep this Government in check the Tories will let loose with a full pelt of cuts to public services, benefits and possibly sanctions against this countries immigrant population.

Sure! The countries defecate may be alleviated but public services will be totally broken.

NHS and immigration

I use both of these in the sub-heading as for me they are related. Thanks to the Hysteria and scaremongering from UKIP there has been what is in my mind an irrational explosion in the the fear of immigrants. Various parties have promised an array of benefits for the NHS but none of them have touched on what many would consider to be a vital point: If the NHS are to recruit the staff that they need in order to fill the necessary positions then many positions will have to be filled from a pool of health workers from overseas. I do not have hard and fast facts to hand to back up these claims, it is just what I have learned over the years; ny using common sense and from my recent trips to hospital.

This fear reminds me of Mo Szyslak from The Simpsons TV Series when he says “It's those immigants” although Szyslak is [as I understand it] a Polish name (I digress)!

Here's the problem: Once you cut public services and their buildings are forces to be sold, the land is then gone. The talented stock of employees that could have taken decades to build up have become disillusioned and left to seek employment at a more personally satisfying career.

Julia Hartley-Brewer has written a great article for the Telegraph called The Liberal Democrats have been punished for doing the right thing which basically outlines my fears and frustrations with the UK Electorate.

SNP

I shall also touch upon the success of the Scottish Independence Party (SNP).
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the voter turn out in Scotland was much higher than the rest of the United Kingdom

The Scottish Independence Referendum or recent times excited many voters who had previously not had an interest in the political system. Admittedly the live TV debates have apparently increased voter turn out but in my mind we still saw the same old insults and blame games instead of a focus on future policies.

Leader's resignations

All I can say is that it would be great if many business leaders took the view of the 3 party leaders who today resigned. Coming from a military background as I do I am of the mind that if an organisation fails, the buck ultimately stops with the top man (or woman).

I have to say that I believe a fundamental mistake by the Labour party was to totally dismiss the idea that they would go into power along with the SNP. Whilst I totally understand their reasoning I do think that on this occasion it may have been political suicide as I'm pretty sure they would have kept several of their strong-holds in Scotland as well as having the option to go into power with the SNP.

As always I am a very opinionated person and it has to be said that I am by far an expert in the area of politics. I watch the news as often as possible and try and keep up with politics as much as I can in daily life. This not only makes me a “saddo” but a well informed person as to the state of our Great Britain!

As always if you have anything to add then please either leave a comment below of reply via any of the social media outlets you see this post on.

A Heart Attack at 41

Personal

A heart attack at 41?

For those of you who didn’t know (nearly all of you) – I suffered a heart attack on Friday morning. What I write here not only serves a source of information for others but will allow a record to be kept for historical purposes.

Heart Attack Timeline

Tuesday, 14th April, 2015

My Mobile phone had been playing up for weeks and could only get a signal in a few places so it had to go into Vodafone to be investigated. Estimated timeline for repair: 7-10 working days

Friday, 17th April, 2015

I had an assignment due in for my Open University (OU) degree but had to get an extension as I was too busy and it wasn't ready.

Saturday, 18th April, 2015

Rowan (my son) was being a right pain in the bum which meant that not a single piece of OU work got done. That meant it had to be done over the weekend (Sunday was spoken for).

Monday, 20th April, 2015

I started a new full-time job as at SkyBet as a Software Developer. This was brilliant for me for a number of reasons.

I walked it up to school with Rowan and Ann (my wife) as far as Barnsley train station. From there I was to catch the train into Leeds and start my new job.

Unfortunately that wasn't to be and some scum-bag had stolen all of the cabling out of one of the signalling points in Wakefield. This meant that there were no trains running to Leeds.

This was not a problem as I could just phone my new boss and let him know the circumstances and that I may be a bit late in but I hoped the detour on the train journey that would have taken my via Meadowhall. Then I had a thought:
Whilst Ann was at home off of work the car was sat there doing nothing. Yes it meant that the forty-odd Pounds I had just folked out on for a weekly train ticket would not be used to it's full potential and sure… I would have to folk out another twenty-odd Pound in parking charges but it was preferable to being late on my first day of a new job.

With that in mind I went back, got the car and managed to get to my new job on time.

Shattered!

When I got back from work I was shattered! The OU work would have to wait Im afraid.

Tuesday, 21st April, 2015

Again work was fine and when I got back I was yet again shattered. I had all the intentions of doing my OU course work but was simply too tired.

Wednesday, 22nd April, 2015

Over a week later and still no sign of my phone being back.

The journey to Leeds as well as a full time job would shatter me out again.

I sat down with my OU course work and finally continued with my studies. Unfortunately I was way too tired and Ann had to wake me up every 5 minutes. Even to the point where my head was resting on my text-book looking like I was busy studying. It was only when Ann realised that our dog usually did not snore that loud that it was in fact me making all the noise. Ann told me to go to bed but instead I just put the course work away.

Thursday, 23rd April, 2015

I went to work as usual and came home as usual. I knew that I had to get quite a bit of OU work done on Thursday night. In fact I only did a little as…yes; you guessed it…I was shattered.

That meant that most of the OU assignment would have to be done on the Friday after I got back from work. With that in mind I started putting together what little I had from my assignment together into it's final format.

Not much got done on this end though as I was simply too tired.

Also bearing on my mind was the fact that I still had two months worth of minutes to transcribe and write up for the Honeywell Tennant's and Resident's Association which I am Secretary for.

Friday, 24th April, 2015

I knew exactly what had to be done. I had breakfast with Rowan and then we all went upstairs to get ready for work and school. I went to take a shower and once it finished all Hell broke loose.

I got in the shower as usual but this time I stepped out and went really dizzy: my chest went really tight as well. I went for a lie down on the bed with the fan blowing over me. Unfortunately the tightness in my chest did not go away and to top things off I was also finding it difficult to breath.

I knew that this was no ordinary dizzy spell so got some clothes on and went to see Pat next door as she used to be a nurse. She took my blood pressure and pulse and told me that at the least I should go straight up to my GP's surgery and that if they didn't let me see a Doctor straight away then I should go straight to the local A&E department.

Without realising what I was saying I said “OK, I’ll have slow walk up there now and wait to see somebody”. On hearing this I think she herself had a heart-attack and she immediately drove me up the the Doctor's while Ann took Rowan up to school.

Arrival at the Doctor's

When I got to the GP's surgery I explained the symptoms that I had and the receptionist went straight into the back office. She came out a few seconds later and told me to sit down (which I already had). Within seconds a Doctor had appeared; he looked at me and told the receptionist to dial 999 and tell them that they had a heart attack patient at the surgery.

A wheel chair was brought out and I was wheeled into the back nurses station where I was laid on a bed; given some GTN spray underneath my tongue and an oxygen mask was put over my mouth and nose.

Within minutes the ambulance crew were there and it's two young ladies were soon helping out. Everybody then tried to stabilise my condition but decided that I should be taken straight to hospital. They moved me into a wheel-chair again and started to move me to the door. Then I threw up! and when I say I threw up I mean…I THREW UP! At the time I still had me oxygen mask on and as I myself didn’t get any warning it first of all went all inside the mask; then spouted out of the holes in the mask with such force that it went all the way up in the air and down my back, fleece and let's not forget the walls of the surgery! However, at least when I hurled I felt much better.

In the ambulance

Once I was in the ambulance one of the technicians tried her best to get a canular into one of my arms but after trying in both arms and wrists for about 10 minutes she gave up and took me straight into hospital.

Resus!

I was then transferred straight to the resuscitation ward of the A&E department. There they tried to get my heart beat down and after a while I vomited again into yet another face mask and again I felt much better. The Doctor told me that it was a good job I vomited as he was about to pump something into me but now there was no need.

At it's peak my heart beat was at 180 beats per minute and one of the levels that is indicative of a heart attack that should be below 40 was above 3,000 !

Once they got my heart under control they arranged for me to go up to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) in Barnsley District General Hospital (BDGH).

CCU

Since I have been up here in the CCU I have been treated brilliantly. Initially I didn’t want my Mum to know which meant not telling anybody. The reason was that I am in the bed next to the one my Nanan died in. Imagine my Mum's feelings when she comes in to see her son recovering from a heart attack only to see him in the bed besides the one her mother died in. In the end Ann & I decided that she would never have forgiven me if we hadn't told her. I made the mistake then of not thinking of my Dad and never thought to tell him.

Emergency Contact

While I was in Resus they were trying to phone Ann to let he know what had gone on but I have blocked all anonymous calls and so they couldn't get though. As far as Ann was concerned I had just gone up to the Doctor's to wait and see if they had any appointments to see a Doctor as she thought I was just having a dizzy spell.

God Damn Phone!

Any normal week my phone is very rarely used and now that it is in the shop I have had a quite desperate need for it twice this week. Once on Monday when I found out there were no trains to Leeds and then again on Friday after I had the heart attack and they needed to get in touch with Ann.

I could also do with my phone so that I can use the internet. As it is I have a script ready for when Ann arrives. Then I can tether to her phone and set the script running. It will then do quite a few of the things that I need the internet connection for.

For example: I am using a word processor to write this blog post and I will post it once Ann gets here tonight. Even her connection is very slow though so you have to excuse a lack of pictures. If I can find some stock images on my laptop that I can use then I may use them but if not I shall just post a plain text post to begin with and anybody who is interested will read it.

That it all

Well that is all. If you wish to leave any comments then you can leave them by replying below or simply by replying via Facebook/Twitter etc.

How not to treat the person looking after your parents

Family Opinion Personal

A Family That Should Be Ashamed By The Treatment Of It's Own

Unfortunately last year my maternal nanan/grandmother died & since then my mum's quality of life has gone downhill… let me explain.

About 5 years ago my maternal grandparents were at a stage in their life when it wasn't really possible for them to live in their two-storey house by themselves any more. My mum and dad took the decision to put their live's on hold and move in with them. They gave up the flat that they rented, moved in with them and they began a new life in the conservatory and the small bedroom they now had.

This meant that my grandparents could carry on living in the house they moved into when they arrived in Barnsley over 50 years ago and they had both physical and emotional support.

It has to be said that it wasn't easy for my parents to give up their existing lives; put everything on hold and become full time carers. They now had many extra responsibilities and my grandparents could only be left on their own for very little (if any) time by themselves such was the support that they needed.

Quote about inheritence

So true!

After a period of time of being really bad my grandad/grandfather died on the 15th November, 2012, leaving my mum; dad and nanan. Things were ok for a while and then came the news that my mum and dad were splitting up after my dad admitted that he had been having an affair. This left just my mum and nanan but unfortunately this didn’t last long and my nanan died shortly after on the 20th June last year (2015).

What seems like as soon as my nanan passed the hassle began for my Mum over my nanan (and grandad)'s will. This stated that my mum could live in the house that was now her home for as long as she wanted rent free. A few of my mum's siblings have pressured my mum into selling the house as soon as possible no matter the price it brings. It has to be said that this pressure was applied in a passive-aggressive way and with no thought for my mum's feelings; financial situation or health and although many of the family are in the building trade there has been very little work done; even though only a small amount of work would increase the property value.

The situation has now gotten so bad that my mum just wants to get rid of the house and the stress is causing several ongoing health issues to get worse.

The pressure applied by several people to sell the house has changed my perception of them quite a bit. It was my parents and nobody else who offered to move in with them. If it had been up to a few others then my nanan and grandad would have had no support or had to live in a nursing home. It was my parents who moved and and the stress of putting their own lives on hold ultimately cost them their marriage. Despite this my mum has stayed strong and is being repaid by her own family with a total lack of gratitude for the sacrifices she has made.

I personally feel that the members of the family should be ashamed of how they have treated one who gave such a personal sacrifice to care for the major figure-heads of the family empire “for something as common as money” (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2005).

Let me be clear: My family and I are not blameless in all of this! Although my mum knows that if ever she needs us we will be there for her, we don't spend anywhere near as much time with my mum as we should do. My wife and I work at least 60 hours each per week (including work at night at home and work at weekends) and by the time weekend comes we are shattered and we just want to spend time relaxing at home chilling out with our son. Most weeks we have very good intentions of visiting my mum but these never come to fruition for a variety of reasons. We have also been living on our own for many years and have learned to be very independent (as one is supposed to be when one has had a career in the army).

We were however all prepared to offer my mum a place in our home if things came to the worst (I am not sure if we actually did or not): we had the housing arrangements all sorted and everything but mum wants to go back to being independent so there you go.

As always I would really like your thoughts: Do you agree with me that people should be ashamed or can you see an alternative viewpoint?

And Another Thing #4… Jeremy Clarkson

Opinion

What? Are you kidding me? With so much going on in the world at the moment why has Jeremy Clarkson got 2nd bill on the 10 o’clock news?

Ok. Let’s get started! Last week Jeremy Clarkson [allegedly] punched a producer and everybody including David Cameron is calling for him to be re-instated.

Let’s get this straight; if he is found guilty and then re-instated then he will be getting away with Gross misconduct and some sort of criminal assault. Because he is famous and brings in an estimated £50m for the BBC he is possibly to be allowed to get away with assault whilst already on a final warning. Be warned: If he gets away with it this time he will know that he is to be allowed to get away with whatever he likes.

Add to this over half of a million people signing to have him re-instated. Can you imagine of that many people got involved in a political debate or petition?

On to you. Do you want him re-instated? Do you think he should get away with it or do you just think it’s a big kerfuffal over nothing?

Brits fighting the terrorist in Syria

War

First of all: I wish that people wouldn’t call them Islamic State or even “The so called Islamic State” (yes I’m looking at you BBC). In a few years they will say “We have been known as the Islamic State for years now by everyone” and I believe they will use that name to try and legitimise stolen land.

OK, onto the main crux of the post. It’s about British men going over to fight alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga. It may surprise many of you to learn that I totally get where they are coming from. I agree with one of those fighters who draws parallels with the Nazis. It is a analogy that I would never normally use but with the public fear they thrive on and the recent incident of historical genocide that is destroying the ancient ruins that pre-date Christ there is no doubt in my mind that these people need to be stopped. Of course the smashing of ruins has no comparison with some of the violent acts which they have performed.

Before I continue I will say that the reason I believe this is not the way forward is that no matter how much one disagrees with things once cannot simply pick-up arms in a foreign country and go to fight in their wars. It is not the way things are done. We have a democratic government. I disagree with our policies but the way to change them is by voting with your feet; not by picking up a rifle and killing people we do not like in unsanctioned action. Sympathy wise I have only a little more sympathy for the ones who go to fight alongside the Peshmerga that the ones who go to fight alongside the terrorists. Either way you cannot simply go off to a war that is not legally ours and not expect consequences (if you survive the war).

I am proud of my service in Iraq and Afghanistan for a reason: We were helping people! Many people will disagree with that and they were not there to see the roads lined with people who could have just as easily stayed and hidden in their houses but they didn’t. There were many places I visited where we were treated like heroes (In Iraq at least). It is that very same pride that allows me to say that I understand why these people are going over there. One cannot just stand by and watch as thousands of people are being terrorised and killed by a terrorist force and do nothing.

I also agree with one of the fighters that the response from our government has been shameful. I publicly said several years back (before there was a rebel force in Syria) that we should have gone in there and taken it to the Syrian regime. I stand by that announcement and I also think that during the “Arab Spring” the West was very quick to tell the people of the countries ruled by a iron fist that they could stand up for themselves and we would back them. The West did that because it looked like it worked in Egypt so why not in other countries (in my opinion) but when it didn’t work out we (the West) just left them to it.

I am currently ashamed to be part of a society that has such an attitude. We cannot just leave people to be slaughtered and do nothing. That is not the reason I joined or stayed in the British Army. It is not the reason I volunteered to go on and stay on as many Operation Tours as I could whilst I was in the British Army.

Saying that if these terrorists were indeed a recognised state then we (the UK at least) would simply throw some sanctions at them (don’t get me started on our lack of backbone against Putin)!

What do you think? Over to you. Do you have sympathy for those going over to fight alongside the Peshmerga or not?

Enough rambling. As usual I have overstayed my welcome on this post

And Another Thing #3… MovieTube

Opinion

Today I came across a site called MovieTube (I am not going to provide a link as it will increase their SEO stats). It is billed as site that allows you to watch new films for free and most importantly LEGAL. I have searched on the internet for 20 minutes or so to see if this is actually legal or not and although I have found many answers such as

If a person steals fireworks and sets them off in the city centre is it illegal to watch them?

Which is a completely ludicrous analogy. I have not found an answer that I am comfortable with such as from a Lawyers site. The most definitive answer I have found was from the MoneySavingExpert site that is more in-line with my thinking.

It may very well be legal to watch these movies but there is one major obstacle stopping me from doing so…I have morals!

Think about it for a minute or two. Millions of pounds are spent on these Movies and the related marketing. Who cares how much the stars of the movie are on; the fact is that  they have worked legally for their income.

Somebody does the equivalent of taking a video recorder into a cinema (or pictures as I still call it) and recording a film them putting it on the internet. Just because the MovieTube site does not host the videos themselves does not make it right. This site was specifically set up in order to facilitate illegal activity.

Watching films from this site may very be legal but morally it is an outrageous thing to do!

Some of you may remember several years ago when people were sent notices because their IP address had been used to listen to pirated content that was supposed to be “legal”. The very same thing may happen to viewers of MovieTube once the lawyers catch up.

What do you think. Is it moral or immoral – why do you think it's moral or immoral?

And Another Thing #2… Speaking up

Opinion

Ok: so today’s complaint is about the state of humanity.

Today I saw  on the news footage of a man being denied entry to a train in France because he was black. The taunters were British football fans (Chelsea) and pushed him back out of the train when he tried to enter as well as singing racist songs.

Ok: that’s bad but what bothered me is that there are people stood around doing nothing about it. What could they do I hear you ask. well: they could have told the trouble makers that they were in the wrong; they could have stood side by side with the black man showing solidarity; they could have done anything except just standing there.

I have already told Rowan (my 5 year old son) on many times that if he sees something is wrong it is his duty to do something about it: whether it is helping somebody who is being picked on or telling somebody they have dropped their money. He has also seen me do this on several occasions and after each and every occasion I have reaffirmed our responsibility to help others in need.

If you want to watch the footage for yourself then here is the BBC news link. So what can you do if you see something wrong? I beg you! If you see something happening that you know to be wrong, please do something about it. Don’t just stand by and let society deteriorate into one were people don’t give a shit about each other.

By the way, for the people who say that I shouldn’t be calling a black man such a thing and instead should call him coloured or something similar then I say get a life. In my mind it doesn’t matter what you call people it is the intent behind it. It is similar to the situation when Prince Harry called his army friend his “Little Packi Friend”. I can see why some people would take offense to this but the point is that his “Little Packi Friend” didn’t take offense to it, it was and probably still is a term of endearment. Should be stop calling old people old because some take offense? I don’t bloody know I’ll let you all decide that, after all I have digressed from the original subject.

As always your comments are always welcome.