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more hits.

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That is a lovely surprise, only a week ago i was thanking everyone for getting my blog views up to 750.

Here i am a week later and it is on 1000.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. i know it can be a bit generalist in content, but that is part of the fun, right?

I feel very blessed now.

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a new style of self reflection.

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Well level 2 continues to surprise me.

for our TMA 5 we have to post our essay plan in a online forum. This is quite a challenge for me, as I do not tend to write an essay plan out, I do a simple spider diagram of what I want to say in sections, why I want to say it and then sit and write the essay in one sitting, then save and revisit twice over a couple of days, making revisions at each sitting.

So to produce a plan was new to me, but I made an infographic of my spider diagram, so hopefully this is a correct submission. We then have to write a self reflection about how looking at other students essay plans made us realise the strengths and weaknesses in our own essay's. It carries a 15% chunk of the final mark. So it is quite an important element to get right.

Hopefully my essay plan infographic is strong enough to help other make the strength and weaknesses cases in their own self-reflections, otherwise I might let the side down.

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Tutorial 5

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So i enjoyed the tma5 tutorial. It was interesting and really made me think.

I am personally an international realist and so my tma will be in that context.

Nearly at the end of this module now.

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weddings and tutorials

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so i have a tutorial this Saturday, all booked are ready to go,

I might be hanging at the tutorial,because my sister in law is getting married on Friday, so that is a busy day and evening for me.

Not sure I will have time free to write a blog this Sunday, which is a shame because we have the SNP demands for a second referendum and the Dutch elections this week, plus we might see article 50 triggered in the next 7 days.

I will try and find time to cover the Dutch election, I mentioned it in my 'summer of brexit' article, so it will be interesting to see the results.

For the SNP independence blog, I fancied having  look at that from an economic perspective, did you know that the IMF has predicted that the UK economy will grow to larger than Germany's  in the next 10 years, so Scotland might have to think very carefully from an economic perspective, after all, when isolated, Scotland's GDP is the same as Slovakia or Estonia. Is Scotland's economy big enough to survive in a globalised world? In the first independence referendum, the SNP made much of the income from oil, they estimated in to be 12 billion in the first 3 years, where as the actual figure was 800,000 million! Can the new predictions from the SNP be taken seriously when they got it wrong last time by 1400% ?, also it is very interesting because if there is a second referendum, Scotland and the SNP will be talking a lot about 'freedom' and from a philosophical perspective, is seeking independence from England and staying on board with the super international aspirations of the E.U more 'Free' than remaining in a union with the U.K that is removed from the E.U? something to write about there, for sure.

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Mark arrived

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My feedback for tma 4 came in this evening.

I scored 82% so not bad, i think this module is coming in at a pass grade 2. 

I would need to find 3 extra percent and scored 89% on my final tma plus 85% on my exam to get a distinction. Thanks a stretch, so a grade 2 pass is more likely for me.

I will have to make sure i really stick the exam to be sure.


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errors upon errors

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I do have a question about how many errors or miss-prints are considered reasonable in module text books and the study planner?

For my module DD211, we have had the following:

TMA 2 guidance notes were incorrect

TMA 3 guidance notes were incorrect

TMA 4 guidance notes were incorrect

TMA 5 guidance notes were incorrect

Week 14 had dead links in it

Week 19 had incorrect information in it

Wee 21 had dead links and missing information in it.

Plus the whole online tutorial event on the 5th of October failed to work, despite us all wanting to do it because we had missed our first lecture because the tutorial booking system was a mess.

all this came after a update to the module books in June 2016, which i include here because some of the typo's are funny.

  • Book 2, Block 4, chapter 14, page 41. Tony Blair was elected in 1997 and left office in 2007
  • Book 2, Block 4, chapter 14, page 42. Jimmy Carter left office in 1981, not 1991
  • Week 26 audio transcript for “Political concepts revisited” should read “serfs” and not “surfs”
  • Week 26 section 4.2 the audio interview with Richard Heffernan indicates that in the US decisions on smoking in public places are covered by federal law. This should be 'state' law rather than 'federal' law.

Serfs not surfs!

Does anyone else have this kind of level of errors in the course materials?

Or have DD211 this year just been extra lucky?

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Formula 1 a new season

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Here is another post from my personal wordpress blog


The new F1 season


‘oh lord won’t you buy me a Ferrari’

I may not have mentioned this before, but I do really like formula 1. When I say really like I actually mean, I love it and have an insatiable desire for all the technical details and little tweaks that the engineers spent hundreds of millions of pounds, euro’s or dollars in developing.

Last season was a bit of a frustration for the scarlet Ferrari’s. They really under performed, Vettell had his car treated like a bumper car at the fair by some of the other drivers, and results did not go the way of the team.

But that is behind them now, a new season is dawning and rule changes and technical rule changes have served to bring hope back that the new season will not be another season of Scalextric style ‘follow the Mercedes’ races.

Pre-season testing has gone well for the Ferrari team, hundreds of laps under their, presumably Gucci, belts and both drivers producing the fastest laps of the session. So before a wheel gets turned in anger at Melbourne in the opening race of the season, I took a little look at how each team has developed the aero package on their cars in the face of technical changes.

One of the biggest changes of the new season, the biggest technical change, has brought about the smallest rear wings ever seen on F1 cars. The rear wings this year a tiny, low slung and will produce much less down force than in previous years. Couple this with the huge increase in the permitted size of rear tyre’s, it is going to be harder to stick the back end of the cars down onto the track. Traction provided by the larger tyre’s is traded off by the tiny little rear wings. That is a big problem when you have 900 horse power to transmit through the rear wheels.

I noticed with all the new cars, the aero package through the centre point of the car has changed a great deal, side pods and air intakes have changed shape dramatically and the air flow is managed to a much greater degree around the cockpit of the car. Getting the air into the correct shape now seems to be crucial, getting the air into the right flow, before it flows over the engine cover and hits the tiny rear wing is key. I had a look at all the new designs, from all the teams, and I noticed Ferrari has a tweak that no-one else has.

So does the Ferrari speed in testing involve their difference in design to the other teams? Both Vettell and Kimi are well known for wanting cars with stiff and very direct performing front ends. Both drivers like to be able to hurl their cars into the apex of a corner and the last possible moment, neither driver is going to be ever accused of a smooth style, of flattening out bends and coaxing the car through a difficult apex. Both drivers love to spring the shift in momentum in at the last possible moment, to hurl the front end into the apex. I wondered if the new Ferrari design has been done to enable it’s drivers to do this, and has the extra benefit of producing better air flow around the side pods and cockpit surfaces.

So rather than tease, I should go public with my observations, if you have followed this article to this point, then you must be interested in Formula 1 and all the tiny little changes that can make such an impact.

So I noticed the front end wish bones:

Here is the new Mercedes and if you look you can see the back-raking body after the snub drop enforced by crash regulations. But you can still see the bulbous protrusions where the front suspension springs are bolted to the monocot containing the driver. It is shaped like a wave, from the tip of the nose, raking-up sharply to the bulbous spring mounting points and then gently curving back to the tiny bit of plastic the drivers consider a wind shield.



Plus lots of barge boards and wings to sculpt the air around the side of the car. Very pretty and very much like last year.

Ferrari on the other hand as clearly gone down a different path. The cockpit in front of the car is like a slab, flat enough to play cards on. A complete ironing board look. Some the suspension spring mounting points have been moved, shifted into the crash structure of the nose, producing a flat plane of body work in front of the driver. We also see that Ferrari have produced a double entrance to the air pods on the side of the car. The air flow directly in front and around the driver is managed in a very different way to the Mercedes.



So does this very different new design offer the Ferrari drivers a better front end experience? And is this why both the Ferrari drivers topped the lap times in the test sessions in Barcelona? We will have to wait and see, only the first few races of the season will reveal if Ferrari have beaten their rivals to the aerodynamic punch and produced a car that can break the dominance of Mercedes for the last three years.

I am a Mclaren fan by the way, but for the obvious reasons they did not leave me much to talk about in pre-season testing, again……

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all about the hits

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I just wanted to say a quick thank you to all of you.

This blog has received 750 views now, I think I am very happy with that. When you considered I posted 3 times in 18 months, and then decided to use the blog space more in the last 3 months.

So thank you all who have taken the time to view my ramblings, and thank you to the people who left comments, your input is really appreciated.

I think I am pleased with how 'blogging' has gone for me so far, I even committed to owning a word press blog,


and I am enjoying sharing my thoughts and articles with people.

So thank you all for your support, with 3 years still left to go with the OU, I am hopeful that lots more material will make its way up here.


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last block

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Here I am, still waiting for the TMA 4 mark, and 2 weeks in to the 4 week module 5.

All down hill from here, block 5 is the last learning block of the module, block 6 is set aside for revision for the final exam.

So I am getting closer to wrapping up the taught blocks, then to consolidate and do the Exam.

DD211 was alright I suppose, level 2 is hard and this module was okay.

I thought this last block, with its theme of international relations was going to be more interesting, but it seems to be quite dull.

I thought I really hated block 3, ideology, however looking back I am starting to feel the love for it a lot more, it might even turn out to be my favourite block of this module. I never thought I would be saying that 2 months ago.

you live and learn, that's the whole point of this really.

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cultural short fall

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This is a short blog to celebrate the governance in my home town of Portsmouth.

Just a little story that I would commend to some satire.


Portsmouth used to have a community hub arts centre in a local park.

Run by volunteers it was a hub for people to learn and enjoy creating art in a peaceful environment.

The hub got a little bit behind with its rent, so they decided to have a fundraising fair on a Saturday afternoon to raise the funds required to continue their 10 year tenure.

Portsmouth City Council approved and gave a license for the fundraising fair for the Saturday afternoon.

All well and good so far, very heart warming, except for the fact that,

Despite giving a license for the Saturday fundraising fair, the council decided to foreclose and evict the Arts Centre on the Monday before hand. Portsmouth City Council were wary of the trouble this might cause so, rather than use their own officers to foreclose the building, they decided to send the police in to do the job. Which the police did, with great effect, arrests were made and the building shut down, locks changed and the community arts hub discontinued.


4 short weeks later, Portsmouth City Council have decided to bid to be the 2018 European City of Culture.

Very cultured indeed of the Council, or is that too soon?

I might encourage Portsmouth city Council to ‘stay classy’ but that would assume they had any class to retain.

So I made this satirical infographic, it is too late for the community arts hub in Portsmouth now, but hopefully the officers of Portsmouth City Council will feel a little twinge of guilt at their own actions.

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how to get ahead and alienate people

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from my blog:

The specialistgeneralist.net

Trump: the international realist


How to get ahead and alienate people.


Things seem to settle down somewhat in the White House for the last 5 days or so. I wonder if they have a board up in the White house staff break room that reads,

3 Days

 ‘Days since we had a total whirlwind of controversy’

So I thought I would have a little look and consideration of what Mr Trump’s fall back catch phrase of ‘make America great again’ means.

Mr Trump appears to be an international realist. Very much a fan of the state, The sovereignty of US territory. This must be the case because so much of what he has said, and unconstitutionally tried to do, reinforces a nationalist ideal. To be an international realist you must consider the power of your state on the world stage and in relation to the other states around you as primary. You must believe that all states exist in a balance of power and that winning this anarchy of power balance is to be the strongest player. To the victor the rewards, even if the reward appear to be playing the same game of power balance for ever.

To feed this ‘make America great again’ habit and reassert Americas position as number one, Mr Trump feels it is very important to, repel boarders-or let’s have a travel ban.

Remind the geographers and international partners that America has a non-porous border that is a fixed boundary and definable- or let’s build a wall.

Next Mr Trump turned his attention to the Liberal economic concerns of the interconnectedness of economic globalisation, again as an international realist, Mr trump will naturally resent the very transnational economic model of development. So playing his trump card (my apologies, but that cannot get old) he lays out his ‘art of the deal’ slick and pressures manufactures and companies into refocusing production on U.S soil. He also pulled the classic nationalist trick of going for government funded infrastructure development to fuel wages and living standards.

So far so good (if you’re an international realist) or not so good if you are of a collectivist persuasion.

If you are a collectivist, they you are going to consider that globalisation is inevitable, and the merging of cultural bonds progresses that process. Now it might get interesting. Is Mr Trumps persona, his public face, pre-planned to try and halt cultural collectivism? All of his tirades about the fake news, the unfair media, his opponents being evil, serve to alienate people outside of his core support. Are they aimed at a higher goal? Now if Mr Trump is planning his persona to offset and repulse global collectivism, then it is surely working. He is playing a role, after all politicians are ‘actors’ on a stage. Is he being deliberately outrageous, miss-leading, belligerent and vile to further his own agenda of international realism?

That would be fun, as long as he does not go so far that it threatens his position, then he will always use this tool of being unlikeable to repress the collectivist agenda towards globalisation. This is even more fun, because the media, Stephen Colbert on the late show, John Oliver, Trevor Noah and all the other liberal collectivist stars are helping Trump achieve his ultimate goal of steering the US into a more realist international position. The more they complain, the more people protest, the stronger Trump’s steer becomes. This is even more ironic when you consider the protests have popped up all over the world, we even had anti-trump protests here in Portsmouth, UK. They might all be playing even further into his hands, making the globalist trait of cultural interconnectedness even harder to achieve and providing Trump with internationalist realist fuel to thrown onto the fire.

There is a fly in the ointment of Trumps 110% commitment (it’s going to be great, let me tell you) to international realism. If you believe in the International realist perspective of international anarchy, then a mistrust of large states is a major part of your position. So you have threats to your states number one status. This makes Trump’s love in with the Russians and Putin a little harder to understand. Although the idea that Putin and Russia are really not fans of globalisation is easy to believe, so Russia herself is an international realist, then if you are in that game of one-up-man-ship, then you need a big heavy hitter to go up against. Since the cold war went the way of the neo-liberal globalist, Russia has been at a bit of a loose end, she could not win because she was playing a different game to everyone else. Rather like taking a cricket bat to a tennis match, you might get a game, but you will lose to the person with the racquet. So is the new Trump-Putin love in an attempt by the Russians to help Trump get his realist way with America, so that the newly wedded realists can have a good old game of superpowers?

Globalisation does raise many heckles, in fact it was the main bug bear of the Occupy movement, so does that mean for his very denouement, will Mr trump re-position America as a 100 % international realist state, destroy global collectivism with his own unique public persona, restore a nationalist economic agenda to American workers and then take up residence in a tent outside the Wall street to protest the remaining liberal economic elements of globalisation? Now that would really get the liberal media going, Stephen Colbert’s head might explode with the joy of that situation.

Who knows, here in the UK we voted to Brexit after all, so we clearly have eyes on a westphalian shift away from transnational organisations. The thing that interests me is the American belief that they are the best. They are god’s chosen country, the free country, the home of the brave individual. That mantra really supports an international realist perspective, right up to the point when things start to not go your way. America is the spiritual home of the liberal individualist, with their distain of big government and mistrust of governmental interference, lovers of their rights and freedoms.

So will Trump be able to roll back the clock, roll back globalisation and position America in a 100% international realist perspective, all in 4 years, whilst building a wall, rebuilding roads and bridges, making people happy with extra dollars in their pockets and being as vile as possible to the media? Well he got himself into the White House, so these things might well come to pass…. And if it all does not go his way, he can always go to his fall back position of ‘billionaire former president of the united states’


Mike Gumbrell


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waiting is wilting

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i still wait,

under no pretense that i am waiting with any kind of grace.

Got on with my Block 5 materials, it is hard to believe this is the last block, revision for block 6, so this is it, the home straight and an exam to do.....

I might suggest it has all been exhausting!

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Waiting for the mark

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I may have mentioned this before,

I am not great at sitting back and waiting for the marks to come in.

This time it is TMA 4. The sooner i have the feedback, the quicker i can self reflect and act on it.

Hopefully it will be soon. I find myself getting frustrated the the student home only updates itself once a day- just after midnight. The mark could have been sitting there since 7pm, but it wont update until midnight, which means i will not see it until the next morning.

I really am no good at sitting back, being passive and waiting.

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having revised and resubmitted my TMA 4 a couple of times now, I am starting to feel the love for it a bit more.

hopefully it will get a good mark, looking at the guidance notes and the tutorial notes I hope my TMA has hit the mark, literally!

But it was very much a frustrating block and writing experience, I was hacked off by ideology and TMA 3 but this module and TMA trumped that.

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binary language a blog post

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still based around brexit, here is an article from my blog that deals with the polarisation of language. One of my blog post about satirical infographics on this site was the inspiration.

If you look at the Trump/ fart infographic I posted in February, on the comments is a fellow student who felt the need to quote Hitler and be very ill judged in her comments.

This lack of foresight or inability on her part to not resort to binary language prompted me to write this article:

as ever these articles are available to read, like and comment on at:


Binary: relating to, using, or denoting a system of numerical notation that has 2 rather than 10 as a base.


Binary. The language of a modern computer driven world. Instead of a range of value across a scale of 1 to10, a spectrum or continuum, binary uses a system of a value of 2 options. 1 or 0. On or off. Is or is not.

We live in an increasingly globalised world, driven by computers and software all using binary numbers as its language. We are often told that computers are making the world a smaller place, that we are becoming ‘global’ and that computers bring us together. I often wonder if this is a good thing? I can use a computer and its binary system to talk to someone on the other side of the world, instantly. But if I want to see that person and talk to them with all the subtleties of body language, vocal inflection and personal interaction, I have to fly for 22 hours, stopping once to refuel, and travelling 11,000 miles to achieve this.

So binary allows me to connect with someone on the other side of the world, but it does not allow me to interact with them in a truly personal way?

Inside my computer a series of 1 or 0’s define how it operates. So it takes me, a person with a schema, a life time of experience, a range of complex emotions and the ability to conceptualise my surroundings from a philosophical, political, artistic and emotional level to input my words into something that turns it all binary.

Now I wonder if the computer if being guided by my input and converting that into binary or is the computer and its binary language actually inputting into me? That might sound strange, but does it?

Like this. Thumbs up or thumbs down. Swipe left or right. Hot or Not. Share or don’t Share.

It sometimes seems that in the global world of social media, that the computer and global world it enables, is driving the people who use it, to settle into binary positions. It seems to me that people are starting to use binary language to interact with the world around them.

It is very disheartening to see this conversion of human interaction reduced to binary language and positions. I look at the Brexit vote. A binary choice, in or out, that led to a binary choice, hard or soft Brexit. It saddens me even further to see the interaction of people, when dealing with the results of binary choices, being reduced to binary language.

Remoaners, liberal elites, Lefties, out of touch, stupid.

Just some of the choice binary words I have seen leveled at people disappointed by the result.

Brexiteers, Fascist, Nazi, thick, out of touch, racist.

Binary words again.

I would point out to the people using binary words about remoaners, you cannot just be a leftie and a liberal elite. It would require a complex ideological position with a nuanced understanding of the philosophical concept of freedom to define a socialist and liberal perspective of the equality of outcome that both positions could represent.

But that’s not very binary is it. To look at the position of the people on the other side of the debate requires more than just insults that are binary in nature.

The same applies to the Brexiteers. How can you be a fascist and a Nazi. One position was born out of National Socialism, the other is a far right wing position. Why is a desire to restore national sovereignty to your state a racist endeavor? To seek restoration of your sovereign state might be considered to go against the globalist trend and favor more international anarchistic perspective of international relations.

Again none of these positions are easy to express without the complex understanding of the world around us and how we interact with it. They are far more subtle and nuanced than a binary position and binary language allows.

Do any of us exist in isolation, are we not bound by are social contracts, our relationship with our local and wider communities? We live complex and political world. All politics, philosophy’s, ideologies and political communities exist across a spectrum. None of them are binary, especially socialist perspectives, which produce a wide a broad church of different ideological positions. None of the complex, subtle and nuanced nature of the world we live in seems best served by trying to distill all of its complexities into binary positions and binary language.

Does that black mirror we stare into every day, at our computer, on our tablet or through our phone, reflect our face back at us or is it shaping us a new, binary, reflection?

There you have it, I have used 900 words to express, in not very binary terms, my concern at my perceived rise in the use of binary language in our society. That binary language will harm debate, degrade our interactions with each other and isolate us all into binary positions. We might be able to Ctrl+Alt+Dlete a computer, but we cannot do that to ourselves and our society.

Or to borrow the words of the recently departed, once vilified, and at the sad time of his passing, much respected former England manager Graham Taylor…

‘do I not like that’


‘This article was written by a cybetech 87765 laptop using a cortex 100100100 processor, assisted by the malleable human, Mike Gumbrell’

‘this article was then processed into a blog format by a defknel101101101 processor’ and the authors identity remodeled to be a www.thespecialistgeneralist.net virtual identity’.

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automated cars, a blog post

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Here is one about the onset of driver less cars:

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Car Automation:

 or ‘how everything we do is NOT driven by you’


I was reading something on the BBC the other day which I found very interesting. I decided to put a few words down about it myself, I think this might be another post that will veer from one topic to another and back again. I perhaps should not have used the word veer, since this topic of thought is driverless cars!

Ford, that bastion of production values, the founder of the production line and creator of the Ford Capri is no longer a car maker. No longer a car maker? They still produce millions of the metal wagons every year. However last year Ford starting calling itself a ‘technology company’. I found this very interesting, Ford are part of the chase to achieve driverless cars, in fact they have declared that by 2021 they will be selling the things. Google, Apple and Tesla are also in the race, along with Honda.

The most interesting part of this race is, rather like motorsport itself, there are classes of driverless cars. Level 0 is an old-fashioned car, rather like the Ford Capri I mentioned earlier, it looks fantastic but it does nothing to help you drive. It came as a surprise to me to find out I already drive a level 2 car. I say I drive it, but being a level 2 (there are 6 levels in all 0-5) it sometimes drives me. How does my car fall under level 2? Well the fact that my car has front radar and automatic collision braking got me into level 1, the fact my car also has cruise control got me into level 2. The Tesla is a level 3 car, it will change lanes for you. The real interesting things happen when you get to level 4 and 5. Level 4 means the car will do everything for you, but does have the controls fitted so that you can intervene if you need to, level 5 is the top step on the podium, no steering wheel or pedals! You will quite literally be passenger to your own fate.

So to get to level 5 you need software, lots of software. This is how Ford has reasoned that they are now a technology firm. The biggest car makers have all been buying up software and radar firms for the last couple of years because it is their future. The report from the Economist about the future of car making is very interesting. The predictions are that some firms will thrive, driven by the role out of driverless vehicles, others will fold. The idea that some car makers will go under, primarily because they have not got on board with the shift of technology, leads in nicely to the buyout of GM by Peugeot/Citroen. It is a very old economic principle that buying out your competition and becoming the biggest fish is the pond is a good way to consolidate profit and market share. But set against this complex idea that car makers are going to stop being car makers in the next 10-15 years, that they are going to become technology firms that produce hi-tech ‘movement pods’, is a stab at buyout and creating a bigger firm the best bet for Peugeot/Citroen.? VW did there amalgamating years ago, to create a super large production stable of several brands. VW might yet enter the driverless stakes, in fact my level 2 driverless car is a Skoda, part of the VW group. VW have the software, they managed to get millions of cars through emission tests they could not pass with it, so the processing power must be there for the next steps.

Having a Level 5 car is only part of the step though, both Google and Apple talk about the idea that apps for car sharing will be part of the future. So I might not need to own a driverless car, I might just need an app so that I can arrange a car share with another owner to get myself to work every day. So a network of unowned cars, acting like minicabs, picking people up and taking them to where they need to be without the need to ever own the car itself. If I was the UK government I would be getting straight to this, imagine the lost revenue from, less driving tests, less licences, less car tax, less fuel duty and all the other stealth tax (10% VAT on insurance). It is going to cost them a fortune! Of course the new driverless cars will need transponders in the roads, fixed radar mapping points and band width to function. So the UK government might be able to reclaim some of the lost income with infrastructure improvements to road systems that will charge the car users (or the cars themselves) to keep everything on the straight and narrow. Also look at all the driving schools and instructors who will be redundant.

Do driverless car actually cause a lack of choice in ownership? Is this shift in technology anti-capitalist? If we are car sharing rides in driverless cars, the need for ownership is removed. No longer might I hanker after a Jaguar, fine looking things they are, if in fact I do not need to own a car. If I am just sharing it to get me to work, will I really care what it looks like, is the fact that I will not drive it going to break the mould of ownership engagement? If we break the emotional relationship with our cars, I still love my old Capri-30 years since I sold it, is that going to ruin the business model for the luxury, pretty car makers? If we do not own the driverless car, then who will? Leasing firms will be interested in getting as many paying customers into their cars as possible, so 2 seater coupes are not going to be popular, driverless or not. No taxi firm has thought ‘let’s get 16 Ferrari’s, it will lose us money but we will look fantastic’.

The last question to consider here, is will it make our roads safer? I watched the test session last week with two robotic racing cars. No drivers, just software guiding the two 160 mile an hour cars round the track, it took 2 laps for one car to crash. We will all be safer with driverless cars. Perhaps the most pertinent question is, how we the transition take place? If driverless cars are safer, then all the person driven cars would have to get off road the day before the driverless cars take hold. Could we mix the two categories safely? Will cars driven by humans need to stick to one lane, whilst the other lanes are for driverless cars? That is a massive stress on all parties involved.

And perhaps the most important question of all, will Prof Brian May have to update his Ford advertisement jingle to ‘everything we do, is NOT driven by you’


Mike Gumbrell


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Brexit blog post.

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Edited by Michael Gumbrell, Sunday, 5 Mar 2017, 11:06

here is my thespecialistgeneralist.net blog post about Brexit.

For all those of you who study social science and sweat TMA word counts, you might want to jump to the last 2 paragraphs first, for a bit of a chuckle:

Brexit, from the UK perspective.

Oh my, how many words, insults and offended philosophies have been thrown at the subject of Brexit. As I write this, the Brexit bills is with the house of lords and the usual pressure points of constitutional crisis are being bandied about to try and prevent the lords from amending the bill.

We have spent so much time and energy in debating and arguing the exit negotiations from our own internal UK point of view. We have heard from the EU itself, the comments ranging across a spectrum of ‘we must punish the UK for leaving’ to ‘we must respect the UK and offer them a fair deal’.

I find myself thinking about the European position to Brexit. This summer has no major sporting event in it, no Olympics, no World Cup or European football championships, but I believe the potential exists for the new summer blockbuster of entertainment to be the first 3 months after the UK Government trigger article 50.

This might sound a bit odd, but I would like to put it into context. From the UK side, the government will trigger article 50, with a government still in position until 2020, with a decent majority and an economy with steady, if unspectacular, growth. The team to negotiate Brexit will have been in place for 6 months, agenda’s set, outcomes prioritised and much work to be done. So the UK team will be set, positions coached and a positive team win is sought.

My worry is that we are going to be negotiating with an EU that is going to spend a lot of the summer in crisis. If these negotiations are going to be held, they need two sides with the time, skills and resources to negotiate.

I have very real concerns that the EU is not going to be able to hold its own side of the negotiation on track. I would suggest this because of the following reasons, a summer of EU crisis, that may well end in the autumn and the autumn of the European Union itself.

The first major shock to the EU will be March 31st itself. End of the financial year and the UK government will press the button on article 50. Gone are all the hopes, fears and potential last minute reprieves. Tony Blair, the very self-appointed king of global society, the nemesis of Westphalian sovereignty, might well be trying to halt the process, but his is an intervention with little credibility and much too late in the day to reset the UK government. So the first blow to the structure of the EU will be landed, with full force on 31st March. No longer a problem, Brexit becomes a certainty.

So where does the next blow to European union come from? Marie Le Pen was considered a right wing no hoper until this month. A surge of 20 points, helped by the revelations of corruption and elitism by her opponents, has seen her take the outright lead in the race to preside over France. Much like Trump before her, she was written off, and yet has ascended to a potential winning position. If she is the winner in May 2017, the EU will be negotiating with a member aboard that has also promised a referendum on EU membership. The UK was never a true member of the EU, we kept the pound, opted out of Lisbon and Dublin treaties. How would the EU cope with a full member on board who also wants to head for the exit? This is bound to disrupt, France and Le Pen would need courting and coaxing back into the fold, against a backdrop of the UK getting themselves out of the fold. Any potential advantage to the UK in the negotiations around this time would hit the EU hard and tempt Le Pen into an early referendum, after all it must be surely preferable to be second off a sinking ship rather than 27th off? Or might she prefer a smash and grab raid by renegotiating?

The European Central Bank might not be too keen to offer France some sweetheart deal money when it has several members in dire straits. On the subject of the ECB, when does Greece default again? Oh yes the end of June. Greece are currently trying to stave off the IMF and renegotiate their repayments, but that process has stalled. The Snap election threats are out again by the Greek government, and with that going on, they also have to fend off the IMF, which they cannot afford repayment too, so that they can then run into the June ECB deadline. So without ECB support and restructure, Greece may well fall out of the Euro by mid-June. But it will not be too much of a distraction for the EU, to be trying to sweetheart a founding member whilst dealing with the monetary collapse of a poorer member, to continue its negotiation with the UK at the same time.

But that’s okay for the EU, at least the Dutch will help keep the whole onion bag together. Unless the Dutch are aware that they are going from being the third largest net contributor in the EU to Second place with the UK leaving. Would that really push the Dutch into considering anti EU sentiment? By April 2017 we will know if Gert Wilders secured enough proportionally represented seats to become the Dutch leader. That could not possibly happen, because Brexit was never going to happen and Trump would lose. So if Mr wilders is in charge and Ms Le Pen rolls beside him, will the Dutch support or derail the EU. I think we can already answer that question. Yes Mr Wilders wants a referendum on membership of the EU for Holland.

So now the EU will be negotiating with the UK with two of its senior members (all members are equal of course, it is just that some members are historically more Westphalian than others) already looking to hit the exit too. This cannot be a position of strength. There will be times when the EU will not be able to negotiate with the UK because they are too busy firefighting their own members. Greece will default and the Euro may well fold. All this just gets us to the end of June.

From June the EU will have a brief rest, whilst continuing the Brexit negotiations before Germany goes to the polls in September. We can only guess at the mood of the German voters if they have had a summer of Brexit, French revolt, Dutch Westphalian grumblings and a Greek default and departure from the Euro. This must surely take its toll on the mood of the German people, along with another busy summer of refugee influx. Will this leave the German people in the mood to support the EU or in the mood to restructure it? If restructure was to be needed the German banks would need a solution to its over commitment to the Euro Zone. Germany has been repatriating its gold bullion stocks recently. In fact they aimed to bring 10% of its total ( 300 tonnes) bullion stock, back onto German soil by 2020. In completely unrelated news, they managed to complete the repatriation by March 2017.

So the Germans draw 300 tonnes of gold bullion back to home territory one month before the UK trigger article 50, two months before Mr Wilder goes to the Dutch polls, three months before Ms Le Pen goes to the French people and four months before the Greek’s default and six months before its own people go to the polls.

And during this first 6 months with all its potential fails for the European Union, the UK will be trying to negotiate a Brexit. A Brexit which must be finalised within two years, looking at the first 6 months (25% of the total negotiation timetable) I would suggest it will not be a case of hard or soft Brexit, not a case of punishment or appeasement, it will be a case of getting the Brexit done in quick enough time before the whole process breaks down and the EU members all go their separate ways.

At least Junkers, who will be in charge of the whole process, is there. If he had handed his notice in and was sailing away into retirement, that might put even bigger breaks on the process. And in other news, Mr Junkers will not be standing for re-election.

It would appear that the EU is not going to hold itself together long enough for the UK to complete its Brexit negotiations. It might well be that we just got to the head of the queue before everyone else did, but then again we are the UK, queues are our thing, right?

So at the opening of this article I mentioned all the words, insults and offended philosophies that had been thrown at Brexit. So here are my 1648 words on the subject. I am really not sure that Brexit will officially end as a process, because the EU will change so dramatically over the next 6 months that they will not be able to complete the negotiation with the UK under the article 50 terms. The UK will need a structure of institution to negotiate with, but the EU will be shedding its institutions and all of the agreements it holds as its structure right at the fulcrum of the negotiations.

So will it all fall apart, we will see the other members of the EU revert back to their sovereign states, will Westphalian sovereignty be restored. I think so. The Westphalia treaties were signed back in 1648. Which if you look at the paragraph above about my number of words, means I can be rather too smug with myself sometimes!

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thespecialistgeneralist.net a blog

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Edited by Michael Gumbrell, Sunday, 5 Mar 2017, 12:14

some of my procrastination during this block has been positive though.

If you follow me you may have noticed that I mentioned starting a word press blog.

So I started that last week, so far I have been enjoying writing content. some what eclectic content, from footballers to driverless cars by way of brexit negotiations.

But then this might well reflect the name of my blog, which deals with being a specialist generalist.

so if you want to follow my blog this is the address here:


I will post a couple of articles here as well, which are sort of relevant to my module and to the social sciences as well, well I hope so.

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grinding out TMA's

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Well i am not staring at a blank page any more, I have done and submitted my TMA 4.

It was very hard going, I have found the last 2 TMA's and blocks to be really had going.

But I have managed to grind out the 2000 words for TMA 4.

This module has been hard, I was really challenged by the jump from level 1 to level 2 at the start, and the difficulty has just kept rising all through this module.

What is disappointing is that the sense of satisfaction has not been forthcoming during the progress through this module, I find myself thinking more and more that 'thank F@@k that TMA and block are done, I will be glad to see the back of that block, and now I find myself thinking I will be glad to see the back of the whole module, I may have learnt on this module, but I cannot say I have enjoyed much of it.

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staring at the blank page

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Yep, i am staring at the blank page, TMA 4 is hard, my instinct is to write a straight compare and contrast block essay, but according to my tutorial and notes that's not enough for this question.

i need to get something down, perhaps i will write a version then review it in a couple of days to see if i am happy with it.

i have never really had a TMA block before, it is frustrating...

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marks, marks and more marks

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Edited by Michael Gumbrell, Sunday, 12 Feb 2017, 11:56

i know it is way to early to be considering this point, but I have been looking through the classification rules for honours degrees. I am a little bit compulsive/obsessive about these sort of things and so I cannot help but look and think about them.

So YO32 and DD103 were just distinction or pass ranks, I passed both, with an average mark of 80%, but no distinction for me (85% required), and now we are on to level 2 scores the 1,2,3 and 4 scoring systems kick in.

So through my first 3 tma's I rank 83%, which is a level 2 pass, but as is well documented the exam/ema scores that you get as the final part of the module are even harder to score well in.

So at the moment I am ranking as a level 2 pass, or the equivalent of a 2:1 degree. I find that very scary considering the final exam might well not be as much of a good score, so the thought that even with, what I thought were good tma scores, I might only rank as a level 3 pass for this module is a little disheartening.

There are quite a few blogs and forum posts online about how hard it is to get a good degree classification from the O.U and having looked at the level of mark required to get into the top 2 degree levels I tend to agree with them.

At a bricks and mortar university the grade boundaries are different and lower, someone i know got 78% and that was a first class degree in social work. 78% with the OU would leave me sweating on a 2:2 or a 2:1 pass !

on my degree pathway, BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics I have 3 level 2 modules and 2 level 3 modules, I only had one level 1 module. Since I have 90 credits already, this module I am currently on, DD211' investigating political institutions in the modern world' would give me another 60 credits, taking me up to 150 credits. I think I might investigate the options for transferring out of the O.U to another online provider or a part time course with a local bricks and mortar university.

I suppose it is a fine balance, the OU want us to study with them, after all they get the fee's for our study, however they need to have a large take up to support themselves financially. But with some of the cost cutting measures and restructuring work done by the Vice-chancellor I wonder if the level of fee they charge, combined with the challenging high marks required for a top 2 level pass is worth the debt I am incurring for it(I pay for my study with a student loan).

So I will have a look at my other options, I am sure I cannot be the only student who has considered or done this before. my apologies if I am just reiterating the previous concerns of other students.

Without wishing to state the obvious, it is a learning process. I enrolled for an access module (YO32) to see if study suited me, I had no idea back then about grade boundaries and module study. I qualified for the free Access course, then when I decided I wanted to start a degree, found that the cost of £ 675 for the access module had been added to my student loan! I had first opted for an open degree, but having done some research, I decided to switch to a degree pathway and study Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

So it has been a learning process, so I feel a little bit ungrateful for having benefitted from the process, to now been in a position where I am questioning the value and nature of the process, it's classification process and considering changing to a new provider.

However I will have a £ 18,000 debt on completing study, with the O.U or elsewhere and for me and my level of income, that is a huge debt and I will be paying it back past my retirement age. So I feel I have to be sure I have made the best possible use of the loan, and off set the risk of having the loan by securing the best possible outcome from using it.

So is a £ 18,000 debt, 6 years of study and the amount of study required worth it? If I scored a solid 75% in my 5 of my 6 years of study and received a 2:1, then YES.

but if I end up with a £ 18,000 debt, 6 years of study and, what I would considered a solid mark of 70%, with a 2:2 degree, the I would say NO.

I would be very interested in your comments, I would like to know if I am being unreasonable, or if you might think I am right to be concerned?

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I am very glad to have waited before trying to write any of my TMA 4, until after the tutorial.

The tutorial was very good, and made me realise I was barking up the wrong tree with my essay plan.

I had taken the compare and contrast element to literally, in fact the tutorial matched the student notes and explained more clearly the structure of answer required for a successful answer.

I did notice though that as with my previous level 1 and level 2 worries, level 2 is much harder now and the academic language needed is more dense and specific.

So my TMA 4 will need to discuss the merits of codified and uncodified constitution and symmetrical versus asymmetrical bicameral representatives. Fused and separated executive, and the hard one, but important to define, majoritarian is different to plurality.

I just need to get on a write it now!

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RSS Feeds

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Edited by Michael Gumbrell, Sunday, 12 Feb 2017, 11:43

I am happy to blog away on here, and i wondered what the RRS feeds are?

I had never heard of them before.

So i have had a little google and found out what they do.

I did not blog much on here for my first 18 months, but i have picked up the pace a great deal recently.

Having had articles published with the www.starandcrescent.org.uk before, i find myself feeling very much more secure with writing articles and essays.

So having done my research i think i might well subscribe to word press and start my own domain named blog page, then i can incorporate the blog feeds into my blog page.

That seems like a plan.

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I recieved my mark for TMA 3- 80%.

So i have averaged 83% across the first 3 tma's which are 45% of the total OCAS.

so i am a couple of percentage points below the 40% minimum OCAS. But i still have two 25% TMA's to go.Which is great.

That takes all the pressure off the last 2 TMA's. Now i am looking to keep my mark up rather than stress about needing a certain score to pass. 

Happy days.

Although level 2 is still hard.

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So I have written my introduction to TMA 04.

I have a plan for my unpacking paragraph in my head (250 words)

then a gap of 1600 words awaits me....

I have completed my part 2- 10% of the final mark and I have set my reference list ready to insert the correct references into the main body of text.

And there it all sits, daring me to write it, which on this TMA is quite daunting.

It is hard to compare and contrast the political systems of the uk and us.

Contrasts abound, I think I can provide 800 words of contrast very easily, the us system was founded as a reaction to the uk system so inevitably it is very different.

Its the 800 words of similarities that I am finding hard to draw together.

So if I use 4 blocks to compare and contrast my selected points then I have to write two paragraphs of 400 of similarities, which I am unsure of. The trouble is if a scrimp on these paragraphs then my essay will be very unbalanced. I do like a good structure and balance to my essays, I often think it is a failure to submit one that has an obvious imbalance of structure to it.

Depending on my TMA 3 mark, the pressure on the tma 4 might not be as great, however substitution is not an option I want to consider, I would rather be able to have the full compliment of 5 essays with a good average mark than sub a score in.

Based on my feedback to tma 2 I changed the style of writing in my tma 03 slightly, so I really do need to know the tma 3 mark to be able to gauge the correct style for tma 4.

as I may have said before, Level 2 is hard...

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