Thoughts on BBC News

Here’s some not entirely worked through ideas about broadcast, radio and TV news.  In the past month the BBC News operation has become the story in Scotland because it issued ‘Take Down’ requests to YouTube over the use of what it claims are it’s clips on channels run by two pro-indy blog/news sites. This got me thinking a bit about copyright and ‘news’ reports.  And how we find ‘news’ and stories from the past.

Newspapers have been filed in major libraries for decades and decades.  It  used to be that you could go to a major library and search micro-fiche copies of practically every newspaper ever printed to find the stories you were looking for.  And there you had the ability to read a story as it was being reported,  over a period of time, by various journalists and newspapers.   So the  ideas of how  copyright should operate for printed newspapers has been well developed over decades and  decades.  And now  we have a scandal involving the BBC’s broadcast news.   Why is this?  We have only relatively recently developed a capability for broadcast, as opposed to published, news to be recorded and stored.  Previously anything broadcast, radio or TV, was ephemeral. So a news report was gone as soon as the broadcast was over. The only possible copy of that broadcast was with the broadcaster.  So if I wanted to find out what the BBC was broadcasting on the day I was born the only place I could perhaps  find out would be from the BBC.   But now we have technology available  for all of us, in our mobile phones and laptops, which lets any  one of us easily record whatever broadcast we want.  Then, thanks to blogs and YouTube, we can publish the recorded news.  The BBC’s broadcast News operation is having to face a problem which printed news operations solved years ago.   Copyright is claimed to be a problem for the BBC news operation, yet it’s obviously solved for print media.  The ease with which audio and  even video can be edited is something to be considered though.  But, for me,  broadcast news should have no more copyright than printed news.  I can search for archives of newspapers, I should be able to search archives of broadcast news just as easily.  So either the broadcaster has to provide this facility or I should be freely permitted to to do it myself using either my own tools or common freely available tools.  i.e. I can record news broadcasts and keep them for as long as I like or I can search somewhere like YouTube.

Pat Kane (@thoughtland on Twitter) has written an interesting article about the ‘Digital Public Space’ .  I like the idea.  It would solve many of the issues I’m thinking of.  You can read Pat’s article here – http://www.thenational.scot/comment/columnists/16397985.this-is-what-an-independent-scotland-can-learn-from-the-wingsbbc-copyright-row/

 

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BBC Radio Scotland John Beattie show, Scott Arthur interview

Just for the record, in case you missed it, here’s a recording of the interview with Councillor Scott Arthur by John Beattie on his BBC Radio Scotland show from today – 3rd Aug ‘18. 
No edits, it’s the full 15 minute interview.    Am I now in breach of BBC copyright? 

https://soundcloud.com/user-540007134/jb-show-scott-arthur-interview-3-8-18

A Spaceport for Sutherland

The news in the last day or so has ben full of the announcement of the Spaceport is going to be build in Sutherland.   So I  thought I’d provide a little background and context for anyone who might not be so sure of where Sutherland is.  You see, despite it’s name, its actually the very top part of the United Kingdom’s  land mass.   John O’Groats is in Sutherland.  Sutherland distance

I’m typing this just outside Perth and I thought I’d see how long Google Maps reckons it would take me to get to Wick – which isn’t at the top of Sutherland.

It tells me it’s a distance of 213 miles and that it will take me some 4 and half hours to drive there.  For context, Manchester is 264 miles from Perth.  Or I could take a train, for mere 5 hour 49 minutes  (That’s got to be wrong.  Surely??)  Maybe not, train services north of the Glasgow-Edinburgh central belt in Scotland are not that great really.  I’m not sure that Wick has a station.  Bus?  Aye. Right.  So Scotland’s quite big really…

So I’ll get in my car and drive up to Wick.  Just get on the motorway and zoom along. Well err, no.  Not exactly.  There are no motorway class roads north of Perth – well not on that route.  So It’ll be the A9 then, a fabulous dual carriageway.  Again, not exactly no.  Many sections of the A9 are still single carriageway.  So getting to Sutherland is not as easy as say getting from London to Manchester, which at 208 miles is a comparable distance.   And this is where the grand Spaceport for the UK is to be built.  The centre for Space tourism for the UK is along a load of single carriageway roads

So the first thing the Spaceport in Sutherland’s going to need is a spaceport to get you there!  Pardon me for thinking this is not  really likely to happen….

Take Me To Your Leader…..

alien

If an alien landed here next year and said “Take me to your leader”

who would you take it to? (a short blog with more questions than answers)


With all the problems piling up in the (dis)United Kingdom as it hurtles towards leaving the EU this is a problem which doesn’t seem to be being talked about much. Where’s the leader? Theresa May holds the position of Prime Minister but has never shown any leadership qualities. Even last week, when taking a decision which has the potential to spark World War 3, she was running away from scrutiny and failing to show leadership. Jeremy Corbyn seems to have to wait until the public lead him to the positions he should take. Vince Cable is liable to be the beneficiary of the “Anyone but Labour&Tory Leavers” campaign in the forthcoming by-elections in England. But he’s not a leader either.

The UK is now less than one year away from leaving the EU and the need for leadership has never been more pressing. And, if you think forward one year, then the question about “who will be the leader?” becomes more worrying. The UK as a minority Tory Government kept in place only by a deal done with the DUP of N.Ireland. (The DUP have their own problems with “Cash for Ash” still dogging them). So logically the ‘Leader’ ought to be someone from the Tory Party. But who? Theresa May got the job when David Cameron cowardly ran away from the consequences of his actions. She was the least offensive/divisive candidate to the Tory Party – when no-one else wanted to take the poisoned chalice from Cameron. Since then we’ve had Boris Johnson strutting around making troublesome pronouncement after troublesome pronouncement. Jacob Rees-Mogg is in the frame. Really? Only a right wing Tory could ever think of him as a leader. A year from now the UK is likely to need someone who can truly unite the country as it finds its place outside the EU. Again, logically that will be someone from the Tory party. But who would you take the Alien to? Who is there that will have the trust of the people in the UK and just as importantly the trust of the rest of the world whom we are seeking trading relationships with? Who do we think the German Government, French Government, EU officials will trust? I can’t see anyone in the Tory party who can do this.

Labour might be different – but they are not in Government and there’s no current possibility of them being so.

But Scotland and Wales are different. In both countries there is leadership being shown. Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones have formed an unlikely alliance to protect the devolution arrangements for their countries. That looks like leadership. As I write this, the UK Government is reported to be going to take both the Scottish and Welsh Governments to court. Astonishing. If the Supreme Court (which was created by Tony Blair!) judges that the Scottish and Welsh Governments are acting within their legal powers then the Tory Party’s whole approach to Brexit is likely to be holed beneath the waterline – in terms of the future trade deals they hope to arrange. If the court rules in favour of the UK Government then the devolution arrangements are destroyed. Such a result might be the trigger the SNP has been waiting for to start up “Indyref2” in Scotland. I’m not sure where this will leave Wales.
So, to answer the question “Take Me To Your Leader” – I’d take the alien to Bute House in Edinburgh to meet Nicola Sturgeon.

Deal or No Deal?

DON-LOGO-STILL-REVERSE

That’s the question Noel Edmonds used to ask on his TV Gameshow.  Right now, it feels like the UK is on a gameshow just like that one. 

What kind of Deal is Theresa May pursuing?  One that is ‘frictionless’?  One that is ‘deep and special’?  One that ‘secured the place of Global Britain”?   It also depends who you ask.   is Theresa’s ‘Deal’ the same as Boris’s ‘Deal’, nd what ‘Deal’ is Jacob wanting?   Have any of them paused to think that to get a ‘Deal’, any ‘Deal’,  needs the other side/party to agree to it?    What kind of ‘Deal’ does the EU want?   Do you think they might have a view on the ‘Deal’ the UK will end up with?  

 

 

Sadly, whatever I type today will probably be wrong by tomorrow.  The changes and utter chaos which is surrounding the UK Government is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.    The Scottish Government has been consistent in it’s demands that Scotland needs to stay within the Customs Union  (at a minimum). The SG produced an analysis of the impact of multiple types of Brexit on the Scottish economy.   Predictably this was rubbished as scare-mongering by the Tories in Scotland and just ignored by the Tories in Westminster, including the Prime Minister.  But wait, then the UK Government Treasury analysis, which they had said didn’t exist, was leaked to the public.  And guess what?  It confirms pretty much exactly what the Scottish Government has been saying all along.   The impact of Brexit, of any type of ‘Deal’, will range from very bad to catastrophic for Scotland.  And it’s the same for many other parts of the UK too. Only the city of London looks like it may escape relatively unharmed.   (This puzzles me, because if the whole of the rest of the UK is contracting at the rates shown, 10%  to 16% reductions in regional economies, then it’s sure as hell going to hurt London too.)  

 

brexit impactAdjacent is a picture I copied from Paul Mason’s twitter feed.  It shows the HM Treasury regional impact analysis Brexit is forecast to have.  Paul Mason rightly points out that a logical explanation for the causes of the downturn in the different regions is easy to see. What could wipe 15% of the North East of England?  Easy – Nissan.     What could wipe out the NW – equally easy – BAE and in N.Ireland – Bombardier.  In the Midlands – it’s Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota.     What have all of these got in common?  They make stuff.  they rely on just-in-time deliveries as part of a pan-EU supply chain.  Brexit, of whatever ‘Deal’, will break those JIT supply chains.   Whereas the UK was a springboard to Europe post-Brexit it will not be so.  And this is before we get serious about understanding what trading under WTO rules actually means. 

To me, it looks like the Tories are returning to finish the job Thatcher started.  That is to finally destroy major manufacturing industry in the UK.  It just doesn’t look like they “get” the importance to a balanced economy of having a strong manufacturing sector.  I mean, I’m sure Germany would get along fine without Siemens, Bosch, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, BASF, Bayer, Continental, etc etc. 

What’s galling is that I wrote some stuff about this back in July last year and we really don’t seem to have moved on very far at all since then.  (Out, out damned Brexit) 

 

 

I started this post in the land of a TV Gameshow,  I think it’s more like we’re in a land of a hit musical number ……  I wonder if Lord Lloyd Webber had our current mind-bending circumstances in mind when he wrote it…….   me, I think it’s more of a nightmare than a dream….

What can a movie teach us about why we are where we are? The Riot Club & Brexit

riot club

This is a movie I watched on TV a few nights ago.   I didn;t really plan to watch it, it was kind of on in the corner of the room. yet I found myself drawn into it, if only because it as showing something I just didn’t know existed.   It’s about a very private male drinking and hedonistic club at Oxford University.  It’s a film.  It’s fiction.  Here’s a link to it on IMDB.    

Now, there’s no clubs like The Riot Club at Oxford University are there?  Anyone who says it’s like the The Bullingdon Club is mistaken aren’t they?  Well I can’t say. I didn’t go to Oxford.   So who really knows if it’s fact or fiction?  

The Riot Club is about an exclusive club of 10 young men who have no trace of morality.  They believe money can solve everything and that is all that matters.  The clubs purpose is to eat, drink, take drugs and trash (totally) whatever restaurant has been daft enough to let them in. 

The scenes of the club members initiation rites are probably no better and no worse than many young male clubs.  But what stuck in my mind was the complete lack of morality shown by almost all the members of the club.   I’m not going to spoil it by describing scenes but there are many where the principle characters are almost unbelievable.  And yet……. this is the bit that’s got me writing this blog post.  While The Riot Club is fiction, The Bullingdon Club is fact.   And where do fact and fiction cross-over?  There’s a scene where a senior ex-member of the Riot Club, now a successful Conservative MP, is offering to guarantee the future of a young member of the Riot Club in return for that member taking the rap for something very bad which the club did.  “I’m not offering you a constituency, just a future” he says to the young man.   “The club goes on you know” .   And that’s the bit that struck home to me.  Whether the actual actions which occur in this movie are fact or fiction doesn’t matter.  It’s that the club will go on.  Every year the club is producing more ex-members.  As another line in the movie says “One day soon, these men will sit behind very powerful desks in the city. ” 

When you couple these lines form the movie with the Riot Club’s seeming integration with the Conservative Party you start to get a picture of why the UK is being driven over the cliffs to Brexitland.  Members of the Riot Club have no moral compass. They have no experience of life. They have been raised in an environment which is completely sealed off and remote from anything we know as reality.   Yet they are “the chosen ones” who are pre-destined to go on and sit behind those powerful desks.  And that’s the bit which stuck with me.   Fact or fiction?

In summary, I recommend this movie to anyone and everyone who wants to understand how we got to a situation where David Cameron, Gideon Osborne, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (and others) are given positions of leadership when the truth is that they happened by an accident of birth to have been sent to the right drinking club.  

Reforming the ‘List”

There’s a feeling that the way the ‘Additional Member’ system as it is currently used to elect MSPs to Holyrood is no longer operating in the interests of the citizens who vote.  It’s being abused by the Political Parties as a route for their loyal members to be rewarded with a position as an MSP.  This is surely not how it was intended to be used.   So here’s some ideas for discussion.  I’ve posted this as blog because it seems to be cropping up on several Facebook groups. Blogging it makes it far easier for me to find what I’ve previously written on FB.

I think a change is very badly needed. The list system is being played by the politicians to their personal advantage, not to the benefit of the people who vote. While Murdo Fraser is the most obvious example, there are others who do the exact same. Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar being examples of how the Labour party is abusing the List system. Labour’s leaders were elected on the List, technically no-one voted for them.   (And there are others too)

Points have ben raised on Facebook and social media about any of the changes proposed below meaning that the political parties would require a far wider pool of candidates than they currently seem to have.  In short, where would all the new MSPs come from if the ‘regulars’ were now to be barred from appearing time after time.   I don’t see this as a problem, I see this as a way of refreshing and getting much needed new blood and talent into Holyrood.   There’s also a problem to be thought through about how could the ‘List’ be used to support smaller or even independent  (with a small “i”) candidates.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could have people with real experience and subject-matter-expertise in our Parliament?  Maybe have someone like Harry Burns as a medical expert serve a term.  Maybe have some candidates who have real experience in the electricity/energy sectors to serve and guide Holyrood on such areas?   idealist I know, but if we are serious about reforming the ‘List’ system then why not think big blue sky thoughts? 

While it seems simple to suggest that there should be a two term limit on the number of times a candidate can appear on the list, there are other conditions we ought to consider too:

1) No candidate may serve as a ‘list’ MSP for more than two successive Parliamentary terms.

2) There shall be a gap of one Parliamentary term between any candidate being able to serve as a ‘List’ MSP.   (to break the cycle of repeat/career List MSPs)

3) In the event of a ‘List’ MSP standing down during a Parliamentary term, or any reason,  there shall be a by-election to replace them. Parties shall not simply appoint their next member. (To break the cycle of ‘List’ MSPs then standing in other elections, e.g. Westminster, and the party simply making it their next members seat automatically)

4) No candidate shall be able to stand as a ‘List’ MSP if they are also contesting a constituency seat. (To prevent the ‘List’ being used as a safety net for candidates who fail to win election in a constituency)

5) An MSP elected on the ‘List’ should not be able to hold the position of First Minister.

6) An elected ‘List’ MSP will not be allowed to be considered to stand as a candidate in any other elections while they are service in Holyrood. (To prevent a ‘List’ MSP from seking election and having the safety net of their ‘List’ seat if they fail to win whatever other election they are seeking to stand in)

There are probably more conditions we ought to be thinking of, but these are a start. There have been petitions on Holyrood to reform the List System in the past. They never reached the numbers needed too have this actioned in Holyrood though. Maybe it’s time to raise another petition and all get very solidly behind it?

We can make this change. We can force Holyrood to at least discuss it – but we all have to get organised to share this and to get a petition we’re all happy with

Please feel free to share this, to cut’n’paste it, to discuss it and post it wherever you like.  It’s time we got some democratic ooomph back into our ‘List’ MSPs.

A lot of good writing.

In the past week or so there’s been a few articles which have caused me to stop and read them more deeply than just giving them the passing glance.  So I thought I’d share them here.  Predictably they are all blogs and online articles.  The Main Stream Media just doesn’t cover these stories.  There’s plenty of reading for you in these linked articles. 

First is this one.  And it broke my heart when I read it because I’ve met the lady at the centre of this story.  Her artwork decorated the 2014 Indy Ref Campaign.  I knew she had problems but had no idea they’d take her to the very edge. So please read on and then you’ll understand this hashtag –  #UnicornsForBrave.    Where’s the coverage of this story in the MSM?   Where’s the outrage?

https://randompublicjournal.com/2017/09/08/trolling-wee-brave-scottish-unionism-at-its-lowest/

023

 

 

Second, and a logical follow on is this one :   How To Catch an Abusive Online Troll

https://thebutterflyrebellion.scot/2017/09/09/how-to-catch-an-abusive-online-troll/

 

scotland1

 

Third – an excellent piece from Grousebeater – all about democracy Bell Pottinger style…….

https://grousebeater.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/the-monologues-of-demagogues/

 

500

 

 

and Fourth, but by no means least  Craig Murray’s piece on the Appalling Pottingers

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2017/09/the-appalling-pottingers/

 

 

 

So. enjoy the links folks! 

A Letter Writing Campaign– Let’s do it !

 

If, like me,  you get wound up by the actions of our Government and feel powerless to change anything, maybe, just maybe we can.  There are many, many more of “us” and very few of “them”.  If we all start communicating with “them” then they might realise that “us” lot are not at all happy with their performances.   Yes my main main sources of irritation with the UK Government relate to their treatment of Scotland and the desire for it to be independent, but there are many other reasons for writing to your MP.  Take the whole sorry debacle which is Brexit.  What we have to do is to get smart about this, to get organised, and, just as a suggestion – lets start a massive letter writing campaign.  Let’s write a letter and an email every time there is something which is factually incorrect or is being ignored by the media.  We should write to every Tory MP and MSP and copy the letters to every newspaper editor and make it clear to the politicians that the letter has been cc’d to the media.  There are 14 MPs and 31 MSPs.  There are about 15 newspapers of note and four television broadcasters, so lets say about 60 addresses for letters.   You can make up a file for use in mailmerges for paper letters and I suggest we use the www.writetothem.com service for the emails.   We’re all sitting at keyboards so there isn’t any reason why we can’t all start writing letters. 

They say they work for us – so let’s keep them busy.  This might be a small action, but if enough of us do this and they end up receiving hundreds of letters and emails every week then we will at the very least be making them work.  We will also be creating solid facts to publicise if they fail to respond in a timely and courteous manner.   We can share template letters – although we should make an effort to alter them to make them not all the same  

Let’s make sure *we* are holding their feet to the fire.

 

Letters to the Editor

I’m grateful to a friend who wrote the guide at the end of this post on writing to the editors of the newspapers.  This is another source of pressure for us to put on Government.  I suggest you download this note and use it to guide you as you start writing. 

EMAIL TIP

If you are sending an email to a group of people and you don’t want each of them to know that it’s been sent to other recipients put their addresses in the ‘bcc’ field, not in the ‘to’ nor ‘cc’ fields. 

 

 

Let’s do it.  Let’s remind them that we expect them to be working for us every day, not just in the days before an election when they beseech us to vote for them.

 

Letter writing tips.

Dear Editor – A short guide to letter writing.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed an increase in anti-independence rhetoric from many in the mainstream media and from high profile politicians and commentators. This can take many forms, from strident Unionist MPs given ‘easy rides’ in political discussion programmes to skewed and misleading articles in newspapers. It seems every day brings with it another slew of SNP Bad stories – even more remarkable when the facts of the story are undeniably SNP Good stories! I’m sure we will all have our own examples. But there is a way we can address the more blatant scaremongering stories and badly reported stories. We can write to the Letters Page of what is left of the print industry. This is a great forum for confronting issues that get your blood boiling and putting forward a pro-independence and SNP point of view and moving the argument/discussion in a more positive direction. So with that in mind, I’ve drawn up a few pointers to help you in the art of letter writing.

Firstly, think on which paper you are going to contact. Each paper will have a different readership so tailor your letter accordingly and most importantly, don’t rant! You might feel churned up inside and really angry but a letter which comes over as rambling, angry, and ferocious will only find its way to the bin. Remember that one of the most important background players in the print industry is the lawyer. Anything remotely litigious or construed as a personal attack will not be printed. But there are ways around that. For instance, I had this printed in The Herald in 2014 “I notice that Culture Secretary Maria Miller is arguing that a Yes vote is a vote to leave the BBC. I think there are more reasons to vote Yes without the Rt Hon Member for Basingstoke offering up another one.” Just two sentences but it addresses a scare story, points out where Miller is an MP and gives the Yes movement a mention. Letters don’t necessarily have to be long and involved! In this case it addressed something that had been given plenty coverage and was written very quickly before the issue had gone away.

· You can actually start a conversation. If you have specialist knowledge or a keen interest in an issue, for instance wind farms, raptor poisoning or even what our National anthem should be, then fire in a letter to The Herald and The Scotsman. More localised issues should be directed to the Perthshire Advertiser, Blairgowrie Advertiser or your local paper.

· You can reply to a letter. Often the Letters Ed. Will ‘plant’ a letter that s/he knows will generate a lot of interest. Usually it will be a letter just on the right side of ‘a rant’ but this is ripe for replying to and getting over an SNP or Indy message. A classic of this sort would be the person who is repeating the old ‘Scotland would be lost without oil’. This is an easily destroyed argument and we should all be able to confront such nonsense!

· My favourite – address an issue a Labour or Conservative MP or MSP is stating as fact. The problem here is, of course, choosing which ill-informed MP or MSP to choose. I’d avoid choosing something Murdo Fraser has said as it is often difficult to see what you are writing through tears of laughter. Choose someone like the esteemed David Mundell who is a constant source of material. As I write (Feb 23rd) he is on record as saying Scottish tax rise will chase away immigrants. Blimey, where to start with that one. Firstly, there are no tax rises and secondly aren’t Tories clamouring FOR no immigration?

So, don’t let the stupidity of commentators who have little or no understanding of Scotland in general and the inability to look beyond their Better Together mentality get in the way of your well crafted letter.

The big problem might be that, like me, you refuse to buy a copy of any paper (except the National, of course) and you are wondering how to reply to something in the paper. I find Social Media is the place to go. You don’t have to have a Twitter account – you can follow certain ‘alternative media’ voices and rest assured if an article is causing outrage or wider discussion it will be there for all to read. All you do is write your letter as if you had bought an issue, just start ‘I see in your paper yesterday (date, headline or theme) that Joe Bloggs said..’ . I noticed on a Twitter feed that Patrick Harness had been granted a Thunderer column in The Times. What the paper and/or Harkness had left out from the CV was the fact he is a Director of Scotland in Union, a particularly nasty (but well financed) group of pro-UK voices. So I sent in a letter which started discussing his tone, which was bitter and divisive, before slipping in that such language ‘fits with his agenda as a Director of Scotland in Union’ before finishing off with a more positive view of Scotland. The Times had to mention this omission in the Clarification & Issues section the next day.

Don’t be put off. It is very easy and also helps with forming an argument which can be used when out canvassing. On a very positive note, I’ve noticed that there are more letters of a pro-independence tone leading the Letters Pages than ever before. I’d argue that this momentum has to continue as the anti-independence voices will only be getting louder. We have to counter all their arguments with facts, good sense and a little bit of humour. They know the tide of history is against them. The anger in their voices is there for all to hear. Let’s counter all the nay-sayers every way we can. So when you are next having a coffee break and are skimming the newspapers why not give letter writing a try?

Enjoy your letter writing.

A personal brush with Brexit

Brexit. Here’s a story to ponder.

I’m in the lucky position of owning a couple of rare bottles of whisky. So rare are they that I thought I’d get them valued at a local whisky auction specialist. One is estimated at about £2,000 and the other at about £3,000. So I asked the auctioneer (who is also the owner of the business) what they might do in the future. “Brexit” he said. Right now, he told me, people like me are getting a good price for such whiskies because of the Brexit caused devaluation of the pound. Overseas bidders are bidding in their own currencies and the weak pound helps my whiskies values. So far, so good.

“But” he said…. If the UK does not get a wide ranging trade deal with the EU his whisky auctions business will have to work under WTO terms. Such terms for many countries round the world will impose a 50% duty in whisky. So the value of rare whiskies like mine will take a hit. He was pretty sure that the Diageo’s and Edrington’s will get a deal of some kind from the UK Government, but that the small distillers and sellers will be very badly impacted, which includes his business.

This is the first time I can say I’ve had to make a decision which is very directly influenced by Brexit. So I’ll be selling these little beauties sooner rather than later.